American Heart Association program to improve in-hospital atrial fibrillation care

AF is a quivering or irregular heartbeat affecting about 2.7 million Americans, and accounts for about one-third of hospitalizations for heart rhythm disturbance. The heart normally contracts and relaxes to a regular beat. In atrial fibrillation, the upper chambers of the heart, called the atria, beat irregularly instead of beating effectively to move blood into the ventricles. AF is associated with a five-fold increased stroke risk, as well as a greater likelihood stroke will lead to significant disability — even death.

“While scientifically proven therapies and approaches to treatment exist for patients with atrial fibrillation, wide gaps, variations and disparities remain in the quality of care for people with this common heart rhythm disorder,” said Lee H. Schwamm, M.D., chair of the Get With The Guidelines National Steering Committee and professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School in Boston. “By improving the care of patients with atrial fibrillation through the Get With The Guidelines program, we can save lives and prevent serious complications, such as stroke.”

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Women with smaller-than-average fetuses may face heart problems

Women pregnant with smaller-than-average fetuses may also need to worry about their long-term cardiovascular health risks, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension.

Women diagnosed with fetal growth restriction (FGR) may also have an asymptomatic diastolic dysfunction in which the heart doesn’t work at peak efficiency during its relaxation phase.

FGR is an abnormality of pregnancy in which the fetus doesn’t grow as well as 90 percent of other fetuses. It can compromise the health of the infant, cause fetal distress and the need for early delivery.

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New Textile Cooling Pads for Cardiac Arrest

Textile cooling pads will be used in the future to prevent neurological damage after successful resuscitation.
For most cardiac arrest patients, however, even successful resuscitation is merely a partial success – only a few patients survive this life-saving measure without consequential neurological damage. This is due to parts of the brain possibly sustaining lasting damage caused by the lack of blood flow and oxygen supply during the period until the ambulance arrives. This often results in the affected person becoming an invalid.

To avoid this type of brain damage in the future, scientists from the faculty of Hygiene, Environment & Medicine at the Hohenstein Institute in Germany have developed a new therapy method for first responders. In the framework of a research project supported by the state of Baden-Württemberg for the competition ‘Biotechnology and medical technology’, the scientists lead by Prof. Dr. Dirk Höfer developed the prototype of a textile cooling vest. The new type of medical product promises improved acute treatment for cardiac arrest by very quickly cooling down the patient’s body.

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Atkins Diet Still Controversial

A group of European researchers led by Pagona Lagiou of the University of Athens Medical School in Greece assessed the diets of more than 43,000 Swedish women ages 30 to 49, and followed them for an average of almost 16 years. Women who consumed an Atkins-type diet with low carbohydrate and high protein intake were at a 5 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease later. By the end of the end of the study period, 1,270 women developed heart disease.

Consuming as little as 20 fewer grams of carbohydrates and 5 more grams of protein per day accounted for the increase, the researchers found.

The actual number of women who developed heart disease was small — about four or five extra cases per 10,000 women per year — but the authors said that amounted to a considerable number over time.

Data from other studies that evaluated the relationship between low-carb diets and the risk of cardiovascular disease have been mixed.

The Nurses’ Health Study from 1991 found no association between a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet and heart disease. Other more recent research, however, did find a link between Atkins-style diets and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

But not all proteins are alike, which can make a difference in how heart-unhealthy this type of diet is.
“Low carbohydrate-high protein diets may be nutritionally acceptable if the protein is mainly of plant origin and the reduction of carbohydrates applies to simple and refined carbohydrates,” the authors wrote.

Cardiac Rehab Major Key to Survival

Statistics show that 25 percent of men and 38 percent of women die within one year of having a heart attack. Proper post-surgical cardiac rehab is key to helping increase a patient’s long-term odds.

“Cardiac rehab is one of the most underutilized but most effective ways to live a healthier life,” says Dr. Kameswari Maganti, director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. “I find that only about 40 percent of women and about 60 percent of men come to cardiac rehab after a procedure even though that one hour, three times a week can make such a difference in their lives.”

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