Rapid Beats: Heart Disease News and Updates for February

February 2016

AmbulanceHalf of Sudden Cardiac Arrest Patients Have Warning Signs

Sudden cardiac arrest is a sudden loss of heart function that most often results in death. A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that about half of more than 800 people who experienced sudden cardiac arrest had—and usually ignored—symptoms up to a month prior to the event. These symptoms included intermittent chest pain and pressure, shortness of breath, palpitations, and flu-like symptoms such as nausea and abdominal and back pain.

Almost all of the people who had experienced symptoms in that preceding month felt them again in the 24 hours before cardiac arrest, but only 19% of those called emergency services. People who did seek medical help for their symptoms had a survival rate more than five times higher than those who did not.

Office BuildingSurvival Rates Low for Cardiac Arrest Occurring High in High-Rises

Survival rates for people suffering sudden cardiac arrest are very low overall. New Canadian research indicates the risk of death grows even higher for patients living above the first few floors of a high-rise building. Published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the study found 4.2% of people living below the third floor of high-rise buildings survived an arrest. This dropped to 2.6% for those living above the third floor. Only 0.9% of those living above the sixteenth floor—and none living above the twenty-fifth floor—survived.

Proposed solutions included giving emergency responders sole access to elevators during a cardiac emergency and placing more automated external defibrillators in high-rise housing for bystander use.

  • Read the full article (PDF download available) in the Canadian Medical Association Journal

Atrial Fibrillation Poses Higher Risk to Women

In a study that analyzed data from 4 million people with atrial fibrillation (AF), collected from 30 previous studies, AF was associated with a 12% higher relative risk for death from any cause in women compared to men. AF also conferred a significantly stronger risk of stroke, death from heart disease, cardiac events, and heart failure in women. The causes of these differences are currently unclear.

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