Entries in Cardiovascular (5)


Heightened Estrogen Levels Associated with Sudden Cardiac Death

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Heightened estrogen level may be associated with an increased risk of cardiac death in both men and woman, according a new study.

The study was presented on Friday at an annual meeting of the Heart Rhythm Society in Denver. More than 350,000 Americans die each year from cardiac death, which can occur when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating, says HealthDay News.

Researchers analyzed data from people who had either suffered sudden cardiac death or had coronary artery disease. According to HealthDay News, testing on the blood samples of those patients found that both group had similar cardiac risk factors.

While diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol were found in similar rates in both groups, researchers were interested to find that both men and women who suffered sudden cardiac death had greatly increased estrogen levels. Additionally, the ratio of testosterone to estrogen was lower in those who suffered sudden cardiac death.

While the findings do not prove that high estrogen levels cause cardiac problems, the findings could help identify patients at greater risk.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Heart Abnormality May Be More Dangerous than Previously Thought

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An electrical heart abnormality may be more dangerous that doctors previously believed.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a cardiac condition known as left anterior fascicular block may be a sign that a patient is at risk of developing severe heart problems.

In the study, 39 individuals with LAFB were compared to over 1,600 healthy individuals to determine the health impacts of the condition.

The study concluded that those with LAFB were at increased risk of other heart rhythm problems, heart failure and death.

The study only looked at patients over the age of 65, using a simple electrocardiogram.

According to HealthDay News, there is no treatment for LAFB.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Cancer Diagnosis Ups Risk of Suicide, Cardiovascular Death

Monkey Business/(BOSTON) -- The shock of a cancer diagnosis can have deadly consequences, according to a new study that linked the diagnosis to an increased risk of suicide, heart attack and stroke.

The Swedish study followed more than 6 million adult men and women, 786 of whom were diagnosed with various cancers during the 15-year follow-up. Compared to their cancer-free counterparts, people who were recently diagnosed with cancer had a 12.6-percent higher risk of suicide and a 5.6-percent higher risk of cardiovascular death from heart attack, stroke or heart failure.

"Our findings suggest that a cancer diagnosis constitutes a major stressor, one that immediately affects the risk of critical, fatal outcomes," the researchers wrote in their report published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The risk of suicide and cardiovascular death was highest the week following a cancer diagnosis and decreased over time.

"What we're really looking at is the psychological stress associated with receiving the news," said study co-author Dr. Murray Mittleman, director of cardiovascular epidemiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. "It can be a very big shock."

More than 1.6 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in 2012, according to the American Cancer Society.

"I think a lot of people would be surprised to know that the news of a cancer diagnosis would have such a profound effect," said Holly Prigerson, director of psychosocial oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. "We should recognize that it's alarming, it's shocking, and there needs to be a way to protect vulnerable people who are psychologically fragile and less able to withstand the emotional blow of the bad news."

Prigerson said the news can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, both of which increase the risk of suicide. It can also have dangerous effects on heart rate and blood pressure, which boosts the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The risk of death from either suicide or cardiovascular disease was highest for patients with poor prognoses associated with brain tumors and cancers of the esophagus, liver, pancreas and lung.

"Patients might be thinking, 'I'm going to die a grizzly death, so I'm going to kill myself now rather than wait for this to unfold,'" said Prigerson.

The risk was lowest for patients diagnosed with skin cancer.

Prigerson's own research suggests more than half of patients are traumatized by their cancer diagnoses.

"Fifty-seven percent of our sample said they were made terrified or horrified by the news," she said. "It speaks to the psychological devastation wrought by a cancer diagnosis and the need for clinicians to be acutely aware of and sensitive to the impact of this news."

The suicide rate in Sweden is 12.7 per 100,000, according to the World Health Organization, which is slightly higher than the 12 per 100,000 reported in the U.S. But Prigerson said the study's findings can be generalized to American patients.

"These findings are consistent with research on the psychological trauma of a cancer diagnosis here in the U.S.," said Prigerson, adding that Swedish registries allow detailed epidemiological research. "It demonstrates, I think, fairly unequivocally, the impact of psychological stress on physical health."

All the cancer diagnoses reported in the study were confirmed. But Mittleman said the results also have implications for cancer screening programs, which have been criticized for generating false positives that lead to risky tests and procedures as well as anxiety.

"It points to the fact there may be unintended adverse effects of programs we think are strictly beneficial," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Alabama Girl Gets New Heart after Misdiagnosis

Courtesy Dawn Underwood(MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala.) -- Looking at young Greer Underwood today, no one would never guess that a few months ago she was in a hospital in critical condition, on a waiting list for a new heart.

The 10-year-old Muscle Shoals, Alabama youngster might not be alive today had her parents not pushed to get a second opinion for her breathing problems that had been diagnosed as a simple sinus infection.

Now, looking back over the many medical trials Greer underwent in the past seven months -- a severe stroke, a final (correct) diagnosis of cardiomyopathy, the implantation of an experimental device to pump her heart and ultimately a full heart transplant -- her parents are thankful that the many odds stacked against their daughter turned in her favor.

"I think Greer is proof that God is still active and alive in our lives today," says Greer's mother, Dawn Underwood.  "She's doing so great now, and she's just been super-brave through all of this.  That is the personality the Lord gave her...I guess he knew she would have to go through so much."

Last February, however, Greer's prospects did not look so promising.  Her overall weakness, dry cough and shortness of breath was first diagnosed as a simple sinus infection by her pediatrician, then pneumonia by a local hospital.  But she wasn't responding to any of the treatments for these diagnoses, and was getting worse.  Greer's parents brought her back to the hospital emergency room soon after she began vomiting.

"We told them it's not pneumonia and something has to be done," Underwood says.

What started as relatively benign respiratory symptoms became nearly fatal three to four days later.  Greer was then flown to Children's Hospital in Birmingham, where doctors saw that Greer needed a pediatric cardiology team, and transferred her to the University of Alabama at Birmingham hospital.

Within 10 minutes of arriving at UAB, Greer suffered a massive stroke.

Though Underwood says doctors didn't give the family "much hope of taking her home," Greer made steady progress.  Doctors implanted an experimental heartware device called an LVAD -- a left ventricular assist device -- which allowed Greer to regain enough strength to qualify for a heart transplant.

Greer's prospects were touch and go for a few months, but on Mother's Day 2011, her family got the call: a transplant heart had become available.

Within a week of the transplant, Greer was back at home.  She still has some speech difficulties and weakness on her right side from the stroke, for which she's receiving rehab, but is healing rapidly and has even re-enrolled in dance classes for the fall, her mother says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Cardiovascular Fitness Linked to Lower Risk of Death in Women, Researchers Say

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Researchers now say that cardiovascular fitness level, and "not just a woman's size," may be the "key predictor" in overall risk of death, according to a recent study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Study results showed that, regardless of physical weight or size, death rates were significantly lower for fit women than for unfit women.  This proved to be true in cases where women only exhibited  "modest" levels of fitness, such as from brisk walking, compared to women who were unfit, suggesting that fitness is a stronger indicator than thinness for a long and healthy life.

"In other studies, failure to measure cardiorespiratory fitness levels may be due in part to an underlying assumption that all overweight individuals are unfit and at high risk for mortality," said Dr. Stephen W. Farrell, lead author for the study.  "This study makes clear that this assumption is not always valid."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio