News briefs from Heart Rhythm 2006

May 18, 2006

Cocaine Decreases Risk For Arrhythmias Caused by Tasers
Cocaine intoxication serves as a protective agent against life-threatening arrhythmias that may result from electrical stun guns. The drug was found to reduce a healthy heart's vulnerability of developing ventricular fibrillation by 1.5 to two times above the study's baseline safety margin. Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic used a custom-built device to deliver a neuromuscular-incapacitating discharge in research animals that matched the waveform of commercially-available stun guns (TASER X-26). Dhanunjaya Lakireddy, lead author and fellow of electrophysiology at the Cleveland Clinic, concluded "There have been many news reports that tasers can increase the incidence of heart attacks in people on cocaine, but our findings show that these claims are unfounded and not based on science." Dr. Lakireddy said more research is needed to determine the relationship between cocaine and tasers on people with underlying heart conditions.

Abstract 3909: Cardiac Vulnerability to Ventricular Fibrillation During Electrical Stun Gun Application: Effect of Cocaine Intoxication
Saturday, May 20, 9:00-12:00 noon, Exhibit Hall (Poster Session 6)

Exercise Helps Control Heartbeat in Patients With Permanent Atrial Fibrillation
Regular exercise helps patients with permanent atrial fibrillation (AF) maintain a regular, controlled heartbeat. Moderate physical activity decreased the patients' ventricular rate by 12 percent in patients with chronic AF, the most common type of heart rhythm abnormality. The study involved 10 patients with permanent AF who did moderate exercise such as 60 minutes of walking or jogging twice a week for four months. Regular physical activity also increased the patients' capacity to exercise while helping control their heartbeat during exertion. Jurgita Plisiene, MD, cardiologist and former fellow at the Technical University in Aachen, Germany, concluded "Physical training should be taken into account in those patients in whom drug therapy does not allow the heart to reach adequate ventricular rate control during AF."

Abstract 4539: Moderate Physical Training Improves Ventricular Rate Control in Patients With Permanent Atrial Fibrillation
Friday, May 19, 9:00-12:00 noon, Exhibit Hall (Poster Session 4)

Leadless Pacing Using Acoustic Energy Found To Be Safe and Effective
Surgeons at the University of Hong Kong have successfully completed the first demonstration of a leadless pacemaker using acoustic energy in heart patients. Normally, an implanted cardiac device transmits electricity through a lead wire connected through the veins and into the heart.

But investigators in Hong Kong have developed new pacemaker technology that paces the heart without leads. The wireless pacing is achieved by transmitting energy, in the form of ultrasound, to a receiver-electrode in the heart. The receiver converts the ultrasound into an electrical pulse that paces the heart. Wireless pacing could not be heard or felt by patients and no safety issues were identified. Chu-Pak Lau, MD, head of cardiology at the University of Hong Kong, called the new technology " important advancement because pacing leads are associated with a number of complications and limitations." Complications may include vein blockage, infection and lead failures caused by wire or insulation breakage.

Abstract 3279: First Acute Demonstration of Leadless Pacing in Patients Using Acoustic Energy
Saturday, May 20, 8:00-9:30 AM, Room 162AB (Session #AB49)

Racial, Gender Disparities Found Among ICD Patients
A new study underscores previous research that found disparities among women and minority patients who receive implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). Researchers found that women and minorities were sicker than white male patients who received a similar device. Compared to white men, women and minority patients stayed longer in intensive and cardiac care units, had more pre-existing medical conditions, and had higher hospital costs. The study involved nearly 229,000 Medicare beneficiaries who received ICDs between January 1995 and September 2003. Nathan Goldstein, MD, assistant professor of geriatrics at Mt. Sinai Medical Center noted, "This study emphasizes the need for physicians to make culturally-sensitive decisions when counseling underrepresented groups about ICDs."

Abstract 4053: Racial Disparities in Defibrillator Implantation
Thursday, May 18, 9:00 a.m. - 12 noon, Exhibit Hall (Poster Session 2)
HEART RHYTHM 2006 is May 17-20 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in Boston. The meeting is the most comprehensive educational event on heart rhythm disorders, offering over 400 educational opportunities in multiple formats and over 125 innovative products and services for the heart rhythm management field. The world's most renowned scientists and physicians will present a wide range of heart rhythm topics including advances in statins, cardiac resynchronization therapy, catheter ablation, cardiac pacing and heart failure and the latest technology, including state-of-the-art pacemakers and defibrillators.

For more information, please visit the Heart Rhythm Society website at

Editor's Note: Please contact Rebecca Leaf at 202-745-5051 or to receive complimentary registration to attend HEART RHYTHM 2006.

The Heart Rhythm Society is the international leader in science, education and advocacy for cardiac arrhythmia professionals and patients, and the primary information resource on heart rhythm disorders. Its mission is to improve the care of patients by promoting research, education and optimal health care policies and standards. Incorporated in 1979 and based in Washington, DC, it has a membership of over 4,300 heart rhythm professionals in over 65 countries around the world.

The Reis Group

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