News tips for Sunday, November 7, 2004

November 07, 2004

Nov. 7 -10, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, La.

To complement our news releases, here are additional news tips reported by the American Heart Association's Public and Media Relations from more than 3,600 abstracts. Note: Stories are embargoed until papers are presented or poster sessions begin. Times are indicated with each entry; however, all embargoes will lift by 4 p.m. CST each day. For more information Nov. 7 -10, call Carole Bullock, Bridgette McNeill, or Julie Del Barto (broadcast) at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans: (504) 670-6500. Before or after these dates, call Public and Media Relations in Dallas: (214) 706-1173 or 706-1396.

9 a.m. Abstract 1735 - Clues from relatives can solve sudden death mysteries. Sudden death is often caused by silent cardiac disorders eliciting lethal arrhythmias. But many such deaths in young people go unexplained, because there was no prior history and no definitive post-mortem analysis. A study of 43 families of sudden unexplained death (SUD) victims who had died at or before age 40 found an inherited disease, and likely cause of death in 17 cases (40 percent). Twelve families had primary electrical disease, including high-risk ventricular tachycardia, Long QT and Brugada syndromes. Cardiomyopathy was found in four families. Molecular genetic analysis confirmed diagnoses in nine families. Overall, the research identified 198 pre-symptomatic relatives who could be at risk of sudden death. Examining young SUD victims' relatives has a high diagnostic yield and should be mandatory, the scientists said.

9 a.m. Abstract 1786 - Yoga, meditation may relax arteries, according to a preliminary study. By some estimates, chronic stress may double the risk of cardiovascular events. While stress reduction appears to reduce this risk, little is known about how it may work. Researchers studied the effects of yoga and meditation on 33 people in a pilot study. Various factors were measured, including blood pressure, body mass index, heart rates; cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Participants (average age 55, 61 percent male) were split into two groups: one (30 percent) with, and one (70 percent) without prior cardiovascular disease. All had three 1.5-hour yoga and meditation sessions a week for six weeks. Endothelial-dependent artery dilation improved by 69 percent with yoga training in the cardiovascular disease group. There was no improvement in endothelial function in the non-cardiovascular disease group. Results in the cardiovascular disease group were independent of blood pressure, heart rate and other laboratory findings. Noting their study's size limitations, the researchers said the apparent benefit they found still merits further inquiry.

9 a.m. Abstract 3524 - The altar may alter extent of CVD risk. Wedded bliss may be best when it comes to lowering cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. Minnesota researchers used the Berkman Social Network Index to gauge the impact of marital status and the support of friends, relatives, church and social groups on CVD risk factors. A study of population samplings taken in 1990-92, 1995-97 and 2000-02 showed that, after adjusting for variables, strong social support (excluding marital status) was associated with lower blood pressure in both sexes. Reduced social support was linked to a 12 percent increase in smoking in women and 8 percent in men. In a separate look at marital status, married men were 5 percent less likely to be hypertensive, and they were more likely to have lower systolic pressures, cholesterol levels and body mass indices. Married women also had significantly lower cholesterol and body mass index. This "supports the hypothesis that increased social support, particularly related to being married, is associated with reduced prevalence of established CVD risk factors," the authors said.

9 a.m. Abstract 3531 - Adherence to ACC/AHA PCI guidelines equals better outcomes. A majority of cardiologists are following guidelines for angioplasty procedures to reopen blocked heart arteries that were issued in 2001 by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, and the result is uniformly better outcomes. That's the finding of a large new survey of 407,152 percutaneous coronary interventions, or PCIs, at 313 centers. It found that 58 percent were performed for Class I indications, meaning that there was evidence and/or agreement that PCI would be useful or effective. In these, clinical success was 92.8 percent, and death rates just 0.5 percent. But deaths tripled, to 1.9 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively, in Class IIb, in which there was conflicting evidence or divergent opinion, and in Class III, where there was evidence and/or agreement that PCI was not useful, and may be harmful. Fortunately, only 6 percent of the PCIs were classified as Class IIb, and 7 percent as Class III. Researchers say the finding of widespread adherence to ACC/AHA guidelines, and resulting improved outcomes, should be useful for improving the quality of cardiology services and lead to closer self-examination of local PCI practices.

Also see Abstract 3716 (8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9) for a report on racial differences in PCI outcomes that found minority patients tend to have higher prevalence of CVD risk factors, but the rates of adverse post-PCI events were similar among all races.

9 a.m. Abstract 3546 - Blood pressure control helps prevent atrial fibrillation. High blood pressure poses a major risk for developing atrial fibrillation (AF), the rapid beating of the heart's upper chambers. Until now, it's been unclear if maintaining optimal blood pressure (BP) can prevent AF. Doctors studied AF development in 226 patients with a history of hypertension and coronary artery disease. Thirty-three (15 percent) developed AF during the five-year follow-up. The scientists found that maintaining blood pressure at the optimal level - systolic BP below 120 mm Hg and diastolic BP below 80 mm Hg - seemed to provide the most benefit in preventing AF. A systolic BP below 120 mm Hg was associated with reduced risk of developing AF by 61 percent; diastolic BP below 80 mm Hg was associated with reducing risk by 66 percent. Optimal blood pressure control can potentially prevent AF in hypertensive patients with coronary artery disease, the authors say.

2 p.m. Abstract 3664 - Cardiac rehabilitation improves psychological and heart risk profile of young patients. Most studies of the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation (CR) have focused on middle-aged or elderly patients - until now. Investigators studied the effects of CR on 104 patients under than age 55 (average age 48, 73 percent male). They assessed baseline psychological and overall risk profiles. Results were compared to similar findings in 260 older patients (average age 75, 75 percent male). Initially the young patients had higher anxiety, hostility and depression levels than the elderly. They also had higher body mass indices and cholesterol levels. But after CR, young patients had "marked reductions" in all psychological symptoms and showed improved blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index and total quality of life scores. Researchers say their findings show that adverse coronary risk profiles are present in younger patients after a major cardiac event, but these profiles improve markedly after CR and exercise training. Also see Abstract 3572 (4:30 p.m.) for results of a small study suggesting that an important benefit of exercise may come from an increase in circulating "endothelial progenitor" cells associated with improved vascular function.

4:45 p.m. Abstract 1930 - Early ECG identifies cardiac abnormalities in newborns. Should newborn infants be screened for heart rhythm abnormalities? Italian investigators, who previously had found increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome among infants with Long QT Syndrome (LQTS), sought the answer in a large study. LQTS is an inherited disorder of the heart's electrical rhythm that can be detected by an abnormal waveform on an electrocardiogram (ECG). The Q-T interval on the ECG represents the duration of time between electrical activation and inactivation of the lower heart chambers. In this study, researchers performed an ECG on newborns between the 15th and 25th day of life at 16 centers. By April 2004, ECGs were obtained on 21,397 infants. Among those, 173 (0.8 percent) had Q-T interval greater than 440 millisecond (ms); 17 of these had Q-T interval greater than 470 ms - the cutoff point for molecular screening of LQTS genes. Sixty-five infants had other significant ECG abnormalities. Genotyping identified LQTS mutations in three. Thus an ECG in the first month of life can detect abnormalities associated with risk of cardiovascular disease and death, according to researchers. Diagnosing LQTS can allow preventive measures both in newborns and affected family members who may carry a gene mutation. ECGs also can facilitate early detection of hazardous cardiac malformations.
Statements and conclusions of study authors that are published in the American Heart Association scientific journals are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position. The American Heart Association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability.

American Heart Association

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