Tuesday, February 15, 2011
'Healthy' patients at high risk of cardiac death identified (USA)
The way the heart responds to an early beat is predictive of cardiac death, especially for people with no conventional markers of cardiovascular disease, according to new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The conventional risk factors, such as high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure, account for many but not all deaths from cardiovascular causes. As a result, doctors are always searching for better ways to identify patients at risk of cardiac death. The new research indicates that an abnormal response to an early beat in the left ventricle, the heart's main pumping chamber, can identify high-risk patients even when they have no other evidence of cardiovascular disease. "These are people we do not expect to die of cardiac causes," says Phyllis K. Stein, PhD, research associate professor of medicine and director of the Heart Rate Variability Laboratory at the School of Medicine. "They appear healthy, but they're not. We have shown a way they're not healthy that isn't showing up using standard tests." The work appears February 15 in the Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology.