December 22, 2011
By Alice Park
There are several ways doctors predict your vulnerability to heart disease, among them: cholesterol levels, blood pressure, blood glucose levels and weight. Now a new study adds another measure to the list — your pulse rate.
Researchers in Norway analyzed data on nearly 30,000 men and women, and found that those whose resting heart rates increased over time were more likely to die from heart disease. The participants were healthy, with no history of heart conditions, and agreed to have their resting heart rates measured twice, 10 years apart, in 1984-86 and again in 1995-97.
Those whose resting pulse crept from under 70 beats per minute at the first reading to more than 85 beats per minute at the second measurement were twice as likely to die over a 12-year follow-up, compared with people resting heart rate remained below 70 beats.
People who started out with pulse rates between 70 and 85 beats per minute were also at risk of heart-related death; if their heart rates rose beyond 85 beats per minute by the second reading, they had an 80% increased risk of dying from heart disease, compared with people whose heart rates remained stable.
The opposite effect emerged in people whose heart rates dropped over time: those whose resting heart rate started out at 70 to 85 beats per minute and fell to less than 70 beats at the second reading were 40% less likely to die of heart disease than those who maintained their pulse rates.
Many factors go into your resting heart rate, including your weight, blood pressure, the medications you take and how much you exercise. Whether you are standing up or lying down when you take your reading can also affect pulse (that’s why your heart may race a bit when you first get up in the morning). Experts say healthy adults can have pulse rates ranging from 60 to 100 beats per minute. Elite athletes typically have lower heart rates, around 40 beats per minute because of their better heart fitness.
December 11, 2009
By E. Huff
New findings reported by the Resuscitation Research Group at the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center reveal that the chances of surviving cardiac arrest are improved by instigating chest compressions only rather than standard cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) which includes mouth-to-mouth breathing.
In conjunction with Arizona Department of Health Services, the research team evaluated data on survival rates among those who experience cardiac arrest. Five percent of victims survive without any form of CPR being administered to them while those who receive CPR have a slightly higher 6-percent chance of survival. Chest pumping alone, on the other hand, holds an 11-percent survival rate.
In more severe cases where bystanders witnessed the collapse and in which the heart rhythm was most likely to respond to defibrillator shock treatment once paramedics arrived, as high as 32 percent of victims survive through chest pumping alone. Those who receive no CPR hold a 17-percent chance of survival while conventional CPR victims are 19-percent likely to survive.
Trends have also changed to reflect this reality among those trained in administering CPR. Over the past four years, the number of cases where CPR-trained individuals treated an individual using chest compressions only has increased from 16 percent to 77 percent.
Current estimates suggest that a mere 20 percent of people would be willing to perform conventional CPR if needed. Just 20 years ago, 60 percent of people would have been willing to do it, representing a 40-percent drop in willingness to give a stranger CPR in order to save his or her life.
The American Heart Association has been recommending since 2000 that people exercise compression-only CPR when they witness a collapse in public. Originally designed as an alternative form of CPR for people who were uncomfortable performing mouth-to-mouth on a stranger, the compression-only form of CPR was designed to stem the tide of growing unwillingness among the population to perform CPR.
Experts must now inform the public of the findings and work to shift thought away from the idea of having to perform mouth-to-mouth. Even with recommendation from experts throughout the past decade to perform compression-only CPR, the general public has been slow to adopt the idea. Many CPR certification courses still teach mouth-to-mouth CPR.
In order to help get the word out, the Sarver Heart Center decided to send fliers back in June to all Tucson residents notifying them of the new CPR method. The fliers were included with every resident’s electric bill for the month.
December 7, 2009
By Dave Chism
Public Citizen, a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, called for a ban on the popular weight loss drug, Meridia, today. The call comes after the results of a recent study were released showing an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and death in obese patients taking the drug.
From the Public Citizen press release:
This is Public Citizen’s second petition to have Meridia banned; the FDA rejected the first four years ago, saying it was awaiting results of an ongoing trial. The results are in, and they show that the drug’s dangers significantly outweigh its benefits.
Public Citizen has previously attempted to have sibutramine banned on March 19, 2002. The request was based on the results of clinical trials which showed an increased risk of high blood pressure, elevated pulse rate, and heart palpitations in obese patients taking Meridia when compared to a group taking a placebo.
The FDA rejected their initial claim in 2002 because there had not been a large scale study at the time to conclusively show the increased risks. With the new study, Public Citizen feels they now have the large scale study the FDA requires.
Even though the larger study has been performed, only preliminary results are available. According to the Associated Press, the FDA stated it is “making no conclusions about the preliminary findings,” when they were released.
Meridia is manufactured by Abbott Labs which is located in North Chicago. The spokesman from Abbott, Kurt Ebenhoch, told the AP:
Sibutramine is not recommended or approved for use in more than 90 percent of the patients who participated in the SCOUT study. Abbott’s assessment is that the data do not indicate a change in the safety profile of sibutramine when used in the approved patient population.
It is estimated that Meridia is currently prescribed to approximately 250,000 people. Meridia is intended to be used as a weight loss aid along with proper diet and exercise.