Heart Beat February 2013 Issue

Heart Beat: February 2013

OPEN SURGERY BETTER THAN STENTS FOR MULTI-VESSEL CORONARY DISEASE
Treating advanced coronary artery disease can sometimes be done with open surgery and bypass grafting or with stenting the narrowed arteries. But a recent study, published online Nov. 5 in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) led to healthier outcomes than treating with angioplasty and stents in individuals with multi-vessel blockages and diabetes. Researchers found that the risks of heart attacks and death were lower in the CABG group, though bypass surgery did lead to a slightly higher risk of stroke compared to people who had stents put in their coronary arteries. If you need treatment for advanced coronary artery disease, discuss the risks and benefits of both options with your physician. In some cases, the state of the diseased arteries is too complicated to treat with stenting.

HEALTHY FOODS MAY HELP PREVENT SECOND HEART ATTACK
Taking medications to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are important if you have cardiovascular disease (CVD) and are trying to prevent a second heart attack. But recent research has found that a healthy diet, combined with medication adherence, can provide even greater protection. In a study published in the Dec. 18, 2012 issue of the journal Circulation, researchers found that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fish can lower the risk of new heart attacks by 14 percent and reduce the risk of stroke by 19 percent. The study involved more than 31,000 men and women with CVD in 40 nations. Researchers say their findings are especially important, because many heart patients tend to be less mindful about their diets because they believe the medications theyíre taking will provide them sufficient protection.

RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME†MAY PREDICT ONSET OF CORONARY HEART DISEASE
Having restless leg syndrome (RLS) for at least three years is associated with an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease, according to a study published in the journal Circulation. Researchers noted that RLS appears to be vastly underdiagnosed, and urged individuals with RLS symptoms, which typically present as a crawling or itching feeling in the legs as you lie down to sleep, to discuss the symptoms with a doctor and ask about whether a comprehensive cardiovascular check-up is warranted.

ATRIAL FIBRILLATION RISK MAY BE ASSOCIATED WITH THYROID DISEASE
In what may be the first study that assesses the association between new-onset atrial fibrillation (AF) and the range of thyroid diseases, researchers found that the risk of developing AF is related to the degree of thyroid dysfunction. Even in cases of subclinical hyperthyroidism, which occurs when low thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels arenít accompanied by higher-than-normal free thyroxine, the risk of AF is increased. The study, published in the Nov. 27, 2012 issue of BMJ, suggests that individuals with thyroid disease should be routinely screened for AF, even if they donít have obvious symptoms of the arrhythmia. Compared to patients with normal thyroid function, those with hyperthyroidism had a 30-percent higher risk of developing AF. The risk was higher in women.

STROKE RISK INCREASES WITH STRESS, DEPRESSION SYMPTOMS
Older adults with higher levels of psychosocial distress are at a greater risk of suffering and dying from a stroke, according to a study published online December 13, 2012 in the journal Stroke. Researchers followed more than 4,000 adults over age 65 (average age 77) during the 10-year study. They discovered that participants who reported the most psychosocial distress had three times the risk of death from stroke and a 54 percent increased risk of first hospitalization from stroke as those who reported the least distress. Psychosocial distress scores were calculated based on rating scales that measured the participantsí stress levels, symptoms of depression, level of satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with life, and whether they had a negative or positive outlook. The findings underline the importance of getting assistance with mental and emotional issues to protect your physical health and well-being.