Heart Beat: June 2013
Post-ER Care for Chest Pain May Reduce Risk of Heart Attack
If you go to the emergency room for chest pain, and you then receive follow-up care with a cardiologist within a month of the visit, you may lower your risk of heart attack or death within a year by 21 percent. Research published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation found, however, that only 17 percent of high-risk chest pain patients who are seen in the ER were evaluated by a cardiologist within a month. About 58 percent of patients saw primary care physicians alone, while 25 percent had no physician follow-up within a month. One of the reasons patients gave for not following up was that patients didnít believe they needed additional care if they were sent home from the ER without treatment. Researchers stressed that itís critical for patients with chest pain to seek out a cardiologistís evaluation promptly, particularly if the patients have risk factors such as obesity, advanced age, a history of smoking, family history of heart disease or a personal history of cardiovascular problems.
Heart-health Screening Tests May also Reveal Cognitive Health Risks
Prediction tools normally used to estimate future risk of heart disease or stroke may be especially helpful in forecasting cognitive dysfunction, according to a study published in Neurology, a journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study found that the heart disease risk score, comprised of age, blood pressure, treatment for hypertension, HDL (ďgoodĒ) cholesterol, total cholesterol, smoking and diabetes, showed a stronger link with cognitive decline than the dementia risk score, which included age, education, blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), total cholesterol, exercise and whether a person had the APOE-4 gene, which is associated with dementia. The heart risk score was associated with decline in all cognitive tests except memory. Researchers say the study indicates that there are even more benefits to managing controllable risk factors, such as blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.
Chronic Pain a Common Complication After Ischemic Stroke
After an ischemic stroke, one caused by the blockage of a blood vessel, chronic pain is likely, even if the stroke was a mile to moderate event. Researchers who studied this problem found that chronic pain was associated with greater decline in physical and cognitive function. That makes it an especially important consideration in post-stroke treatment. Researchers, who published their work in the American Heart Association journal Stroke, suggest that one reason for the connection between chronic pain and cognitive decline may be related to the side effects of pain medication, though they added that such a hypothesis would have to be studied further. Among the risk factors strongly associated with post-stroke pain were female gender, greater alcohol intake, recent depressive symptoms, diabetes, and vascular disease, specifically located in the lower limbs. If you experience chronic pain after a stroke, talk with your doctor about options for interventions and steps you can take to better control risk factors that might contribute to the problem.†
Walking May Lower Heart Risks as Effectively as Running
If youíre concerned that your brisk walking routine isnít lowering your odds of heart trouble as much as the runners you see beside you on the treadmills or jogging paths, a recent study may provide some reassurance. Research reported in the American Heart Association journal Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology compared the effects of running vs. walking in terms of time spent doing those activities, rather than in terms of distance covered. Researchers found that walking actually reduced the risk of first-time hypertension, first-time high cholesterol and coronary heart disease a little more than running did. The key, of course, is that walkers must keep up a brisk pace to achieve these results. Researchers suggest that walking may be a more sustainable activity for more people, compared to running, though runners may inevitably exercise more because they will expend more energy in an hour than walkers. Before you begin any significant exercise program, check with your doctor to see if there are any concerns or limitations you should understand.