Heart Beat: June 2014
Research shows insomnia associated with higher stroke risk
If you suffer from insomnia, your risk of a having a stroke may be much higher than someone who doesnít have problems sleeping through the night. Research published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke found that insomnia raises the likelihood of hospitalization due to a stroke by 54 percent over a four-year period. Insomniacs with diabetes face even greater stroke risks, the researchers found. The risk also seemed to be higher if you experienced insomnia as a young adult. Researchers examined the health records of 21,000 people with insomnia and 64,000 people without the condition. Explanations for the association between insomnia and stroke risk arenít clear, but researchers believe that poor sleep leads to systemic inflammation, poor blood glucose control, increased blood pressure and other health complications. The study didnít explore whether successful treatment of insomnia actually lowered stroke risk. However, researchers said that itís important for people with insomnia to look for and address the underlying causes of their sleep problems, as well as manage any other risk factors for stroke, such as high blood pressure. Insomnia is defined either as difficulty falling asleep or waking during the night and having trouble falling back to sleep.
Smaller, wireless pacemaker shows promise in early testing
Initial tests show that a small, self-contained pacemaker that is implanted in the heart may be safe and effective for people with abnormal heart rhythms known as arrhythmias. Among the key differences between this experimental pacemaker and traditional devices are that the new pacemaker has no wires or leads, and that it is placed directly in the heart without surgery. A catheter delivers the device to the right ventricle, which is where a standard pacemaker lead would be located. Because the new pacemaker, which is smaller than a triple-A battery, does not require surgery to be implanted, the risks of infection and other surgical complications is eliminated. Likewise, because there are no leads that can malfunction or break, the new device may prove to be more reliable and require fewer repairs or replacements. Results of a study of 33 older adults with the smaller pacemakers were published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation. Researchers say larger studies will be needed to confirm the safety and feasibility of the devices. One such study has already begun at multiple centers throughout the U.S.
NSAIDs May raise bleeding risks for patients taking anticoagulants
Taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) or aspirin for pain or headache may significantly raise your risk of a major bleed if you are also taking anticoagulant medications for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or a pulmonary embolism (PE). Research published in JAMA Internal Medicine underscores the message physicians have tried to make clear to all their patients who take anticoagulants, such as warfarin (Coumadin). The researchers advise people on anticoagulant therapy take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain or fever. NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Advil) are commonly used for casual pain or occasional headaches. But they are not worth the risk, says the studyís lead author, Bruce Davidson, MD, of the University of Washington. He adds that if you are unsure what drugs are NSAIDs, ask your doctor or a pharmacist. He also notes that if you take aspirin to help prevent a heart attack, ask your doctor about further aspirin use if you are placed on anticoagulant therapy.
Study suggests calcium supplementation doesnít raise heart risks
A study published in the British Medical Journal finds that calcium supplementation, with or without vitamin D, doesnít raise the risk of coronary heart disease in older women. Concerns about calcium supplements and heart health have existed for several years. Supplementation is often recommended to women who do not get sufficient calcium in their regular diet, or who may be at a higher risk for osteoporosis. If you have questions about appropriate dosages of daily calcium supplements, or about how calcium may affect your particular heart health, ask your doctor.