Sugary Drinks, Steroids and Botox for Arrhythmias
More than two sugary drinks a day may not be sweet for your heart.
Drinking at least two sugar-sweetened drinks per day increased the risk of heart failure among middle-aged and older men by 23 percent compared to men who didn’t drink any sweetened beverages. Research published in the journal Heart examined the dietary habits and medical histories of more than 40,000 men over an 11-year period. The association between sugary drinks and heart failure suggests that better dietary preventive recommendations should be provided to individuals at risk for heart failure. While the study didn’t show a direct cause-and-effect relationship between sweetened beverages and heart failure, the research does underscore the risks of including too many such drinks in your diet. Previous studies have demonstrated an association between sweetened drinks and obesity, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Heart failure is a condition in which the heart no longer pumps blood vigorously enough to meet the body’s demands. A weakened heart can develop after a heart attack or as a result of valve problems, hypertension or diseases of the heart muscle.
Study: Common steroid not effective at reducing post-surgery pain.
A Cleveland Clinic study found that the use of a methylprednisolone, a commonly prescribed steroid used to treat inflammation, was not effective at relieving the lingering pain often experienced at the incision location for open heart surgery. Surgical patients often complain of pain at the point of incision for months after the operation. Alparslan Turan, MD, lead author of the study, and vice chairman for education at the Department of Outcomes Research at Cleveland Clinic, had hoped that methylprednisolone would be effective in treating incision pain. The medication can be especially helpful in treating conditions such as arthritis and colitis. Dr. Turan believes the pain that persists around the scar is related to inflammation. While incisional pain can persist with any patient, it is more common among younger patients, women and patients who may have had deep infections near the incisions.
Botox may help prevent arrhythmias after bypass surgery.
Botulinum toxin, more commonly known as Botox, may become much than a way to help smooth out facial wrinkles. The popular cosmetic treatment may help reduce irregular heartbeats following heart surgery. About a third of all patients who undergo coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) develop atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that raises the risk of stroke and other complications. But in a study published in Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology, researchers found that injecting Botox into the fat surrounding the heart after surgery significantly reduced the odds that patients later developed atrial fibrillation. In the study, a group of CABG patients received Botox injections, while a similar group received harmless saline injections. About seven percent of the Botox group developed atrial fibrillation, while nearly 30 percent of the saline group developed the arrhythmia. There were no reported complications or side effects due to the Botox injections, though there were some expected complications stemming from the heart surgery itself. Botox works by blocking nerve signals that tell muscles to contract. Researchers noted that a larger clinical trial will be necessary before Botox could even be considered part of preventive therapy for CABG patients. But they also added that if Botox treatment proves to be a safe and effective addition to CABG, the injections may also have a role in valve repair or replacement—procedures that also dramatically raise the risk of atrial fibrillation.
Short exercise bursts may have advantages over sustained activity.
If you have type 2 diabetes, you may see better improvements in your blood sugar levels and your cholesterol if you engage in a few 10-minute routines of more intense exercise each day, as opposed to 30 consecutive minutes of moderate exercise. That was the message of a study presented at the recent Canadian Cardiovascular Conference. Researchers said the separate “bursts” of exercise may help the body use blood sugar and cholesterol more effectively than a slower, sustained workout. They also noted that shorter workouts, even if they’re demanding, may be easier to stick with than longer exercise routines.