That's News

By Steve Barrett
Friday, December 7, 2018

Cardiologist Care Linked to Lower AFib Death Rate

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) patients who receive care from a cardiologist are about 32 percent less likely to die within the first year after initial diagnosis, a study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology found.

However, it was unclear whether the 15 percent of patients in the study who did not see a cardiologist may have had factors such as greater frailty that heightened their mortality risk.

“The most startling finding from this study is the high rate of death in the cohort overall,” Stephen Wilton, MD, Assistant Professor of Cardiology at Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, writes in an editorial accompanying the study. “Therefore, a new diagnosis of [AFib], while not immediately life-threatening, should be regarded as an important marker of near-term risk of cardiovascular events. This observation alone provides a potential rationale for desiring early cardiovascular specialist evaluation for these patients.”

Nearly 3 million Americans have AFib.

Cardiac Devices Face Cybersecurity Threat

The chance of a hacker reprogramming a patient’s implanted cardiac device is remote, according to a paper in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

However, a cyberattack on a hospital network could harm wireless communication with a device or monitoring of a patient’s condition, the paper notes.

“The likelihood of an individual hacker successfully affecting a cardiovascular implantable electronic device or being able to target a specific patient is very low,” Dhanunjaya R. Lakkireddy, MD, Professor of Medicine at the University of Kansas Hospital, a member of the Electrophysiology Council and the corresponding author of the paper, states in a news release. “A more likely scenario is that of a malware or ransomware attack affecting a hospital network and inhibiting communication.”

No instances of hacking or malware attacks affecting cardiac devices have been documented, and the FDA provides guidance for securing such devices.

Analyzing Food Trends’ Effects on Cardiovascular Health

Researchers from the American College of Cardiology Nutrition & Lifestyle Workgroup of the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Council assessed whether certain dietary trends that purportedly aid cardiac health actually have support from research.

Multiple meta-analyses yielded these conclusions, among others:

  • Legumes, such as peas, lentils and beans, reduce coronary heart disease and improve weight and systolic blood pressure.
  • Regular coffee drinking is linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality but not to development of hypertension.
  • Green or black tea drunk without milk, cream, sugars or other sweeteners is linked to enhanced cardiovascular health and blood lipids.
  • While limited alcohol consumption is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, alcohol’s link to cancer, falls and liver disease outweighs that potential benefit.

The study appears in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.