That's News

By Steve Barrett
Monday, January 1, 2018

Calcium Levels Linked to Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Low serum calcium levels in the blood are associated with greater likelihood of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), according to a study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

“Patients with serum calcium in the lowest quartile (<8.95 mg/dL) had twice the odds of sudden cardiac arrest compared to those in the highest quartile (>9.55 mg/dL), even after controlling for multiple patient characteristics including demographics, cardiovascular risk factors and comorbidities, and medication use,” Lead Investigator Sumeet S. Chugh, MD, Pauline and Harold Price Chair in Cardiac Electrophysiology at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, stated in a news release by Elsevier.

Approximately 90 percent of people who experience SCA die as a result. Most who die had no history of heart disease.

The findings should spur study about low serum calcium levels as a possible SCA risk factor and about potential benefits of greater calcium intake, researchers say.

Turning the Tables on Heart Failure

Heart failure frequently develops among people who survive severe heart attacks, as heart muscle that dies does not regenerate.

Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine hope they are on the path to a technique that would tap a previously unknown healing capability in the heart. They reversed severe heart failure in a mouse model, according to findings in Nature.

The process involved “turning off” a signaling pathway that otherwise blocks heart muscle regeneration. Researchers inhibited the Hippo pathway in a mouse model designed to have a condition mimicking advanced heart failure in humans. Six weeks later, the damaged heart’s pumping function was equal to that of healthy hearts in mice used as controls.

Additional studies are necessary to shed light on various aspects of the improved cardiac condition, researchers noted in a news release from Baylor.

Of Hockey Games and Heart Rates

It’s not especially surprising that watching hockey can increase a viewer’s heart rate. However, Canadian researchers who studied the topic found the increase was at times astonishing, especially among fans who attend live games.

The heart rate of spectators who watched on television rose by 75 percent on average, compared with a 110 percent increase among live viewers.

“Our results indicate that viewing a hockey game can be the source of an intense emotional stress,” cardiologist Paul Khairy, MD, Senior Investigator, stated in a Toronto Sun article.

Scientists monitored the heart rates of fans during Montreal Canadiens games. The higher rates could trigger a cardiovascular event in “susceptible individuals,” they say, but they caution that the focus should be on minimizing risk, not avoiding enjoyable sporting events.