News / Health

Sustained Irregular Heartbeat Raises Mortality Risk for Middle Aged Women

Sustained Irregular Heartbeat Raises Mortality Risk for Middle Aged Women
Sustained Irregular Heartbeat Raises Mortality Risk for Middle Aged Women

Multimedia

Melinda Smith

Many doctors see atrial fibrillation (AF), an abnormal heart rhythm, in their elderly patients. But a new study indicates that a surprising number of middle aged women, who are otherwise healthy, are diagnosed with AF and are at a higher risk of death. 

Judy Kulp has come to Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston to check on her atrial fibrillation.

"It feels like a middle school kid who wants to be a drummer in the band, but has no sense of rhythm," said Kulp.

Atrial fibrillation happens when electrical impulses in two of the four chambers of the heart go into an irregular or chaotic pattern.  Doctors often diagnose it when patients come in with symptoms of heart papitations.  It is a condition not commonly seen in middle aged women.

An international group of researchers wanted to know why, so they looked at results of the Women's Health Study, conducted from 1993 to 2010.  Data was collected from 35,000 women whose average age was 53. No one in the group had previous heart problems.  But surprisingly, the women with sustained atrial fibrillation had a twofold greater risk of death than others.

Dr. David Conen of the University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland and other researchers wanted to know what the risk factors were for these women, especially those who appeared to be healthy.

"There was an increased risk of death among women who developed atrial fibrillation, even in a population who was at absolutely low risk of cardiovascular disease at baseline," said Conen.

Cardiologist Christine Albert of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts was one of the researchers.  She says the key is whether the AF is constant.

"When we looked at women who had what we call paroxysmal [brief and intermittent] atrial fibrillation, which is atrial fibrillation that comes and goes, we didn't find an elevation in total mortality," said Albert.

Patients are often treated with medication to reduce high blood pressure and are urged to reduce their cholesterol levels and not to smoke.  Judy Kulp underwent what's called ablation therapy, which uses catheters to suppress the atrial fibrillation.  

"I feel fantastic," said Kulp.  "I haven't had any symptoms.  The difference of not knowing what's going to happen from day to day, to feeling great, is wonderful."

Women, and men, who feel they have symptoms of atrial fibrillation are advised to see their doctor for appropriate treatment.  The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More