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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid