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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid