A new study in the April 11 issue of JAMA shows that both minor and major electro-cardiographic abnormalities are linked to a higher risk of incidents involving coronary heart disease (CHD) in elderly people without pre-existing cardiovascular disease and that these abnormalities were better in predicting CHD events like heart attacks outside common cardiovascular risk factors. Background information in the articles states: "In populations of older adults, prediction of CHD through traditional risk factors is less accurate than among middle-aged adults." Electrocardiographic (ECG) abnormalities are common in older adults. However, performing routine ECG among asymptomatic adults is not supported by current evidence. Considering the higher prevalence of both cardiovascular disease (CVD) and ECG abnormalities in older adults, risk prediction incorporating ECG might be more useful in this group.
New research from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) suggests that seemingly small changes in summer temperature swings - as little as 1° C more than usual - may shorten life expectancy for elderly people with chronic medical conditions, and could result in thousands of additional deaths each year. While previous studies have focused on the short-term effects of heat waves, this is the first study to examine the longer-term effects of climate change on life expectancy. The study was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "The effect of temperature patterns on long-term mortality has not been clear to this point. We found that, independent of heat waves, high day to day variability in summer temperatures shortens life expectancy, " said Antonella Zanobetti, senior research scientist in the Department of Environmental Health at HSPH and lead author of the study.
Despite the fact that nifedipine increases the risk of heart attacks and death, doctors still prescribe this immediate-release blood pressure drug to elderly patients. The Cologne-based research group led by Ingrid Schubert has now published the results of their investigation in the current issue of Deutsches Arzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2012; 109: 215-9). Immediate-release nifedipine is classified as a potentially dangerous drug in the PRISCUS list published in 2010. Earlier studies demonstrated that, in comparison to other antihypertensive drugs, nifedipine increases patient risk for mortality and heart attacks. Ingrid Schubert and colleagues have now examined how frequently this calcium channel blocker is prescribed under everyday conditions. By analyzing data from 260 672 insured patients, they were able to document for the first time that doctors continue to prescribe immediate-release nifedipine to elderly patients.
People who have a cardiac arrest that can't be helped by a defibrillator shock are more likely to survive if given CPR based on updated guidelines that emphasize chest compressions, according to research reported in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation. "By any measure - such as the return of pulse and circulation or improved brain recovery - we found that implementing the new guidelines in these patients resulted in better outcomes from cardiac arrest, " said Peter J. Kudenchuk, M.D., lead author of the study and professor of medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash. The American Heart Association changed its CPR guidelines in 2005 to recommend more chest compressions with fewer interruptions. The emphasis on chest compressions continued in the 2010 guidelines update.
Exercise which can achieve both cardiovascular function and muscle strength "would be a preferred mode of training for older persons", say investigators Experienced practitioners of Tai Chi, the traditional Chinese mind-body exercise now enjoyed worldwide, have been shown in a study of older subjects to have improved expansion and contraction of arteries according to cardiac pulsation (arterial compliance) and improved knee muscle strength.(1) The findings, say the investigators, of better muscle strength without jeopardising arterial compliance suggest that Tai Chi may well be a suitable exercise for older people to improve both cardiovascular function and body strength. A number of studies, they explain, have shown that strength training to improve muscle function and offset the effects of ageing have also been accompanied by a decline in arterial compliance.