A recent study published in Clinical Research in Cardiology found that atrial fibrillation is a frequent complication of HCM and can be an important predictor of negative outcomes.
These findings suggest that practitioners should aggressively screen for and treat atrial fibrillation in HCM patients to improve long term outcomes.
A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that drinkers suffering from atrial fibrillation who stopped drinking for the period of the study significantly reduced episodes of atrial fibrillation.
According to doctors, alcohol consumption appears to be a significant risk factor and trigger for atrial fibrillation, while teetotaling appears to have a profound impact.
Dr. John Osborne, an American Heart Association spokesperson, said the benefit from giving up drinking was similar to results seen from drugs used to treat atrial fibrillation. Even if patients are not able to completely abstain from alcohol, Osborne advised cutting back significantly. “It costs nothing and led to a substantial reduction in hospital rates. People in the abstinence group also lost an average of 3.8 kilograms [8.4 pounds] in six months,” he said.
The software update which allows the Apple Watch 4 to take an EKG and to detect atrial fibrillation went live last week. In anticipation of the availability of these functions, I purchased an Apple Watch 4. As soon as the software was available, I downloaded it and have used it every day since. So far, I am quite pleased with my purchase. The technology works very well, even despite the fact that I have an implantable pacemaker/defibrillator.
The strip it takes looks like this:
You can send a strip via email to your doctor, and all are saved for posterity on your Iphone. (NOTE: YOU MUST HAVE AN IPHONE CAPABLE OF RUNNING THE SOFTWARE IN ORDER TO USE THE WATCH).
And, as long as you tell the software that you have never been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, if it detects atrial fibrillation while you wearing the watch, it will send you an alert. I haven’t gotten such an alert yet and hope not to!
And here is a story about a man whose watch spotted his previously undiagnosed Afib. After a trip to the emergency room, he was able to receive proper treatment and avert a potential health crisis.
A recent paper published in the journal Circulation looked at the clinical course of approximately 4,600 HCM patients over the course of more than 24,000 clinical years, which the paper describes as the largest comprehensive cohort of HCM patients ever studied.
This study examined patients from eight high volume HCM centers which aggregated their institutional data into a database known as the Sarcomere Human Cardiomyopathy Registry (or the acronym the “SHaRe” for short). The results of the study showed that, in general, HCM patients are at substantially elevated risk for atrial fibrillation and heart failure, and have significantly higher mortality rates than that of the general U.S. population.
This study found that AF was not a frequent cause of death by heart failure or sudden cardiac arrest. However, the researchers identified AF as an important cause of stroke in HCM patients. Therefore, they recommend a low threshold for starting HCM patients on anti-coagulants following an initial AF episode.
Researchers in this study analyzed statistics from 1558 HCM patients, 20% of whom experienced AF. 74% experienced only sporadic episodes, while 26% went on to develop permanent AF.
At the time of publication, 91% of the 277 of the patients included in the sample were still alive and between the ages 49 and 75 years old.
According to an accompanying editorial by Italian HCM expert Dr. Paolo Spirito, the outlook for HCM patients with atrial fibrillation has improved over the last twenty years due to significant advances in HCM treatment over that time period such as ICD implantation and myectomy, along with aggressive anti-coagulation for atrial fibrillation patients.
Spirito also noted that it is difficult to predict whether a given HCM patient will go on to develop permanent Afib after a single episode since many will not. Additionally, permanent afib can be well tolerated when there is contemporaneous control of heart rate. Therefore, anti-arrhythmic medications, which can cause unpleasant side effects, may not be necessary for HCM patients with afib as long as anti-coagulation measures are taken.
The same Fitbit you wear to count your steps may soon have an additional purpose: it could detect atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat which could cause a stroke if not properly treated. Yet, it often goes unnoticed by a person experiencing it.
This technology could be of great benefit to heart patients. Not only does the Fitbit encourage you to exercise, it might just save your life!
According to new research presented at last week’s meeting of the Heart Rhythm Society, aspirin is not effective in preventing strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation, and in some instances may actually do more harm than good.
In fact, the study, led by Dr. Jared Bunch from Intermountain Healthcare system, Salt Lake City, UT, found that patients who were prescribed aspirin following catheter ablation procedures to treat atrial fibrillation were significantly more likely to suffer gastrointestinal or genitourinary bleeding than those who took other anticoagulants like warfarin, or those who received no treatment at all.
Start-up tech company Cardiogram paired up with electrophysiologists at the University of California, San Francisco to try out the technology on patients awaiting cardioversion for atrial fibrillation. 51 patients at UCSF agreed to wear Apple Watches during their cardioversion procedures.
Heart rate samples were obtained before the procedure, when the patient was in atrial fibrillation, and again afterward when heart rhythm had been restored to normal. The researchers found that the Apple Watches were able to detect afib 97% of the time.
The Cardiogram and UCSF teams hope to publish their findings in a peer-reviewed journal while Cardiogram hopes it can make this information useful to consumers. One possibility would be to have the watch send a notification to the wearer that s/he appears to be in afib should contact her/his care provider immediately.
If you are interested in participating in this research, click here.
A recent article published in Heart looked at the safety and effectiveness of catheter ablation for the treatment of Atrial Fibrillation in patients with HCM by performing a systematic review of prior publications on the subject.
The researchers concluded that even though the success rate for HCM patients was approximately half that of patients who suffered from AFib but did not have HCM, catheter ablation is still an effective treatment for HCM patients; especially for those HCM patients who suffer from paroxysmal AFib and who have smaller atria.