A simple tool to spot a serious problem
Researchers at the University of East Anglia have developed a simpler way to spot people who may have an irregular heartbeat, medically known as atrial fibrillation.
This irregular heartbeat is not fatal in itself, but it can increase your risk of having a stroke by up to five times. Stroke can be life-changing, ranging from minor injury to severe disability and death.
The scientists have created a tool that any doctor can use. The goal is to find out which patients are more likely to develop this heart problem and which patients are more likely to have a stroke later in life.
By identifying the problem early, doctors can begin treatment to reduce the patient’s risk.
What the study reveals
The study looked at 323 people in east England who had a stroke but didn’t know why. The research took place in various hospitals, including Cambridge University Hospital.
The team reviewed the medical records of these people and used special equipment to monitor their heartbeats for a long time. They also used ultrasounds to get a better look at her heart.
What did you find? Four things stood out that make someone more likely to have atrial fibrillation.
Older people were more at risk. This was also true for people with higher “resting” blood pressure — the kind of blood pressure you get when you sit still.
The study also found that you, too, are at greater risk if the upper left part of your heart isn’t working well or isn’t synchronized with the rest of the heart.
Why this matters
Lead researcher Prof. Vassilios Vassiliou explained the importance of knowing who might develop atrial fibrillation.
He says knowing who is at high risk is crucial because treatment involves drugs that thin the blood. These drugs can reduce the risk of another stroke.
Various tests are usually required after a stroke to find out the cause. This may include putting a small device under your skin to monitor your heart rhythm over a period of time and doing an ultrasound of the heart.
But this new tool makes it easier to find out who really needs these tests and medicines.
This tool makes it easier for doctors to determine who needs to monitor their heart rhythm closely and who should start taking blood-thinning medication sooner to avoid another stroke.
It’s a no-fuss tool that could save lives by helping doctors act faster and more accurately.
The results of the study were presented at a major heart conference in Amsterdam and also published in a scientific journal. This work was a team effort involving several universities and hospitals across the UK.
Now the researchers hope their easy-to-use tool will help doctors diagnose and treat more at-risk people to prevent future strokes and improve lives.
If you are interested in stroke, please read the relevant studies A diet high in flavonoids could help reduce the risk of strokeAnd A MIND diet could slow cognitive decline after a stroke.
Further information on the subject of health can be found in current studies how the Mediterranean diet can protect your brain healthAnd Wild blueberries can be good for your heart and brain.
The study was published in European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
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