9 a.m. Abstract 2159 - Microwave energy successfully zaps atrial fibrillation in most patients. Atrial fibrillation (AF), the rapid fluttering of the heart's upper chambers, can result in poorer long-term survival and quality of life for heart surgery patients. Canadian doctors sought to rid patients of AF while correcting other defects. Twenty-three patients underwent the microwave technique ablation of lesions causing AF concurrently with surgeries, including heart valve replacement or repair and coronary artery bypass surgery. One patient had only AF ablation. After microwave treatment, only 17 percent stayed in AF immediately after surgery. One had a minor stroke; five required pacemakers. After an average follow-up of seven months, 78 percent of patients were free of AF. Microwave energy can ablate AF in a majority of patients with no device-related complications, said researchers, who caution that despite patients' return to sinus rhythm, stroke may occur in the early post-op period.
9 a.m. Abstract 2250 - Anxiety, low social support associated with relapse in heart failure patients. Hospital re-admission due to worsening heart failure symptoms is commonplace. New research shows just how large a role emotional distress plays in the relapse of these patients. In a study of 139 outpatients with heart failure, doctors found that after an average follow-up of one year, 36 patients (26 percent) were re-hospitalized. Using standard analysis techniques, the researchers found that anxiety and social support perceived as low were associated with "a significant higher risk" of re-admission. This was especially true of female patients, whose "hazard ratio" was 7.6, versus 1.7 for men. Anxiety symptoms should be considered in the management of heart failure patients, especially in women, the report concluded.
Also see Abstract 2249 (9 a.m.) for a report finding that social factors - living alone, alcohol abuse, economic burden of medical care, and health status - predicted the development of depression in some outpatients with heart failure.
10:15 a.m. Abstract 1936 - Women with non-ST elevation heart disease undergoing angioplasty are at higher risk than men. In a new study, women with a serious form of heart disease called non-ST elevation acute coronary syndrome (NSTACS) who undergo angioplasty to reopen blocked heart arteries (percutaneous coronary intervention, or PCI) fare worse than men. Earlier research in NSTACS patients suggested otherwise, but not all of the women had received PCI. This major review of male and female patients getting PCI between 1997 and 2002 concluded: "Women undergoing PCI for NSTACS have a higher risk of adverse events over the ensuing year than men." Compared to men, women with the coronary syndrome tended to be older, and more often had complications, such as hypertension, diabetes or congestive heart failure. NSTACS confers a significantly higher risk of death and heart attack in women compared to stable angina, chest pain experienced upon exertion. Also see Abstract 2327 (9 a.m.) for a report saying a higher death rate among women than men having PCI for heart attack may be secondary to other, non-gender-related factors such as older age, higher hemodynamic instability and shock.
4 p.m. Abstract 2480 - Engineering human heart valves from umbilical cord cells. Human umbilical cord cells can be frozen and later used as building blocks for new laboratory-grown "autologous" (originating within the individual) heart valves, a new study found. German scientists isolated cells from vascular segments of human umbilical cords and preserved them frozen. After 12 weeks the still-viable cells were expanded in culture and used to proliferate over heart valve "scaffolds" made of a porous polymer. Five heart valve constructs were grown for seven days, after which they were shown to contain viable cellular components of cardiac tissue. "This study demonstrates in vitro generation of human heart valves based on cryopreserved human umbilical cord cells (CHUCCs) and biomimetic flow culture systems," the researchers reported. The CHUCCs' tissue-forming capabilities suggest the potential benefit of creating human cell banks for use in pediatric patients diagnosed before birth with congenital heart defects. Also see Abstract 2481 (4:15 p.m.) for another report showing the feasibility of growing tissue-engineered "living heart" valves using cells taken from umbilical cord blood.
Statements and conclusions of study authors that are published in the American Heart Association scientific journals are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position. The American Heart Association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability.