The studies below will be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 64th Annual Scientific Session on Monday, March 16.
1. New Insights on Endurance Sports and Atrial Fibrillation
Previous studies have suggested endurance athletes may face a slightly higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation, a condition in which the heartbeat becomes irregular or rapid. A new study shows that among runners, the total number of years a person has been running is the factor most closely associated with atrial fibrillation risk, as compared to other measures of running behavior such as running frequency, intensity or distance. The study is based on responses from more than 2,800 runners to an online questionnaire designed by cardiologists at Lehigh Valley Health Network. Although it remains clear that physical activity, including running, is beneficial for heart health, the findings suggest physicians should consider atrial fibrillation risk when assessing older patients with a history of endurance sports, said Sanjeev Nair, M.D., a cardiology fellow at Lehigh Valley Health Network and the study's lead author. He added that a long-term study assessing atrial fibrillation risk factors in runners versus non-runners would help to clarify the potential role of endurance running in atrial fibrillation development.
Nair will present the study, "Are Years of Training an Independent Predictor of Atrial Fibrillation in Older Runners?" on Monday, March 16 at 8 a.m. PT/11 a.m. ET/3 p.m. UTC in Room 3.
2. Educating Children About Heart Disease Prevention May Reduce Parents' Risk
A new study suggests that school-aged children who participate in educational programs about heart health may be bringing good lessons home. Researchers performed a prospective community-based study in the city of São Paulo, Brazil that randomized 265 students, ages 6 to 10 years-old, to two different educational approaches. The control group (128 children) received written educational materials for their parents that included information about nutrition, exercise and smoking cessation. The intervention group (137 children) received the same materials in addition to a weekly one-hour educational program taught by a multidisciplinary team of nurses, nutritionists, physical educators and teachers who used educational games, plays, cooking classes and seminars to teach heart disease prevention.
At the start of the study, researchers collected health data from 416 parents, including their weight, height and blood pressure, and calculated their Framingham Cardiovascular Risk score--the risk of developing heart disease within 10 years. Roughly one out of three parents who were deemed to be at intermediate or high risk at the beginning of the study improved such that they were considered at low cardiovascular risk after their children participated in the multidisciplinary program for one year. No risk reduction was observed in the control group.
Luciana Fornari, M.D., Ph.D., University São Paulo, Brazil, and lead study author said when it comes to developing healthy habits, we typically think of parents as having the most influence on their children. However, she said these findings suggest that children who learn how to lead healthier lives through a variety of school-based programs may actually influence their parents' heart health more so than conventional strategies.
Fornari will present the study, "Children First Study II: How an Educational Program in Cardiovascular Prevention at Public Schools Can Improve Parents' Cardiovascular Risk," on Monday, March 16 at 10:45 a.m. PT/1:45 p.m. ET/5:45 p.m. UTC in Room 6B.