Rapids Beats: Heart Disease News and Updates for November

November 2016

Flu shot

Flu Shot Can Reduce Risk of Heart Attack

Getting the flu shot can help us avoid all of the uncomfortable symptoms of influenza. But can it do even more than that? The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus, which can lead to serious complications. Having the flu can double the chance of having a heart attack, especially in someone who already has a cardiovascular condition. A recent review, presented by the University of British Columbia at 2016 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, looked at almost a dozen recent human trials that have established a link between having the flu and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

The researchers concluded that getting the influenza vaccine has a huge impact in reducing the risk of adverse cardiovascular events like heart attacks—by as much as 50% in people with heart disease. The risk of related death was also decreased by half.

The authors of the study cautioned that data between trials were inconsistent before they were combined in the meta-analysis, but indicated that the potential benefits and low risk of the vaccine make it an important preventative measure. For this reason, they highly recommend the flu shot for everyone, but in particular for people diagnosed with cardiovascular conditions.

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Risk of Defibrillator Shocks Rises in Extremely Cold Weather

Patients with ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation are more likely to receive a shock from their implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) in extremely cold weather, according to a study presented at CCC 2016.

Researchers from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg looked back at all patients at their institution who received a shock from their ICD between 2010 and 2015. They then mapped this information to data on daily temperatures collected from Environment Canada.

On the coldest days, with daily highs below -10 °C, shocks were 25.6% more common than on the warmest days (with daily highs above 10 °C). On cold days (with daily highs between -10 and 10 °C), shocks were 9.3% more common than on the warmest days.

“This finding should result in an increased awareness among health care providers and patients of the relationship between colder temperatures and ventricular arrhythmias,” wrote the researchers in the published abstract from the conference.

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High Rates of Inactivity Impact the Health of Nurses

Nursing is generally thought of as an active profession, but a recent study provides a different perspective. Researchers at the Ottawa Heart Institute followed the movements of female nurses in the Champlain region of Ontario, using accelerometers to measure their activity levels.

Data from the devices showed that, surprisingly, the nurses spent about half of their time engaged in sedentary activities such as sitting. This translates to an average of 7.5 inactive waking hours per day, with less than fifteen minutes spent doing more vigorous physical activity. The average sedentary time of nurses is still lower than that of the average Canadian at a daily 9.8 hours.

One of the most important applications of this information was to test the effect of inactivity on nurses’ health. Sedentary behaviour has been shown to be directly linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

This study examined the relationship between individual nurses’ physical activity in the workplace and markers of their cardiometabolic health, such as body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and blood pressure. They found a clear correlation between more time spent being sedentary and less favourable results for these markers. The researchers concluded that it is imperative to make changes in Canadian nurses’ work environments in order to reduce sedentary time and contribute to improving their overall cardiac health.

Find out how sedentary behaviour affects heart health.

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