Cardiac Abnormalities – Heart Arrhythmias

Heart Arrhythmias pic
Heart Arrhythmias
Image: heart.org

Dr. Sanjiv Narayan is a cardiologist who teaches medical students in his capacity as professor of medicine at Stanford University, where he’s working to improve patient outcomes and create a center dedicated to innovation in the treatment of heart arrhythmias. Before joining Stanford, Dr. Sanjiv Narayan established his own health-technology company focusing on the anti-arrhythmia market, and its success drew interest from Abbott Laboratories, which acquired the company and incorporated it into the Abbott family of firms.

In healthy people, the heart beats according to a set rhythm that helps ensure blood is properly circulated throughout the body. The heart functions in part thanks to a finely tuned electrical system that tells its muscles when to contract and when to relax. Sometimes, the cells that determine the heart’s electrical impulses start to behave abnormally, leading to heart rhythm problems or “arrhythmias.”

A variety of factors can give rise to arrhythmias. For example, in people with partially-blocked arteries, heart cells may become starved of vital oxygen, causing them to malfunction and the heart to beat improperly. The problem can also be in the heart’s nerves responsible for conducting the electrical signals telling the heart to beat. In addition, certain drugs like caffeine and amphetamines can cause arrhythmias.

Doctors use modern diagnostic tools like echocardiograms and electrophysiological studies to determine whether or not patients have arrhythmias and to investigate their origins in order to best devise a stratagem for treatment.

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Elderly ICD Patient Survival Rate Increasing

ICD pic
ICD
Image: sca-aware.org

A practicing physician for more than two decades focusing on heart-rhythm disorders, Dr. Sanjiv Narayan also founded a startup acquired by Abbott Laboratories. After this acquisition by Abbott, Dr. Sanjiv Narayan has gone on to serve in numerous research and educational positions and is currently a professor of medicine at Stanford University, as well as a fellow of the American College of Cardiology.

A study published in the January 2017 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology shows that patients older than 65 who had experienced a near-fatal heart arrhythmia or sudden cardiac arrest had a nearly 80 percent survival rate when receiving an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) device. This is a higher survival rate than had been achieved in previous trials.

Lead author Frederick Masoudi, MD, MSPH, says that better selection criteria may be one reason why the survival rate for elderly ICD recipients was higher. These devices can help individuals who have experienced cardiac arrest or unusually-abnormal heart rhythms by regulating the heartbeat with electric shocks.

Dr. Masoudi said that more research should be conducted. He also urged physicians to continue considering other mitigating factors and conditions when determining whether or not a patient is a suitable candidate for an ICD device.