December 4, 2007 - Two special electrocardiograms (EKG) can help predict heart-related death or cardiac arrest after a heart attack, according to Canadian scientists.
One EKG checks the heart's nervous system and the other the heart’s electrical system. By combining the results of both tests, given 10-14 weeks after a heart attack, was the study's best predictor of heart-related death or cardiac arrest requiring resuscitation.
The study included 322 Canadian heart attack survivors who were in their early 60s, on average. Their hearts showed a weakened ability to pump blood.
The patients took both tests twice. They were first tested two to four weeks after their heart attack. They were retested 10 to 14 weeks after their heart attack.
The patients were followed for nearly four years. During that time, 30 patients died, including 22 who died of heart problems. Seven others had to be resuscitated when they experience cardiac arrest. Those patients tended to have poor scores on both tests 10-14 weeks after their heart attack. To date, one out of five patients had abnormal scores on both tests, with hearts that were still weak.
Researchers will report their findings in the Dec. 11 edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
For more information: www.aac.org