A mild stress easily predict heart attacks

France - Scientists from the Center for Cardiovascular Research in Paris have uncovered a simple and economical method to predict who is at increased risk of sudden death by heart attack.

The researchers followed 7 746 police officers and found that men whose heart rate was most increased at a slight stress before a test effort, showed twice as likely to succumb later to a heart attack. Thus, during the 23 years of follow-up on average 1 516 deaths were recorded, including 81 sudden deaths following a heart attack. The risk of sudden death by cardiac arrest was even more important than the increase in heart rate during mild stress was high.

This is the first study to highlight this association. "And as measuring the pulse of a patient is a simple and economical, it could help identify people at high risk," say the authors. "The people who have a strong increase in heart rate during a mild stress could be subjected to tests and prevention strategies to measure could be proposed to reduce the likelihood of heart disease," says Xavier Jouven, director of the study.

Sudden death by cardiac arrest is a major public health problem with 40 000 cases per year in France. In the 27 European Union countries, it has caused 486 000 deaths about a population of 497 million people.

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