ESC 2019: Wearable Cameras; Nuts Lower Heart Attack and Stroke; and More

Wearable Cameras; Nuts Lower Heart Attack and Stroke; and More
Image: ESC Facebook page

An informative and fascinating 2019 European Society of Cardiology Congress just wrapped up in Paris. Here are four of the most popular stories to come from that conference. (Photo credit: ESC Facebook page)

Consuming Nuts Linked with Reduced Risk for Heart Death

Eating nuts at least twice per week was linked with a 17% reduction in the risk for mortality from cardiovascular disease. Dr. Noushin Mohammadifard, of Isfahan Cardiovascular Research Institute in Iran, and colleagues examined the link between nut consumption and cardiovascular disease risk in 5,432 patients with no history of cardiovascular disease. Nuts, including walnuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, and seeds, were all assessed with a validated food frequency questionnaire. Participants or their family members were interviewed every two years, with the questions investigating coronary heart disease, stroke, total cardiovascular disease, death from any cause, and death from cardiovascular disease. The results suggested eating nuts twice per week was linked with a 17% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular mortality compared to consuming nuts once every two weeks. “Raw fresh nuts are the healthiest,” Dr. Mohammadifard added in a press release. “Nuts should be fresh because unsaturated fats can become oxidized in stale nuts, making them harmful.”

Malaria Associated with Increased Risk for Heart Failure

Researchers at the meeting presented a study showing a 30% increase in the risk for heart  failure in patients who become infected with malaria, a disease that affects more than 219 million people annually worldwide. The study included 3,989 identified cases of malaria. Patients were followed up for 11 years, during which time 69 cases of heart failure were reported. “These patients had a 30% increased likelihood of developing heart failure over the follow-up time,” Dr. Philip Brainin, a postdoctoral research fellow at Herlev-Gentofte University Hospital in Denmark, said in a meeting press release. “Thirty percent is a high number, but you also have to understand that it is a relatively small study, which is a limitation. As of right now the results of this study are more hypothesis-generating for future studies.”

Most Premature Heart Disease Linked to Lifestyle, Not Genetics

Genetics factor into the risk for heart disease, but lifestyle factors are more important and play a greater role in most premature heart disease, a new study suggests. The researchers looked at 1,075 patients under the age of 50, 555 of whom had identified coronary artery disease (premature CAD; specific conditions included angina, heart attack, and unstable angina). The researchers assessed five risk factors: physical inactivity, smoking, blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Most patients (73%) had at least three of the risk factors, and the likelihood of developing CAD increased exponentially with each additional risk factor. “Our study provides strong evidence that people with a family history of premature heart disease should adopt healthy lifestyles, since their poor behaviors may be a greater contributor to heart disease than their genetics,” Dr. Joao A. Sousa, of Funchal Hospital in Portugal, said in a meeting press release. “That means quit smoking, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and get blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked.”

Could Wearable Cameras Improve Quality of Life for Heart Failure Patients?

Researchers testing the feasibility of a wearable camera conducted a single-center study of 30 patients with advanced NYHA II-III heart failure (HF). Study participants wore a wide-angle narrative clip at chest-height on their clothing from morning tonight. The camera took still images every 30 seconds, yielding a daily library of more than 600,000 images to analyze. The researchers used machine learning to group images into medication management, dietary intake, meal preparation, and physical activity. The researchers reported “mixed” results, with mostly success in identifying diet-related photos, followed by nutritional information, and physical activity. Information on drug adherence was the least precise. “This is the first step,” Dr. Susan Cartledge, a registered nurse and postdoctoral research fellow at Deakin University’s Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition in Melbourne, Australia, said in a press release. “Patients are happy to wear it. We can see the context of the challenges they face. The next step is to build an artificial intelligence platform to sort the images out in a quick and meaningful way so healthcare practitioners can use it. We’re entering a new frontier.”