No risk factors in quarter of heart attacks

A growing number of heart attack patients don’t have any standard risk factors

Risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being diabetic, or cigarette smoking, have long been used as predictors of developing heart disease.

However, a recent study by Heart Research Australia’s Professor Gemma Figtree, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, has found that there is an increasing proportion of heart attack patients without any standard risk factors, such as high cholesterol.

In Prof Figtree’s study, conducted from January 2006 to December 2014 at Royal North Shore Hospital, of the 695 patients who were treated for heart attack, 132 had no known risk factors.

The proportion of heart attack patients who had no risk factors in 2006 was 11%, and over the study period, increased to 27% by 2014.

“These results will have important implications for the need to both identify new triggers for heart disease and to better understand the outcomes and best management approach for this group of people,” says Prof Figtree.

The cause for this increase in proportion isn’t clear. Despite age mortality rates in Australia decreasing between 1979 and 2009, by 71% for males and 68% for females, coronary heart disease continues to cause a significant burden of disease and remains the leading cause of death in Australia.

“It may be that identification and treatment of standard risk factors like high blood pressure has been successful enough that patients without these treatable conditions are making up a greater proportion of patients having heart attacks,” Prof Figtree says.

“We did find that once these patients have a heart attack, how well they do, for example in terms of risk of dying, is the same as patients with standard risk factors, so it’s just as important that we try to prevent heart attacks in this group.

“The next step is to identify new ways of diagnosing heart disease to enable early identification and treatment of these patients to better protect them,” she says.

This study was supported by Heart Research Australia and Sydney University and took place at Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney.

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  1. Steve

    “The proportion of heart attack patients who had no risk factors in 2006 was 11%, and over the study period, increased to 27% by 2014.”

    I wonder whether researchers are considering the potential role of pulsed radiofrequency (RF) radiation from mobile phones, base stations, smart meters and WiFi has on the heart. RF exposure has increased exponentially the last 20 years with levels currently billions of times higher than natural background levels. Looking at studies referenced in the ORSAA database one finds low level emissions from the aforementioned devices have been linked to cardiovascular effects such as heart variability (HRV) changes, blood pressure changes changes, arrhythmia and palpitations. Then there are RF biological effects such oxidative stress, autonomic nervous system effects, neurotransmitter effects, calcium flux changes all potentially having a role to play. This of course is not a new or recent novel understanding.

    Military studies in the 70’s found that radiofrequencies from radar and other microwave equipment was associated with cardiovascular disorders in exposed military personal.

    “Comparison of a group of engineers and administrative officials who were exposed to microwaves for a period of years and an unexposed control group revealed a significantly higher incidence of coronary disease, hypertension, and disturbances of lipid metabolism among the exposed: Individuals Hereditary predisposition to heart disease was approximately the same for both groups but overt disorders developed much more frequently in the previously exposed group. It was concluded that microwaves act as a nonspecific factor which, under certain conditions, interferes with adaptation to unfavorable influences. Exposure may, therefore, promote an earlier onset of cardiovascular disease in susceptible individuals.” DIA 1976

    “Animal experiments reported in the open literature have demonstrated the use of low level microwave
    signals to produce death by heart seizure” DIA 1976

    Of course our regulator the ACMA or the owner of Australia’s RF Standard (RPS3), ARPANSA, will never admit to this. There is too much money to be made from selling RF spectrum licenses and protecting the government, telecommunications and power industry from litigation. They are also very likely to dismiss such claims of harm as being unsubstantiated or claim there is no established evidence that low level RF emissions are harmful. One has to look first before making such statements – sadly very little research is being conducted in this country looking at the possible role of man made RF has on this specific health area.

  2. Pri Bandara

    Emerging risk factors need to be investigated. Massively increased human exposure to wireless radiation (microwave/radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation) over the last couple of decades (over a million fold!) is likely contributor as there is evidence of MW/RF-EMR implication in heart disease. Low intensity MW/RF-EMR alters voltage-gated ion channels such as Ca2+ channels and also induce oxidative stress – plausible mechanisms of biological effects. Here’s a demonstration of a cordless phone influencing the heart:

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