One-minute heart rate test can predict risk of cardiac arrest

Heart disease, in all its various forms, is the number one cause of death both in Australia and worldwide. Cardiac arrest kills 19 people every day in Australia, at a rate of around one every 80 minutes.

Unfortunately, for a lot of people the first sign of heart disease is massive cardiac arrest and death. There is often no, or very little warning, and therefore no time for the patient to make lifestyle adjustments to try and prevent the heart attack from occurring.

Because of this lack of warning, prescribing appropriate preventative medicine for heart attacks and heart disease can be difficult as it is hard to predict someone’s risk of suffering a heart attack accurately.

Which is why a breakthrough test from researchers in Finland is turning heads. A new computational method developed by physicists at Tampere University can estimate the risk of sudden cardiac death from a simple one-minute heart rate measurement at rest.

How does the test work?

In the past, heart attack risk was assessed by combining the results of a number of different tests including physical stress tests, cardiorespiratory fitness test and recovery heart rate tests.

But this new test has the potential to make those tests obsolete, at least when it comes to measuring heart attack risk.

The new test is based on time series analysis developed by a computational physics research group. The analysis can be used to study how heart rate intervals interact with other complex characteristics of different heart diseases at different time scales.

The researchers found the computational method they use to analyse the heart rate test can provide a significantly more accurate look at your long-term heart attack risk. The method requires measuring heart rate intervals for just one minute at rest.

In their study, the researchers used heart rate data collected from around 4000 people. They found that patients identified as having abnormal heart rate variability using the new method had a significantly higher incidence of sudden death compared to those with normal heart rates.

How will it change diagnosis?

Professor Jussi Hernesniemi, cardiologist and lead author of the study, says the new method has “great potential for pre-diagnosis and the identification of high-risk patients.” Mainly because it is not dependent on other measurements and could be easily integrated into wearable technology such as a smart watch.

“It is possible that in many previously asymptomatic individuals, who have suffered sudden cardiac death or who have been resuscitated after sudden cardiac arrest, the event would have been predictable and preventable if the emergence of risk factors had been detected in time,” he says.

The team says they are currently attempting to expand the scope of the test by integrating it with databases for different heart diseases, with the aim of improving screening for those diseases, which can be difficult to diagnose normally.

Have you ever had a heart attack? Could a test like this have helped you? Lt us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Ozempic effective at preventing heart attacks

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyer
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.
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