IMC Heart Institute researchers on national stage at Global Heart Rhythm Conference

The number of heart rhythm disorders is growing significantly across the world. Nearly a dozen resarchers and clinicians from Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Murray attended the recent 2017 Heart Rhythm Conference. 
 
Dr. Jared Bunch with Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute talks more about the growing number of heart rhythm disorders
 
Atrial fibrillation, among other heart rhythm disorders, is growing significantly across the globe. More than 3.4 million Americans have Afib, which is the most common abnormal heart rhythm. Atrial fibrillation is characterized by a rapid and irregular heartbeat that can have a significant negative impact on an individual's quality of life, causing heart palpitations, chronic fatigue, debilitating pain and can increase the risk of stroke fivefold.
 
The Heart Rhythm Society estimates that number of heart rhythm disorders will grow to 8 to 12 million Americans in the next 30 years. 
 
That was the focal point of Heart Rhythm 2017, the Heart Rhythm Society's national scientific session held in Chicago. 
 
Heart rhythm experts from around the world, including nearly a dozen researchers and clinicians from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Murray, presented new studies and addressed the latest in research, cutting-edge technologies, and best evidence-based practices that improve the prevention and treatment of heart rhythm disorders. 
 
"In our clinic alone we've seen our outpatient clinic volumes rise by five percent each year since 2013. Abnormal heart rhythms can be a serious issue, which many experts from around the world are working to address," said Jared Bunch, MD, director of heart rhythm research at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute and medical director for heart rhythm services for Intermountain Healthcare. 
 
The term "arrhythmia" refers to any change from the normal sequence of electrical impulses. The electrical impulses may happen too fast, too slowly, or erratically - causing the heart to beat too fast, too slowly, or erratically. When the heart doesn't beat properly, it can't pump blood effectively.
 
The Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute's team of heart rhythm experts were involved in 16 different research studies - more than any other Utah heart center - that they shared during the four-day conference. 
 
These studies includes several homegrown studies, in addition collaborative studies with institutions like UCLA, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, University of Kansas and University of Colorado, and the Texas Heart Institute.
 
Two of the major research studies presented at the conference by researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute: 
 
  1. They found that dementia rates increase when anticoagulation treatment is delayed for patients with atrial fibrillation. The first-of-its-kind, large-scale study, included more than 76,000 atrial fibrillation patients with no prior history of dementia who were treated with an antiplatelet or warfarin, a medication used to treat or prevent blood clots in veins or arteries. Researchers found the risk of dementia in low-risk patients was 30 percent higher for those who received delayed treatment, and a significant 136 percent higher for high-risk patients. "Our results reinforce the importance of starting anticoagulation treatment as early as possible after a patient is diagnosed with atrial fibrillation," said Dr. Bunch. 
  2. The research team also discovered that using long-term aspirin therapy to prevent strokes among patients who are considered to be at low risk for stroke may not be effective as previously thought. The study found that atrial fibrillation patients who received a catheter ablation and were low risk of stroke didn't benefit from long-term aspirin therapy, but are at risk of higher rates of bleeding compared to no therapy at all. 
 
"We're in a unique time of growth when it comes to heart rhythm research. New technologies allow us to not only look at things we weren't previously able to explore, but to collaborate in ways we never thought possible. Our work and research at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute is making a difference for patients across the globe," noted Dr. Bunch. 

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