Aggressive Heart Pacing May Work Best In Some Spinal Cord Patients

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Slowing Heart

Patients with recurring problems with the heart slowing or stopping after a neck injury damages their cervical spinal cord may need aggressive therapy to avoid further cardiovascular problems and even death, Medical College of Georgia researchers say.

A study subset of newly injured quadriplegics showed that less aggressive therapies, such as drugs and a pacemaker placed on top of the chest, simply were not sufficient, says Dr. Andres F. Ruiz-Arango, cardiology fellow and corresponding author of the article in the July/August issue of Cardiology in Review.

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"There is a group of these patients who are not going to survive acute hospitalization but you don't want them to die just because they need a pacemaker," says Dr. Ruiz-Arango.

Although the heart has an intrinsic pacemaker, its rate is affected by two systems: the sympathetic nervous system to speed it up and the parasympathetic nervous system to slow it down, says Dr. Gyanendra K. Sharma, noninvasive cardiologist and study co-author.

With a cervical spinal cord injury, the influence of the sympathetic nervous system

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