Aggressive Heart Pacing May Work Best In Some Spinal Cord Patients
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.
"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