ACC.22 Research Explores Smartwatch Health Data, Noise Pollution, TikTok, More

Groundbreaking research exploring a wide range of topics – including the efficacy of smartwatch health data, noise pollution as an additional risk factor for cardiovascular disease, health information on TikTok, and more – will be presented during ACC.22 in Washington, DC and virtually. Here is a round-up of the top 10 research highlights you need to know:

Smartwatch Health Data and Skin Tone

Health measurements from smartwatches and other wearable devices, such as heart rate and rhythm during exercise, may be less accurate in people with darker skin tones, according to a systematic review of 10 previously published studies involving 469 participants. Most wearables detect heart rate and rhythm by aiming a beam of light at the wrist and then detecting how much light is absorbed. Greater light absorption indicates a greater volume of blood flowing through the veins under the skin. The study results suggest that this signaling process might not work as well in darker skin that contains more melanin, which absorbs light. "It is important to explore alternative options to make sure we can create a more equitable solution in health care and not just in the consumer industry," said Daniel Koerber, MD, the study's co-lead author.

Noise Pollution and CV Health

People experiencing high levels of noise from cars, trains or planes were more likely to suffer a myocardial infarction (MI) than people living in quieter areas, according to an analysis of MI rates among nearly 16,000 New Jersey residents hospitalized for a MI in 2018. Based on the relative rates of MIs in different locations, the researchers calculated that high noise exposure accounted for about 1 in 20 MIs in the state. "As cardiologists, we are used to thinking about many traditional risk factors such as smoking, hypertension or diabetes," said Abel E. Moreyra, MD, FACC, the study's lead author. "This study and others suggest maybe we should start thinking about air pollution and noise pollution as additional risk factors for cardiovascular disease."

Health Information on TikTok

Popular videos offering guidance for living with high blood pressure shared on TikTok frequently focus on alternative medicine and make claims that aren't backed by scientific evidence, according to a study assessing the content of TikTok videos focused on hypertension. Researchers found that 42% of videos addressed alternative medicine – more than twice the number that focused on scientifically validated medical treatments – and 14% mentioned products for sale. And less than half of the top videos were posted by health care professionals, 22% of whom were physicians and 5% who were cardiologists. The study suggests the need for greater emphasis on social media as a channel for health information in the future. "As health care professionals, we should recognize that patients are not reading the scientific literature that we're reading," said Nanda Siva, the study's lead author. "Not only do we have to increase our presence on social media, we have to express this information in a way that makes sense to them."

One-Click Solution to CV Care

Using a programmable button to page a phlebotomist for a blood draw reduced the time it took to identify patients suffering a MI by more than 11 minutes on average, according to a study representing the first time that programmable button technology has been applied in a medical setting. Researchers adapted the Internet of Things button – a wireless, handheld device that triggers a pre-programmed process when pressed – developed by Amazon Web Services to page an on-call phlebotomist for a blood draw whenever a patient arrived in the hospital's emergency department with chest pain. "It's using innovative technology in an innovative way by bringing together the technology and the application to improve the process," said Milind R. Dhond, MD, FACC, the study's lead author.

Predicting CAD With AI

An artificial intelligence (AI)-based computer algorithm accurately predicted a person's likelihood of suffering heart problems related to clogged arteries based on voice recordings alone, according to research suggesting voice analysis could be a powerful screening tool in identifying patients who may benefit from closer monitoring for coronary artery disease (CAD)-related events. Researchers found that people with a high voice biomarker score were 2.6 times more likely to suffer major problems associated with CAD, and three times more likely to show evidence of plaque buildup in medical tests compared with those who had a low score. "It's definitely an exciting field, but there's still a lot of work to be done," said Jaskanwal Deep Singh Sara, MD, the study's lead author. "We need to conduct more studies in more diverse populations, larger trials and more prospective studies like this one."

MI and Cognitive Decline

About one in three survivors of MI showed significant mental decline in the days and months following their MI, according to a study assessing the mental functioning of 220 patients hospitalized for a MI in Poznań, Poland. The findings suggest that increased attention to monitoring cognitive functioning after a MI is needed. "Cognitive deficits, such as memory loss or not being able to recognize a loved one, can be even more important for our patients than their cardiovascular disease," said Dominika Kasprzak, MD, the study's lead author. "We need to monitor our patients regularly to detect changes in their functioning, not only in the heart but also in the brain."

Depression After MI

People who had depression following a MI were about 50% more likely to suffer a stroke compared with those who didn't have depression, according to an analysis of health records of nearly half a million U.S. patients post-MI. Researchers compared patients with diagnosed with depression after their MI to a group of other MI survivors in the same data set who were well-matched in terms of other characteristics but did not have depression. They found 12% of those with depression and 8.3% of those without depression subsequently suffered a stroke. Based on these data, if there's someone who has a history of cardiovascular disease and depression, I would advocate for devoting special attention within the health care system to making sure that these individuals are making their appointments and that they're seeing the right providers within the health system," said Frank H. Annie, PhD, the study's lead author.

Exercise and CV Health

Regular physical activity nearly doubled the cardiovascular benefit in individuals with depression or anxiety, compared with individuals without these diagnoses, according to an analysis of more than 50,000 patients in the Massachusetts General Brigham Biobank database. The study found that people who achieved the recommended amount of physical activity per week were 17% less likely to suffer a major adverse cardiovascular event than those who exercised less. These benefits were significantly greater in those with anxiety or depression, who had a 22% risk reduction vs. a 10% risk reduction in those without either condition. "Any amount of exercise is helpful, particularly for those with depression or anxiety," said Hadil Zureigat, MD, the study's lead author. "Not only will physical activity help them feel better, but they will also potently reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease."

Gender Differences in CV Procedures

Women are less likely to undergo procedures for heart problems and, when they do, they are more likely than men to die while in the hospital, according to data collected through the National Inpatient Sample from hospitals across the U.S. between 2016 and 2019. The researchers found that 62% of heart procedures were performed in men, and just 38% in women. Women were also 13% more likely than men to die in the hospital after a heart procedure. "Our findings should be a call to action for doctors to be more aware that cardiovascular disease may have a different presentation in a woman and to be more vigilant when women present with atypical symptoms that could be a heart attack," said Nischit Baral, MD, the study's lead author. "To improve overall outcomes in women, we should also work together to make sure they are getting the proper cardiovascular procedure on time and are treated with the highest standard of care."

Heat Waves and CVD

Extreme heat accounted for about 600-700 additional deaths from cardiovascular disease annually over a decade-long period in the U.S., according to an analysis of temperature trends and cardiovascular mortality in all 3,108 counties in the contiguous U.S. The spike in deaths during heat waves was most pronounced in men and non-Hispanic Black adults, suggesting climate change may exacerbate existing cardiovascular disease disparities for these groups in the coming years. "Policy leaders need to realize that climate negotiations have a real impact on people's health here in the U.S. and in their own communities," said Sameed Ahmed Khatana, MD, FACC, the study's lead author. "The health impacts of climate change have been happening for a while and are likely to continue to get worse with rising temperatures."

Clinical Topics: Diabetes and Cardiometabolic Disease, Prevention, Atherosclerotic Disease (CAD/PAD), Exercise, Hypertension, Smoking, Sleep Apnea

Keywords: ACC Annual Scientific Session, ACC22, Prospective Studies, Melanins, Skin Pigmentation, Depression, Cardiovascular Diseases, Artificial Intelligence, Automobiles, Biological Specimen Banks, Cardiologists, Climate Change, Coronary Artery Disease, Extreme Heat, Heart Rate, Hot Temperature, Sex Factors, Inpatients, Standard of Care, Myocardial Infarction, Anxiety, Risk Factors, Stroke, Heart Disease Risk Factors, Emergency Service, Hospital, Complementary Therapies, Hypertension, Delivery of Health Care, Exercise, Wearable Electronic Devices, Air Pollution, Risk Reduction Behavior, Memory Disorders, Biomarkers, Chest Pain, Technology, Cognition, Arteries, Survivors, Diabetes Mellitus, Smoking, Policy

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