Blood thinners may not prevent stroke in people with heartbeat problems

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We use gadgets to watch our hearts. Think of heart rate monitors or smartwatches.

They spot if our heart skips a beat. This is helpful, especially for old people with heart issues.

Sometimes, hearts can have small skips, like a tiny dance. This is called atrial high rate episodes (AHRE). They look similar to a more serious condition named atrial fibrillation (AF).

We use blood thinners to keep AF patients safe from strokes. So, many AHRE patients also get these blood thinners.

Researching Heart Health

A doctor from Germany, Dr. Tobias Toennis, spoke about this. He wrote an article in a science magazine, Europace. Dr. Toennis said, “Heart devices can capture and count AHRE.

Those with these devices can help us understand AHRE’s role in old people. AHRE happen in 10%–30% of old patients without AF. We reviewed previous studies on AHRE and summed up what we know about stroke risk.”

We’re not sure if blood thinners can stop strokes in AHRE patients. This is a question in our current health guides.

While we don’t always suggest blood thinners for AHRE patients, we think about it based on each patient’s risk level.

The studies we’ve looked at say that AHRE can raise stroke risk, though less than AF does. How often AHRE happens and how long it lasts seem to matter.

The number and seriousness of other health problems matter too. Some new studies suggest blood thinners may not stop as many strokes in AHRE patients as we thought.

A New Hope: NOAH—AFNET 6

A big medical trial called NOAH—AFNET 6 is looking into this. It is led by the German Atrial Fibrillation Network.

They are studying if blood thinners work well for AHRE patients. They are also looking at how safe this treatment is.

The trial tests a blood thinner named Edoxaban. They compare Edoxaban to other treatments (like antiplatelet therapy or no treatment).

The patients in the trial are 65 years or older with at least two stroke risk factors. We expect to hear about the results soon.

Prof. Kirchhof, the trial leader, said, “NOAH—AFNET 6 will give us valuable information.

It will help us know how well and safely blood thinners work for AHRE patients. We hope this will clear up some doubts. We also hope more studies will follow.”

In simple terms, we’re trying to understand more about our hearts. As we learn, we get better at keeping them healthy.

Heart health is important, and this new trial may give us valuable answers. We’re excited to learn from it and to share what we learn with you.

If you care about stroke, please read studies about a breakfast linked to better blood vessel health, and olive oil could help lower risks of heart disease and stroke.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and wild blueberries can benefit your heart and brain.

The study was published in Europace.

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