Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
November/December 2007 Volume 18, Number 6
©2007 Gürze Books
Arrhythmias are the number-one cause of death among patients with anorexia nervosa (AN), but until recently there was no way to predict which patients might be at greater risk of developing arrhythmias during treatment. At the Eating Disorders Research Society meeting in October in Pittsburgh, Dr. Carl Birmingham described an algorithm to predict if and when arrhythmias might develop among in patients with AN during refeeding. At St. Paul’s Hospital, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, researchers use continuous monitoring with the King of Hearts Express+ arrhythmic monitor in AN patients admitted for refeeding Patients are continuously monitored during a 21-day treatment period, and the monitor can detect dizziness, palpitations, syncope, and chest pain, and asymptomatic events triggered by tachycardia and bradycardia for up to 30 days. Dr. Birmingham reported that arrhythmias occur during early refeeding, which corresponds to the time of change in heart rate variability, and that increased variability in a patient’s heart rate before refeeding may predict the likelihood of arrhythmias.