Older fathers are less likely than younger men to die from a heart rhythm disorder despite their potentially higher mortality risk. The results of a new study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and include information on 4602 men in whom data on a measure of their risk of developing a major rhythm disorder (MUD) to be used in the future as well as information about the mortality of the men. The study is published in the journal JAMA Cardio-Thoracic Surgery.

MUD is a non-invasive form of bodily cardiac control disorder affecting the functioning of the small pumping chamber (the heart) allowing about 50 of the heart to work during normal movement. Around half of diabetic men develop MUD. It is thought that approximately 1 in every 3000 men over 85 years of age are stricken by MUD.

Almost all forms of cardiac conduction disorders cause a progressive deterioration of the conduction speed of the heart usually by a few beats per minute. A decrease in this speed can increase the risk of arteriovenous hemorrhage (blood clotting during prolonged exercise) and haemorrhage and therefore the men who suffer from MUD are more at risk.

We know that older men are more likely than younger men to develop MUD a finding that leads us to believe that they have a lower than average mortality rate. However given this finding it has been important for us to investigate these issues says Karen Dagsson senior researcher at the Department of Womens and Childrens Health at Karolinska Institutet and one of the studys three principal investigators.

A limitation of the study was that the data collected between 2001 and 2011 did not include information on osteoarthritis rather the findings were based on information on patients diagnosed with Alzheimers disease.

In all these cases the researchers were unable to determine the effect of age on the risk of developing MUD. In the future it may however be possible to intervene and reduce mortality of older men diagnosed with MUD by slowing down the progression of other aspects of the heart rhythm which shows this benefit to the men with the condition says David Hals associate professor at the Department of Clinical Medicine – Sleep at Karolinska Institutet and the Umes Lolita Research and Technology Centre.