Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Trimming the fat: working out while you work

"For anyone who has ever sat through a meeting with long-winded speakers and/or diet-busting doughnuts, Jennifer Baran offers an antidote. In her "walking conference room," there is no sitting through anything. Everyone is walking on treadmills or elliptical machines. The rest of the room looks like most any other meeting room with its monitor for PowerPoint presentations, conferencing telephone and coffee pot. Only here, participants work out while they work"

New smoking ban at government offices (USA)

"U.S. government workers will be prohibited from smoking in federal building courtyards or within 25 feet of doorways and air-intake ducts, a new rule says. The policy, to be implemented within six months, also bans designated smoking rooms in federal buildings, General Services Administration said. The rule replaces a 1997 executive order signed by U.S. President Bill Clinton that banned smoking in federal buildings but permitted smoking in designated rooms and nearby outdoor areas. "We see this as a major victory," American Lung Association media relations Director Heather Grzelka told The Washington Post. But National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley said the new rule "fails to recognize" smoking is a disabling addiction for some employees. She told the Post the union might request agencies sponsor programs to help employees quit smoking. The GSA regulation cites studies showing secondhand smoke is harmful to anyone exposed to it. The agency also notes 26 states already ban smoking in state government buildings and 19 states ban smoking in all private workplaces. The new policy doesn't apply to prisons and other federal buildings in which people are "voluntarily or involuntarily residing," a public notice in the U.S. Federal Register said. The policy also lets agency heads establish "limited and narrow exceptions that are necessary to accomplish agency missions." The lung association is concerned this might let smokers establish new footholds in federal buildings, Grzelka said" - UPI

GPs under winter illness pressure (UK)

"GPs in England have been inundated with patients over the festive period, figures from the NHS Alliance suggest. On average there has been a 25% rise in demand for GP out-of-hour services across England with some areas seeing much higher rates. Many of the calls are about flu and latest surveillance figures show levels remain higher than in recent years. GPs urged patients to stock up on cold and flu remedies and get advice from the pharmacist if needed. The vast majority of people with colds and flu just need to take paracetamol for pain and fever, have lots of drinks and rest." But those with existing heart and chest conditions are more vulnerable to complications and should call for advice if their symptoms are lingering or getting worse

New therapy for genetic heart disease

"Long-term use of the hypertension drug candesartan may reduce symptoms of heart disease, researchers in the Czech Republic say. Study leader Dr. Jiri Krupicka of Na Homolce Hospital in Prague, Czech Republic, conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study on the long-term administration of candesartan in patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy -- a genetic heart condition that thickens the heart muscle. The findings are published in the January issue of The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics"

Smoking ban dramatically cuts heart attack cases

"A smoking ban in one Colorado city led to a dramatic drop in heart attack hospitalizations within three years, a sign of just how serious a health threat secondhand smoke is, government researchers said. The study, the longest-running of its kind, showed the rate of hospitalized cases dropped 41 percent in the three years after the ban of workplace smoking in Pueblo, Colo., took effect. There was no such drop in two neighboring areas, and researchers believe it's a clear sign the ban was responsible. The study suggests that secondhand smoke may be a terrible and under-recognized cause of heart attack deaths in this country, said one of its authors, Terry Pechacek of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention" -

Watson wins U.S. OK for generic Nicorette mint gum

"U.S. health regulators approved Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc's generic version of GlaxoSmithKline Plc's Nicorette mint gum, an over-the-counter product to help smokers quit, Watson said on Wednesday. Watson plans to make the product, known generically as Nicotine Polacrilex gum, available in early January. Watson won approval for the 2 milligram and 4 milligram strengths. The market for over-the-counter nicotine gum has annual sales of more than $300 million, according to Watson. California-based Watson said it has applications pending at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to market more flavors of nicotine gum as it seeks to enhance its line of smoking cessation products" - Reuters

Family make plea for heart donors

"The family of a 16-year-old Dublin, Ireland, student who is being kept alive on a mechanical heart machine at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital have made a special plea for heart donors to save her life. Kiva Humphries from Deansgrange in south Dublin contracted an infection last February which seriously damaged her heart muscles. She is the only person in the country on a mechanical heart machine and after over 250 days doctors say time is running out for a life-saving heart transplant" - RTE News

Myocardial infarction heart attacks on the rise across Abu Dhabi

"Primary angioplasties for ST elevation myocardial infarction type of heart attacks are on the rise with at least 1,044 cases reported in the last four years announced Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) operated by the Abu Dhabi Health Services. Myocardial infarction is commonly known as a heart attack that occurs when the blood supply to part of the heart is interrupted. This is caused due to a blocked coronary artery following a rupture in the artery resulting in oxygen shortage. The Cardiac Sciences department at SKMC is to date the only cardiac department that sssoffers emergency primary angioplasty services in the UAE 24-hours a day since it's 2004 inception in December." - Gulf News

Lafayette, Louisiana, cardiologist convicted on 51 counts of health-care fraud

"A Lafayette, Louisiana, cardiologist faces up to 10 years in federal prison after being convicted Tuesday evening of performing unnecessary procedures on dozens of patients. A federal jury found Dr. Mehmood Patel guilty of 51 counts of health-care fraud and acquitted him of 40 other counts after nearly two weeks of deliberations. Patel's attorney, Michael Small, said he intends to appeal the case to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. "We're confident about our appeal," Small said, declining to elaborate on which grounds he would file the appeal. "We're obviously disappointed." Patel made no comment as he exited the courthouse, after U.S. District Judge Tucker Melancon agreed to allow him to remain free on bail prior to sentencing. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Uebinger had requested that Patel be jailed immediately, arguing that the physician was a flight risk because of his wealth and connections to his native country of India" - Gannett Louisiana Online Network

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

African Americans to reach health resolutions through Search Your Heart

"After retiring from a night-shift job 12 years ago, Obrey Smith bought an easy chair and caught up on TV shows, including Monday Night Football. He also ate large portions of food and didn't exercise. His leisurely lifestyle eventually caught up with him: He became overweight and was diagnosed with diabetes -- risk factors for heart disease and stroke. That's when he knew he had to change his lifestyle. "It was a wake-up call," said Smith, 73, of Austin, Texas. Like many people, Smith couldn't lose the weight on his own. So, through his church, he joined Search Your Heart, the American Heart Association's community-based educational program targeted to African Americans. Heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 and No. 3 killers of all Americans. African Americans have higher rates of some risk factors for heart disease and stroke, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, than other ethnic groups. Search Your Heart participants learn how to fit physical activity into their busy, daily lives; prepare healthy meals using flavorful recipes that are low in cholesterol and saturated fat; and reduce and control their risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes" - AHA

Girl makes complete recovery after having third of heart removed

A girl who had almost a third of her heart removed in a desperate attempt to save her life has made a "complete" recovery. Kirsty Collier was four months old and dying on the operating table when the decision was taken to use the radical surgery for the first time. Her parents were warned that she was unlikely to survive, having already suffered multiple heart attacks in her short life. But a decade later she has astounded doctors by making a virtually complete recovery with scans showing her heart is the correct shape and size for her age and its scars have disappeared. Kirsty, who plays rugby for her school, said: "I don't want to be different to anyone else just because I've had a heart operation. I like to do sport because it keeps me fit and healthy." She lives with her father Wayne, a computer software salesman, mother Becky , brother Connor, 13, and sister Caitlin, six, at their home in Gloucestershire. Kirsty was born with a rare heart condition which is frequently fatal within the first three months of a child's life. Her left coronary artery starved the heart muscle of oxygen and left her heart twice the size it should have been - Telegraph

More research links vitamin D with protection from cardiovascular disease

Vitamin D was once a nutrient associated with important benefits for our bones but little else. In the last few years this vitamin has racked up an impressive list of potential benefits including protection from cancer, multiple sclerosis and cardiovascular disease - Dr John Briffa

Third-hand smoke: another reason to quit smoking

"Need another reason to add "Quit Smoking" to your New Year's resolutions list? How about the fact that even if you choose to smoke outside of your home or only smoke in your home when your children are not there - thinking that you're keeping them away from second-hand smoke - you're still exposing them to toxins? In the January issue of Pediatrics, researchers at MassGeneral Hospital for Children and colleagues across the country describe how tobacco smoke contamination lingers even after a cigarette is extinguished - a phenomenon they define as third-hand smoke. Their study is the first to examine adult attitudes about the health risks to children of third-hand smoke and how those beliefs may relate to rules about smoking in their homes" - EurekAlert

Soaps 'miss out health messages'

"Soap characters with unhealthy lifestyles should be shown reaping the consequences, say doctors. Private healthcare firm Bupa has released its "top ten" unhealthiest characters, arguing they could be used to hammer home health messages. It said heavy smoker Dot Cotton, from Eastenders, should appear breathless, with heavy drinkers in soaps having broken veins. A BBC spokesman said it always tried to depict illnesses accurately" - BBC.

Dot Cotton, Eastenders: Smoker
Shadrach Dingle, Emmerdale: Alcohol dependent
Tyrone Dobbs, Coronation Street: Unhealthy diet
Heather Trott, Eastenders: Unhealthy diet
Louise Summers, Hollyoaks: Alcohol dependent
Shirley Carter, Eastenders: Drinks too much alcohol
Charlie Slater, Eastenders: Unhealthy diet
Lloyd Mullaney, Coronation Street: Unhealthy diet
Fiz Brown, Coronation Street: Unhealthy diet
Leo Valentine, Hollyoaks: Drinks too much alcohol

Heading for a heart attack? (UK)

Take The Sun's true or false quiz to find out how well you know your own heart. There are 373,000 people in the UK aged 15-44 living with heart and cardiovascular disease. Half of 35-year-olds have high cholesterol, a key risk factor

'She's too young,' doctor said. 'It can't be a heart attack.' But it was

"Elizabeth Hein was 27 when she had a heart attack. Doctors doubted her symptoms. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S., yet a wealth of data shows female cardiac patients receive inferior medical care compared with men. Too many physicians still discount the idea that a woman could be suffering from heart disease, delaying or denying needed medical interventions, experts note. Most community hospitals in the U.S. still are not following guidelines for treating women with heart attacks. And primary care doctors don't do as much as they could to emphasize prevention. As a result, women are failing to reap the full benefits of enormous advances in cardiovascular medicine. The point was underscored this month by a study published in the journal Circulation finding that women who have heart attacks receive fewer recommended treatments in hospitals than men, including aspirin, beta blocker medications, angioplasties, clot-busting drugs and surgeries to re-establish blood flow. Women with the most serious heart attacks, known as STEMIs, were significantly more likely to die at a hospital than men" - Chicago Tribune

Indian heart institute performs rare procedures

"Within just two years of its inception, cardiologists at the Fabiani and Budhrani Heart Institute here have managed to perform rare cardiac interventions' procedures which have been performed by few hospitals in the country. "Advances in technology have made interventions in congenital heart defect conditions like atrial septal defect (a hole in the heart), ventricular septal defect (a cardiac malformation) and patent ductus arteriosis (abnormal circulation of blood between two of the major arteries near the heart) feasible," said cardiologist Ritu Dhawan-Bhatia. The procedure entails treatment of patients, including children, by non-surgical methods, said Dhawan-Bhatia. "Normally these cardiac conditions are corrected by surgical procedures as expertise to deal with them non-surgically is not available in all cardiac centres." On a rare cardiac intervention carried out by the hospital, Dhawan-Bhatia said, "A four-year-old girl who was born with a narrowed aorta was treated with balloon angioplasty instead of surgery. The patient was discharged within two-three days." Similarly, cardiologist Manohar Sakhare planted an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) a device that monitors heart rhythms on a 62-year-old person. "The patient had suffered a heart attack in 2006 after which he had recurrent episodes of ventricular tachycardia (heart rhythm abnormalities) which was a life threatening condition and required high intensity electric shocks," said Sakhare." - Times of India

Legendary jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard dies aged 70

Legendary Jazz Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard has died in hospital in Los Angeles. Hubbard, 70, was admitted to Sherman Oaks Hospital last month after suffering a heart attack. He died December 29. The musician's career spanned six decades and saw him collaborate with fellow jazz pioneers Thelonious Monk and Coltrane. Hubbard's long-time producer David Weiss said in a statement: "He played faster, longer, higher and with more energy than any other trumpeter of his era." The trumpeter received a Grammy Award in 1972 for Best Jazz Performance by a Group. In 2006, he was awarded America's highest jazz honour - National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master. Hubbard was born in Indianapolis in 1938. He grew up playing a number of brass instruments, including the trumpet and French horn. He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Briggie Hubbard, and son, Duane. - Gigwise

3 trials at Valley hospitals (Arizona) target heart disease

Two Southeast Valley hospitals are taking aim at the No. 1 killer in America. Mercy Gilbert Medical Center and Chandler Regional Medical Center have launched three clinical trials designed to repair damaged hearts. The first trial will attempt to regrow heart muscles damaged after a heart attack with adult stem cells from bone marrow. The second trial will employ a process known as angiogenesis growing new blood vessels damaged by heart disease. The third trial will use an artificial device to keep the heart pumping while doctors implant a stent to treat weakened and narrowed heart arteries. Dr. Nabil Dib, the center's director, said the first trial is among the most promising technologies because early results show that bone marrow taken from one donor can help 10,000 patients "without the need for any anti-rejection medicine, which is huge." Dib's research is groundbreaking because it reveals that heart tissue damaged by a heart attack can be repaired. The three trials give hope to the sickest cardiac patients, Dib said. -

Older heart patients have access to affordable, life saving CABG procedure at Bangkok Hospital

"Bangkok Hospital, which has long been known for its affordable health care options, has extended one of its most popular cut-price packages, its Coronary Bypass Package, to include patients that were previously turned away. This gives US and European patients potential savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars." -

Gene therapy reverses heart damage

"Long-term gene therapy has found to be effective in improving cardiac function and reversing heart damage in heart failure. During the study, the researchers treated the rats with a gene that generates a peptide called ARKct, which was administered to hearts in combination with recombinant-adeno-associated virus serotype 6 (rAAV6.) ARKct works by inhibiting the activation of G protein-coupled receptor kinase 2 (GRK2)." -

Monday, December 29, 2008

Oldest man in the US dies in Sacramento at 112

"George Francis, the nation's oldest man, who lived through both world wars, man's first walk on the moon and the election of the first black president, has died. He was 112. Francis died Saturday of congestive heart failure at a nursing home in Sacramento, his son, Anthony Francis, said Sunday. "He lived four years in the 19th century, 100 years in the 20th century, and 8 years in the 21st century. We call him the man of three centuries," said the younger Francis, 81"

Pfizer to pay $38M or more in Calif. trade-secrets decision

"Pfizer Inc. has been ordered to pay at least $38 million - and may owe more than $100 million - to settle a California trade-secrets lawsuit, The San Jose Mercury News has reported. The verdict, after a six-week trial, found that Pfizer had conspired to steal trade secrets from the nonprofit Ischemia Research and Education Foundation of San Bruno, Calif., in an effort to develop the painkiller Bextra. The lawsuit alleged that Pfizer stole a database on cardiovascular risks associated with drugs like Bextra. Bextra, co-developed by Pfizer and Pharmacia, was eventually pulled from the market because of cardiac concerns"

Heart disease and women: Michelle Smietana

In March 2007, a screening test told Michelle Smietana of Gurnee her blood pressure and cholesterol levels were excellent. "I thought that's fantastic, no problems there," said Smietana, 35. Eight hours later, she was in a hospital emergency room with a heart attack. It began at dinner with a friend, when the computer specialist felt an achy pain at the right shoulder blade. By the time she got to her car, the feeling had crept up into her throat, where it settled in the soft spot under her chin. "At first I thought I'd hurt a muscle. Then I thought: 'Am I having an allergic reaction?' " Smietana said. "All the time, I felt, whatever this is, I really don't like it." Doctors at an urgent care center sent Smietana to Condell Medical Center after a test for a cardiac marker came back positive. There Smietana received aggressive treatment and ultimately discovered that a prolonged coronary artery spasm had interrupted blood flow through her narrower-than-usual arteries. "My first reaction was a weird feeling of shame, because I was only 33 and this wasn't supposed to be happening," Smietana said. "Then, I felt kind of guilty, because I'm a little heavy and a little underexercised." Moving on from the episode was terrifying, she said. "Because it came out of nowhere, you're not sure if it's going to come back again and if you'll survive the next time," she said. She credits three months of cardiac rehabilitation with defeating that fear and learning how to move again and take better care of herself. Today, Smietana tells women: "If your body tells you something doesn't feel right, listen to it and take it seriously. I did and I got lucky." - Chicago Tribune

CoxHealth aids study of heart disease

The CoxHealth Wheeler Heart and Vascular Center and Yale University researchers are launching a study of young women with heart disease. The $9.7 million project called the VIRGO study - for Variation in Recovery: Role of Gender on Outcomes in Young AMI Patients - is a four-year effort awarded by the National Institutes of Health

Cigarette smoking and risk of atrial fibrillation: The Rotterdam Study

Offering yet another reason to never start smoking, a new study finds that both current and former smokers run an elevated risk of the heart rhythm disorder atrial fibrillation. The condition is one of the most widespread heart conditions. During an episode of AF, abnormal electrical activity in the heart causes its upper two chambers to beat in a rapid, uncoordinated rhythm; the arrhythmia itself is not life-threatening, but over time AF can contribute to stroke or heart failure in some people. While smoking is a well-known risk factor for heart disease, it has not been clear whether the habit boosts the risk of AF specifically. The new findings, reported in the American Heart Journal, suggest that it does - even after a smoker quits. Researchers found that of nearly 5 700 Dutch adults age 55 and older, current smokers and former smokers were about 50 percent more likely to develop AF over 7 years

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Caffeine when pregnant may damage heart

A U.S. study in mice shows one dose of caffeine - two cups of coffee - ingested during pregnancy may reduce heart function for the child's lifetime. Senior researcher Scott Rivkees of Yale University in New Haven, Conn., said while the study was done with mice, the biological cause and effect described in the research paper is plausible in humans. "Our studies raise potential concerns about caffeine exposure during very early pregnancy, but further studies are necessary to evaluate caffeine's safety during pregnancy," Rivkees said in a statement. The study, published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology journal, found that under both circumstances, mice given caffeine produced embryos with a thinner layer of tissue separating some of the heart's chambers than the group that was not given caffeine - UPI

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Whole grains decrease heart failure risk

"According to findings from a long-term study, each serving of whole-grains may lessen heart failure risk by 7 percent among middle-aged African-American and white men and women. Dr. Jennifer A. Nettleton, of the University of Texas Health Services Center in Houston, said each serving of high-fat dairy and egg appeared to increase heart failure risk by 8 and 23 percent. "A refined grain here, a full fat yogurt there, and the occasional egg aren't going to result in heart failure, but a continued pattern of such behaviors could," Nettleton told Reuters Health." - redOrbit

'Painful legacy' of heart attack

"One in five people recovering from a heart attack is still having chest pain a year afterwards, a US study suggests. The journal Archives of Internal Medicine reported some suffered angina every day, despite bypass surgery. A Colorado University-led team, which quizzed nearly 2,000 patients, said it was linked to smoking or depression in some cases. A spokesman for the British Heart Foundation the study could help doctors spot who was at highest risk" - BBC

Friday, December 26, 2008

New cause of heart arrhythmia found

"Scientists have long believed that atrial fibrillation, the most common form of sustained heart arrhythmia, is an electrical problem of the heart. However, a new study has uncovered a surprising genetic cause for the rare and particularly severe form of heart disease. A team of researchers at the Cleveland Clinic has found that defects in a gene known as NUP155, a key component of the nuclear pore complex that is involved in shuttling molecules in and out of the cell nucleus, also leads to arrhythmia in patients with two abnormal copies of the gene. 'It's unexpected,' the Cleveland Clinic's Qing Kenneth Wang was quoted as saying. 'We never thought a gene like this could lead to atrial fibrillation.'" - redOrbit

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Easy on the salt!

Most people know that a high-sodium diet can increase the risk of high blood pressure and subsequently heart attack and stroke. Despite that, the average American consumes far more than the recommended daily limit of salt. Looking to cut back? Consumer Reports tells us with which foods to start. Testers had almost 100 staffers at Consumer Reports taste-test less-salty versions of high-sodium foods such as pasta sauce, turkey breast, and chicken noodle soup. People were asked whether they would eat each food again, not knowing they were testing lower-sodium foods -

EMT-hero dad dies of heart attack

A Queens, New York, EMT who had saved at least two lives while off duty died suddenly after suffering a heart attack as he unpacked his car, his devastated wife said yesterday. Wendell O'Brien, 42, who had been with the FDNY since 2001, had just returned home from Florida with his wife, Marcia, and children, Wendell Jr., 13, and Amanda, 11, when tragedy struck Monday

2009 ACCA Cardiovascular Administrators' Leadership Conference

2009 ACCA Cardiovascular Administrators' Leadership Conference - March 25-27, 2009 - Orlando, Florida, USA

David Rampe, veteran New York Times editor, dies at 60

"David Rampe, an editor on the foreign desk of The New York Times who helped shape the newspaper's coverage of the September 11 attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, died Wednesday in New York. He was 60 and lived in New York. He went into cardiac arrest in Paris in January, resulting in severe brain damage, his partner, Ed Rogers, said. As the foreign desk's weekend editor, Rampe also had an integral role in organizing the paper's coverage of the 2005 London terrorist bombings and the transition in the Vatican from Pope John Paul II to Benedict XVI. In 2004, he was assigned to Paris to coordinate The Times's coverage with the International Herald Tribune and help integrate the two papers' news operations. He was living in Paris when he became ill." -IHT

Evidence of fish oil's benefit on health not conclusive

"Fish oil may be helpful in preventing deaths related to heart problems, but there is a lack of evidence that it provides a clear benefit in heart rhythm problems, according to a study. The authors of the study stressed the need for more funding for further studies on this neglected area of nutrient research. While heart attack survivors are recommended the consumption of oily fish at least two to four times a week, the authors of the current study insist that the evidence for the protective effect of fish oil supplements is based on one large trial from over 10 years ago. Posting their research paper on, they underscored the fact that more recent trials had shown no beneficial effect of fish oil on patient outcomes" - medIndia

Antarctic workers 'stable' after rescue

"A German heart-attack patient and Russian man were in stable condition on Wednesday after a South African air ambulance team flew to Antarctica to rescue them, a Cape Town hospital said. The German patient was picked up after suffering a heart-attack before the team made a detour to rescue a Russian man who had broken his ankle, the Netcare Christiaan Barnard hospital said in a statement. The hospital provides medical care for a co-operative of 11 countries which organise missions in the part of Antarctica known as Dronning Maud Land" - The Star

First Croat with artificial heart released

"Goran Krstanovic, 41, is living with a regular, almost metronomic heart beat thanks to the first pneumatic machine in Croatia which he received on October 1. Krstanovic calls the cart that carries the machine Fifi." -

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Alcohol-free beer 'can cut high cholesterol'

"Alcohol-free beer can cut high levels of cholesterol, a new study which tested the drink's effects on nuns has shown. Scientists found that, after the alcohol was removed, the tipple had a number of health benefits. As well as reducing the potentially dangerous build up of fat in the arteries of those with high levels of cholesterol, the beer also increased the amount of antioxidants in drinkers' blood, which could help to protect the heart. The effect could be down to vitamins contained in the beer, including vitamin B6 which helps to dampen the effect of a chemical linked to an increase in the risk of heart disease. The study tested the effects of drinking moderate levels of alcohol-free beer on 29 nuns, aged between 58 and 73, who all lived together in the same convent. Over 45 days the women were all asked to drink 500 ml of the beer a day, on top of their normal eating and drinking habits. The scientists collected blood samples on the morning before the study started and again on the morning after it finished, to test the effects of the drink. The findings, published in the journal Nutrition, show that drinking the beer increased the levels of antioxidants in the women's blood. - Telegraph

Wife foils pistol-whip robbery gang by pretending to have a heart attack (UK)

A couple held at gunpoint and savagely beaten during a robbery at their home escaped when the wife faked a heart attack. As three thugs ransacked their house, quick-thinking Lesley Eaton, 54, rolled on the floor clutching her chest and pretending she could not breathe. Her husband Graham realised what she was doing and shouted that she needed an ambulance. In panic, the robbers fled with GBP1,000 in cash, a few cheques and a handful of Christmas presents. Last night Mrs Eaton said: 'I thought to myself that they couldn't threaten us any more without carrying something through so I decided to give it a go. I had nothing to lose and luckily it worked.' The couple, who run a successful horticultural business, were convinced they would be tortured and killed during the horrific raid at their GBP750,000 converted barn home in Wimborne, Dorset. - The Mail

Backstreet Boy's son diagnosed with Kawasaki Syndrome

Recording artist Brian Littrell, son Baylee Littrell and wife Leighanne Littrell. Baylee was recently diagnosed with A-Typical Kawasaki Syndrome, a disease that causes swollen blood vessels and can result in aneurisms and cardiac arrest

Sleep good for arteries

A good night's sleep may be just what your arteries need. So finds a new five-year study in which middle-aged people who had an extra hour of sleep each night were less likely to have artery-stiffening calcium deposits. But the study results shouldn't send people off to bed prematurely or have them popping sleeping pills, cautioned Diane Lauderdale, associate professor of health studies at the University of Chicago Medical Centre, who led the study. "We don't know why there is an association," Lauderdale said. "And until we know why, we can't tell whether it is a causal association." The report was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. - Health24

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Study shows immediate environment affects blood pressure

The neighborhood that a person lives in has a significant effect on their risk of high blood pressure, regardless of income or education, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and published in the journal Epidemiology. - NaturalNews

Christmas dinner 'loaded with salt'

When you sit down to your turkey and Christmas pudding this week, how much thought will you give to whether it's good for you or not? We all know that the average Christmas dinner is not the most healthy of meals - but new research has revealed it contains more than 11 grammes of salt, almost double the recommended maximum for an entire day. The group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), analysed an average Christmas dinner for the BBC and found high levels of salt in all three courses. Too much salt can cause high blood pressure, which is linked to increased risk of stroke and heart disease. - BBC

Mistletoe kisses: spreading more than holiday tidings?

"Exchanging kisses underneath the mistletoe may leave holiday revelers with more than just friendship and goodwill tidings. Passionate partygoers may swap up to 500 different species of germs, including those that cause gum disease, warns the Academy of General Dentistry, an organization of general dentists dedicated to continuing education. "With just one kiss, this infection can be passed between couples and even to children," says AGD spokesperson, Lawrence Bailey, DDS, FAGD. Gum disease, a chronic inflammation and infection of the gums and surrounding tissues, is the major cause of about 70 percent of adult tooth loss, affects three out of four persons at some point in their life and is easily transmissible though mouth-to-mouth contact. In recent years, researchers have found a possible connection between gum disease and coronary vascular disease, which can place people at risk for heart attacks and strokes. In individuals with diabetes, gum disease is associated with poor control of insulin levels. Pregnant women also need to be careful; gum disease can place pregnant women at risk for having low-birth weight babies." - redOrbit

Inactivity increases heart failure risk at all weight levels

Excess weight and physical inactivity can almost triple a man's risk of heart failure, according to data from a large prospective cohort study. Obese, inactive men had almost a 300% greater risk of heart failure compared with lean, active study participants, Satish Kenchaiah, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard, and colleagues reported in the January 6 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. - MedPage Today

New book decodes medical doublespeak on heart disease

"The No Bull Book on Heart Disease: Real Answers to Winning Back your Heart and Health" (ISBN-13: 978-1402758683), being released nationally by Sterling Publishing in January 2009, is a practical "what-to-expect" guide that will help readers cope with their confusion, fear, and lack of information, as well as decode what doctors really mean when they describe certain cardiac procedures, treatments, and medications

Sudden cardiac death found to be a major killer of dialysis patients

Sudden cardiac death is the leading cardiovascular cause of death for dialysis patients, researchers reported in Kidney International. The prospective 10-year study, led by Rulan S. Parekh, MD, associate professor in the department of nephrology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, based the findings on a study of 1,041 dialysis patients, of whom 658 died. Over a median 2.5 years of follow-up, 146 patients (22%) suffered SCD. Patients with the highest levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein or interleukin-6 - markers of systemic inflammation - were twice as likely to die from SCD as those with the lowest levels. Dr. Parekh's group also looked at the effect of low albumin levels - a marker of malnutrition - and found that patients with the lowest albumin levels were 35% more likely to die from SCD compared with those who had the highest levels. 'This is believed to be the first time anyone has taken a rigorous prospective look at why so many patients on dialysis die from sudden cardiac death. The results could help doctors identify those at highest risk and potentially save lives,' Dr. Parekh said. - Renal And Urology News

Heart attack calculator created

Greek researchers have developed a quick and easy artificial intelligence approach to working out heart attack risk. Physicians could use their system to provide patients with a personal risk factor and so advise on lifestyle changes or medication to lower their risk. It is well known that lifestyle factors including depression, education, smoking, diet, and obesity, play a part in the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, epidemiologists who study how health risks vary through populations have not found a way to extrapolate from such broad studies to individual risk levels. Now, Hara Kostakis of the TEI Piraeus Research Centre, in Methonis, Greece, and colleagues have investigated patterns of cardiovascular risk factors in a large population. They obtained data for almost 1000 patients enrolled in the CARDIO 2000 study who had been hospitalised with the first symptoms of ACS, acute coronary syndrome. They recorded details of body mass index, family history, physical activity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes were recorded. They then matched the data against healthy individuals as a scientific control - ScienceDaily

Rugby players help referee after heart attack (UK)

Two Westbury rugby players had to resuscitate a referee during their game against Swanage & Wareham 2nds on Saturday after the official suffered a suspected heart attack. Hadden Graham, 55, who is the former treasurer and chairman of Marlborough Rugby Club, was in charge of the Dorset and Wiltshire League match at Westbury Sports Centre when he collapsed after 35 minutes. Westbury players Paul Jones, who works as a nurse, and Matt Inseal, a trained first responder, used a defibrillator and carried out CPR on the pitch. The Wiltshire Air Ambulance arrived at the scene at about 3.30pm and took the Marlborough man to the Royal United Hospital in Bath. He has since been transferred to Bristol Royal Infirmary, where he is still under sedation - Wiltshire Times

Even a tiny bit of flab raises heart failure risk

"Even a little bit of extra weight can raise the risk of heart failure, according to a U.S. study published on Monday that calculated the heart hazards of being pudgy but not obese. It comes as little surprise that obesity makes a person much more apt to get heart failure, a deadly condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood throughout the body. But researchers who tracked the health of 21,094 U.S. male doctors for two decades found that even those who were only modestly overweight had a higher risk - and it grew along with the amount of extra weight." - Reuters

Statins may reduce odds of delirium after cardiac surgery

"A new study has provided some of the first evidence that the use of cholesterol-lowering statins before cardiac surgery decreases the odds of postoperative delirium in elderly patients. Previous studies have shown that statins reduce the incidence of morbidity and mortality after cardiac and major non-cardiac surgery. Statins have also been shown to be protective in central nervous system injury. The study is published in the January 2009 issue of Anesthesiology" - ANI

Muscat Private Hospital unveils cardiac surgery programme

"Muscat Private Hospital, Oman's first private facility to provide cardiac surgery services, has launched a cardiac surgery programme for the correction of cardiac disorders. With a reputation of being experts in their field, surgeons at the MPH will treat patients with cardiac conditions resulting from: ischemic heart disease (angina or heart attack), valvular heart disease (severe heart murmurs), congenital heart defects (abnormalities present since birth), cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), and aortic aneurysms (damage to the main artery carrying blood from the heart to the body)" - Oman Daily Observer

Tainted drug caused allergic outbreak (USA)

"The cause of an outbreak of severe adverse reactions that occurred at hemodialysis facilities across the country early this year has been identified. Vials of heparin manufactured by Baxter Healthcare and contaminated with oversulfated chondroitin sulfate have been shown to be responsible for a widespread outbreak of adverse reactions to hemodialysis treatment that affected 152 people and covered 13 states. Reactions to the contaminated heparin included facial edema, or swelling, low blood pressure, nausea and shortness of breath. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found of 130 adverse reactions, 128 occurred in a facility that contained OSCS-contaminated heparin. They also found out of 54 reactions, 52 occurred after the administration of contaminated heparin. heparin is a medication derived from pigs that is used to keep blood from clotting. It is often administered to treat blood-clotting disorders and to prevent clotting during procedures like hemodialysis and cardiac surgery. Source: New England Journal of Medicine, 2008;359:2674-2684 - HealthScout

Monday, December 22, 2008

Research aims to reduce scarring from heart attacks

A heart damaged by heart attack is usually broken, at least partially, for good. The injury causes excessive scar tissue to form, and this plays a role in permanently keeping heart muscle from working at full capacity. Now researchers have identified a key molecule involved in controlling excessive scar tissue formation in mice following a heart attack. When they stopped the scarring from occurring, the scientists found that the animals' heart function greatly improved following the injury. The study, by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cornell University, appears in Nature Cell Biology online Dec. 14, 2008 - eMaxHealth

Richard Branson's daughter saves plane passenger's life

An announcement was made on the flight from Gatwick Airport after 47-year-old Paul Norbury fell ill some 45 minutes into the journey with 430 passengers on board. The Virgin tycoon's 26-year-old daughter, Holly, a qualified doctor, came forward to offer her help before checking his pulse and blood pressure, administering oxygen and speaking to medical experts on the ground. A Virgin Atlantic spokesman said a decision was taken by Holly and medical staff on the ground to divert the flight to Ireland's Shannon Airport for Mr Norbury to attend Ennis General Hospital by ambulance. Sir Richard said: "I'm incredibly proud of Holly and pleased that her qualifications were able to save the life of one of our passengers." - Telegraph

Trial tests adult stems cells to treat congestive heart failure

"The University of California, San Diego Medical Center is the first hospital in California to enroll patients in a multi-center clinical trial, sponsored by Angioblast Systems Inc., to examine the safety and feasibility of administering adult stems cells to treat congestive heart failure. The cells, derived from bone marrow, are injected by a catheter directly into the heart muscle. Sixty patients will be recruited for this clinical trial through UC San Diego Medical Center and hospitals nationwide" - News-Medical.Net

Poet Adrian Mitchell dies

Adrian Mitchell, a poet whose passionate works about nuclear war, Vietnam and racism were often sung at left-wing rallies, died Saturday. He was 76. Publisher Bloodaxe Books said on its Web site that Mitchell died in his sleep of a suspected heart attack after suffering from pneumonia for two months. One of his best-known poems, "Human Beings," was voted the poem people would most like to see launched into space in a 2005 poll by the writing charity The Poetry Society. Mitchell was also a successful playwright, novelist and children's writer. He had just completed a new anthology, "Tell Me Lies: Poems 2005-2008," and a collection of work for children called "Umpteen Poems." Mitchell was born in London in 1932 and worked as a journalist for several years before going full time with his creative writing - IHT

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sleep duration and cardiac death link seen in study

"A U.S. team provides more evidence that sleeping too little - or too much - may be bad for your heart. The investigators also noted that diabetes and hypertension may contribute to this relationship. Among 58,044 men and women 45 years of age or older without heart disease at study entry, those who slept 5 hours or less or 9 hours or more, were significantly more likely to die from cardiovascular disease over the next several years than people who logged 7 hours a night, Dr. Anoop Shankar of the West Virginia School of Medicine in Morgantown and colleagues found. These findings back the results of other studies that have suggested how long people sleep may be a key predictor of their heart disease risk, Shankar and his team report in the American Journal of Epidemiology" - Reuters to hold launch party with silent auction in aid of Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY)

" will hold a launch party for its new website, at Oxygen in London's Leicester Square on 8 January 2009. There won't be any boring presentations or sales pitches, just a party, with cheap drinks and the first 50 members to arrive get a free drink. The launch party will include a silent auction, of film memorabilia, in aid of the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young ( CRY), registered charity number 1050845"

Friday, December 19, 2008

The mobile treadmill that can be taken outside

The Treadmobile - the latest piece of fitness equipment to come from America - is a gymnasium treadmill which has been fitted with wheels to allow it to be taken into the great outdoors. But maker Alex Astilan, 46, a former decathlete in the Romanian Olympic team, insisted that a work-out on his GBP4,500 Treadmobile was much more "fun" than the obvious alternative - just going for a run. He said it was designed for two people so it was sociable. Mr Astilan, who runs a gym in New York, has built 10 of the machines in a bid to follow his pledge to make Americans "fat to fit in a single generation". "The machine was specifically built for two people," he said. "It will enable obese Americans to run errands and exercise at the same time.

Step up for Stroke (UK)

"Join thousands in a sponsored step on 12 May 2009 to raise money to fight stroke, the UK's third biggest killer. We all know that walking is good for us, so why not challenge yourself - and your friends and family - to raise money for a fantastic cause by taking as many steps as you can in one day"

Rare syncope condition while eating sandwiches solved by pacemaker

A UK woman who felt faint primarily while eating sandwiches or drinking a carbonated beverage was diagnosed with the rarely seen deglutition syncope, researchers said. Also called swallow syncope, the condition is defined as "a transient alteration or loss of consciousness during swallowing," according to Christopher Boos, M.D., of University Hospital Birmingham, and colleagues, who detailed the case in the December 20-27 issue of The Lancet. "Patients with swallow syncope can languish for years because the diagnosis is little known," they said. The 25-year-old woman reported episodes of faintness during eating - especially sandwiches and "fizzy drinks" - that typically lasted less than 10 seconds and occasionally resulted in loss of consciousness - MedPage Today

Devizes baby's heart murmer went undiagnosed (UK)

"Mum Kelly Hibberd was shocked to discover that her two-year-old son Reece has a potentially fatal heart condition after GPs at her former surgery said there was nothing seriously wrong with him. Mrs Hibberd, 23, had been back and forth to St James' Surgery in Devizes, UK, as she was concerned something was wrong with Reece. She moved to Easterton a year ago and in March took Reece to Market Lavington Surgery where a GP said he had a heart murmur. Tests at Southampton General Hospital in October showed that Reece has severe aortic stenosis which means that his aortic valve is very narrow and is restricting the blood flow. As a result he needs open heart surgery and is due to undergo this procedure on December 29" - This Is Wiltshire

GSK starting huge study on new type of heart drug

Drugmaker "GlaxoSmithKline PLC is making a big investment in a new type of drug for the gigantic heart disease market, announcing Thursday it is starting a 15,000-patient, late-stage study of its experimental compound darapladib. The drug is meant to keep plaque deposits in heart arteries stable, so they don't rupture - the top cause of heart attacks and strokes. If approved, this would be the first drug in a new class that inhibits an enzyme called Lp-PLA2, Patrick Vallance, head of drug discovery at the British pharmaceutical company, told The Associated Press"

Health Sciences Online

Health Sciences Online "is the first website to deliver authoritative, comprehensive, free, and ad-free health sciences knowledge. Search and browse any health sciences topic from over 50,000 courses, references, guidelines, and other learning resources. Materials are selected from accredited educational sources including universities, governments, and professional societies, by knowledgeable staff at HSO"

State of Healthcare 2008 (UK)

On 10 December, the Health Commission (UK) published its fifth and final report to Parliament on the state of healthcare in England and Wales. It looked at the progress made in healthcare since 2004 and the challenges ahead. It also focused on how six key areas of care were provided to and experienced by patients in 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Head bangers at risk for neck, head injury, possibly stroke

"You don't have to butt your head against somebody else's noggin to get hurt on the dance floor or at a concert, but violent, rhythmic head banging can cause brain injuries, possibly even stroke. That's the conclusion of two researchers from the University of New South Wales in Australia, who warn that dancing involving 'head banging' can be dangerous. Head banging involves violent up-and-down, circular swinging, or side-to-side movements of the head and neck while dancing or listening to music, and the risk of injury increases as the music's tempo does, professor Andrew McIntosh and his research assistant Declan Patton report in the an online version of BMJ. You can reduce your chance of injury by using protective equipment like neck braces, or simply moving your head to slower tempos, the researchers say" WebMD

Study asks: are physicians overusing an invasive cardiac treatment?

"Researchers are asking if cardiology patients receive intervention-type treatments, such as stents, too often and too quickly. In regions of the country (USA) where cardiologists perform high numbers of cardiac catheterizations to diagnose heart problems, patients may be receiving a treatment known as percutaneous cardiac intervention (PCI) more than they need or want, according to a study published online this week in the journal Circulation. The study will also be in the journal's December 16/23 print edition. In the study, Maine Medical Center researchers analyzed the relationship between cardiac catheterizations and the two most common invasive cardiac treatments used to restore blood flow -- PCI and coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. They found a very high correlation between cardiac catheterization rates and PCI rates; researchers noted a much weaker connection between cardiac catheterization and the number of CABGs" - PRNewswire

The more you snore, the more calories you burn

A new study has found that the more you snore, the more calories you burn. Snoring is commonly linked to sleep apnea and other disorders, and is caused when airways are partially blocked. The study focused on 212 adults who all had these types of sleeping problems. An average person was found to burn about 1,763 calories each night. Those who snore while they sleep though can burn up to 1,999 calories on average each night. They found a direct link between snoring and calories burning, so the more you snore, the more you burn! The study has been published in the Archives of Otolaryngology - eCanadaNow

North Carolina group gives support to local cardiac patients

Dave Martin walked into a patient room at Pitt County Memorial Hospital, North Carolina, on Wednesday with a packet of information about the local Mended Hearts chapter. In the room, Ronald Sutton sat in bed, surrounded by his family. The 57-year-old La Grange man was recovering in the cardiac surgical intermediate unit at the hospital. As Martin talked to Sutton and his family, he told them about his own bypass surgeries and the lessons he learned from his experience. He asked Sutton about his appetite and exercise before telling him to stay positive and to feel better. Martin spends most of his Wednesdays at PCMH, visiting heart patients and spreading information about Mended Hearts - an affiliate of the American Heart Association that offers encouragement to patients and their caregivers. The Mended Hearts chapter, which originally formed during the 1980s and was re-activated in 1994, has about 40 local members and 10 accredited volunteers who visit the hospital. The Recorder

Clinic aims to prevent sudden deaths

When 16-year-old Taylor Allan suddenly died of an undiagnosed fatal heart defect last April, her family and friends were devastated and confused. It was only after the death of this seemingly healthy young athlete that they learned she had a deadly genetic cardiac abnormality that had gone undetected all her life. Now, there's new help in Kingston for people who have these unusual cardiac diseases. A new clinic is opening at Hotel Dieu Hospital to help prevent deaths such as Allan's from happening by diagnosing potentially fatal genetic heart problems with a highly specialized series of tests. Dr. Chris Simpson, medical director of the joint cardiac program at Hotel Dieu and Kingston General hospitals, said that though these conditions are rare, most cases go undiagnosed or underdiagnosed. "They're much more common than we thought," he said. "So finding them in advance, before people have their sudden death episode, can prevent it." Simpson estimated there are about four or five deaths from genetic heart conditions in Kingston each year. "I think they're all preventable," he said. Canada only has a handful of specialized genetic heart defect clinics, including ones in Halifax, Ottawa and Toronto. "This [Kingston] clinic gives us a chance to get the word out there to people that these diseases do exist," said Simpson. Kingston's Inherited Heart Rhythm Disease Clinic targets patients and their families who need to be tested for genetic heart diseases - Whig Standard

An egg a day not a bad idea

"If you've religiously stayed away from eggs fearing the 'bad cholesterol' and risk of heart disease, scientists can lay those fears to rest. According to them, the health benefits of eating eggs prevail over its rather 'insignificant' risks. In a recent study, scientists estimated that eating one egg per day is responsible for less than 1 percent of the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in healthy adults. On the other hand scientists found that lifestyle factors including poor diet, smoking, obesity and physical inactivity contribute 30 to 40 percent of heart disease risk, depending on gender. The study authors used data from the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) to categorize the U.S. adult population into various groups based on modifiable lifestyle risks. These populations account for 85 percent of all U.S. males ages 25 and older and 86 percent of U.S. females ages 25 and older" - MedIndia

Medicare's refusal to pay could end Sutter, California, heart transplants

"In a move that could kill the region's only heart transplant program, federal Medicare officials have notified Sutter Memorial Hospital (Sacramento, CA) that it will not pay for heart transplants there after January 15. Sutter does too few transplants and hasn't made progress toward boosting its numbers despite years of extra monitoring and corrective plans, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told the hospital. Sutter has asked a federal judge to force Medicare to keep paying while it appeals the decision, but no court date has been set" - Sacramento Bee

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lost Without Words from The Stroke Association (UK)

"The Stroke Association has produced a YouTube video to help raise awareness of aphasia and to encourage people to get involved with the Lost Without Words campaign, which highlights the needs of stroke survivors living with a communication disability. The video features broadcaster John Humphrys, television presenter Dr David Bull and sportsman and motivational speaker Kriss Akabusi MBE discussing the impact that being unable to speak would have on their lives and how they would wish someone 'Merry Christmas' at this time of year."

Going to the gym in a lunch-break makes you work better

"Employers should encourage staff to take breaks for exercise as they work better on gym days than on non-gym days, a team at Bristol University, UK, said. Two hundred people working at the University, a pensions company and a computer company completed questionnaires about their mood, workload and performance on days when they went to the workplace gym or exercise class and the results were compared with the answers from days they did not. The workers, who were already in the habit of exercising, chose their own mode, frequency and intensity of workout to better reflect a real-life situation. Most used a gym and did classes while some did weight training and team sports. The majority said they did moderate to vigorous intensity exercise for 45 minutes or less" Telegraph

Number of women cardiologists doubles, but still much room for improvement

"Although the number of women doctors in US cardiology has almost doubled in the past 10 years, a new survey reveals that more than two-thirds of female cardiologists continue to report discrimination, mostly on the basis of gender or parenting responsibilities. 'We've made great strides and a lot of progress, but we still want to make more,' Dr Athena Poppas (Brown University, Providence, RI), lead author and chair of the ACC Women in Cardiology Council, which commissioned the research, told heartwire. Poppas and colleagues report the results of the survey in the December 16, 2008 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology"

People baffled by health messages

People know a healthy lifestyle is important, but most are still baffled by guidelines on fruit, exercise and alcohol, a report shows. Most adults knew they should eat five portions of fruit or veg a day, but few knew what constituted a portion, the Health Survey for England found. Over two thirds did not know or under-estimated how much exercise to do. And less than a third of adults knew the maximum amount of alcohol they should be drinking each day. - BBC

Dinner vs Diner: An Evidence Based Discussion on Heart Healthy Nutrition

The HEARTier Choices Education Series presents Dinner vs Diner: An Evidence Based Discussion on Heart Healthy Nutrition with guest speaker C├ęsar Molina, MD, FACC, January 28, 2009 at El Camino Hospital, California The objectives of the lecture include:
- Importance of the individual physiology on digestion
- Why no single diet works for everybody
- The why’s behind what and when to eat, not to eat
- How nutrition impacts your heart health

Here's to the wine that clears your arteries

It sounds too good to be true, but an Australian doctor insists he has created the world's healthiest tipple: a wine that cleans the arteries as you drink it, reducing the risk of heart attack. Philip Norrie, who owns a vineyard in New South Wales, is producing wines with up to 100 times the antioxidant content of a standard drop. He calls them "vascular pipe-cleaners", saying the antioxidant they contain - resveratrol, which occurs naturally in grapes - helps to keep blood vessels free of fatty deposits. Dr Norrie said yesterday that while the positive effects of moderate wine consumption had long been documented, "the inclusion of such large quantities of this beneficial antioxidant is very good news for wine drinkers". He added: "What we've been able to do is boost the amount of resveratrol in wine - and you won't even know it's there. You're effectively clearing your arteries while you drink." - NZ Herald

Psychological distress a growing heart health problem

"Anyone will tell you that stress is bad for the heart. Many people also know about the toxic effects of anxiety and depression. But how exactly do these negative emotions cripple the cardiovascular system-and what can be done about it? New research published in the December 16/23, 2008, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) offers some answers" - News-Medical.Net

An estimated 3.6 million undiagnosed psoriasis cases put lives at risk, Penn study shows (USA)

"Armed with research concluding that psoriasis is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular conditions, Joel M. Gelfand, MD, MSCE, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and colleagues released an editorial consensus in the American Journal of Cardiology, calling for psoriasis patients to be educated about and screened for cardiovascular risk factors. Dr. Gelfand's latest research estimates that, in addition to the seven million Americans adults diagnosed with psoriasis, as many as 3.6 million Americans are living with active, undiagnosed psoriasis, unaware of the associated cardiovascular risk"

Mechanism behind cardiac scarring discovered

In the aftermath of a heart attack, the body's own defenses may contribute to future heart failure. Authors of a new study believe they have identified a protein that plays an important role in a process that replaces dead heart muscle with stiffening scar tissue. The researchers are hopeful that the findings will lead to the development of new therapies to prevent this damage. "The body tries to fix the injury to the heart muscle by depositing the fibers, but this causes a greater problem," says Dr. Thomas Sato, co-senior author of the study and the Joseph C. Hinsey Professor in Cell and Developmental Biology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. "This process, called fibrosis, causes the heart to become like steel, unable to contract and pump blood throughout the body. The result can be fatal." - News-Medical.Net

Monday, December 15, 2008

CARG Christmas Party 2008 slideshow

Expert offers five tips for getting health care after losing your health insurance (USA)

"As a result of the current economic slow down, many people have lost their jobs - and their health insurance. Dr. Adam Goldstein of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill explains how people in this situation can continue getting the health care they need. More than 45 million Americans had no health insurance in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Fortunately, if you find yourself in this situation there are several things you can do to keep getting the health care services that you need, Goldstein said"

High blood pressure may make it difficult for the elderly to think clearly

"Adding another reason for people to watch their blood pressure, a new study from North Carolina State University shows that increased blood pressure in older adults is directly related to decreased cognitive functioning, particularly among seniors with already high blood pressure. This means that stressful situations may make it more difficult for some seniors to think clearly. The study, which is published in the current issue of Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, examined blood pressure and cognitive functioning test data collected from a cohort of adults aged 60-87 twice daily for 60 days"

Eleven new gene sites linked to cholesterol, triglyceride levels

"An international research team has identified 11 novel locations in the human genome where common variations appear to influence cholesterol or triglyceride levels, bringing the total number of lipid-associated genes to 30. While major mutations in some of these genes have been known to underlie rare lipid metabolism disorders, it is becoming apparent that common changes in the same genes that have modest effects can combine with risk-associated variants in other genes to significantly influence blood lipid levels. The report to appear in the journal Nature Genetics is being released online. - Science Daily

Holiday heart help for women

"A heart attack survivor is warning other women to watch their hearts this holiday. Katy Atterbery, co-founder of Queen of Hearts Foundation, suffered a heart attack at the age of 54. During a live interview on 11 Alive News Sunday Today, USA, she encouraged other women to avoid putting too much stress on their hearts this time of year."

Heart attack - get checked after age 45

Health experts are urging men in their 40s and even younger to have their hearts checked, following the weekend death of former All Black John Drake. Drake, a television rugby commentator and Herald columnist, collapsed and died of a heart attack at his Mt Maunganui home on Saturday. He was 49. "It's quite unusual for people under 50 to 55 to have heart attacks," University of Auckland researcher Professor Rod Jackson said yesterday. "Heart attacks before the age of 75 or 80 are almost entirely preventable - don't smoke, eat right and do some exercise." The rate of heart attacks under 65 was more than three times higher among men than women, although the gap subsequently narrowed, probably as the effects of the hormonal changes of menopause caught up with women. He said everyone should avoid food rich in saturated fats - such as butter - as they were strongly linked to cardiovascular disease. Research on lumberjacks who ate a lot of dairy food had shown that being extremely fit was no protection. - New Zealand Herald

My BodyWorks at Gulf Coast Exploreum, Alabama

"Hold a beating holographic heart in the palm of your hand. Perform virtual cardiac surgery - the slightest touch of your fingers will determine the patient's outcome - in the Ernest G. DeBakey Virtual Surgery. Seal blood vessels with laser beam technology. Discover the everyday miracles our bodies perform in the most advanced human health hall in the United States, My BodyWorks. The Gulf Coast Exploreum's new 6,500 square foot gallery is packed with leading-edge exhibits, including a 12-foot tall realistic beating heart and a fully functioning health and biology lab where visitors can perform experiments and learn more about the science of life."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Promotion of exercise in primary care

From the British Medical Journal: The health benefits of exercise are so great that it is probably the most important self help treatment available. Regular exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and death from all causes. Regular physical activity and structured exercise can also reduce falls and injuries, and it is a key factor in the prevention and management of osteopenia and osteoporosis. It also promotes mental wellbeing and helps people to manage their weight. Effective promotion of exercise could result in substantial healthcare savings, but this is hampered by our limited knowledge of how to achieve sustained increases in physical activity. The linked study by Lawton and colleagues assesses the effectiveness of an "exercise on prescription" programme in less active women in primary care over two years.

Leading pharmacologists to meet in Brighton, UK

The latest developments in drug discovery - including solutions to tackle obesity, the latest on the Northwick Park drug-trial disaster and issues surrounding drugs used in sport and the Olympics - will be highlighted at a conference in Brighton, UK, next week. The British Pharmacological Society, Europe's leading pharmacological research society, is to host its Winter Meeting in the seaside resort, attracting experts from across the world. Running from 16 to 18 December, the three-day conference will hear the latest research tackling the global obesity problem. Other researchers will present their work on the safety of drugs, particularly the new biopharmaceuticals developed in the wake of the Northwick Park drug-trial disaster in 2006 that left six volunteers fighting for their lives. A third theme of the conference will examine the latest techniques using stem-cell therapies to tackle heart disease.

City of Saskatoon Leisure Guide Winter 2009

The City of Saskatoon Leisure Guide Winter 2009 is your community source for a variety of arts, culture, and recreational activities throughout the year. Select from Drop In programs, which do not require pre-registration and provide the public with access to the City's recreation facilities and to instructor-led classes, or from Registered Programs, which include an instructor who leads the participants through a pre-defined set of activities

Three Chinese herbs could put an end to statin drugs

From NaturalNews - "The statin drug pushing scam is going for the throat with its all time lowest assault! It is becoming more and more evident that people of all ages are being lied to day after day by doctors as a way to push the deadly protocol of Big Pharma. If you believe all the hype about statins from pharma reps and TV commercials then you will believe that the whole reason our livers make cholesterol is simply to give us a heart attack sometime down the road! That is just about exactly what they tell you. ...The only 'bad' cholesterol is cholesterol that has become oxidized and the only way to undo this oxidation is by feeding our bodies with anti-oxidant rich foods and herbs. See the video 'Exposing the Cholesterol Myth with Dr. Ron Rosedale':"

Shopper saves butcher's life after town-centre collapse

A butcher who "died" when his heart stopped in a Northamptonshire, UK, town centre was brought back to life by a passing shopper.
Father-to-be Gavin Bradbury, 25, was resuscitated by midwife Laura Groom after he collapsed in Corby town centre. Mr Bradbury, who works as a butcher, collapsed moments after leaving the shop. Mrs Groom caught him as he fell and saw him turn blue. She quickly realised his heart had stopped and that he had no pulse. She began giving him mouth-to-mouth life support, helped by another passer-by who carried out chest compressions. Thanks to their efforts, he was resuscitated by the time the rapid response paramedic car arrived. Mr Bradbury, of Coleridge Way, Corby, had another attack when he arrived at Kettering General Hospital and had to be revived again by medical staff. - Northampton Chronicle and Echo

Wyeth allegedly used journals to tout drug

"Pharmaceutical giant Wyeth arranged ghost-written articles in medical journals on its hormone replacement therapy, U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley said Friday. Grassley, R-Iowa, asked the company, based in New Jersey, and DesignWrite, a medical writing company, to provide details including payment for the articles on Prempro and the involvement of doctors who signed them, The New York Times reported. Members of Grassley's staff released documents showing that Wyeth had been recruiting ghost writers for Prempro in the late 1990s. At least one article was published after a federal study in 2003 showed Prempro might increase the risk of breast cancer. "Any attempt to manipulate the scientific literature, that can in turn mislead doctors to prescribe drugs that may not work and/or cause harm to their patients, is very troubling," Grassley said in a letter to Bernard Poussot, Wyeth's chairman and chief executive. Grassley says Wyeth executives prepared outlines for ghost-written articles, and then arranged the writing and found scientists to put their names to them. Wyeth has been accused of using similar tactics in the past with two weight-loss drugs, and Merck has similarly been tied to such tactics with its painkiller, Vioxx, the newspaper said." - Source: United Press International

Heart patients who enjoy activity keep it up, says Foundation researcher

In patients with heart disease, physical activity is known to help improve survival rates, quality of life and reduce risk factors. But after finishing cardiac rehabilitation, many patients don't keep up with their activity prescriptions. Dr. Monika Slovinec D'Angelo is using Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario funding for a pilot study of a program using motivational support to keep these patients on track for the long run. "Less than half of these patients are active enough to derive maximum benefits and it's a real challenge to motivate them to get regular activity outside the clinical setting," she says. Dr. Slovinec D'Angelo has developed an intervention for cardiac patients using a counsellor who can help patients tailor an activity plan to their own needs as well as their likes and dislikes. Patients will be provided with five 20 to 30 minute counselling sessions, one face-to-face and four via telephone. The counsellor will also link patients to a community-based exercise program or facility where they may choose to complete some or all their physical activity sessions. Patients will be followed up at 12, 26 and 52 weeks after the end of a conventional rehab program combined with motivational support.. Self-reporting and a pedometer will be used to evaluate how their activity level is being maintained

The Heart Foundation of Australia Conference 2009

The Heart Foundation of Australia Conference 2009 - 14-16 May 2009 - Brisbane, Australia

Time for Action (Australia)

From Australia: "The Heart Foundation and the National Stroke Foundation have called for a national action plan to better tackle heart, stroke and vascular disease. A joint publication - Time for Action - sets out the key elements that should be contained in a national action plan. These are mapped against the priorities set out in the 2005 National Service Improvement Framework for Heart, Stroke and Vascular Disease"

Hot fitness trends for 2009

A survey by the American Council on Exercise predicts that fitness programs that are easy on the pocketbook will shine in 2009. The group is out with its top 10 fitness trends for the upcoming year, after surveying personal trainers, group fitness professionals, and lifestyle and weight management consultants. For the second year in a row, boot camp-style workouts are predicted to be the top fitness trend for 2009. Boot camps, group classes that aim to strengthen large muscle groups with pushups, squats, and lunges, can burn up to 600 calories during one session - WebMD

Cuttino Mobley forced to retire from basketball

Cuttino Mobley announced his retirement Thursday at the Knicks' practice facility in Greenburgh, ending his 11-year career after being diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy - a thickening of the heart muscle that can lead to cardiac arrest. "The specialists made it clear that my heart condition has gotten worse and I can't continue to play professional basketball without putting my health and life in serious danger," said the 33-year-old shooting guard, who was traded to the Knicks from the Clippers three weeks ago as part of the Zach Randolph trade. "It's unpredictable, (but) when you play a sport at this high level, it's definitely a high risk." Mobley never practiced or played a game with the Knicks - Daily News

Did anxiety cause my heart attack?

Since her mid-20s, Lorna Thorpe has suffered crippling panic attacks. Now, after a cardiac arrest at 50, she lives in fear that her worrying could kill her. Lorna Thorpe's poetry collection A Ghost in my House is published by Arc in the UK

Cardiac emergency training takes toll - even on dummies

"Pocono Medical Center hosted a media event on Friday to demonstrate how cardiologists and support staff learn to use new technology. Two problems, the system was dead on arrival and "virtually" no one from the media showed up. The virtual patient, "Simantha," had unexpected technical problems that short-circuited the presentation by SimSuite Medical Simulation Corp. employees. Had Simantha been virtually alive and kicking, staff and physicians would have been able to try their hand at saving her life by performing a virtual cardiac procedure using new technology. Chances were good that she would have died during training in order teach the staff how to handle a crashing patient. None of that was able to happen thanks to intricate technology and its flaws. SimSuite, the 35-foot bus travels year round and stops at hospitals and medical centers in the hopes of training the staff on the latest treatments for lesions in coronary arteries that are difficult to treat due to their location or size" - Pocono Record

Cost of hospital cardiac care on the rise (USA)

U.S. hospital costs for treating cardiovascular conditions have increased about 40% within the last decade, according to the latest federal government numbers. The increase, from $40 billion in 1997 to $57.9 billion in 2006, occurred mainly between 1997 and 2003, according to the report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Since then,the annual growth in hospital costs for treating these conditions has slowed to less than 2% due to a decline in the number of heart disease cases and slower increases in cost per case. - Source: U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, news release, Dec. 10, 2008

Anxiety does not up risk of post-surgery delirium

Older patients often suffer delirium after heart surgery, but this seems to be unrelated to pre-surgery anxiety and depression, according to a new study. "Delirium is a common psychiatric complication after cardiac surgery," note Dr. Koen Milisen, of Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, and colleagues. "Special attention" must be paid to delirium after heart surgery, because the syndrome is associated with poor outcomes, including higher rates of post-surgery complications, longer hospital stay, and higher death rates, they say. In a long-term study involving 104 elderly patients admitted for heart surgery, Milisen's team found that 27 patients, or 26 percent, suffered postoperative delirium for a median of 2 days - Source: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, December 2008.

Cape Fear Valley offers new heart procedure

"Dr. Christian Perzanowski leaned over a computer keyboard Monday and began to operate. His patient lay on a table about 10 feet behind him. Perzanowski, a cardiologist at Cape Fear Valley Heart & Vascular Center, North Carolina, was performing the center's newest procedure - cardiac ablation - which cures patients suffering from rapid heartbeats, heart palpitations and flutters"

Friday, December 12, 2008

Aggressive cholesterol lowering has benefits: study

"In people with type 2 diabetes, intensive drug therapy to significantly lower 'bad' LDL cholesterol reduces the thickness of the carotid arteries, the major arteries in the neck that supply oxygen to the brain, research shows. The beneficial effect on the thickness of the neck arteries is similar in people who attain equivalent LDL cholesterol reductions by taking a statin drug alone or by taking a statin plus another cholesterol medicine called ezetimibe, the researchers found. Ezetimibe (Vytorin) pairs the statin drug Zocor with cholesterol fighter Zetia. However, the addition of ezetimibe may be required if a statin alone fails to lower LDL levels to target levels, they report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology" - Reuters