Friday, October 31, 2008

Heavy metals can taint wine

"The cardiac benefits of wine have been touted for years, but heavy metal contamination found in some European red and white wines could turn a health benefit into a hazard, British researchers report. Heavy metals have been linked to neurological problems such as Parkinson's disease and may also increase oxidative stress, which can lead to chronic inflammatory disease and cancer, the researchers noted. The report was published in the October 30 online edition of Chemistry Central Journal

Patti's new child

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Statin side effects: weigh the benefits and risks

From The Mayo Clinic: "Statin side effects can be very uncomfortable, making it seem like the risks outweigh the benefits of these powerful cholesterol-lowering medications. Consider the risks and benefits. Because of their effectiveness, statins are often prescribed for people with high cholesterol to lower their total cholesterol and reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke. Most people who are prescribed statins will take them for the rest of their lives, which can make statin side effects difficult to manage. For some people, statin side effects can make it seem like the benefit of taking a statin isn't worth it. Before you decide to stop taking a statin, discover how statin side effects can be reduced"

Can your doctor correctly read a critical heart test?

"Correct interpretation of an electrocardiogram may prompt life-saving, emergency measures; incorrect interpretation may delay care with life-threatening consequences. Currently, there is no uniform way to teach doctors in training how to interpret an ECG or assess their competence in the interpretation. To address the lack of uniformity, a team of physicians from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the American College of Cardiology has developed the first Web-based training and examination program for reading ECGs." - EurekAlert launches search engine for medical images has announced it has released a medical image search engine designed for patients, students, caregivers, and medical professionals

Optimal dose of vitamin E maximizes benefits, minimizes risk

"Vitamin E has been heralded for its ability to reduce the risk of blood clots, heart attack, and sudden death. Yet in some people, vitamin E causes bleeding. Scientists have known for more than 50 years that excess vitamin E promotes bleeding by interfering with vitamin K, which is essential in blood clotting. However, they haven't been able to pinpoint how the two vitamins interact. Nutrition researcher Maret Traber of Oregon State University reviews studies of possible explanations of the interaction in an article published recently in Nutrition Reviews"

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Stem cell therapies for heart disease get one step closer

"New research from the University of Bristol (UK) brings stem cell therapies for heart disease one step closer. The findings reveal that our bodies' ability to respond to an internal 'mayday' signal may hold the key to success for long-awaited regenerative medicine that could significantly contribute to heart disease treatment. Dr Nicolle Krankel and colleagues at the Bristol Heart Institute have discovered how our bodies initiate DIY rescue and repair mechanisms when blood supply is inadequate, for example in diabetic limbs or in the heart muscle during heart attack." - eMaxHealth

Heart rate-lowering drug improves exercise capacity in patients with stable angina

"Results from a late-breaking clinical trial, presented at the 2008 Canadian Cardiology Congress in Toronto, show for the first time that combining the pure heart rate reduction medication ivabradine to current treatments of patients with stable angina improves their exercise capacity. The study involved almost 900 patients from Canada and internationally with documented coronary artery disease and a history of stable angina. The objective was to determine if treatment with ivabradine could improve exercise capacity in these patients beyond what was previously achieved with standard treatments. Patients received either ivabradine 5 mg bid for two months (increased to 7.5 mg bid in 87.5 percent of patients for an additional two months) or placebo for four months in addition to their current beta blocker background therapy (atenolol 50 mg daily)" - Huliq

Defective gene increases risk of fatal heart attack

"Men with a defective gene associated with high blood pressure are almost twice as likely to die after a heart attack, an Otago University, New Zealand, study has found. The three-year study of 1075 people found that men were more likely to die if they had a defective ACE2 gene. The gene, which controls blood pressure in its normal form, causes it to increase when defective. Lead researcher Barry Palmer said the link to high blood pressure had been known for some time" - New Zealand Herald

Exploring use of fat cells as heart attack therapy

"For those of us trained to read nutrition labels, conventional wisdom tells us that fat isn't good for the heart. But a team of University of Houston researchers has set out to use fat cells to beef up heart muscles damaged by heart attack - and they're using an out-of-this-world device to do it. While associate professor Stanley Kleis and his research team at the Cullen College of Engineering's department of mechanical engineering aren't advocating a fried-food free-for-all, they do see the promise of using adipose-derived stromal cells (ADSCs), which are found in fatty tissue, as a therapy for heart attack patients" - ScienceDaily

Cocaine ups heart attack risk

Cocaine ups heart attack risk"In a US national survey, the risk of heart attack was increased fourfold among young adults who had used cocaine more than 10 times in their lifetimes, report researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston. In this nationally representative population, roughly 10% of the heart attacks in those aged 18 to 45 years were associated with a history of more than 10 lifetime episodes of cocaine use, Dr Murray A. Mittleman and his colleagues report in the American Journal of Cardiology

Popular primate suffered heart attack

"Colchester Zoo's female Orangutan, Djambe, died of a heart attack, it has emerged. The zoo has received the initial post mortem results following the death of the popular primate on October 25. The results indicated that she suffered a heart attack following the rupture of a large ovarian cyst" - Archant Regional Ltd

Heart attack rates change with shift of daylight saving time

The risk of heart attacks changes when clocks spring ahead or fall back at the start or end of daylight saving time, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Setting the clock ahead in spring for the start of daylight saving time appears to increase the heart attack rates, possibly because of sleep deprivation, said the study based on heart attacks in Sweden. But on the autumn Monday after clocks go back and people can get an extra hour of shuteye, the heart attack risk declines

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Heart Matters from the British Heart Foundation

Heart Matters can help you live with a healthy heart. This brand new free service from the British Heart Foundation offers a unique package of support and information for people looking to improve their heart health.

Sign up now to receive:
- Heart Matters 'heart risk' tape measure
- A Quick Guide to Heart Health - the facts you need
- 5-A-Day Food Diary

As a member you'll also benefit from:
- Regular issues of heart health magazine
- A dedicated HelpLine staffed by cardiac nurses and heart health advisers
- Personalised information including local activities in your area
- Supportive email alerts

New heart bypass procedure offers quick recovery

"Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the USA, taking almost 700 thousand lives each year. For some, bypass surgery to fix blocked arteries is the only option. But fear of a bloody, invasive surgery is no longer a reason to avoid the procedure. Mick Foster couldn't even go for a walk with his girlfriend without worrying about having another heart attack. 'My life expectancy would probably have been early 50s,' he said. By 40, Mick had survived two heart attacks and his chest pains returned. His choices - bypass surgery or live with a ticking time bomb in his chest. He says, 'I could never get past the idea of chest open, people's hands inside there playing around.' Doctors presented another option - minimally invasive direct coronary artery bypass or midcab. Stephen Ball, a Cardiothoracic Surgeon with Vanderbilt Medical Center, says, 'It's radically different than conventional bypass surgery.'" - Scripps

FDA warns Bayer over claims on 2 aspirin products

"Bayer is illegally marketing two aspirin products that make unsubstantiated health claims about fighting heart disease and osteoporosis, federal regulators said Tuesday. The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter to the German conglomerate saying it never received approval for the claims on its Bayer Aspirin with Heart Advantage and Bayer Women's products" - ABC News

How ultrafine particles in air pollution may cause heart disease

"Patients prone to heart disease may one day be told by physicians to avoid not only fatty foods and smoking but air pollution too. A new academic study led by UCLA researchers has revealed that the smallest particles from vehicle emissions may be the most damaging components of air pollution in triggering plaque buildup in the arteries, which can lead to heart attack and stroke. The scientists identified a way in which pollutant particles may promote hardening of the arteries - by inactivating the protective qualities of high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, known as 'good' cholesterol" - ScienceDaily

Cleveland Clinic offers employees free gym memberships

"Cleveland Clinic employees will soon have yet another free program to take advantage of in their pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. Starting November 1, Cleveland Clinic will roll out the third phase of its 'Employee Health Plan (EHP) Wellness Program - Physical Activity,' which provides employees on the plan with free access to Clinic-owned fitness centers or Curves locations. This new initiative is part of several major enhancements to Cleveland Clinic's employee wellness program that have taken effect over the past four months, including free Weight Watchers services and free smoking cessation treatment and medication. Currently, there are more than 27,000 Cleveland Clinic employees enrolled in Cleveland Clinic's EHP"

Texas students screened for heart abnormalities

A northwest Houston, Texas, school district is going above and beyond the regular physical to keep its athletes safe by screening for heart abnormalities. Dr. Thomas DeBauche, a cardiologist, is studying thousands of students' hearts, looking for anything that could take a young life. It's standard practice in other countries. 'An experience in Italy using EKGs and follow up decreased sudden death in their athletes over a 10-year period by over 90 percent,' DeBauche said. He said that only about 1 percent of students could be walking around with a heart problem serious enough to limit their participation in sports" -

Emergency heart and stroke care studied; Washington State recommends system changes

"Many people in Washington state die or are disabled from heart attacks and strokes because they don't get life-saving treatment. Fewer than three percent of people suffering the most common kind of stroke get the best treatment for that type of stroke. And less than half of all people who have a heart attack are treated with the most effective heart attack intervention. 'We've got to get people to recognize symptoms of heart attack and stroke and convince them to take it seriously. Often they have symptoms and don't call 9-1-1,' said Secretary of Health Mary Selecky. 'Each minute is critical for stroke and heart attack treatment.' A report just released by the Washington State Department of Health, Emergency Cardiac and Stroke Care in Washington, explains why many people don’t get life-saving treatments. The report also discusses system changes needed because emergency response varies widely statewide."

Grapes may aid a bunch of heart risk factors, animal study finds

"Could eating grapes help fight high blood pressure related to a salty diet? And could grapes calm other factors that are also related to heart diseases such as heart failure? A new University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center study suggests so. The new study, published in the October issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences, gives tantalizing clues to the potential of grapes in reducing cardiovascular risk. The effect is thought to be due to the high level of phytochemicals – naturally occurring antioxidants – that grapes contain. The study was performed in laboratory rats. The researchers noted that while these study results are extremely encouraging, more research needs to be done" -

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mounting evidence shows health benefits of grape polyphenols

"A growing body of research data suggests that consuming foods rich in polyphenols from grapes, including red wine, helps reduce the risk of heart disease, according to a review article in the November issue of Nutrition Research. 'Consumption of grape and grape extracts and/or grape products such as red wine may be beneficial in preventing the development of chronic degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease,' write Wayne R. Leifert, Ph.D., and Mahinda Y. Abeywardena, Ph.D., of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Adelaide, Australia. The authors review the accumulating evidence that grape polyphenols work in many different ways to prevent cardiovascular and other 'inflammatory-mediated' diseases. Polyphenols are natural antioxidants found in grapes and some other plant foods. Their types and actions vary, depending on where in the grape they are found. Grape seeds, grape skin, and grape juice contain several types of polyphenols, including resveratrol, phenolic acids, anthocyanins, and flavonoids" - EurekAlert

Octogenarians can be good candidates for heart surgery

"Patients 80 years and older who are in overall good health are perfectly able to withstand open-heart surgery, according to the latest study of Dr. Kevin Lachapelle of the McGill University Health Centre. His findings were presented in Toronto during the 2008 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress. 'Age should not be a reason for doctors to rule out the possibility of heart surgery for their octogenarian patients," explained Dr. Lachapelle. 'If patients with heart problems are otherwise in good health, this surgery can significantly improve their quality of life'" - EurekAlert

Nicotine vaccine, mouth spray - new tools to stop smoking

"About 90 percent of cigarette smokers in the United States try to break the habit. Most fail. But now there are some tools and some research-backed methods to help people quit" - VOA

It sounds like health heresy - but should we eat more fatty food?

"For breakfast, Barry Groves had an extra large egg and a 3oz slice of liver, fried in lard. He washed it down with a cup of cocoa made with double cream. At lunch, Barry (72) who lives near Oxford with his wife Monica (70) will enjoy pork chops, with the fat left on, plus a few green vegetables in butter. Finally, the couple will have a light supper consisting of cheese with a home-grown apple or pear, topped with cream, followed by more cocoa. Despite following this shockingly high-fat diet for more than 40 years, Barry now weighs 6lb less than he did on his wedding day in 1957 when he tipped the scales at 11st 7lb. He and Monica break every single diet dictat that has been trumpeted as 'healthy eating'. And yet, here they are, trim, fit and full of beans, albeit metaphorical ones. How do they do it? And where are the rest of us - eating piles of fruit and veg, and steering clear of cholesterol-laden butter - going wrong? After all, we've never been subject to so much education on good dietary practice, and yet prey to so many illnesses, from diabetes to heart disease" - Independent Ireland

Wrap up warm, we don't want you to have a heart attack - Met Office to text cold snap alerts to patients with cardiac problems

"It is advice that has traditionally been dispensed by mothers and grandmothers. But now the UK Met Office is also warning people to wrap up warm to dodge a nasty chest as part of a pilot scheme offering patients personal weather warnings. Patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease will be called by the automated service to warn them of severe weather conditions over the following week. The scheme, called Operation Cold Front, is to be launched in Stoke-on-Trent next month in the latest of a series of trials around the UK of the Met Office's COPD alert service" - Mail Online

Potentially deadly heart disease on rise among young Quebec adults: study

"Heart disease caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries appears to be on the rise among Quebecers aged 40 and younger, says a Montreal researcher, who found the condition accounts for a significant proportion of sudden deaths in that age group. Dr. Dabit Arzamendi, a fellow at the Montreal Heart Institute, told the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Toronto on Monday that 46.5 per cent of sudden deaths in Quebecers aged 40 and under were caused by heart disease. Arzamendi, who is from Spain, said he was struck by the number of relatively young people who were coming into the Montreal hospital needing a stent to prop open their plaque-ridden arteries" - CJAD

Artificial heart unveiled

"An artificial heart, which perfectly replicates the human organ, has been unveiled, three decades after the first human transplant. Pumping, rippling and beating almost exactly like the real thing, the new artificial heart could save the lives of thousands of patients, many of whom die waiting for a donation. France's leading cardiac surgeon, Professor Alain Carpentier and engineers from the group that makes Airbus aircraft created the device. It's constructed from animal tissue; titanium and materials used in aeronautical technology and is covered in specially treated tissue to avoid rejection by the body's immune system" - Times Online

Statins may prevent blood clots

"Statins, which are drugs commonly used to lower cholesterol, may help prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots, a condition that affects nearly two million Americans each year. Researchers from the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia say the use of statins may be associated with a significant reduction in the occurrence of venous thromboembolism (VTE), a condition that includes DVT and pulmonary embolism, in patients with solid organ tumors, including breast, colon and prostate cancers" - Ivanhoe

Green neighborhoods may reduce childhood obesity

"Childhood obesity can lead to type 2 diabetes, asthma, hypertension, sleep apnea and emotional distress. Obese children and youth are likely to be obese as adults, experience more cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and stroke and incur higher healthcare costs. In an article published in the December 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers report that children living in inner city neighborhoods with higher 'greenness' experienced lower weight gains compared to those in areas with less green space. Researchers from the University of Washington, Indiana University-Purdue University and Indiana University School of Medicine followed more than 3800 children, predominantly African-American and poor, aged 3-16 over a two-year period. Using satellite imaging data to measure vegetation coverage, the investigators found that higher greenness was significantly associated with lower body mass index (BMI) changes in those children. In previous studies of adults, residential density tended to predict physical activity levels, with highly urban environments leading to more walking, less driving and lower BMI. The current study did not find this correlation for children" - EurekAlert

Instructions reduce warfarin complications

"Proper instructions of how to take the blood thinning drug warfarin resulted in less risk of bleeding complications, U.S. researchers said. The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, also indicated patients who see only one physician and fill their prescription at a single pharmacy were 60 percent less likely to experience serious bleeding events. The researchers theorize that improved patient communication - which clarify questions about dosing, other drugs to avoid while taking warfarin, and early symptoms of bleeding problems - could prevent a substantial number of injuries and resulting hospitalizations" - UPI

WHO: people under age 60 account for half of global deaths

A new World Health Organization study highlights high levels of child mortality in Africa, war deaths in the Middle East and cardiovascular disease for East European men. The report predicts the proportion of deaths due to non-communicable diseases will rise from 60 percent to 75 percent by 2030. It calls this a sign of success and says people will be living longer. For that reason, they will increasingly be dying from cancers and heart disease rather than from infectious diseases at an earlier age - VOA

Monday, October 27, 2008

Study reveals factors of exceptional health in old age

"Elderly people who have a positive outlook, lower stress levels, moderate alcohol consumption, abstention from tobacco, moderate to higher income and no chronic health conditions are more likely to thrive in their old age, according to a study in the October issue of the Journals of Gerontology, Medical Sciences. The first study of its kind, researchers from Portland State University, the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Oregon Health & Science University, and Statistics Canada surveyed 2,432 older Canadians about their quality of life. The few who maintained excellent health over an entire decade were considered 'thrivers.' Most previous studies have been based on one-time surveys and focused on factors that contribute to poor health" - EarthTimes

Eating whole grains lowers heart failure risk, according to new study

"About 5 million people in the United States suffer from heart failure. While some reports indicate that changes to diet can reduce HF risk, few large, prospective studies have been conducted. In a new study researchers observed over 14,000 participants for more than 13 years and found that whole grain consumption lowered HF risk, while egg and high-fat dairy consumption raised risk. Other food groups did not directly affect HF risk. The results are published in the November 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association"

CHEST Physician - October 2008

The October 2008 issue of CHEST Physician, the official monthly news publication of the American College of Chest Physicians, is now available online

Effects of anesthesia on the heart

"Researchers at Rhode Island Hospital, USA, have created the first animal model that can reveal the side effects of anesthetic agents (the substances used to block pain during surgery) in individuals genetically predisposed to sudden cardiac death. The researchers also found that some anesthetic agents may trigger arrhythmias. The study appears in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Physiology – Heart Circulation Physiology and is currently available online"

Immigrants more prone to heart disease: study

"The stressful process of settling down in a new country may be putting Canadian immigrants at risk for health problems down the road, according to a new study to be presented today at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress. While many immigrants move to Canada with healthy hearts, the study revealed the longer they remain in the country, the worse their cardiovascular health becomes. Surpassing risk levels of other people of the same ethnic backgrounds born in Canada, immigrants become more prone to heart disease - which can lead to premature death. 'Most times, when people move to a new country, especially coming to Canada, they're coming for an improvement in their life,' said Dr. Scott Lear, lead author of the study and kinesiologist at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. '(Yet) the 'healthy immigrant effect' that we know fades over time'" - Canoe

Liquid Smoking drink To launch

"The nicotine-free Liquid Smoking drink claims to give the same buzz as cigarettes. It is aimed at those who struggle to cope with the smoking ban in UK pubs or long plane journeys. Liquid Smoking is even safe for children to drink and impossible to get addicted to, United Drinks and Beauty Corporation CEO Martin Hartman told Sky News Online. An 'indigenous African herbal extract' provides a 'slight energizing effect followed by a 'euphoric sense of calming'. Mr Hartman said: 'It can't harm anybody. You can't get addicted to a natural plant like this.' Since the ban on smoking in enclosed public places came into force in 1997 there have been a crop of products designed to replace lighting up, including the SuperSmoker 'electronic cigarette'. Ash, the anti-smoking group, have warned the industry needs urgent regulation as consumers have no idea whether the products are safe or effective" - Sky

U.S. hospitals ease crowded ERs with beds in halls

"There's no phone and no television. Only a screen offers privacy. But heart patient Edward Gray understands why the hospital put him in a cardiac unit hallway. 'They sent me up here to make room for other emergency patients,' Gray, 78, said last week from his bed in the hall of a New York area hospital. 'This is the way things are in hospitals.' It may not sound like ideal health care, but hospital officials nationwide are being urged to consider hallway medicine as a way to ease emergency department crowding, and some are trying it. Leading the way is Stony Brook University Medical Center in Stony Brook, N.Y., where a study found that no harm was caused by moving emergency room patients to upper-floor hallways when they were ready for admission" - Chicago Tribune

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Peeling more healthy goodness from the pomegranate

"Rich in antioxidants, the pink ruby red nuggets of pomegranate seeds can keep cholesterol levels naturally low, and like a fine glass of red wine, the fruit keeps blood platelets healthy. Mentioned in the Bible, pomegranates are delicious and fun to eat - especially for children who enjoy pulling the fruit-covered seeds from the leathery skin. But time-challenged adults, and seniors with less dexterity, find removing the fruit from its bitter "packaging" a drawback to eating it more regularly"

Beryl Bainbridge's heart attack worked wonders

It took a coronary to cure Beryl Bainbridge of her writers block. Now, she says, she is brimming with new-found energy - It wasn't until I was back in a hospital bed again that I learnt what had been happening to me and why. My children told me; the staff were too busy elsewhere. Apparently, while examining me, the doctors discovered that I'd had a heart attack, which prompted them to insert something called a stent into my heart - two, in fact. A stent is a tube planted temporarily into a vessel and can also be an instrument of torture. Whatever it is, I’m extremely grateful, for I no longer find it difficult to think of words and my energy has returned. Four or five days later, they sent me home with a mouthpiece and the threat of supplying me with an even larger machine to help me breathe. After one evening of sitting there with it clamped over my face, I thought: no, no, no. I didn’t use it again and have slept soundly ever since. Beryl Bainbridge at Wikipedia

Beta-blockers can lead to heart problems, new research shows

"Beta-blockers, once widely used to lower blood pressure, may actually lead to heart problems, researchers have warned. The drugs work by slowing the heart rate and so reducing blood pressure - which has been shown to have beneficial effects on people who have had a heart attack or who have heart failure. However, the latest study suggests beta-blockers do not help people suffering from hypertension. Participants treated with beta-blockers achieved lower heart rates than did other patients. However, heart rate lowering with beta-blockers increased the risks of dying and of having a heart attack or stroke, and developing heart failure, according to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology" - Daily Mail

Canadian healthcare professionals unaware that sex matters in heart disease

"Physicians are short-changing Canadian women when it comes to taking care of their hearts, says Dr. Susan K. Bennett, delivering the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada Lecture at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2008. 'Doctors need to hear the message about the significant deficits in women's heart health care and bridge this gender gap,' says Dr. Bennett, director of the women's heart program at George Washington University Hospital. She says that as the public's awareness and knowledge about women's risk factors and warning signs increases thanks to increased public awareness campaigns, more and more women are going to their doctors with their concerns. Yet often, she says, their healthcare providers are not up to date on how women can experience heart disease differently than men. "Healthcare professionals need to be educated about women's cardiovascular issues and meet the public's expectations," says Dr. Bennett" - CNW

Many heart attack victims driving to hospital: study

"Crushing chest pain? This may not be the smartest time to climb in the car and zoom down the expressway. A new study found about 40 per cent of heart attack victims in a large, urban Canadian city drove themselves to hospital in the midst of a heart attack, risking delays in diagnosis and potentially life-saving treatments to restore blood flow to dying heart muscle. 'We're talking about patients who have full-blown, severe pain, yet they're trying to find their own way to the hospital,' says Dr. Madhu Natarajan, an interventional cardiologist and co-director of the cardiac catheterization labs at Hamilton Health Sciences. 'They are committing a mistake with potentially grave consequences'" - Calgary Herald

The Heart Truth

"The Heart Truth is a national public health education campaign to raise awareness that heart disease and stroke are the leading cause of death for Canadian women. The Heart Truth campaign educates women about identifying their risks and warning signs of heart disease and stroke, and shows them how to take charge of their heart health by making lifestyle changes that can reduce their risk by as much as 80 per cent. The Heart and Stroke Foundation launched The Heart Truth campaign on February 4, 2008. The campaign will run for three years, targeting women over the age of 40, and across ethnicities and backgrounds through education and outreach activities"

Stiff joints may lead to stiff hearts

"Researchers provide new evidence to uncover why people with rheumatoid arthritis have an increased risk for heart failure, according to research presented this week at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in San Francisco, California. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and limitation in the motion and function of multiple joints. Though joints are the principal body parts affected by RA, inflammation can develop in other organs as well. An estimated 1.3 million Americans have RA, and the disease typically affects women twice as often as men" - newswise

Saturday, October 25, 2008

University of Miami doctors trying to heal human hearts with stem cells

"In a U.S. first, University of Miami doctors have injected potentially healing adult stem cells into a patient's heart via catheter, rather than by open-heart surgery. If the early-stage research bears fruit, it could make repair from heart attacks much simpler, and more widely available and cheaper, possibly replacing open-heart surgery and heart transplants with an outpatient procedure, said Dr. Joshua M. Hare, the cardiologist who performed the procedure. 'Of course, the stem cells have to work,' Hare said. The cells have worked in animals in early trials, but they need to be tested in humans. That testing and required FDA approval would take at least five years, said Hare, who is chief of the cardiovascular division and director of the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute at UM Medical School" - Miami Herald

'Instant surgery' will save hundreds

"Hundreds of lives a year could be saved by 'instant surgery' for heart attack patients. Consultants plan to introduce 24-hour emergency treatment within a matter of months after getting UK Government backing. Patients would be rushed to Leicester General Hospital's specialist heart unit within an hour of a heart attack. There, they would have angioplasty, where a small balloon is inserted into the blocked artery and then inflated, restoring blood flow. Consultants believe as many as 200 people a year could be saved using this method, which prevents people suffering future heart attacks or strokes. Leicester will be one of the few places in Britain to offer the treatment 24 hours a day. At the moment, it is offered within office hours only, benefiting 50 people a year" - Leicester Mercury

Friday, October 24, 2008

Workplace factors can increase heart risk

"If employees feel ambiguous about their work role and there is a lack of clear communication, it may increase heart attack risk, Finnish researchers said. An 18-year study in Finland examined the possible link between job-control factors and heart attacks - acute myocardial infarction - among 7,663 private-sector employees. 'The risk of myocardial infarction was about 1.8 times higher in a disorganized setting than in an organized setting,' lead study author Ari Vaananen of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki said in a statement. 'Clear organization of work tasks matters.' The researchers sent questionnaires to 12,173 multinational forest industry employees who had worked for their company for at least 24 months and who were initially free of heart disease. In all, 9,292 employees, primarily blue-collar workers, responded. The study, scheduled to be published in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health, found that characteristics of a job, such as an employee's lack of control, job awareness, unexpected changes, job strain and stress, could lead to poor cardiac health as does smoking and a lack of exercise" - UPI

Observing the 40th anniversary of the first human heart transplantation in the United States

"Four decades ago, years of research by Dr Norman Shumway and his colleagues culminated in the first successful human heart transplantation in the United States. In the years since that momentous surgery, Dr. Shumway's team conducted clinical and basic research that have made heart and lung transplantations relatively common procedures, providing decades of life to patients worldwide"

Aspirin: lifesaving or life-threatening?

"An aspirin a day won't keep a heart attack away - unless you've already survived one, according to doctors from the United Kingdom and America. There is growing evidence that people taking a daily low dose of aspirin will not avoid having a heart attack - unless they are already suffering from cardiovascular disease - but may suffer from serious side effects such as intestinal bleeding. However, conflicting messages from guidelines and research may be creating confusion. For example, in early 2008 the American Heart Association updated their guidelines and recommended a routine dose of aspirin for women over 65 irrespective of risk. Due to the potentially serious side effects of aspirin, and its apparent ineffectiveness as a primary prevention therapy to avoid heart attack and stroke, some doctors are now warning people to think twice about the drug. In the latest edition of the British Medical Journal, published research from the UK and an editorial from America sound a warning to patients and doctors when it comes to prophylactic use of aspirin to lessen the risk of having a cardiovascular event" - Consult Magazine

Even mild sleep apnea increases cardiovascular risk

"People with even minimally symptomatic obstructive sleep apnea may be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease because of impaired endothelial function and increased arterial stiffness, according to a study from the Oxford Centre for Respiratory Medicine in the UK. 'It was previously known that people with OSA severe enough to affect their daytime alertness and manifest in other ways are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but this finding suggests that many more people—some of whom may be completely unaware that they even have OSA—are at risk than previously thought,' said lead author of the study, Malcolm Kohler, M.D. The study will be published in the first issue for November of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine" - EurekAlert

Heart attacks – new line of defence

"A pilot study of Primary Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PPCI), where heart attack patients are fast-tracked into the cardiac catheter lab for treatment, has been extremely successful at the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals, UK"

'Fart gas' link to blood pressure

"The gas best known for being used in many stink bombs may also control blood pressure, say US researchers. Small amounts of hydrogen sulphide - a toxic gas generated by bacteria living in the human gut - are responsible for the foul odour of flatulence. But it seems the gas is also produced by an enzyme in blood vessels where it relaxes them and lowers blood pressure. The findings in mice may lead to new treatments for high blood pressure, the Science journal reported" - BBC

Faster medication = fewer heart attacks, according to new study

"Patients who received urgently needed medication immediately after artery-opening surgery had fewer heart attacks and rehospitalizations following their surgeries, according to a new study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. Study author Cynthia A. Jackevicius, PharmD, Western University of Health Sciences Associate Professor for Pharmacy Practice and Administration, said the study found that adopting less restrictive health insurance policies for clopidogrel (trade name: Plavix) resulted in improved cardiovascular outcomes. Clopidogrel helps prevent blood clots" - redOrbit

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Suspected heart attack fails to prevent Ian McDiarmid taking his curtain call

"A leading actor in a London, UK, West End play insisted on finishing his opening night performance before being taken to hospital. Concealing his discomfort from critics at the Gielgud Theatre sufficiently for them to later deliver glowing reviews, Ian McDiarmid carried on with his role as the Father in Luigi Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author despite suffering from dizzy spells. McDiarmid, 64, who gained international fame as Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars films, declined to comment yesterday on reports that he had had a heart attack on stage" Times

Heart Asia from BMJ

The Asia Pacific Heart Association, BMJ Journals and the British Cardiovascular Society have announced the launch of Heart Asia. This new online journal aims to bring the best research and practice from the Asia Pacific region to a global audience. It is the first cardiology journal in the region by a major medical publisher and marks an important milestone in the development of cardiovascular medicine in the Asia Pacific region

Man with third heart taking aim at PGA Tour

"Just five months removed from his second heart transplant, Erik Compton is a heartbeat away from reaching his lifelong goal: Joining the PGA Tour. Compton and his third heart will compete at Crandon Park Golf Course in the first stage of qualifying for golf's most prestigious tour"

Discovery yields possible blood test for coronary artery disease

"Scientists have identified a handful of genes in circulating blood associated with the presence and severity of coronary artery disease. If the findings are validated in a larger trial currently under way, it could lead to a molecular diagnostic requiring a simple blood sample from the patient to diagnose CAD, the leading cause of death in the United States. The findings, appearing in the inaugural issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, stem from research at Duke University Medical Center and CardioDx, a molecular diagnostics company in California" - eMaxHealth

Cardiac risk estimates differ for Christian and Muslim patients

In a study of medical students, more serious cardiac risk estimates were given to Christians and less serious estimates for Muslims despite the patients being otherwise identical in their characteristics and symptoms, according to research in an upcoming issue of Medical Decision Making published by SAGE. Risk assessment, the first step in a medical triage process, determines subsequent treatment - EurekAlert

Research uncovers new steps on pathway to enlarged heart

Researchers have new insight into the mechanisms that underlie a pathological increase in the size of the heart. The research, published by Cell Press in the October 24th issue of the journal Molecular Cell, may lead to the development of new strategies for managing this extremely common cardiac ailment that often leads to heart failure - EurekAlert

Red for Heart

"February is National Heart Month and your chance to take a stand against the UK's biggest killer. Every year, heart and circulatory disease claims around 200,000 lives. The British Heart Foundation is a charity dedicated to heart health and helping people spend longer with their loved ones. But we urgently need your help because as a charity we rely entirely on donations of time and money. Red for Heart is a great way to have fun and help save lives. You can choose what you do and we'll give you everything you need to make your fundraising a success"

Stay sane with five simple activities a day

"A panel of scientists found that simple activities such as gardening or mending a bicycle can protect mental health and help people to lead more fulfilled and productive lives. According to Foresight, a UK government think-tank, a simple 'five-a-day' program of social and personal activities can improve mental wellbeing, much as eating fruit and vegetables enhances physical health. Compiled by more than 400 scientists, Foresight's Mental Capital and Wellbeing report suggests a campaign modeled on the nutrition initiative, to encourage behavior that will make people feel better about themselves. The document recommends people should try to connect with others, to be active, to take notice of their surroundings, to keep learning and to give to their neighbors and communities" - redOrbit

Pfizer phasing out cholesterol

"A September 25, 2008 memo by Martin Mackay, Pfizer's president for Global Research and Development, confirms that Pfizer will not develop any more drugs that target cholesterol as the culprit in causing heart disease. In fact, Pfizer will exit drug development for cardiovascular disease altogether. Pfizer’s exit from statin development indicates the cholesterol craze has reached the end of its cycle trend. Profits have declined as more statins go off patent, and patients switch to much cheaper generics, or forgo statins altogether in order to take 'essential' medications" - Seeking Alpha

Research identifies new link between tart cherries and risk factors for heart disease

"New research continues to link tart cherries, one of today's hottest 'Super Fruits,' to lowering risk factors for heart disease. In addition to lowering cholesterol and reducing inflammation, the study being presented by University of Michigan researchers at next week's American Dietetic Association annual meeting, found that a cherry-enriched diet lowered body weight and fat – major risk factors for heart disease" - EurekAlert

Free access to The Diabetes Educators during National Diabetes Awareness Month

The Diabetes Educator, the leading journal for diabetes educators, will have free online access during National Diabetes Awareness Month in November. TDE is published by SAGE on behalf of the American Association of Diabetes Educators

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sudden cardiac death number one risk for patients on dialysis

"In a 10-year study of more than a thousand kidney failure patients, sudden cardiac death emerged as the number one cause of death for patients on dialysis, according to a Johns Hopkins researcher. The study, already published online and appearing in the Nov. 2 issue of Kidney International, identified systemic inflammatory response and malnutrition as key risk factors for the fatal heart attacks" - AScribe

ASPIRIN.81mg ZoomerShow

"On the tail of this month's hugely successful launch of ZOOMER magazine, Moses Znaimer, CEO & President, ZoomerMedia and Executive Director of CARP, Canada's largest association for the 45plus, is pleased to announce the ASPIRIN(R) 81mg ZoomerShow. Title-sponsored by ASPIRIN(R) 81mg, the ZoomerShow is Toronto's first ever consumer show and lifestyle expo serving men and women 45plus. The ZoomerShow is also presented by Pfizer, Pepcid Complete, McLennan Group, and the Toronto Star. Tickets are $8 in advance online or $12 at the door. CARP members are free with membership ID"

Diabetes help for First Nations in Manitoba

"It's becoming an epidemic in First Nations in Manitoba. The Manitoba First Nations Diabetes Committee estimates that by 2016 one in every four aboriginal people will suffer from diabetes. Currently, many people have to travel to Winnipeg to receive treatment, and on Monday the committee launched the Diabetes Integration Project in hopes of offering services to people in their own communities. The committee developed the first diabetes strategy in 1999, and hopes to build on that with this new initiative. It's being run by and for First Nations. There will be travelling diabetes clinics complete with foot care, vision testing, and blood work. There will also be counseling and education to help prevent the condition in the first place. Executive Director of the Diabetes Integration Project, Caroline Chartrand says 'it's a very historical moment for us because it's going to bring care and treatment to the communities where it's non existent at this time'. By 2011 they hope to have eleven mobile teams across the province, but for now they'll start with two - CTV Winnipeg

New cyber heart model recalls da Vinci's sketches

"Five centuries after Leonardo da Vinci's intricate drawings transformed understanding of the human heart, a new computer model promises to do the same for modern-day cardiac care, experts say. The model - so realistic its four chambers beat in the same asymmetrical rhythm on screen as does a real heart in the human body - is the work of three British doctors who say the creation will improve both training and care during surgery. The three-dimensional model's intricate details coupled with life-like animation that doctors can easily manipulate make the cyber heart unique, said Sue Wright, an anesthesiologist at the Heart Hospital in London who helped design the heart." - Reuters

New-generation drugs have several side effects

"Almost a fourth of new-generation biological drugs produce serious side effects that lead to safety warnings soon after they go on the market, according to a new study. Researchers found that most of the warnings came within five years after these biologicals won government approval in the United States and Europe between 1995 and 2007. Arthritis drugs Humira and Remicade, cancer drugs Rituxan and Erbitux, and the heart failure drug Natrecor were among those under scrutiny in the new report. The unprecedented findings may come as a surprise to doctors who may have assumed that these biological treatments carried fewer risks than traditional chemical-based drugs" - redOrbit/JAMA

Erectile dysfunction heart link

"Erectile dysfunction can provide an early warning of a heart attack two or three years before one occurs, an expert has claimed. Dr Geoffrey Hackett, a urologist from the Good Hope Hospital in Birmingham, said he regularly saw men referred to him with erection problems after a heart attack. Often they had developed erectile dysfunction (ED) years earlier. 'Erectile dysfunction is the manifestation of vascular disease in smaller arteries and gives a two to three year early warning of myocardial infarction (heart attack),' Dr Hackett wrote in a letter published in an early online edition of the British Medical Journal." - Channel 4 News

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Introducing the Quality Insight measurement and reporting program

"What is the state of health care quality in Saskatchewan? Evidence and examples from elsewhere tell us that to adequately understand the current state of health care quality, assess the impact of improvement efforts, and determine whether we are holding the gains, Saskatchewan needs a program of continuous measurement and reporting. Such a program must also provide health system stakeholders with information on quality in ways that are most useful and meaningful to them. The inaugural Quality Insight report serves as a starting point toward providing this comprehensive picture of the quality of care in Saskatchewan. This first iteration provides baseline information from the 5-year period spanning 2001/02 to 2005/06"

Experts warn of China health time bomb

"International health experts warned China it must tackle a growth in chronic diseases or face a health and economic time bomb. A report by U.S. and Chinese researchers urged Chinese to cut their intake of fatty foods and salt, and to stop smoking and start exercising. The report, in the British medical journal The Lancet, also called on the government to launch campaigns to promote healthier habits. The researchers said that as China has become increasingly affluent, diets have worsened, putting a growing number of Chinese at risk of heart and lung disease" - VOA

Heart failure quadruples risk of bone fracture

"Patients newly diagnosed with heart failure have a four-fold higher risk of orthopedic fractures than patients with other cardiovascular conditions, according to the findings of a population-based cohort study conducted in Canada. The risk of hip fractures is increased even more, the investigators report today in an early online release by the journal Circulation, scheduled for print publication on November 4. Senior author Dr. Justin A. Ezekowitz and associates at the University of Alberta in Edmonton note that heart failure patients are subject to many risk factors for osteoporosis and fracture, including elevated aldosterone and parathyroid hormone levels, low vitamin D levels, low bone density, and physical inactivity" - Medicexchange

MIKEY on the GO

"GO Transit, in partnership with The Mikey Network and the Toronto EMS Cardiac Safe City program, will help "The Beat Go On" by introducing defibrillators on board GO Trains and at stations. This partnership will place public-access defibrillators, called MIKEYs, across Go Transit's extensive network. The use of a defibrillator may save the life of a person whose heart has stopped beating" - The Star

Younger doctors more likely to prescribe meds

"Younger doctors are more likely to prescribe potentially lifesaving medications to people who have recently suffered heart attacks than their more experienced peers, a study by Canadian researchers has found. The findings are being published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Researchers conducted a detailed examination of heart-attack patients aged 65 and older in Ontario who were released from hospital in 2005 and 2006, taking the individual's hospital, physician and community into account. They determined that patients who saw doctors with 29 years or more of experience were less likely to be prescribed potentially life-saving medications than those who saw doctors with less than 14 years of experience." - Globe and Mail

Sofa is blamed for heart failure

"A man who claims chemicals in his sofa caused a serious heart problem is to sue its supplier and manufacturer. Barry Green, from Plymouth, bought the sofa, made by the Chinese manufacturer Eurosofa, from Land of Leather in September last year. The 63-year-old father of four said he started to suffer problems within weeks of buying the GBP545 leather suite. Land of Leather said the matter was part of ongoing court proceedings and it was unable to comment. Mr Green said he first suffered blisters, then breathing problems, followed by pneumonia and finally heart failure, which doctors have told him has left half his heart damaged" - BBC

Healthy teenage girl 'with everything to live for' collapses and dies of suspected heart attack

"A 'fit and healthy' teenage girl collapsed and died after suffering a suspected heart attack in her bedroom. Helen Penfold, 18, passed out after waking with pains in her chest and struggling for breath in the early hours of the morning. Her family rushed to the teenager's bedroom after hearing her cry out, but her breathing worsened and she fell unconscious. Helen's 46-year-old mother Gillian, sisters Julie, 22, and Billie, 17, and brother Matthew, 21, tried to resuscitate her on the landing outside her room. But Helen passed away in their arms at the family's detached home in Milton, Weston-super-Mare" - Daily Mail

Olmesartan may reduce coronary artery plaque

Research presented at the 20th annual Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT) scientific symposium, sponsored by the Cardiovascular Research Foundation (CRF), suggests that olmesartan, a drug commonly used to treat high blood pressure, may play a role in reducing coronary plaque - ScienceDaily

Strokes milder and less impairing for the physically active

"Regular exercise may help prevent stroke and its consequences for older adults, researchers here found. Strokes that occurred among the most physically active individuals were 2.54 times more likely to be mild and half as likely to leave victims impaired compared with those in the lowest exercise quartile, reported Lars-Henrik Krarup, M.D., of Copenhagen University Hospital, and colleagues in the October 21 issue of Neurology. These findings from a prospective trial of exercise after a stroke support American Heart Association recommendations for exercise to reduce stroke risk based on prior epidemiological and retrospective studies, they said. In addition to being a modifiable risk factor for incidence of stroke, a sedentary lifestyle may impact prognosis, Dr. Krarup's group said" - MedPage Today

A one-man history of cardiac advances

"An 84-year-old New Jersey man is a living illustration of the progress that's been made in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease in the past 40 years, a cardiologist reports. 'This single patient has embodied practically every major advance in cardiology over the past two generations,' said Dr. Harvey S. Hecht, director of cardiovascular computed tomographic angiography at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, whose account is published in the Oct. 21 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology" - Washington Post

Gastric bypass cuts heart risks

"The risk faced by obese people of having a heart attack or other cardiovascular 'events' is reduced substantially after they undergo gastric bypass surgery to lose weight, according to a recent study. The take-home message is that 'bariatric surgery can be considered as a means to reduce cardiovascular risk (in obese patients) after conservative treatment options have failed,' Dr. John A. Batsis told Reuters Health" - American Journal of Cardiology

Pets are good for cardiac health

"The Baker Medical Research Institute in Australia studied 6,000 people and found that those who kept animals had lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol - and therefore, a lower risk of heart attack. Another study, conducted at the University of Minnesota and published earlier this year, concluded that cat owners were 40% less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack than people who didn't have a cat. Adnan Qureshi, the neurology professor who led the study of nearly 4,500 people, said he believed that people who stroked their cat experienced less stress and anxiety and therefore were at a lower risk of developing cardiovascular diseases" - Guardian, UK

Watch a film produced by the UK charity, Pets as Therapy:

Beta-blockers raise the risk of a heart attack after surgery

"The research by scientists at the the Veterans Affairs Boston Health Care System, Boston University and Harvard Medical School has found that patients undergoing non-cardiac surgery appear to have higher rates of heart attack and death within 30 days of their surgery if they were taking beta-blockers. For patients with a risk of death, stroke or heart attack, even non-cardiac surgery carries risks and the researchers say preventing such cardiac complications around the time of surgery events is the subject of intense research. The research is published in the October issue of Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals

Western diet 'raises heart risk'

"Swapping fried and salty foods for salads could cut the global incidence of heart attacks by a third, a study of eating habits suggests. Researchers analysed the diet of 16,000 people in 52 countries and identified three global eating patterns, Circulation journal reports. The typical Western diet, high in fat, salt and meat, accounted for about 30% of heart attack risk in any population. A 'prudent' diet high in fruit and veg lowered heart risk by a third. An Oriental diet, high in tofu, soy and other sauces, made no difference to heart attack risk. The researchers created a dietary risk score questionnaire based on 19 food groups and then asked 5,561 heart attack patients and 10,646 people with known heart disease to fill out their survey. Lead author Romania Iqbal, of McMaster University in Canada, said: '30% of the risk of heart disease in a population could be related to poor diet.'" - BBC

Monday, October 20, 2008

Children more affected by secondhand smoke

"Children may be more affected by secondhand smoke than adults, U.S. researchers said. Dr. Branden E. Yee and his team at the anesthesiology department at Tufts Medical Center in Boston studied 200 children between the ages of 1 and 12 to assess their levels of carboxyhemoglobin, which is formed when carbon monoxide binds to the blood. Carbon monoxide binds to blood 200 times more easily than oxygen but the resultant carboxyhemoglobin is unable to deliver oxygen to body tissue, including that of the brain, heart and muscle, Yee said. Household and environmental factors such as stoves, heaters and automobiles are potential sources of carbon monoxide exposure, however, the most likely source of elevated carboxyhemoglobin overall is secondhand cigarette smoke, Yee said. The study provides evidence that the carbon monoxide levels of children exposed to secondhand smoke are often similar to that of active adult smokers and frequently higher than levels in adults exposed to secondhand smoke. 'The physiology of children - especially the youngest - is different from that of adults,' Yee said in a statement. 'Children breathe in a greater amount of air per body weight compared to adults.' The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, in Orlando, Fla" - UPI

Flora London Marathon 2009

"Running the Flora London Marathon is such a special way to honour someone close to you who has been affected by heart disease. So whether you know someone who has been affected by heart problems or you just want to put your running shoes on for a great cause, your heart will tell you that there is no one better to run for than the UK's number one heart charity, British Heart Foundation"

Slavery bestowed long legacy of heart risk

"Lingering genetic effects from ancestors' slavery days may be part of the root of the current higher cardiovascular health risks for black women compared with Caucasians, researchers have said. In addition to genetic factors, environmental conditions can influence epigenetic factors, such as methylation of sections of DNA, which can manifest themselves among African Americans in maternal stress, nutrition, and healthcare, found Christopher W. Kuzawa, Ph.D., and Elizabeth Sweet, Ph.D., of Northwestern. These findings from a review article were published online in a special issue of the American Journal of Human Biology. A second review in the same issue similarly linked cardiovascular risk from low birth weight to generational effects of slavery among African Americans"

Can stem cells heal damaged hearts?

"Recent studies indicate that infusing hearts with stem cells taken from bone marrow could improve cardiac function after myocardial infarction (tissue damage that results from a heart attack). But in a recent systematic review, Cochrane Researchers concluded that more clinical trials are needed to assess the effectiveness of stem cell therapies for heart patients, as well as studies to establish how these treatments work. In a heart attack, blocked arteries can cut off the blood supply to areas of heart tissue. This leads to myocardial infarction - severe tissue damage caused by lack of oxygen, which is transported in the blood. 'We need more studies that look at the long term effects of these interventions, as well as at the types of cells that are used and how they actually repair the heart tissue,' says lead researcher Dr. Enca Martin-Rendon, who works in the Stem Cell Research Department, NHS Blood and Transplant, at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, UK."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hospital smoking cessation, rehab works

"Post heart attack hospital-based smoking cessation programs, along with referrals to cardiac rehabilitation, appear to be effective, U.S. researchers said. Emory University researchers in Atlanta studied 639 patients who smoked at the time of their hospitalization for heart attack and found that six months later, 297 of the patients - approximately 47 percent of them - had quit smoking. Dr. Susmita Parashar said the odds of quitting were greater among patients who received discharge recommendations for cardiac rehabilitation and those who were treated at a facility offering an inpatient smoking cessation program. However, individual counseling was not associated with quit rates. 'The findings are important because cardiac rehabilitation and hospital-based smoking cessation programs appear to be underutilized in current clinical practice and should be potentially considered as a structural measure of healthcare quality for patients with heart attack,' Parashar said in a statement. Cardiac rehabilitation involves beginning an exercise program, nutrition counseling and counseling on heart disease risk factors. The findings are published in the Archives of Internal Medicine" - UPI

NBA requires heart tests for players after problems in sports

"After a string of sudden heart problems in professional sports a few years ago, the National Basketball Association became the first professional league to mandate heart stress tests and echocardiograms for its players. These are the same tests doctors would recommend for Pistons fans - or anyone else, with many people at risk for coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke" - Detroit Free Press

In women, heart-attack signs often misleading

"Nanette Morrow was a busy 36-year-old mother of two and high-profile Pima County prosecutor when the heart attack hit. It was sudden and very unexpected. Like many women with heart disease, Morrow did not show typical signs of having a heart attack and was so young that she says even the paramedics who came to her house did not recognize her symptoms. She did not have high blood pressure, and had no strong family history of heart disease. She wasn't a big drinker. Her only real risk was a habit of occasional smoking that began about 10 years ago. But Morrow is not an anomaly. Heart disease is the top killer of American women. Nine-thousand American women under age 45 suffer heart attacks every year and a 2007 study by Northwestern University researchers found that cardiovascular disease is on the rise among women in that age group" - Arizona Daily Star

Heart attack plan 'to save lives' (UK)

"Hundreds of lives will be saved every year with the introduction of a 'gold standard' treatment for heart attacks across England, say ministers. A balloon and tube are used to unblock arteries and permit blood flow. A death rate cut from 7% to 5% is predicted, saving about 240 lives a year. The government wants 97% of eligible heart attack patients to have a primary angioplasty within three years. Currently 25% get the keyhole surgery, with the rest given clot-busting drugs. About 25,000 people a year will be eligible for primary angioplasty, with the three-year target costing about GBP12m" - BBC

Wall Street, foreclosures can hurt heart

"Unemployment, foreclosures and stock market crises may affect cardiac health, a U.S. doctor warns. Dr. Keith Churchwell of the Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute in Nashville says events causing prolonged stress may cause increasing physical demands on the body, constriction of the coronary blood vessels and heightened electrical instability in the heart. 'Prolonged stress, both emotional and physical, impacts the overall cardiovascular status of our patients, particularly their blood pressure,' Churchwell says in a statement" - UPI

Saturday, October 18, 2008

New research shows that the smell of smoke does not trigger relapse in quitters

"Research into tobacco dependence published in the November issue of Addiction, has shown that recent ex-smokers who find exposure to other people's cigarette smoke pleasant are not any more likely to relapse than those who find it unpleasant. Led by Dr Hayden McRobbie and Professor Peter Hajek of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, researchers examined the hypothesis that those who find the smell of smoke pleasant are more likely to relapse than those who have a neutral or negative reaction to it. Surprisingly, they concluded that finding the smell of other people's cigarettes pleasant does not make abstaining smokers any more likely to relapse. The researchers studied a group of over a thousand smokers receiving smoking cessation treatment at the East London Smokers Clinic. During their six weeks of treatment (two weeks prior to quitting and four weeks afterwards) the smokers completed a weekly questionnaire that measured the severity of their withdrawal discomfort, and also asked them to rate how pleasant they found the smell of other people's cigarettes during the past week. The results showed that during their first week of abstinence, 23 per cent of respondents found the smell of other people's cigarette smoke pleasant. Finding the cigarette smoke pleasant was not related to smoking status in the following week. Lead author Dr Hayden McRobbie says, 'Recent quitters can be reassured that finding the smell of cigarette smoke pleasant is not likely to lead them back to smoking.'"

Women with heart symptoms face gender bias

"Coronary heart disease symptoms in women presented in the context of a stressful event are identified as psychogenic, or 'in her head,' U.S. researchers say. Eighty-seven internists and 143 family physicians evaluated a vignette of a 47-year-old male or a 56-year-old female - by age at equal risk for cardiac heart disease. Half the vignettes included sentences indicating a life stressor and the appearance of anxiety. When stress was included, 15 percent of the women received a coronary heart disease or coronary heart disease assessment versus 56 percent of the men. Cardiologist referrals were 30 percent for women versus 62 percent for men. No evidence of a bias was observed when cardiac symptoms were presented without the stress. 'For men, cardiac symptoms drive the interpretation of accompanying symptoms so that anxiety or stress is perceived (rightly so) as a risk factor,' study leader Gabrielle R. Chiaramonte of the Weill Medical College of Cornell University and New York-Presbyterian Hospital says in a statement. For women, however, the presence of anxiety or stress 'appears to preclude a coronary heart disease assessment.'" - UPI

Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

"The cardiac rehabilitation unit is designed for individuals who have known heart disease, have had a cardiac event such as a heart attack or bypass surgery, or are at high risk for developing coronary disease. Members receive periodic exercise evaluations, up-dated exercise prescriptions, monthly progress reports, and information about reducing coronary risk factors. They also have access to a wide variety of exercise facilities, including a 200 meter cushioned indoor tack, stationary cycles, a heated swimming pool, elliptical trainers, treadmills, rowing machines, and weight training equipment. Rates are currently $320 per year or $190 for a 6-month membership. Spouses pay 1/2 the regular fee"

Friday, October 17, 2008

University of Ottawa Heart Institute trial finds popular blood clotting drug does not improve patient outcomes and increases risk of bleeding

"A popular drug used to prevent blood clotting during the treatment of severe heart attacks does not improve outcomes for patients undergoing a life-saving surgical procedure. Further, the drug - known generically as eptifibatide (pronounced ep-ti-fy-bah-tide) - also increases the risk of bleeding. The results follow a ground-breaking clinical trial conducted at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute which sought to determine the efficacy of a drug that is widely used but for which little clinical evidence was available to indicate a positive impact on treatment"

Are all those angioplasties necessary?

"A new study helps explain why American medicine is so expensive, and why it's so hard to cut costs. It focuses on angioplasty - one of the most common procedures in modern medicine. The research finds that doctors often do angioplasty before finding out if patients would do just as well with treatment that costs a tenth as much" - NPR

8th International Congress on Coronary Artery Disease

The 8th International Congress on Coronary Artery Disease offers a comprehensive scientific program covering breakthroughs in the field presented by a distinguished international faculty. This invaluable coronary artery disease meeting provides a unique learning and networking opportunity in the magical city of Prague - 11-14 October, 2009

Disco tune "Stayin' Alive" could save your life

U.S. doctors have found the Bee Gees 1977 disco anthem Stayin' Alive provides an ideal beat to follow while performing chest compressions as part of CPR on a heart attack victim. The American Heart Association calls for chest compressions to be given at a rate of 100 per minute in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). "Stayin' Alive" almost perfectly matches that, with 103 beats per minute - Reuters

2009 Women's Ride for Heart Health

"Each summer the Bicycle Coalition of Maine (USA) hosts the Women's Ride for Heart Health with rides along scenic routes in Maine. Heart disease is the #1 killer among women in Maine. Modifiable risk factors include a lack of physical activity, smoking and diet. This all-women awareness ride is a great opportunity for those who haven't ridden bikes since childhood to rediscover the health benefits - and fun - of bicycling. Proceeds benefit the BCM's education mission of teaching bike safety to schoolchildren across Maine" - May 31, 2009