Saturday, May 30, 2009

2008 health status report from Saskatoon Health Region

2008 health status report from Saskatoon Health RegionSaskatoon Health Region has released the 2008 health status report, a sub-regional update on a report released previously in 2004. The report tells a story about the overall health and well-being of Saskatoon Health Region residents. The report examines the health status of residents, including life expectancy, disease rates, infant mortality and health-related behaviour. It also examines housing, income and education levels, water quality and air quality, as determinants of health. The report makes 24 recommendations to help improve the health status of residents

Better cardiovascular fitness linked to reduced heart risks

Better cardiovascular fitness linked to reduced heart risks"Being physically fit could lower the risk of death from heart disease, a study from Japanese researchers has shown. In a recent study published in JAMA, Japanese researchers reviewed 33 studies comparing cardiovascular fitness and risk of heart disease and found definite benefits for those who can last on a treadmill. They looked at data from about 100,000 people from 37 to 57 years of age to determine their maximum aerobic capacity. The authors say that measuring the speed (km/hr) at which a person can run/jog before becoming exhausted could be good indicators of the risk to their hearts. According to the measurement criteria, the researchers found that people with low cardio respiratory fitness ran at approximately 7.9 km/hr compared to those at high fitness levels who could run at about 10.9 km/hr or faster. For people with low fitness levels, their risk of death from all causes during follow-up was 1.7 times higher than those who were very physically fit. Similarly they were at 1.5 times higher risk of heart disease and cardiovascular disease compared with those who had the highest fitness levels."

Obesity, diabetes damage young arteries, could shorten life

"Teenagers and young adults who are obese or have type 2 diabetes show signs of artery damage that may increase their risk of heart attack and stroke later in life, according to a study in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association"

CMAJ 26 May 2009, Volume 180, Issue 11 online

The Canadian Medical Association Journal - 26 May 2009, Volume 180, Issue 11, is now available online

Friday, May 29, 2009

Gene links heart and gum disease

Gene links heart and gum disease"A genetic link between dental disease and heart attacks has been found by German researchers. Gum disease - periodontitis - is known to be associated with heart disease but how exactly they are linked is unknown. Now the University of Kiel team has found a common gene mutation in people with periodontitis and heart attack patients, a conference heard. Study leader Dr Arne Schaefer said gum disease should be taken very seriously and treated as early as possible. Both coronary heart disease (CHD) and periodontitis are associated with the same risk factors - most importantly smoking, diabetes and obesity" - BBC

Obese, diabetic youths have artery plaque

"Teens and young adults who are obese or have type 2 diabetes show early warning signs of heart disease, a new study shows. Researchers from Cincinnati Children's Hospital used ultrasound imaging to confirm the presence of fatty plaque buildup in the carotid arteries of young people who were obese or had type 2 diabetes. Carotid arteries are found in the neck and carry blood from the heart to the brain. Compared to normal-weight youths, the carotid arteries of obese youths and diabetic youths were thicker and stiffer, according to study findings. Carotid artery thickness and stiffness are risk factors for heart attack and stroke in adults" - WebMD

Sodbury heart transplant patient 'was on brink of death' (UK)

Sodbury heart transplant patient 'was on brink of death'"A heart transplant patient who said his final goodbyes to family and friends at Christmas has returned from the brink of death and dedicated his life to helping other people. Matthew Rumney, who grew up in the Chipping Sodbury area, was diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy but until the beginning of 2008 had managed to cope with mild symptoms. Last year, however, his heart began to fail and Matthew suffered agonising angina and a stroke. Doctors gave him less than a year to live. Matthew, 36, said: "I thought 'This is it'. I was determined to make Christmas because I wanted to spend it with my family and girlfriend Jane Harris. "But by New Year I was waiting to die. I said goodbye to family and friends. "Every night I would kiss Jane like it was the last time." For Matthew's family, the trauma was history repeating itself as his younger brother Duncan died of the same congenital heart disease aged just 12" - Gazette

Shocking images deter cigarette smokers: WHO

Shocking images deter cigarette smokers: WHO"Cigarette packages should show graphic images of yellow teeth, blackened gums, protruding neck tumors and bleeding brains to alert smokers to their disease risks, the World Health Organization said on Friday. More than 20 countries, including Britain, Iran, Peru and Malaysia, already use visual warnings on their tobacco products, the head of the WHO's Tobacco Free Initiative said. "Although some people question the need for such pictures, the evidence is absolutely clear that they convince people to quit," Douglas Bettcher told a news conference ahead of World No Tobacco Day, to be held on Sunday. Bettcher pointed to a warning that read "smoking causes brain strokes" and showed blood oozing from a brain." - Reuters

Mom's exercise helps baby's heart

Mom's exercise helps baby's heart"It's natural that a woman might be skeptical about exercising while she's pregnant. So many changes are occurring in her body, it makes sense to have second thoughts about whether exercise might harm her or her unborn child. But it turns out that a thoughtful exercise program is good for both mother and child, according to medical experts. "We know that women who exercise during pregnancy have less chance of developing certain conditions like gestational diabetes," said Dr. Raul Artal, chairman of obstetrics, gynecology and women's health for the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. "Not only that, exercise maintains musculoskeletal fitness. Women can cope with the anatomical and physiological changes of pregnancy better when they're in good shape. They also tolerate labor better and recover more quickly from delivery." The baby also benefits. One study found that when an expectant mother works out, her fetus reaps cardiac benefits in the form of lower fetal heart rates." - Health Day News

Board delays vote on cardiac care bid (USA)

"Helen Keller Hospital in Sheffield, Alabama, must wait until at least July to learn if its proposal to do procedures that will open clogged arteries will move forward in the required state approval process. The Statewide Health Coordinating Council delayed a vote on a request by Keller and three other hospitals that want to do percutaneous coronary interventions without on-site open heart surgery availability. Crestwood Hospital in Huntsville, Decatur General Hospital and Stringfellow Memorial Hospital in Anniston joined Keller in the request for a change in the state health plan to allow the procedures. The hospitals contend that the health plan does not recognize modern advances that make inserting stents, balloons and other catheterizations to open arteries much safer than when the state wrote the guidelines"

Anemia associated with greater risk of death in heart disease patients

A new study appearing in Congestive Heart Failure has found that the presence of anemia in patients with chronic heart failure is associated with a significantly increased risk of death. The findings also show that anemia is associated with a poorer degree of left ventricular function and a lower left ventricular ejection fraction, an objective measure of cardiac function -

Non-invasive stem cell procedure shows promise to repair heart tissue

"For the first time, researchers at the University at Buffalo have shown that it is possible to repair cardiac tissue and, in turn, reverse heart failure by injecting adult bone marrow stem cells into skeletal muscle. The researchers used an animal model to demonstrate that the non-invasive procedure could increase myocytes, or heart cells, by two-fold and reduce cardiac tissue injury by 60 percent. In addition, the therapy improved function of the left ventricle - the primary pumping chamber of the heart - by 40 percent. It even reduced fibrosis - the hardening of the heart lining that impairs its ability to contract-by up to 50 percent....The development has been reported in a paper appearing online in the Articles-in-Press section of the American Journal of Physiology -- Heart Circulation Physiology

Doctors perform bypass surgery on 20-month-old boy (India)

"Stawan Bijal Shah is now likely to live a normal life after undergoing coronary artery bypass for a rare heart disease in a Delhi hospital, with the 20-month-old possibly becoming the youngest patient in the world to undergo this surgery, doctors said. Shah underwent a coronary artery bypass surgery on Monday after he was found to be suffering from the Kawasaki disease, which damaged his heart. He is now recuperating in the intensive care unit (ICU) of Batra Hospital here where doctors believe that Stawan is the youngest child in the world to undergo such surgery. "Kawasaki is an extremely rare disease among children. It causes thickening and dilation of arteries resulting in severe blockage," said SC Bhan, director cardiac unit, Batra Hospital" - Times of India

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Vascular Health and Risk Management - journal

Vascular Health and Risk Management is "an international, peer-reviewed journal of therapeutics and risk management, focusing on concise rapid reporting of clinical studies on the processes involved in the maintenance of vascular health; the monitoring, prevention, and treatment of vascular disease and its sequelae; and the involvement of metabolic disorders, particularly diabetes. In addition, the journal will also seek to define drug usage in terms of ultimate uptake and acceptance by the patient and healthcare professional"

Monday, May 25, 2009

Middle age spread link to frailty

Middle age spread link to frailty"People who are overweight or obese in middle-age run the risk of being frail in later life, say Finnish researchers. A study of more than 1,000 men found the highest risk of death and illness in those who put on weight in their 40s but lost it when they got older. It is thought that the heart risk associated with middle-aged spread puts men at risk of "frailty" even if they have no obvious illness. The research is published in the European Heart Journal" - BBC

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hand on Heart - BHF Volunteer Campaign 2009 - video

A video promoting the British Heart Foundation's campaign to recruit more volunteers to help in the local community and in BHF Shops:

Physical fitness cuts heart, death risk

"People who are physically fit, as measured by a high level of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), are less likely to develop heart disease and less likely to die from any cause, a study shows. Researchers say it's rare for doctors to consider cardiorespiratory fitness in evaluating a person's risk of future heart disease or death, mostly because the degree of risk reduction associated with different levels of physical fitness was unclear. But a review of studies shows that people with a low level of cardiorespiratory fitness have a 70% higher risk of death from any cause compared with those with a high level of fitness. "We suggest that CRF, which can be readily assessed by an exercise stress test, could be useful for prediction of [heart disease] and all-cause mortality risk in a primary care medical practice," write researcher Satoru Kodama, MD, PhD, of the University of Tsukuba Institute of Clinical Medicine in Ibaraki, Japan, and colleagues in the Journal of the American Medical Association." - WebMD

Woman's extreme Red Bull diet (New Zealand)

Woman's extreme Red Bull diet"A 23-year-old Auckland mother who lost 45kg in eight months by drinking nothing but energy drink Red Bull says she has ongoing health problems because of the diet. Brooke Robertson told the Herald on Sunday she shrank from 105kg to 60kg drinking nothing but 10 to 14 cans a day, often accompanying them with nothing more than a handful of dry Honey Puffs. Ms Robertson said she put on weight while carrying son Keir, now four, but did not make a conscious decision to go on a Red Bull diet. "I just started drinking it. I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't eating – I was exhausted," she said. "I just continued to drink it because it's an appetite suppressant and I noticed I was losing weight so stuck with it." Ms Robertson said she managed to keep her addiction secret from family and friends, and did not recover from it until after a two-week stay in hospital following a minor heart attack. "I managed to wean myself off it by being in hospital for that long but I had severe withdrawals – sweating, nausea, shaking. It was an addiction. The doctors stated that." Ms Robertson now maintains her figure through exercise and a Weight Watchers diet, but said she still suffers the effects of the extreme diet. She said she has a heart murmur, gets severe pain and cramping in her stomach and bowel, and suffers anxiety attacks. A Red Bull spokesman said there was "scientific evidence that caffeine is not addictive". The drink was available in 148 countries "because health authorities across the world have concluded that Red Bull is safe to consume", he said. The drink is banned in Norway, Denmark and Uruguay because of health fears" -

'Invincible' athlete's death renews cardiac questions (USA)

'Invincible' athlete's death renews cardiac questions"Every time an elite athlete dies suddenly from heart failure while competing - and thankfully, that doesn't happen often - disbelief and concern are the dominant reactions. Such was the case Wednesday when triathlete, former professional cyclist and ex-Davis resident Steve Larsen, 39, collapsed and died on a track in Bend, Ore., during interval training with 40 other runners. Medical examiners ruled the death the result of sudden cardiac arrest; an autopsy is pending. "I don't know a fitter human being," fellow triathlete Matt Lieto told the Bend Bulletin. "I always thought of him as invincible."" - Sacramento Bee

Marathons can cause temporary heart conditions

There is good news and bad news to report about marathon runners and their hearts. Previous research had shown cardiac irregularities in some nonelite runners after a race. A new study, presented recently at the International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego, appears to be the first to use cardiac magnetic resonance imaging after a marathon to test for heart injury. CMRI allows physicians to assess cardiac function and health. Researchers from the University of Manitoba in Canada studied 14 casual runners who ran in the 2008 Manitoba Marathon. They were tested before the race for cardiac biomarkers that revealed the health of their hearts. After the race, they were given additional blood tests, plus echocardiograms and CMRIs. The bad news: Results of the echocardiograms and CMRIs immediately after the race showed abnormalities on both sides of the heart. Also, the pumping capabilities of the right ventricle went from 64% to 43%. The good news: Even though cardiac biomarkers were irregular after the marathon, researchers concluded that there was no sign of permanent injury to the muscle. Plans are in the works by the researchers to conduct further studies to see if these abnormalities cause any permanent damage in people who run more than one marathon a year - LA Times

Friday, May 22, 2009

Three cups of tea a day 'can cut heart attack risk by 70%'

Three cups of tea a day 'can cut heart attack risk by 70%'"Drinking three cups of tea a day can ward off heart attacks, a dietitian has claimed. The beverage could even have anti-cancer properties, a review of previous research suggests. The link between coronary heart disease and tea has been the subject of a large number of studies. Dr Carrie Ruxton, a member of the Tea Advisory Panel, analysed some of these, which highlighted the effectiveness of naturally occurring compounds called flavonoids in combating heart attacks. One Finnish study found men who drank more than two cups of tea a day had a 21 per cent reduced chance of stroke. French research showed that women who drank more than three cups a day had a 32 per cent lower risk of blocked arteries. Dr Ruxton said the research showed at least three cups of tea a day can lower the risk of a heart attack by up to 70 per cent" - The Mail

Walking test can ID heart-lung fitness, mortality risk

Walking test can ID heart-lung fitness, mortality risk"If you're middle-aged or older, a 10-minute walking test can give you and your doctor a pretty clear picture of whether you are at higher risk of dying during the next few years compared with other people your age, according to a large new analysis of data showing that cardiorespiratory fitness is intimately linked with the risk of dying of just about any cause. However, you probably won't get this exercise test unless you ask for it. The exercise stress test - or, in medical parlance, the graded exercise test - measures your cardiorespiratory fitness, or how well your heart, lungs, muscles, and blood vessels work together to use oxygen and produce energy. There are several ways to do the test, but it basically involves walking or running on a treadmill at progressively steeper inclines or faster speeds under medical supervision" - CNN

Diabetes treatment cuts heart risk (UK)

Diabetics can cut their heart attack risk by almost a fifth by driving down blood sugar levels, research has shown. A study pooling information from five trials showed intensive treatment of type 2 diabetes led to fewer heart attacks and less heart disease. However stepping up treatment to lower blood sugar had no effect on strokes and did not alter death rates. The research, involving more than 33,000 patients in total, compared the effects of standard therapy with that of intense treatment regimens - Channel 4

Currents - Spring 2009 issue from AHA

The Spring 2009 issue of Currents, from the American heart Association is now available

Dubai Heart Centre's free surgeries save 100 children

"Over a 100 children have got a new lease of life, thanks to free heart surgeries at Dubai Heart Centre in
 Dubai Hospital. At a ceremony held on Thursday to celebrate the success of a campaign launched with a team of Swedish experts, officials at Dubai Heart Centre said they had conducted 120 heart surgeries since the launch of the campaign 
in 2007. Consultant cardiac surgeon and director of the centre Dr Obaid Al Jassim said the surgeries were conducted during a phased programme organised in association with the Swedish team. The Department of Health and Medical Services had launched the campaign after realising the need for paediatric congenital heart surgery facilities in the UAE. Many children born with congenital heart diseases in the UAE have been forced to seek treatment abroad. Usually conducted in various phases, these surgeries cost over Dh300,000, including
travel expenses in some countries. 'Sometimes this can go up to Dh500,000 if
it is a complicated case,' 
said Dr Jassim. He said that the initiative meant for citizens and residents from different emirates also benefited some children from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Bahrain, some of whom were in critical condition requiring
 urgent intervention. Many children, whose lives were saved through the initiative, were present at the programme. Meanwhile, a Dubai-based healthcare group also launched a similar initiative to offer free and subsidised congenital heart surgeries for children born in
poor families. Dr Moopen's Group recently announced the 'Save Little Hearts' campaign in Dubai to mobilise resources for conducting these surgeries at MIMS Cardiac Centre, the group's high-tech cardiac facility in
 Kerala, India"

Overweight people more active than skinny (USA)

A study of sleep and activity found overweight people tended to sleep less and be more active than their skinnier counterparts, researchers found. As part of the Integrative Cardiac Health Project at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the researchers analyzed the sleep and activity levels of 14 nurses. Dr. Arn Eliasson, the lead investigator, said each participant wore an actigraphy armband that measured total activity, body temperature, body position, and other indices of activity and rest. "When we analyzed our data by splitting our subjects into 'short sleepers' and 'long sleepers,' we found that short sleepers tended to have a higher body mass index of 28.3, compared to long sleepers, who had an average BMI of 24.5. Short sleepers also had greater difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep"

Cigarette makers lose appeal in landmark case (USA)

A federal appeals court on Friday agreed with the major elements of a 2006 landmark ruling that found the nation's top tobacco companies guilty of racketeering and fraud for deceiving the public about the dangers of smoking. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington upheld requirements that manufacturers change the way they market cigarettes. The requirements, which have been on hold pending appeal, would ban labels such as "low tar," "light," "ultra light" or "mild," since such cigarettes have been found to be no safer than others because of how people smoke them. It also says the companies must publish "corrective statements" in newspapers and on their Web sites on the adverse health effects and addictiveness of smoking and nicotine - AP

" is a one-stop destination resource designed to strengthen and bring together members of the stem cell community. Visitors can obtain news, information regarding Springer's stem cell program, as well as personalize their accounts to receive the most relevant content"

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Study calls for 'as soon as possible' treatment standard for heart attack patients

"Once in hospital, heart attack patients should be treated without delay to cut their risk of death, ideally within even less than the 90 minutes currently recommended by clinical guidelines, say researchers in a paper published on today. After a heart attack, patients often undergo a procedure using a balloon-tipped catheter that is inserted into a main artery, pushed into the narrowed coronary artery, and inflated to clear the blockage. This is called primary percutaneous coronary intervention, or more simply balloon angioplasty. The time between a patient's arrival at hospital and first balloon inflation is known as the 'door-to-balloon time.' The current target is 90 minutes, but the benefits of reducing this time even further is still unclear. So researchers based in the United States set out to investigate the association between door-to-balloon time and deaths in hospital among patients undergoing balloon angioplasty after a heart attack." - Science Centric

Even insured Americans are paying more for health care, studies show

"Several studies show that even US residents with health insurance are spending a higher proportion of their incomes on health care than ever before, and many women are ignoring health care because of costs. The studies are published at a time when the new Obama administration is promoting healthcare reform and universal coverage as its most important goals. A study by FamiliesUSA, a non-profit making organisation, found that 64 million people younger than 65 lived in families that spent more than 10% of their pre-tax income on health care - nearly one in four US residents younger than 65. Almost all of them (94%) had health insurance. The study also found that 19 million US residents spent more than 25% of their pre-tax income on health care, although 90% had health insurance" - BMJ

Quality measures improve outcomes more than hospital volume alone (USA)

"A new study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and Baystate Medical Centre at Tufts University in Massachusetts concludes that patients facing coronary artery bypass surgery should, as a first priority, select a medical facility that has the highest adherence to quality standards. The research team sought to determine how volume among individual surgeons, volume differences between hospitals, and differences in quality of care might influence outcomes following coronary artery bypass surgery. According to the researchers, care from high-volume centres or surgeons has been associated with better outcomes post-operatively, but how volume and quality of care were related has not been well understood. 'You could go to the busiest doctor, as many people do,' said study author Andrew Auerbach, MD, MPH, associate clinical professor of medicine at UCSF and director of research for the Division of Hospital Medicine. 'But how busy the surgeon is may not matter as much as his or her team's adherence to quality measures.' The study, 'Shop for Quality or Volume? Volume, Quality, and Outcomes of Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery,' is published in the 19 May 2009 edition of Annals of Internal Medicine."

Why heart patients are more susceptible to depression

"An international team of researchers have identified certain genetic factors that might explain why individuals with heart disease are likely to suffer from depression. The team from The Miriam Hospital, The Montréal Heart Institute, University of Montréal and McGill University has discovered certain genes related to vascular system that might help predict depression in individuals with heart disease" - Newstrack

Big waistline a boon for heart patients

Big waistline a boon for heart patients"Despite being a leading contributor to heart disease, and other allied ailments, Obesity appears to play a protective role in a range of cardiovascular problems, says a surpring new research. Researchers found that obese heart patients respond better to strokes and heart attacks compared to normal or underweight patients. Although obesity is a leading cause of heart disease, paradoxically scientists say fat and even high cholesterol may have protective benefits. However, researchers say, losing weight is still best because obesity triggers more heart attacks and strokes. The study has been published in the May 26, 2009, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology"

Heart drugs 'for all over 55s' (UK)

Heart drugs 'for all over 55s'Everyone aged 55 and over should be taking drugs to lower their blood pressure, even if they don't need them, an expert claims. Most types of drugs to treat blood pressure will cut a person's risk of heart attacks and heart failure by around a quarter and the risk of stroke by about a third regardless of how healthy they are. But some charities fear that people will ignore advice to watch their diet and exercise more in favour of "popping a pill". Professor Malcolm Law, who led the study, said: "Beyond a certain age, we're saying everyone would benefit from taking drugs that lower blood pressure - ITN

Monday, May 18, 2009

Common virus may cause high blood pressure: study

"A common virus may be a major cause of high blood pressure, researchers said on Thursday in a finding that may bring new approach to treating a condition that affects an estimated 1 billion people worldwide. Based on a series of studies in mice, they said cytomegalovirus or CMV - a herpes virus that affects some 60 to 99 percent of adults globally - appears to increase inflammation in blood vessels, causing high blood pressure. And when combined with a fatty diet, CMV may also cause hardening of the arteries, a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease, they said." - Reuters

Heart&Stroke Open Heart Open (Canada)

"This annual event provides golfers with a day of fun and friendship while raising funds to fight the effects of heart disease and stroke. Registration is now available. Sponsored by Concorde Group Corp. There is also a Facebook event page for the tournament"

Sunday, May 17, 2009

World No Tobacco Day, 31 May 2009

"The theme of World No Tobacco Day 2009 is "Tobacco Health Warnings", with an emphasis on the picture warnings that have been shown to be particularly effective at making people aware of the health risks of tobacco use and convincing them to quit. More and more countries are fighting back against the epidemic of tobacco by requiring that packages of tobacco show the dangers of the product's use, as called for in guidelines to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control"

Diet to lower blood pressure may reduce heart failure risk in women

"A new study shows that a particular diet could help women reduce their risk of heart failure. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is known to be an effective way to reduce high blood pressure. Researchers wanted to see if it would also be effective in reducing the risk of heart failure. Researchers looked at the diets of 36,000 women who were between 48 and 83 years of age and who didn’t have heart failure or diabetes or experienced previous heart attack. Researchers sent food questionnaires to the participants that were created to be matched against the DASH recommendations. Using this, researchers scored participants on how closely their diets happened to resemble the DASH recommendations. The researchers followed up with the participants after seven years and found that 443 of the women had developed heart failure. The women were separated into four categories based on how closely their own diets matched the DASH diet. The women in the top quarter with the highest DASH scores had a 37% lower rate of heart failure compared to those in the lowest quarter of DASH scores. This was after controlling for other risk factors including age, physical activity levels and smoking habits. Those who were in the top 10% of the highest DASH scores fared even better, having half the rate of heart failure as those in the bottom quarter. The researchers say that the DASH diet could be an effective lifestyle intervention for women who not only want to reduce their high blood pressure, but also their risk of heart failure"

Americans skimp on healthy activities in bad economy

Yet another negative result of the bad economy: Americans are cutting back on healthy activities such as eating fresh foods and exercising regularly. In a national omnibus survey of 1,000 people conducted in March 2009 by the American Heart Association:

* 57 percent said the economy has affected their ability to take care of their health
* 32 percent have made a change in the last six months to save money, such as delaying preventive care appointments, not taking medications or skipping the dentist
* 25 percent of those with gym memberships have cancelled in the previous six months
* 42 percent plan to make changes in the next six months that may impact their health, such as buying fewer fruits and vegetables

Results of the study spell trouble for Americans' overall well-being and heart health in particular, said Timothy Gardner, M.D., President of the American Heart Association

Lifestyle changes can help prevent stroke

A few lifestyle changes can greatly reduce anyone's chances of having a stroke, a U.S. physician says. "Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of adult disabilities, but more than half of all strokes can be prevented," Dr. Matthew Fink, chief of the division of stroke and critical care neurology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, says in a statement. For instance, avoiding stroke is another good reason to quit smoking. Fink says a smoker is at twice the risk of having a stroke because smoking damages blood vessels, raises blood pressure and speeds up the clogging of arteries. Among the other lifestyle changes Fink says can help reduce stroke risk include:

* Flavoring your food with a variety of spices to cut back on the amount of salt may help bring blood pressure to a healthy level of 120/80 or below.

* Eating a heart-healthy diet that balances good cholesterol and bad cholesterol helps keep cholesterol level at or below 200mg/dl.

* Exercising can help lose extra pounds that place added strain on the circulation system - UPI

Videoconferencing can increase patient access to stroke specialists

"High-quality videoconferencing can increase patient access to stroke specialists, especially in rural or other underserved areas; and a transient ischemic attack (TIA), once known as a "mini" or "warning" stroke, should be treated with the same urgency as a full-blown stroke, according to two separate scientific statements and a policy statement published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association - EurekAlert

Women at risk: why many women are forgoing needed health care (USA)

"Rising health care costs coupled with eroding health care benefits are having a substantial effect on Americans' ability to get needed health care, with women particularly affected. Women experience cost-related access problems and medical bill problems more often than men. In 2007, more than half (52%) of women reported problems accessing needed care because of cost and 45 percent of women accrued medical debt or reported problems with medical bills. Since women use more health care services than men, they are more exposed to the fragmentation and failings of the current health care system - underscoring the need for affordable and high-quality health insurance coverage that is available to all" - The Commonwealth Fund

CMAJ 12 May 2009, Volume 180, Issue 10 online

The Canadian Medical Association Journal - 12 May 2009, Volume 180, Issue 10, is now available online

Elderly need more 'sun vitamin'

Elderly need more 'sun vitamin' "Spending more time in the sun could help older people cut their risk of heart disease and diabetes say experts. Sun exposure helps the skin make vitamin D - a vitamin older people are generally deficient in due to their lifestyles and natural aging processes. A team at Warwick University has shown a deficiency increases the risk of metabolic syndrome, which is linked to diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Their study of more than 3,000 people is published in Diabetes Care"

Years of heavy smoking raises heart risks

Highlighting the negative impact tobacco use has on cardiovascular health, researchers say that heavy smokers were 2.5 times more likely to die than their non-smoking peers during a 30-year study in Norway. The newly available research found that nonsmokers lived longer and experienced fewer incidents of heart attack and cardiovascular disease than smokers, especially when compared with heavy smokers (those who lit up at least 20 cigarettes a day). Smokers were also at greater risk of developing diabetes and strokes than nonsmokers, according to the study findings, presented last week at the EuroPRevent 2009 conference in Stockholm, Sweden.

Chewable aspirin best for heart attack victims

A group of researchers led by Sean Nordt from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), gave three different types of aspirin to a group of volunteers - regular aspirin swallowed whole, regular aspirin chewed and swallowed, and chewable aspirin chewed and swallowed. Blood levels of aspirin were then measured, to see which route led to the highest aspirin levels in the body. The chewable aspirin consistently showed greater and more rapid absorption than the regular aspirin, whether swallowed whole or chewed. This seemingly simple finding could lead to improvements in the care of heart attack patients, said an UCSD release. Nordt presented these findings at the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) annual meeting on Friday. Abstracts were published in Academic Emergency Medicine, SAEM's official journal. - newKerala

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The benefits of exercise in cardiovascular disease - and even in heart failure

"Exercise is one of eight preventive measures identified by the European Heart Health Charter and features prominently in the scientific programme of EuroPRevent 2009, the congress of the European Association of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation. EuroPRevent 2009 took place in Stockholm, Sweden, on 6-9 May. In new studies presented at the congress exercise is shown to improve markers of heart disease in patients following coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG), to improve event-free survival rate in coronary patients better than stent angioplasty, and to improve markers of disease in heart failure patients, a group usually thought amenable to little more than palliative care" - Medical News Today

EuroPCR 2009

EuroPCR 2009"EuroPCR, the official congress of the European Association of Percutaneous Cardiovascular Interventions (EAPCI), will be held in Barcelona, Spain, for the third consecutive year. EuroPCR is a forum for exchange and will gather a multidisciplinary community including interventional cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, vascular surgeons, radiologists, nurses and technicians as well as a strong presence from the industry. 19-22 May, 2009"

Researchers link Alzheimer's to heart disorder

U.S. researchers have released a study linking a common heart disorder with an elevated risk of Alzheimer's disease. The study, based on clinical data from more than 37,000 patients, revealed that patients under the age of 70 were at 130 percent greater risk of developing Alzheimer's if they also suffered from the heart dysfunction known as atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of cardiac arrhythmia and occurs when the heart's natural pace-making node is overrun by dozens of other electrical impulses, causing the heart to beat erratically. In the past, several research projects had connected the heart disorder to a 187 percent increase in all types of dementia, but never directly with Alzheimer's. The results of the study were presented in full to the Heart Rhythm Society in Boston last week - redOrbit

Thursday, May 14, 2009

New study finds fewer families can afford health insurance (USA)

The majority of uninsured American families who are not covered by group health insurance through an employer cannot afford to buy health insurance, according to a new study by HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Some experts have suggested that because 23.8 million uninsured Americans under age 65 who do not have access to employer-based health insurance have incomes above the federal poverty line, they can afford to purchase policies if they so choose. But new data show otherwise. "Wealth, Income, and The Affordability of Health Insurance," published in the May/June 2009 issue of Health Affairs, shows that measuring families' median net worth - the value of their savings plus other assets minus debt rather than just income - provides more precise estimates of the percentage who could purchase policies if they chose to do so. Until now, most studies have used income alone to estimate how many more Americans could be covered by health insurance - redOrbit

Hawaii cigarette tax increase delivers victory for kids and taxpayers

Hawaii leaders have taken an important step to protect the state's kids and taxpayers from the devastating toll of tobacco use by increasing the state cigarette tax by 60 cents to $2.60 per pack on July 1 - giving the state the third highest cigarette tax in the nation. The state cigarette tax will further increase by 20 cents per pack annually in July 2010 and July 2011, reaching a total of $3 per pack. Governor Linda Lingle signed the cigarette tax increase into law Thursday. The Hawaii Legislature later today is expected to vote on overriding the governor's veto of legislation to also increase the tax on most other tobacco products, which would discourage kids from purchasing lower-taxed, cheaper tobacco products. Higher tobacco taxes are a win-win-win solution for Hawaii - a health win that will reduce tobacco use and save lives, a financial win that will raise revenue for critical state programs, and a political win that polls show is popular with the voters. - redOrbit

Blood pressure control intervention works (Canada)

Canadian researchers say a simple, automated monitoring system helped lower patients' blood pressure. The study, published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, found those in the intervention group showed an average reduction of 11.9 millimeters of mercury in systolic blood pressure and 6.6 mm Hg in diastolic pressure versus the control group's reductions of 7.1 mm Hg systolic and 4.5 mm Hg diastolic. "This system worked as efficaciously as if we had added a new medication on top of the patients' other medications," senior study author Dr. Pavel Hamet of the University of Montreal said in a statement. Hamet said the computer-based system asked patients for their latest blood pressure reading at least weekly and relayed the information to each patient's physician and pharmacist who then intervened if a reading presented a problem. "For example, the system alerted pharmacists when patients had not picked up their prescription refills on time," Hamet says. The study was based on 223 hypertension patients recruited through 21 physicians at eight primary care clinics in Laval, Quebec - redOrbit

ADA touts its new list of diabetes "Superfoods"

ADA touts its new list of diabetes The American Diabetes Association has released a list of "superfoods" it says "have necessary nutrients for good diabetes management, including fiber, potassium, healthy fats, magnesium and antioxidants." The superfoods list includes:

* Beans
* Dark green leafy vegetables
* Citrus fruit
* Sweet potatoes
* Berries
* Tomatoes
* Fish with omega-3 fatty acids
* Whole grains
* Nuts
* Fat-free milk and yogurt

According to the ADA, the foods have a low glycemic index, which means that the body metabolizes them more slowly than other foods, allowing for greater blood sugar control. The association also says the food group contains nutrients and vitamins that Western diets typically lack, suc

Abbott's bioabsorbable stent featured in Popular Science

"Every year, 800,000 Americans elect to have a tiny metal-mesh tube inserted into their coronary artery to prop it open and improve blood flow to cardiac muscle tissue. It's an easy choice - the alternative entails cracking open the chest and operating on a stopped heart. The tube, or stent, is permanent, but the vessel hardens over it within months. After that, it becomes a nuisance. The metal blocks x-rays and MRI scans, and it can catch blood cells and form a dangerous clot. Now medical-equipment manufacturer Abbott Laboratories has developed a stent that opens the artery and then simply disintegrates."

Aspirin appears to help lower risk of stroke for patients with peripheral artery disease

An analysis of previous studies indicates that among patients with peripheral artery disease, aspirin use is associated with a statistically nonsignificant decrease in the risk of a group of combined cardiovascular events (nonfatal heart attack, nonfatal stroke, and cardiovascular death), but is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of one of these events, nonfatal stroke, although the findings may be limited by the lack of a large study population, according to an article in the 13 May issue of JAMA

Walk long, slow and often to help the heart

Walk long, slow and often to help the heart"For people in cardiac rehabilitation who are overweight, longer but slower walks are better for losing weight and improving heart health than shorter, brisker walks, a new study has found. Frequent long, slow walks - 45 minutes to 60 minutes a day at a moderate pace, five to six days a week - were found to burn more calories, improve cardiac function, reduce weight and body fat. The standard regimen for cardiac rehabilitation involves walking, biking or rowing for 25 minutes to 40 minutes at brisk pace three times a week. "The benefits of weight loss in cardiac patients have not been all that clear," said Dr. Philip A. Ades, a professor of medicine and director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and the study's lead researcher. "And docs are usually pessimistic that their patients can accomplish weight loss." In fact, most cardiac rehabilitation programs have not been effective in weight loss, Ades said."" - HealthDay

Stem cell transplant in mouse embryo yields heart protection in adulthood

Stem cells play a role in heart muscle rejuvenation by attracting cells from the body that develop into heart muscle cells. They have been successfully used to halt or reverse cardiac injury following heart attack, but not to prevent injury before it occurs. A new study that delivered embryonic stem cells to mouse embryos in the earliest stages of development found that the resulting mice demonstrated a capacity to recover from cardiac injury in adulthood. The study, which provides the first evidence that preventive regenerative medicine can successfully be used to treat myocardial infarction through prophylactic intervention, is published in Stem Cells -

Bicyclist pedaling to buy defibrillators (USA)

Bicyclist pedaling to buy defibrillators (USA)A year ago, Ron Vergnolle collapsed from a sudden cardiac arrest but was revived with an automatic external defibrillator. Wednesday, he began a bicycle ride across the state (South Carolina) to raise money to buy AEDs so more people have a chance to survive. 'Over 300,000 people die a year from sudden cardiac arrest,' said Vergnolle, of Greenville. 'Many more could be saved if there were more AEDs available.' The 40-year-old real estate developer and father of three was always healthy and active, says his wife, Britt. In fact, he had jogged to the gym for a workout the day his heart stopped. 'If he had the cardiac arrest on the bike in Cleveland Park, things would've been much different,' she says. 'The fact that it happened 10 feet from an AED was truly a miracle.' Since that day, Vergnolle underwent bypass surgery and also had a defibrillator implanted in his chest. And he's cycling more than ever, using the round trip from Greenville to Caesars Head as his training route, logging 1,300 miles since Christmas. 'When it happened, it was such a shock I decided I'd try to mark the anniversary with a big ride,' he says. 'The time has come.' The 274-mile ride from Caesar's Head to Edisto will take Vergnolle three days. Britt and the children will follow in the car. And once at the beach, the family will 'celebrate life.' - Greenville News

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Popular cereal is a drug, US food watchdog says

Popular cereal is a drug, US food watchdog says"Popular US breakfast cereal Cheerios is a drug, at least if the claims made on the label by its manufacturer General Mills are anything to go by, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said. "Based on claims made on your product's label, we have determined that your Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal is promoted for conditions that cause it to be a drug," the FDA said in a letter to General Mills which was posted on the federal agency's website Tuesday. Cheerios labels claim that eating the cereal can help lower bad cholesterol, a risk factor for coronary heart disease, by four percent in six weeks. Citing a clinical study, the product labels also claim that eating two servings a day of Cheerios helps to reduce bad cholesterol when eaten as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, the FDA letter says. Those claims indicate that Cheerios -- said by General Mills to be the best-selling cereal in the United States -- is intended to be used to lower cholesterol and prevent, lessen or treat the disease hypercholesterolemia, and to treat and prevent coronary heart disease. "Because of these intended uses, the product is a drug," the FDA concluded in its letter" - Yahoo

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Vitamins 'may undo exercise boost'

Vitamins 'may undo exercise boost'"Taking vitamins C and E after a workout appears to prevent physical exercise improving the body's energy regulation, a study found. Some vitamins can block this beneficial effect of exercise, the new findings published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggest. Exercise is known to increase sensitivity to the hormone insulin, which governs the way cells use sugar as an energy source. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant and less sensitive to insulin. Ironically, it is the supplements' health-boosting properties that appear to be to blame" - Yahoo

Monday, May 11, 2009

How wonderpants cured my angina and gave me my life back (UK)

How wonderpants cured my angina and gave me my life back (UK)"Sandra Ansley was just 50 when she was diagnosed with angina, the painful and disabling heart condition that affects 100,000 new UK sufferers each year. 'I was fit and healthy,' says the mother of two from Charlton, West Sussex. 'I have never smoked, I wasn't overweight and swam regularly. The symptoms started gradually, but before long I was in agony almost constantly.' Within a few months Sandra was housebound. She was forced to give up her job as an accountant and unable even to play with her three young grandchildren. 'The frustration was almost worse than the pain,' she says. 'An attack could even be caused by happy emotions - anything that made my heart beat faster. 'The pain was sometimes sharp and sudden, making me almost double over, and sometimes more like my chest was being pulled apart. Just walking up stairs, turning over in bed or picking something up off the floor would bring one on. 'I was breathless and had to give up swimming. I couldn't work, because simply the stress of walking into a meeting would bring it on.' Considering the severity of her condition, it is remarkable that today Sandra, now 60, is symptom-free. She runs the Woodstock House Hotel with her husband Nicholas, 50, swims twice a week and, best of all, enjoys boisterous visits from the younger members of her family. And it is all thanks to a little-known treatment known as Enhanced External Counterpulsation (EECP), which involves wearing a pair of inflatable trousers. - Mail

Job loss can really make you sick

Job loss can really make you sick"Losing a job can lead not just to financial hardships but could also increase the risk of developing health problems such as high blood pressure and heart attacks, says a new study. Even when people find a new job, there is a raised risk of developing a new health problem as a result of the job loss, the study published in the May 8 issue of Demography claimed. "In today's economy, job loss can happen to anybody," said Kate Strully, who conducted the research as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society scholar at the Harvard School of Public Health. "We need to be aware of the health consequences of losing our jobs and do what we can to alleviate the negative effects," the expert added. In the study, Strully found that "job churning," defined as high rates of job loss but low unemployment, has negative health consequences for workers who were not already sick." - Zeenews

Genetic link to blood pressure (UK)

"The discovery of eight new genes gives the first explanation of how blood pressure may be regulated and paves the way for developing new treatments, scientists said. Scientists at Queen Mary, University of London, jointly led an international collaboration which identified eight common genetic variants that have an influence on high blood pressure, which affects at least 18 million people in the UK. About half the patients who are treated do not achieve the recommended targets to fully reverse their risk of stroke and heart attack, the scientists said. Professor Mark Caulfield, who helped lead the study, said: "These findings are exciting because, for the first time, they give us an explanation of how blood pressure may be regulated and how individuals in the population may develop high blood pressure." - Channel 4

The power of music: it's a real heart opener

If you didn't catch the white coat and the stethoscope, you might take Dr. Mike Miller for a middle-aged rocker, roaming the halls of the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. For years, Miller, a research cardiologist, has been studying the effects of happiness - or things that make people happy - on our hearts. He began his research with laughter, and found watching funny movies and laughing at them could actually open up blood vessels, allowing blood to circulate more freely. Miller thought, if laughter can do that, why not music? So, he tested the effects of music on the cardiovascular system. "Turns out music may be one of the best de-stressors - either by playing or even listening to music," said Miller. The setup was basically the same as with the laughter study: Using high-tech imaging, Miller measured blood vessel size as people listened to music. The results did not surprise Miller. "The inner lining of the blood vessel relaxed, opened up and produced chemicals that are protective to the heart," he said. But when participants listened to music they didn't particularly enjoy, Miller said, "the vessels actually began to close up

AstraZeneca shares jump on blood-thinner drug study

"Shares of AstraZeneca PLC rose over 5% on Monday after the Anglo-Swedish company said a key study showed its new blood-thinner Brilinta helped prevent stroke and heart attack better than the industry leader Plavix in certain cardiac patients. Shares of AstraZeneca (AZN) had jumped 6% to $38.19 by midday. The Phase III clinical trial tested Brilinta against Plavix in 18,624 patients with acute coronary syndrome, or ACS, in 43 countries. The study was led by a professor at Sweden's Uppsala Clinical Research Center and by one at Duke Clinical Research Institute. ACS is a condition whereby the heart muscle isn't receiving enough blood, generally due to some sort of blockage in the coronary arteries. The syndrome is associated with chest pain" - Market Watch

Heart attack entrées with side orders of stroke

Heart attack entrées with side orders of stroke"Unsafe levels of sodium chloride, or salt, in chain restaurant meals increase one's chance of developing hypertension, heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The nonprofit food safety and nutrition watchdog group is exposing chain restaurant meals with dangerously high levels of sodium and is renewing its call on industry and government to lower sodium levels in foods"

Why females do not fare as well as men in undergoing angioplasty for heart attacks

"Age, condition and treatment delay are among the reasons women who undergo angioplasty for heart attack often do not fare as well as do men, according to two studies presented at the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) 32nd Annual Scientific Sessions. These studies, which are among the first to document outcomes in female patients treated with angioplasty and stenting for a heart attack, may help close the outcome gap between women and men." - ScienceDaily

Less than 1 in 5 heart problems are diagnosed before symptoms appear

"Clinicians are missing golden opportunities to identify heart disease before patients start displaying symptoms, according to a study of 13,877 people published in the May issue of UK-based International Journal of Clinical Practice. Researchers from Oregon, Maryland and Delaware, USA, found that just over 11% of the respondents had been diagnosed with heart disease. However, only 19% of those individuals - who had been involved in the ongoing study for two years - said that their heart disease was picked up during routine screening. More than half of the diabetic patients with heart disease who took part in the study (54%) reported that their heart disease was diagnosed when they became symptomatic and a further 22% said it was picked up while they were being treated for other health issues" - Science Centric

Taking time off to recharge your battery even more important these days

"In these days of corporate downsizing, layoffs and mandatory furloughs, the average worker can't afford to be seen slacking off. If anything, people are going the extra mile to prove their worthiness and not fall victim to the chopping block. Even before the economy took a nose dive, the collective workforce in America was viewed as among the most industrious, putting in longer hours and eschewing vacation either to please the boss or simply out of sheer habit. But American workers - and their employers - are paying a heavy price for such a prodigious work ethic. The cost to the individual is job stress and burnout, which more and more health studies seem to indicate. A recent study by the British Medical Journal linked chronic stress to the development of heart disease and diabetes. And CNN reported that a study in the March 3 issue of the Journal of American Cardiology may provide new insight into a link between mental stress and sudden cardiac arrest, a leading cause of death" - The Ledger

Glendive cardiac rehab earns recognition (USA)

Glendive Medical Center's Cardiac Rehab Program has been recognized by the Montana Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. The association, along with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, said the hospital's Cardiac Rehab Program earned the highest ratings of the non-interventional hospitals in the patient outcomes program

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fast, simple treatment option for patients too sick for open-heart surgery?

"An innovative device that acts like a belt to reshape an enlarged, leaky heart valve is providing a minimally invasive treatment option for patients who are too sick for open-heart surgery. According to a Late-Breaking Clinical Trial presented May 7 at the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) 32nd Annual Scientific Sessions, the CARILLON Mitral Contour System safely treated leaky mitral valves even in patients with moderate-to-severe heart failure, and was effective in reducing the backward flow of blood from the left ventricle to the left atrium." ScienceDaily

Study finds African Americans at greater risk after PCI (USA)

"A study from one of the largest public health systems in the country (USA) has found that African American patients experienced significantly worse outcomes after angioplasty and stenting than patients of other races, though researchers are not sure why. According to data reported at the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) 32nd Annual Scientific Sessions, no single factor explains why African Americans were at higher risk after percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), but the hazard was clear" -

Grant helps firefighters combat excess weight, cardiac problems (USA)

Grant helps firefighters combat excess weight, cardiac problems"Firefighters are supposed to be in top physical condition to do their jobs in highly stressful, physically demanding environments. A $75,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is helping some of the city's first responders lose weight and be heart smart. The Royal Oak Fire Department, Michigan, USA, used the money to buy treadmills, elliptical trainers and bikes for each of the three stations and to schedule cardiovascular screenings and physical exams at Beaumont Hospital." - Daily Tribune

Children's Heart Week (UK)

Every year in the UK over 5000 parents are told that their baby has a heart condition. From 9-17 May this year, Children's Heart Federation and member groups will be raising awareness of congenital and acquired heart disease in children and young people. There will be many different local and national events and activities taking place, including:
* BBC Radio 4 appeal, Sunday 10 May
* Parliamentary Reception, Thursday 14 May
* National Family Fun Sports Day, Saturday 16 May

National Women's Health Week (USA)

National Women's Health Week (USA)National Women's Health Week is a weeklong health observance coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health (OWH). National Women's Health Week empowers women to make their health a top priority. With the theme "It's Your Time," the nationwide initiative encourages women to take simple steps for a longer, healthier, and happier life. During National Women's Health Week, communities, businesses, government, health organizations, and other groups work together to educate women about steps they can take to improve their physical and mental health and lower their risks of certain diseases

Thursday, May 7, 2009

High blood pressure - major risk factor for heart attack, stroke, heart failure and kidney failure

Nearly 60 million Americans are over the age of 55, which means they have a 90 percent likelihood of developing high blood pressure in their lifetime. May is High Blood Pressure Awareness Month. 18 million Americans have diabetes which increases their chances of developing high blood pressure. It's referred to as the "silent killer" as almost one third of people do not know they have it. Symptoms include dizziness and the most common headaches, but many go without any symptoms at all. The longer it's left untreated, the more serious its complications can become. Lifestyle modifications that include exercising and eating the right foods can help reduce your numbers. Medication can also work. UAMS Cardiologist Dr. Behzad Malovi warns before you begin any medications or lifestyle changes, find out what works best for you. He says, "Obviously if we're in a pre-hypertenstion stage where our blood pressure is between 120-130, perhaps 140 it would make senst to start changing our lifestyle in the first place. But for someone whose blood pressure is between 180/120, no matter how many times or how many trials, we cannont expect a return to normal."

Plavix, heartburn drugs may be risky combination

"Anyone who takes the clot-preventing drug Plavix after receiving a stent in a coronary artery-opening procedure should avoid popular heartburn medications called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), if possible, a group of heart experts now say. PPIs include blockbuster acid reflux medications such as Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec. The problem, according to experts at the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI), is that the combination of Plavix and a PPI increases the user's risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems." - HealthDay

Elsevier admits journal error

"Elsevier, the world's leading scientific publisher, said it had failed to meet its own standards for "accuracy and transparency" in producing a publication sponsored by Merck, the US pharmaceutical group, but presented as an independent academic journal. The Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, complete with an honorary editorial board of academics from Australia and New Zealand, contained a selection of reprinted articles from other journals concerning Merck's medicines Fosamax and Vioxx, and no disclosure that it was funded by the company. The publication marks a fresh twist in tactics to promote medicines by pharmaceutical companies, which have long provided substantial income to academic journals by paying for large numbers of reprints of articles favourable to their drugs for distribution to doctors. However, the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, which was produced in several issues between 2003 and 2005, has no website and is not listed as a journal in standard depositories of academic literature such as the Medline database" - FT

Cardiac patients take NASA super plastic to heart

"A NASA technology that was developed for an aerospace high-speed research program is now part of an implantable device for heart failure patients. NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., created an advanced aerospace resin, named Langley Research Center's Soluble Imide, or LaRC-SI. It is highly flexible, resistant to chemicals, and withstands extreme hot and cold temperatures. The 'super plastic' was determined to be biologically inert, making it suitable for medical use, including implantable device" - NewsBlaze

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Scientists pinpoint fats danger

Scientists pinpoint fats danger"Scientists have identified a genetic mechanism which appears to determine which fatty deposits in the arteries have the potential to kill us. Most of these plaques pose no risk to health, but a minority burst, forming blood clots, which can cause heart attacks or strokes. A Columbia University team pinpointed a gene which seems to make plaques more vulnerable to rupture. The American study appears in the journal Cell Metabolism" - BBC

Mannequin making medicine safer (UK)

If you have ever done a first aid course, the chances are you have been intimate with Resusci Anne. Launched in 1960 to solve the problem of how to practice life like mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, she has been nick-named "the most kissed girl in the world" and to put it plainly, she is getting on a bit. More sophisticated mannequins have been manufactured in recent years and Resusci Anne's creators Laerdal have now brought out SimMan 3G, the next generation of simulator, able to mimic an array of medical complications. He has a pulse, he can cough and wheeze, his eyes can water, his jaws can lock and his body can breathe and convulse. Those are just the visible features but he can also simulate breathing complications, cardiac arrests and reactions to drugs" - BBC

New York City smokers at all-time low

New York City smokers at all-time low"New York City reached its lowest rate of smoking on record - 15.8 percent, with 350,000 fewer smokers than in 2002, city health officials said. Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, city health commissioner, said the less than 1 million adult smokers in the city can still participate in the annual Nicotine Patch and Gum Program. The program provides New Yorkers with nicotine replacement therapy at no cost. Last year's program prompted 30,000 New Yorkers to call 311 for help quitting smoking, Frieden said." - redOrbit

Heart Attacks: The Tipping Point

"Twenty percent of American deaths each year are caused by heart attack or angina, sometimes without any warning. But thanks to new research from Dr. Sharon Zlochiver of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tel Aviv University, there's new hope for potential heart attack victims. By looking at the electrical activity coupling two types of heart muscle cells, Dr. Zlochiver has discovered a new way of identifying an impending attack. Dr. Zlochiver can not only predict when a heart attack will occur, but he can also help doctors - and patients - buy time before a deadly attack takes place. His research was published last year in the Biophysical Journal"

Irregular heartbeat during angioplasty could raise death risk

People treated for heart attack who experience abnormal heart rhythms during artery-opening procedures such as angioplasty may be at increased risk of death, a new study suggests. The finding could challenge current cardiac care guidelines, experts say. The study focused on patients who had heartbeat abnormalities called ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation when they underwent what is formally called a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) - such as angioplasty with or without stent placement - for heart attack. Patients who experienced these cardiac arrhythmias during the procedure had about triple the odds of dying within 90 days as those whose hearts beat normally, the researchers found. "Arrhythmias have a significant impact on longer-term survival," concluded study author Dr. Rajendra H. Mehta, an associate consulting professor of medicine at Duke University in Durham, N.C. His team published the findings in the May 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association - HealthDay

CPAP therapy boosts cardiac surgery outcomes

CPAP therapy boosts cardiac surgery outcomes"A few hours of postoperative treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) may help improve outcomes in patients who've had heart surgery, finds a new study. CPAP is commonly used to treat sleep apnea. The study, published in the May issue of Chest, included 232 cardiac surgery patients who received standard postoperative treatment - including 10 minutes of CPAP every four hours - and 236 patients who received prophylactic CPAP for at least six hours after surgery." - Health Day

Live surgical webcast: aortic aneurysm repair

"Watch interventional radiologist Barry Katzen, M.D., medical director of Baptist Cardiac & Vascular Institute, and vascular surgeon Ignacio Rua, M.D., medical director of vascular surgery, as they repair an abdominal aortic aneurysm. The webcast will be moderated by interventional radiologist James Benenati, M.D., medical director of the Institute's peripheral vascular laboratory. Viewers can also choose to watch the procedure in Spanish" - May 7, 2009 at 4:00 PM EDT

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Extra support helps obese women cycle to and from work

Extra support helps obese women cycle to and from workIncreased daily exercise can prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease in obese women, but getting started and maintaining new habits is a challenge. A new study by researchers at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet shows that extra support and encouragement can help more women to exercise to and from work. "Physically active transport is probably our best bet for helping populations at risk of heart disease and diabetes to increase physical activity levels, since we have to spend time getting to and from work anyway," says Dr Erik Hemmingsson, who led the study now published online in the International Journal of Obesity. The study was carried out at the Obesity Unit at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm and lasted 18 months. It involved 120 obese and unfit women between the ages of 30 and 60 with a waist circumference of at least 88 centimetres (34.6 inches). The subjects were randomly assigned to two groups, a control group that focused on walking and an intervention group that focused on cycling - EurekAlert

Ethnicity affects timing and access to cardiac care (Canada)

Ethnicity is having a significant impact on timely access to cardiac care in Calgary and likely across Canada as the population's ethnic diversity grows, according to new research led by a team from the University of Calgary. An article in the current issue of The American Journal of Cardiology suggests there are ethnic differences in pre-hospital recognition of symptoms and access to care, as well as the care pathway once the patient is hospitalized - EurekAlert

Sleep apnea increases heart disease risk

Obstructive sleep apnea, or periodic interruptions in breathing throughout the night, thickens sufferers' blood vessels. Moreover, it increases the risk of several forms of heart and vascular disease. Emory researchers have identified the enzyme NADPH oxidase as important for the effects obstructive sleep apnea has on blood vessels in the lung. The results are published in the May 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology. C. Michael Hart, professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, is senior author. - redOrbit

Sign in and pay now: Insured patients finding they must put down higher fees upfront for care (USA)

"Patients who need medical procedures are accustomed to following a familiar pattern: Talk to a doctor, schedule it at a hospital, have the procedure done and then get a bill in the mail a month later for your share of the cost. But in South Florida and nationwide, some insured patients are being asked by hospitals to pay larger portions of their bills upfront - and sometimes hospitals will not do the procedures until they get their co-payments. Hospitals administer emergency treatment without asking for payment first, but elective or scheduled procedures - anything from nose jobs to chemotherapy - can be withheld depending on a patient's ability to pay. An informal survey of 22 hospitals in Broward and Palm Beach counties found that all have required upfront payments for elective surgeries for several years. The change that might shock patients, hospital officials said, is the larger amounts requested as insurance companies require patients to make higher out-of-pocket payments." - SunSentinal

Strong hearts for two

Strong hearts for two"Jim and Priscilla Russell of Grand Prairie, Texas, might be taking togetherness too far. While he was in the emergency room being treated for a heart attack, she was outside having one of her own. The couple, who have been married 27 years, reunited in the cardiac catheterization lab and were admitted to Texas Health Resources Arlington Memorial Hospital. 'They put us in the same room together,' said Priscilla Russell, now 79. Six years, a triple bypass, one aortic valve and a pacemaker later, they're both healthy and work out regularly. The timing of their heart events is unusual, but that they both have cardiac disease is not. New research confirms what physicians have suspected: If one spouse has coronary risk factors, the other is more likely to have them. In a report published last month in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers found that couples often share risk factors such as smoking, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, stress and weight. The researchers reviewed 71 studies involving 100,000 couples and found that shared risk factors - most notably smoking and body mass index - could be attributed to their environment and lifestyle. They also speculated that people are attracted to mates like themselves." - News Tribune

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mumbai gets holistic cardiac rehabilitation unit

"World's first holistic Cardiac Rehabilitation Unit with exclusive cardio-respiratory and other heart care treatment services has been started in Mumbai's Vikroli-Jogeshwari Link Road. Pegged to be a holistic therapy centre with integrated services of allopathic, physiotherapy and ayurvedic specialties, the new-age Cardiac Rehabilitation Unit - Apex Beat holistic heart care centre - promises to rehabilitate every heart that seeks quick pre-operative or post-operative cardiac care"

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Webcast: "The Silent Killer" – aortic aneurysms – resolved without open heart surgery

Webcast: "The Silent Killer" – aortic aneurysms – resolved without open heart surgery. May 18, 2009, 7:00 PM EDT, From PinnacleHealth, Harrisburg, PA

'I knew I had lost my son' (UK)

'I knew I had lost my son' (UK)"There were no indications that Chris Haw was at risk from a heart problem until he collapsed and died, aged 25. Firefighter Stephen Haw had arranged to meet his son for lunch, but got to the store where Chris worked to find him collapsed on the floor. "I tried to resuscitate him, ventilated him and performed CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) on him until the arrival of the paramedics, but by then I knew I had lost my son, best friend and love of my life," Stephen said. A post-mortem examination revealed no reason for the previously healthy and sporty young man's death, but subsequent tests on his family revealed Stephen had a genetic heart condition and it was assumed this had also caused Chris's death" - BBC

Women live longer, not better, largely because of obesity and arthritis

"Obesity and arthritis that take root during early and middle age significantly contribute to women's decreased quality of life during their senior years, according to researchers at Duke University Medical Center. In a study that included 5,888 people over 65, women suffered up to two and a half times more disabilities than men of the same age. Higher rates of obesity and arthritis among these women explained up to 48 percent of the gender gap in disability - above all other common chronic health conditions"

Friday, May 1, 2009

World Diabetes Day hits the social network sites

World Diabetes Day, the global public awareness campaign led by the International Diabetes Federation, is now present on multiple social networking sites in order to reach new audiences and further engage its global network of supporters. Visitors can access a variety of information material about the campaign, including pictures of the Blue Monument Challenge, World Diabetes Day event videos and updated information on the 2009 World Diabetes Day campaign - focussing on Diabetes Education and Prevention.

Chemical found in medical devices impairs heart function

"Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have found that a chemical commonly used in the production of such medical plastic devices as intravenous (IV) bags and catheters can impair heart function in rats. Appearing online this week in the American Journal of Physiology, these new findings suggest a possible new reason for some of the common side effects - loss of taste, short term memory loss - of medical procedures that require blood to be circulated through plastic tubing outside the body, such as heart bypass surgery or kidney dialysis. These findings also have strong implications for the future of medical plastics manufacturing. In addition to loss of taste and memory, coronary bypass patients often complain of swelling and fatigue. These side effects usually resolve within a few months after surgery, but they are troubling and sometimes hinder recovery." - EurekAlert

Single gene defect can cause stroke, other artery diseases

"For the first time, scientists have discovered a single gene defect that causes thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections as well as early onset coronary artery disease, ischemic stroke and Moyamoya disease. The research is led by scientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. The study, "Mutations in Smooth Muscle Alpha-Actin (ACTA2) Cause Early Onset Coronary Artery Disease, Stroke and Moyamoya Disease, Along with Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms and Dissections," was published early online April 30 in the American Journal of Human Genetics." - GEN

One in three people over 45 'now take statins to reduce heart attack risk' (UK)

"Official figures show there are more than 7 million people in England taking the cholesterol-lowering drugs to reduce their risk of suffering a heart attack. It has raised concerns over the medicalisation of a generation as the numbers on statins are set to increase even further as the Government's new health checks for the over-40s take effect. Prescriptions for antidepressants and drugs for obesity and attention deficit disorder have also risen by up to ninefold in 10 years" - Telegraph

The No. 1 Killer Of Women (USA)

The No. 1 Killer Of Women (USA)"Ask American women what disease they're most scared of, and the vast majority will answer without hesitation: breast cancer. They may even cite the ominous statistic that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer at some point in her life. But what most women don't realize is that they actually have far more to fear from heart disease, which will strike 1 out of every 3. More than 500,000 women die in the U.S. each year of cardiovascular disease, making it, not breast cancer (40,000 deaths annually), their No. 1 killer." - Time

Managing blood pressure, cholesterol cuts stroke risk

People who have suffered a stroke can significantly reduce the odds of a second stroke or a heart attack by controlling their blood pressure and cholesterol, new research shows. "There are about 800,000 new strokes in the U.S. and 1 million in Europe each year," said study author Dr. Pierre Amarenco, of Denis Diderot University and Medical School in Paris. "Among them, between 5 and 10 percent will have a recurrent stroke and about 2 percent will have a myocardial infarction." For the study, researchers followed 4,731 people who had suffered a stroke or "mini-stroke." Half of the patients received the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin (Lipitor), while half received a placebo. Pfizer Inc., which makes Lipitor, funded the study. The researchers found that over an average of 4.9 years, patients who maintained optimal levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol, HDL ("good") cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure were significantly less likely to suffer a secondary stroke or other cardiovascular problems. The findings were presented Wednesday at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting in Seattle. - Forbes