Thursday, December 29, 2011

Viagra can be a wonder drug against heart failure: study

A new study has found that Viagra, the blue pill used to treat erectile dysfunction, can be a wonder drug against heart failure. The new discovery on Viagra's surprising "relaxing" effect might actually save lives, according to researchers from the Ruhr Universitat Bochum (RUB), Germany, and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesotain the myocardial cells to relax. Sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, was shown to benefit patients with diastolic heart failure. The study, published in the current issue of the journal Circulation, showed that sildenafil could enhance the elasticity of stiffened cardiac walls by activating an enzyme that causes the giant protein titin in the myocardial cells to relax.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Bypass surgeries performed in city hospital without cutting bone (India)

The conventional bypass surgery invariably involves cutting the breast bone to reach out to the clogged heart vessels. However, cardiac surgeons at Jehangir Hospital, Pune, India, adopted a minimally invasive approach and successfully performed a bypass on a 68-year-old diabetic patient by taking just an 8 cm cut on the side of his chest to fix four blockages in his heart. "The approach is called lateral thoracotomy wherein a small 7-8 cm cut is all that is needed to perform the surgery. There is absolutely no cutting of bone in this approach. Traditionally, this approach has been used to bypass only one blocked vessel, but now we are in a position to offer this for multiple blocks. Using this approach, we fixed four blockages in a 68-year-old diabetic patient without cutting any bone," said cardiac surgeon Chandrashekhar Kulkarni of the Jehangir Hospital. The surgery was done on December 7 at Jehangir Hospital and the patient was discharged on December 13

Saturday, December 17, 2011

CARG Newsletter - January 2012

The CARG Newsletter - January 2012 is now available online

Drug market for COPD will increase from $8.3 billion in 2010 to more than $13.4 billion in 2020

Decision Resources, a research and advisory firms for pharmaceutical and healthcare issues, finds that, owing to an expanding aging population, increases in drug treatment and the uptake of premium priced combinations, the drug market for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) will increase from approximately $8.3 billion in 2010 to more than $13.4 billion in 2020 in the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and Japan. The Pharmacor advisory service entitled Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, forecasts that the COPD drug-treated population will expand from approximately 19 million patients in 2010 to nearly 25 million patients in 2020 in the world's major pharmaceutical markets. Uptake of novel long-acting beta2 agonist/long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LABA/LAMA) fixed-dose combinations, including Boehringer Ingelheim’s olodaterol/tiotropium, will also drive market growth, given that they will likely be more expensive than single-agent bronchodilators

Health care by TV and remote control (UK)

Health care by TV and remote control (UK)First thing in the morning, Terry Munro always puts the kettle on. "Then I take my blood sugar, take my blood pressure and my weight and in that time the kettle's boiled. "And I've got a record of it on my TV. It's marvellous, it really is." Terry, who is 67 years old and has diabetes, has been keeping tabs on his own health using nothing more than his television. The testing equipment uses Bluetooth so when Terry has taken his daily measurements they are automatically uploaded to the TV. A trained nurse can access and monitor the readings from a central location and make decisions about potential changes in treatments. "I like walking, but I used to go out and go hypo. Now I know I can't go out if my blood sugar is too low, so I am more aware now. "It's like having a doctor there all the time."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Patient and Family Resource Centre opens at Royal University Hospital, Saskatoon

The Patient and Family Resource Centre provides comfortable seating, five computer stations with internet access, a printer and, books and magazines. Patients and their families will also have easy access to information on local accommodations and amenities. "Such information can assist patients and family members who may be unfamiliar with regional or local services," says Keller. The Centre can connect patients and their families with library resources, patient education materials and additional resources within Saskatoon Health Region. "Clients can use the Centre as a starting point to access translation services, spiritual care, social work services, client representatives and other services," explains Keller. Funds for the Centre have been provided through donor support of the Royal University Hospital Foundation. "We are pleased to support such a valuable initiative for patients and their families," says RUHF Chair Bill Johnson. "It's our sincerest hope that patients and families find this centre to be a source of comfort and information." The Centre will be staffed by volunteers who will be able to assist patients and families in gathering information and establishing connections to existing Saskatoon Health Region resources

Cardiology wars: patients' wallets are casualties (USA)

In August, Karen Carmel of Reno was told she could no longer get an echocardiogram of her heart done at the Reno Heart Physicians' office because the practice had been bought by Renown Health five months before. She said she was directed to the Renown Institute for Heart and Cardiovascular Health, on Renown's main campus, to schedule the routine test. "Your doctor says go there, you go," Carmel said. Her heart skipped a beat when she heard the price. "At Renown, they told me the test is billed at about $3,300 because it is being done in a hospital instead of a doctor's office and my out-of-pocket cost (based on the lower amount her insurance deems an "acceptable" cost for the test) would be $432," Carmel said. "I told them I can't afford that right now. I'd have to wait." When she told her doctor she wasn't getting the test, he checked her insurance plan and told her she could go anywhere for the procedure. She started shopping. "I wound up at Northern Nevada Medical Center," Carmel said. "They billed my insurance $2,241, and my portion was $244. People need to know they can shop around. If I had no choice (of providers), I wouldn't have gotten the test I needed. I think a lot of people won't get the care they need because these things are so expensive in a hospital." Previously, patients' out-of-pocket costs for the same type of echocardiogram were about $70 to $140, according to local patients' bills from 2009 and 2010. Depending on insurance plans, some patients' bills have gone from the hundreds of dollars to more than a thousand - RGJ

Canadian mining magnate gives $17-million for heart research

The head of global mining company Barrick Gold has donated $17.2-million to boost cardiac research in Toronto. Peter Munk said the gift was aimed at helping Canada attract and retain top medical professionals who often leave for higher-paying positions in the United States and Europe. The money will support four new centers for heart research and five chairs at Toronto General Hospital's Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. The new facilities will be devoted to the study of cardiac-valve disease, multinational clinical trials, personalized molecular medicine, and aortic diseases. Mr. Munk and his wife, Melanie, launched the cardiac center with a $5.7-million gift in 1997 and contributed $33.5-million five years ago for new diagnostic equipment

Cholesterol-lowering medication accelerates depletion of plaque in arteries

In a new study, NYU Langone Medical Center researchers have discovered how cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins promote the breakdown of plaque in the arteries. The study was published online by the journal PLoS One on December 6, 2011. The findings support a large clinical study that recently showed patients taking high-doses of the cholesterol-lowering medications not only reduced their cholesterol levels but also reduced the amount of plaque in their arteries. However, until now researchers did not fully understand how statins could reduce atherosclerosis, the accumulation of fat and cholesterol that hardens into plaque in arteries, a major cause of mortality in Western countries. High blood cholesterol is a major culprit in atherosclerosis. As a result of narrowing arteries, blood clots can form or plaque can break off causing blockages in vessels. This can lead to a potentially fatal heart attack or stroke. "Our new research shows statins actually promote the regression of atherosclerosis by altering the expression of a specific cell surface receptor within plaque cells," said co-author of the study, Edward Fisher, MD, PhD, Leon H. Charney Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and director of the Marc and Ruti Bell Vascular Biology Program at NYU Langone Medical Center. "This molecular phenomenon helps dissolve plaque by expelling coronary artery disease-causing cells from the plaque lining the arteries."

New scanning strategy could help develop heart disease treatments (Scotland)

New scanning strategy could help develop heart disease treatments (Scotland)Patients with life-threatening heart valve disease could be helped with alternative scanning techniques that provide greater insight into the condition. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh used an imaging technique that could help predict which patients will need open heart surgery to replace their heart valves, and improve treatments to prevent the disease. The narrowing and hardening of the heart's aortic valve – a common condition known as aortic stenosis – affects 1 in 20 people over 65 in the UK and is on the increase due to an ageing population. The study, funded by the British Heart Foundation, trialled the use of positron emission tomography scans among patients with the condition. The scans give a much clearer insight into the process that causes aortic stenosis than ultrasound scans, which are currently used for diagnosis. They involve using tracer chemicals, which highlight molecular changes within the body

Newly discovered heart stem cells make muscle and bone

Researchers have identified a new and relatively abundant pool of stem cells in the heart. The findings in the December issue of Cell Stem Cell, a Cell Press publication, show that these heart cells have the capacity for long-term expansion and can form a variety of cell types, including muscle, bone, neural and heart cells. The researchers say the discovery may lay a foundation for much needed regenerative therapies aimed to enhance tissue repair in the heart. The damaged heart often doesn't repair itself well because of the incredibly hostile environment and wide-scale loss of cells, including stem cells, after a heart attack. "In the end, we want to know how to preserve the stem cells that are there and to circumvent their loss," says Richard Harvey of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Australia

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saskatoon Community Clinic awarded grant through Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative

Saskatoon Community Clinic awarded grant through Aboriginal Diabetes InitiativeThe Saskatoon Community Clinic is excited to announce that we have been awarded a grant from Health Canada through the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative to develop and deliver enhanced health promotion programming and diabetes prevention activities for First Nations and Inuit living in Saskatoon. The grant, which comes from the Urban First Nations, Inuit and Metis Diabetes Prevention stream of the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative is for $ 200,000 over two years. The new funding will allow us to continue working proactively on programming in this area with other partners in the Saskatoon Health region including the Saskatoon Health Region, CHEP Good Food Inc., Central Urban Metis Federation Inc. and the Saskatoon Indian and Metis Friendship Centre. Close to half of First Nations people in Saskatoon over the age of 60 have diabetes and the incidence of diabetes in the Aboriginal population is 1.6 to 2.6 times higher than the general population

Saturday, December 10, 2011

New technology revolutionizes the way cardiac devices are adjusted remotely (USA)

New technology revolutionizes the way cardiac devices are adjusted remotely (USA)Boca Raton Regional Hospital is the site for the development and study of a new software system that can revolutionize the way physicians communicate and reprogram cardiac devices remotely. The technology and study was conceived and developed by E. Martin Kloosterman, MD, Director of the Electrophysiology Laboratory and Chief of the Cardiology Department at Boca Raton Regional Hospital and the study abstract was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology. Dr. Kloosterman presented the study at the Venice 2011 Arrhythmias international workshop to over 1,700 physicians in Italy on October 9, 2011. "This new development provides clinicians the ability to manage cardiac devices, such as pacemakers and defibrillators, remotely in real-time. The model, which was tested in the Hospital’s emergency and operating rooms, allows the specialized physicians to have direct access to the information in the patient’s device for adjustment and reprograming in a moment's notice no matter where they are and at any given time," said Dr. Kloosterman

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

North American first at the Montreal Heart Institute: a patient treated with a disappearing heart device (Canada)

North American first at the Montreal Heart Institute: a patient treated with a disappearing heart device (Canada)The interventional cardiology team at the Montreal Heart Institute used the world's first drug eluting bioresorbable vascular scaffold to successfully treat a woman suffering from coronary artery disease. This landmark procedure was performed by Dr. Jean-Fran├žois Tanguay, interventional cardiologist and coordinator of the Coronary Unit, as part of the ABSORB EXTEND clinical trial. This successful intervention was a first in North America. The device is made of polylactide, a proven biocompatible material that is commonly used in medical implants such as dissolvable sutures. ABSORB has CE Mark and is authorized for sale in Europe. It is under clinical investigation around the world with more than 500 patients treated with the device

Improved technology may obviate need for drug when assessing patients for a coronary stent

A new method for measuring narrowing in the arteries of the heart may allow patients to be assessed for a stent without having to take a drug with unpleasant side effects. In England, it is estimated that one in seven men and one in 12 women over the age of 65 experience chest pain called angina caused by narrowing of the arteries in the heart. Around 60,000 such patients a year are fitted with a coronary stent – a wire mesh tube that acts as a scaffold to keep open arteries that risk becoming blocked, leading to a heart attack. However, stents sometimes lead to problems later on as they can promote the growth of scar tissue, leading to re-narrowing of the artery. It is therefore important to determine when a stent is needed and when it might not be worth the risk. The most accurate method currently used to measure narrowing in arteries requires the patient to take a drug such as adenosine that dilates the blood vessels. Now, a refined, investigational drug-free technique may be just as reliable, according to the results of a feasibility study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Scientists demonstrate benefits of cardiac pacemaker transplants from deceased owners

Scientists demonstrate benefits of cardiac pacemaker transplants from deceased ownersA team of researchers from the U.S. and India reviewed the reuse of pacemakers that were donated to poor people in Mumbai when the original owners in the U.S. passed away. The FDA does not permit reuse of implantable devices, but India has no such qualms. The study involved 53 patients and two years following implantation, the devices continued working as intended without any significant complications nor did any infections occur due to the transplant. Of four patients who were previously employed, all were able to return to their manual jobs. Twenty-seven women said their symptoms had improved enough so they could resume household chores - medGadget

Marathon training 'may pose a heart risk'

Marathon training 'may pose a heart risk'Doing extreme endurance exercise, like training for a marathon, can damage the heart, research reveals. MRI scans on 40 athletes training for challenging sporting events like triathlons or alpine cycle races showed most had stretched heart muscles. Although many went on to make a complete recovery after a week, five showed more permanent injuries. The researchers told the European Heart Journal how these changes might cause heart problems like arrhythmia. They stress that their findings should not be taken to mean that endurance exercise is unhealthy. In most athletes, a combination of sensible training and adequate recovery should cause an improvement in heart muscle function, they say

Friday, December 2, 2011

Low "good" cholesterol doesn't cause heart attacks

Despite plenty of evidence that people with low levels of "good" cholesterol are more prone to heart attacks, a large new study suggests that the lacking lipid is not to blame. The analysis of data on nearly 70,000 people in Denmark affirmed the link between low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the so-called "good" cholesterol, and raised heart attack risk in the general population. But in people with a gene mutation that lowers HDL, heart attack risk was not found to be higher at all. "Association itself doesn't mean causality," said lead author Dr. Ruth Frikke-Schmidt, a consultant in the Department of Clinical Biochemistry at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen. The results, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, indicate that just having low HDL is not what raises the likelihood of a heart attack

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Clogged arteries pose different dangers for men, women (USA)

Not all clogged arteries are created equal, with women and men facing different heart risks even when they have the same amount of coronary plaque, a new study suggests. Analyzing the results of coronary CT angiographies - non-invasive tests that look for coronary artery blockages - in 480 patients with acute chest pain, scientists from the Medical University of South Carolina found that the risk of major cardiac events was significantly higher in women when they had a large amount of plaque buildup and extensive hardening of the arteries. On the other hand, men faced greater risks of heart attack or coronary bypass surgery when their arteries contained "non-calcified plaque," fatty deposits that accumulate deep in artery walls. While the study didn't specifically quantify the risks of each scenario for men and women, it may be valuable to physicians ordering tests for heart patients in distress, said study author Dr. John Nance Jr., a radiology resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore