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December 6, 2008, 4:32 PM CT

A little wine boosts omega-3 in the body

A little wine boosts omega-3 in the body
Results from the European study IMMIDIET show that moderate wine intake is linked to higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids considered as protective against coronary heart disease.

Moderate alcohol intake is linked to higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in plasma and red blood cells. This is the major finding of the European study IMMIDIET that would be reported in the recent issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, an official publication of the American Society for Nutrition and is already available on line (www.ajcn.org ). The study suggests that wine does better than other alcoholic drinks. This effect could be ascribed to compounds other than alcohol itself, representing a key to understand the mechanism lying behind the heart protection observed in moderate wine drinkers.

The IMMIDIET study examined 1,604 citizens from three geographical areas: south-west London in England, Limburg in Belgium and Abruzzo in Italy. Thanks to a close cooperation with General Practitioners of these areas, all participants underwent a comprehensive medical examination, including a one year recall food frequency questionnaire to assess their dietary intake, alcohol consumption included.

Omega-3 fatty acids, mainly derived from fish, are considered as protective against coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death, thus their high blood concentration is definitely good for our health.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 3, 2008, 5:34 AM CT

What makes the heart 'tick-tock'

What makes the heart 'tick-tock'
Scientists have new evidence to show that the heart beats to its own drummer, as per a report in the recent issue of the journal Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication. They've uncovered some of the molecular circuitry within the cardiovascular system itself that controls the daily rise and fall of blood pressure and heart rate. The findings might also explain why usually used diabetes drugs come with cardiovascular benefits, as per the researchers.

"This is the first study to demonstrate that a peripheral clock plays a role in the circadian rhythm of blood pressure and heart rate," said Tianxin Yang of the University of Utah and Salt Lake Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

While much progress has been made over the years in understanding the body's master clock in the brain, the new study offers one of the first glimpses into the biological function of peripheral clocks in maintaining the circadian rhythms of tissues throughout the body, the scientists said.

Circadian variations in blood pressure and heart rate are among the best-recognized circadian rhythms of physiology, Yang explained. In humans, there is a sharp rise in blood pressure before awakening, with the highest values around midmorning. A number of cardiovascular events, such as sudden cardiac death, heart attack, and stroke display daily variations with an increased incidence in the early morning hours. It is suspected that those trends correlate with the morning surge in blood pressure.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 3, 2008, 5:32 AM CT

Up to 2 drinks per day not linked to heart problems in women

Up to 2 drinks per day not linked to heart problems in women
Women who have up to two alcoholic drinks per day do not appear to be at increased risk of atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beat), but drinking more than that amount is linked to a higher risk, as per a research studyin the December 3 issue of JAMA.

Studies assessing the effects of regular alcohol consumption on the risk of atrial fibrillation have provided inconsistent results, with several studies finding significant associations between moderate to high amounts of alcohol intake and increased risks of atrial fibrillation among men, but not among women. However, these studies were not of adequate size to detect significant associations among women, as per background information in the article.

David Conen, M.D., M.P.H., of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, and University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland, and his colleagues analyzed data from a completed randomized controlled trial involving 34,715 women participating in the Women's Health Study, to assess the effects of regular alcohol consumption on the risk of atrial fibrillation. The participants were older than 45 years and had no atrial fibrillation at the start of the study and underwent follow-up from 1993 to October 2006. Alcohol consumption was assessed via questionnaires at the beginning of the trial and at 48 months of follow-up and was grouped into 4 categories: 0 drinks per day, greater than 0 and less than 1, 1 or more and less than 2, and 2 or more drinks per day. Atrial fibrillation was self-reported on the yearly questionnaires and subsequently confirmed by electrocardiogram and medical record review.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 3, 2008, 5:25 AM CT

Exposure to secondhand smoke reduced

Exposure to secondhand smoke reduced
As the correlation between second-hand smoke and coronary heart disease (CHD) became clearer and legislation was passed to reduce such passive smoking, exposures have been reduced. In an article reported in the January 2009 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, scientists from the University of California, San Francisco, Partners Healthcare, Boston and Columbia University have recalibrated the CHD Policy Model to better predict future trends in CHD.

At 1999჻� levels, passive smoking caused between 21,800 and 75,100 CHD deaths and between 38,100 and 128,900 myocardial infarctions annually. Treatment costs ranged from $1.8 to $6.0 billion per year. If recent trends in the reduction in the prevalence of passive smoking continue from 2000 to 2008, scientists predict that the burden would be reduced by approximately 25%󈞊%.

The CHD Policy Model is a computer simulation of CHD incidence, prevalence, mortality and costs in the US population aged >35 years. Using data from a variety of sources, such as the US Census, the Framingham Heart Study (FHS), the Framingham Offspring Study (FOS), the National Health and Nutrition Evaluation Survey (NHANES), the National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS) and the Year 2000 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the scientists updated the Model to better predict how reduced second-hand smoke may reduce CHD.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 1, 2008, 6:14 PM CT

Some 'good cholesterol' isn't good enough

Some 'good cholesterol' isn't good enough
If you think your levels of "good cholesterol" are good enough, a new study reported in the December 2008 issue of The FASEB Journal suggests that you may want to think again. In the report, scientists from the University of Chicago challenge the conventional wisdom that simply having high levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and low levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) is necessary for good heath. Instead, they show that the good cholesterol has varying degrees of quality and that poor quality HDL is actually bad for you.

"For a number of years, HDL has been viewed as good cholesterol and has generated a false perception that the more HDL in the blood, the better," said Angelo Scanu, M.D., a pioneer in blood lipid chemistry from University of Chicago and first author of the study. "It is now apparent that subjects with high HDL are not necessarily protected from heart problems and should ask their doctor to find out whether their HDL is good or bad".

The scientists came to this conclusion after reviewing published research on this subject. In their review, they observed that the HDL from people with chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, and diabetes is different from the HDL in healthy individuals, even when blood levels of HDL are comparable. They found that normal, "good," HDL reduces inflammation, while the dysfunctional, "bad," HDL does not.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 25, 2008, 10:31 PM CT

Estrogen therapy could be dangerous for women

Estrogen therapy could be dangerous for women
Hormone treatment could accentuate certain pre-existing heart disease risk factors and a heart health evaluation should become the norm when considering estrogen replacement, new research suggests.

The research also showed that in women without existing atherosclerosis, hormone treatment use included some positive effects on lipids but also some negative effects correlation to heart health, said MaryFran Sowers, lead researcher and professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

The U-M study came about, Sowers said, in trying to explain what's behind the so-called timing hypothesis. The timing hypothesis suggests that if a woman implements a hormone treatment program within six years of her final menstrual period, this narrow window is enough to deter heart disease from developing with the onset of menopause. But the U-M findings suggest that explanation isn't quite so simple, Sowers said.

Even within the six-year window, there were negative aspects correlation to heart disease. While the positive outcomes on HDL and LDL cholesterol levels were observed, Sowers said, scientists also saw negative outcomes in terms of the inflammation process-which can be correlation to heart disease.

Sowers said the research shows it's critical for women considering hormone treatment to discuss their heart health with their doctor.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 17, 2008, 10:13 PM CT

Technology gives 3-D view of human coronary arteries

Technology gives 3-D view of human coronary arteries
OFDI fly-through view of same patient's right coronary artery, white arrowheads indicate area of white dotted line in image at right.

Credit: Massachusetts General Hospital

For the first time scientists are getting a detailed look at the interior of human coronary arteries, using an optical imaging technique developed at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). In their report in the journal JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging, the research team describes how optical frequency-domain imaging (OFDI) gives three-dimensional, microscopic views of significant segments of patients' coronary arteries, visualizing areas of inflammation and plaque deposits.

"This is the first human demonstration of a technique that has the potential to change how heart specialists look at coronary arteries," says Gary Tearney, MD, PhD, of the MGH Pathology Department and the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at MGH, the study's lead author. "The wealth of information that we can now obtain will undoubtedly improve our ability to understand coronary artery disease and may allow heart specialists to diagnose and treat plaque before it leads to serious problems".

OFDI is an advance over optical coherence tomography (OCT), another imaging technology developed by the MGH investigators. While OCT examines tissues one point at a time, OFDI can look at over 1,000 points simultaneously using a device developed at MGH-Wellman. Inside a fiberoptic probe, a constantly rotating laser tip emits a light beam with an ever-changing wavelength. As the probe moves through the structure to be imaged, measuring how each wavelength is reflected back allows rapid acquisition of the data mandatory to create the detailed microscopic images. Besides providing three-dimensional images of an artery's microstructure in seconds, the increased speed also reduces signal interference from blood, which had plagued the first-generation technology. In 2006 members of the MGH-Wellman team reported the successful use of OFDI to image the esophagus and coronary arteries of pigs.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 14, 2008, 8:23 PM CT

Mending broken hearts with tissue engineering

Mending broken hearts with tissue engineering
Confocal micrograph of an accordion-like honeycomb scaffold with cultured rat heart cells (scaffold is colored blue; seeded, living heart cells are colored green with blue nuclei). Original magnification = 250X.

Image courtesy / G.C. Engelmayr, Jr

Broken hearts could one day be mended using a novel scaffold developed by MIT scientists and his colleagues.

The idea is that living heart cells or stem cells seeded onto such a scaffold would develop into a patch of cardiac tissue that could be used to treat congenital heart defects, or aid the recovery of tissue damaged by a heart attack. The biodegradable scaffold would be gradually absorbed into the body, leaving behind new tissue.

The accordion-like honeycomb scaffold, published in the Nov. 2 online edition of Nature Materials, is the first to be explicitly designed to match the structural and mechanical properties of native heart tissue. As a result, it has several advantages over prior cardiac tissue engineering scaffolds.

Further, the MIT team's general approach has applications to other types of engineered tissues. "In the long term we'd like to have a whole library of scaffolds for different tissues in need of repair," said Lisa E. Freed, corresponding author of the paper and a principal research scientist in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST). Each scaffold could be tailor-made with specific structural and mechanical properties. "We're already on the way to a few other examples," Freed said.

With respect to the current work, "prior scaffolds did not necessarily possess structural or mechanical properties consistent with the native myocardial [heart muscle] structure," said George C. Engelmayr Jr., lead author of the paper and an HST postdoctoral fellow. Heart muscle, he explained, is "directionally dependent" -- meaning its cells are aligned in specific directions.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 13, 2008, 10:23 PM CT

Cigarette smoke could alter shape of heart

Cigarette smoke could alter shape of heart
Prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke can increase levels of the stress hormone norepinephrine and enzymes in the heart that have the potential to reshape the left ventricle, as per new research at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

In a study using rats as as animal model, five weeks exposure to cigarette smoke was linked to the activation of enzymes called mitogen-activated protein kinases that govern cell growth and survival in heart muscle. Activation of these enzymes may be a key event in cigarette smoke-induced heart injury, says Mariann Piano, professor of biobehavioral health science in the UIC College of Nursing and lead researcher of the study.

Heart disease probably develops as a result of complex interactions among a number of elements in cigarette smoke, she said.

"Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 different chemicals, one of which is nicotine," Piano said. "However, the effect of nicotine on the initiation and progression of cigarette smoke-mediated cardiovascular events remains controversial".

To date, small clinical trials of nicotine replacement therapies have not shown increased cardiovascular risk, even in patients with cardiovascular disease, Piano said. This suggested the need to study cigarette smoke as a whole.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 12, 2008, 10:22 PM CT

Over 50% of People With High Blood Pressure Unaware They Have Condition

Over 50% of People With High Blood Pressure Unaware They Have Condition
More than half of people diagnosed with hypertension do not have it under control and a number of more go undiagnosed, as per research carried out at the University of Warwick.

Professor Franco Cappuccio from Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick led the only UK team to participate in a European study examining awareness, therapy and control of high blood pressure, or hypertension. High blood pressure is an important cause of serious diseases such as heart attacks and strokes.

The IMMIDIET study, published recently in the Journal of Hypertension, examined 1,604 citizens from three geographical areas, south-west London in the UK, Limburg in Belgium and Abruzzo in Italy. All participants underwent a medical examination, including blood pressure measurement, and answered a lifestyle and health questionnaire.

The scientists found 24% of participants had hypertension and 56% of these people were not aware of their condition. Of those that were aware, less than half had their hypertension under control (less than 140mmHg for systolic pressure and 80 for diastolic pressure).

Looking at the differences between regions, the scientists found the UK participants had lower blood pressure overall and better control than the Italians and Belgians.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source



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Heart disease
About 13 million Americans (about 7 percent of the total population) suffer from coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death in American men and women amounting a staggering 20 percent of all causes of death. About half of all deaths related to cardiovascular diseases occur from coronary artery disease. Through this heart watch blog we will have our humble contribution towards making men and women aware of the risks of heart diseases.

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