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January 12, 2009, 6:28 AM CT

Fighting cholesterol with synthetic HDL

Fighting cholesterol with synthetic HDL
Buttery Christmas cookies, eggnog, juicy beef roast, rich gravy and creamy New York-style cheesecake. Happy holiday food unfortunately can send blood cholesterol levels sky high.

Northwestern University researchers now offer a promising new weapon -- synthetic high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the "good" cholesterol -- that could help fight chronically high cholesterol levels and the deadly heart disease that often results.

The scientists successfully designed synthetic HDL and show that their nanoparticle version is capable of irreversibly binding cholesterol. The synthetic HDL, based on gold nanoparticles, is similar in size to HDL and mimics HDL's general surface composition.

The study is published online by the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS).

"We have designed and built a cholesterol sponge. The synthetic HDL features the basics of what a great cholesterol drug should be," said Chad A. Mirkin, George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, professor of medicine and professor of materials science and engineering. Mirkin and Shad Thaxton, M.D., assistant professor of urology in Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine, led the study.

"Drugs that lower the bad cholesterol, LDL, are available, and you can lower LDL through your diet, but it is difficult to raise the good cholesterol, HDL," said Mirkin. "I've taken niacin to try and raise my HDL, but the side effects are bad so I stopped. We are hopeful that our synthetic HDL will one day help fill this gap in useful therapeutics".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 6, 2009, 6:56 PM CT

New risk assessment tools need to predict Coronary Heart Disease

New risk assessment tools need to predict Coronary Heart Disease
The Framingham and National Cholesterol Education Program tools, NCEP, do not accurately predict coronary heart disease, as per a research studyperformed at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, CT.

The study included 1,653 patients who had no history of coronary heart disease; eventhough 738 patients were taking statins (cholesterol lowering drugs like Lipitor) because of increased risk of developing coronary heart disease. All 1,653 patients underwent a coronary CT angiogram and doctors compared their risk of coronary heart disease, determined by the Framingham and NCEP risk assessment tools, to the amount of plaque actually found in their arteries as a result of the scan. Results showed that 21% of the patients who were thought to need statin drugs before the scan (because of the Framingham and NCEP assessment tools) did not require them; "26% of the patients who were already taking statins (because of the risk factor assessment tools) had no detectable plaque at all," said Kevin M. Johnson, MD, main author of the study.

"Risk assessment tools are used by physicians implicitly. Physicians use them as a way to separate and treat patients accordingly. Ultimately, the Framingham influences what every doctor does, but I feel it is not good enough to show what is happening with each individual patient," said Dr. Johnson.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 5, 2009, 11:24 PM CT

Secrets of smoking addition

Secrets of smoking addition
Just seeing someone smoke can trigger smokers to abandon their nascent efforts to kick the habit, as per new research conducted at Duke University Medical Center.

Brain scans taken during normal smoking activity and 24 hours after quitting show there is a marked increase in a particular kind of brain activity when quitters see photographs of people smoking.

The study, which appears online in Psychopharmacology, sheds important light on why it's so hard for people to quit smoking, and why they relapse so quickly, explains Joseph McClernon, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center.

"Only five percent of unaided quit attempts result in successful abstinence," says McClernon. "Most smokers who try to quit return to smoking again. We are trying to understand how that process works in the brain, and this research brings us one step closer".

The Duke scientists used a brain-imaging tool called functional MRI to visualize changes in brain activity that occurs when smokers quit. The smokers were scanned once before quitting and again 24 hours after they quit. Each time they were scanned while being shown photographs of people smoking.

"Quitting smoking dramatically increased brain activity in response to seeing the smoking cues," says McClernon, "which seems to indicate that quitting smoking is actually sensitizing the brain to these smoking cues".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 24, 2008, 5:24 AM CT

Don't put all your bets on fish oil

Don't put all your bets on fish oil
It is established that fish oil protects against deaths from heart problems, but don't count on fish oil to provide a clear benefit in heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias).

More funding is urgently needed in this neglected area of nutrient research, say the authors of an accompanying editorial.

Consuming oily fish at least two to four times a week is recommended for patients after a heart attack. But the evidence for the protective effect of fish oil supplements is based on one large trial from over 10 years ago. More recent trials have showed no beneficial effect of fish oil on patient outcomes.

In an attempt to resolve the uncertainty, Professor Ross Tsuyuki and his colleagues from Canada systematically evaluated randomised trials of fish oil as a dietary supplement in the prevention of cardiac deaths and arrhythmias (abnormal electrical activity in the heart that can lead to death), in more than 30,000 participants in 12 studies.

Fish oil was found to be effective at reducing deaths from heart problems, but showed no good evidence of a beneficial effect on arrhythmias or deaths from all causes.

Three of the studies involving over 11,000 participants analysed the effect of fish oil supplementation on the reduction in implantable cardiac defibrillator interventions and reported a neutral effect. Six studies of over 31, 000 patients examined the effect of fish oil on sudden cardiac death and showed no benefit. A further 11 studies showed a 20% reduction in deaths from heart problems.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 17, 2008, 10:38 PM CT

Survival after myocardial infarction

Survival after myocardial infarction
A paper published online by the journal Circulation on 8 December 2008 concluded that, while men and women have a similar in-hospital death rate following acute myocardial infarction, women with STEMI had an adjusted mortality rate almost twice as high as men (10.2% versus 5.5%). These differences were linked to a lower likelihood of reperfusion treatment in women. The paper was widely published in the press, with suggestions of disparity in care and outcome after AMI.

This study is one of a number of undertaken in the past 20 years on gender differences in the management of acute coronary events. A number of, like this latest study, have observed that women are treated less intensively in the acute phase. However, after adjustment for age, co-morbidity and severity of disease, some of these disparities have been found to disappear. Similarly, a number of studies have observed gender differences in short-term survival rates after AMI, but such differences have not always persisted in the long term.

In Europe results from a Swedish cohort study of 53,781 subjects (of whom 37 per cent were women) also showed that overall women were less intensively treated than men, but, in cases of non-STEMI, had a better long-term prognosis than men.

Commenting for the ESC on the STEMI results in the Circulation paper, Professor Eva Swahn (University Hospital, Linkping, Sweden), who has conducted gender studies in acute coronary syndrome patients, said: "We are not surprised. We found similar results in our Swedish cohort study".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 16, 2008, 8:27 PM CT

New study 'pardons' the misunderstood egg

New study 'pardons' the misunderstood egg
A study recently published online in the journal Risk Analysis(1) estimates that eating one egg per day is responsible for less than 1 percent of the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in healthy adults. Alternatively, lifestyle factors including poor diet, smoking, obesity and physical inactivity contribute 30 to 40 percent of heart disease risk, depending on gender. This study adds to more than thirty years of research showing that healthy adults can eat eggs without significantly affecting their risk of heart disease.



Study Background


The study reviewed the risk of heart disease linked to egg consumption in comparison to modifiable lifestyle risk factors (smoking, poor diet, being overweight or obese, physical inactivity). The study authors used data from the 1999-2000 and 2001-2001 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) to categorize the U.S. adult population into various groups based on modifiable lifestyle risks. These populations account for 85 percent of all U.S. males ages 25 and older and 86 percent of U.S. females ages 25 and older.



Study Findings


The study observed that the consumption of one egg per day contributes less than 1 percent of heart disease risk. Modifiable lifestyle risk factors smoking, poor diet, being overweight or obese and physical inactivity accounted for 30 to 40 percent of heart disease risk, while unavoidable risk factors, such as genetics, and potentially treatable risk factors, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, accounted for 60 to 70 percent.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 15, 2008, 9:15 PM CT

Inflamed gums and heart disease

Inflamed gums and heart disease
The next person who reminds you to floss might be your heart specialist instead of your dentist. Researchers have known for some time that a protein linked to inflammation (called CRP) is elevated in people at risk for heart disease. But where's the inflammation coming from? A new research study by Italian and U.K. researchers published online in The FASEB Journal shows that infected gums may be one place. Indeed, proper dental hygiene should reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, stroke and heart disease independently of other measures, such as managing cholesterol.

"It has been long suspected that atherosclerosis is an inflammatory process, and that periodontal disease plays a role in atherosclerosis," said Mario Clerici, M.D., a senior researcher on the study. "Our study suggests that this is the case, and indicates that something as simple as taking good care of your teeth and gums can greatly reduce your risk of developing serious diseases".

To reach this conclusion, the researchers examined the carotid arteries of 35 otherwise healthy people (median age 46) with mild to moderate periodontal disease before and after having their periodontal disease treated. One year after therapy, the researchers observed a reduction in oral bacteria, immune inflammation and the thickening of the blood vessels linked to atherosclerosis.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 15, 2008, 5:26 AM CT

Preventing a broken heart

Preventing a broken heart
A heart damaged by heart attack is commonly broken, at least partially, for good. The injury causes excessive scar tissue to form, and this plays a role in permanently keeping heart muscle from working at full capacity.

Now scientists have identified a key molecule involved in controlling excessive scar tissue formation in mice following a heart attack. When they stopped the scarring from occurring, the researchers observed that the animals' heart function greatly improved following the injury.

The study, by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cornell University, appears in Nature Cell Biology online Dec. 14, 2008.

The findings offer heartening news for the millions who have heart attacks each year and suffer from the resulting poor heart function. The study raises the hope that the outlook for people with this major disability might be markedly improved.

The researchers studied a protein, sFRP2, which they unexpectedly found to be involved in the formation of collagen, the main component of scar tissue.

"With a number of injuries and diseases, large amounts of collagen are formed and deposited in tissues, leading to scarring and a condition called fibrosis," explains co-author Daniel S. Greenspan, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. "Fibrosis can seriously affect the functioning of heart, lung, liver and other tissues".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 11, 2008, 5:22 AM CT

Panic attacks linked to higher risk of heart attacks

Panic attacks linked to higher risk of heart attacks
People who have been diagnosed with panic attacks or panic disorder have a greater risk of subsequently developing heart disease or suffering a heart attack than the normal population, with higher rates occurring in younger people, as per research published in Europe's leading cardiology journal, the European Heart Journal [1] today (Thursday 11 December).

The study observed that people who were younger than 50 when first diagnosed had a significantly higher risk of subsequent heart attacks (or myocardial infarctions, MI), but this was not the case in older people. It also found there was a significantly higher occurence rate of subsequent coronary heart disease (CHD) in people diagnosed with panic attacks/disorder at all ages, but this was more marked in the under 50s.

However, the research also showed that the risk of dying from CHD was actually reduced amongst people of all ages who had been diagnosed with panic attacks/disorder.

The study is the first to look at a very large sample of the UK population of all ages (a total of 404,654 people) selected from a primary care population that can be broadly generalised to other countries with a similar socio-demographic structure. It is also the first to identify that the higher risk of heart attacks with panic attacks/disorder is mainly in younger people (aged under 50 years), and that having a panic attacks/disorder diagnosis is linked to a lower risk of dying from heart conditions.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 8, 2008, 10:25 PM CT

Women are more likely than men to die in hospital from severe heart attack

Women are more likely than men to die in hospital from severe heart attack
Men and women have about the same adjusted in-hospital death rate for heart attack - but women are more likely to die if hospitalized for a more severe type of heart attack, as per a report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Among patients with ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) in a recent study, the death rate was 10.2 for women in comparison to 5.5 for men. Scientists said the women were older and had higher overall baseline risk profiles than men. After adjustment for these and other differences, women with STEMI had a 12 percent higher relative risk for in-hospital death in comparison to men.

The study also observed that some recommended therapys are delayed and underused in women.

Scientists analyzed data from the American Heart Association's Get With The Guidelines (GWTG) program to determine if recent efforts to improve heart attack care at hospitals had closed the gender disparity gap. They evaluated the clinical characteristics, therapys and outcomes of more than 78,000 patients diagnosed with myocardial infarction admitted to 420 hospitals between 2001 and 2006.

"The finding that bears the most emphasis is that among both men and women presenting to Get With The Guidelines participating hospitals, there were no clinically meaningful differences in in-hospital survival after heart attack, once we factored in differences, such as age and other existing illnesses," said Hani Jneid, M.D., lead author of the study and assistant professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.........

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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