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January 28, 2009, 6:29 AM CT

What's the link between menopause and heart disease?

What's the link between menopause and heart disease?
An evaluation of 203 women as part of the multifaceted Los Angeles Atherosclerosis Study (LAAS) observed that those who transitioned more quickly through menopause were at increased risk for a higher rate of progression of "preclinical atherosclerosis" narrowing of arteries caused by the thickening of their walls.

Heart specialist C. Noel Bairey Merz, M.D., is principal investigator of the study. She is director of the Women's Heart Center and the Preventive and Rehabilitative Cardiac Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. She serves as professor of medicine at Cedars-Sinai and holds the Women's Guild Endowed Chair in Women's Health.

This observational study included 203 women between ages 45 and 60 at the time they entered the study. Fifty-two were premenopausal, 20 were perimenopausal and 131 were postmenopausal. None of the women had been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. They were reviewed when they entered the study and at two 18-month intervals, providing a snapshot over a three-year period of time.

Evaluations included carotid intimal-media thickness (cIMT) measurements and objective measures of menopausal status based on hormone levels and physiologic changes, not subjective factors, such as hot flashes and estimates of menstrual cycling.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


January 26, 2009, 11:37 PM CT

Statins may treat blood vessel disorder

Statins may treat blood vessel disorder
In a finding that could save thousands of lives a year, University of Utah School of Medicine scientists have shown that a blood vessel disorder leading to unpredictable, sometimes fatal, hemorrhagic strokes, seizures, paralysis or other problems is treatable with the same statin drugs that millions of people take to control high cholesterol.

If the results of a study in mice are confirmed in a pilot trial with people, statins could provide a safe, inexpensive therapy for cerebral cavernous malformation (CCM), a disorder with no known drug treatment, as per U of U heart specialist Dean Y. Li, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Molecular Medicine Program and corresponding author of a study published Jan. 18 in Nature Medicine online.

"Brain surgery or radiation therapy has been the only option for CCM patients. But because of the risks in those operations, neurosurgeons are reluctant to perform them unless the patient is in immediate danger," Li said. "Our study proposes a potential strategy for a simple drug treatment that could cost only a few dollars a month at a pharmacy. However, our animal studies must first be reviewed in a pilot clinical trial being initiated".

Kevin J. Whitehead, M.D., also a heart specialist, assistant professor of internal medicine, and first author of the study, now is recruiting 50 to 100 people diagnosed with CCM to join a pilot trial of statins.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 26, 2009, 11:23 PM CT

Not just cutting that salt

Not just cutting that salt
Most people know that too much sodium from foods can increase blood pressure.

A newly released study suggests that people trying to lower their blood pressure should also boost their intake of potassium, which has the opposite effect to sodium.

Scientists observed that the ratio of sodium-to-potassium in subjects' urine was a much stronger predictor of cardiovascular disease than sodium or potassium alone.

"There isn't as much focus on potassium, but potassium seems to be effective in lowering blood pressure and the combination of a higher intake of potassium and lower consumption of sodium seems to be more effective than either on its own in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Paul Whelton, senior author of the study in the January 2009 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. Whelton is an epidemiologist and president and CEO of Loyola University Health System.

Scientists determined average sodium and potassium intake during two phases of a study known as the Trials of High blood pressure Prevention. They collected 24-hour urine samples intermittently during an 18-month period in one trial and during a 36-month period in a second trial. The 2,974 study participants initially aged 30-to-54 and with blood pressure readings just under levels considered high, were followed for 10-15 years to see if they would develop cardiovascular disease. Whelton was national chair of the Trials of High blood pressure Prevention.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 23, 2009, 6:28 AM CT

Better methods to quit smoking

Better methods to quit smoking
Scientists from the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies led by Dr Linda Bauld at Bath, along with colleagues from the University of Glasgow, have published research in the recent issue of Addiction journal comparing the success and cost-effectiveness of two types of stop smoking support services offered by the NHS. These are community-based group stop smoking support and one-to-one support provided in a pharmacy setting.

The study, funded by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Health Scotland, observed that more than a third of smokers using support groups quit smoking after four weeks; almost double the proportion of those using a pharmacy-based support scheme to help them quit.

Dr Linda Bauld said: "Smoking is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the UK, and the single biggest cause of inequalities in health.

"These findings agree with prior research which shows that smokers who used a support group were more likely to quit. But we know that only a very small proportion of smokers using NHS stop smoking services in the UK use this form of help.

"We need to get the message across that group support, combined with stop smoking medications, works well for a number of people.

"However, we observed that both types of service in Glasgow are reaching and treating smokers from disadvantaged areas in substantial numbers, which is extremely encouraging and will contribute to efforts to reduce inequalities in health".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 21, 2009, 10:59 PM CT

Novel target for treating arrhythmias

Novel target for treating arrhythmias
Abnormal heart rhythms arrhythmias are killers. They strike without warning, causing sudden cardiac death, which accounts for about 10 percent of all deaths in the United States.

Vanderbilt researchers have discovered a new molecular mechanism linked to arrhythmias. Their findings, reported in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, could lead to novel arrhythmia therapys.

"The current antiarrhythmic drugs do not prolong life," said Bjrn Knollmann, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Medicine and Pharmacology and the senior author of the current report. "There's a large need for new approaches to antiarrhythmic treatment".

In their quest to understand how irregular heart rhythms arise as a way to find new molecular targets for therapy Knollmann and colleagues have focused on the role of calcium inside heart muscle cells.

Calcium is central to the contractile cycle. After it is released from its storage sites in heart muscle cells, it interacts with proteins called troponins, part of the cell's myofilament contractile apparatus. The interaction of calcium with troponins regulates myofilament activation and contraction.

Mutations in troponin genes had been associated with inherited forms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), which carries a high risk of sudden cardiac death. HCM is perhaps most famous as a cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes, but it can affect individuals of any age.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 20, 2009, 6:26 AM CT

The severity of first heart attacks

The severity of first heart attacks
The severity of first heart attacks has dropped significantly in the United States - propelling a decline in coronary heart disease deaths, scientists reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

"This landmark study suggests that better prevention and better management in the hospital have contributed to the reduction in deaths," said Merle Myerson, M.D., Ed.D., main author of the study, heart specialist and director of the Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital of Columbia University in New York City.

"Better control of risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure and cholesterol as well as improvements in hospital management may lessen the severity if somebody has a heart attack," Myerson said. "We also considered whether people had less severity because they got to the hospital sooner, but that was not the case".

The study extends prior findings from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC), an ongoing epidemiologic study that includes data from four areas - Forsythe County, N.C., including Winston-Salem; Washington County, Md., including Hagerstown; and the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minn. and Jackson, Miss. Both whites and African-Americans were included in the study.

In a prior analysis of ARIC data gathered from 1987 to 1994, scientists found a decrease in a number of, but not all indicators of severity. Myerson and his colleagues included an extra eight years of data, covering 10,285 patients, ages 35 to 74, who were discharged from the hospital diagnosed with a definite or probable first-time heart attack from Jan. 1, 1987 through Dec. 31, 2002. The new findings show a more consistent picture with a clear decline in severity of heart attacks.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 19, 2009, 6:23 AM CT

Sixty million walk around with deadly heart disease mutation

Sixty million walk around with deadly heart disease mutation
Heart disease is the number one killer in the world and India carries more than its share of this burden. Moreover, the problem is set to rise: it is predicted that by 2010 India's population will suffer approximately 60% of the world's heart disease. Today, an international team of 25 researchers from four countries provides a clue to why this is so: 1% of the world's population carries a mutation almost guaranteed to lead to heart problems and most of these come from the Indian subcontinent, where the mutation reaches a frequency of 4%.

Heart disease has a number of causes, some carried in our genes and others associated with our lifestyle, but all seemingly complex, hard to pin down and incompletely understood. So the newly released study published in Nature Genetics is striking for the size and simplicity of the effect it reports.

The mutation, a deletion of 25 letters of genetic code from the heart protein gene MYBPC3, is virtually restricted to people from the Indian subcontinent. But there, Caste and Tribe, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian and others are all united by this affliction.

The mutation was discovered five years ago in two Indian families with cardiomyopathy, but its significance only became apparent after almost 1500 people from a number of parts of India, some with heart disease and some without, were studied.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 12, 2009, 11:53 PM CT

Cold weather leads to higher blood pressure

Cold weather leads to higher blood pressure
Outdoor temperature and blood pressure appear to be correlated in the elderly, with higher rates of high blood pressure in cooler months, as per a report in the January 12 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Seasonal variations in blood pressure have been recognized among the general population for 40 years, as per background information in the article. However, few prior studies have looked specifically at elderly adults. "Elderly persons appears to be especially susceptible to temperature-related variations in blood pressure," the authors write. "The baroreflex, which is one of the mechanisms of blood pressure regulation, is modified in elderly subjects, and it has been hypothesized that disorders of baroreflex control and enhanced vasoreactivity [sensitivity of blood vessels] could contribute to the aging-associated increase in cardiovascular morbidity [illness]".

Annick Alprovitch, M.D., of the Institut National de la Sant et de la Rcherche Mdicale, Paris, and his colleagues assessed the relationship between blood pressure and temperature in 8,801 individuals 65 or older. All were part of the Three-City study, conducted in three French metropolitan areas. Participants' blood pressure was measured at the beginning of the study (starting in 1999) and again about two years later. Outdoor temperatures on the day of measurement were obtained from local meteorological offices.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 12, 2009, 11:43 PM CT

Younger Adults Could Be At Risk For Heart Disease

Younger Adults Could Be At Risk For Heart Disease
Dr. Jarett Berry and colleagues have shown in clinical studies that even young adults who have few short-term risk factors for heart disease may have a higher risk of developing heart disease over their lifetimes.
Even younger adults who have few short-term risk factors for heart disease may have a higher risk of developing heart disease over their lifetimes, as per new findings by a UT Southwestern Medical Center researcher.

The findings, based on clinical studies and appearing in the Jan. 26 issue of the journal Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, suggest that traditional methods of identifying heart disease risk might not adequately identify patients who actually have a higher lifetime risk.

"We observed that about half of individuals who are 50 years of age or younger and at low short-term risk for heart disease may not remain at low risk throughout their lives," said Dr. Jarett Berry, assistant professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern and main author of the study.

Using current 10-year risk assessment data, more than 90 percent of patients 50 years of age and younger are considered at low risk for heart disease. But when scientists added a lifetime risk model to the 10-year risk model, they observed that about half of those with a low 10-year risk but high lifetime risk had a greater progression of heart disease, as measured by buildup of coronary artery calcium and thickening of the carotid artery.

The short-term (10-year) risk factors in the study were represented by the Framingham Risk Score, a tool typically used by physicians to assess risk for heart disease in patients. Risk factors listed on the assessment include cholesterol levels, blood pressure, smoking, age and gender.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 12, 2009, 8:40 PM CT

organic substance may help heal broken hearts

organic substance may help heal broken hearts
Imagine new therapys for heart disease or muscle loss that direct the body to repair damaged tissue rather than helping it cope with a weakened condition. That's not hard to do thanks to Canadian researchers, who for the first time, have developed an organic substance that attracts and supports cells necessary for tissue repair and can be directly injected into problem areas. This development, published online in The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) is a major step toward therapys that allow people to more fully recover from injury and disease rather than having to live with chronic health problems. It may even help reduce the need for organ transplantation by allowing physicians to save organs that would have been previously damaged beyond repair.

The "smart scaffolds," developed by Erik Suuronen and colleagues from the University of Ottawa and the Ottawa Heart Research Institute, work because they contain a protein that allows progenitor cells to adhere to the damaged tissue and survive long enough to promote healing. These cells emit homing signals that summon other cells to join in the process and give off chemical signals that order cells to grow blood vessels necessary for healing to occur.

"Ultimately, we envision a scaffold material that can be taken off the shelf and injected into the hearts of patients suffering from blocked arteries," said Suuronen. "The scaffold materials would direct the repair process, and restore blood flow and function to the heart".........

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.

Medicineworld.org: Archives of heart-watch-blog

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