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May 8, 2009, 5:28 AM CT

Smoking: mortality and cardiovascular disease

Smoking: mortality and cardiovascular disease
Non-smokers live longer and have less cardiovascular disease than those who smoke, as per a 30-year follow-up study of 54,000 men and women in Norway. Smoking, say the investigators, is "strongly" correlation to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality from various causes.

The results, presented in Stockholm at EuroPRevent 2009, reflect what a number of other studies have indicated, but, says investigator Professor Haakon Meyer from the University of Oslo and Norwegian Institute of Public Health, these results provide a picture of the long-term, absolute "real life" risk.

Behind his conclusions lies a far-reaching follow-up study which began in 1974 with an invitation to every middle aged man and woman (aged 35-49) living in three counties of Norway to take part in a basic cardiovascular screening examination. The invitation had a huge response, with 91% attending for the baseline screen.

Over the next three decades deaths were recorded by linkage to the Norwegian population registry and, between 2006 and 2008, those surviving responded to a follow-up questionnaire. This allowed division of the participants as per their smoking status never-smokers, ex-smokers, current smokers of 1-9 cigarettes a day, 10-19 cigarettes a day and more than 20 cigarettes a day (the last group referred to as "heavy smokers").........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 5, 2009, 5:08 AM CT

Heart disease sleep apnea link

Heart disease sleep apnea link
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 scientists have identified the enzyme NADPH oxidase as important for the effects obstructive sleep apnea has on blood vessels in the lung.

The results are reported 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.

Obstructive sleep apnea is thought to affect one in every 50 women and one in every 25 men in the United States. Standard therapy involves a mechanical application of air pressure. Anything that blunts sleep apnea's effects on blood vessel physiology could reduce its impact on disease risk, Hart says.

Cyclically depriving mice of oxygen - scientists call this "chronic intermittent hypoxia" -- in a way that simulates obstructive sleep apnea gives them pulmonary hypertension. Pulmonary hypertension, which can be life threatening, is a condition in which the right side of the heart has trouble pumping blood because of resistance in the lung's blood vessels.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 28, 2009, 5:15 AM CT

Smoking, high blood pressure and being overweight

Smoking, high blood pressure and being overweight
Smoking, hypertension and being overweight are the leading preventable risk factors for premature mortality in the United States, as per a newly released study led by scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), with collaborators from the University of Toronto and the Institute for Health Metrics and Assessment at the University of Washington. The scientists observed that smoking is responsible for 467,000 premature deaths each year, hypertension for 395,000, and being overweight for 216,000. The effects of smoking work out to be about one in five deaths in American adults, while hypertension is responsible for one in six deaths.

It is the most comprehensive study yet to look at how diet, lifestyle and metabolic risk factors for chronic disease contribute to mortality in the U.S. The study appears in the April 28, 2009 edition of the open-access journal PLoS Medicine

"The large magnitude of the numbers for a number of of these risks made us pause," said Goodarz Danaei, a doctoral student at HSPH and the main author of the study. "To have hundreds of thousands of premature deaths caused by these modifiable risk factors is shocking and should motivate a serious look at whether our public health system has sufficient capacity to implement interventions and whether it is currently focusing on the right set of interventions." Majid Ezzati, associate professor of international health at HSPH, is the study's senior author.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 27, 2009, 5:28 AM CT

Statins may reduce the risk of prostate cancer

Statins may reduce the risk of prostate cancer
Cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins may reduce inflammation in prostate tumors, possibly hindering cancer growth, as per a research studyled by researchers in the Duke Prostate Center.

"Prior studies have shown that men taking statins seem to have a lower occurence rate of advanced prostate cancer, but the mechanisms by which statins might be affecting the prostate remained largely unknown," said Lionel Baez, M.D., a researcher in the Duke Prostate Center and lead investigator on this study. "We looked at tumor samples and observed that men who were on statins had a 72 percent reduction in risk for tumor inflammation, and we believe this might play a role in the correlation between prostate cancer and statin use".

The scientists presented their finding at the American Urological Association's annual meeting on April 26, 2009, and the study was selected to be part of the meeting's press program on April 27, 2009. The study was funded by the United States Department of Defense and the American Urological Association Foundation.

The scientists looked at pathological information from the tumors of 254 men who underwent radical prostatectomy or surgery to remove the entire prostate as a therapy for prostate cancer at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center between 1993 and 2004. The tissue was graded by a pathologist for inflammation on a scale of 0 to 2: 0 for no inflammation, 1 for mild inflammation (less than 10 percent of the tumor) and 2 for marked inflammation (greater than 10 percent of the tumor).........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


April 23, 2009, 5:22 AM CT

Helping doctors follow cholesterol treatment guidelines

Helping doctors follow cholesterol treatment guidelines
A newly released study by scientists at Wake Forest University School of Medicine suggests that patients with high cholesterol receive better care when physicians use a variety of tools to learn and apply a clinical practice guideline for treating the condition.

The study, reported in the April 13 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, tracked the adherence to clinical guidelines at 61 primary care practices. The study aimed to improve the therapy of high cholesterol by having doctors use a personal digital assistant (PDA) to assess the patient's risk of heart disease and recommend therapy. Doctors also received copies of the cholesterol guideline and an introductory lecture on it, attended additional presentations on treating high cholesterol, and received a report on their practices' performance on cholesterol management.

"We wanted to know if we could improve guideline adherence with this multifaceted strategy," said Alain G. Bertoni, M.D., M.P.H., an associate professor in the Departments of Epidemiology & Prevention and Internal Medicine, and main author on the study. "When you look at prior quality improvement efforts, it appears that single strategies don't work that well".

Clinical guidelines aim to prevent the under- or over-treatment of a disease. Lowering high cholesterol reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, but the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel (ATP III) guideline suggests prescribing drugs only under certain conditions. The complexity of the guideline made it the perfect subject for study, Bertoni said.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 22, 2009, 10:15 PM CT

Benefit of grapes may be more than skin deep

Benefit of grapes may be more than skin deep
Can a grape-enriched diet prevent the downhill sequence of heart failure after years of high blood pressure?.

A University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center study suggests grapes may prevent heart health risks beyond the simple blood pressure-lowering impact that can come from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. The benefits appears to be the result of the phytochemicals naturally occurring antioxidants turning on a protective process in the genes that reduces damage to the heart muscle.

The study, performed in laboratory rats, was presented at the 2009 Experimental Biology convention in New Orleans.

The scientists studied the effect of regular table grapes (a blend of green, red, and black grapes) that were mixed into the rat diet in a powdered form, as part of either a high- or low-salt diet. Comparisons were made between rats consuming the grape powder and rats that received a mild dose of a common blood pressure drug. All the rats were from a research breed that develops hypertension when fed a salty diet.

After 18 weeks, the rats that received the grape-enriched diet powder had lower blood pressure, better heart function, and fewer signs of heart muscle damage than the rats that ate the same salty diet but didn't receive grapes.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 22, 2009, 5:08 AM CT

Eating salmon once a week

Eating salmon once a week
Eating salmon or other fatty fish just once a week helped reduce men's risk of heart failure, adding to growing evidence that omega-3 fatty acids are of benefit to cardiac health. Led by scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and reported in today's on-line issue of the European Heart Journal, the findings represent one of the largest studies to investigate the association.

"Prior research has demonstrated that fatty fish and omega-3 fatty acids help to combat risk factors for a range of heart-related conditions, such as lowering triglycerides [fats in the blood] reducing blood pressure, heart rate and heart rate variability," explains first author Emily Levitan, PhD, a research fellow in the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Center at BIDMC. "Collectively, this may explain the association with the reduced risk of heart failure found in our study".

A life-threatening condition that develops when the heart can no longer pump enough blood to meet the body's needs, heart failure (also known as congestive heart failure) is commonly caused by existing cardiac conditions, including hypertension and coronary artery disease. Typically heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalization among patients 65 and older, and is characterized by such symptoms as fatigue and weakness, difficulty walking, rapid or irregular heartbeat, and persistent cough or wheezing.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 21, 2009, 5:14 AM CT

Breastfeed your children to prevent heart attack

Breastfeed your children to prevent heart attack
The longer women breastfeed, the lower their risk of heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular disease, report University of Pittsburgh scientists as per a research findings reported in the recent issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology

"Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, so it's vitally important for us to know what we can do to protect ourselves," said Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of medicine, epidemiology, and obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. "We have known for years that breastfeeding is important for babies' health; we now know that it is important for mothers' health as well".

As per the study, postmenopausal women who breastfed for at least one month had lower rates of diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, all known to cause heart disease. Women who had breastfed their babies for more than a year were 10 percent less likely to have had a heart attack, stroke, or developed heart disease than women who had never breastfed.

Dr. Schwarz and his colleagues observed that the benefits from breastfeeding were long-term ― an average of 35 years had passed since women enrolled in the study had last breastfed an infant.

"The longer a mother nurses her baby, the better for both of them," Dr. Schwarz pointed out. "Our study provides another good reason for workplace policies to encourage women to breastfeed their infants." .........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


April 17, 2009, 5:09 AM CT

Site where 'bad' cholesterol levels are controlled

Site where 'bad' cholesterol levels are controlled
UT Southwestern Medical Center have observed that a protein responsible for regulating "bad" cholesterol in the blood works almost exclusively outside cells, providing clues for the development of therapies to block the protein's disruptive actions.

"The fact that it works mostly extracellularly provides more opportunities to develop different kinds of therapies," said Dr. Jay Horton, professor of internal medicine and molecular genetics and co-author of the study, which is available online and appears in today's issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. .

The protein, called PCSK9, disrupts the activity of a key molecule called the low-density lipoprotein receptor, or LDLR. This molecule, which is made and secreted in the liver, latches onto the LDL receptor. This binding, however, triggers a chain of biochemical reactions that leads to the destruction of the LDL receptor. With fewer receptors available, more of the so-called "bad" cholesterol remains in the bloodstream.

Dr. Horton said these new findings show that PCSK9 principally acts as a secreted protein to cause the degradation of LDL receptors. "Therefore, approaches to block the protein's activity in the blood should be successful in reducing plasma cholesterol levels," he said.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 17, 2009, 5:04 AM CT

Laughter Coupled With Standard Diabetic Treatment

Laughter Coupled With Standard Diabetic Treatment
The correlation between the body, mind and spirit has been the subject of conventional scientific inquiry for some 20 years. The notion that psychosocial and societal considerations have a role in maintaining health and preventing disease became crystallized as a result of the experiences of a layman, Norman Cousins. In the 1970s, Cousins, then a writer and magazine editor of the popular Saturday Review, was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. He theorized that if stress could worsen his condition, as some evidence suggested at the time, then positive emotions could improve his health. As a result, he prescribed himself, with the approval of his doctor, a regimen of humorous videos and shows like Candid Camera©. Ultimately, the disease went into remission and Cousins wrote a paper that was reported in the New England Journal (NEJM) and a book about his experience, Anatomy of an Illness: A Patient's Perspective, which was published in 1979. The book became a best seller and led to the investigation of a new field, known then as whole-person care or integrative medicine and now, lifestyle medicine.

Background

The unscientific foundation that was laid down by Cousins was taken up by a number of medical scientists including the academic medical researcher Dr. Lee Berk in the l980s. In earlier work, Berk and colleagues discovered that the anticipation of "mirthful laughter" had surprising and significant effects. Two hormones - beta-endorphins (the family of chemicals that elevates mood state) and human growth hormone (HGH; which helps with optimizing immunity) - increased by 27% and 87 % respectively in study subjects who anticipated watching a humorous video. There was no such increase among the control group who did not anticipate watching the humorous film. In another study, they observed that the same anticipation of mirthful laughter reduced the levels of three detrimental stress hormones. Cortisol (termed "the steroid stress hormone"), epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and dopac, (the major catabolite of dopamine), were reduced 39, 70 and 38%, respectively (statistically significant in comparison to the control group). Chronically released high levels of these stress hormones can be detremential to the immune system.........

Posted by: JoAnn      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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