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August 10, 2010, 6:57 AM CT

How to fix a broken heart?

How to fix a broken heart?
University of Washington
Experiments in a culture dish show that chick heart cells (red) do grow in the scaffold channels (green) at densities similar to those in a living heart.

These days people commonly don't die from a heart attack. But the damage to heart muscle is irreversible, and most patients eventually succumb to congestive heart failure, the most common cause of death in developed countries.

Stem cells now offer hope for achieving what the body can't do: mending broken hearts. Engineers and physicians at the University of Washington have built a scaffold that supports the growth and integration of stem cell-derived cardiac muscle cells. A description of the scaffold, which supports the growth of cardiac cells in the lab and encourages blood vessel growth in living animals, is published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Today, if you have a heart attack there's nothing that doctors can do to repair the damage," said main author Buddy Ratner, a UW professor of bioengineering. "You are, in essence, sentenced to a downhill slide, developing congestive heart failure that greatly shortens your lifespan."

"Your body can't make new heart cells, but what if we can deliver vital new cells in that damaged portion of the heart?".

Ratner and colleagues built a tiny tubular porous scaffold that supports and stabilizes the fragile cardiac cells and can be injected into a damaged heart, where it will foster cell growth and eventually dissolve away. The new scaffold not only supports cardiac muscle growth, but potentially accelerates the body's ability to supply oxygen and nutrients to the transplanted tissue. Eventually, the idea is that doctors would seed the scaffold with stem cells from either the patient or a donor, then implant it when the patient is treated for a heart attack, before scar tissue has formed.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


August 2, 2010, 6:40 AM CT

Both Short and Long Sleep Durations are Risk Factors

Both Short and Long Sleep Durations are Risk Factors
A study in the Aug. 1 issue of the journal SLEEP suggests that regularly sleeping for more or less than seven hours per day is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Results show that eight percent of the study population reported sleeping five hours per day or less including naps, and multivariable logistic regression analysis revealed that their risk of any cardiovascular disease was more than two times higher than that of people who reported a daily sleep duration of seven hours (adjusted odds ratio = 2.20). Nine percent of participants reported sleeping nine hours or more per day, and they also had an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease (adjusted OR = 1.57). Results were adjusted for potential confounders such as age, sex, race, smoking, alcohol consumption, body mass index, physical activity, diabetes, high blood pressure and depression.

"Our study findings suggest that abnormal sleep duration adversely affects cardiovascular health," said principal investigator Anoop Shankar, MD, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Community Medicine at West Virginia University School of Medicine in Morgantown, W.V. "Sleep disturbances appears to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease even among apparently healthy subjects".

Shankar and main author Charumathi Sabanayagam, MD, analyzed data from 30,397 adults who participated in the 2005 National Health Interview Survey, which collected information on demographic factors, socioeconomic characteristics, lifestyle and health. Sleep duration was assessed by the question, "On average, how a number of hours of sleep do you get in a 24-hour period?" Participants reported 2,146 cases of cardiovascular disease, which was defined as a doctor diagnosis of angina, coronary heart disease, heart attack or stroke.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 22, 2010, 7:34 AM CT

Chaos theory help predict heart attacks

Chaos theory help predict heart attacks
Chaos models may someday help model cardiac arrhythmias -- abnormal electrical rhythms of the heart, say scientists in the journal CHAOS, which is published by the American Institute of Physics. In recent years, medical research has drawn more attention to chaos in cardiac dynamics. Eventhough chaos marks the disorder of a dynamical system, locating the origin of chaos and watching it develop might allow scientists to predict, and maybe even counteract, certain outcomes.

An important example is the chaotic behavior of ventricular fibrillation, a severely abnormal heart rhythm that is often life-threatening. One study found chaos in two and three dimensions in the breakup of spiral and scroll waves, believed to be precursors of cardiac fibrillation. Another study observed that one type of heartbeat irregularity, a sudden response of the heart to rapid beating called "spatially discordant alternans," leads to chaotic behavior and thus is a possible predictor of a fatal heart attack.

Mathematicians Shu Dai at Ohio State University and David Schaeffer at Duke University have built on this work to find another chaotic solution to an equation for alternans along a one-dimensional fiber of cardiac tissue with stimuli applied at one end. Assigning extreme parameter values to the model, the team was able to find chaotic behavior in space over time. The resulting chaos may have a unique origin, which has still not been identified. -- VC, En.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 7, 2010, 6:51 AM CT

Proteins that regulate blood pressure

Proteins that regulate blood pressure
Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have identified key players in a little-known biochemical pathway that appears to regulate blood pressure. The findings, published in the early online version of Cardiovascular Research, have evolved from studies conducted by Jeffrey S. Isenberg, M.D., Eileen M. Bauer, Ph.D., and their colleagues at Pitt's Vascular Medicine Institute.

"Identifying and unraveling this important pathway for blood pressure regulation could lead to a better understanding of who will get hypertension and why, as well as allow us to develop better drugs to treat these patients," Dr. Isenberg said. "Poorly controlled high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attacks and heart failure, stroke and kidney failure".

The pathway he and collaborator David D. Roberts, Ph.D., of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health (NIH), have been exploring involves nitric oxide (NO) signaling. The cells that line blood vessels, called the endothelium, produce NO in a few biochemical steps. NO promotes blood vessel dilation and increases blood flow. On the other hand, endothelial dysfunction, along with loss of NO production, is known to be involved in the development of a number of forms of cardiovascular disease, including hypertension.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 6, 2010, 7:21 AM CT

New tool to rule out coronary heart disease

New tool to rule out coronary heart disease
A simple new rule can help primary care physicians rule out coronary heart disease in patients with chest pain, states a study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) (pre-embargo link only) http://www.cmaj.ca/embargo/cmaj100212.pdf.

Chest pain is common, yet it is challenging for primary care physicians to reliably identify serious cardiac disease while protecting patients from unnecessary interventions.

The authors developed a clinical decision rule called the Primary Care CHD Score ("Marburg Heart Score") with five predictors that can be easily identified during a patient's visit: age/gender, known clinical vascular disease, pain worse with exercise, patient assumes cardiac origin of pain and pain not reproduced with palpitation.

"The aim of our study was to develop a simple, valid, and usable prediction score based on signs and symptoms to help physicians rule out coronary heart disease (CHD) in chest pain patients presenting in primary care," write Dr. Stefan Bsner, University of Marburg, Marburg, Gera number of and coauthors.

In a related commentary (pre-embargo link only) http://www.cmaj.ca/embargo/cmaj100808.pdf, Richard Stevens and Daniel Lasserson of University of Oxford, UK, write "the challenge is correctly identifying and referring the patient with coronary heart disease while minimizing the number of referrals of patients who do not have CHD, to reduce the harm of unnecessary investigation and burden on healthcare resources." The authors suggest this decision rule shows promise for improving the diagnosis of CHD.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 28, 2010, 7:46 AM CT

Can too much HDL be harmful?

Can too much HDL be harmful?
Elevated blood levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or "good" cholesterol, typically thought to protect against heart disease, may do the opposite in women with type 1 diabetes, as per a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health study being presented at the 70th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association.

The study, abstract number 0098-OR, included 658 men and women enrolled in the Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications Study, a long-term prospective examination of childhood onset type 1 diabetes that began in 1986. Participants were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes between 1950 and 1980.

HDL cholesterol is known as "good" cholesterol because it helps prevent arteries from becoming clogged. High levels of HDL cholesterol, over 60 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), generally protect against heart disease, while low levels (less than 40 mg/dL for men and less than 50 mg/dL for women) increase risk.

Study scientists found the occurence rate of heart disease increased in both men and women with diabetes who had lower levels of HDL below 47.5 mg/dL. For men, as levels of HDL increased, their occurence rate of heart disease decreased. The same was found for women, except in those with very high levels of HDL (over 80 mg/dL) whose occurence rate of heart disease increased substantially. Study authors were unable to draw a meaningful comparison to male participants since only a few had HDL over 80 mg/dL.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 23, 2010, 7:25 AM CT

Exercise trumps creatine in cardiac rehab

Exercise trumps creatine in cardiac rehab
Athletes have been enjoying the benefits of creatine supplements to gain stronger muscles since the 1990s, and the supplement has also proven beneficial among other groups. Could it help cardiac patients regain strength to help with their heart-training workouts as part of rehabilitation? The evidence at this stage suggests not - exercise alone proved a far more powerful tonic for patients in a study out today. The results appear in the journal Clinical Rehabilitation, published by SAGE.

Drs Cornelissen and Defoor along with colleagues created a double blinded, randomised placebo controlled trial to test the effects of creatine supplements used alongside an exercise programme. The study focused on patients with coronary artery disease or chronic heart failure over a three-month period.

Creatine is found naturally in our diets, in particular in meat. Creatine is also produced naturally in the human body for use by muscles; skeletal muscles use the vast majority. The remainder is used in the brain and heart. Supplements improve muscle strength, especially for short-term, high-intensity exercise, and are used by athletes to make their training more effective. It may also help with muscle weakness due to atrophy in many clinical conditions.

Prior studies have shown that chronic heart failure patients' skeletal muscle strength can be improved with creatine supplements giving better strength and endurance in cycle ergomotry tests (on a stationary, gym-style bicycle). Cornelissen and Defoor wanted to find out whether creatine would help with cardiorespiratory endurance, muscle strength and endurance during a cardiac rehabilitation programme, too. They reasoned that test results for older patients and cardiac patients may are likely to be lower due primarily to peripheral muscle weakness, and so giving these muscles a creatine boost may lead to more effective rehabilitation fitness results.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 21, 2010, 7:15 AM CT

Certain obese people are not at high risk of heart disease

Certain obese people are not at high risk of heart disease
Obese people without metabolic risk factors for diabetes and heart disease, such as hypertension and cholesterol, do not have the elevated cardiovascular risk typical of obesity, but they represent only a small percentage of the obese population, as per a long-term study. The results will be presented Saturday at The Endocrine Society's 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego.

"Some obese persons have a normal cardiovascular risk profile, and they have no increased risk for heart and blood vessel disease [because of their weight]," said co-author of study Andr van Beek, MD, PhD, of University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands. "However, periodic assessment of their risk profile remains essential".

The Dutch study observed that in a large population of obese individuals, only 6.8 percent were "metabolically healthy," meaning they had no history of heart disease or stroke, no diabetes or high blood pressure, and no dyslipidemia (irregularities in blood fats, including cholesterol and triglycerides) or any use of cholesterol-lowering medications.

To conduct the research, the authors identified 1,325 obese individuals from 8,356 subjects participating in the Dutch PREVEND (Prevention of Renal and Vascular Endstage Disease) study, who ranged in age from 28 to 75 years. Only 90 obese subjects were metabolically healthy.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 18, 2010, 6:48 AM CT

Risk of heart attack in Rheumatoid Arthritis patients

Risk of heart attack in Rheumatoid Arthritis patients
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) patients face a two hundred percent increased risk of suffering a Myocardial Infarction (MI, heart attack) versus the general population, which is comparable to the increased risk of MI seen in diabetes patients, as per results of a newly released study presented today at EULAR 2010, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Rome, Italy.

In this Danish, nationwide, 10 year study, RA and diabetes patients were directly in comparison to assess their individual risk of having an MI over time. In those patients that developed RA, the Incidence Rate Ratio (IRR) of experiencing a MI was increased to 1.65 (95% Confidence Interval (CI) 1.46-1.86), comparable to the increased risk of MI seen in patients developing diabetes mellitus (IRR 1.73 95% CI (1.68-1.79)). Data was further analysed to examine increased risk in certain age groups and scientists observed that the risk of MI was increased six-fold in women with RA younger than 50 years (IRR 6.01 95% CI (3.62-9.99)) comparable to diabetic women in the same age range (IRR 6.13 95% CI (4.99-7.54)). Overall, the risk of MI in patients with RA and diabetes was similar for male patients at IRR 1.66 (1.39-1.98) and 1.59 (1.53-1.66) respectively.

"While we already know that RA is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, our data highlight that the increased risk of a heart attack faced by RA patients is of a similar magnitude as that faced by diabetes patients, who in contrast to RA patients are routinely considered for intensive cardiovascular risk management," said Dr. Jesper Lindhardsen, Department of Cardiology, Gentofte University Hospital, Hellerup, Denmark, and main author of the study. "This study underlines the importance of implementing EULAR recommendations advocating early detection and management of cardiovascular risk factors, as well as providing sufficient RA therapy in order to reduce the significant burden linked to cardiovascular disease co-morbidity and mortality".........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


June 16, 2010, 7:26 AM CT

Mediterranean-style diet improves heart function

Mediterranean-style diet improves heart function
A study of twins shows that even with genes that put them at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, eating a Mediterranean-style diet can improve heart function, as per research reported in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal.

Using data from the Emory Twins Heart Study, scientists observed that men eating a Mediterranean-style diet had greater heart rate variability (HRV) than those eating a Western-type diet. Heart rate variability refers to variation in the time interval between heart beats during everyday life - reduced HRV is a risk factor for coronary artery disease and sudden death.

"This means that the autonomic system controlling someone's heart rate works better in people who eat a diet similar to a Mediterranean diet," said Jun Dai, M.D., Ph.D., study author and assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Eating a Mediterranean-style diet - one characterized by low saturated fats and high in fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, olive oil, cereals and moderate alcohol consumption - reduces a person's heart disease risk. But until now, the way the diet helps reduce the risk of coronary disease remains unknown.

Dai and her colleagues analyzed dietary data obtained from a food frequency questionnaire and cardiac data results from 276 identical and fraternal male twins. They scored each participant on how closely his food intake correlated with the Mediterranean diet; the higher the score, the greater the similarity to a Mediterranean-style diet.........

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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