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September 25, 2006, 6:01 PM CT

Breakthrough In Heart Research

Breakthrough In Heart Research Live and dead heart cells. (Credit: Elinor Griffiths)
For the first time ever, scientists at the University of Bristol have been able to directly measure energy levels inside living heart cells, in real time, using the chemical that causes fireflies to light up. This is hailed as a major breakthrough in research and could lead to improved recovery of the heart when it is re-started after a heart attack or cardiac surgery.

Dr Elinor Griffiths said: "Being able to see exactly what's going on in heart cells will be of great benefit to understanding heart disease.".

The research is published today (22nd September, 2006) in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

The 'power stations' within heart cells that make energy are called mitochondria. They convert energy from food into chemical energy called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP.

Under normal conditions, mitochondria are able to make ATP extremely rapidly when the heart is stressed, such as during exercise or in 'fight-or-flight' mode.

However, if the cells are made to beat suddenly from rest, a situation that happens when the heart is re-started after cardiac surgery or a heart attack, the team found there is a lag phase where the supply of ATP drops before mitochondrial production starts again, potentially preventing the heart from beating properly.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

September 24, 2006, 9:51 PM CT

Diabetes Not Obesity

Diabetes Not Obesity
Diabetes puts people who are at risk of developing critical illness and dying early, but obesity without diabetes does not. A study published recently in the open access journal Critical Care reveals that individuals suffering from diabetes are three times more at risk of developing critical illness and dying young than individuals who do not have diabetes. Obese individuals who do not have diabetes, by contrast, have the same risk of dying or of falling critically ill as non-obese patients who do not have diabetes. These results are surprising, as obesity is associated with diabetes. The authors of the study conclude that the relationship between obesity, diabetes and critical illness is complex and that obesity, per se, does not predict poor outcomes.

Katarina Slynkova and his colleagues from the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital collaborated with colleagues from Emory University School of Medicine to analyse data from 15,408 subjects aged 44 to 66, coming from four different US communities, who had originally been studied between 1986 and 1989. The authors analysed the subjects' body mass index (BMI), presence of diabetes (either type 1 or type 2) and the subjects' history of critical illness (acute organ failure) and mortality within 3 years.

Slynkova et al.'s results show that, in the absence of diabetes, obese individuals do not have an increased risk of suffering from acute organ failure, and of dying from acute organ failure, than non-obese individuals. By contrast, patients with diabetes are three times more likely to become critically ill with acute organ failure and they are three times more likely to die from acute organ failure, or from any cause, than patients who do not have diabetes, regardless of their BMI. Slynkova et al. conclude that diabetes is a strong independent predictor of acute organ failure and subsequent death, or death from any cause.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

September 15, 2006, 1:33 PM CT

Potential New Marker For Heart Failure

Potential New Marker For Heart Failure
A collaborative study by scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the University Hospital of Maastricht, The Netherlands, has identified a new candidate biomarker for heart failure with the potential of further improving the challenging task of diagnosing and predicting outcomes for patients with symptoms of heart failure, primarily shortness of breath. In the September 19 Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the researchers report that elevated blood levels of galectin-3, an inflammatory protein, can help diagnose heart failure and identify patients at risk of dying within 60 days. Another potential marker, apelin, did not prove to be useful.

"Heart failure is one of the most difficult diagnoses to make accurately, since it has numerous, varied symptoms, and signs that indicate heart failure are hard to detect," says James Januzzi Jr., MD, of the MGH Cardiology Division, the paper's co-lead author and principal investigator of the 2005 PRIDE Study, from which the data for the current report was generated. "It also is notoriously difficult to identify those heart failure patients at the highest risk of death, so biomarker screening to assist with prognostication has been studied and increasingly implemented over the past several years."

Januzzi and his collaborators have published several studies showing that testing for a protein called NT-proBNP can aid the diagnosis of heart failure in patients coming to hospital emergency rooms with shortness of breath and can identify those at increased risk of dying within the coming year. Since a number of biological factors and processes lead to heart failure, the scientists recognized that testing for several complementary biomarkers would probably give the best and most complete information for individual patients.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

September 13, 2006, 5:02 AM CT

Added Benefit Of Statins

Added Benefit Of Statins
UC Davis scientists have shown that statins not only improve cholesterol levels, but also dramatically reduce disease-causing inflammation in patients with metabolic syndrome - a condition defined by symptoms that include abdominal obesity and high blood pressure.

The study, published online in the September 12 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, offers new hope to the one in four Americans with metabolic syndrome who have double the risk of developing heart disease and are five times more likely to develop diabetes.

"Changes in diet and exercise, resulting in weight loss are still the therapy of choice for preventing the consequences of metabolic syndrome," said Kenny Jialal, a professor of internal medicine at UC Davis Health System and director of the Laboratory for Atherosclerosis and Metabolic Research. "However, people don't always adhere to those changes. Our results suggest that statin may be a way to forestall the deadly complications of metabolic syndrome".

Statins are a class of drugs used to prevent and treat heart disease. They work by lowering cholesterol levels and preventing atherosclerosis, the blockage of blood vessels due to plaque build-up. Previously, Jialal's group showed that statins, as a class of drugs, are anti-inflammatory. Typically since the metabolic syndrome, is characterized by low-grade inflammation and insulin resistance, they decided to look at the direct effect of statins on inflammation in these patients.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

September 11, 2006, 9:44 PM CT

Action To Avoid Heart Attack

Action To Avoid Heart Attack
Scientists working to decode chemical SOS signals sent out by disease-damaged hearts believe they now know better when to aggressively clear clogged arteries and when medical procedures may be unnecessary and even harmful.

The research, led by Uppsala University in Sweden, appears in the Sept. 19 edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

As per the research, high levels of two proteins in the bloodstream indicate that patients with acute coronary syndromes chest pain caused by lack of blood to the heart are at high risk of having potentially fatal heart attacks. Taking aggressive action to treat their blocked arteries will reduce their risk of dying within one year.

Conversely, patients with low levels of these proteins, also called biomarkers, are not at high risk for deadly heart attacks and may even be harmed by having angioplasty or bypass surgery to treat blocked arteries.

The proteins troponin-T (TnT) and N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) are just two of the biomarkers being studied by physicians and researchers around the world in an effort to improve therapy for a wide range of illnesses.

"Biomarkers are analyzed in blood samples taken from patients when they are admitted to the hospital," said Stefan James, MD, PhD, senior consultant heart specialist and catheterization laboratory director for Uppsala University Academic Hospital's Department of Cardiology. "With a better understanding of these markers, we will be able to assess risk for individual patients more accurately.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

September 9, 2006, 5:53 AM CT

Women At Higher Risk Of Heart Disease

Women At Higher Risk Of Heart Disease
It use to be old men who were at increased risk of heat disease and heart attacks. That model is changing. A surprising new study finds that women in their 60s have as a number of risk factors for heart disease as men, and by their 70s have more, as per research led by demographers at the University of Southern California.

The findings, reported in the current issue of the Journal of Women's Health, reflect a change from prior decades when older men were at greater risk for heart disease. Instead this research shows over the last 10 years, older women are doing worse, while men are doing better.

Women's risk for heart disease is still lower than men's through middle age. But the break-even point at which women catch up to men is now at age 60, 10 years earlier than before.

"Women are no longer protected from heart disease risk relative to men," said Eileen Crimmins, corresponding author and professor in USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. "Reports indicating that men are more likely to have more high-risk levels of blood pressure and cholesterol are no longer true in the U.S. population over 60 years of age".

Crimmins and her colleagues examined changes between 1988 and 2002 in indicators correlation to cardiovascular disease. The research team used data on men and women 40 and older from two broadly representative samples of the US population, approximately 10 years apart.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

September 5, 2006, 9:55 PM CT

Vioxx Reduces the Risk of Colorectal Polyps

Vioxx Reduces the Risk of Colorectal Polyps John A. Baron
A researcher from Dartmouth reports the results of a clinical trial that shows that the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitor rofecoxib (VIOXX®) reduces the risk of colorectal adenomas, or polyps. Polyps are non-malignant tumors that are precursors to colon cancer, and they are often found in elderly adults.

The results of the study appeared online on August 30 at the American Gastroenterological Association website (212kb PDF) in advance of being reported in the journal, Gastroenterology. Extensive data have suggested previously that aspirin and non-selective nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) could reduce colon cancer risk, and this study now demonstrates a similar effect for VIOXX®.

"These are exciting findings," says Dr. John Baron, the lead author of the paper and a professor at Dartmouth Medical School, who has been studying chemoprevention of colorectal cancer for more than twenty years. "They show once again the potential for NSAIDs to interfere with the development of cancer in the colon and rectum."

This study, called the APPROVe (Adenomatous Polyp Prevention on VIOXX®) study, was a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial conducted by Merck Research Laboratories. The study involved 108 sites in the United States and abroad and followed 2,587 patients with a recent history of confirmed colorectal adenomas. After removal of all polyps, the subjects were randomized to receive daily placebo or 25 mg rofecoxib on a daily basis. The primary endpoint was to analyze all adenomas diagnosed during the three-year therapy period based upon colonoscopies conducted one year and three years after baseline.........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink         Source

September 3, 2006, 5:25 AM CT

Geography of cardiovascular deaths

Geography of cardiovascular deaths
Deaths from heart disease are not uniformly distributed around the world. Eastern European and Middle Eastern patients with diseased blood vessels have the highest rates of heart attacks and strokes, and the highest rates of death from those conditions, compared with similar patients in other regions of the world, as per a preliminary analysis of more than 68,000 patients in 44 countries.

"We observed that more than 10 percent of Eastern Europeans and 9 percent of Middle Easterners had died or suffered from a stroke or heart attack," said Duke University Medical Center heart specialist Magnus Ohman, M.D., who helped analyze an international registry of patients with proven or suspected cardiovascular disease. By comparison, 7.3 percent of North Americans with similar conditions either died or suffered from a stroke or heart attack, he said.

Four percent of Eastern European patients, 3.58 percent of Middle Eastern patients and 3.37 percent of North American patients died from their disease, he said.

"Based on the data collected to date, we can say that adverse health effects due to cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease are no longer afflictions solely of the Western, industrialized world," Ohman said.

"We are now seeing these diseases, and the death and disability they cause, spread to a significant degree to other parts of the world," he said. "These data suggest that heart attack and stroke represent an urgent international issue and are more prevalent than previously appreciated. The findings also raise the issue of whether or not the spread of Western culture is detrimental to the overall health of the rest of the world".........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

August 30, 2006, 5:04 AM CT

Treating Chronic Coronary Artery Disease

Treating Chronic Coronary Artery Disease
Medication, angioplasty or surgery? For some heart disease patients, there's no clear-cut choice. The key to getting the best care is to follow your individual doctor's advice, new research shows.

The research, conducted at the Heart Institute of the University of So Paulo Medical School in Brazil, appears in the recent issue of Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

For the study, scientists evaluated data collected during the Medicine, Angioplasty or Surgery Study II (MASS II) to determine how physician-recommended care affected patient outcomes one year after therapy. All patients were diagnosed with severe coronary artery disease affecting at least two blood vessels but still not causing a loss of heart function. Coronary artery disease occurs when a buildup of cholesterol in the arteries prevents oxygen-rich blood from nourishing the heart muscle.

"We still currently do not know which is the best therapeutic option for patients with multivessel chronic coronary artery disease and a normal ventricular function," said Whady Hueb, MD, PhD, a heart specialist at the University of So Paulo Heart Institute (InCor). "I think our study offers additional information and reassurance for both doctors and patients that, at the end of the decision-making process, what the doctor and patient agree is the best option in most cases really is the best option".........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

August 25, 2006, 4:57 AM CT

Gene Variants Cause Susceptibility To Heart Disease

Gene Variants Cause Susceptibility To Heart Disease
Variations in a gene that acts as a switch to turn on other genes may predispose individuals to heart disease, an international team of scientists led by Duke University Medical Center researchers has discovered.

Further study of this master switch -- a gene called GATA2 -- and the genes it controls may uncover a regulatory network that influences whether a person inherits coronary artery disease, the most common form of heart disease in the Western world, as per the researchers. The discovery also may lead to development of genetic tests to predict an individual's risk of developing coronary artery disease, the researchers said.

"We hope that one day it will be possible to use these gene variations to predict who is susceptible to cardiovascular disease," said Jessica J. Connelly, a postdoctoral fellow at the Duke Center for Human Genetics and lead author on the study. "This finding is the first step before we can develop such a test for use in patients".

People who know they are at higher risk may be encouraged to take early steps to modify behaviors, such as smoking or consuming foods high in saturated fats, that are known to play a role in promoting heart disease, the researchers said.

The team reports its findings in the August 2006 issue of Public Library of Science (PLoS) Genetics. The research was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         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. Archives of heart-watch-blog

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