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January 22, 2008, 11:10 PM CT

Daily exercise dramatically lowers men's death rates

Daily exercise dramatically lowers men's death rates
Increased exercise capacity reduces the risk of death in African-American and Caucasian men, scientists reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

The government-supported Veterans Affairs study included 15,660 participants and is the largest known to assess the link between fitness and mortality.

It is important to emphasize that it takes relatively moderate levels of physical activity like brisk walking to attain the associated health benefits. Certainly, one does not need to be a marathon runner. This is the message that we need to convey to the public, said Peter Kokkinos, Ph.D., lead author of the study and director of the Exercise Testing and Research Lab in the cardiology department at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Professor Kokkinos and his colleagues investigated exercise capacity as an independent predictor of overall mortality for African-American men (6,749) and Caucasian men (8,911) and also examined whether racial differences in exercise capacity influence the risk of death. Veterans were tested by a standardized treadmill test to assess exercise capacity between May 1983 and December 2006 at Veterans Affairs medical centers in Washington, D.C., and Palo Alto, Calif. The men were encouraged to exercise until fatigued unless they developed symptoms or other indicators of ischemia. These individuals were then followed for an average of 7.5 years and death rates were recorded.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 14, 2008, 5:05 PM CT

Fish oil: Helpful or harmful?

Fish oil: Helpful or harmful?
Fish oil supplements may help some cardiac patients while harming others, suggests a new review of evidence compiled by St. Michaels Hospital and University of Toronto researchers.

In a systematic review of trials where patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators used fish oil supplements, Dr. David Jenkins and Dr. Paul Dorian found significant differences among the trials, indicating fish oil may be beneficial to some patients while having a negative impact on others.

Fish oils can have complex and varied effects on the heart, says Jenkins, a U of T Professor of Medicine who runs the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre at St. Michaels Hospital. These effects include blocking cardiac ion channels, reducing fibrosis in response to mechanical stress, decreasing blood coagulation, and possibly altering immune function.

There is evidence from multiple large-scale population (epidemiologic) studies and randomized controlled trials that intake of recommended amounts of DHA and EPA in the form of dietary fish or fish oil supplements can reduce the risk of death, heart attack and dangerous abnormal heart rhythms in people with known cardiovascular disease, as well as potentially slow hardening of the arteries and lower blood pressure slightly. But the evidence also shows high doses can have harmful effects, such as an increased risk of bleeding. Eventhough benefits are proposed for alpha-linolenic acid, scientific evidence is less compelling and beneficial effects may be less pronounced.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 27, 2007, 9:20 AM CT

High triglycerides, other cholesterol raise risk of stroke

High triglycerides, other cholesterol raise risk of stroke
People with high triglycerides and another type of cholesterol tested but not commonly reviewed as part of a persons risk assessment have an increased risk of a certain type of stroke, as per research reported in the December 26, 2007, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

LDL or bad cholesterol has been the primary target for reducing the risk of stroke, but these results show that other types of cholesterol may be more strongly linked with stroke risk, said study author Bruce Ovbiagele, MD, of UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA, and member of the American Academy of Neurology.

The scientists analyzed the records of 1,049 people admitted to a university hospital with a stroke or mini-stroke over four years. Of those, 247 people had a large artery atherosclerotic stroke. This is a type of ischemic stroke caused by a blockage of blood flow to the brain. People with this type of stroke have blockage in the large arteries leading to the brain.

Those with high triglycerides and elevated non-high density lipoprotein cholesterol were more likely to have a large artery atherosclerotic stroke than those with low levels of these fats in the blood.

Those with the highest triglycerides were 2.7 times more likely to have this type of stroke than those with the lowest level. Triglycerides are fatty acids and are the most common type of fat in the blood. Those with the greatest non-high density lipoprotein cholesterol, which is neither the good nor the bad cholesterol, were 2.4 times more likely to have a large artery stroke.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 20, 2007, 8:51 PM CT

Cardiovascular disease death rates decline

Cardiovascular disease death rates decline
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) death rates are declining, but CVD is still the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, and risk factor control remains a challenge for a number of, as per the most recent data from the American Heart Associations Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2008 Update. The Update will be available in the Dec. 17 online issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association at http://www.americanheart.org/statistics.

The Update provides statistics about cardiovascular diseases, risk factors, therapys, quality of care and costs. The American Heart Association does not generate the data, but synthesizes it from a number of sources and provides it online without charge for government policymakers, physicians, researchers, educators and the public, making the Update a unique national and even international resource.

Cardiovascular diseases include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, heart failure and several other conditions including arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation, cardiomyopathy and peripheral arterial disease. CVD has been the leading cause of death in the United States every year since 1900 except during the 1918 flu epidemic. In 2004, the most recent year for which final statistics were available for this report, the age-adjusted CVD death rate per 100,000 persons was 288.0, in comparison to 307.7 in 2003. CVD (the No. 1 overall cause of death) was listed as the underlying cause of death in 869,724 deaths, in comparison to 911,163 deaths in 2003. Cancer was the second-leading cause of death, responsible for 553,888 lives lost. Stroke, when considered separately from other cardiovascular diseases, was the nations third-leading killer (150,074 deaths), followed by accidents (112,012). Coronary heart disease, even when considered separately from other cardiovascular diseases, was still by far the nations single leading cause of death (451,326).........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 4, 2007, 10:11 PM CT

Transcendental meditation reduces high blood pressure

Transcendental meditation reduces high blood pressure
People with hypertension may find relief from Transcendental Meditation, as per a definitive new meta-analysis of 107 published studies on stress reduction programs and high blood pressure, which would be reported in the recent issue of Current High blood pressure Reports.

The Transcendental Meditation technique produces a statistically significant reduction in hypertension that is not found with other forms of relaxation, meditation, biofeedback or stress management.

The new meta-analysis evaluated randomized, controlled trials of all stress reduction and relaxation methods in participants with hypertension that have been published in peer-evaluated scientific journals.

Blood pressure changes for the Transcendental Meditation technique included average reductions of 5.0 points on systolic blood pressure and 2.8 on diastolic blood pressure, which were statistically significant, as per the review. The other stress reduction programs did not show significant changes in blood pressure.

Blood pressure changes linked to Transcendental Meditation practice were consistent with other controlled studies showing reductions in cardiovascular risk factors, improved markers of heart disease, and reduced mortality rates among participants in the Transcendental Meditation program.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 27, 2007, 10:48 PM CT

CT Scans to Determine Heart Disease in the Emergency Room

CT Scans to Determine Heart Disease in the Emergency Room
In the future, patients who arrive at a hospital Emergency Department complaining of chest pain may be diagnosed with a sophisticated Computerized axial tomography scan. If the diagnosis is negative, the patient can go home-and the total time at the hospital will be much shorter than it is today.

That is the theory behind a study being presented at the RSNA (Abstract ID: 5009389; Monday, November 26, 3:10 p.m.) by Rajan Agarwal, M.D., a resident in Radiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

"The cost of chest pain triage (where patients in the Emergency Department are prioritized based on their symptoms) and management has been estimated to be as high as $8 billion annually, with most patients ultimately not having to remain in the hospital. Therefore," Dr. Agarwal states, "there is a tremendous opportunity to reduce health care costs if we can demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of this procedure with low-risk patients who go to the Emergency Department."

Further, this reduced length of stay improves resource utilization by decreasing costs, improving inpatient bed shortages and reducing crowding in the Emergency Department.

In the study, a total of 202 patients, older than age 30, who came to the Emergency Department at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania between October 2005 and February 2007, and whose primary complaint was chest pain, were given an electrocardiogram and a specialized Computerized axial tomography scan.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 14, 2007, 9:54 PM CT

Nicotine addiction slashed in test

Nicotine addiction slashed in test
Researchers are reporting the first successful strategy to reduce smokers nicotine dependence while allowing them to continue smoking. The study provides strong support for proposals now being considered in Congress to authorize FDA regulation of cigarette smoking, as per the research team.

The key to the clinical trials success was providing smokers with cigarettes of gradually decreasing nicotine content over many weeks. If such cigarettes were federally mandated, smokers would find it easier to quit, and more young smokers could avoid addiction, as per the scientists. Tobacco company products marketed as low-nicotine alternatives, in fact, do not change the level of nicotine taken in by smokers, they added.

The research was carried out by researchers at UCSF and San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center and is published in the November 14 issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Legislation giving the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products is currently being considered in Congress. Such regulatory authority would empower the agency to develop and enforce standards to make cigarettes less harmful -- including the reduction of the nicotine yields so that cigarettes would be less addictive, said Neal Benowitz, MD, leader of the study team and an expert on the pharmacology and health effects of nicotine and other smoking products.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 12, 2007, 9:38 PM CT

Eating your greens could prove life-saving

Eating your greens could prove life-saving
A diet rich in leafy vegetables may minimize the tissue damage caused by heart attacks, as per scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. Their findings, reported in the November 12 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that the chemical nitrite, found in a number of vegetables, could be the secret ingredient in the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet.

Recent studies show that administering nitrite to animals, either intravenously or orally, can greatly limit the damage caused by a heart attack and the stress to tissue that follows due to reperfusionthe return of blood to oxygen-starved heart muscle, says Dr. David Lefer, the studys senior author and professor of medicine and of pathology at Einstein. We wondered if feeding animals much lower levels of nitrite and nitrateequivalent to what people can readily obtain from their dietscould also provide protection from heart-attack injury.

Nitrite and its chemical cousin nitrate are important because of their role in producing nitric oxide gas. In 1986, scientists made the remarkable finding that nitric oxidefamous until then mainly as an air pollutantis produced by cells lining healthy arteries and plays a crucial role in cardiovascular health by dilating arteries and aiding blood flow. Damage to the artery lining (in atherosclerosis, for example) impairs nitric oxide production and leads to cardiovascular disease and, ultimately, to heart attacks and strokes.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 8, 2007, 9:47 PM CT

Discovery That May Lead To Safe Treatment For High Blood Pressure

Discovery That May Lead To Safe Treatment For High Blood Pressure
Jason Koski/University Photography
Frank Schroeder inserts a natural product sample into a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. NMR spectroscopy has evolved into the most important tool for identifying new biologically active compounds.
For more than 40 years, scientists have suspected there must be a natural hormone that could safely flush sodium out of the body and could be harnessed to develop more effective and safer therapys for high blood pressure, or hypertension. Currently, drugs that lower sodium levels all have serious side effects because they also reduce potassium levels.

Scientists at Cornell and the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research (BTI) have used a new technique and identified a hormone from human urine -- a xanthurenic-acid derivative -- that seems able to do the job. The discovery opens the door to developing novel medications to control sodium levels and treat hypertension.

Frank Schroeder, an assistant scientist at BTI and co-author of the paper, which appeared in a recent issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, developed a new technique for analyzing complex mixtures of small molecules, making it possible to finally identify the hormone.

Previous to the discovery, scientists knew that a human steroid called aldosterone activates the kidney to reabsorb sodium and excrete potassium, which led them to suspect that there must be another hormone that would trigger the kidney to do the opposite: excrete sodium and reabsorb potassium. A number of had tried to find such a hormone in human urine, but urine contains a mix of hundreds of molecules, and the correct one could not be isolated, probably because the suspected hormone breaks down easily during traditional chemical analysis.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 5, 2007, 10:22 PM CT

Changing the way doctors treat high blood pressure

Changing the way doctors treat high blood pressure
A simplified, step-care protocol for treating hypertension was more effective than guidelines-based practice in helping people reduce their blood pressure, as per late-breaking clinical trial results presented at the American Heart Associations Scientific Sessions 2007.

The Simplified Treatment Intervention to Control High blood pressure (STITCH) trial was a study of 2,104 patients with hypertension (hypertension) at 45 family practices in southwestern Ontario, Canada. In order to increase the number of people with high blood pressure who reduce their blood pressure to goal levels, scientists wanted to see if there was a simpler way to direct therapy for high blood pressure than by following national guidelines for optimal management of blood pressure.

The complexity of existing guidelines for the management of high blood pressure could be a barrier to effective treatment, said Ross D Feldman, M.D., R.W. Gunton Professor of Therapeutics, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada. To examine this question, we conducted a cluster randomization trial. Family practices were randomly assigned to implement a simplified step-care algorithm (STITCH-care) or Guidelines-based care for the management of hypertension.

The STITCH algorithm consisted of 4 steps: 1) initiate treatment with ACE-inhibitor/diuretic or Angiotensin receptor blocker/diuretic combination 2) up-titrate combination treatment to the highest does 3) add a calcium channel blocker and up-titrate 4) add one of the non-first line antihypertensive agents. In the Guidelines-care arm physicians were educated on the use of existing national guidelines of the Canadian High blood pressure Education Program, which list 12 options for initial treatment depending on the type of high blood pressure and co-existing medical conditions (very similar to the range of options outlined in the US JNC guidelines).........

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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