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October 27, 2006, 4:28 AM CT

Hypertension On The Spotlight

Hypertension On The Spotlight
There may be as a number of as 70 million Americans with prehypertension. If these people can be treated pharmacologically to avoid or delay progression to clinical hypertension, there would be significant benefits to them and the overall health of the population. The recent TROPHY study seems to lead to that conclusion. However, two editorials reported in the recent issue of the American Journal of High blood pressure emphatically argue that the study is flawed and the conclusions reached are misleading.

Persons with prehypertension, generally defined as having a systolic blood pressure in the range of 120-139 mm Hg or a diastolic blood pressure of 80-89, will commonly develop high blood pressure at the rate of about 10% per year. The recent Trial of Preventing High blood pressure (TROPHY) examined whether treating patients with candesartan for two years resulted in a sustained reduction in the occurence rate of hypertension after the drug was discontinued. The TROPHY study concluded that the therapy significantly reduced the risk of incident high blood pressure over the four year study.

As per Stephen Persell, MD, MPH, TROPHY results are likely invalid. He and co-author David W. Baker, MD, MPH, both of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, argue that the study used an unusual definition of incident high blood pressure which could not accurately discriminate whether the drug had a sustained effect. They demonstrate that because blood pressure readings taken during active therapy were combined with readings taken after therapy had ended, a difference between therapy and placebo could appear even if blood pressures were identical after the therapy had ended. They also analyze how the results could be misleading due to the methods used to calculate the mean blood pressures.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


October 26, 2006, 5:16 AM CT

Moderate Drinking May Boost Memory

Moderate Drinking May Boost Memory
In the long run, a drink or two a day may be good for the brain.

Scientists observed that moderate amounts of alcohol - amounts equivalent to a couple of drinks a day for a human - improved the memories of laboratory rats.

Such a finding may have implications for serious neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, said Matthew During, the study's senior author and a professor of molecular virology, immunology and cancer genetics at Ohio State University.

"There is some evidence suggesting that mild to moderate alcohol consumption can protect against diseases like Alzheimer's in humans," said During. "But it's not apparent how this happens".

He and his colleague, Margaret Kalev-Zylinska, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Auckland, in New Zealand, uncovered a neuronal mechanism that may help explain the link between alcohol and improved memory.

"We saw a noticeable change on the surface of certain neurons in rats that were given alcohol," During said. "This change may have something to do with the positive effects of alcohol on memory".

The scientists presented their findings at the annual Society for Neuroscience conference in Atlanta.

During and Kalev-Zylinska designed a special liquid diet for the rats. One formulation included a low dose of alcohol, comparable to two or three drinks a day for a human, while the other diet included a much higher dose of alcohol, comparable to six or seven drinks a day for a human. A third group of rats was given a liquid diet without alcohol. All animals were given their respective diets daily for about four weeks.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


October 22, 2006, 8:12 PM CT

Heart Surgery For Atrial Fibrillation Simplified

Heart Surgery For Atrial Fibrillation Simplified
Heart surgeons at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have helped usher in a new era in the surgical therapy of atrial fibrillation. Using radiofrequency devices - rather than a scalpel - they've greatly shortened the surgery and made it significantly easier to perform.

"Because of the devices, the procedure - called the Cox-Maze procedure - has gone from an operation that hardly anyone was doing to one that 80 to 90 percent of U.S. heart surgeons are now performing," says Ralph J. Damiano Jr., M.D., the John Shoenberg Professor of Surgery and chief of cardiac surgery at the School of Medicine and a cardiac surgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Adults older than 40 have a 25 percent risk of eventually developing atrial fibrillation in which the upper chambers of the heart twitch rapidly instead of contracting fully and regularly. The condition can lead to stroke or heart failure.

For some patients, medications can control the abnormal heart rhythms and the risk of clotting linked to atrial fibrillation, but they do not cure the disorder. The Cox-Maze procedure has a greater than 90 percent cure rate.

Damiano and colleagues have played a vital role in the development and testing of radiofrequency devices for treating atrial fibrillation. The devices deliver high-energy radiofrequency waves to heart tissue and very quickly create scars or ablations, which replace most of the complex incisions mandatory by the Cox-Maze procedure. The ablations disrupt the atria's abnormal electrical activity and normalize heart rhythm.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


October 15, 2006, 6:43 PM CT

Kidney Damage After Heart Surgery

Kidney Damage After Heart Surgery
The occurence rate of kidney damage linked to coronary artery bypass surgery has increased significantly over the past 16 years in the United States, but the rate of death from such damage has decreased significantly during the period, as per a new analysis.

In their analysis of more than 5 million discharges from hospitals across the United States, the scientists at Duke University Medical Center observed that the occurence rate of acute renal failure linked to coronary artery bypass surgery increased almost five-fold during the study period. The scientists estimate that approximately 20,000 cases of the disorder occur nationwide each year.

The rate of death from acute renal failure caused by bypass surgery dropped almost three-fold during the study period, the scientists said. Still, patients with the disorder tend to have higher death rates, and also to require longer hospital stays, than patients who do not experience kidney damage after surgery.

The findings suggest that current strategies used to prevent acute renal failure following bypass surgery may not be as effective as previously thought, the scientists said.

"Postoperative acute renal failure remains a serious complication of bypass surgery that does not seem to have been influenced by any strategies designed to prevent it," said Patricia McGugan-Clark, R.N., an intensive care nurse and member of the study team. "More research needs to be conducted to identify those patients who are most susceptible to acute renal failure and which strategies are most effective".........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


October 8, 2006, 7:10 PM CT

Genes Diet And Heart Disease

Genes Diet And Heart Disease
Scientists from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University and his colleagues have found another link among genes, heart disease and diet. The study, published in Circulation, examined apolipoprotein A5 (APOA5), a gene that codes for a protein, which in turn plays a role in the metabolism of fats in the blood. The results show that people who carry a particular variant of APOA5 may have elevated risk factors that are linked to heart disease, but only if they also consumed high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids in their diets.

Corresponding author Chao-Qiang Lai, PhD, a USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist at the USDA HNRCA, and his colleagues analyzed lipid levels and dietary assessment questionnaires of more than 2,000 participants in the Framingham Heart Study and quantified their intake of different types of fats.

Omega-6 fatty acids, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and, as per a report from the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, most Americans consume about 10 times more omega-6s than omega-3s. Omega-3s are found in nuts, leafy green vegetables, fatty fish, and vegetable oils like canola and flaxseed, while omega-6s are found in grains, meats, vegetable oils like corn and soy, and also processed foods made with these oils. Both omega-3s and omega-6s, known as essential fatty acids, must be consumed in the diet because they are not made by the body.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


October 4, 2006, 10:38 PM CT

Chocolate Chip Cookies Lower Cholesterol

Chocolate Chip Cookies Lower Cholesterol
Right Direction Chocolate Chip CookiesTM lower cholesterol and improve lipid subfraction profile, lowering the risk of heart disease, as per a published study in The Journal of Nutrition (October). The chocolate chip cookies, made with a combination of psyllium and plant sterols, are a tasty all-natural approach to reducing cardiovascular risk linked to cholesterol.

The American Heart Association estimates at least 50 percent of the American adult population has high cholesterol. The study revealed eating two Right Direction Cookies daily showed a ten percent decrease in LDL cholesterol as well as shifting the LDL particles toward a less atherogenic pattern.

Normal cholesterol levels are commonly linked to a lower risk for cardiovascular disease, but not always. Recent studies reveal small, dense LDL particles have been associated with increased formation of fatty substances and cholesterol buildup in the arteries, even for individuals with total cholesterol levels under 200 mg/dl.

The randomized, double blind study researched 33 healthy adults with moderately high cholesterol between the ages 3565 at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT. Participants were randomly assigned to the Right Direction Cookie group or the placebo cookie group. Two cookies per day were consumed for four weeks. After a three week washout period, subjects received the other cookies for an additional four weeks. At the end of each therapy period, two blood samples were drawn on different days (to control for day-to-day variability) and collected.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


October 4, 2006, 10:31 PM CT

Overweight Children At Increased Risk

Overweight Children At Increased Risk
Research published recently in Journal of the CardioMetabolic Syndrome (JCMS) presents data supporting that adult diseases, such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and sleep apnea are now recognizable in childhood. The underlying link between them is a disorder of insulin resistance, which is worsened by childhood obesity. The annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention observed that about one-third of U.S. children today, about 25 million, are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight.

One study in this special issue reports data on the effect of age and sex on cardiovascular risk in overweight children, aged 11 years and older. Results showed that hypertension and dyslipidemia in overweight children is high, with overweight males 11 years and older having a higher prevalence of these risk factors than females and younger males. This may explain the earlier appearance of cardiovascular disease in overweight adult males.

Scientists from Wisconsin, lead by Dr. David K. Murdock examined the effect of elevated body mass index in 247 healthy school children of which 28 percent of 2nd graders and 33 percent of 11th graders were overweight. Data from the study revealed that biomarkers of increased risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes were already present in the overweight children.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


October 3, 2006, 5:02 AM CT

Obese smokers at higher risk of death

Obese smokers at higher risk of death
People who are both very obese and who smoke increase their risk of death by 3.5 to 5 times that of people of normal weight who never smoke, finds a study in the recent issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

As per the study, 20 percent of obese adults in the United States smoke, which puts them at a higher risk of death caused by cancer and circulatory disease. The authors further observed that, in general, being a current smoker was a far stronger risk factor for cancer death than being obese.

"Smoking has been known as a very strong risk factor for a number of cancers, especially lung cancer, which is the most common site of cancer death," said lead author D. Michal Freedman, Ph.D., of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute.

The study surveyed more than 80,000 current and former radiologic technologists between the ages of 22 and 92 who completed a self-administered questionnaire in the period from 1983 to 1989. They all were followed through December 2002 and the number of deaths was reported.

The questionnaire collected information such as birth date, height, weight and smoking behavior. Participants' body mass indexes were calculated from their weight and height A BMI of 30 to 34.9 was considered obese, and more than 35 was very obese.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


September 28, 2006, 9:48 PM CT

Pecan Way To Health

Pecan Way To Health
A new research study from Loma Linda University (LLU) shows that adding just a handful of pecans to your diet each day may inhibit unwanted oxidation of blood lipids, thus helping reduce the risk of heart disease. Scientists suggest that this positive effect was in part due to the pecan's significant content of vitamin E.

"Plant foods, including pecans, are rich sources of phytochemicals that can have a unique effect on the body," says LLU researcher Ella Haddad, DrPH, associate professor, department of nutrition, School of Public Health.

Pecans contain different forms of vitamin E known as tocopherols which protects fats from oxidation. Pecans are particularly rich in one form of vitamin E gamma tocopherol.

"We observed that eating pecans increased levels of gamma tocopherol concentrations in the blood and subsequently reduced a marker of lipid oxidation," adds Dr. Haddad.

Oxidation of fats in the blood a process akin to rusting is detrimental to health. When the "bad" cholesterol becomes oxidized, it is more likely to build up and result in arteriosclerosis.

These latest research findings on pecan's healthfulness were reported in the latest issue of Nutrition Research, just released this week. They are from the second phase of a research project designed to evaluate the health benefits of pecans, as per Dr. Haddad. She analyzed blood samples from study participants (a total of 23 men and women between the ages of 25 and 55) who ate two diets: one that contained pecans and one that did not. Participants were randomly placed on either the American Heart Association's Step I diet or a pecan-enriched version of the Step I diet. (The pecan-enriched diet was similar to the Step I diet but replaced 20 percent of calories with pecans). After four weeks on one diet, they then switched to the other diet.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


September 28, 2006, 9:43 PM CT

Gene Transfer Using Mutant Form Of Good Cholesterol

Gene Transfer Using Mutant Form Of Good Cholesterol
Transfer of a gene that produces a mutant form of good cholesterol provides significantly better anti-plaque and anti-inflammation benefits than treatment using the "normal" HDL gene, as per a mouse study conducted by cardiology scientists at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and published in the Oct. 3 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Apolipoprotein A-I is a naturally occurring component of normal HDL (high-density lipoprotein), the "good" cholesterol that circulates in the blood stream. Apolipoprotein A-I Milano is a mutant form, which was originally found in a small number of individuals in Italy who appear to be protected from cholesterol-related heart disease. Scientists are studying the possibility of treating vascular inflammation and plaque buildup through the transfer of protective genes.

"There has been uncertainty and controversy about whether apo A-I Milano is a better form of HDL than the "wild type" (regular) apo A-I in terms of protective effect against atherosclerosis and vascular inflammation, which are tied together," said Prediman K. Shah, M.D., director of the Division of Cardiology and the Atherosclerosis Research Center at Cedars-Sinai.

"We used a unique approach to do a head-to-head comparison, which allowed us to conclusively ascertain the differences between the two genes. Our study demonstrated that A-I Milano gene transfer is much more effective in reducing plaque and vascular inflammation than the normal (wild type) form of apo A-I," said Shah, the article's senior author.........

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.

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