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August 27, 2008, 7:25 PM CT

Heart attack patients who stop statin risk death

Heart attack patients who stop statin risk death
Patients discontinuing statin medicine following an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) increase their risk of dying over the next year, say scientists at McGill University and the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). Their study was published in a recent issue of the European Heart Journal

Using data on British patients who survived an AMI and were still alive three months later, Dr. Stella Daskalopoulou and his colleagues observed that those who discontinued their statin medicine were 88% more likely to die during the following year in comparison to those who had never been on the medication.

"Statins were found to be beneficial drugs," said Dr. Daskalopoulou, of McGill's Faculty of Medicine and the Department of Medicine and the Division of Clinical Epidemiology at the MUHC. "Patients who used statins before an AMI and continued to take them after were 16% less likely to die over the next year than those who never used them. So even if it appears that the statins failed to prevent your AMI, it is beneficial to continue taking them and potentially quite harmful to stop."

The large, population-based cohort study was conducted using UK data to take advantage of the medical records kept in the General Practice Research Database (GPRD), which collects information on the health of more than three million patients across the UK.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


August 20, 2008, 6:28 PM CT

How to stop a new type of heart attack

How to stop a new type of heart attack
PACEMAKERS are supposed to protect people from heart attacks. But to do that they have to provide digital as well as biological security.

Earlier this year, a team led by William Maisel at Harvard Medical School demonstrated how a commercial radio transmitter could be used to modify wireless communications from a pacemaker (New Scientist, 22 March, p 23). Doctors normally use these signals to monitor and adjust the implanted device, but a malicious hacker could reprogram the pacemaker to give its wearer damaging shocks, or run down its batteries.

Such irresponsible attacks might seem inconceivable, but Tamara Denning, a computer scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle, points out that in 2007 hackers posted flashing images to the Epilepsy Foundation's website, apparently with the aim of triggering attacks in people with photosensitive epilepsy.

Pacemaker users could be similarly targeted, and there are a growing number of other implantable medical devices (IMDs) - such as drug pumps, neural stimulators, swallowable cameras and prosthetics - which could also be undermined by pranksters or even killers. Scientists like Denning believe it's worth being prepared. "We wanted to draw attention not to a prevalent threat, but to a possible future one," she says.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 29, 2008, 11:50 PM CT

Fat around the heart

Fat around the heart
When it comes to risk for a heart attack, having excess fat around the heart may be worse than having a high body mass index or a thick waist, as per scientists from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and his colleagues reporting in the recent issue of the journal Obesity

The study was among the first to explore whether there is a link between fat deposits around the heart, known according toicardial fat, and the development of hard, calcified plaque in the arteries. Calcified plaque itself is not considered risky, but it is linked to the presence of less stable fatty deposits that can lead to heart attack and stroke.

"The distribution of body fat may be as important as the amount of body fat in determining risk of heart attacks," said Jingzhong Ding, M.D., lead author and an assistant professor of gerontology. "Even a thin person can have fat around the heart".

The scientists examined data from the Multi-ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), a $68 million study involving 6,800 participants nationwide, to explore their hypothesis that fat around the arteries in the heart contributes to inflammation and to increased risk of fatty deposits in the vessels.

In addition to its role as energy storage, fat is considered to be an "organ" that produces proteins and hormones that affect metabolism and health. Ding's study is based on a new idea in medicine that excess fat around the heart and other organs may impair their function. Pericardial fat, or stores of fat around the heart, is known to have a higher secretion of inflammatory cytokines, proteins that regulate inflammation, than fat stored just under the skin. The researchers suspect that constant exposure of inflammatory proteins produced by fat around the heart may accelerate the development of atherosclerosis.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 23, 2008, 4:34 PM CT

Exercise could be the heart's fountain of youth

Exercise could be the heart's fountain of youth
Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but endurance exercise seems to make it younger. As per a research studyconducted at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, older people who did endurance exercise training for about a year ended up with metabolically much younger hearts. The scientists also showed that by one metabolic measure, women benefited more than men from the training.

"We know that the heart deteriorates as people get older, and that's largely because they don't stay as active as they used to," says first author Pablo F. Soto, M.D., instructor in medicine in the Cardiovascular Division. "Past research has suggested that exercise can reverse some effects of aging, and we wanted to see what effect it would have specifically on the heart."

The scientists measured heart metabolism in sedentary older people both at rest and during administration of dobutamine, a drug that makes the heart race as if a person were exercising vigorously. At the start of the study, they observed that in response to the increased energy demands produced by dobutamine, the hearts of the study subjects didn't increase their uptake of energy in the form of glucose (blood sugar).

But after endurance exercise training which involved walking, running or cycling exercises three to five days a week for about an hour per session the participants' hearts doubled their glucose uptake during high-energy demand, just as younger hearts do.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 21, 2008, 9:36 PM CT

Beijing pollution may trigger heart attacks

Beijing pollution may trigger heart attacks
Olympic athletes aren't the only ones who need to be concerned about the heavily polluted air in Beijing. The dirty air may trigger serious cardiovascular problems for some spectators.

Two scientists in pulmonary medicine and critical care at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine warn that for people in certain risk groups, breathing high levels of pollution can cause heart attacks and strokes within 24 hours of exposure and increase the possibility of having blood clots in their legs on the plane home.

The people who are vulnerable include those who already have known cardiovascular disease or risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, lung disease, a current smoking habit or a family member diagnosed with heart disease before age 55.

"If the air quality is bad, you are more likely to have serious heart disease related events," said Gokhan Mutlu, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the Northwestern's Feinberg School and a doctor at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "Being exposed to higher levels of pollution may unmask heart disease even if you've never had any symptoms."



WHY POLLUTION CAUSES HEART ATTACKS, STROKES AND BLOOD CLOTS


Mutlu published research in 2007 that showed how pollution triggers heart attacks and strokes. He discovered that microscopic air pollution -- particles less than one-tenth of the diameter of a human hair -- makes the blood thicker and sticky. He found when lungs are inflamed by pollution, they secrete a substance, interleukin-6, which causes an increased tendency for blood to clot.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 17, 2008, 9:41 PM CT

Too much, too little sleep increases ischemic risk

Too much, too little sleep increases ischemic risk
Postmenopausal women who regularly sleep more than nine hours a night may have an increased risk of ischemic stroke, scientists reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

In comparison to women sleeping seven hours, the risk of ischemic stroke was 60-70 percent higher for those sleeping nine hours or more, said lead author Jiu-Chiuan Chen, M.D., Sc.D., assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina's School of Public Health in Chapel Hill.

"After accounting for all common clinical conditions predictive of stroke, we found this increase was statistically significant: sleeping nine hours or more is strongly linked to increased risk of ischemic stroke," he said.

Scientists also observed that women who slept six hours or less were at 14 percent greater stroke risk than those who slept seven hours a night. Nearly twice as a number of women reported sleeping less than six hours (8.3 percent) than those who reported sleeping nine hours or more (4.6 percent).

"The prevalence in women of having long sleep duration is much lower than having sleep duration less than six hours. So the overall public health impact of short sleep is probably larger than long sleep," Chen said. "This study provides additional evidence that habitual sleep patterns in postmenopausal women could be important for determining the risk of ischemic stroke".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 14, 2008, 9:43 PM CT

Coronary heart disease patients live longer, but not always happier

Coronary heart disease patients live longer, but not always happier
Better therapys have improved survival in people with coronary heart disease, but the quality of those extra years may be less than ideal, as per research reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Compared with adults without coronary heart disease (CHD), adults with CHD scored up to 9 percent lower on four scales measuring "quality of life." Patients with coronary heart disease were more likely to say they had poorer quality of life, or describe themselves as sick, said lead author Jipan Xie, M.D., Ph.D., former health scientist in the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga.

Quality of life, which includes physical functioning, psychological functioning, social functioning, overall life satisfaction, and perceptions of health status, can be used to measure effectiveness of therapy and predict the long-term mortality after a cardiac event.

Those most likely to report poorer quality of life in this study were:
  • age 18 to 49;
  • women; and
  • black or Hispanic.


The age-related difference, Xie said, probably reflects a difference in age-related expectations.

"Younger people may feel more pressure - particularly younger men - in the workplace and may be more threatened by limitations imposed by their disease," she said.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 9, 2008, 9:16 PM CT

How food affects the brain

How food affects the brain
In addition to helping protect us from heart disease and cancer, a balanced diet and regular exercise can also protect the brain and ward off mental disorders.

"Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain," said Fernando Gmez-Pinilla, a UCLA professor of neurosurgery and physiological science who has spent years studying the effects of food, exercise and sleep on the brain. "Diet, exercise and sleep have the potential to alter our brain health and mental function. This raises the exciting possibility that changes in diet are a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive abilities, protecting the brain from damage and counteracting the effects of aging." .

Gmez-Pinilla analyzed more than 160 studies about food's affect on the brain; the results of his analysis appear in the recent issue of the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience and are available online at www.nature.com/nrn/journal/v9/n7/abs/nrn2421.html.

Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, walnuts and kiwi fruit provide a number of benefits, including improving learning and memory and helping to fight against such mental disorders as depression and mood disorders, schizophrenia, and dementia, said Gmez-Pinilla, a member of UCLA's Brain Research Institute and Brain Injury Research Center.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 7, 2008, 9:34 PM CT

Pregnancy and risk of heart attack

Pregnancy and risk of heart attack
Eventhough acute myocardial infarction (AMI) is rare in women of child-bearing age, pregnancy can increase a woman's risk of heart attack 3- to 4-fold, as per a research studyreported in the July 15, 2008, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology Since women today may delay having children until during the later part of life, and advances in reproductive medicine enable older women to conceive, the occurrence of AMI linked to pregnancy is expected to increase.

The study, authored by Arie Roth, M.D., Tel Aviv University in Israel, and Uri Elkayam, M.D., University of Southern California (USC), is a follow up to their initial report released in 1995. The report is based on a review of 103 women with pregnancy-related AMI in the last decade and outlines key recommendations for the diagnosis and therapy of this condition in pregnant women that also considers the health and safety of the developing baby.

"It's extremely important that physicians who take care of women during pregnancy and after delivery be aware of the occasional occurrence of AMI in pregnancy and not overlook symptoms in these young patients," said Dr. Elkayam, who is a professor of Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology at USC. "Eventhough a number of of the standard principles for diagnosing and treating AMI in non-pregnant patients also apply to pregnant women, two patients need to be treatedthe mother and her babyand the health status of both should play a major role in the selection of diagnostic and therapeutic strategies".........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


July 3, 2008, 9:11 PM CT

Red wine ingredient wards off effects of age on heart

Red wine ingredient wards off effects of age on heart
Large doses of a red wine ingredient can ward off a number of of the vagaries of aging in mice who begin taking it at midlife, as per a new report published online on July 3rd in Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication. Those health improvements of the chemical known as resveratrolincluding cardiovascular benefits, greater motor coordination, reduced cataracts and better bone densitycome without necessarily extending the animals' lifespan.

Sinclair and de Cabo's team further show evidence that resveratrol mimics the beneficial effects of eating fewer calories. In mice, they observed that resveratrol induces gene activity patterns in multiple tissues that parallel those induced by dietary restriction and every-other-day feeding.

" From a health point of view, the quality of life of these mice at the end of their days is much better," said Rafael de Cabo of the National Institute on Aging. It suggests that resveratrol may "extend productive independent life, rather than just extending life span".

" I was most surprised by how broad the effects were in the mice," added David Sinclair of Harvard Medical School. "Usually, you focus on slowing down or ameliorating one disease at a time. In this case, resveratrol influences a whole series of seemingly unrelated diseases linked to aging." Sinclair said he expects some of the effect seen in the mice would have even greater impact if they hold in humans. That's because, unlike people, mice commonly don't die as a result of heart disease, or suffer from weakening bones.........

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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