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April 1, 2008, 8:34 PM CT

Bacteria in the digestive system and obesity

Bacteria in the digestive system and obesity
Obesity is more than a cosmetic concern because it increases a persons risk for developing high blood pressure, diabetes and a number of other serious health problems. Its well understood that consuming more calories than you expend through exercise and daily activities causes weight gain. But with about one in every three American adults now considered obese, scientists are attempting to identify additional factors that affect a persons tendency to gain and retain excess weight. In the recent issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, scientists from Mayo Clinic Arizona and Arizona State University examine the role that bacteria in the human gastrointestinal tract play in regulating weight and the development of obesity.

Known as gut microbiota, the trillions of bacteria that populate the human gastrointestinal tract perform a variety of chores. These friendly microbes help extract calories from what we eat, help store these calories for later use, and provide energy and nutrients for the production of new bacteria to continue this work.

As per John DiBaise, M.D., a Mayo Clinic Arizona gastroenterologist and lead author of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings article, several animal studies suggest that gut microbiota are involved in regulating weight and that modifying these bacteria could one day be a therapy option for obesity.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 31, 2008, 9:37 PM CT

Angina drug potentially useful against heart rhythm disorders

Angina drug potentially useful against heart rhythm disorders
A recently approved angina drug may also represent a powerful new therapy for a rare hereditary syndrome that places teens at risk for sudden cardiac death, as per research presented to today at the 57th Annual Scientific Sessions of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) in Chicago.

Cardiac arrhythmias are electrical malfunctions that throw the heart out of rhythm, causing a number of of the 330,000 sudden cardiac deaths each year in the United States. Most fatal arrhythmias occur in aging patients when scar tissue left by a heart attack interferes with the heart's electrical system. As a number of as 1,000 deaths each year, however, are caused by Long QT Syndrome (LQTS), which occurs mostly in teens with otherwise healthy hearts. While rare, LQTS is yielding insights into the much more common post-heart attack arrhythmias, scientists said.

The QT interval is part of the hearts electrical signature as recorded by an electrocardiogram (ECG). The QT represents the time it takes for the hearts lower chambers to reset electrically after each heartbeat. QTc is QT corrected for heart rate, a more accurate measure. In LQTS patients, QTc reset time is prolonged, which makes the heart more susceptible to fatal arrhythmias. The condition may go unnoticed until sports, strong emotions or even loud noises knock the heart out of rhythm, causing loss of pulse and consciousness (syncope). Sudden death will then occur if the heart is not restarted with a defibrillator. Given the current state of awareness, some families have lost a second child before realizing all the children have the syndrome.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 31, 2008, 9:30 PM CT

Actos preventes progression of atherosclerotic plaque

Actos preventes progression of atherosclerotic plaque
New data from a clinical trial using intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) technology observed that in patients living with type 2 diabetes, ACTOS® (pioglitazone HCl) reduced the atherosclerotic burden in the coronary arteries in comparison to glimepiride, and prevented progression in comparison to baseline. These data stem from the PERISCOPE (Pioglitazone Effect on Regression of Intravascular Sonographic Coronary Obstruction Prospective Evaluation) trial.

The PERISCOPE trial was presented today as a late breaker at the 57th Annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology in Chicago. This trial adds to the body of cardiovascular data for ACTOS. ACTOS studies, conducted over the past 10 years in more than 16,000 patients, including short- and long-term trials, as well as prospective and findings based on observation, have shown no evidence that ACTOS is linked to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, or death.

We are pleased with the results of the PERISCOPE, which further expands our cardiovascular data with ACTOS, said David P. Recker, M.D., senior vice president, Clinical Sciences and interim president at Takeda Global Research & Development. While not definitive, data from PERISCOPE combined with results from a prior study, looking at surrogate endpoints, have shown a consistent trend toward decreasing cardiovascular risk by reducing the atherosclerotic burden in people with type 2 diabetes.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 27, 2008, 9:33 PM CT

Relaxation training may improve hypertension

Relaxation training may improve hypertension
Adding the relaxation response, a stress-management approach, to other lifestyle interventions may significantly improve therapy of the type of high blood pressure most common in the elderly. Among participants in a study conducted at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) High blood pressure Program and the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at MGH, those who received relaxation response training in addition to advice on reducing lifestyle risk factors were more than twice as likely to successfully eliminate at least one blood pressure medicine than were those receiving lifestyle counseling only. The study appears in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Nearly 80 million Americans are classified as having hypertension, and eventhough we have a number of medications to lower blood pressure, only about a third of patients achieve adequate control of their pressures, says Randall Zusman, MD, co-senior author of the report who leads the High blood pressure Program at the MGH Heart Center. If a practice that takes only 15 to 20 minutes a day can help decrease patients dependence on antihypertensive medications reducing often-unpleasant side effects and the considerable costs of these drugs we could not only improve their quality of life but lower direct and indirect health costs by billions of dollars.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 27, 2008, 8:55 PM CT

Retired NFL players at increased risk for heart problems

Retired NFL players at increased risk for heart problems
Screening for cardiovascular problems in elite-level football players should begin in high school and continue throughout the lives of college and professional players. Mayo Clinic physicians based that conclusion on the results of their new study of the cardiovascular health of 233 retired National Football League (NFL) players.

The Mayo data showed that 82 percent of NFL players under age 50 had abnormal narrowing and blockages in arteries, in comparison to the general population of the same age. This finding suggests that the former athletes face increased risk of experiencing high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke. The report on research conducted by the Mayo Clinic Arizona group will be presented next week at the American College of Cardiology Annual Scientific Session in Chicago.



Significance of the Mayo Clinic Study


This is the first and largest study to measure comprehensive cardiovascular performance measures on retired NFL athletes, ages 35 to 65. Its findings add to the emerging portrait of poor heart health among this group of retired athletes. The findings also suggest that players as young as high school age who are engaged in serious competitive-conference level of training and play may benefit from regular cardiovascular screening. What we hope to emphasize with our findings is that all NFL players -- retired or not -- need to undergo cardiovascular health evaluation because they may have changes in heart and vessel conditions that we can treat so they dont experience problems during the later part of life, says Robert Hurst, M.D., Mayo Clinic heart specialist and lead researcher.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 24, 2008, 7:57 PM CT

Mutant proteins could lead to new treatment for heart disease

Mutant proteins could lead to new treatment for heart disease
Heart damage due to blocked arteries remains the leading cause of disease and death in the Western world, but a Florida State University College of Medicine researcher is helping to open new pathways toward treating the problem.

Michael Blaber, a professor in the department of biomedical sciences, is researching mutant forms of a human protein that have been shown to help the human body grow new blood vessels to restore blood flow in damaged areas of the heart.

Working with a $264,000, three-year grant from the American Heart Association, Blaber hopes to provide data that will enable the use of the mutant proteins in new therapy methods previously unavailable for patients with advanced no option heart disease.

This research offers the potential to treat people who currently are being sent home to die, Blaber said. Weve tested a group of mutants in the laboratory with unusual properties of increased stability and activities -- good properties. In some cases it was unexpected, but the results are very promising.

Obstructed blood vessels and clogged or blocked arteries typically are treated through angioplasty, the mechanical widening of a vessel, or bypass surgery. Some patients, however, have numerous small blockages that cannot be treated through traditional approaches. In most cases, they are sent home with a predicted life expectancy that, no matter how its phrased, sounds like a death sentence.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 16, 2008, 9:56 PM CT

Meditation Impacts Blood Pressure

Meditation Impacts Blood Pressure
Transcendental Meditation is an effective therapy for controlling hypertension with the added benefit of bypassing possible side effects and hazards of anti-high blood pressure drugs, as per a new meta-analysis conducted at the University of Kentucky. The study appears in the recent issue of the American Journal of Hypertension.

The meta-analysis reviewed nine randomized, controlled trials using Transcendental Meditation as a primary intervention for hypertensive patients. The practice of Transcendental Meditation was linked to approximate reductions of 4.7 mm systolic blood pressure and 3.2 mm diastolic blood pressure.

The study's lead author, Dr. James W. Anderson, professor of medicine at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, said that blood pressure reductions of this magnitude would be expected to be accompanied by significant reductions in risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease-without drug side effects. Anderson's most recent findings reinforce an earlier study that found Transcendental Meditation produces a statistically significant reduction in hypertension that was not found with other forms of relaxation, meditation, biofeedback or stress management.

"Adding Transcendental Medication is about equivalent to adding a second antihigh blood pressure agent to one's current regimen only safer and less troublesome," Anderson said.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 9, 2008, 4:41 PM CT

North American diet is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids

North American diet is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids
New research from the Child & Family Research Institute shows the typical North American diet of eating lots of meat and not much fish is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids and this may pose a risk to infant neurological development. Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fats found in some fish such as salmon and herring and in smaller amounts in eggs and chicken. This discovery is an important step towards developing dietary fat guidelines for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Current dietary recommendations evolved from the 1950s emphasis on reducing saturated fat intake to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The study is published March 7th, 2008 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Omega 3 fatty acids are important for the babys developing eyes and brain, says Dr. Sheila Innis, the studys principal investigator, head of the nutrition and metabolism program at the Child & Family Research Institute at BC Childrens Hospital, and professor, department of pediatrics, University of British Columbia.

During pregnancy and breastfeeding, fat consumed by the mum is transferred to the developing baby and breastfed infant, and this fat is important for the babys developing organs. Our next task is to find out why the typical North American diet puts mothers at risk. Then we can develop dietary recommendations to help women consume a nutritious diet that promotes optimal health for mums and babies.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 7, 2008, 5:20 AM CT

Moderate alcohol consumption can lower cardiac risk

Moderate alcohol consumption can lower cardiac risk
Prior studies have pointed out the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption as a factor in lowering cardiovascular risk. In a study conducted by the Department of Family Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina and reported in the March 2008 issue of The American Journal of Medicine, scientists observed that middle-aged non-drinkers who began consuming moderate amounts of alcohol saw an immediate benefit of lower cardiac disease morbidity with no change in mortality after four years.

Studying 7,697 people between 45 and 64 who were non-drinkers and who were participating in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study over a 10 year period, the authors observed that 6% began moderate alcohol consumption (1 drink per day or fewer for women and 2 drinks per day or fewer for men) during the follow-up period. After 4 years of follow-up, new moderate drinkers had a 38% lower chance of developing cardiovascular disease than did their non-drinking counterparts. Even after adjusting for physical activity, Body Mass Index, demographic and cardiac risk factors, this difference persisted.

The study also identified a subset of new drinkers who consumed only wine. When comparing non-drinkers to wine-only drinkers, drinkers of other types of alcohol, and heavy drinkers, the wine-only drinkers had the most significant reduction in cardiovascular events. Drinkers of other types of alcohol also had an advantage over non-drinkers, but the difference did not reach statistical significance.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 4, 2008, 4:46 PM CT

New potential drug target for the treatment of atherosclerosis

New potential drug target for the treatment of atherosclerosis
A nuclear receptor protein, known for controlling the ability of cells to burn fat, also exerts powerful anti-inflammatory effects in arteries, suppressing atherosclerosis in mice prone to developing the harmful plaques, as per new research by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Their findings, reported in this weeks online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offer a new and specific target for the development of drugs that specifically treat cardiovascular complications linked to metabolic syndrome.

Heart disease is like a ticking clockit is progressive, relentlessly marching forward accelerated by a mix of high fat diets, inflammation and high blood pressure. We show that PPAR delta offers a kind of genetic shortcut around each of these medical roadblocks, says Howard Hughes Medical Investigator Ronald M. Evans, Ph.D., a professor in the Salk Institutes Gene Expression Laboratory, who co-directed the study with Chih-Hao Lee, a professor in the Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Most people believe cholesterol plays a predominant role in atherosclerosis. Our study suggests that targeting inflammation at lesion sites is just as important, adds Lee.........

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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