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April 26, 2006, 7:30 PM CT

How Exercise Helps Heart Failure Patients

How Exercise Helps Heart Failure Patients
Aerobic training is associated with a reversal of abnormal hormonal patterns that underlie a number of of the debilitating symptoms of heart failure, as per a new study in the May 2, 2006, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"A feasible home-based and progressively adjusted aerobic training strategy is able to overcome the limitation of pharmacological therapy in antagonizing neurohormonal activation in heart failure patients, likely contributing to a significant improvement in quality of life, and possibly to the positive prognostic effects," said Claudio Passino, M.D. from the CNR Institute of Clinical Physiology in Pisa, Italy.

It is well-known that exercise training helps a number of heart failure patients feel better and improves their ability to function more normally. This study indicates that aerobic training may produce these benefits by reversing the abnormal production of certain neurohormones that result in a number of of the severe symptoms of heart failure.

After a heart attack or other cardiac event, the body responds by increasing the production of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP). This neurohormonal activation, as it is called, helps the heart continue to pump blood in the short run by constricting blood vessel and retaining sodium in cardiac cells.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

April 25, 2006, 7:45 PM CT

The Beat Goes On During Open-heart Surgery

The Beat Goes On During Open-heart Surgery
In a Stanford Hospital surgery room on a recent afternoon, heart surgeon Kai Ihnken demonstrated how he repositions the beating heart while it's still inside the chest of a 78-year-old man undergoing triple bypass surgery. The surgeon reached into the chest, lifted the beating heart out, then craned his neck to the side, just so, searching for the right spot on the back of the heart to attach the next vessel.

Ihnken, MD, clinical assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine, was using an innovative technique called "beating-heart" surgery for coronary bypass. It replaces the more conventional use of a heart-lung machine, which allows for stopping the heart during surgery.

"It's very, very technically demanding," said Ihnken discussing the challenge of working on a still-beating heart shortly before he stepped into surgery to do so. "Surgeons don't want to put up with the stress. But it's so beneficial for the patient".

Despite its reputation as a technically tricky procedure, beating-heart surgery has garnered renewed attention recently as the trend toward less-invasive methods of heart surgery grows stronger.

"We need to be researching this," said Robert Robbins, MD, chair of the cardiothoracic surgery department at the School of Medicine, who hired Ihnken this summer to lead investigations into the potential benefits of less-invasive surgeries such as beating-heart and robotic heart surgery. "We need to make it available to our patients".........

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April 25, 2006, 7:37 PM CT

Selenium Offers No Heart-Disease Protection

Selenium Offers No Heart-Disease Protection
Selenium does not protect against cardiovascular disease, despite its documented antioxidant and chemopreventive properties, analysis of a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial covering 13 years has shown.

The selenium-CVD association was a secondary endpoint in the Nutritional Prevention of Cancer Trial, which was designed primarily to determine if selenium supplementation could prevent the recurrence of non-melanoma skin cancer.

Results of the trial, the only large randomized clinical trial to date to examine selenium supplementation alone in the prevention of CVD, appear in the April 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. Saverio Stranges, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of social and preventive medicine in the School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, is first author.

"Our results extend prior research based on smaller intervention trials focusing on cardiovascular risk factors," said Stranges. "Our findings are consistent with those from prior studies that have shown no beneficial effect of selenium supplementation in combination with other antioxidants on the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease".

Several antioxidants, vitamins C and E in particular, that were thought to play a role in preventing heart disease based on findings based on observation have turned out not to be protective in randomized clinical trials, and selenium now has joined this group.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

April 24, 2006, 7:29 PM CT

Damage To Brain Structure May Lead To Heart Attack

Damage To Brain Structure May Lead To Heart Attack
Scientists using a new method of analyzing brain images have identified an area of the brain that, when affected by a stroke, may also cause damage to the heart muscle. The study, from the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), finds that stroke patients with damage to the right insula, an area deep within the brain, were much more likely also to have biochemical evidence of myocardial damage occurring in the days following their stroke. Their report will appear in the May 9 issue of the journal Neurology and has received early online release.

"The link between the brain and the heart in stroke patients is fascinating. For instance, most patients with acute stroke have elevated blood pressure that returns to baseline over three to seven days. The connection is thought to bethrough the autonomic nervous system, but what the mechanism is has been unclear," says A. Gregory Sorensen, MD, of the Martinos Center, the paper's senior author. "By finding a specific brain area associated with a dramatically increased risk of heart damage, we can identify at-risk patients when they arrive at the hospital and put them on protective treatment, which should have a direct impact on their care".

About 5 percent of stroke patients will also have a heart attack - damage to their heart muscle - soon after the initial stroke. While a number of of these patients have generalized cardiovascular disease that can cause blockage to arteries supplying either the brain or the heart, some have no known prior vascular disease. One theory has been that the damaged brain sends signals through the autonomic nervous system - which controls heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and other involuntary activities - that stress the heart.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

April 24, 2006, 6:31 PM CT

Genetic Variation Cuts 'bad' Cholesterol

Genetic Variation Cuts 'bad' Cholesterol
People fortunate enough to have specific variations in a single gene enjoy moderately lower levels of "bad cholesterol" in their blood and significantly lower risk for coronary heart disease over their lifetimes, scientists from two University of Texas institutions report this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

For the vast majority of people who don't enjoy this genetic protection, the scientists note, the findings have an important lesson: early, consistent and moderate reductions in low-density lipoprotein would markedly reduce lifetime risk of coronary heart disease.

The study by researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas looked at the impact of specific variations in the gene among 3,363 blacks and 9,524 whites over 15 years.

They found that variations in the gene reduced LDL by 28 percent among blacks, leading to an 88 percent reduction in coronary heart disease. A separate variation in whites was associated with a 15 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol and a 50 percent reduction in heart disease risk.

Only 2.6 percent of blacks had the protective variation in the proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 serine protease gene (PCSK9 for short). Only 3.2 percent of white subjects had a separate variation in the same gene.........

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April 22, 2006, 5:28 PM CT

Secondhand Smoke And Heart Disease

Secondhand Smoke And Heart Disease
Whether exposure to secondhand smoke increases the chance that children with a family history of cardiovascular disease will develop the disease themselves is under study at the Medical College of Georgia.

If those children also have a variation in at least one of four genes responsible for metabolizing nicotine, their risk may increase even more because nicotine might stay in the body longer and do more damage, an interdisciplinary research team says.

Scientists will study 585 children age 15-20 who have a parent, grandparent or both with essential high blood pressure and/or a heart attack by age 55.

"What I hope to take away from this is more information for parents and caregivers - to be able to share with them information about the risk of future disease that their behavior places on their child," says Dr. Martha Tingen, a nurse researcher at the Georgia Prevention Institute and principal investigator on the $220,000 National Institute of Nursing Research grant.

Scientists will look for adverse clinical cardiovascular measures, including reduced ability of arteries to dilate; the blood encountering increased resistance as it travels through vessels; higher blood pressure; and an increase in the size of the pumping chamber of the heart - a result of pumping against elevated pressure.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

April 21, 2006, 7:13 AM CT

Study To Evaluate Regeneration Heart Muscle Lost From Heart Attack

Study To Evaluate Regeneration Heart Muscle Lost From Heart Attack Image courtesy of British Embassy
Rush cardiologists are hoping that transplanted stem cells can regenerate damaged heart muscle in those who experience a first heart attack. The study involves an intravenous infusion of adult mesenchymal stem cells from healthy donor bone marrow that might possibly reverse damage to heart tissue.

A unique benefit of the stem cell product is that it is given to patients through a standard IV line. Other therapies require delivery to the site of the disease through catheterization or open surgical procedures, but this one is very simple and easy for the patient.

"A person who has had a single, severe heart attack may survive but can be left with substantial damage to the heart muscle as a result of the blood supply to the heart muscle being cut off during the heart attack. The damaged muscle inhibits the heart's overall ability to pump blood, leading to heart failure," said Rush principal investigator cardiologist Dr. Gary Schaer, head of the Rush Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. Rush is the only center in Illinois participating in the trial. There are 15 other sites nationwide participating in the study.

He explained that mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are found in the adult bone marrow and have the potential to develop into mature heart cells and new blood vessels. The MSC cells are derived from normal, healthy adult volunteer bone marrow donors and are not derived from a fetus, embryo or animal. Because they are in an early stage of development, it is believed that they do not trigger an immune response when placed in someone else's body.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

April 20, 2006, 8:52 PM CT

Lowering Cholesterol Early In Life

Lowering Cholesterol Early In Life
New research from UT Southwestern Medical Center indicates that lowering "bad" blood cholesterol earlier in life, even by a modest amount, confers substantial protection from coronary heart disease.

The new findings, appearing in the March 23 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, found that people with genetic variations affording them lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in their blood from birth were significantly less likely to develop coronary heart disease during the later part of life than those without the variations. These variations exist in a recently discovered gene called PCSK9.

Based on 15 years of data tracking more than 12,000 multiethnic subjects ranging in age from 45 to 64, the scientists found that people who had cholesterol-lowering genetic variations that lowered their LDL level by about 40 milligrams per deciliter were eight times less likely to develop coronary heart disease than those without the mutations. Those with genetic profiles lowering their LDL by about 20 mg/dl from average had a twofold reduction in heart disease.

"These data indicate that a moderate, life-long reduction in LDL cholesterol is associated with substantial reduction in the incidence of coronary events, even in populations with a high prevalence of other cardiovascular risk factors," said Dr. Helen Hobbs, the study's senior author, director of the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development and an investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at UT Southwestern. She also directs the Donald W. Reynolds Cardiovascular Clinical Research Center at UT Southwestern. Dr. Hobbs coauthored the study with Dr. Jonathan Cohen, professor of internal medicine and scientists from the UT Health Science Center in Houston and the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

April 19, 2006, 10:23 PM CT

Hypertension Drug Reverses Death Of Cells

Hypertension Drug Reverses Death Of Cells Riyi Shi
Purdue University scientists have identified a drug usually used to treat high blood pressure that may also reverse damage from spinal cord injuries, cancer and Parkinson's disease.

A research team led by Riyi Shi (REE-yee SHEE) and Richard Borgens found that hydralazine, a medicine that relaxes veins and arteries, may be an antidote for acrolein, a deadly toxin that is produced after a nerve cell is injured.

New findings based on research at the cellular level are detailed in two studies reported in the Journal of Neuroscience Research today (Monday, April 17). In the first article, scientists examine how acrolein attacks and kills cells. In the second article, they demonstrate that cell death caused by acrolein (a-KRO-le-an), a byproduct of an injury, can be reversed when hydralazine is administered.

"This is probably the most important fundamental discovery we have made at the Center for Paralysis Research because we are saving nerve cells from death," said Borgens, Mari Hulman George Professor of Applied Neurology in the School of Veterinary Medicine and founder of the paralysis research center where the research was conducted.

"Initially we may use this discovery for spinal cord injury and stroke, but we can expect further studies will look at how it works against a whole spectrum of injury and disease," he said.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

April 17, 2006, 9:55 PM CT

Why Vioxx And Celebrex Cause Heart Problems

Why Vioxx And Celebrex Cause Heart Problems
Scientists at Queen's University and the University of Pennsylvania have identified one reason why drugs like Celebrex and Vioxx - once popular for the therapy of pain and inflammation - cause heart problems.

Their findings offer the prospect of a new generation of anti-inflammatory drugs that will bypass this issue, says co-author Colin Funk, a professor of Biochemistry and Physiology at Queen's, and Canada Research Chair in Molecular, Cellular and Physiological Medicine. Eventhough these results are in mice, not people, they raise an exciting possibility which can be tested in humans, he adds.

The study is reported in the on-line edition of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Since the association of selective inhibitors of COX-2 such as Vioxx, Bextra and Celebrex with an increased incidence of heart attack and stroke, there has been intense interest in understanding the mechanism involved. Clarification of this issue offers the prospect of conserving the clinical benefit of these drugs for patients with arthritis, while managing the risk, the scientists say.

Co-author with Dr. Funk on the study is Dr. Garret FitzGerald, director of Penn's Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics. Funding comes from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and a grant from Merck.........

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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