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July 25, 2007, 5:25 AM CT

Eat fish -- especially if you drink high levels of alcohol

Eat fish -- especially if you drink high levels of alcohol
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are just that; an "essential" part of the total fat intake necessary for a healthy human diet. Most EFAs come from plants, but some are animal-sourced. A new study has observed that men who binge drink have substandard intake of n-3 fats, one of two types of EFAs, indicating poor dietary choices with negative long-term health consequences.

Results are reported in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

"Essential fatty acids are important building blocks of living cells, making up a substantial part of cell walls," explained Norman Salem, Jr., chief of the Laboratory of Membrane Biochemistry & Biophysics at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism "EFAs also have a number of biological functions, and a lack of them leads to loss of growth and development, infertility, and a host of physiological and biochemical abnormalities." Salem is also the study's corresponding author.

The most important EFAs are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), said J. Thomas Brenna, professor of human nutrition and of chemistry & chemical biology at Cornell University. Especially two types, Brenna noted: the omega-6 PUFA linoleic acid (LA), also called n-6 fats, and the omega-3 PUFA linolenic acid (ALA), also called n-3 fats. "Most Americans consume adequate amounts of LA in their diets through the use of vegetable oils, but tend to have low intakes of ALA," said Brenna.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 5, 2007, 9:18 PM CT

New heart disease risk score

New heart disease risk score
A new score for predicting the risk of heart disease gives a more accurate measure of how a number of UK adults are at risk of developing the disease and which adults are most likely to benefit from therapy.

The study published on bmj.com today, estimates that in the general population without pre-existing cardiovascular disease or diabetes, there are 3.2 million adults under the age of 75 in Britain at high risk of developing heart disease. This is lower than prior scores have suggested, but the scientists think that it is a more appropriate estimate for the UK and will help minimise health inequalities.

The study comes as the governments drugs watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, recommends that people with a 20% chance of developing heart disease over the next 10 years should be offered statins.

A persons chance of developing heart disease is estimated using standard risk factors such as age, sex, smoking, blood pressure and cholesterol. This risk score is typically based on equations derived from the US Framingham cohort study.

But the Framingham equations tend to over-predict heart disease risk in the UK population and fail to include measures of deprivation, family history of heart disease, body mass index, and therapy with blood pressure lowering drugs, despite known links between these factors and poor health.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 2, 2007, 9:45 PM CT

Blood protein offers clues to heart attack

Blood protein offers clues to heart attack
Weve all wondered how a seemingly healthy person can actually be at high risk for heart disease or a heart attack. Now scientists have uncovered a new clue to this mystery. The culprit: myeloperoxidase (MPO), a protein secreted by white blood cells that both signals inflammation and releases a bleach-like substance that damages the cardiovascular system.

Eventhough MPO is intended to kill harmful bacteria, it may instead inflame the bodys arteries and cripple protective substances in the blood, as per a research studyreported in the July 10, 2007, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC). As a result, long before conventional risk factors set off alarms, elevated MPO levels signal that harmful plaque has been building up.

We were surprised to find that a number of years before a cardiovascular event actually occurs, MPO is increased, said Matthijs Boekholdt, M.D., Ph.D., a resident in cardiology at Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. This could open up completely new areas of research and diagnosis. As we learn more about these processes, we hope to be able to identify vulnerable blood as a reliable tool for detecting vulnerable patients.

Not only does MPO change low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol into a harmful oxidized form that can cause atherosclerosis, the bleach produced by MPO damages the arteries directly, causing cell death and erosion of the arterial lining, a process that can create unstable plaques. MPO also hampers the protective effects of high-density-lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and reduces the availability of nitric oxide, a natural chemical that relaxes the blood vessels.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 25, 2007, 7:41 PM CT

Monkey studies parallel WHI findings

Monkey studies parallel WHI findings
Studies in female monkeys helped raise important questions about hormone treatment that were addressed in a Womens Health Initiative study reported last week in the New England Journal (NEJM). The animal research, conducted at the Wake Forest University Primate Center, also suggests the role that stress can play in heart disease development and point to the need for early prevention of heart disease.

Our research in monkeys suggests that stress can affect estrogen levels and may set the stage for heart disease during the later part of life, as per Jay Kaplan, Ph.D., professor of comparative medicine and director of the primate center. It also suggests women need to start thinking about heart disease prevention before menopause. We observed that the five years before menopause are when heart vessel disease begins to accelerate.

Kaplan and Thomas Clarkson, D.V.M., have published numerous articles from their monkey research on the effects of hormone treatment on heart vessel disease. Their findings, along with research in humans, were a driving force behind the hypothesis that there is a window of opportunity during which hormone treatment can help prevent atherosclerosis. The theory was explored in the Womens Health Initiative Coronary Artery Calcium Study (WHI-CAC).........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 22, 2007, 4:37 AM CT

Smoking rate has plummeted in New York City

Smoking rate has plummeted in New York City
New York Citys smoking rate has plummeted since a comprehensive program against smoking was launched in 2002, as per findings issued today in the national Centers for Disease Control and Preventions Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). The 2006 rate was nearly 20% lower than the 2002 rate -- a decline that represents 240,000 fewer smokers. The Citys rate for 2006 is the lowest on record (17.5%), and lower than all but five U.S. states (California, Washington, Idaho, Utah and Connecticut). Over the past year, smoking decreased among men (from 22.5% to 19.9%) and among Hispanics (from 20.2% to 17.1%). These large declines followed a year-long ad campaign aimed at prompting more smokers to quit. The new report is available online at www.cdc.gov/mmwr/.

Beginning in 2002, and after a decade with no progress, New York City increased the tobacco tax, eliminated smoking in virtually all workplaces, and launched hard-hitting anti-tobacco ads. By all indications, the interventions have made a difference. Hard-hitting ads work, said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden -- particularly when theyre paired with a tobacco tax and smoke-free air legislation. With nearly a quarter of a million fewer smokers, New York City is leading the way on tobacco control. There arent a number of programs that can prevent 80,000 premature deaths this quickly.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 20, 2007, 10:05 AM CT

Obesity And Enlarged Heart

Obesity And Enlarged Heart
New research from The University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center helps explain why excessive body weight increases the risk for heart disease.

In the largest study of its kind, heart specialist M. Reza Movahed, MD, PhD, and research specialist Adolfo A. Martinez, MD, discovered that excessive body weight is linked to a thickening of the heart muscle in the left ventricle, the hearts pumping chamber. Known to physicians as left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), the condition potentially can lead to heart failure and rhythm problems.

We found that the thickening in the muscle wall becomes particularly noticeable in obese patients who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater, says Dr. Movahed. Prior studies have shown that left ventricular hypertrophy is linked to a higher risk of mortality.

Analyzing 17,261 heart ultrasounds, the UA scientists studied moving images of the heart to evaluate structure and function. Results showed that narrowing of the aortic valve, the main valve that carries blood away from the heart to the rest of the body, was the strongest predictor of LVH, followed by gender and Body Mass Index.

While the cause of LVH in obese patients is not known, it may be correlation to increased work load or to the presence of other cardiac risk factors in these patients.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


June 19, 2007, 5:05 AM CT

Bacterial pneumonia patients at increased risk of major heart problems

Bacterial pneumonia patients at increased risk of major heart problems
A new study suggests patients hospitalized with pneumonia may be at serious risk of new or worsening heart problems. The study is reported in the July 15 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, currently available online.

Scientists led by Daniel Musher, MD, studied the records of all 170 patients hospitalized with pneumococcal pneumonia at a Texas Veterans Affairs medical center from 2001 to 2005. They observed that 19.4 percent of them had a heart attack or other major heart problem concurrently at the time of admission, and that the presence of the heart condition significantly increased mortality from pneumonia.

In this study, the authors note, when adult patients were hospitalized with a diagnosis of bacterial pneumonia, the concurrence of pneumonia and a new cardiac event was often unrecognized, particularly in the first 12-24 hours of hospitalization, which led some patients to go without antibiotics for pneumonia and others to have no cardiac monitoring or anticoagulant treatment.

The authors propose that pneumonia increases the risk of heart problems by increasing the hearts demand for oxygen while simultaneously causing a decrease in the lungs ability to transfer oxygen from the air to the blood. Also, pneumonia raises blood levels of a type of a chemical signal called a cytokine that promotes the formation of blood clots and that decreases the efficiency of the heart.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


May 23, 2007, 8:33 PM CT

Same-day coronary angiography and surgery

Same-day coronary angiography and surgery
Mayo Clinic scientists discovered it is safe -- and much more convenient and less costly -- for a number of patients to undergo coronary angiography and elective valve surgery on the same day, it is published in the current issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

We have developed a protocol to allow patients to safely have coronary angiography on the same day as their elective surgery, says David Holmes Jr., M.D., a heart specialist at Mayo Clinic and one of the study authors. For patients, we are providing quality care and saving them the time and money it takes to make two trips to the hospital for the test and then surgery.

The impact of this research could be significant: Nearly 48,000 heart valve replacement or repair surgeries were registered with the Society of Thoracic Surgeons National Database in 2005, the scientists point out.

Coronary angiography, which is recommended preoperatively for all patients who are considered at risk for coronary artery disease, is frequently done several days or even weeks before surgery; the patient goes home and then returns for surgery. With coronary angiography, a dye is injected into the blood vessels through a thin, flexible tube; the dye or contrast medium allows the doctor to see narrowing or blockage.

One of the primary concerns of performing coronary angiography the same day as surgery is the risk of acute kidney failure, an independent predictor of death after cardiac surgery; mortality rates have been reported as high as 44.4 percent to 63.7 percent, the scientists report. The dye used in angiography is linked to radiocontrast-induced nephropathy, which can cause kidney failure.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 15, 2007, 11:06 PM CT

Women And Cholesterol Controlled

Women And Cholesterol Controlled
Women are significantly less likely than men to have their LDL cholesterol controlled to recommended levels, as per a new study by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). The study, would be reported in the May/June edition of Womens Health Issues, investigated gender differences in cardiovascular disease prevention, therapy and risk factors based on national health care quality data from commercial and Medicare managed care plans.

Elevated LDL cholesterol is an important modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the leading single cause of death for both women and men.

The study, "Improving the Quality of Care for Cardiovascular Disease: Using National Managed Care Performance Data to Investigate Gender Differences in HEDIS Measures Correlation to Heart Disease," analyzed data from a national sample of 46 commercial managed care plans and 148 Medicare plans across 11 HEDIS measures of care for cardiovascular conditions and diabetes. The results, controlled for other factors such as age, income and ethnicity, showed equal or better outcomes for women on most dimensions of carewith the notable exception of cholesterol control, where significant disparities existed between men and women.

"This study highlights the importance of not just knowing your health, but also taking an active role in your care," said NCQA President Margaret E. OKane. "The data show that weve got our work cut out for us in terms of raising awareness among both physicians and patients".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 6, 2007, 4:39 PM CT

Some hypertension drugs may help reduce dementia risk

Some hypertension drugs may help reduce dementia risk
Some hypertension medicines may help protect elderly adults from declines in memory and other cognitive function, as per new research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine, reported today at the annual meeting of the American Geriatrics Society in Seattle.

The drugs that scientists believe are protective are part of a class known as ACE inhibitors specifically those types that reach the brain and may help reduce the inflammation that might contribute to Alzheimer's disease.

"For elderly adults who are going to take an ACE inhibitor drug for blood pressure control, it makes sense for their doctors to prescribe one that goes into the brain," said Kaycee Sink, M.D., M.A.S., lead researcher and an assistant professor of internal medicine gerontology.

Some ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors are known as centrally acting because they can cross the blood brain barrier, a specialized system of tiny blood vessels that protects the brain from harmful substances in the blood stream. Centrally acting drugs include captropril (Capoten), fosinopril (Monopril), lisinopril (Prinivil or Zestri), perindopril (Aceon), ramipril (Altace) and trandolapril (Mavik).

The study found a link between taking centrally active ACE inhibitors and lower rates of mental decline as measured by the Modified Mini-Mental State Exam, a test that evaluates memory, language, abstract reasoning and other cognitive functions. For each year that participants were exposed to ACE inhibitors that cross the blood brain barrier, the decline in test results was 50 percent lower than the decline in people taking other kinds of hypertension pills.........

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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