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July 3, 2008, 9:03 PM CT

Statins have unexpected effect on brain cells

Statins have unexpected effect on brain cells
Cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins have a profound effect on an elite group of cells important to brain health as we age, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center have found. The new findings shed light on a long-debated potential role for statins in the area of dementia.

Neuroresearchers observed that statins, one of the most widely prescribed classes of medicine ever used, have an unexpected effect on brain cells. Scientists looked at the effects of statins on glial progenitor cells, which help the brain stay healthy by serving as a crucial reservoir of cells that the brain can customize depending on its needs. The team observed that the compounds spur the cells, which are very similar to stem cells, to shed their flexibility and become one particular type of cell.

The new findings come at a time of increasing awareness among neurologists and heart specialists of the possible effects of statins on the brain. Several studies have set out to show that statins provide some protection against dementia, but the evidence has been inconclusive at best. Meanwhile, there is some debate among physicians about whether statins might actually boost the risk of dementia. The new research reported in the recent issue of the journal Glia by Steven Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., and first author Fraser Sim, Ph.D., provides direct evidence for an effect of statins on brain cells.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 1, 2008, 9:31 PM CT

Invasive treatment for certain coronary syndromes

Invasive treatment for certain coronary syndromes
An analysis of prior studies indicates that among men and high-risk women with a certain type of heart attack or angina an invasive therapy strategy (such as cardiac catheterization) is linked to reduced risk of rehospitalization, heart attack or death, whereas low-risk women may have an increased risk of heart attack or death with this therapy, as per an article in the July 2 issue of JAMA

Eventhough an invasive strategy is frequently used in patients with unstable angina and nonST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI; a type of heart attack with certain findings on an electrocardiogram), data from some trials suggest that this strategy may not benefit women, with a possible higher risk of death or heart attack, as per background information in the article. "Thus, the benefit of an invasive strategy in women remains unclear. However, individual trials have not been large enough to explore outcomes reliably within subgroups," the authors write.

For this study, an invasive strategy was defined as the referral of all patients with heart attacks and unstable angina for cardiac catheterization (a procedure that allows physicians to find and open potential blockages in the coronary arteries to help prevent heart attacks and death) previous to hospital discharge. A conservative therapy strategy was defined as a primary strategy of medical management and subsequent catheterization only for those patients with ongoing chest pain or a positive stress test.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 23, 2008, 7:13 PM CT

Anticancer agents on patients with heart disease

Anticancer agents on patients with heart disease
A set of promising new anticancer agents could have unforeseen risks in individuals with heart disease, suggests research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The anticancer drugs which go by the strange name of hedgehog antagonists interfere with a biochemical process that promotes growth in some cancer cells. But the scientists showed that interfering with this biochemical process in mice with heart disease led to further deterioration of cardiac function and ultimately death.

"This finding should serve as a warning that these drugs might have adverse effects on the heart and that it could be very important to monitor patients' cardiovascular health when using this type of anticancer drug," says senior author David Ornitz, M.D., Ph.D., the Alumni Endowed Professor and head of Developmental Biology. The research was reported June 20, 2008, in advance online publication in the Journal of Clinical Investigation

Hedgehog antagonists are drugs that inhibit the hedgehog signaling pathway, a chain of biochemical signals that regulate cellular growth and differentiation. The odd term hedgehog has little to do with the small, spiny mammals it originated when researchers noted the spiky, hedgehog-like appearance of fly embryos with abnormal hedgehog genes. Every organism in the animal kingdom has hedgehog genes, which play an essential role in guiding cells to mature into the appropriate form for proper function.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 18, 2008, 8:55 PM CT

Failure to bridle inflammation spurs atherosclerosis

Failure to bridle inflammation spurs atherosclerosis
When a person develops a sore or a boil, it erupts, drawing to it immune system cells that fight the infection. Then it resolves and flattens into the skin, often leaving behind a mark or a scar.

A similar scenario plays out in the blood vessels. However, when there is a defect in the resolution response the ability of blood vessels to recover from inflammation atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries can result, said scientists at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and Harvard Medical School in Boston in a report that appears online today in The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology The major factor in this disease is a deficiency in the chemical signals that encourage resolution (pro-resolution signals). These signals are produced in the blood vessel where the inflammation occurs, the scientists said.

Chronic inflammation of the artery wall can cause atherosclerosis, a major risk factor for heart disease and heart attack. However, said Dr. Lawrence C.B. Chan, professor of medicine and molecular and cellular biology and chief of the division of division of diabetes, endocrinology and metabolism at BCM, in a number of instances, the lesions or little sores inside the artery arise and then resolve, often from a very young age. The mystery is why some lesions do not heal.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 16, 2008, 10:13 PM CT

Why some don't respond to cholesterol-lowering drugs

Why some don't respond to cholesterol-lowering drugs
A variation in the way the body processes a single protein may explain why some people don't respond well to drugs that lower "bad" cholesterol, as per a report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association

The gene variation, called alternative splicing, explained 9 percent of the drugs' decreased power to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in study participants in comparison to people with the standard processing pathway.

The study is the first to show that a change in a biological process contributes substantially to the effectiveness of cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins.

"Nine percent is a large number," said Ronald Krauss, M.D., senior author of the study and director of atherosclerosis research at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California. "When we look at individual variations in genes affecting cholesterol metabolism, we can commonly explain only a few percent of the variability in statin response."

The discovery could lead to improved cholesterol therapy and new treatment for other chronic ailments.

"The implications could go well beyond the efficacy of statins by helping us to understand the differences among individuals in how cholesterol is metabolized," Krauss said.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 4, 2008, 11:04 PM CT

Brief, intense exercise benefits the heart

Brief, intense exercise benefits the heart
Short bursts of high intensity sprints known to benefit muscle and improve exercise performancecan improve the function and structure of blood vessels, in particular arteries that deliver blood to our muscles and heart, as per new research from McMaster University.

The study, lead by kinesiology doctoral student Mark Rakobowchuk, is published online in the journal American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, Integrative & Comparative Physiology.

The findings support the idea that people can exercise using brief, high-intensity forms of exercise and reap the same benefits to cardiovascular health that can be derived from traditional, long-duration and moderately intense exercise.

"As we age, the arteries become stiffer and tend to lose their ability to dilate, and these effects contribute to hypertension and cardiovascular disease," says Maureen MacDonald, academic advisor and an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology. "More detrimental is the effect that blood vessel stiffening has on the heart, which has to circulate blood".

The research compared individuals who completed interval training using 30-second "all-out" sprints three days a week to a group who completed between 40 and 60 minutes of moderate-intensity cycling five days a week.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 4, 2008, 10:59 PM CT

Substance in red wine keep hearts young

Substance in red wine keep hearts young
How do the French get away with a clean bill of heart health despite a diet loaded with saturated fats? Researchers have long suspected that the answer to the so-called "French paradox" lies in red wine. Now, the results of a new study bring them closer to understanding why.

Writing this week in the online, open-access journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) ONE, scientists from industry and academia, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Florida, report that low doses of resveratrol -- a natural constituent of grapes, pomegranates, red wine and other foods -- can potentially boost the quality of life by improving heart health in old age.

The researchers included small amounts of resveratrol in the diets of middle-aged mice and observed that the compound has a widespread influence on the genetic causes of aging. Specifically, the scientists observed that low doses of resveratrol mimic the heart-healthy effects of what is known as caloric restriction, diets with 20 to 30 percent fewer calories than a typical diet. The new study is important because it suggests that resveratrol and caloric restriction, which has been widely studied in animals from spiders to humans, may govern the same master genetic pathways correlation to aging.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 4, 2008, 10:35 PM CT

Heart patients fare better in 3-year program

Heart patients fare better in 3-year program
People recovering from acute heart problems such as heart attack and heart surgery are more likely to develop habits to control heart attack risk factors when they meet regularly with cardiac "disease managers," as per scientists at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. These managers are nondoctor cardiac rehabilitation specialists who lead long-term follow-up programs that last three years. With these risk factors under control, heart patients are likely to live longer and have fewer heart problems, the Mayo scientists conclude.

The Mayo Clinic scientists studied the effects of a long-term cardiac disease manager model on 503 patients involved in cardiac rehabilitation. Their findings are published in The Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention. The disease manager's role was to monitor the patient's status, and to coach the patients in adopting heart attack prevention behaviors. At each meeting, the following factors were assessed and management strategies were discussed: blood lipid levels, blood pressure and body weight, tobacco use, cardiac medicine compliance, exercise regimen and physical activity, nutrition and cardiopulmonary symptoms. After initial rehabilitation training about risk factor management, each patient met with a trained disease manager every three to six months for three years.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 26, 2008, 8:35 PM CT

Many patients have poor knowledge of heart attack symptoms

Many patients have poor knowledge of heart attack symptoms
Nearly half of patients with a history of heart disease have poor knowledge about the symptoms of a heart attack and do not perceive themselves to have an elevated cardiovascular risk, as per a report in the May 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Individuals with heart disease have five to seven times the risk of having a heart attack or dying as the general population, as per background information in the article. Survival rates improve following heart attack if therapy begins within one hour. However, most patients are admitted to the hospital 2.5 to three hours after symptoms begin. Barriers to seeking appropriate care quickly are both cognitive and emotional, the authors write. If patients do not know the symptoms of acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) and other acute coronary syndromesincluding nausea and pain in the jaw, chest or left armthey will not seek therapy for them. If they do not perceive themselves to be at risk for heart attack, they will look for another explanation when they experience these symptoms.

Kathleen Dracup, D.N.Sc., of the University of California, San Francisco, School of Nursing, and his colleagues surveyed 3,522 patients (average age 67) who had a history of heart attack or an invasive procedure for treating narrowed arteries. The patients were asked to identify possible symptoms of heart attack and responded to true-false questions about heart disease. Participants also were asked whether they were more or less likely than other individuals their age to have a heart attack in the next five years.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 26, 2008, 7:56 PM CT

Increased screening for those at higher risk for heart disease

Increased screening for those at higher risk for heart disease
Adding noninvasive imaging to current risk-assessment protocols may identify more people at risk of developing heart disease, UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists have found.

Scientists used data from the UT Southwestern-led Dallas Heart Study to determine whether using computed tomography (CT) to scan patients hearts for calcium deposits and blockages could identify more people at high risk for heart disease and who could benefit from cholesterol-lowering treatment.

The recommendations by the Screening for Heart Attack Prevention and Education (SHAPE) task force are a proposed update to the current guidelines, were updated by the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III (NCEP-ATP III) in 2004.

In findings published in todays edition of Archives of Internal Medicine, scientists observed that the additional imaging proposed by the SHAPE task force did indeed increase the number of patients classified at high risk.

We added imaging of coronary artery calcium, as recommended by the SHAPE task force, to determine if this strategy would augment current risk assessment, said Dr. Jason Lindsey, an author of the paper and cardiology fellow at UT Southwestern.

The efficiency of calcium screening as per the SHAPE recommendations was determined by the number of people who had to be scanned before a single participant was reclassified as either meeting or not meeting individual cholesterol goals.........

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.

Medicineworld.org: Archives of heart-watch-blog

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