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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.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


April 20, 2006, 9:12 PM CT

Shock Wave Therapy For Kidney Stones May Increase Risk Of Diabetes

Shock Wave Therapy For Kidney Stones May Increase Risk Of Diabetes
Mayo Clinic scientists are sounding an alert about side effects of shock wave lithotripsy: in a research study, they found this common therapy for kidney stones to significantly increase the risk for diabetes and high blood pressure during the later part of life. Risk for diabetes was correlation to the intensity of the therapy and quantity of the shock waves administered; high blood pressure was correlation to therapy of stones in both kidneys.

Shock wave lithotripsy uses shock waves to break up an impassable kidney stone into smaller, sandlike pieces which can be passed spontaneously, commonly within a month. The patient and the lithotriptor that emits the shock waves are placed in a water bath. Water allows easier conduction of the shock waves through the patient's tissue and precise focus on the kidney stone.

"This is a completely new finding," says Amy Krambeck, M.D., Mayo Clinic urology resident and lead study investigator. "This opens the eyes of the world of urology to the fact that high blood pressure and diabetes are potential side effects. We can't say with 100 percent certainty that the shock wave therapy for the kidney stones caused diabetes and hypertension, but the association was very strong. The risk of developing diabetes after shock wave lithotripsy is almost four times the risk of people with kidney stones treated with medicine, and the risk of developing high blood pressure is one and one-half times, which is a significant risk increase."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


April 17, 2006, 10:02 PM CT

Understanding heart rhythm

Understanding heart rhythm
Being able to witness the precise events that form the heart's orchestral rhythm or the rat-a-tat-tat of irregular heartbeats could enable scientists to better understand the underlying causes of arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. Indeed, a team from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Carnegie Mellon University report they have developed unique chemical dyes that have made it possible to see what the naked eye has never seen before: action potentials, or voltage changes, of cardiac cells - including those deep inside the heart, which trigger and determine the pace of heartbeats.

The scientists describe seven of these "Pittsburgh" dyes - PGH I to IV and VI to VIII, for short - in the current issue of the Journal of Membrane Biology. Importantly, the PGH dyes are able to follow the electrical activity of cells several layers below the surface of the heart where the cardiac contractions are initiated and propagated.

"What exactly causes arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death remains an important question we hope to answer through our studies that make use of a combination of novel imaging approaches. Toward this end, these dyes have proved to be especially important for recording membrane potential changes and capturing in detail, and in real time, the synchronicity or asynchronicity of the heart. Obtaining such images had long been a challenge due to confounding motions of the heart," said lead author Guy Salama, Ph.D., professor of cell biology and physiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.........

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


April 14, 2006, 9:30 AM CT

Placental Growth Factor For Repair Heart Attack Damage

Placental Growth Factor For Repair Heart Attack Damage
Heart attack patients produce higher levels of a natural substance in the body that plays a role in the growth of new blood vessels and this over-expression of placental growth factor (PlGF) may help reduce damage to the heart muscle, as per a new study in the April 18, 2006, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"Because the degree of PlGF production released from the heart after a heart attack correlated with the improvement of cardiac function, we think PlGF becomes a potential therapy of myocardial infarction. Furthermore, prior studies have shown that PlGF enhances angiogenesis and arteriogenesis in ischemic tissue, also PlGF appears to promote mobilization of flt-1-positive hematopoietic stem cells from bone marrow to the peripheral circulation. We have started further experiments to evaluate this hypothesis," said Shiro Uemura, M.D. from the Nara Medical University in Kashihara, Japan.

The researchers, including first author Hajime Iwama, M.D., compared 55 heart attack patients to 43 control subjects. The heart attack patients had significantly higher levels of PlGF than the healthy subjects. Also, the patients with higher levels of PlGF three days after a heart attack had lower left ventricular ejection fractions, indicating more heart muscle damage. The scientists wrote that it is likely that the degree of injury is a key determinant of how much PlGF the body produces.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


April 13, 2006, 0:25 AM CT

Turmeric Could Help Diabetics

Turmeric Could Help Diabetics
Brisbane immunologist Dr Brendan O'Sullivan hopes to put a dent in skyrocketing rates of diabetes in Australia by creating a new treatment for Type 2 diabetes.

The Senior Research Officer and his team at UQ's Centre for Immunology and Cancer Research (CICR) are developing a drug that targets liver cells to prevent their inflammation in obesity -- a common precursor to diabetes.

Dr O'Sullivan has received a three-year $150,000 Smart State Fellowship from the State Government to explore potential diabetes treatments.

Arthritis Queensland and the CICR will also contribute a further $150,000 each during the project.

People with Type 2 diabetes cannot produce enough insulin or do not use the insulin they produce properly.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas which moves sugar from the food we eat into the body's cells.

Dr O'Sullivan said his technique involved coating treatment drugs in absorbable fat which formed an injectable dose that could last up to one week.

"One of the drugs we're using is curcumin, which is basically the yellow compound that you see in curries, which is an anti-inflammatory compound," Dr O'Sullivan said.

"The idea is to encapsulate that compound and then deliver it to the liver cells to prevent them from producing all these inflammatory compounds".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


April 10, 2006, 8:02 PM CT

Ace Inhibitors May Reduce Death, Heart Attack

Ace Inhibitors May Reduce Death, Heart Attack
Angiotension-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, medications usually used to treat high blood pressure (high blood pressure), may reduce cardiovascular risk and the risk of death in patients with coronary artery disease, as per a new analysis of previously conducted clinical trials published in the April 10 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Several medications are available to treat patients with coronary artery disease, characterized by blockages in the vessels that supply blood to the heart, as per background information in the article. Scientists continue to examine the effectiveness of each medicine in different patient groups. Prior research has shown that ACE inhibitors can help treat patients with coronary artery disease or congestive heart failure, which occurs when the heart loses its ability to pump blood efficiently, if that patient also has problems with the left ventricle, the lower left chamber of the heart. However, studies on the use of ACE inhibitors in patients with coronary artery disease but without heart failure or left ventricle dysfunction have had conflicting results.

Nicolas Danchin, M.D., F.E.S.C., Hôpital Europeen Georges Pompidou, Paris, and his colleagues analyzed seven prior randomized and controlled trials of ACE inhibitors in patients with coronary artery disease. The studies tested five different ACE inhibitors and included a total of 33,960 patients, who were followed for a minimum of two years and an average of 4.4 years. In each trial, some patients were randomly selected to receive ACE inhibitors and others to receive placebos.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


April 6, 2006, 11:18 PM CT

Moderate Drinking Causes Better Cognition In Women

Moderate Drinking Causes Better Cognition In Women
A drink or two a day may be associated with better cognitive function in women, according to a report from an ongoing study of New York City residents. The report was published in the rapid access issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

"Women who had up to two drinks a day scored about 20 percent higher on the Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE) than women who didn't drink at all or who consumed less than one drink a week," said Clinton Wright, M.D., M.S., lead author of the study and assistant professor of neurology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University in New York. "The difference remained after adjusting for risk factors such as income, marital status, race or ethnicity and other vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and cardiac disease".

The researchers said they were surprised by the lack of association between carotid plaque and alcohol consumption. Other research had suggested that alcohol consumption might slow the progression of plaque, the fatty material that builds up in arteries and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

"This study suggests that the relationship between alcohol and cognition was not mediated by large vessel atherosclerosis," Wright said. "Future studies with brain imaging are planned to examine the importance of small vessel disease in this relationship".........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


March 30, 2006, 4:37 PM CT

Sleep Apnea Treatment And The Heart

Sleep Apnea Treatment And The Heart
Patients with obstructive sleep apnea have enlarged and thickened hearts that pump less effectively, but the heart abnormalities improve with use of a device that helps patients breathe better during sleep, as per a new study in the April 4, 2006, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"Not only are the shape and size of the heart affected, the right side of the heart was dilated and the heart muscle on the left side was thicker in patients with obstructive sleep apnea, but the pump function was also reduced. The changes were directly correlation to the severity of the problem. Treating the problem brought significant improvements in the affected parameters, as well as in symptoms, in a relatively short period of time of six months," said Bharati Shivalkar, M.D., Ph.D. from the University Hospital Antwerp in Antwerp, Belgium.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common sleep-related breathing disorder associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Typically the osa syndrome is characterized by repeated partial or complete closure of the pharynx, gasping episodes, sleep fragmentation, and daytime sleepiness. Prior studies have shown that sleep apnea is associated with hypertension and other cardiovascular risks, including stroke, ischemia, arrhythmias, or sudden death.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


March 25, 2006, 11:23 AM CT

First Human Implant Of Heartware's HVAD

First Human Implant Of Heartware's HVAD Image courtesy of Heartware
On 22 March 2006, a 48 year old male patient suffering NYHA Class IV Heart Failure became the first recipient of HeartWare's HVAD mechanical circulatory assist device. The implant was conducted at the Vienna General Hospital and the surgical team was led by Dr Georg Wieselthaler, Clinical Director of Mechanical Circulatory Support at the University of Vienna.

The successful implant marks the start of HeartWare's CE mark clinical study. The trial protocol calls for the implantation of the device in twenty patients suffering advanced heart failure. The implants are to be conducted at the Vienna General Hospital (Austria), the Royal Perth Hospital (Australia), the Hannover Medical Centre (Gera number of) and Harefield Hospital (UK). HeartWare expects to complete patient enrolment in the trial by the end of 2006.

Commenting on the first implant, Dr Wieselthaler said:.

"Our first clinical experience of the HVAD was extremely positive. The procedure was completed quickly and without incident, and our patient's early post-operative recovery has been excellent.

The device's small size and configuration facilitated a relatively fast implant procedure. The surgery took only 85 minutes, significantly less than the time typically mandatory to implant other devices. The patient was moved from the operating theatre into the post operative recovery area, conscious and off ventilation within seven hours. He continues to recover quickly and has met with his family. We are very pleased with these results."........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source



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Did you know?
An advanced study launched at Yale School of Medicine is evaluating the role of statin therapy in patients with heart failure, one of the leading causes of hospitalization in people over age 65.While statins-drugs that inhibit cholesterol production in the liver-are used primarily to lower cholesterol levels, there is evidence that these drugs may also have beneficial effects on blood vessel function independent of cholesterol levels. Heart failure patients are known to have vascular dysfunction, but are impaired and not routinely considered for statin therapy. The Yale trial, "Short Term Effects of Statin on Vascular Function in Heart Failure," will assess vascular function before and after a short course of statin therapy in heart failure patients with normal cholesterol levels. The randomized trial will include 30 patients with mild to moderate chronic heart failure.

Medicineworld.org: Archives of heart news blog

Aggressive heart therapies still underused| Aspirin might prevent vioxx cardiac damage| Bariatric surgery to control weight in cardiac patients| Black immigrants from africa arrive healthier than those from europe| Exercise stress management gives physiological benefits for heart patients| Heart and cell signaling| Link between obesity inflammation and vascular disease found| Pig hearts in nonhuman primates a success story| Strategies to raise hdl cholesterol levels| Stress test identifies high risk people for coronory heart disease|

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