Sunday, November 30, 2008

Limited value found for first-generation heart pumps

"The first generation of ventricular assist devices - tiny pumps implanted in people with failing hearts - are costly but provide limited benefits, a study finds. However, the finding should not affect current medical practice, because the devices it describes are already being replaced by second- and third-generation VADS that are far superior, one expert said. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, used data on almost 3,000 people who had VADs installed in a Medicare program between 2000 and 2006. Half the VADs were implanted as a primary treatment for heart failure, which is a progressive decline in the heart's ability to pump blood. The other half of the devices were implanted after a bypass surgery." - HealthDay News

Peter Mandelson 'blocking' smoking crackdown (UK)

Peter Mandelson is at the centre of a Whitehall row over a planned clampdown on cigarette sales which threatens to overshadow this week's Queen's Speech. Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, is said to have legislation which would ban big displays of cigarettes - effectively forcing their sale under the counter - "ready to go" as a key part of the Government's programme for the next 12 months. However, Mr Mandelson's department, Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), is said to be objecting to the proposals on the grounds that they would harm the profitability of small businesses during the slump. Government sources last night acknowledged that the row was hindering final preparations for Wednesday's Queen's Speech, in which forthcoming Bills are announced." - Telegraph

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fear of hypoglycemia a barrier to exercise for type 1 diabetics

According to a new study, published in the November issue of Diabetes Care, a majority of diabetics avoid physical activity because they worry about exercise-induced hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and severe consequences including loss of consciousness. Despite the well-known benefits of exercise, this new study builds on previous investigations that found more than 60 percent of adult diabetics aren't physically active. "Our findings confirmed our clinical suspicion," say Dr. Remi Rabasa-Lhoret, co-author of the study, a professor at the Université de Montreal's Faculty of Medicine and an endocrinologist at the Centre hospitalier de l'Universite de Montreal. "Exercise has been proven to improve health and one would assume diabetics would remain active. Yet our findings indicate that type 1 diabetics, much like the general public, are not completely comfortable with exercise." - EurekAlert

Video: Center for Science in the Public Interest

Watch a video explaining the purpose and aims of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Washington, DC, USA:

Northwestern Comprehensive Center on Obesity

Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Illinois has opened a center to study the causes of obesity and find new ways to treat it. In a major initiative aimed at addressing a local and national health epidemic, the Northwestern Comprehensive Center on Obesity will aim at treatment, research, education and advocacy. "This is the major epidemic of our time," said Dr. Lewis Landsberg, founder and director of the center told The Chicago Tribune. "Obesity and its complications threaten to replace smoking-related diseases as the pre-eminent health problem that we face." Obesity has root causes that are evolutionary, biological, psychological, sociological, economic and political, Landsberg said. More than one-third of U.S. adults and about 17 percent of children and adolescents have a body mass index that qualifies them as obese, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports

" is an online training resource for all healthcare practitioners involved in conducting and interpreting Electrocardiographs (ECG). Whatever your post or grade, offers detailed training which is tailored to a wide range of healthcare professionals. contains detailed modules taking you step by step through each level of training. Using a mix of 3D animation, audio narrative, images, and detailed text, the product incorporates over 300 traces which can be viewed using the unique TraceZoom facility. was developed in collaboration with a team of specialists based at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, UK. All content has been independently verified so you can have confidence in this high quality training resource"

Ambulance staff draw lots over heart patients - Sweden

Ambulance personnel in Malmö, Sweden, have been instructed to play a game of chance when deciding which treatment to apply to heart attack patients. The swipe of a card will decide how ambulance staff should proceed when treating cardiac arrest patient. Medical personnel will be presented with one of two options: the first will advise them to apply a traditional heart massage treatment; the second will instead recommend the use of a heart massage machine. "Morally, it doesn't feel good," ambulance nurse Björn Jadeland told local newspaper Sydsvenskan. Ambulance staff in the region are participating in a study designed to show whether the heart machine is more effective than humans at saving lives. Heart specialist Johan Silfverstolpe believes the machine, known as Lucas, has the advantage of being able to provide massage treatment for longer periods than ambulance personnel. Asked whether there was a risk that people might die if the card chose the wrong method, Silfverstolpe said: "One has to weigh up the gains from a study with the possible risks to the individual. In the long term we can save lives if we find that Lucas offers a better treatment." - The Local Europe

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Stroke Association UK has a Facebook group

"Have you or has someone you know been affected by stroke? Every year, an estimated 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke or brain attack. It can happen to anyone of any age, is the single most common cause of severe disability, and can be a devastating and isolating experience. Join The Stroke Association on Facebook in the fight against brain attacks! Tell us your story, ask for information and help us out with fundraising and campaigns."

Nurses not immune to nicotine addiction

Despite seeing smoking's health effects firsthand, the rate at which U.S. nurses quit smoking has been no faster than for other women, researchers say. The findings from researchers at the University of California in Los Angeles describe smoking trends among U.S. nurses enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study between 1976 and 2003. The study, begun at Brigham and Women's Hospital, is based on surveys completed every two years by 237,648 female registered nurses. "Nurses in the study demonstrated behavior patterns similar to women in the general population," lead study investigator Linda Sarna said in a statement. "For example, the younger nurses in the study began smoking before entering the profession, a pattern reflected by American women starting smoking at younger ages in general. Being a nurse did not make these women immune to nicotine addiction." The study, published in Nursing Research, found the rate of smoking among women in the study declined from 33.2 percent in 1976 to 8.4 percent in 2003 - a 75 percent drop. The number of cigarettes smoked per day also dropped. "Quitting smoking made a big difference in enhancing longevity, especially among nurses in their late 70s," said Sarna. "Death rates among former smokers that age were 1.5 times higher than those of non-smokers, while current smokers were 2.3 times more likely to have died by that age than nurses who never smoked." - UPI

Brain keeps tabs on fat intake

"As people eat, the brain has a way keeping tabs on the fat content of what's eaten, U.S. researchers report. In studies of rats, one type of lipid produced in the gut rises after eating fatty foods. Those N-acylphosphatidylethanolamines, or NAPEs, enter the bloodstream and go straight to the brain, where they concentrate in a brain region that controls food intake and energy expenditure. 'A lot of gut hormones have an effect on food, but when you give them chronically they lose their effectiveness,' Gerald Shulman of Yale University School of Medicine said in a statement. Another nutrient-sensing, gut-derived peptide known as CCK leads animals and people to eat smaller meals, but they eat them more often, yielding no change in the overall calories consumed, Shulman said. 'Here, we gave rats NAPE for five days and saw a continuous reduction in food intake and a decline in body weight," Shulman said. "It suggests NAPE or long-acting NAPE analogs may treat obesity.' NAPEs are secreted into circulation from the small intestine in response to ingested fat and that systemic administration of the most abundant circulating NAPE, at doses naturally found in the bloodstream, lowers food consumption in rats without making food unappealing to the animals, Shulman said. The finding were published in the journal Cell"

The lab says heart attack, but the patient is fine

"The man was 40 years old and seemed perfectly healthy - he had just run a 10-kilometer race. But he fainted after the race and was rushed to a hospital. There, in the emergency room, his blood was tested. His levels of a heart protein, troponin, were sky-high. It looked as if he was having a heart attack. The runner ended up in the coronary intensive care unit at Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem. He was in the hospital for four days, undergoing test after test. Yet nothing appeared to be wrong, his doctors - Lior Tolkin, Beth Goldstein and David Rott - report in a recent issue of Cardiology. He had no other symptoms of a heart attack; every test of his heart's function was normal. And his soaring troponin levels, which can be an indicator of heart muscle damage, went down to normal. A false alarm or a heart attack averted or maybe a lab error? Researchers say the most likely explanation is that the man had been caught up in a poorly understood but surprisingly common phenomenon: blood tested shortly after a long or strenuous bout of exercise is likely to show abnormalities, maybe even indicators of a heart attack or liver failure. But usually the patient is not in danger. Instead, those results are normal and are not a reason for concern -

Scientists find 4 genes that drive metabolism

"Four genetic variations appear to determine the speed at which people burn up food, researchers said on Thursday, a finding that could one day see doctors offer their patients more individual care. Differences in metabolism can make some people more susceptible to diseases such as diabetes and explain why response to diet, exercise and drugs to treat certain conditions varies from person to person. Knowing right away how a person's body will break down molecules in the blood that build up muscle and cells and provide energy could lead to better care, said Karsten Suhre, a researcher at the Helmholtz Center in Munich. The researchers scanned the genes of 284 people and found four - FADS1, LIPC, SCAD and MCAD - linked to determining metabolic rates. 'These genes appear to be involved or play a key role in metabolism,' Suhre said in a telephone interview. This potentially paves the way for more personalized health care in which doctors could use knowledge of a patient's metabolism gleaned from their genetic make-up to determine treatment, he said. This could prove particularly useful for treating conditions strongly linked to metabolism such as coronary artery disease and obesity, he added. 'These findings could result in a step toward personalized healthcare and nutrition based on a combination of genoytyping and metabolic characterization,' Suhre and colleagues wrote in the Public Library of Science Journal PLoS Genetics" - Reuters

New program aims to train coaches for cardiac arrest

"School sports coaches and advisers across Minnesota would get more training in how to respond to students going into cardiac arrest, under a program being launched this weekend. Officials at the Minnesota State High School League, which oversees high school sports, know of at least three teens who have died this school year after going into sudden cardiac arrest during a game or practice. Associate Director Jody Redman says most schools have portable defibrillators, but there hasn't been enough training on those machines - or in the need to act fast when someone goes down. 'I think people in many cases will stand and look at one another, and look at the victim - who's lying on the floor - and say 'what happened?'' said Redman. 'They don't respond immediately, and in talking to some of the rescuers we've had involved wtih this program, they shift into auto-pilot almost immediately.' Redman says most schools have procedures for emergencies during school, but there are fewer resources available after school - when practices and games are going on. A $50,000 grant from the Medtronic Foundation will help the league offer training on CPR and other emergency procedures to coaches and other supervisors throughout the state" - Minnesota Public Radio

Increased calcium sensitivity in the heart can make for an irregular heartbeaf

"New mouse studies, by Björn C. Knollmann and colleagues, at Vanderbilt Medical Center, Nashville, have uncovered a potential new molecular mechanism to explain why some individuals suffer irregular heartbeats that can cause sudden death. The results suggest a potential new target for drugs that would be beneficial to those at risk. Sudden cardiac death caused by irregular heartbeats (cardiac arrhythmias) is responsible for 10% of all deaths in the US. In some individuals anatomical abnormalities in the heart (such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease of the muscle of the heart characterized by a portion of the muscle being thickened) increase the risk of irregular heartbeats and sudden death" - ScienceDaily

Structure of key heart protein 'found'

Scientists have discovered how a key protein in heart muscle actually works to regulate heart function, a breakthrough which they claim should help find out why it goes wrong. An international team has shown how this cardiac protein interacts with actin, one of the two filament-forming muscle proteins (the other is myosin) that slide past each other to create the rhythmic contraction and relaxation that causes the heart to beat. The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - Indian Express Newspapers

Thursday, November 27, 2008

UK campaign to raise awareness of heart attack symptoms

"A county-wide campaign will be re-launched on Monday to raise awareness of the symptoms of heart attacks among the public. The Heart Improvement Team, which are part of the Sussex Heart Network, together with the British Heart Foundation and the South East Coast Ambulance Service, aim to educate members of the public on the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, something that affects thousands of people across Sussex. Andy Newton, consultant paramedic with the South East Coast Ambulance Service, said: 'As ambulance clinicians we do everything we can to ensure patients receive the treatment they need as quickly as possible.' Posters and leaflets detailing the symptoms of a heart attack will be available in doctors' surgeries, hospitals, schools, supermarkets and a range of other public areas throughout Sussex from Monday" - Sussex Express

Street row caused Norwich man's death (UK)

"A popular Norwich greengrocer suffered a heart attack and died because of an argument moments before, an inquest heard today. Roy Wymer, 61, was walking with his dogs on Bowthorpe Road when he became embroiled in a row with a passer-by. Punches were thrown and shortly after the father-of-two and grandfather-of-two, who ran a fruit and vegetable delivery business from his home in Beverley Road, collapsed and later died in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. At the inquest into his death, Norwich Coroner's Court heard that, despite the fact Mr Wymer had suffered a previous heart attack, it was unlikely he would have suffered the fatal one, had the row not have taken place" - Norwich Evening News

How binge drinking may drive heart disease

"As the holidays arrive, a group of researchers has identified the precise mechanisms by which binge drinking contributes to clogs in arteries that lead to heart attack and stroke, according to a study published today in the journal Atherosclerosis. The work adds to a growing body of evidence that drinking patterns matter as much, if not more, to risk for cardiovascular disease than the total amount consumed. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, going on a 'binge' means having five or more drinks for men, and four or more drinks for women, in two hours. Many studies suggest that an irregular pattern of heavy drinking brings about a two-fold increase in risk for a fatal heart attack, even as moderate drinking has been shown to reduce risk (the red wine effect). About 65 percent of Americans drink alcohol, with 15 percent reporting binge patterns in a national survey of problem drinkers" -

Thankful to be alive

"Marc Medina will be feeling a special warmth today, and he has his fiancee and doctors at the Hospital of Saint Raphael, New Haven, CT, to thank. Medina might not have been able to share this year's Thanksgiving at all after his heart stopped last month and his brain went without oxygen for several minutes. But a new technique brought his body temperature down to 89 degrees and helped prevent brain damage, and now he's back to running and working out. The future looks so bright that he and his girlfriend of two years, Jillian Trez, took a trip to New York three weeks ago to buy an engagement ring" - New Haven Register

English city to reward people for keeping fit

"The English city of Manchester has come up with a simple formula it hopes will help keep its citizens trim: eat right, get stuff. Exercise, get more stuff. Manchester is hoping to fight fat with a reward system that works like a retail loyalty card. But instead of earning credit for opening their wallets, residents will be rewarded for keeping their feet on the treadmill and their fridge stocked with healthy food. Starting next fall, Manchester residents will be able to swipe their rewards cards and earn points every time they buy fruits and vegetables, use a community swimming pool, attend a medical screening or work out with a personal trainer. Points can be redeemed for athletic equipment, donations to school athletic departments and personal training sessions with local athletes. The money is coming from the government's health service and from local authorities. 'We're not looking for customers to be loyal to a particular store, but to help people make healthier choices,' said Laura Roberts, the chief executive of Manchester's National Health Service. One public health official said the program seemed worth pursuing even if it is untested" - AP

Give yourself the gift of health this holiday season

"Scientific studies have found that exercise can decrease age-related macular degeneration, prevent or delay the onset of high blood pressure, improve your sex life, increase collagen to keep your skin younger, reduce coronary artery disease and stress, and improve overall wellness. In Faster, Better, Stronger, Eric Heiden, M.D., world-renowned speed skater, cyclist and orthopedic surgeon and his co-authors, outline 10 proven secrets to a healthier body in 12 weeks and highlight scientific research to support their techniques. Geared toward those 30 and above 'Faster, Better, Stronger' offers training tips for every lifestyle from sedentary to very active" -The EarthTimes

Smokers in Greece face high pulmonary disease rates

"Greeks, known as being among Europe's heaviest smokers, suffer high rates of pulmonary disease, with non-smokers also facing health risks, statistics published Tuesday showed. According Constantinos Gourgoulianis, the head of Greece's Pneumonological Society, 8.4 per cent of all Greeks suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease although in rural areas the number rises to 15.1 per cent. The news for urban residents is not much better as Athenians who are non-smokers actually inhale the equivalent of up to four cigarettes a day from other people who do smoke, according to a report published in the Greek daily Kathimerini newspaper. Greece has just over a year to go before a ban outlaws the habit in all public places, including restaurants, bars and offices as of January 1, 2010" - The EarthTimes

Lifesaving training for families (UK)

" Families whose loved ones are recovering from heart attacks have been given life-saving training in case it happens again. The British Red Cross linked up with the Poole Heart Support Group to offer first aid training in this pioneering project, which launched this month. Patients are now referred to the group when they are discharged from the cardiac unit at Poole Hospital. Red Cross First aid trainer Peter Juniper said: 'Knowing how to spot the signs of a heart attack, and how to help in those first few minutes is vital in being able to save someone's life, and can reduce how long it will take to recover in the long run'" - Daily Echo

Pay Now, Benefits May Follow - The Case of Cardiac Computed Tomographic Angiography

"The average American might assume that new medical procedures are proved beneficial before insurers pay for them. In reality, many new procedures are paid for even with no persuasive evidence of benefit. One consequence is health care expenditures that are growing substantially faster than the economy and a Medicare program projected to become insolvent in the next decade. Increased use of technology is the largest driver of this growth; its effect dwarfs that of the aging of our population. We should be able to curb these costs and increase value in health care by taking an evidence-based approach to insurance coverage - but our political environment and medical culture undermine efforts to do so" - more at The New England Journal of Medicine

FTC tosses guidance on tar, nicotine in cigarettes

"The cigarette industry for 42 years has made factual claims about tar and nicotine levels based on machine testing blessed by the (United States) Federal Trade Commission. Now the FTC has dropped the test, known as the Cambridge Filter Method, like a hot rock. The commission has rescinded guidance it issued 42 years ago, saying the test method is flawed. It also said the resulting marketing touting tar and nicotine levels could cause consumers to believe that lighter cigarettes were safer. As a result, future advertising that lists tar levels for cigarettes won't be able to use terms such as "by FTC method. 'Our action today ensures that tobacco companies may not wrap their misleading tar and nicotine ratings in a cloak of government sponsorship,' said Commissioner Jon Leibowitz. 'Simply put, the FTC will not be a smokescreen for tobacco companies' shameful marketing practices.' The commission rescinded the guidance by a 4-0 vote" - AP

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Study: attend religious services, live longer

"Going to church - or any kind of religious service - may prolong your life. A new study shows that older women who regularly attend religious services reduce their risk of death by 20%. The study was published in Psychology and Health. Researchers from Yeshiva University's Albert Einstein College of Medicine grouped all religions together, looking only at whether the women attended services regularly and whether those services brought them comfort. Organized religion creates a social network with regular routines, which is known to enhance well-being. However, even when researchers adjusted for that factor, the women going to services were still less likely to die. In addition to looking at mortality broadly, researchers examined the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. They did not find that religion had an impact on the women's risk of death by this particular cause" - WebMD

Stop smoking drug concerns raised

From Samantha Poling, BBC Scotland - "It was launched as a wonder drug. A tablet to take the pain out of kicking the killer weed. Since it appeared on the market two years ago in the UK, almost 400,000 prescriptions for Champix have been written. Across the world, that figure is currently sitting at nine million. Champix, or varenicline, to give it its clinical name, was first licensed here in December 2006. It mimics the effects of nicotine on the body so it both reduces the urge to smoke and relieves withdrawal symptoms. In clinical trials, it proved more effective than alternative remedies at getting people to quit. For its makers - Pfizer - Champix has been a huge success. In its first full year on the market, the drug brought in a staggering $883m for the company. But about a year ago, I became aware of stories emerging in the media in which people who had taken Champix were said to have suffered severe depression..."

Physical activity key to cardiovascular impact of depression

"For coronary heart disease patients, depression may be associated with worse outcomes, primarily because it tends to curtail physical activity, researchers found. Those cardiac patients who had symptoms of depression had a 31% higher rate of cardiovascular events, after controlling for comorbidities and disease severity (P=0.04), reported Mary A. Whooley, M.D., of the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues in the November 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association" - MedPage Today

Children's Hospital scientists achieve repair of injured heart muscle in lab tests of stem cells

"Researchers at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC have been able to effectively repair damaged heart muscle in an animal model using a novel population of stem cells they discovered that is derived from human skeletal muscle tissue. The research team led by Johnny Huard, PhD transplanted stem cells purified from human muscle-derived blood vessels into the hearts of mice that had heart damage similar to that which would occur in people who had suffered a heart attack." - GEN

New research links genetic variant, poor glycemic control to coronary artery disease

"A new study led by researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School has found that a common genetic variant associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease in the general population is also linked to an even higher risk for people with diabetes, particularly those with poor glucose control. The study, published in the November 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, is the first to find the additional increased risk of coronary artery disease in those with diabetes who have the genetic flaw on chromosome 9p21. Those with two copies of the variant coupled with poor glycemic control experienced a four-fold increased risk for CAD relative to those without the variant and in good glycemic control" -

Saskatchewan workplace smoking ban takes effect May 2009

Saskatchewan employees will breathe easier this spring as a workplace smoking ban takes effect. The province-wide ban is the result of amendments to The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 1996 and comes into force on May 31, 2009. Under the existing smoking regulations, workplace smoking is allowed in certain designated smoking areas only. When the workplace smoking ban takes effect in May 2009, smoking will be prohibited in all enclosed places of employment, including buildings, vehicles, other enclosed structures and underground mines with the following exceptions:

* Traditional First Nations and Métis spiritual or cultural ceremonies;
* Designated smoking rooms for residents and visitors of long-term care homes that are allowed by the Ministry of Health's Tobacco Control legislation;
* Areas of underground mines that are located more than 10 metres from other workers;
* Some self-employed businesses, vehicles and camp living accommodations with permission and when others are not present.

For more information, contact:
Donna-Rae Crooks
Advanced Education, Employment and Labour
Phone: 306-787-3716

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Potential drug therapy for quitting smoking

"Researchers have uncovered information that may lead to a new medical treatment for nicotine addiction. Cigarette smoking is one of the most widespread preventable causes of death and disease in developed countries. Annually, the habit is responsible for about 440,000 deaths and $160 billion in annual health-related costs nationwide. The neuropeptide hypocretin-1 (Orexin A) may start a series of reactions in the body that maintains tobacco addiction in smokers. Targeting the chemical could offer a potential treatment for smoking cessation. In rats, blocking hypocretin-1 receptors not only decreased their reliance on nicotine, it also eliminated the stimulatory effects nicotine had on the areas of the brain linked to rewards. 'This suggests that hypocretin-1 may play a major role in driving tobacco use in smokers to want more nicotine,' Paul Kenny, Ph.D., a research scientist at Scripps Florida, in Jupiter, Fla., was quoted as saying. 'If we can find a way to effectively block this receptor, it could mean a novel way to help break people's addiction to tobacco.' Quitting smoking has proven to be a difficult task. Despite years of health warnings against tobacco, only 10 percent of smokers who attempt to quit stay smoke-free after one year. Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online November 24, 2008

An emerging picture of heart failure in Africa

One of the largest and most comprehensive studies of heart failure to date in Africa has shown that the disease is a big problem and that although the traditional causes of HF - which differ from those seen in Western nations - still predominate, there are signs that the range of etiologies is broadening. This has important implications for primary- and secondary-prevention strategies, say Dr Simon Stewart (Diabetes Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia) and colleagues from South Africa in a report published online November 24, 2008 in Circulation. -

Bad bosses may damage your heart

Inconsiderate bosses not only make work stressful, they may also increase the risk of heart disease for their employees, experts believe. A Swedish team found a strong link between poor leadership and the risk of serious heart disease and heart attacks among more than 3,000 employed men. And the effect may be cumulative - the risk went up the longer an employee worked for the same company. The study is published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine" - BBC

Blood pressure readings in GP surgeries 'may not predict heart problems'

"A blood pressure reading in a GP's surgery may not be the most accurate way of predicting the chances of suffering a heart attack, according to a study. The findings could be because of a phenomenon called 'white coat effect', in which a patient has a different blood pressure level when inside their doctor's office than outside, according to the researchers. Scientists found that taking an average blood pressure level across 24 hours substantially increased the likelihood of anticipating future problems in some patients" - Telegraph, UK

New heart bypass technique means faster recovery

"Anyone who has had heart bypass surgery will tell you the hardest part of the recovery is healing the bones broken to access the heart. However, a new surgical technique may one day mean these patients are up and about in days instead of weeks. When Chuck Hoette toured Alaska, it wasn't just the view that took his breath away. 'I had trouble like taking three or four steps, and losing my breath,' he says. Tests revealed Chuck had three blocked heart arteries. But he 'bypassed' traditional surgery in favor of something called 'TECAB' offered at the University of Chicago Medical Center. 'TECAB or totally endoscopic coronary artery bypass, which is done completely in a closed chest manner,' explains cardiac surgeon Dr. Sudhir Srivastava. A few small incisions in the torso provide access for robotically-guided instruments. 'These tips of these instruments, they have human wrist-like motion and so as the surgeon moves the hand, that motion is exactly transmitted,' said Dr. Sudhir Srivastava. The surgery is done on a beating heart. And for long-lasting success, a chest artery is used instead of leg veins. 'About 85 percent of them are open at the end of fifteen to twenty years, and many of them, of course, much longer,' said Dr. Srivastava. The most dramatic difference is recovery time. Open heart patients require months of rest and rehab, while TECAB patients are back in action in a week. 'The recovery is practically immediate. Patients go home just with some Tylenol for pain,' said Dr. Valluvan Jeevanandam. It's something Chuck feels pretty good about, too. 'I was very pleasantly surprised at how quickly the recovery has been from this procedure,' he said" -

Note: The TECAB procedure is also performed by Dr. Johannes Bonatti at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Dr. Bonatti is recognized as having peformed more minimally invasive coronary operations using the da Vinci robot than anyone else

Perform CPR on gasping cardiac arrest victims, study urges

"Almost half of people in cardiac arrest make gasping, grunting or snoring sounds - which may stop bystanders from starting CPR because they think the person is still breathing, experts are warning. A new study found 39 per cent of people in cardiac arrest gasp or make other 'unusual vocal sounds.' Guidelines for basic life support state that rescuers should start CPR if someone is unconscious, not moving and not breathing - even if they take occasional gasps. Yet, 'all too often bystanders (even physicians) who were 'willing and able' to do CPR delayed because the victim was gasping,' Arizona researchers write in a study published in the medical journal Circulation"

Gaps in health of rich, poor huge in Saskatchewan

"Saskatoon and Regina have some of the biggest gaps in health between the rich and the poor compared to other major cities across the country, a new report says. The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) report, published Monday, found Regina and Saskatoon are repeatedly ranked in first and second place for the biggest differences in hospitalization rates between the cities' richest and poorest citizens, particularly in the areas of substance abuse, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), diabetes, mental health problems and vehicle collisions. Mark Lemstra, senior research epidemiologist for the Saskatoon Health Region, says unless governments take steps to reduce burdens on people with low socioeconomic status, the poor will become sicker and the middle class and rich will be increasingly healthy in comparison" - Star Phoenix

Grange revitalises heart patients

"Eighty-eight-year-old Eve Taylor from Easebourne, Sussex, UK, is one of many people recovering from heart surgery who was left stranded when the cardiac rehabilitation unit closed along with King Edward VII hospital. But anxious to keep up her vital exercising, she and others joined forces and took themselves off to the Grange Centre gym. 'When KEVII closed I, as with many others in the same programme, was devastated, as the closure left us nowhere to go for cardiac exercise,' said Eve. 'Elderly people need exercise to keep fit and in doing so mixing with others is a tonic in itself.' Now two years later the new Revitalise group at the Grange Centre is so successful, an extra class has had to be organised and doctors are referring patients from St Richard's Hospital in Chichester" - Chichester Observer

Woodbury County Sheriff's deputies now equipped with defibrillators

"Woodbury County Sheriff's deputies are now better equipped to successfully intervene in cardiac emergencies, thanks to a compact device that delivers an electrical shock to the heart. Last month, the sheriff's office began equipping its entire patrol fleet with Automatic External Defibrillators, AEDs. So far three deputies have completed training and are carrying the devices in their squad cars. 'This is one of those pieces of equipment we hope we never use,' Sgt. Doug Boetger said while packing the small bright yellow-green Zoll Medical AED plus into the trunk of his car." - Sioux City Journal, Iowa

Brothers working hard for stronger hearts

"Lifestyle changes are never easy to make. They take discipline, dedication and a fierce desire to succeed. But sometimes a life-threatening event can be the catalyst to a successful lifestyle change. That was the case with Chris and John Murray of Neptune, New Jersey, who overcame serious heart problems, lost a combined 170 pounds and won the 2008 American Heart Association Lifestyle Change Award. The brothers underwent angioplasty and stent procedures last year at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune. They then dedicated themselves to healthier lifestyles. They changed their diet, modified their cholesterol medication and stayed true to their cardiac rehabilitation programs" - Asbury Park Press

Video: A Quick Workout Routine: Cardiac Rehabilitation

3 minute video by Ken Curwen, Co-Founder of performing his basic cardiac rehabilitation exercise routine at a public park in London, UK:

Monday, November 24, 2008

High blood pressure stalks many Americans

"It's one of medicine's mantras: If you have high blood pressure, taking steps to lower it will have a dramatic impact on your risk of stroke, heart disease and more. But 70% of people with high blood pressure still aren't doing a good enough job controlling it, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. 'High blood pressure is clearly associated with stroke, and it's a very preventable and treatable condition, but a lot of people still aren't doing what they should,' said Dr. Keith Siller, medical director of the Comprehensive Stroke Care Center at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City" - HealthDay

Antidepressants in pregnancy 'increase risk of babies suffering heart problems'

"Women who take common antidepressants - such as Prozac - early in their pregnancy can significantly increase their chances of having children with heart problems, according to a new study" - Telegraph

A scientific breakthrough on the control of the bad cholesterol

"A study performed by the team of Dr. Nabil G. Seidah, Director of the Biochemical Neuroendocrinology Research Unit at the IRCM, Canada, shows for the very first time that the degradation by PCSK9 of the LDLR receptor, which is responsible for removing the bad cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol) from the bloodstream, may be inhibited by a third protein, annexin A2. This major discovery co-authored by Gaetan Mayer, a postdoctoral fellow, Steve Poirier, a doctoral student, and Dr. Seidah was published on November 14 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry" promotes wellness oline to reduce healthcare costs

"The current economic crisis has many consumers looking for ways to reduce expenses. One of the best strategies to reduce healthcare expenses is by exercising regularly. 'Most of the chronic health problems in our society are a result of a sedentary lifestyle,' according to Stan Reents, PharmD, a certified personal trainer, fitness counselor, tennis coach. Diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, coronary artery disease and others are largely preventable with regular exercise. 'Healthcare costs including medication costs for these conditions can be reduced by exercising regularly,' says Reents. Statistics from the CDC show that only about half of adults meet current exercise recommendations - Business Wire

Cases of stroke complicating heart attack down

"While the incidence of stroke as a complication of heart attack has decreased since the late 1990s, death during hospitalization in affected patients has not shown a corresponding decrease, new data suggest. 'Although contemporary therapies may be reducing the risk of stroke in patients with (heart attack), more attention should be directed to improving the short-term prognosis of these high-risk patients,' conclude Dr. Jane S. Saczynski, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, and colleagues in the Archives of Internal Medicine. In looking at data on 9,220 patients hospitalized for heart attack between 1986 and 2005, Saczynski's team found that 132 patients (1.4 percent) suffered a first acute stroke during hospitalization. The frequency of stroke increased through the 1990s, peaked in 1999, and declined slightly thereafter, the researchers found" - Reuters

Schulich Heart Program Research Day

Researchers from the Schulich Heart Program and Sunnybrook Research Institute are hosting the third annual Schulich Heart Program Research Day to celebrate advances in diagnosing and treating cardiovascular irregularities and disease in less invasive and more effective ways.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Harrison Hall, EG 21, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Toronto.
Scientists will deliver a series of talks on cutting-edge cardiac research, illustrating the progress medical science has achieved in advancing our understanding of the human heart, as well as how far we have to go

UK conductor Hickox dies, aged 60

"Richard Hickox, described as 'one of the world's leading conductors', has died from a suspected heart attack aged 60. Hickox died yesterday in his hotel room in Cardiff after a recording session in the city, his publicist said. He was due to conduct English National Opera's new production of Vaughan Williams's opera Riders To The Sea, opening this Thursday. The conductor is survived by his wife, the mezzo-soprano Pamela Helen Stephen, and his three children, Tom, Adam and Abigail" - Daily Mail

Video: double heart bypass operation

Jeffrey Fairlamb from County Durham, UK, has allowed the BBC to film him having a double heart bypass operation at Middlesbrough's James Cook University Hospital

Researchers in bid to help cut heart attacks

"Researchers are carrying out a study which could ultimately lead to a dramatic drop in the number of heart attacks. A GBP161,500 project, taking place at Glenfield Hospital and funded by the British Heart Foundation, aims to find out how the heart might be able to protect itself during very brief interruptions of blood flow. If researchers are successful, their findings could herald the start of work to develop a new generation of medicines, as well as the start of clinical trials on heart surgery - possibly in Leicester. The race is on to make the discoveries before colleagues in Europe and America. Dr Glenn Rodrigo, a scientist at the University of Leicester, is heading the project. He has devised a way of studying how the heart might be able to protect itself during brief interruptions of blood flow, such as during a heart attack. During an attack, a blood clot in the artery starves the heart of vital oxygen. As a result, cells in the heart die and it cannot then work normally. Researchers have discovered that if the blood supply is cut for very short, sharp periods, the heart seems better able to cope. Dr Rodrigo and his team are now aiming to better understand how this works" - Leicester Mercury

Why an afternoon rest protects your heart

Watch the video from Men'sHealth TV:

Scientists discover 21st century plague

"Bacteria that can cause serious heart disease in humans are being spread by rat fleas, sparking concern that the infections could become a bigger problem in humans. Research published in the December issue of the Journal of Medical Microbiology suggests that brown rats, the biggest and most common rats in Europe, may now be carrying the bacteria. Since the early 1990s, more than 20 species of Bartonella bacteria have been discovered. They are considered to be emerging zoonotic pathogens, because they can cause serious illness in humans worldwide from heart disease to infection of the spleen and nervous system" - EurekAlert

Sunday, November 23, 2008

5K Turkey Trot 2008 - Colorado

"Before sitting down to full plates of turkey and potatoes this Thanksgiving, residents of northern Colorado may take an opportunity to improve their own health while helping those in need of medical care. This year marks the 11th Annual Turkey Trot race, with 5K and 2K runs for adults as well as children 17 and younger. The Thanksgiving tradition will start at 9 a.m., hosted by the North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley. Proceeds will benefit the facility's Cardiac Rehabilitation program and the patients it serves. 'It’s turned into a family event, and a great way for families to spend their Thanksgivings doing something healthy,' said Craig DeKraai, supervisor of Cardiac Rehabilitation at NCMC. DeKraai said funds raised by the Turkey Trot are used to cover the cost of services not provided by a patient's insurance. These include exercise therapy and strength training for those who may have suffered a heart attack or undergone bypass surgery. He said about 200 people have been able to participate in the program thanks to money brought in by the race" - Banner Health

How doctors saved my life after a heart attack in less time than it took to queue at my bank

"Andrew Solecki staggered across his hallway, a searing pain - more intense than any he had previously experienced - surging through his chest. He grabbed the telephone and dialled 999. Within minutes the 45-year-old father of one was being rushed by ambulance to London's Hammersmith Hospital. Tests later showed he had suffered a heart attack as a result of one of his coronary arteries becoming completely blocked. 'The pain in my chest and arms was unbearable,' he says. 'On a scale of one to ten, it was a ten. I was terrified.' Just over an hour later, Andrew was undergoing primary angioplasty, a breakthrough procedure now set to become the standard first treatment for heart attack in Britain - Daily Mail

Your health: Vitamin C true to the heart

"Good old vitamin C - plenty of which is found in oranges - made its name in the 1980s largely due to the efforts of two-time Nobel Prize winner, the late Linus Pauling. Part of that early excitement died with him. However, it may soon be back in the news. Maybe in an even bigger way. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient. It is required for a range of essential metabolic reactions in all animals and plants. It is produced internally by almost all organisms, humans being the most well-known among them. Its deficiency causes the disease scurvy. A study carried out by University of California, Berkeley, researchers found that supplementing with vitamin C reduces C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The trial leader, Berkeley professor Emeritus of Epidemiology and Public Health Nutrition, Gladys Block, and team randomly allowed 396 nonsmokers to receive 1,000 milligrammes of vitamin C, 800 international units vitamin E, or a placebo for two months. They were measuring and tracking serum C-reactive protein levels during the treatment period" More at NST online

Rare cardiac surgery to repair aneurysm

"A 61-year-old man got a virtual second lease of life and went home to Goa, India, on Saturday after a team of doctors from the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences here performed a rare keyhole procedure to repair an aneurysm on the main blood vessel from the heart. The aneurysm, which is a dilatation of the blood vessel on the arch of aorta, was done without an open-chest surgery while preserving the blood flow to the brain. The procedure, called the thoracic chimney technique, is the first to be done in the country, said cardiologist K.K. Haridas, who led the team. Aortic aneurysms are abnormal massive dilatations of the main blood vessel. They have a tendency to distend and rupture over a period of time. Rupture of the blood vessel would have meant immediate death. Aortic aneurysms are seen in one in 10,000 people past the middle age worldwide" - The Hindu

Friday, November 21, 2008

Beware heart risks from snow shovelling

"With the first signs of winter upon us, the Brock University Heart Institute is reminding people about the risk of heart attack that accompanies snow shoveling. 'Since part of what we do at the Heart Institute is ensure safe and effective exercise for people with heart disease or those at high risk for it, we felt it was important at this time of year to remind these individuals about the importance of moderating or refraining from this type of activity,' says Dr. Deborah O'Leary, Director, Brock University Heart Institute. Studies have shown that the vigorous physical exertion required for shoveling snow in combination with the cold weather places individuals with heart disease or high risk under significant strain, which can bring on chest pain and even heart attacks. Individuals with a history of heart disease or stroke should avoid taking part in strenuous snow removal activities. Individuals with one or more cardiovascular risk factors (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, inactivity) should also be cautious when shoveling snow or should check with their doctor before doing so. The Brock University Heart Institute encourages healthy individuals to lend a hand to friends and neighbours who should not be shoveling" - Welland Tribune

Teenager collapsed after becoming addicted to Red Bull

"Naomi Haynes, 14, became so dependent on the drinks that she would spend all her money on them and even borrow from friends to fund the habit. "The drinks made me happy and I got a great buzz from them, but then I would feel tired and unhappy so I would have another drink to pick me up," said Miss Haynes, of East Cowes, Isle of Wight. It got to the stage where she would smuggle them into class to stop her from falling asleep. But she says she has now been warned by doctors that her addiction could lead to a heart attack - Telegraph

Study shows green tea reduces risk of heart disease

"Drinking green tea may help prevent heart disease and stroke, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Athens Medical School in Greece and published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention. "A couple of cups a day would probably be a good dose for people," researcher Charalambos Vlachopoulos said. "This is the first study to show these effects for green tea." Prior research has indicated that black tea can improve cardiovascular health, leading researchers suspect that green tea might even more effective. Many of the beneficial health effects of tea are attributed to its high content of antioxidant polyphenols, especially flavonoids. Most of these polyphenols are destroyed, however, by the fermentation process that makes tea black. This is why green tea has a water-extractable polyphenol content of between 30 and 40 percent, while the content in black tea is only 3 to 10 percent" - Natural News

Free nicotine patches now available to Massachusetts veterans and their families

"The Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health have announced a nicotine patch giveaway for Massachusetts veterans, their family members, and survivors who want to quit smoking. Massachusetts veterans and their family members who call the Massachusetts Smokers Helpline at 1-800-Try-To-Stop will receive a free four-week supply of nicotine patches valued at $100 retail, along with informational resources on the benefits of quitting smoking, and tips on how to stop. Program participants will also receive free telephone support to help them quit. The nicotine patch giveaway program will run through June 30, 2009. Massachusetts veterans smoke at a higher rate than the general adult population: 24 percent as opposed to 18 percent, when adjusted for age (based on figures from 2005-07). This new quit-smoking offer for veterans is a joint effort of DVS and DPH." -

Long-term secondary prevention program may help reduce cardiovascular risks after heart attack

"An intensive, comprehensive, long-term secondary prevention program lasting up to three years after cardiac rehabilitation appears to reduce the risk of a second non-fatal heart attack and other cardiovascular events, according to a new article. Cardiac rehabilitation programs after a heart disease diagnosis have evolved over two decades from solely exercise-based interventions, according to background information in the article. Now, rehabilitation includes helping patients with smoking cessation, diet, risk factors, and lifestyle habits. However, current rehabilitation procedures rely on short-term interventions that are unlikely to yield long-term benefits because patients never reach therapeutic goals. Pantaleo Giannuzzi, M.D., of the Associazione Nazionale Medici Cardiologi Ospedalieri Research Center, Florence, Italy, and colleagues conducted the Global Secondary Prevention Strategies to Limit Event Recurrence After Myocardial Infarction (GOSPEL) study, in which they randomly assigned 1,620 patients who had a heart attack to receive a long-term, reinforced, multifactorial educational and behavioral intervention after a standard period of rehabilitation" - ScienceDaily

US teenager lives 118 days without heart

An American teenager survived for nearly four months without a heart, kept alive by a custom-built artificial blood-pumping device, until she was able to have a heart transplant, doctors in Miami said on Wednesday. The doctors said they knew of another case in which an adult had been kept alive in Germany for nine months without a heart but said they believed this was the first time a child had survived in this manner for so long. The patient, D'Zhana Simmons of South Carolina, said the experience of living for so long with a machine pumping her blood was "scary". - People's Daily Online

UK Prime Minister Brown unveils 'Prometheus' statue

The Prime Minister has unveiled a statue in tribute to the work of a renowned heart surgeon who he said was regarded as a hero around the world. The Prometheus figure, from Greek philosophy, was presented to Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub to mark his contribution to cardiac research across the globe. The statue now stands outside the Magdi Yacoub Institute based at the Heart Science Centre at Harefield Hospital, Middlesex. It has been presented to the Institute by the doctors and scientists of the Praxiteleion, a group of private hospitals and diagnostic centres in Athens. The group is planning to build a new hospital specialising in cardiological and neurological research which Sir Magdi is advising and assisting with. Sir Magdi, who was a friend of Princess Diana, has performed more transplants than any other surgeon in the world. He retired from the NHS in September 2001, but continues to head his pioneering research programme at Harefield Hospital and projects across the world. Gordon Brown said that Sir Magdi was "one the best contributors to British science we have ever seen". He said: "This research centre is sending out a message of hope not only to this country but to the rest of the world." Sir Magdi said: "As a pioneering heart research institute, we exist to investigate the causes and treatment of heart disease and share our findings for the benefit of humanity worldwide. The doctors and scientists at the Praxiteleion share our vision and Prometheus provides an enduring link between ancient Greek philosophy and modern day research." - PA

Diuretic reduces risk for a type of heart failure that is more common among women, study suggest

"New research by The University of Texas School of Public Health shows that a medication for high blood pressure called a diuretic or water pill is particularly effective at reducing the risk for a type of heart failure that affects women more often than men" - ScienceDaily

He's no dummy: nursing students practice on patient simulator

"In what could be the start of a unique partnership in health care, a new "man on campus" has arrived on the Regis College, Weston, MA, campus. He is the Sim-Man patient simulator, a $50,000 human-like robot that has vital signs, can go into cardiac arrest, be treated for pneumonia, appear to be pregnant (as a woman, of course), groan and talk. Sim-Man can have multiple computerized symptoms and diagnoses, and will respond to treatment. Different protocols will yield different outcomes and help nursing students learn proper techniques. He is anatomically correct, although, with the help of a large tool kit of interchangeable parts, Sim-Man can be turned into a woman and be pregnant" - Weston Town Crier

Concentrated stem cells directly injected into patient's heart in new clinical trial

"For the first time, surgeons at the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, have injected highly-concentrated stem cells directly into a patient's heart, providing an intense, direct hit on damaged heart tissue. The promising new technique can turn out to be more effective in regenerating healthy heart tissue than current methods that use a catheter to put standard stem cells through the bloodstream into the heart. The patient, who was a 58-year-old veteran and businessman, is resting comfortably and may be discharged this weekend" - newKerala

Fat fliers get an extra seat free

The Supreme Court of Canada has made a ruling that entitles obese people to have two seats for the price of a single fare. The court declined to hear an appeal by Canadian airlines against a decision by the Canadian Transportation Agency to allocate two seats to people who are "functionally disabled by obesity". In the Philippines last month, a flight attendant lost a 20-year battle against what he said was an unfair sacking by his airline on the grounds he was too fat to fly. Armanda Yrasuegi was dismissed by Philippine Airlines (PAL) after failing to lose weight in 1989. The country's Supreme Court said that his refusal to shed some of his 16st weight from his 5ft 8in frame was due to a lack of willpower rather than an illness. "Passenger safety goes to the core of the job of a cabin attendant. On board an aircraft, the body weight and size of a cabin attendant are important factors to consider in case of emergency," the ruling said. "Aircraft have constricted cabin space, narrow aisles and exit doors." - Yahoo

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Saving Lives in Schools and Sports

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association has published its Saving Lives in Schools and Sports reference booklet for school and sports administrators, athletic trainers, school nurses, and parent-teacher associations to use in building community support for broader deployment of automated external defibrillators at school and athletic facilities - SCAA

The Great American Smokeout

"If there's one thing a smoker needs to quit, it's moral support - mostly from friends and family subjected to the short temper and irritability that usually accompany one of mankind's most daunting tests of willpower. In 1977, the American Cancer Society offered smokers even more support, launching the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday in November. On this day every year, smokers across the country try to do what feels impossible - give up their cigarettes for 24 hours. The idea is that many will quit puffing away all together. (In this spirit, this year's campaign includes an aptly named initiative next week called "Stay Quit Monday.")" - Time

Utah doctors release YouTube video on heart attack detection

From "Cardiologists from Utah are hoping a video they made for YouTube will save lives. Intermountain Medical Center doctors made the video to spread the word about the leading cause of death in the U.S: sudden cardiac arrest. It kills more people than breast cancer, lung cancer and aids combined, and Utah has one of the highest rates of death from cardiac arrest. Many times it happens in people who have not been diagnosed with heart disease. The heart just stops beating. A simple shock from a defibrillator within a couple of minutes can save a person's life. The video pushes for more defibrillators in more places like airplanes, gyms and shopping." The video can be seen below:


"EUROPACE is the official Congress of the European Heart Rhythm Association, a Registered Branch of the European Society of Cardiology. EUROPACE has now established itself as the foremost European meeting on cardiac arrhythmias and pacing. Over 4,000 participants attended the last meeting. The increasingly strong international attendance confirms that interest in EUROPACE now reaches far beyond our Europe borders" - 21-24 June, 2009 - Berlin, Germany

Best holiday gift for parents with heart disease: health advocacy

"Millions of adult children will get unwelcome news this holiday season: Mom or Dad has been diagnosed with heart disease. The best gift you can give your elderly parent, says cardiologist Jerome E. Granato, MD, FACC, is to take an active role in helping him or her through the diagnosis, follow-up tests, treatment decisions, and surgery. Nearly 62 million Americans have some form of cardiovascular disease. Chances are, one or both of your parents will be one of them, and they will face a daunting array of tests, drugs, surgical options, and lifestyle modifications. 'For most people,' says Dr. Granato, 'the process is daunting. But this is especially true for elderly patients, who often get overwhelmed trying to understand their disease, ask the right questions, remember all their options, and make sound decisions about how to manage their condition.' Dr. Granato says his elderly heart patients who have a strong support system - particularly spouses or adult children who help them make informed choices - are better able to stay positive, tolerate medication side effects, and recover after surgery than those who go it alone" - newswise

Adrian Kantrowitz; performed first U.S. heart transplant, dies

"Adrian Kantrowitz, 90, a doctor who performed the first human heart transplant in the United States and developed numerous medical devices that helped save thousands of heart patients, died of complications from congestive heart failure November 14 at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor. Dr. Kantrowitz transplanted the heart of a brain-dead baby to another infant December 6, 1967, days after Christiaan Barnard had pioneered the operation in South Africa. The American baby died after six hours" - Washington Post

Mobile phone 'nurses' track health of patients

"People suffering from asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure simply enter details of their condition and treatment into standard mobile handsets that have been programmed with special software. The data is automatically sent to hospital database where it is analysed by a nurse who decides whether any action needs to be taken. Studies have shown that the system helps catch complications before they get out of control, without burdening patients with regular visits to their GP. It also reduces hospital admissions for long-term patients by up to 90 per cent, potentially saving the NHS millions of pounds per year. The software, designed by a company called t+ Medical, has been adopted by eight primary care trusts in Walsall, Oxfordshire, Norfolk and Norwich, Newham, Southampton, Leicester, North East Essex and Calderdale. The software costs around £250 per patient per year. Lionel Tarassenko, a professor at the University of Oxford and a board member of t+ Medical, said that the service helped monitor patients in between hospital visits. 'There are 12 million people in Britain who have diabetes, asthma, hypertension or COPD – that's a fifth of the population,' he said. 'Chronic long-term conditions are among the highest costs to the NHS, accounting for 80 per cent of all GP consultations. It is in between visits to the doctor that these diseases run out of control. By the time anybody notices anything is wrong, they're in the hospital with an emergency.'" - The Telegraph

Smoking during pregnancy associated with artery damage in children

"Children of mothers who smoked during pregnancy had more damage to their arteries in young adulthood than offspring of non-smokers and the association was even stronger if both parents smoked, researchers reported in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology: Journal of the American Heart Association. Researchers from The Netherlands found children of mothers who smoked during pregnancy had linings of carotid arteries in the neck that were 13.4 micrometers thicker by young adulthood than offspring whose mothers didn't smoke. The association - which in later life could be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease - was present even after adjustment for known risk factors such as age, gender, body mass index and cholesterol levels." - AHA


PeerClip - A social knowledge management platform exclusively for health care professionals to communicate, collaborate, and discover medical knowledge with their peers. Watch the video:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Painkiller risk found for heart patients

"Heart attack and heart failure patients have a higher risk of a second heart attack or death if they take painkillers, including the generic drug ibuprofen and Celebrex, made by Pfizer, a Danish study has found. Patients who had suffered a heart attack and were taking Vioxx, a painkiller that has been withdrawn from the market, had 2.7 times the risk of having another heart attack or dying compared with patients not taking painkillers, according to research presented Tuesday at the American Heart Association meeting in New Orleans. Patients taking Celebrex had double the risk; patients taking the generic diclofenac had 1.9 times the risk, and those taking ibuprofen had 1.3 times the risk, the study found" - New York Times

Skate for the Heart featuring musical guest Kenny G and Olympic and World Champion figure skaters

AT&T Real Yellow Pages presents Skate for the Heart featuring musical guest Kenny G and Olympic and World Champion figure skaters. World renowned saxophonist Kenny G will perform live joined by Olympic and World champion figure skaters Ekaterina Gordeeva, Irina Slutskaya, Viktor Petrenko, Jeffrey Buttle, US Pairs Champions Rockne Brubaker & Keauna McLaughlin, Shae-Lynn Bourne, Caryn Kadavy, Jozef Sabovcik and Steven Cousins - Wednesday November 19, 2008 at Wright State University's Ervin J. Nutter Center. This event will be broadcast on NBC Saturday, February 7, 2009 from 4-6pm

DuPage hospital stops heart attack in 14 minutes

Ken Roush was feeling stressed last month over the stock market's plunges when he suffered what could have been a fatal heart attack. But quick-acting emergency personnel and a record-breaking medical procedure saved the Glen Ellyn man's life. 'It's nice to see you again ... from the bottom of my heart,' Roush said to the cardiologist and one of the paramedics who treated him. The trio was reunited Tuesday at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Illinois, USA. Roush, a 74-year-old marketing consultant, recalled how he started to feel uncomfortable on October 9 while driving to work.

Norwich City fan thanks stewards for coming to his aid

"A Norwich City (UK) fan who suffered a heart attack and collapsed before a match has been given the chance to thank the stewards and paramedics who helped save his life after being reunited with them. Ian Miller, 61, from Pulham St Mary, was on his way to watch Norwich take on Birmingham at Carrow Road in August when he was taken ill. The City fan collapsed at turnstile 49-50 of the Jarrold Stand as he attempted to get into the ground to take his seat for the Championship game. He said: 'I do not really remember anything about it apart from getting through the turnstile. I was just unconscious, but I know my wife, Jane, raised the alarm and the stewards were first on the scene and called the paramedics who helped stabilise me before taking me to hospital which is where I regained conciseness.' Mr Miller, who also suffered a heart attack in May 2007, said he owed his life to the quick reactions of people who came to his aid on the day" - Norwich Evening News

Technology gives 3-D view of human coronary arteries

For the first time researchers are getting a detailed look at the interior of human coronary arteries, using an optical imaging technique developed at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. In their report in the journal JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging, the research team describes how optical frequency-domain imaging gives three-dimensional, microscopic views of significant segments of patients' coronary arteries, visualizing areas of inflammation and plaque deposits - ScienceDaily

Cardiac rehab patients pump it up to help hearts

"As Ronald Vaughn worked through the maintenance phase of cardiac rehabilitation following a heart attack, he jumped at the chance to add rigorous resistance training. 'Some programs rehab you to where you were (before the heart attack),' says Vaughn, 60, of Southfield. 'I wanted to do something more.' The 'something more' for this self-described workout fanatic turned out to be the advanced training program in Beaumont Hospitals' Cardiac Rehabilitation gym. The novel program employs medium-to-high level resistance training - with free weights, exercise bands, medicine and stability balls, body bars and weight machines - to help participants increase muscle strength, endurance and heart function" - Beaumont Hospitals

Americans cutting back on medical care because of high cost

In an international study, at least half of chronically ill patients in the U.S. said they had to cut back on medicine and treatment because they could not afford to pay for it. At least 30 percent of patients surveyed said they would not go see a doctor because of cost. Watch the video - VOA

Life After Stroke Awards 2009

"As the only national (UK) charity solely concerned with helping everyone affected by stroke, The Stroke Association recognises the huge and overwhelming impact a stroke can have. Every day The Stroke Association witnesses people displaying immense courage and determination as they work to overcome the effects of stroke, as well as great patience and persistence in overcoming disabilities and relearning old skills. The Stroke Association also sees people showing true compassion and commitment encouraging others to rebuild their lives by providing them with the support they need. It is for this reason that The Stroke Association organises the Life After Stroke Awards. The 2009 Awards will be held in a central London location and are an opportunity to formally recognise and celebrate the achievements of these remarkable people. Those chosen to receive an award will be invited to stay in a central London hotel the evening before, and to attend the award ceremony at the venue to accept their award from a celebrity supporter of The Stroke Association."

The National Working Group for ACTTION (United States)

"The National Working Group for ACTTION (United States) is a recently formed, action-oriented group of vested stakeholders (including business, health plans, government agencies, public health and tobacco control), brought together to identify gaps and opportunities for enhancing access to evidence-based tobacco-use treatments. The National Working Group for ACTTION is focused on drawing more attention to and driving solutions around the need for expanded consumer access to evidence-based treatments that can help more tobacco users quit. A core element of the National Working Group's mission is to catalyze political, civic, business and health policy leaders to advocate for system and policy changes to make access to evidence-based tobacco cessation treatments a standard feature of the U.S. health system"

Good news and bad on cholesterol levels: study

"Levels of 'bad' LDL cholesterol among adult Americans have fallen somewhat since 1980. However, harmful triglyceride levels have nearly quintupled over the same time period, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's annual meeting. Research presenter Dr. Jerome D. Cohen of St. Louis University, Missouri, told Reuters Health that the falling LDL cholesterol levels may reflect Americans' greater awareness of the dangers of a high-fat diet, but the 'skyrocketing triglyceride levels' reflect the increasing prevalence of obesity, which Cohen described as a 'a true epidemic.' The findings are based on a look at data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey II (NHANES II) conducted between 1976 and 1980, NHANES III, covering the years 1988 to 1994, and NHANES 1999 to 2006" - Reuters Health

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Experts say new tobacco product targets young adults

"New research at West Virginia University is examining whether a smokeless, spitless tobacco product aimed at young adults is catching on. And the researchers have found that RJ Reynolds' Camel Snus - touted as a socially acceptable way to satisfy addiction - contains surprisingly high levels of nicotine. 'Camel Snus contains more nicotine than most other snuff products,' said Bruce Adkins of the state Division of Tobacco Prevention in Charleston. 'In fact, the Camel Snus currently being marketed in West Virginia contains double the nicotine of an earlier tested version sold elsewhere in the United States. This provides a new example of the tobacco companies' manipulating nicotine levels without informing consumers'" - newswise

Exercise improves quality of life for heart failure patients

"Heart failure patients who participated in exercise training quickly improved their quality of life, and this continued for at least a year, researchers reported at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2008. The Effect of Exercise Training on Health-related Quality of Life in Patients with Chronic Heart Failure: An HF-ACTION Substudy was presented as a late-breaking clinical trial. 'These findings are particularly important because this is the best medicated population in a heart failure trial that I have ever seen presented or published,' said Ileana Pina, M.D., chair of the HF-ACTION steering committee and a professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. 'This is really evidence-based care. No one can say, 'Well, they weren't well-medicated so maybe the exercise was taking the place of medication.' The benefits from exercise are on top of medication and devices.'" - AHA

In Good Health — Local (Maryland) cardiologists, volunteers to be honored

"Several local cardiologists and medical volunteers will be honored Wednesday for their work in providing medical care to disadvantaged Marylanders and helping prevent heart attack deaths. The Frederick County Medical Society will present the Laughlin Foundation Citizen Award to Drs. Gianna Talone-Sullivan and Michael Sullivan for their work with Mission of Mercy. The organization mobilizes both retired and active physicians to provide free medical and dental services to the uninsured, the working poor, the homeless and other disadvantaged groups in Maryland" - FNP

A call for caution in the rush to statins

"Is it time to put cholesterol-lowering statin drugs in every medicine cabinet? Judging by recent headlines, you might think so. Last week heart researchers reported that millions of healthy people could benefit from taking statins even if they don’t have high cholesterol. Although many doctors hailed the study as a major breakthrough, a closer look at the research suggests that statins (like Crestor, from AstraZeneca, and Lipitor, from Pfizer) are far from magic pills. While they clearly save lives in people with a previous heart attack or other serious heart problems, for an otherwise healthy person the potential benefit remains small. Many doctors who believe in using statins for heart disease say they needn’t be given to healthy patients. Instead, they say, the focus should remain on encouraging healthful behavior and screening for traditional risk factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol. 'Statins have many biological effects that appear to be quite meaningful,' said Dr. Valentin Fuster, director of the heart program at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan and past president of the American Heart Association. 'But I don’t think the answer is a magic drug to prevent disease. The answer is to change behavior.'" - New York Times

Drug protects mice from heart failure

"A drug seems to protect mice from heart failure even when enormous pressure is placed on their hearts. If the results can be replicated in humans, it could help millions of people avoid some of the long-term consequences of a heart attack. The new drug targets a micro RNA - a molecule that inhibits the expression of a network of genes. Researchers recently discovered that a micro RNA called miR-208 is implicated in heart failure and that mice engineered to lack the gene for miR-208 are protected against heart failure" - New Scientist

Brush your teeth, save your life?

"Oral surgeon Dr. Gary Bouloux is about to pull a diseased wisdom tooth from his patient's mouth, using forceps that look like a pair of silver pliers. 'We're in good shape,' Bouloux assures his patient. In a smooth, quick motion, Bouloux snatches the white molar from the woman's gum with a loud snap. 'Strong bones,' Bouloux quips to his numb patient. 'You'll never break your hip.' And it might help cut her heart disease risk, too. In theory, by removing his patient's teeth ravaged by gum disease, 'we reduced the number of inflamed and infected sites in her mouth, which may reduce her overall inflammatory burden and thus reduce her risk for cardiovascular disease,' said Bouloux, an assistant professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Doctors have known for years that gum disease and heart disease are linked, but they have yet to reach agreement on the exact reasons behind the connection. Heart disease patients often have several risk factors such as high cholesterol or poor diet, making it impossible to single out bad dental health as a contributing factor" - CNN

100 Top Hospitals: Cardiovascular Benchmarks for Success.(United States)

The Healthcare business of Thomson Reuters has released its annual study identifying the 100 U.S. hospitals that are setting the nation’s benchmarks for cardiovascular care. The study - 2008 Thomson Reuters 100 Top Hospitals: Cardiovascular Benchmarks for Success - examined the performance of 970 hospitals by analyzing clinical outcomes for patients diagnosed with heart failure and heart attacks and for those who received coronary bypass surgery and angioplasties

Why HIV treatment makes people so susceptible to heart disease and diabetes

"Clinicians have known for some time that people treated for HIV also become much more susceptible to diabetes and heart disease. A study by scientists at Sydney's Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Australia, has now shown some of the reasons why - enabling better patient management and monitoring. Associate Professor Katherine Samaras, Head of Garvan's Diabetes and Obesity Clinical Research Group and senior endocrinologist at St Vincent's Hospital, has demonstrated that inflammation (typically associated with immune function) plays a much greater role than previously suspected. Her findings are published online today in the journal Obesity" -

KU Hospital opens heart rehab unit

"The University of Kansas Hospital has opened a new 2,600-square-foot rehabilitation unit on the fourth floor of its Center for Advanced Heart Care. The Outpatient Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Unit, a $500,000 project, will enhance the continuity of care at the heart-care center, a $77 million facility that opened in 2006. 'Patients now will be able to continue their recoveries with us in our new outpatient cardiac rehab program, instead of having to go elsewhere,' Eric Larson, the heart center's program manager for inpatient and outpatient cardiac rehabilitation, said in a release Monday. Outpatient cardiac rehabilitation is an individualized program of monitored exercise and education. Patients who have had heart attacks, heart surgery or treatment for heart disease are encouraged to attend three times a week for as long as 12 weeks. 'Statistically, those who enter an outpatient rehab program have a 75 percent better survival rate than those who don't,' Larson said in the release. Staff members of the new unit include nurses, an exercise specialist, a dietitian and a respiratory therapist" - Kansas City Business Journal