Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sunnybrook adopts new heart procedure to treat a condition that is common among elderly patients (Canada)

A new program at Sunnybrook's Schulich Heart Centre is improving access to a potentially lifesaving heart procedure for elderly or frail patients not well enough to undergo traditional aortic valve replacement surgery. With the introduction of the PAVI program at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, patients who are considered too high risk for conventional open-heart surgery to replace or repair the aortic valve may be candidates for a substantially less invasive procedure. In this procedure, a team of doctors including an Interventional Cardiologist, Cardiac Surgeon and Vascular Surgeon are able to implant a new valve percutaneously (without opening the chest). "Surgical replacement of the diseased valve with an artificial one is considered the best treatment for aortic valve stenosis," says Dr. Sam Radhakrishnan, Interventional Cardiologist and Physician-Lead of the Percutaneous Aortic Valve Intervention (PAVI) program at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. "Unfortunately, many of the patients we see with this condition have significant co-existing medical issues that render them unable to withstand the physical trauma of open-heart surgery. In the past, we have had to treat these patients with drugs alone, which is proven to be less effective than with valve replacement"

Breakthrough heart scanner will allow earlier diagnosis (UK)

"An innovative cardiac scanner being developed at the University of Leeds will dramatically improve the process of diagnosing heart conditions. The portable magnetometer is being developed with the help of funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Due to its unprecedented sensitivity to magnetic fluctuations, the device will be able to detect a number of conditions, including heart problems in foetuses, earlier than currently available diagnostic techniques such as ultrasound, ECG (electrocardiogram) and existing cardiac magnetometers. It will also be smaller, simpler to operate, able to gather more information and significantly cheaper than other devices currently available. Another key benefit is that, for the first time, skilled nurses as well as doctors will be able to carry out heart scans, helping to relieve pressure on hospital waiting lists. The device will also function through clothes, cutting the time needed to perform scans and removing the need for patients to undress for an examination. It could also be taken out to a patient's home, leading to a reduction in the use of hospital facilities"


Technology to give 3-D views of arteries

"Cardiologists could soon have 3-D images of patients' coronary arteries at their fingertips and better treat heart disease thanks to a new software unveiled. The technology, which has just been tested for the first time on people, remains in the early stages of testing, according to a feasibility study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions, an American Heart Association journal. 'This is very exciting technology that holds great promise,' study investigator John Carroll, a professor of medicine and director of interventional cardiology in the Division of Cardiology at the University of Colorado in Aurora, said in a statement. The study allows doctors to assess more accurately and rapidly the length, branching pattern and angles of heart arteries, as well as any blockages." - Sky

Cardiac care funding revealed for Kelowna General Hospital (Canada)

"First came news of the program. Now comes news of the building to house it in. Less than a year after the B.C. government approved Kelowna General Hospital as the fifth site in the province to provide full cardiac care service - including open heart surgery - Premier Gordon Campbell has announced $448.2 million to build a new, stand-alone building and adjacent clinical support building to house the new Interior Heart and Surgical Centre. The building, for years the subject of intense lobbying by local doctors and health authority officials, will be a 12,970-square-metre, five-storey structure that will replace the existing, aging Pandosy building at the hospital. As part of the project, a new 7,850-square-metre clinical support building will also be created and there will be renovations to the existing Royal and Strathcona buildings" - Kelowna Capital News

Anonymous donor gives GBP100,000 to Nottingham University Hospitals Charity (UK)

An anonymous donor has paid GBP100,000 for a new state-of-the-art ultrasound system and research at Nottingham's Trent Cardiac Centre. The donor gave Nottingham University Hospitals Charity GBP80,000 for the equipment and GBP20,000 to be used for research into heart problems. The new 3D imaging machine will be used in one of the two theatres in the Trent Cardiac Centre, at the City Hospital, the other of which already has one of the systems. It will help surgeons get a better picture of their patients' heart functions, aiding diagnosis and assessment

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Canadian Index of Wellbeing

"The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) is the signature product of the Institute of Wellbeing. The CIW is a new way of measuring wellbeing that goes beyond narrow economic measures like GDP. It will provide unique insights into the quality of life of Canadians – overall, and in specific areas that matter: our standard of living, our health, the quality of our environment, our education and skill levels, the way we use our time, the vitality of our communities, our participation in the democratic process, and the state of our arts, culture and recreation. In short, the CIW is the only national index that measures wellbeing in Canada across a wide spectrum of domains. The CIW goes beyond conventional silos and shines a spotlight on the interconnections among these important areas: for example, how changes in income and education are linked to changes in health. The CIW is a robust information tool, one that policy shapers, decision makers, media, community organizations and the person on the street will be able to use to get the latest trend information in an easily understandable format"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Blood pressure harm from smoke 'may explain cot death'

Smoke exposure during pregnancy damages a baby's blood pressure control, which may explain why such babies' risk of cot death is higher, say experts. Maternal smoking remains one of the biggest risk factors for cot death. A team at Sweden's Karolinksa Institute found smoke-exposed babies had abnormal surges in blood pressure, even when sleeping undisturbed in their cots. These surges put extra demand on the heart, making it pump faster and harder, the journal Hypertension says. The study suggests damage to the circulation may be a factor in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), although it set out to look at the effects of smoking on the newborn rather than cot death per se - BBC

CARG Newsletter - February 2010

The CARG Newsletter - February 2010 is now available for download or for reading below:

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Heart and Stroke Foundation's 2010 Annual Report on Canadians' Health

The Heart and Stroke Foundation's 2010 Annual Report on Canadians' Health warns that a "perfect storm" of risk factors and demographic changes are converging to create an unprecedented burden on Canada's fragmented system of cardiovascular care, and no Canadian - young or old - will be left unaffected. Adding to the perfect storm, troubling disparities persist between provinces and territories. "In a very short time, the face of heart disease in Canada has changed to include groups that have historically been immune to the threats of heart disease," says Dr. Beth Abramson, cardiologist and spokesperson for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. "But the combination of new groups at-risk of heart disease and the explosion of unhealthy habits across Canada have accelerated the impact of these threats which are now converging and erasing the progress we've made in treating heart disease over the last 50 years."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Case Notes: Aspirin (BBC Radio Four)

"Aspirin is being used to prevent miscarriage, heart disease and cancer, but it's not suitable for everyone and can sometimes do more harm than good. Mark Porter unpicks the confusing messages about aspirin and when it should be taken" - BBC Radio Four

Friday, January 22, 2010

Diabetes on Track for CARG & 1st Step: Do you have a question regarding your diabetes?

Marlene Matiko, Diabetes Nurse Educator, and Rochelle Anthony, Dietitian, will be in the track area to answer your questions on:

Thursday, March 11 2010 from 8:00 to 11:00 am
Monday, March 29 2010 from 8:00 to 11:00 am

Please bring your logbook and blood sugar meter. No appointments required.

Also coming up:

Diabetes group session: "Putting YOU in charge of your diabetes"

* Monday, April 26 2010
* 8:00 to 11:30 am
* breakfast provided
* to register, talk to your exercise therapist

CARG and First Step: Do you have a question for the Dietitian?

Rochelle Anthony, Registered Dietitian, will be in the track area on Monday, March 15 2010 from 9:00 to 11:00 am. Stop by and get your nutrition questions answered. No appointments required

Guidelines for Choosing a Weight Loss Program (Dietitians of Canada)

Changing habits isn't easy. If you are thinking of joining a weight loss program here's a guide from Dietitians of Canada to help you choose one that is nutritionally balanced, safe and effective over the long term

Clinical trial to explore link between vitamin D and cholesterol

"An unusual finding in previous studies of vitamin D-deficient patients has prompted Rockefeller University researchers to launch a new clinical study to determine whether there is a causative link between vitamin D supplementation and changes in cholesterol levels in people at risk for cardiovascular disease. Led by Manish Ponda, instructor in clinical investigation in Jan L. Breslow's Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism, the clinical trial is currently recruiting subjects" - PhysOrg.com

7th African Heart Seminar

7th African Heart SeminarThe 7th African Heart Seminar will take place June 5-8, 2010 in Accra, Ghana, West Africa


Made-to-order heart cells (USA)

"Last month, Madison, WI-based Cellular Dynamics International (CDI) began shipping heart cells derived from a person's own stem cells. The cells could be useful to researchers studying everything from the toxicity of new or existing drugs to the electrodynamics of both healthy and diseased cardiac cells. CDI's scientists create their heart cells - called iCell Cardiomyocytes - by taking cells from a person's own blood (or other tissue) and chemically reversing them back to a pluripotent state. This means they are able to grow or can be programmed to grow into any cell in the body"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Philips tests 'Big Brother' health checks (UK)

Philips tests 'Big Brother' health checks (UK)"The scope of a new global healthcare market worth billions of pounds is being tested by Philips, the electronics group, in the UK with the world's biggest trial of distance monitoring of chronically ill patients in their homes. The Dutch company is hoping to prove to the NHS that it can stem the mounting financial burden of institutional care by using high-tech diagnostic equipment linked by the internet. Patients in Newham, a deprived East London borough, are being monitored at home using diagnostic equipment linked via broadband internet connections to local hospitals and clinics. The Newham patients are able to test their own blood pressure or blood oxygen level and send the data in an electronic message to staff at the Primary Health Trust" - Times Online

COPD, even when mild, limits heart function (USA)

"A common lung condition, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) diminishes the heart's ability to pump effectively even when the disease has no or mild symptoms, according to research published in the Jan. 21 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The study is the first time researchers have shown strong links between heart function and mild COPD. The research was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health. Researchers have long known that severe cases of COPD have harmful effects on the heart, decreasing its ability to pump blood effectively. The new results suggest that these changes in the heart occur much earlier than previously believed, in mild cases and even before symptoms appear. One in five Americans over the age of 45 has COPD, but as many as half of them may not even be aware of it" - EurekAlert

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Heart failure missing link discovered? (UK)

British scientists say diseased hearts have DNA "marks" not found on healthy hearts. Lead author Dr. Roger Foo of the University of Cambridge in England said the marks - known as DNA methylation - are crucial in normal development allowing different cells to become different tissues despite having the same genes. The cells continue to occur throughout life in response to environmental changes. "DNA methylation leaves 'marks' on the genome, and there is already good evidence that these marks are strongly influenced by environment and diet," Foo said in a statement. "Linking all these things together suggests this may be the 'missing link' between environmental factors and heart failure." - UPI

New York proposes 'health taxes'

Gov. David Paterson has proposed health taxes on cigarettes and soda to improve New Yorkers' health and raise about $650 million. As part of his $134 billion budget, the Democratic governor has proposed raising New York's current cigarette tax of $2.75 to $3.75 per pack, which proponents predict will decrease cigarette use by 14 percent. "Estimates by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids found an increase of this magnitude would be expected to prevent more than 100,000 children from becoming smokers and cause more than 50,000 adult smokers to quit," Paterson said in a statement. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for more than 400,000 deaths per year, including the deaths of approximately 25,000 New Yorkers. More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by HIV [human immunodeficiency virus], illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides and murders combined." - UPI

UCI cardiologists discover 'pouch' in heart that may raise stroke risk (USA)

UC Irvine cardiologists have found a pouchlike structure inside the heart's left atrial chamber that may be a potent source of stroke-causing blood clots. About 80 percent of the 700,000-plus strokes that occur annually in the U.S. are due to blood clots blocking a brain artery. In up to a third of these cases, the clots' origin cannot be determined. Study co-author Dr. Subramaniam Krishnan said the discovery of this left atrial pouch could provide answers and inform neurologists' efforts to prevent stroke recurrences. Krishnan and Dr. Miguel Salazar of UCI first spotted the pouch during autopsy research. Subsequent ultrasound and CT scans of patients' hearts confirmed the finding. The researchers estimate that the anatomical feature, which Krishnan likened to a kangaroo pouch, is present in 30 percent to 35 percent of individuals. Study results appear in the January issue of Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Interventions. "The cul-de-sac nature of the heart pouch can promote stagnation of the blood, forming clots that can travel into the brain and cause a stroke," Krishnan said. "It was thought that the body of the left atrium was largely smooth and unlikely to be a source of blood clots, but we have found that not to be true for roughly one in three people." Krishnan and UCI neurologist Dr. Mark Fisher are currently studying the prevalence of the left atrial pouch in patients who have already had strokes. "This finding points to a potentially important cause of strokes," Fisher said. "The presence of this pouch could change how neurologists treat these patients and lead to new therapeutic strategies for preventing strokes." - EurekAlert

VT Edition: Cardiac Rehabilitation (Vermont, USA)

"Dr. Philip Ades of Fletcher Allen Health Care and the UVM College of Medicine has witnessed and studied the benefits of exercise and lifestyle changes to help patients recover from heart attacks. But that approach isn't as widely used as it could be. VPR's Jane Lindholm talks with Dr. Ades about why cardiac rehabilitation works, and how it fits into the debate over health care costs and insurance coverage" - Vermont Public Radio

Nano technology tackles heart disease

Nano technology tackles heart diseaseA molecule designed to find, latch onto, then treat hardened arteries could offer a new way to tackle heart disease, say its inventors. Nanoburrs, developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), target only damaged cells in blood vessel walls. Once attached, they can release drugs in precisely the right place. But the British Heart Foundation warned the technology was some years from being used in patients. The hardening of the arteries which supply the heart, or atherosclerosis, can eventually lead to blockages which can cause heart attacks. The study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal says specialists normally use tiny balloons to force open the vessels, then place a tube called a stent inside to keep it open

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Diabetes alarm raised - First Nations women face future with disease (Canada)

Canada's diabetes epidemic is hitting First Nations women so hard that almost half of them develop the disease, often at a young age. "It's horrible," said Dr. Roland Dyck of the University of Saskatchewan, the lead author of a new study that reveals "striking" sexual and racial differences in Canada's escalating diabetes epidemic. "Diabetes is a disease of young First Nations adults with a marked predilection for women; in contrast, diabetes is a disease of aging non-First Nations adults that is more common in men," says the study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. It looked at more than 90,000 diabetics in Saskatchewan since 1980 and gives the clearest picture yet of differences that likely occur across Canada, says Dyck, who has been studying the relentless rise in diabetes rates for 20 years. He and his colleagues suggest the disease is so insidious that First Nations women and their children are increasingly caught in a "vicious cycle" that sees the rates go up in each generation. "And it's not going to level off unless we do something to intervene," Dyck said, stressing the need for earlier and more effective prevention programs - CMAJ

Monday, January 18, 2010

Government of Canada encourages healthy living in Canadians through smoking cessation program

The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, has announced an important investment that will help encourage Canadians to quit smoking and lead healthier lives. Health Canada is providing just over $2.4 million dollars in funding to the Ottawa Heart Institute Research Corporation for a project that will assist hospital out-patients with smoking cessation. "The Government of Canada remains committed to protecting all Canadians from the proven health hazards associated with tobacco use," said Minister Aglukkaq. "Today's funding is a step towards ensuring we get Canadians the help they need to quit smoking." Funding from today's announcement will go towards a project entitled "Extending Tobacco Treatment Excellence: a National Dissemination of Systems". The goal of this project is to implement a smoking cessation program in 21 out-patient clinics that will provide advice to 15,000 smokers and facilitate best practices and knowledge sharing. The project will also provide training for 2000 health care providers on tobacco addiction treatment including the development of policies and training tools. Partners include the Vancouver Coastal Authority, Regional Health Authority B (New Brunswick) and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario

Cardiac rehab program revitalizes both body, mind (USA)

Cardiac rehab program revitalizes both body, mind (USA)"Getting back to everyday life after a heart attack requires some adjustment. But Jim Doyle of Champaign didn't have to tackle it alone. The eight weeks he spent in cardiac rehab after his November 2008 heart attack boosted not just his physical recovery, but his mental and emotional states as well, he says. "I couldn't imaging going through this experience without the rehab," he says more than a year later. Cardiac rehab is a program of supervised exercise and health education offered by both Provena hospitals in Urbana and Danville and Carle Foundation Hospital/Carle Clinic to help get heart patients back on the road to everyday life. Patients are typically referred to rehab after they've had a heart attack, a heart transplant, coronary bypass surgery or another heart procedure, or to manage chest pain caused by narrowed arteries - News-Gazette

The 14th Annual Steve Cullen Healthy Heart Club Run & Walk (USA)

"The 14th Annual Steve Cullen Healthy Heart Club Run & Walk will be held on Saturday, February 13 at 10 a.m. at Wil-O-Way Recreation Center, 10602 Underwood Parkway in Wauwatosa, WI. The event supports heart research at the internationally recognized Cardiovascular Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin. To date, Cullen Run/Walk proceeds have helped several research programs including studies to identify genetic risk factors of heart disease, to investigate the Female Athlete Triad and its potentially life-threatening link to heart disease, and to better understand the correlation between plaque buildup and coronary artery disease"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Canadians are weaker and fatter? No surprise, says kinesiologist

Canadians are weaker and fatter? No surprise, says kinesiologistIt's no surprise Canadians are getting weaker and fatter, given the advent of "quick and easy," lifestyles that are increasingly driven by technology, says a kinesiologist who works with cardiac patients in Sault Ste. Marie. "I've sort of seen this coming over the last 10 years, it's just nice that it is now really statistically proven," said Domenic Sorrenti, who works on cardiac rehab with patients in the Group Health Centre's vascular intervention program. "How many times have you gone down a street and looked over at a playground and seen kids playing outside? I don't see any at all," he said. "I think they're all inside playing video games." Sorrenti said the root cause of declining fitness among Canadians won't be easy to change. A Statistics Canada study, touted as the most comprehensive national survey ever conducted, found that fitness levels of children, youth and young adults, regardless of gender, declined significantly between 1981 and 2009. The Canadian Health Measures Survey found body composition among children has deteriorated significantly over the last 20 years, while at the same time, more teens became overweight. The study also showed that based on waist circumference, the percentage of adults 20-39 at risk for health problems more than quadrupled. The deterioration was particularly pronounced for both Canadian men and women age 20 to 39, with 31 per cent of women and 21 per cent of men in that group now considered at high risk for health problems because of their weight. Sorrenti said it is important that the study took into account more than simply weight and height indicators. That children and teens are seeing issues in these more specific areas is, "bad," he said. "You're looking at grip strength, flexibility, muscle endurance, aerobic capacity, blood pressure, lung function," said Sorrenti. "These are vital measurements of overall health, not just a weight and height ratio that lets me know if you're healthy." To reverse the trend will mean altering the North American lifestyle, in which children eat unhealthy food, and don't participate in physical activity, said Sorrenti. "This is going to take years to change, and it's going to have to come from all levels," said Sorrenti

UVA researchers develop innovative procedure to safely treat common heart disorder without x-ray exposure (USA)

UVA researchers develop innovative procedure to safely treat common heart disorder without x-ray exposureA growing body of research continues to warn of the potential long-term effects of radiation exposure for patients and medical providers during such imaging procedures as x-rays and computed tomography (CT) scans, both of which are traditionally used with certain heart procedures. Now researchers at the University of Virginia Health System have developed a promising x-ray free technique to treat a common heart disorder called atrial fibrillation - a breakthrough that could all but eliminate radiation exposure to patients and their medical providers. "One of the most exciting things about our research is the direct impact on patient care and safety," says John D. Ferguson, MD, associate professor of cardiology in the UVA School of Medicine. The study, led by Ferguson, appears in the December 2009 issue of Circulation. "Cardiac interventions continue to evolve toward lower risk procedures, and this study is another huge step in that direction." More than two million Americans suffer from atrial fibrillation (AF), a condition characterized by an irregular heart rate that can lead to weakness, blood clotting and even stroke.

Stress 'can cause heart damage'

Stress 'can cause heart damage'For years, stress has been linked to heart attacks and various other heart complaints but with very little medical evidence to back it up. Now, a trial by doctors at University College London has proved that people who get stressed are also likely to have silent coronary artery disease. The study involved 514 men and women, with an average age of 62. None of the participants had signs of heart disease at the time of the test. Each underwent stress tests and then the levels of the hormone cortisol in their systems were measured. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone and is produced by the body when it comes under mental or physical strain. When it is released, it causes the arteries to narrow. The participants' arteries were also scanned for any signs of an accumulation of fatty materials on the inner linings of arteries, or furring. Those people who were stressed by the tests were twice as likely to have furred arteries as those who remained calm, the study in the European Heart Journal found. Prof Avijit Lahiri, a cardiologist, said: 'This study shows a clear-cut relationship between stress and silent coronary artery disease. This is the first clear proof.'

Patients learn they might have unneeded stents (USA)

Patients learn they might have unneeded stents (USA)St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Maryland, USA whose cardiology business is a focus of a continuing federal health-care fraud investigation, has notified hundreds of its heart patients that they may have received expensive and potentially dangerous coronary implants they didn't need. An internal review, begun last May at the behest of federal investigators and in response to a patient complaint, has turned up 369 patients with stents that appear to have been implanted in their arteries unnecessarily, CEO Jeffrey K. Norman said. Patients began receiving letters alerting them to the finding early last month, and more notifications are expected as the review continues. "We take our interaction and the care of our patients with the utmost seriousness, and so we wanted to alert patients and their physicians to what we found," said Norman. In several cases reviewed by The Baltimore Sun, patients who received coronary stents at St. Joseph - purportedly to open a clogged artery to correct a severe blockage - have since learned they had only minor blockage, if any. Vicki Marrs, pictured, a 55-year-old patient from Conowingo, is typical. She got a stent in July 2008 after arriving at St. Joseph's with chest discomfort and being told one of her arteries was 90 percent blocked. Now doctors and lawyers who have reviewed her files say Marrs had only a 10 percent blockage at most, and that she never suffered from the kind of heart disease described by Doctor Midei 18 months ago

Higher stroke, heart disease risks for A-bomb survivors

Higher stroke, heart disease risks for A-bomb survivorsA study of atomic bomb survivors in Japan conducted over 53 years has found that they appear to suffer a far higher risk of heart disease and stroke because of their exposure to radiation. The study, published in the British Medical Journal, involved 86,611 survivors from the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, which forced Japan into surrendering to the Allied Powers and officially ending World War Two - Reuters

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saskatoon Health Region staff receive geographic information technology award

Saskatoon Health Region staff receive geographic information technology awardSome Saskatoon Health Region staff have been recognized as innovators in the use of geographic information system (GIS) technology in the health and human services fields. The recognition comes from a California-based company called GIS ESRI in Nashville, Tennessee late last year. The Communication Award for excellence in map presentation, visualisation and communication went to Saskatoon Health Region staff. The poster, Mapping the Availability of Tobacco Products to Youth in the City of Saskatoon, tells the story of using GIS to convert school health survey results into information that will help health officials develop policies for reducing tobacco use among middle school students. The study examined the locations of tobacco retailers near schools and used statistical analysis to identify potential correlations with student-reported smoking initiation rates. Maps displayed an overall view of the results. Left to right in the picture: Daphne Goodman-Eifler, supervisor, Tobacco Reduction Strategies; Tanya Dunn-Pierce, manager, Health Promotion Department and Tracy Creighton, GIS analyst, Public Health Observatory

Health Canada warns Canadians not to use "The Slimming Coffee" or "Lose Weight Coffee"

"Health Canada is warning consumers not to use the unauthorized product "The Slimming Coffee," which was previously sold as "Lose Weight Coffee," because it was found to contain the undeclared prescription drug sibutramine and may pose serious health risks. This product is promoted as a natural coffee beverage used for weight-loss. Sibutramine is used to treat obesity and should only be used under the supervision of a health care practitioner. Sibutramine may cause serious side effects including cardiovascular reactions such as increased blood pressure, chest pain, and stroke. Other side effects include dry mouth, difficulty sleeping and constipation. Sibutramine should not be taken by people who have had a heart attack, coronary artery disease, heart-related chest pain, irregular heart beats, congestive heart failure, a stroke or symptoms of a stroke, or unstable or poorly controlled high blood pressure. It should also not be taken by patients who have clinically diagnosed depression or a psychiatric illness and are taking prescription drugs such as antidepressants and antipsychotics, or herbal preparations such as St. John’s Wort. Sibutramine is not recommended for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to become pregnant"

Sleep apnea may complicate diabetes care

Untreated obstructive sleep apnea may affect the health of people with type 2 diabetes, a new study shows. Obstructive sleep apnea is a treatable disorder that results in episodes of stopped breathing due to blockages in the airway during sleep. The sleeping disorder may adversely affect glucose control, making the health problems associated with type 2 diabetes even worse, University of Chicago scientists report in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, a publication of the American Thoracic Society. The study, involving 60 people with type 2 diabetes, demonstrates "for the first time that there is a clear, graded inverse relationship between [obstructive sleep apnea] severity and glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes," says study researcher, Renee S. Aronsohn, MD, of the University of Chicago, in a news release - webMD

In early heart development, genes work in tandem

Studying genes that regulate early heart development in animals, scientists have solved a puzzle about one gene's role, finding that it acts in concert with a related gene. Their finding contributes to understanding how the earliest stages of heart development may go awry, resulting in congenital heart defects in humans. Peter J. Gruber, M.D., Ph.D., a cardiothoracic surgeon at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, led a study published this week in the January 15 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Occurring in approximately 1 in 200 children, congenital heart defects represent the most common human birth defect - ScienceDaily

Friday, January 15, 2010

Too much television points to an early death (Australia)

Too much television points to an early death (Australia)"Australian scientists have published new research that suggests that the more television people watch, the sooner they die. The Australian report says that every hour viewers spend watching television increases the risk of premature death. The study was undertaken by the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne. Researchers there studied more than 8,000 adults in Australia, for a six-year period. The results will almost certainly be disconcerting for those who regularly watch TV. The findings have revealed that those adults who watched television the most died younger. The team in Melbourne was led by Professor David Dunstan, who believes this elevated risk of an early death was independent of other risk factors, including high blood pressure or cholesterol levels as well as diet, exercise and smoking. Dunstan says the research shows that shows that too much sitting on the couch/sofa can be detrimental to our health. Health campaigners have welcomed the findings, which have been published this week in the journal Circulation"

CMAJ - 12 January 2010

The Canadian Medical Association Journal - 12 January 2010, Volume 182, Issue 1, is now available online

Thames Bridges Bike Ride 2010 (UK)

Thames Bridges Bike Ride 2010 (UK)"Experience an exhilarating bike ride following the River Thames over 13 of London's famous bridges - this is city cycling at its best! This amazing journey will take you through the historic city of London and along the picturesque towpaths of the River Thames. Enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Battersea and Richmond Parks en route before ending on a high note in Hurst Park near Hampton Court. Whether you ride with friends, family, work colleagues or on your own, the Thames Bridges Bike Ride is a great day out for a great cause - raising money to help the 250,000 people in the UK living with disabilities caused by stroke"

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Blood pressure drug offers fresh hope for dementia (UK)

Blood pressure drug offers fresh hope for dementia"Researchers believe a drug used to lower blood pressure could be even more effective against Alzheimer's disease than they previously thought. People taking angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) were up to 50% less likely to develop dementia than those taking other blood pressure drugs. Combined with another drug, ARBs also protected against further deterioration among those already with the disease. The study of more than 800,000 men appears in the British Medical Journal. The team from the Boston University School of Medicine presented initial results from the study two years ago, but further work suggests that ARBs - normally prescribed only to patients who cannot tolerate the more standard ACE inhibitors - confer greater protection than had been thought" - BBC

Patients lament closing of Alle-Kiski Medical Center cardiac rehab unit (USA)

"John Framel is upset knowing that the program that he attributes to once saving his life will vanish in a few weeks. Framel, 75, of Allegheny Township, underwent a quintuple heart bypass surgery in 2000. As part of his recovery, he exercised in the cardiac rehabilitation unit at Alle-Kiski Medical Center's Allegheny Valley Hospital in Harrison, PA. At the end of January, that unit is closing as part of the cutbacks announced last week by the hospital's parent organization, the West Penn Allegheny Health System. "There is a national and local trend in closing cardiac rehabilitation units," said Linda Jaskolka, hospital spokeswoman. "Financially, they are unsustainable. The (insurance) reimbursements are very limited and for a short period of time." She said 46 patients are now being served by the program. The hospital did not release information on how much it costs to operate the cardiac unit and the pulmonary rehabilitation unit, which is also closing" - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Koppels help open new rehab center at St. Mary's Hospital (USA)

Koppels help open new rehab center at St. Mary's HospitalSt. Mary's Hospital in Leonardtown, Maryland, opened a new pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation center on Friday with the help of a veteran television newsman and his wife. Ted Koppel, former anchor of ABC's "Nightline" and commentator for National Public Radio and BBC America, and his wife, Grace Anne Dorney Koppel, cut the ribbon on the new center as a packed atrium of hospital staff and guests cheered. Grace Anne Dorney Koppel is a national advocate for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's COPD Learn More Breathe Better Campaign, which raises awareness about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Gwinnett Medical Center and Partnership Gwinnett host heart event (USA)

Gwinnett Medical Center and Partnership Gwinnett, the community and economic development initiative led by the Gwinnett Chamber, will host The Heart Truth: An In-depth Investigation, Thursday, February 11, 7:30 to 9 a.m. at Georgia Gwinnett College. This breakfast event is open to the public and will focus on heart health, including ways to avoid heart disease, and a discussion of common myths surrounding cardiac concerns. The event is the first of four quarterly health council events for 2010.

Hispanic groups differ in cardiac conditions

Hispanic groups differ in cardiac conditions"Different patterns of left ventricular hypertrophy and ventricular remodeling exist among Hispanic subgroups and in comparison with non-Hispanic whites and blacks, a study found. After adjustment for hypertension and other variables, Hispanic subgroups had these odds ratios for left ventricular hypertrophy compared with whites, according to an online report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology":

* Caribbean origin, OR 1.8 (95% CI 1.1 to 3)
* Mexican origin, OR 2.2 (95% CI 1.4 to 3.3)
* Central/South American origin, OR 1.5 (95% CI 0.7 to 3.1) - medpagetoday

Elevated amount of BPA can increase cardiac risk by 45%, study finds

Elevated amount of BPA can increase cardiac risk by 45%, study finds"Elevated exposure to bisphenol A has been linked in a new study to a significantly increased risk of cardiovascular disease, the second time researchers have made a connection between the widely used plastic-making compound and heart ailments. The finding, released Tuesday, is likely to add to the controversy over the risks to adults of bisphenol A, which has been designated as a toxic compound by Health Canada and removed from plastic baby bottles as a safety precaution, but is still used as a liner inside almost all food and beverage cans sold in Canada. According to the new research, 60-year-old American males with the highest amounts of bisphenol A in their urine had about a 45 per cent greater risk of cardiovascular disease than men the same age with lower exposures, confirming the results of a previous study on the topic released in 2008 and based on a different sample of people" - Globe and Mail

Integrated Blood Pressure Control

Integrated Blood Pressure Control is an international, peer-reviewed, open-access journal focusing on the integrated approach to managing hypertension and risk reduction. Treating the patient and comorbidities together with diet and lifestyle modification and optimizing healthcare resources through a multidisciplinary team approach constitute key features of the journal

Clinical Medicine Insights: Cardiology

Clinical Medicine Insights: Cardiology is an open access, peer reviewed electronic journal that covers prevention, diagnosis and management of cardiovascular disorders

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Obesity study shows big bottoms and thighs can be healthy

"Carrying extra weight on your hips, bum and thighs is good for your health, protecting against heart and metabolic problems, UK experts have said. Hip fat mops up harmful fatty acids and contains an anti-inflammatory agent that stops arteries clogging, they say. Big behinds are preferable to extra fat around the waistline, which gives no such protection, the Oxford team said. Science could look to deliberately increase hip fat, they told the International Journal of Obesity. And in the future, doctors might prescribe ways to redistribute body fat to the hips to protect against cardiovascular and metabolic diseases such as diabetes. The researchers said having too little fat around the hips can lead to serious metabolic problems, as occurs in Cushing's syndrome" - BBC

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Americans eat too much salt, CDC says

Americans eat too much salt, CDC saysPeople in the United States consume more than twice the recommended amount of salt, raising their risk for high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes, government health experts said on Thursday. They found nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults are in high-risk groups that would benefit from a lower-salt diet of no more than 1,500 mg per day, yet most consume closer to 3,500 mg per day. "It's important for people to eat less salt. People who adopt a heart-healthy eating pattern that includes a diet low in sodium and rich in potassium and calcium can improve their blood pressure," Dr. Darwin Labarthe of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement - Reuters

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Chandler, Arizona, cardiac catheterization lab grows exponentially in 2009

Since its inception in 2001, Chandler Regional Medical Center's cardiac catheterization lab has grown exponentially, from treating 147 patients in its first year to over 3,000 patients in 2009. 'Of those, more than 800 cases were angioplasties to alleviate coronary blockages, and another 300 diagnosed the need for open heart surgery,' says Bill Orlowski, director of the cardiovascular service line for Chandler Regional Medical Center. Orlowski notes that since March 2001, the hospital has added a new patient tower, a percutaneous coronary intervention program, a second cardiac cath procedure room, and an open heart surgery program. 'Plans are currently underway to begin construction in the first quarter of 2010 to expand the existing space, providing two additional cath labs and 10 patient care zones,' Orlowski adds. - PRWeb

"You Can Save a Life at School" campaign (USA)

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation has launched its You Can Save a Life at School national awareness campaign

ESC warns the public to be aware of risk factors following Philippe Seguin's death

ESC warns the public to be aware of risk factors following Philippe Seguin's death"Following the sudden death yesterday of the former French government minister Philippe S├ęguin, who suffered a fatal heart attack, aged 66, the European Society of Cardiology is warning the public of the dangers of leaving risk factors such as hyperlipidemia, hypertension or diabetes untreated. Other major risk factors for coronary artery disease are smoking or being overweight. ESC spokesperson Professor Nicolas Danchin, an expert in Acute Cardiac Care, explains: 'You can have a heart attack leading to sudden death without having any symptoms before and so as you have had no symptoms you can’t really prevent it or prepare for that eventuality. The only way to try to avoid that is to have a proper lifestyle with regular exercise and to have a proper diet. If you are aware of risk factors such as diabetes or hypertension, then you should treat these.' Although in today's society progress has been made in the control of some risk factors, such as smoking, hyperlipidemia and hypertension; other risk factors such as overweight, obesity and diabetes are still increasing in alarming proportions"

Heart operation using MRI is world first (UK)

Heart operation using MRI is world first (UK)A British six-year-old boy has become the first person in the world to have a heart valve widened using an MRI scan for guidance rather than X-ray imaging. Jack Walborn was born with the heart condition pulmonary valve stenosis, which reduces blood flow to the lungs. Using MRI means patients are not exposed to radiation - particularly important for children. The scan also provides a clearer image, and information about the body's tissues, in real time during surgery - BBC

Friday, January 8, 2010

Study highlights importance of rehab after heart surgery (USA)

Heart surgery can set you back, but it doesn't have to be permanent. Newschannel 3 (Kalamazoo, MI) recently took a look at the importance of sticking with rehab

Thursday, January 7, 2010

How cold turns up the heat on health (UK)

Global warming dominates the headlines, but in the UK the cold of winter is much more hazardous to health - especially for the elderly and the sick. For every degree the temperature drops below 18C, deaths in the UK go up by nearly 1.5%. This year, any new year's resolutions that involve strenuous outdoor activity - at least for those with existing health problems - could be best put on ice. Heart attacks and strokes rise as temperatures fall. This is because when confronted with the cold, the blood vessels in the skin contract to conserve heat by preventing blood from flowing to the surface. The composition of the blood also changes. The heart has to work harder to pump blood through narrower vessels, while the change in concentration means it is more liable to clot, with all the ensuing health problems. The British Heart Foundation says: "There is growing evidence to suggest that heart attacks are linked with extreme weather conditions, especially cold weather. "If you have a heart problem and are outside in cold weather, you should avoid sudden exertion - for example, shovelling snow or pushing a car. "In very cold weather it may be best to stay indoors." - BBC

The medical secret behind Mona Lisa's smile?

The medical secret behind Mona Lisa's smile? "For centuries, art historians have been troubled by Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile - but, according to one doctor, her cholesterol levels were more worrying. For Dr Vito Franco, from Palermo University, she shows clear signs of a build-up of fatty acids under the skin, caused by too much cholesterol. He also suggests there seems to be a lipoma, or benign fatty-tissue tumour, in her right eye. The professor of pathological anatomy at Palermo University presented his finding at a medical conference in Florence" - BBC

Embrella Cardiovascular, Inc. completes successful first clinical experience in Canada

"Embrella Cardiovascular, Inc. has announced that it has completed its first clinical case using the Embrella Embolic Deflector The company has developed a novel technology designed to make less invasive cardiovascular procedures safer for patients by decreasing the risk of emboli traveling to the brain. The procedure was performed at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver, Canada by Dr. John Webb, Director of Cardiac Catheterization and Interventional Cardiology"

URMC study links vitamin D, race, and cardiac deaths (USA)

"Vitamin D deficiency may contribute to a higher number of heart and stroke-related deaths among black Americans compared to whites, according to a University of Rochester Medical Center study. The journal Annals of Family Medicine is publishing the study in the January-February edition, which goes online January 11, 2010. Researchers sought to understand the well-documented disparity between blacks and whites in cardiovascular deaths. They turned to vitamin D because growing evidence links low serum levels of D to many serious illnesses including diabetes, hypertension, kidney and heart disease"

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Plate weighing device 'can curb childhood obesity'

Plate weighing device 'can curb childhood obesity' "A talking, computerised weighing device that tracks how quickly food is gobbled off the plate could be a solution to childhood obesity, researchers say. The Mandometer keeps tabs during meal times and tells the user if they are wolfing down meals too fast - a habit experts have linked to weight gain. In a trial with 106 obese children the gadget showed promising results, the British Medical Journal reports online. After 12 months of use the children weighed less and ate smaller portions. Their speed of eating was reduced by 11% compared with a gain of 4% in a comparison group" - BBC

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dr. Bernard S. Goldman receives Order of Canada

Dr. Bernard S. Goldman receives Order of Canada"Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is proud to congratulate Dr. Bernard S. Goldman on his recent appointment to the Order of Canada. Dr. Goldman founded the cardiac surgery program at Sunnybrook's Schulich Heart Centre, which has become one of the country's leading research and teaching centres for surgical interventions to treat cardiovascular disease. This honour is bestowed upon Dr. Goldman for his contributions to the field of cardiac surgery and cardiac care. Dr. Goldman is a renowned clinician, researcher and educator who has been a mentor for countless professionals in this field and has saved the lives of literally thousands of patients over his 41-year career. Dr. Goldman has pioneered new approaches to aortic valve replacement, coronary artery bypass grafting and cardiac pacing. Dr. Goldman came to Sunnybrook in 1989 and established what has become one of Canada's leading divisions of cardiac surgery. He served as Head of the Division of Cardiac Surgery from 1989 to 1999 and as Surgeon in Chief of Sunnybrook from 1999 to 2003"

Monday, January 4, 2010

Many ignorant on 'waist fat' risk

Many ignorant on 'waist fat' risk"Almost nine in 10 people are not aware of the risks of carrying extra fat around their waistline. A survey of 12,000 Europeans found most had no idea that a thick waist was a sign of a build-up of a dangerous type of fat around the internal organs. The report from GlaxoSmithKline, who make weight loss drug Alli, said this "visceral fat" is strongly linked with type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Most people would lose weight once they found out the risk, the survey found. Report author Dr Terry Maguire, honorary senior lecturer at Queen's University in Belfast, said people did not know that visceral fat, which you cannot see or feel and which sits around the organs in the abdomen, is there or that it poses a problem. It is thought that the danger of visceral fat is related to the release of proteins and hormones that can cause inflammation, which in turn can damage arteries and enter the liver, and affect how the body breaks down sugars and fats" - BBC

Sunday, January 3, 2010

It's never too late to quit smoking and save your vision (USA)

It's never too late to quit smoking and save your vision (USA)"Just in time for New Year's resolutions, a UCLA study finds that even after age 80, smoking continues to increase one's risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in Americans over 65. The American Journal of Ophthalmology publishes the findings in its January edition. 'The take-home message is that it's never too late to quit smoking,' said lead author Dr. Anne Coleman, professor of ophthalmology at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA. 'We found that even older people's eyes will benefit from kicking the habit.' AMD causes progressive damage to the macula, the center of the retina that allows us to see fine details. When the macula degenerates, people experience darkness or blurring in their central vision, preventing them from being able to read, drive and recognize faces. After age, smoking is the second most common risk factor for AMD. This study sought to determine whether age influences the effects of smoking on AMD risk"

The Julius H. Jacobson II, MD Award for Physician Excellence nominations (USA)

The Julius H. Jacobson II, MD Award for Physician Excellence is a prestigious annual award that recognizes outstanding contributions to physician education, leadership, or patient care in vascular disease. This award is endowed through a donation from Julius H. Jacobson II, MD

IMPACT Registry

The American College of Cardiology Foundation's NCDR is developing a new, national clinical data registry. The IMPACT Registry (IMproving Pediatric and Adult Congenital Treatment) will assess the prevalence, demographics, management and outcomes of pediatric and adult patients with congenital heart disease who are undergoing diagnostic catheterizations and catheter-based interventions. The collection and analysis of this data will facilitate performance measurement, benchmarking, and quality improvement initiatives. The IMPACT Registry will provide significant contributions to the knowledge base and outcomes associated with congenital heart disease. To date, no single registry has collected sufficient national quality-focused data on the management and real-world outcomes of quality-focused data of patients who undergo diagnostic and interventional catheterizations

Sixth International Conference on Cell Therapy for Cardiovascular Disease

The Sixth International Conference on Cell Therapy for Cardiovascular Disease is a three-day program dedicated to the evolving field of cell-based therapies for cardiac repair and regeneration. During this comprehensive conference, leaders in the field will convene to present their work, experiences, observations, and opinions on the benefits and drawbacks of cell-based therapy. The conference encompasses all aspects of cell-based therapeutic approaches to cardiovascular diseases. Each day of the conference will focus on the following diseases and the future role of cell-based therapies - 2010 - New York, USA

Genes that saved us plague us 3,500 years later (Canada)

"About 3,400 years ago, a plague is believed to have slashed across Europe, killing vast numbers of people. No written records of the unknown disease survive today. But scientists at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute have helped uncover a piece of evidence in the genes of modern Caucasians. A small cluster of genes protected part of early Europe's population against a disease that must have been horrific, perhaps on the scale of the Black Death. But there was a cost: Those genes, still carried by many today, raise the risks of heart disease, diabetes and hypertension." Thirty-four-hundred years ago I think we can imagine that something cataclysmic happened to humans, probably an infection or a plague that wiped out 90 per cent of people," said Alex Stewart, a geneticist and microbiologist at the Heart Institute. "It could have been almost any viral infection. Could have been reminiscent of Ebola. "The people that were able to survive and have children, and have the children survive -- they had to have something really resistant to the infection." A natural disaster or war wouldn't have selected survivors based on their genes. "DNA doesn't protect you against earthquake." But there was a catch. "Nothing in evolution comes for free. Fast-forward 3,400 years later, maybe we're not exposed to those pathogens (causes of infection) any longer." Yet the protective genes are still there, and they're hard on the heart. "All of a sudden, what was beneficial then is detrimental now." Most of the bad effects of this gene cluster occur later in life, when people are in their 50s and 60s. That's too late to prevent them from having children and passing on the gene." - The Province

Royal Free team awarded GBP500k to trial artificial artery in patients (UK)

"An expert team at the Royal Free has received GBP500,000 to take their invention of an artificial artery from the laboratory to human trials within the next year. The grant from the Wellcome Trust means the team, led by George Hamilton, Professor of vascular surgery, and Alexander Seifalian, Professor of nanotechnology and tissue repair, is one step closer to making their invention available to thousands of patients with vascular disease. The team has developed a small diameter bypass graft made from a polymer material modified by nanotechnology, for use in coronary artery and lower limb arterial surgery. The material enables the graft to mimic the natural pulsing of a human blood vessel such as arteries delivering blood and nutrients from the heart to every cell, organ and muscle in the body. The wall of the artery is designed to be able to withstand blood pressure throughout a person’s lifetime and is normally very strong. If it is damaged by disease such as arteriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, the artery can become blocked, or in some patients the wall can weaken becoming an aneurysm, and it may rupture."

Insurers will pay for special cardiac tests (USA)

"Many middle-aged and senior Texans who are covered by certain insurance plans now qualify for tests that proponents say may detect undiagnosed cardiac disease and help them avoid premature death. A law that took effect Friday makes Texas the first state to require insurance companies to reimburse preventive heart screenings. When policies are updated this year, health insurers will be required to reimburse up to $200 for exams given to women ages 56 to 74 and men 46 to 75 considered at elevated risk of heart disease based on the Framingham Risk Score, which assesses heart disease risk based on studies of large populations over time. The bill was introduced by state Rep. Rene Oliveira, D- Brownsville, who had heart bypass surgery in his late 30s and a family history of heart disease. He decided to push the legislation after fighting his insurer in 2006 to cover a subsequent screening that detected the need for another heart procedure." - Chron

Friday, January 1, 2010

Body's own veins are superior material for aortic grafts (USA)

"A vascular surgical technique pioneered at UT Southwestern Medical Center and designed to replace infected aortic grafts with the body's own veins has proved more durable and less prone to new infection than similar procedures using synthetic and cadaver grafts. Aortic graft infections are one of the most serious complications in patients undergoing aortic grafting procedures for peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and aortic aneurysms. PAD reduces blood circulation in the pelvis and lower extremities, and aortic aneurysms result in a weakening of the aortic wall that can cause lethal rupture of the aorta, the largest artery in the body. Patients with PAD and aortic aneurysms often require surgery, and aortic grafting procedures using synthetic grafts are typically the first line of treatment. For patients with PAD, the procedure restores blood circulation to the legs, and for patients with aneurysm, it replaces the weakened aortic wall and prevents rupture. Synthetic grafts made of Dacron, a polyester material, are placed in the aorta and femoral arteries in the abdomen and groin, which feed blood to the legs. But in about 1 percent to 2 percent of these patients, the grafts become infected - a complication that causes amputation and death if left untreated"

Procedure boosts outcomes in implantable defibrillator patients (Germany)

"Heart patients with a dangerous rapid heartbeat called ventricular tachycardia often get implantable cardiac defibrillators to help control the condition, and a new study suggests that they will have fewer recurrences of the abnormality if they undergo a procedure called catheter ablation before they receive the device. Reporting December 31 in The Lancet, researchers at Asklepios Klinik St. Georg in Hamburg, Germany, looked at 107 patients aged 18 to 80, all of whom had had a previous heart attack, an episode of stable ventricular tachycardia and reduced left-ventricular function. Participants were assigned to receive implantable defibrillators either alone or along with catheter ablation, a procedure that destroys faulty tissue within the heart linked to irregular heartbeats. The patients' outcomes were followed for an average of close to two years" - HealthDay