Saturday, April 28, 2012

CARG Newsletter - May 2012

The CARG Newsletter - May 2012 is now available online

Vitamin D may help lower blood pressure

Vitamin D may help lower blood pressureA study showed giving vitamin D supplements in Europe in winter can help lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension, Danish researchers said. Study leader Dr. Thomas Larsen and a group of researchers studied 112 patients visiting the Holstebro Hospital in Denmark -- at the 56th northern latitude, about the same latitude as Glasgow and Moscow. The study participants had initial levels of vitamin D measured, and then were given either vitamin D or a placebo for 20 weeks. At the beginning of the study, 92 of the 112 patients were found to have low levels of vitamin D. The researchers found those patients taking the vitamin D supplement showed a significant reduction in central systolic blood pressure, when compared to the placebo group. There was also a reduction in ambulatory blood pressure -- blood pressure measured at the upper arm, where several measurements are taken during the day -- in those patients who were originally vitamin D deficient, although this reduction was of borderline significance. "Probably the majority of Europeans have vitamin D deficiency, and many of these will also have high blood pressure. What our results suggest is that hypertensive patients can benefit from vitamin D supplementation if they have vitamin D insufficiency," Larsen said in a statement. "Vitamin D would not be a cure for hypertension in these patients, but it may help, especially in the winter months. However, it is important to stress, that this was a small study, and that larger studies are needed to provide solid evidence." The findings were presented at the European Society of Hypertension meeting in London

Urban residents more likely to develop heart disease

People living in urban areas are twice as likely as are their country counterparts to suffer from coronary artery calcification (CAC), a condition that leads to heart disease. CAC is the accumulation of calcium deposits in arteries. Researchers, led by Jess Lambrechtsen, cardiologist at Svendborg Hospital in Denmark, spoke to 1,225 men and women aged 50 to 60 years, including 251 who lived in the centers of major Danish cities. Despite the fact that none of the participants showed any symptoms of heart disease, 43 percent of the total had CAC, the Journal of Internal Medicine reports. The study also found that people who lived in city centers were 80 percent more likely to develop CAC than those living in other areas and that males, older participants, diabetics and smokers also faced higher risks, according to a Svendborg statement

Both too little and too much sleep bad for the heart: study

When it comes to what's best for their hearts, people walk a fine line between getting too much and too little sleep, a new study suggests. Adults who get fewer than six hours or more than eight hours of sleep a night are at greater risk for a variety of heart conditions, according to research led by Dr. Rohit Arora, chairman of cardiology at the Chicago Medical School. Sleeping too little puts people at significantly higher risk of stroke, heart attack and congestive heart failure, the researchers found. On the other hand, people who sleep too much have a higher prevalence of chest pain (angina) and coronary artery disease, a narrowing of the blood vessels that supply the heart with blood and oxygen. The findings are scheduled for presentation at the American College of Cardiology annual meeting in Chicago

Cardiac rehab at home 'promising' option (Canada)

Cardiac rehab at home 'promising' option (Canada)As heart patient Mark Lemieux runs on a treadmill at his home, the slap of each sneaker-clad foot marks one more step in his quest to bump up his cardiovascular fitness and keep it there. Lemieux's routine, which also includes lifting weights and resistance training to strengthen muscles, is part of a cardiac rehab program he began last June after he was treated for three partially blocked coronary arteries. What's different about this rehab program is that he can do it in the comfort of his own home, working out at a convenient time, rather than having to take time off work to attend a traditional hospital-based program. "One of the challenges for me in the regular location program was that it didn't really suit my lifestyle and particularly my work style," says Lemieux, 54, a pharmaceutical marketer who lives in Markham, Ont., northeast of Toronto. "It would have been difficult to integrate going into the centre," he says of the cardiac exercise program located at Toronto Rehab, a 50-kilometre round trip from his home

'Heart shrinking' trial to combat heart failure to begin

'Heart shrinking' trial to combat heart failure to beginA trial using electricity to shrink the hearts of patients with heart failure is about to start in Liverpool. It will involve electrically stimulating one of the nerves leading to the heart, which it is hoped could shrink the heart and improve life expectancy. This is the first trial of the technique in humans, after it was shown to keep rats and dogs alive for longer

Saturday, April 21, 2012

CARG volunteers recognised

Ruth Redden reports: Volunteer Recognition Week: April 16-20. The Annual Volunteer Recognition put on by the Saskatoon Health Region, Volunteer Department, was celebrated with a luncheon at Royal University Hospital.

The following CARG Volunteer Visitors at RUH, for cardiac patients, received recognition for their hours of service by way of a pin. They are as follows:

100 hours of Volunteer Service:
Vic Zapf
Lloyd Olson
Antionette Honoroski

250 Hours of Volunteer Service:
Glen Clark

500 Hours of Volunteer Service:
Lloyd Wudrick

Congratulations Volunteers and you are appreciated.

A new recumbent stepper at the Field House

Mohindar Sachdev, CARG President writes: "There were two recumbent steppers at the Field House. The demand for using those steppers exceeded the capacity. Many CARG members could not get a chance to use them. CARG therefore purchased a new recumbent stepper. The stepper was delivered on March 29, 2012. Since the first day of its arrival, this stepper is being used almost continuously from 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM. The additional stepper will hopefully be adequate to give most members a chance to use it"

Extraordinary General Meeting of CARG - April 18, 2012

Mohindar Sachdev, President of CARG writes: An Extraordinary General Meeting of CARG was held in the Conference Room at the Shaw Centre on April 18, 2012. Approximately fifty members and support persons attended the meeting.

After adoption of the Agenda, the minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on November 9, 2011 were approved as distributed at the meeting. Three items arising out of the minutes were addressed. Mohindar Sachdev then presented an update on the CARG operation during the first six months of the 2011-2012 fiscal year. Questions asked by the members concerning the operation were addressed.

Two volunteer recognition plaques were then presented; one to Darlene Urban for chairing the Heart Pillow Committee of CARG for more than five years and another to Vic Zapf for chairing the Social Committee for several years. Plaques were also presented to the SaskTel Pioneers and Ilarion Residence Seniors Club for assisting CARG in the Heart Pillow project. Representatives from SaskTel Pioneers and Ilarion Residence Seniors Club were not present at the meeting; Darlene received the plaques on their behalf. A "Special Thanks" plaque was presented to Shan Landry for the help she provided in making the CARG Shaw Centre Program a reality. Shan Landry was not present at the meeting; Rick Stene received the plaque on her behalf.

Ron Fleming then presented the Treasurer's report outlining the financial performance of CARG during the first six months of the 2011-2012 fiscal year. He also reviewed with the members the Balance sheet and Profit and Loss statement as of February 29, 2012. This was followed by a review of the overall financial state of CARG.

Making a major donation to the RUH Foundation for the "Every Heart Matters" campaign for upgrading the Electrophysiology Lab was taken up.

Terry York made an excellent presentation on his experiences with the role electrophysiology techniques that helped him survive serious heart condition. Ms. Alra Gustafson, CEO of the RUH Foundation then addressed the members outlining the role that RUH Foundation plays in improving the facilities that are available at the Royal University Hospital. Ms. Gustafson, Lisa Laskowski and Peggy Jule of the RUH Foundation then withdrew from the meeting.

A motion was then made requiring that consideration of making a major donation to the RUH Foundation be deferred to the Annual General Meeting that would be held next fall. After discussion, the motion was put to a vote; the motion did not pass. The following motion was then made and seconded: "CARG donate $30,000 to the Royal University Hospital Foundation, Saskatoon for the "Every Heart Matters" campaign for the Cardiac Electrophysiology Lab and Program that would make the lab Saskatchewan's first full time Cardiac EP Lab". After discussion, the motion was put to vote; it passed with a majority in favour of the motion.

Ms. Arla Gustafson, Lisa Laskowski and Peggy Jule were invited back in the room. Mohindar Sachdev then presented a replica cheque for $30,000 to Ms. Arla Gustafson.
Mohindar then presented revised projections of income and expenses for the 2011-2012 year. Mary Green, Ruth Redden and a few other members expressed the opinion that it was not necessary for the revised estimates to be approved.

A few issues were raised as "Old Business" / "New Business" and were taken in advisement for the Board of Directors to take action on. The meeting was then adjourned.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

No proof that gum disease causes heart disease or stroke (USA)

Despite popular belief, gum disease hasn't been proven to cause atherosclerotic heart disease or stroke, and treating gum disease hasn't been proven to prevent heart disease or stroke, according to a new scientific statement published in Circulation, an American Heart Association journal. Keeping teeth and gums healthy is important for your overall health. However, an American Heart Association expert committee - made up of cardiologists, dentists and infectious diseases specialists - found no conclusive scientific evidence that gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, causes or increases the rates of cardiovascular diseases. Current data don't indicate whether regular brushing and flossing or treatment of gum disease can cut the incidence of atherosclerosis, the narrowing of the arteries that can cause heart attacks and strokes. Observational studies have noted associations between gum disease and cardiovascular disease, but the 500 journal articles and studies reviewed by the committee didn't confirm a causative link

Canadian university gets $750K grant for cardiac genetics research

Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland has received a $750,000 grant from the Provincial Government and the Research & Development Corporation to support research into the genetics of heart diseases. The goal of the studies, which will employ advanced genomic tools, is to develop diagnostic tools to help prevent sudden cardiac death. The university intends to use the grant money to acquire a next-generation DNA sequencing platform. "Genetic researchers in this province, and across Atlantic Canada, currently outsource all services related to Next-Generation DNA Sequencing to other regions of the country, costing valuable time and money," said Terry-Lynn Young, an associate professor of genetics at Memorial University, said in a statement. "Today's funding announcement will allow us to continue to solve genetic puzzles of medical importance to our province and the world and train the next generation of researchers at Memorial University." The research funded by the grant also will delve into the ethical, economic, environmental, legal, and social implications of sudden death due to inherited heart conditions. The RDC, which is a provincial corporation charged with improving R&D performance in Newfoundland and Labrador, is providing C$500,000 of the funding, while the remaining funds are coming from Newfoundland's Department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development

Mayo Clinic researchers head to Mt. Everest to gain insights into aging and heart disease

Mayo Clinic researchers head to Mt. Everest to gain insights into aging and heart diseaseA team of researchers from the Mayo Clinic is analyzing the effects of altitude on Mt. Everest climbers to gain new insights into aging and heart disease. Researchers will set up their lab at the mountain's base camp and then climbers will embark on a 10-day trek to 17,500 feet. Throughout the trip, researchers will provide updates via Twitter, Mayo's blog and National Geographic's adventure blog. The team will gather data on the mountaineers' heart rate, oxygen levels, and sleep quality, as well as taking samples of their blood and urine. Among the questions the scientists will investigate are whether muscle loss, common in heart disease patients and the elderly, is related to lack of oxygen, especially during sleep, and why fluid gathers in the lungs of both some high-altitude climbers and some heart failure patients. They'll also test out a new heart-rate monitor device embedded in the climbers' clothes - and, if it works well, perhaps in the clothes of patients someday soon

The implant that alerts you before a heart attack (USA)

The implant that alerts you before a heart attack (USA)Heart disease kills more than 2,200 Americans every day, but an innovative new warning system could help reduce that number substantially. A new device that acts as an early warning system aims to curb the number of heart attack deaths in older adults. The AngelMed Guardian implant, which is featured in an upcoming issue of the journal Ergonomics in Design, could potentially save thousands of lives a year. But how does the high tech warning system work? The device is surgically implanted under the skin like a pacemaker or defibrillator. Once it's in place, the AngelMed guardian alerts the patient to an oncoming attack with vibrations, audible tones, and flashing warning lights beamed to an external, pager-like device. There are two alarm levels: Low-priority and high-priority. A low-priority warning signals that something might be wrong, so the patient should visit a doctor within 48 hours. The high-priority alarm goes off when a patient is having a heart attack

Scientists make beating cardiac cells inside the heart (USA)

Beating heart muscle can be converted quickly and efficiently from other cardiac cells by directly injecting three genes into areas damaged by a heart attack, according to researchers at the J. David Gladstone Institutes. The research, published online by the journal Nature, could transform the treatment of heart attacks since heart muscle doesn't naturally regenerate. What's more, the method could sidestep the use of stem cells to regenerate heart muscle, a field led by San Francisco-based Gladstone. "We're not necessarily using stem cells but we're taking advantage of controlling the fate of cells and reprogramming them into whatever we want," said Dr. Deepak Srivastava, director of the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease. "No cells are ever taken out or put in," he said. The new technique - using three genes called Gata4, Mef2c ad Tbx5, which play roles in forming and developing the heart - was successful in lab mice, Srivastava said

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pain medication may hinder heart attack recovery, study finds

Giving heart attack patients pain relief may actually hinder their recovery, according to researchers who say the stabbing ache in the chest actually stimulates the body to repair itself. The pain signals stem cells to repair the damaged heart cells, it has been found. The study may help explain why heart attack patients given morphine are more likely to die and could lead to new approaches to treatment. Researchers at Bristol University found that a molecule involved in the sensation of pain is released from nerves in the heart during a heart attack. Called Substance P, it draws stem cells from the bone marrow to the area of heart muscle that has been starved of oxygen by the attack. Once there, the stem cells can create new blood vessels to supply fresh blood to the heart cells. The findings, from initial experiments in mice and early results in humans, were published in the journal Circulation

Exhaust fumes are twice as deadly as roads, study claims (UK)

More than 5,000 people die prematurely from conditions like lung cancer and heart disease because of emissions, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Exhaust from aeroplanes cause a further 2,000 deaths annually while emissions from the energy and industrial sectors and pollution originating from Europe bring the overall total up to 19,000 deaths per year in Britain. In contrast official figures state that 1,850 people were killed as a result of road accidents in 2010. Prof Steven Barrett, who led the study, said: "It does appear to be the case that air pollution from road traffic causes more deaths per year than the number who die on the roads. "But those who die from air pollution tend to die about 10 years earlier than they would otherwise, whereas people who die in road traffic accidents might be on average middle aged, so it is likely that road traffic accidents cause more loss of life years overall than air pollution."

American Heart Association develops program to increase cardiac arrest survival

The American Heart Association has developed a program to help more people survive cardiac arrest. During a cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating, and unless it is restarted within minutes, the person usually dies. Mission: Lifeline is expanding to include a cardiac resuscitation program to establish and streamline systems of care for response and treatment to improve survival rates. The program will provide public education and support for coordination among the lay public, public health agencies, legislators and city officials with emergency medical services providers and hospitals to improve care for patients with cardiac arrest. Mission: Lifeline was originally launched in 2007 as a program to improve care for people suffering from ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) - the deadliest form of heart attack - or damage to heart muscle caused by a blocked blood supply to the heart. The chain of survival for STEMI spans from what bystanders do to help the stricken person, to the actions of EMS and hospital personnel, to post-hospital care

Ambulance staff 'can speed up stroke treatment'

Ambulance staff 'can speed up stroke treatment'Treating stroke in specialised ambulances en route to hospital is feasible and could boost the number of patients who receive life-saving therapy, experts believe. Mobile stroke units can halve the time it takes a patient to get clot-busting drugs, a small German trial found. The drugs only work if given within four and a half hours of stroke onset. Since not all patients are suitable candidates, a rapid assessment is critical, The Lancet Neurology reports. Clot-busting drugs (thrombolytics) can be effective if the stroke is caused by a blood clot (the cause in about 80% of cases), but not if it is due to a bleed. The faster an eligible patient receives clot-busting treatment, the better their chances are of surviving and reducing long-term disability

Walking could be a useful tool in treating depression

Walking could be a useful tool in treating depressionSomething as simple as going for a brisk stroll could play an important role in fighting depression, according to researchers in Scotland. Vigorous exercise has already been shown to alleviate symptoms of depression, but the effect of less strenuous activities was unclear. A study in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity showed walking had a "large effect" on depression. One in 10 people may have depression at some point in their lives. The condition can be treated with drugs, but exercise is commonly prescribed by doctors for mild symptoms. Researchers at the University of Stirling scoured academic studies to find data on one of the mildest forms of exercise - walking. They found eight studies, on a total of 341 patients, which fitted the bill

Being an optimist 'may protect against heart problems'

Being an optimist 'may protect against heart problems'Happy, optimistic people have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, a Harvard School of Public Health review of more than 200 studies - reported in Psychological Bulletin - suggests. While such people may be generally healthier, scientists think a sense of well-being may lower risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. Stress and depression have already been linked to heart disease. The researcher from the Harvard School of Public Health trawled medical trial databases to find studies that had recorded psychological well-being and cardiovascular health. This revealed that factors such as optimism, life satisfaction, and happiness appeared to be linked associated with a reduced risk of heart and circulatory diseases, regardless of a person's age, socio-economic status, smoking status or body weight. Disease risk was 50% lower among the most optimistic individuals

Friday, April 6, 2012

Study sees lower death risk with bypass surgery versus angioplasty for older heart patients

Older patients with clogged heart arteries may have a little lower death risk over time if they get bypass operations instead of angioplasty and stents to fix the problem, new research suggests. It's not the kind of study that gives conclusive evidence, but doctors say it gives a "real world" look at how people fare in ordinary practice. As such, it could tip the balance toward surgery for patients considering the choice, especially because research already shows bypass gives a better and longer lasting result for people with multiple blockages. In a bypass operation, doctors move healthy blood vessels from other parts of the body to detour around clogged arteries supplying blood to the heart. Angioplasty treats the problem via a tube pushed through a blood vessel. A tiny balloon is inflated to flatten the clog and a mesh scaffold, a stent, is placed to prop the artery open. Researchers compared these approaches using records on 190,000 Medicare patients with two or three blockages - the largest study ever of this issue. Death rates were similar one year after either treatment. But after four years, nearly 21 percent of the angioplasty patients had died versus about 16 percent of those who had bypass surgery. Results were discussed at an American College of Cardiology conference in Chicago and published online by the New England Journal of Medicine

Good health adds life to years: Global brief for World Health Day 2012

This global brief looks at existing health data and draws on some exciting new work to help us better understand the needs of older people and identify actions we can all take. There are sections covering key points, the demographics of ageing, the epidemiology of population ageing, taking action on ageing and health, and recommended reading

Monday, April 2, 2012

Vaccine to stop heart attacks could be developed

Injections of antibodies could prevent the build up of fat in the arteries which cause narrowings and break off leading to heart attacks, experts said. It would be the first time that the underlying causes of heart disease was targeted instead of reducing factors such as high levels of bad cholesterol and blood pressure which increase the likelihood of heart disease developing. Several different approaches are in the pipeline and could be licensed within five years, the Frontiers in CardioVascular Biology meeting at Imperial College London was told. Independent experts said the vaccines were 'very promising' and could have a big impact on the treatment of the disease. Cardiovascular disease causes one in three of all deaths in Britain accounting for 191,000 deaths a year