Heart Disease News - media coverage related to heart health

We scan the media for news stories about heart disease and heart health, and summarize them here for your interest. The most current news summaries are directly below - see the archives for heart disease news items from 2009 and 2008.

Gene test for better heart disease detection Researchers report a key step for the first gene test aimed at reducing unnecessary angiograms — expensive procedures that hundreds of thousands of Americans have each year to check for clogged arteries. Most of these exams, done in hospital cardiac catheterization labs, turn out negative.

A simple blood test to show who truly needs an angiogram would help. Similar tests are used now to guide breast cancer treatment and organ transplants, and many doctors think they'll eventually prove valuable for heart disease as more genes are discovered that affect risk.

Chest pain is never a symptom to ignore; it can be a sign of a blocked artery causing a heart attack. But millions of people have chronic chest pain that might mean arteries starting to clog or another problem, even just anxiety.

Unlike other gene tests that try to predict the odds of someday developing heart disease, this one aims to tell whether you have it now. Rather than looking for certain genes or mutations, it measures how active 23 key genes are.

The test is an important step toward using genes to improve care, but the results "do not provide compelling evidence" that it should be widely used now,according to genetics expert Donna Arnett of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a Yale University cardiologist and health outcomes researcher, agreed."We are in an era where new tests and procedures must prove their value before we adopt them because we are dazzled by the technology," so this test should remain a research tool until its worth is clearer, he said.

If improved, the test might lead fewer doctors to order angiograms as "defensive medicine," said Dr. Daniel Rader, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania and a spokesman for the American College of Cardiology.

AP (October 4, 2010)

Doctors have found a relation between stock market fluctuations and heart attack frequency according to a preliminary study by North Carolina's Duke University Medical Center.

"In analyzing our local patient population... during the recent period of increased volatility in the stock market, we found that when stock market values decreased, heart attacks seemed to increase, and then decreased when stock trends improved," said the study's lead investigator, Mona Fiuzat, on Saturday.

Results of the research were presented at the American College of Cardiology's 59th annual scientific conference in Atlanta.

The study focused on patients registered at the Duke Hospital Catheterization Lab between January 2006 and July 2009, using data from the Duke Databank for Cardiovascular Disease.Data was then plotted against the stock market daily values during the same period of time.

Researchers said that earlier studies showed a link between traumatic events such as the September 11, 2001 attacks and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and an increased risk of cardiac events, but there was limited data on the impact of financial markets.

Fiuzat concluded that "learning stress management strategies may be beneficial, especially for people with or at high risk of heart disease."

AFP (March 14, 2010)

Growing new arteries could bypass heart disease. A new method of growing arteries could lead to a “biological bypass”—a non-invasive way to treat coronary artery disease—Yale School of Medicine researchers and their colleagues report in the April 2010 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Coronary arteries can become blocked, leading to a decrease in the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. Over time this blockage can lead to chest pain or heart attack. Severe blockages in multiple major vessels may require coronary artery bypass graft surgery, a major invasive surgery.

“Successfully growing new arteries could provide a biological option for patients facing bypass surgery,” says lead author of the study, Michael Simons, chief of the Section of Cardiology at Yale School of Medicine.

Simons added. “The next step is to test this finding in a human clinical trial.”

laboratoryequipment.com (March 11, 2010)

Study finds traffic pollution can speed hardening of arteries. People living close to a Los Angeles freeway were found to have twice the rate of thickening of artery walls that can lead to heart disease and stroke.

The paper is the first to link car and truck exhaust to the progression of atherosclerosis in humans. The study was conducted by researchers from USC and UC Berkeley, along with colleagues in Spain and Switzerland, and published this week in the journal PloS ONE.

Researchers used ultrasound to measure the carotid artery wall thickness of 1,483 people who lived within 100 meters, or 328 feet, of Los Angeles freeways. Taking measurements every 6 months for 3 years, they correlated their findings with levels toxic dust that spews from tailpipes present at the residents' homes.

They found that artery wall thickness in study participants accelerated annually by more than twice the average progression.

According to co-author Howard N. Hodis, director of the Atherosclerosis Research Unit at USC's Keck School of Medicine, the findings show that "environmental factors may play a larger role in the risk for cardiovascular disease than previously suspected."

UC Berkeley co-author Michael Jerrett noted that "for the first time, we have shown that air pollution contributes to the early formation of heart disease, known as atherosclerosis, which is connected to nearly half the deaths in Western societies. By controlling air pollution from traffic, we may see much larger benefits to public health than we previously thought."

Los Angeles Times (February 14, 2010)

FDA approves transcatheter heart valve. Delivered through a catheter requiring only a small incision, the Melody valve will benefit children and adults who were born with a malformation of their pulmonary valve - the valve between the heart and lungs. Previously the only way to repair or replace a failed pulmonary valve was through surgeries. To date, more than 1,100 patients worldwide have received a Melody valve.

“The Melody Transcatheter Pulmonary Valve is a significant technological breakthrough and offers a reprieve for many patients with congenital heart disease – many of whom are young and will require several heart surgeries over their lifetime,” said pediatric cardiologist Dr. William E. Hellenbrand of the NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center.

The transcatheter heart valve is approved by the FDA for use in the United States under an HDE, a special regulatory approval for treatments intended for fewer than 4,000 US patients per year. HDEs are granted for medical devices that have demonstrated reasonable safety and probable benefit, but not clinical effectiveness.

Business Wire (January 26, 2010)

The more TV you watch, the more likely you could be to die of heart disease and other causes, new research suggests.

The study found that people who watched more than four hours of TV a day had an 80 percent higher risk of dying of heart disease and a 46 percent higher risk of dying from all causes than those who watched less than two hours daily.

People who watched the most TV were also generally older, more likely to have a history of hypertension and more likely to be current or ex-smokers.

Chicago Sun Times (January 12, 2010)

2009 Heart Disease News Archives

January - March
  • Finger monitors can predict heart attacks
  • Pregnancy hormone shows promise in reducing heart failure
  • Creeping Waistline Speeds Path to Grave
  • Depressed women more likely to die from heart disorders
  • Health monitoring comes to the iPhone
  • Optimists live longer, healthier lives than pessimists
  • Heart attack risk nearly doubled if Plavix taken with heartburn drug
  • Strong emotions can trigger potentially deadly heart rhythms
  • People paid to stop smoking 3 times more likely to quit
  • Women's heart rate at rest can help predict risk of heart attack
  • Clopidogrel following a heart attack increases risk of a recurrent heart attack if taken with acid-lowering medications called proton pump inhibitors
  • Regulators reviewing effectiveness of the widely used blood thinner Plavix
  • Better air quality makes longer lives, Harvard Study says
  • Study tracking women for casts doubt on value of testing for genetic trait linked to heart disease
  • Carb addiction blamed for bigger waistlines
  • Drug combination that increases the risk of sudden cardiac death
  • French study found correlation between blood pressure and outdoor temperature
  • Smoking ban caused heart attacks to drop by more than 40 percent
  • Sleep apnea increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases

April - June
  • Red wine appears to lower mortality
  • Sleeping less than 7 or 8 hours increases risk of high blood pressure
  • Overweight male teens at risk of heart damage
  • Own stem cells regenerates heart
  • Diabetics heart attack risk can be reduced
  • Cheerios not so wholesome
  • Brilinta better than Plavix
  • Rise in obesity due to excess caloric intake
  • Drug eluting stents superior
  • Half glass of wine a day may add 5 years to life
  • Omega 3 fatty acids protect men from heart failure
  • Silent heart attacks more deadly and more common than suspected
  • Being fat bad for the environment
  • BMI and waist circumference influence risk
  • Hope for a natural pacemaker
  • Defibrillator alert after two deaths

July - September
  • American Heart Association recommends reduced intake of added sugars
  • More women than men dying of heart disease

October - December
  • Champagne good for the heart
  • Up to 1/2 bottle wine a day good for heart
  • Risks of aspirin may outweigh benefits
  • Many teens have at lease one risk factor for heart disease
  • Lifestyle trumps genetics
  • Get a flu shot
  • Bans on smoking can reduce heart attack
  • South Africa drafts regulations on trans fats
  • High blood pressure biggest cause of heart attack in China

2008 Heart Disease News Archives

January - March
  • Restaurants go trans fats free
  • Fewer patients to have pre-dental antibiotics
  • Activity combined with moderate alcohol lowers risk
  • Can calcium supplements increase risk?
  • Exercise can reduce risk
  • Cholesterol - how low do you go?
  • Dark chocolate good for heart?
  • Certain oral contraceptives pose risk
  • Vaccination for high blood pressure
  • Happy marriage aids blood pressure
  • Importance of regular dental exams for heart health
  • What's special about Vitamin D?
  • Meditation effective in controlling blood pressure

April - June
  • Size does matter
  • Research links low vitamin D with death from heart disease
  • Are we salting ourselves to death?
  • People with high blood pressure should test at home
  • Canada orders Vitamin D study
  • Women on DASH diet at lower risk
July - September
  • Fatal medication errors at home increasing
  • Remote monitoring of heart failure patients
  • Does fitness offset fatness?
  • Cholesterol drugs don't boost cancer risk
  • Apple/orange juice don't mix with pills
  • Rapid pulse rate increases heart attack risk
  • People with heart disease should avoid being sedentary
  • Overweight at risk of heart attack 12 years earlier
  • People with heart disease at high risk of depression
October - December
  • More sleep lowers risk of calcium deposits in arteries
  • Stress of in-laws and kids increase woman's risk of heart disease
  • Mediterranean diet plus daily serving of nuts may lower stomach fat and blood pressure in older adults at risk for heart disease
  • Heart disease still the number 2 killer in Canada
  • Vitamin D may help lower risk of heart attacks
  • Working out 25 to 30 minutes most days of the week is enough to modestly lower risk
  • Emotions aroused by joyful music have healthy effect
  • Lack of sleep may lead to heart disease
  • Octogenarians stand excellent chance of surviving open-heart surgery
  • French doctor unveiled first fully implantable artificial heart
  • Exercising even once a week can help prolong life expectancy
  • Aspirin does not prevent heart attacks in those with diabetes
  • US doctors implanting too many artery-opening heart stents
  • Family doctors more likely to chalk up heart disease symptoms to anxiety with females

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