View Full Version : Matters of the heart

11-05-2012, 10:20 AM
Thought that was what the pacemaker was needed for...
Heartbeat 'could power pacemaker'
4 November 2012 - A device which could harness energy from a beating heart can produce enough electricity to keep a pacemaker running, according to US researchers.

Repeated operations are currently needed to replace batteries in pacemakers. Tests suggested the device could produce 10 times the amount of energy needed. The British Heart Foundation said clinical trials were needed to show it would be safe for patients. Piezoelectric materials generate an electric charge when their shape is changed. They are used in some microphones to convert vibrations into an electrical signal. Researchers at the University of Michigan are trying to use the movement of the heart as a source of electricity.

In tests designed to simulate a range of heartbeats, enough electricity was generated to power a pacemaker. The designers now want to test the device on a real heart and build it into a commercial pacemaker. Dr Amin Karami told a meeting of the American Heart Association that pacemaker batteries needed to be replaced approximately every seven years. "Many of the patients are children who live with pacemakers for many years. You can imagine how many operations they are spared if this new technology is implemented."

Prof Peter Weissberg, the medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Advancing technology over recent years has meant people with pacemakers need to change their battery less often. This device could be another step forward along this path. "If researchers can refine the technology and it proves robust in clinical trials, it would further reduce the need for battery changes."


11-05-2012, 10:14 PM
That would be great news and hope it is successful.

11-06-2012, 11:28 AM
Using stem cells from strangers to repair hearts...
Study: Stem cells from strangers can repair hearts
6 Nov.`12 — Researchers are reporting a key advance in using stem cells to repair hearts damaged by heart attacks. In a study, stem cells donated by strangers proved as safe and effective as patients' own cells for helping restore heart tissue.

The work involved just 30 patients in Miami and Baltimore, but it proves the concept that anyone's cells can be used to treat such cases. Doctors are excited because this suggests that stem cells could be banked for off-the-shelf use after heart attacks, just as blood is kept on hand now. Results were discussed Monday at an American Heart Association conference in California and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study used a specific type of stem cells from bone marrow that researchers believed would not be rejected by recipients. Unlike other cells, these lack a key feature on their surface that makes the immune system see them as foreign tissue and attack them, explained the study's leader, Dr. Joshua Hare of the University of Miami. The patients in the study had suffered heart attacks years earlier, some as long as 30 years ago. All had developed heart failure because the scar tissue from the heart attack had weakened their hearts so much that they grew large and flabby, unable to pump blood effectively.

Researchers advertised for people to supply marrow, which is removed using a needle into a hip bone. The cells were taken from the marrow and amplified for about a month in a lab at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University, then returned to Miami to be used for treatment, which did not involve surgery. The cells were delivered through a tube pushed through a groin artery into the heart near the scarred area. Fifteen patients were given cells from their own marrow and 15 others, cells from strangers.

About a year later, scar tissue had been reduced by about one-third. Both groups had improvements in how far they could walk and in quality of life. There was no significant difference in one measure of how well their hearts were able to pump blood, but doctors hope these patients will continue to improve over time, or that refinements in treatment will lead to better results. The big attraction is being able to use cells supplied by others, with no blood or tissue matching needed. "You could have the cells ready to go in the blood bank so when the patient comes in for a therapy — there's no delay," Hare said. "It's also cheaper to make the donor cells," and a single marrow donor can supply enough cells to treat as many as 10 people.

MORE (http://news.yahoo.com/study-stem-cells-strangers-repair-hearts-205105872.html)

04-03-2016, 12:26 AM
Granny says, "Dat's right - get dat waist size down...
Waist size 'strongly predicts' heart disease risk: Study
Sunday 3rd April, 2016 - A study involving people with diabetes has shown that belly size is a stronger predictor of a dangerous kind of heart disease than body mass index, researchers said Saturday.

The study released at the American College of Cardiology conference in Chicago was based on 200 people with diabetes who had not shown any symptoms of heart disease. Researchers found that those with larger waist circumferences were more likely than smaller-bellied people to have problems with the heart's left ventricle, which pumps oxygen-rich blood to the brain and the rest of the body. "We specifically found that waist circumference appears to be a stronger predictor for left ventricle dysfunction than total body weight or body mass index," said principal investigator Boaz Rosen, a doctor at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland.

Previous research has shown that the higher a person's body mass index (BMI) - a measure of a person's height and weight - the greater their risk of heart disease.

Having excess belly fat, or having an apple-shaped figure, has already been linked to high blood pressure, high sugar levels, elevated cholesterol, coronary artery disease and heart failure. "Our research examined patients with diabetes, who are considered high risk for developing heart disease already, and found that the shape of your body determined if you were at a greater risk to develop left ventricular dysfunction," said Brent Muhlestein, co-director of research at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City. "This study confirms that having an apple-shaped body - or a high waist circumference - can lead to heart disease, and that reducing your waist size can reduce your risks."

Problems with the left ventricle can lead to congestive heart failure. Researchers said more study is needed to see if diabetic patients with large waists and signs of heart problems go on to develop heart failure or artery disease in the future.


04-03-2016, 07:35 AM
Yes. BMI only works for couch potatoes. Waist size is a better indicator. Old news in the fitness community.

04-05-2016, 01:09 AM
Vitamin D helps damaged hearts...
Vitamin D 'heals damaged hearts'
Mon, 04 Apr 2016 - Vitamin D supplements may help people with a failing heart, a study suggests.

Vitamin D supplements may help people with diseased hearts, a study suggests. A trial on 163 heart failure patients found supplements of the vitamin, which is made in the skin when exposed to sunlight, improved their hearts' ability to pump blood around the body. The Leeds Teaching Hospitals team, who presented at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology, described the results as "stunning". The British Heart Foundation called for longer trials to assess the pills. Vitamin D is vital for healthy bones and teeth and may have important health benefits throughout the body but many people are deficient.

No safe way to suntan - warning

The average age of people in the study was 70 and like many people that age they had low levels of vitamin D even in summer. "They do spend less time outside, but the skin's ability to manufacture vitamin D also gets less effective [with age] and we don't really understand why that is," said consultant cardiologist Dr Klaus Witte. Patients were given either a 100 microgram vitamin D tablet or a sugar pill placebo each day for a year. And researchers measured the impact on heart failure - a condition in which the heart becomes too weak to pump blood properly. The key measure was the ejection fraction, the amount of blood pumped out of the chambers of the heart with each beat.


In a healthy adult the figure is between 60% and 70%, but only a quarter of the blood in the heart was being successfully pumped out in the heart failure patients. But in those taking the vitamin pills, the ejection fraction increased from 26% to 34%. Dr Witte told the BBC News website: "It's quite a big deal, that's as big as you'd expect from other more expensive treatments that we use, it's a stunning effect. "It's as cheap as chips, has no side effects and a stunning improvement on people already on optimal medical therapy, it is the first time anyone has shown something like this in the last 15 years."

The study also showed the patients hearts became smaller - a suggestion they are becoming more powerful and efficient. In the UK, people over 65 are advised to take 10 microgram supplements of the vitamin. However, Dr Witte does not think high-dose vitamin D should be routine prescribed just yet. He told the BBC: "We're a little bit off that yet, not because I don't believe it, but data have shown improvements in heart function, they may show improvements in symptoms and we now need a large study."

It is also not clear exactly how vitamin D is improving heart function, but it is thought every cell in the body responds to the vitamin. Most vitamin D comes from sunlight, although it is also found in oily fish, eggs and is added to some foods such as breakfast cereals. Prof Peter Weissberg, from the British Heart Foundation, cautioned that the patients seemed no better at exercise. And added: "A much bigger study over a longer period of time is now needed to determine whether these changes in cardiac function can translate into fewer symptoms and longer lives for heart failure patients."


04-07-2016, 06:43 AM
Broken heart raises risk of heart failure...
Broken hearts are at higher risk of failing: study
Thu, Apr 07, 2016 - The death of a life partner might trigger an irregular heartbeat, itself potentially life-threatening, the results of new research into the risk of dying from a broken heart showed.

A trawl of data on nearly 1 million Danes showed an elevated risk — lasting for about one year — of developing a heart flutter after the death of a life partner. People aged under 60 whose partners died unexpectedly were most in peril, the data showed. The risk was highest “eight to 14 days after the loss, after which it gradually declined,” a study published in the online journal Open Heart said. “One year after the loss, the risk was almost the same as in the non-bereaved population,” it said.

Much research has focused on explaining the observed phenomenon of people dying soon after their life partner has died. Several studies have shown that grieving spouses have a higher risk of dying, particularly of heart disease, but the mechanism is unclear. The latest study specifically asked whether bereaved partners were more likely than others to develop atrial fibrillation, the most common type of irregular heartbeat and a risk factor for stroke and heart failure.

Researchers in Denmark used population data collected between 1995 and 2014 to search for a pattern. Of the group, 88,612 people had been newly diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and 886,120 were healthy. “The risk of developing an irregular heartbeat for the first time was 41 percent higher among those who had been bereaved than it was among those who had not experienced such a loss,” the study said.


04-07-2016, 06:46 AM
Very true.

04-19-2016, 12:36 AM
New heart patch that can monitor and treat cardiac problems...
Revolutionary Cardiac Patch Could Mend a Broken Heart
April 18, 2016 - Have you ever had a broken heart? Now there’s a way to fix that... but perhaps not in the way you think.

Scientists in Israel have created a life-saving heart patch that can monitor and treat cardiac problems. Researchers at Tel Aviv University developed a revolutionary 3D printed patch, consisting of nano-electronics and live heart tissue grown in a lab. The device, which is applied to a damaged heart, can actually regenerate the cardiac muscle by building up cells in the part with a defect. Co-inventor Tal Dvir, a professor in the Department of Biotechnogy, explained that “the role of the electronics is to sense the function of the tissue and then to activate the tissue when needed."

The device can also release medication for heart problems relating to inflammation or a lack of oxygen. And because the patch can expand like the heart but is also a self-regulating machine, a doctor can treat his patient from afar. “The patient is sitting in his house and not feeling well, and the physician immediately sees the condition of the heart on his computer, and can remotely activate the heart, provide electrical stimulation, and release drugs,” said Dvir.

For a heart permanently damaged by disease or a heart attack, the patch could become an alternative to a heart transplant. And it may lead to even more promising discoveries. “We are trying to 3D print the whole heart, with the electronics within,” Dvir said. "And I believe that in the future, in 10-20 years, there would be such bionic organs in the market or in hospitals to be transplanted." This cyborg heart patch still needs to be tested and it could be years before it’s available. But in the future, it may provide an alternative for people with heart disease.


04-29-2016, 08:53 PM
Turning Skin cells into heart cells...
Chemical Cocktail Turns Skin Cells Into Beating Heart Cells
April 29, 2016 - Scientists have long been fascinated by the ability of amphibians, such as newts and salamanders, to regrow severed tails. One day, humans may be able to achieve a similar feat by repairing damaged hearts and brains.

Researchers at the Gladstone Institutes Center for Cell Biology and Medicine in San Francisco and in China have developed a chemical cocktail that can reprogram cells without genetic engineering. Their work lays the foundation for one day being able to regenerate lost or damaged cells with pharmaceutical drugs. Writing in the journals Science and Cell Stem Cell, investigators describe how a combination of chemicals can turn readily available skin cells into stem cells — master cells that have the potential to become any cell in the body.

A beating heart muscle cell that was created from a human skin cell using a cocktail of nine chemicals.

Sheng Ding is a regenerative medicine biologist at Gladstone Institute. He led the team of researchers that identified nine chemical compounds that reprogrammed skin cells into heart cells. Transplanted into a mouse heart, the cells developed into healthy heart muscle cells. "It's really the Holy Grail we've been working on now for decades," Ding said. A separate group of researchers used a similar chemical process to alter skin cells into neural cells, to repair brain damage caused by disease.

Growing heart cells

A heart attack leaves dead tissue in its wake. Once damaged, those heart muscle cells — called cardiomyocytes — have very little ability to renew themselves. But with their chemical cocktail, Ding's team was able to take mouse skin cells and transform them into beating heart cells. Previous work in tissue regeneration involved a laborious process of inserting specific genes into stem cells created from skin cells, then infusing the transformed cells into the body to create healthy tissue.

But now tissue repair could become a far simpler process, according to Ding. "There is now a possibility that we can provide patients [with] a pill that contains this small molecule cocktail that really stimulates or regenerates to repair cells," he said.


09-09-2016, 07:13 AM
Statins' benefits underestimated...
Statins' benefits underestimated, review says
Thu, 08 Sep 2016 - The benefits of the cholesterol-reducing drug statins are underestimated and the harms exaggerated, a major review suggests.

Published in the Lancet and backed by a number of major health organisations, it says statins lower heart attack and stroke risk. The review also suggests side effects such as muscle pain do occur, although in relatively few people. But critics say healthy people are unnecessarily taking medication.

Dummy drug effect

Statins reduce the build-up of fatty plaques that lead to blockages in blood vessels. According to the report authors:

* About six million people are currently taking statins in the UK
* Of those, two million are on them because they have already had a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event
* The remaining four million take statins because of risk factors such as age, blood pressure or diabetes
* Up to two million more should possibly take statins


The Lancet review, led by Prof Rory Collins from the Clinical Trial Service Unit at the University of Oxford, looked at the available evidence for the effects of taking an average 40mg daily dose of statins in 10,000 patients over five years. It suggested cholesterol levels would be lowered enough to prevent 1,000 "major cardiovascular events" such as heart attacks, strokes and coronary artery bypasses in people who had existing vascular disease - and 500 in people who were at risk due to age or other illnesses such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

The review also said randomised controlled trials - where neither patient nor doctor know who is on the real drug and who is on a dummy version - suggested the average dose led to a relatively low level of side effects. In the same 10,000 population, there would be some side effects, including between 50 and 100 cases of adverse events such as muscle pain, it said. Observational studies - where people know they are taking the drug and will have been told of known side effects including muscle pain - had higher rates.

Question marks (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-37306736)

09-09-2016, 07:52 AM
Well, being as I'm one of the folks who can't tolerate them that kinda sucks for me.

10-20-2016, 12:29 PM
Good place to have a heart attack...
App helps save Seattle cardiac patient
October 20, 2016 — If your heart is going to stop, right outside a hospital is not a bad place for it. And if 41 people within a 330-yard radius have a cellphone app alerting them to your distress, so much the better.

That's what happened in Seattle last week when Stephen DeMont collapsed at a bus stop in front of University of Washington Medical Center. While a medical student rushed over and began chest compressions, a cardiac nurse just getting off her shift was alerted by her phone, sprinted outside and assisted until paramedics arrived. Five days later, DeMont, 60, is walking, smiling and talking about how the PulsePoint app helped save his life.

https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/pM2z_eyYyvdQdPhgH1agtA--/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9MTI4MDtoPTk2MDtpbD 1wbGFuZQ--/http://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/ap_webfeeds/929a1dd3a1124d37b24c39c8841019c5.jpg
Stephen DeMont, center, gets a hug from medical student Zach Forcade, right, as nurse Madeline Dahl looks on as they visit DeMont Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at the University of Washington Medical Center, in Seattle. When DeMont collapsed at a bus stop in front of the UW Medical Center days earlier on his morning commute, Dahl was one of 41 people within a 330-yard radius who happened to have a cell phone app alerting them to the emergency. Forcade witnessed the collapse and rushed over to begin chest compressions, as within moments Dahl, a cardiac nurse just getting off her shift in the hospital, was alerted by her phone and sprinted down the sidewalk, assisting until paramedics arrived.

Seattle officials say the rescue shows the potential the free download has for connecting CPR-trained citizens with patients who urgently need their help. It's being used in 2,000 U.S. cities in 28 states. "I put it on my phone yesterday," said DeMont's wife, Debi Quirk, a former registered nurse. "He would not be here as we see him today." Seattle officials hope DeMont's story will help persuade thousands more people to sign up for notifications; so far, about 4,000 people in Seattle have downloaded PulsePoint since the city adopted it earlier this year with financial support from an employee charitable fund at Boeing. The goal is to have 15,000 using it.

Developed by a former fire chief in Northern California, Richard Price, the app works through a city's 911 system. When a call comes in, operators alert people within a certain radius that CPR assistance is needed, along with the location of the nearest portable defibrillator. About 900,000 people around the country have downloaded and carry the app, and 34,000 people have been activated to respond, he said, adding that alerts have been issued in 13,000 cardiac events.

https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/ZEPW7QiI4dJOvNyZdTYfXw--/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9MTI4MDtoPTk2MDtpbD 1wbGFuZQ--/http://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/ap_webfeeds/122e6a6c5ddc4be19236ef54fd966c36.jpg
Madeline Dahl, left, looks on as Zach Forcade, right, pulls out his cell phone while Stephen DeMont sits with them while being interviewed at the University of Washington Medical Center Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, in Seattle. When DeMont collapsed at a bus stop in front of the UW Medical Center days earlier on his morning commute, Dahl was one of 41 people within a 330-yard radius who happened to have a cell phone app alerting them to the emergency. Forcade, a medical student, witnessed the collapse and rushed over to begin chest compressions, as within moments Dahl, a cardiac nurse just getting off her shift in the hospital, was alerted by her phone and sprinted down the sidewalk, assisting until paramedics arrived.

He came up with the idea in 2009, he said. He was in a restaurant when he heard sirens from his crews at the San Ramon Valley fire department. As he wondered where they were going, they arrived at the restaurant. "The patient was unconscious, unresponsive. I was 20 feet away on the other side of the wall," Price said. "The whole time I was listening to that siren, I could have been making a difference." It occurred to him that at any given time, two-thirds of his staff was off duty — in restaurants, out in the community. If there was a way to alert them to such emergencies by phone, it could save lives, Price said. It's not clear how many lives have been saved thanks to the app. Patient confidentiality laws often prevent hospitals from disclosing a patient's outcome.

MORE (https://www.yahoo.com/news/app-helps-save-seattle-cardiac-085950283.html?ref=gs)

10-25-2016, 08:53 PM
Bypass surgery may be better than stents... Bypass surgery may be better than stents for patients who skip meds October 25, 2016 - For heart disease patients who adhere to optimal medical therapy, outcomes of coronary bypass graft surgery (CABG) and percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) may not differ, a new study finds.
However, among nonadherent patients, CABG affords better major adverse cardiac event–free survival. When they don’t take their meds as directed, CABG patients are 68 percent more likely to avoid complications than PCI patients. "Therefore, patient compliance with medical therapy may inform clinical decision making and should be incorporated into all future comparative studies of comparative coronary revascularization strategies," the authors write in Circulation October 24th. For patients who do take their meds, however, it matters less which intervention they got – they’re all nearly three times more likely to survive complication-free than those who skip the medications. “The take-home message for patients with coronary artery disease is even if you don't feel any differently when taking the medications, your very survival may depend upon them,” said lead study author Dr. Paul Kurlansky of Columbia University in New York. To assess how medication compliance influences outcomes, the authors followed 973 CABG patients and 2,255 patients who underwent PCI and stent placement, from February to July of 2004. Follow-ups were performed between 12 months and 18 months and starting again in 2009 to monitor both adherence to prescribed medication and to report any circulatory difficulties, including fatal and nonfatal myocardial infarction, or any repeated bypass or angioplasty procedures. Optimal medical therapy included blood thinners (aspirin or one year of double antiplatelet therapy for stent patients), statins to lower cholesterol and beta-blockers to curb high blood pressure and maintain a normal heart rhythm for heart surgery patients. Among patients who adhere to recommended medication therapy, there may not be a clinical benefit for bypass over PCI, the authors say. Patients who got either procedure, left the hospital on aspirin and statins and were still on both medications at all follow-up checkups enjoyed significantly better event-free survival rates than patients who at any point were not on their medication. Some patients may avoid medications due to costs or side effects, but it may also be because they don’t feel sick, Kurlansky said. “Hypertension is usually clinically silent, we cannot feel our cholesterol level, and we don't perceive our platelet reactivity, therefore, to expend money and effort to take medications, some of which may have side effects, in order to feel absolutely no different is, for most people, highly counterintuitive,” Kurlansky said. “This, I believe, is why so many people, even after heart attack or heart surgery, discontinue their medications.” MORE (https://www.yahoo.com/news/bypass-surgery-may-better-stents-patients-skip-meds-212735559.html?ref=gs)

01-11-2017, 04:44 PM
Using stem cells to regenerate the external layer of a human heart...
Researchers use stem cells to regenerate the external layer of a human heart
January 11, 2017 - A process using human stem cells can generate the cells that cover the external surface of a human heart—epicardium cells—according to a multidisciplinary team of researchers.

"In 2012, we discovered that if we treated human stem cells with chemicals that sequentially activate and inhibit Wnt signaling pathway, they become myocardium muscle cells," said Xiaojun Lance Lian, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and biology, who is leading the study at Penn State. Myocardium, the middle of the heart's three layers, is the thick, muscular part that contracts to drive blood through the body. The Wnt signaling pathway is a group of signal transduction pathways made of proteins that pass signals into a cell using cell-surface receptors. "We needed to provide the cardiac progenitor cells with additional information in order for them to generate into epicardium cells, but prior to this study, we didn't know what that information was," said Lian. "Now, we know that if we activate the cells' Wnt signaling pathway again, we can re-drive these cardiac progenitor cells to become epicardium cells, instead of myocardium cells."

The group's results, published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, bring them one step closer to regenerating an entire heart wall. Through morphological assessment and functional assay, the researchers found that the generated epicardium cells were similar to epicardium cells in living humans and those grown in the laboratory. "The last piece is turning cardiac progenitor cells to endocardium cells (the heart's inner layer), and we are making progress on that," said Lian.

Heart progenitors cells derived from human stem cells can be further specified to heart cells belong to external layer or muscle layer of a human heart.

The group's method of generating epicardium cells could be useful in clinical applications, for patients who suffer a heart attack. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 43 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack "Heart attacks occur due to blockage of blood vessels," said Lian. "This blockage stops nutrients and oxygen from reaching the heart muscle, and muscle cells die. These muscle cells cannot regenerate themselves, so there is permanent damage, which can cause additional problems. These epicardium cells could be transplanted to the patient and potentially repair the damaged region." During their study, the researchers engineered the human stem cells to become reporter cells, meaning these cells expressed a fluorescent protein only when they became epicardium cells. "We treated the cells with different cell signaling molecules, and we found that when we treated them with Wnt signaling activators, they became fluorescent," said Lian.

Another finding, he said, is that in addition to generating the epicardium cells, the researchers also can keep them proliferating in the lab after treating these cells with a cell-signaling pathway Transforming Growth Factor Beta (TGF) inhibitor. "After 50 days, our cells did not show any signs of decreased proliferation. However, the proliferation of the control cells without the TGF Beta inhibitor started to plateau after the tenth day," said Lian. The team will continue working together to further their research on regenerating endocardium cells. "We are making progress on that inner layer, which will allow us to regenerate an entire heart wall that can be used in tissue engineering for cardiac therapy," said Lian.


01-12-2017, 01:52 AM
Whenever Granny tells Uncle Ferd his g/f is too fat to sit onna sofa - he gets all discombobulated...
Brain activity 'key in stress link to heart disease'
Thu, 12 Jan 2017 - Constant stress could be a key factor in raising the risk of a heart attack, say researchers.

The effect of constant stress on a deep-lying region of the brain explains the increased risk of heart attack, a study in The Lancet suggests. In a study of 300 people, those with higher activity in the amygdala were more likely to develop cardiovascular disease - and sooner than others. Stress could be as important a risk factor as smoking and high blood pressure, the US researchers said. Heart experts said at-risk patients should be helped to manage stress.

A woman stressed at work

Emotional stress has long been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), which affects the heart and blood vessels - but the way this happens has not been properly understood. This study, led by a team from Harvard Medical School, points to heightened activity in the amygdala - an area of the brain that processes emotions such as fear and anger - as helping to explain the link.

The researchers suggest that the amygdala signals to the bone marrow to produce extra white blood cells, which in turn act on the arteries causing them to become inflamed. This can then cause heart attacks, angina and strokes. As a result, when stressed, this part of the brain appears to be a good predictor of cardiovascular events. But they also said more research was needed to confirm this chain of events.

Inflammation insight (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-38584975)

02-04-2017, 10:53 PM
Dual-use anti-cancer drug could help to regenerate heart tissue...
Cancer drug could promote regeneration of heart tissue
February 3, 2017 - An anticancer agent in development promotes regeneration of damaged heart muscle 0- an unexpected research finding that may help prevent congestive heart failure in the future.

Many parts of the body, such as blood cells and the lining of the gut, continuously renew throughout life. Others, such as the heart, do not. Because of the heart's inability to repair itself, damage caused by a heart attack causes permanent scarring that frequently results in serious weakening of the heart, known as heart failure.

For years, Dr. Lawrence Lum, Associate Professor of Cell Biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, has worked to develop a cancer drug targeting Wnt signaling molecules. These molecules are crucial for tissue regeneration, but also frequently contribute to cancer. Essential to the production of Wnt proteins in humans is the porcupine (Porcn) enzyme, so-named because fruit fly embryos lacking this gene resemble a porcupine. In testing the porcupine inhibitor researchers developed, they noted a curiosity. "We saw many predictable adverse effects -0 in bone and hair, for example 0- but one surprise was that the number of dividing cardiomyocytes (heart muscle cells) was slightly increased," said Dr. Lum, senior author of the paper, and a member of UTSW's Hamon Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine. "In addition to the intense interest in porcupine inhibitors as anticancer agents, this research shows that such agents could be useful in regenerative medicine."

(From left) Dr. Rhonda Bassel-Duby, Dr. Lawrence Lum, Huanyu Zhou, Dr. Jesung Moon, and Dr. Wei Tan.

Based on their initial results, the researchers induced heart attacks in mice and then treated them with a porcupine inhibitor. Their hearts' ability to pump blood improved by nearly twofold compared to untreated animals. The study findings were published online this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Our lab has been studying heart repair for several years, and it was striking to see that administration of a Wnt inhibitor significantly improved heart function following a heart attack in mice," said Dr. Rhonda Bassel-Duby, Professor of Molecular Biology and Associate Director of the Hamon Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine.

Importantly, in addition to the improved pumping ability of hearts in the mice, the researchers noticed a reduction in fibrosis, or scarring in the hearts. Collagen-laden scarring that occurs following a heart attack can cause the heart to inappropriately increase in size, and lead to heart failure. "While fibrotic responses may be immediately beneficial, they can overwhelm the ability of the heart to regenerate in the long run. We think we have an agent that can temper this fibrotic response, thus improving wound healing of the heart," said Dr. Lum, a Virginia Murchison Linthicum Scholar in Medical Research and Associate Director of Basic Research at the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Additionally, Dr. Lum said, preliminary experiments indicate that the porcupine inhibitor would only need to be used for a short time following a heart attack, suggesting that the unpleasant side effects typically caused by cancer drugs might be avoided. "We hope to advance a Porcn inhibitor into clinical testing as a regenerative agent for heart disease within the next year," Dr. Lum said.


03-28-2017, 02:09 AM
Granny tells possum to eat his spinach so's he'll be strong like Popeye...

Human Heart Cells Grown on Spinach Leaves
March 27, 2017 - Spinach is known as a super food for its nutritional value, but a new experiment reveals another power of the green leaf.

Researchers say they’ve grown beating human heart cells on spinach leaves, using the vascular network of the plant to transport fluids. The finding could eventually lead to being able to grow working human cardiac tissue that could one day be used to replace heart cells damaged by heart attacks. “Plants and animals exploit fundamentally different approaches to transporting fluids, chemicals, and macromolecules, yet there are surprising similarities in their vascular network structures,” said researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Arkansas State University-Jonesboro. “The development of decellularized plants for scaffolding opens up the potential for a new branch of science that investigates the mimicry between plant and animal.”

Researchers say they've grown human heart cells on spinach leaves

The breakthrough is important because so far, bioengineering such as 3-D printing, can’t replicate the complex system of blood vessels in the human body that deliver the oxygen, nutrients, and essential molecules required for proper tissue growth. For the experiment, researchers first stripped plant cells from spinach leaves and passed beads the size of human blood cells through the leftover vascular system and seeded the spinach veins with human cells that line our blood vessels. “We have a lot more work to do, but so far this is very promising,” said Glenn Gaudette, PhD, professor of biomedical engineering at WPI and corresponding author of the paper. “Adapting abundant plants that farmers have been cultivating for thousands of years for use in tissue engineering could solve a host of problems limiting the field.”

Researchers added that other plants have been shown to offer the same kind of promise, including parsley, Artemesia annua (sweet wormwood), and peanut hairy roots. “The spinach leaf might be better suited for a highly vascularized tissue, like cardiac tissue, whereas the cylindrical hollow structure of the stem of Impatiens capensis (jewelweed) might better suit an arterial graft. Conversely, the vascular columns of wood might be useful in bone engineering due to their relative strength and geometries,” the authors wrote.

A time lapse view shows plant cells being removed from spinach leaves, leaving behind the leaf's vascular system.

Using plants could also be economical. “By exploiting the benign chemistry of plant tissue scaffolds,” researchers wrote, “we could address the many limitations and high costs of synthetic, complex composite materials. Plants can be easily grown using good agricultural practices and under controlled environments. By combining environmentally-friendly plant tissue with perfusion-based decellularization, we have shown that there can be a sustainable solution for pre-vascularized tissue engineering scaffolds.” The paper, “Crossing kingdoms: Using decelluralized plants as perfusable tissue engineering scaffolds” is published online in advance of the May 2017 issue of the journal Biomaterials.


06-16-2017, 02:36 AM
Bacteria Could Help Heart Attack Sufferers...
Oxygen-Producing Bacteria Could Help Heart Attack Sufferers
June 15, 2017 - Photosynthetic bacteria and light may offer hope to heart disease patients, a new study suggests.

Researchers at Stanford University say that after injecting the bacteria into the hearts of rats with cardiac disease and using light to start photosynthesis, they were able to increase the flow of oxygen, improving heart function. “The beauty of it is that it’s a recycling system,” said Joseph Woo, senior author of the study. “You deliver the bacteria, they take up carbon dioxide, and with energy from the light, they form oxygen.”

The findings could help many who have a condition called cardiac ischemia, which restricts blood flow and the delivery of oxygen to the heart muscles. “We thought there is an interesting relationship in nature,” Woo said. “In nature, humans exhale carbon dioxide and plants convert it back to oxygen. During a heart attack, the muscle is still trying to pump. There’s carbon dioxide but no oxygen. We wondered if there were any way to use plant cells and put them next to heart cells to produce oxygen from the carbon dioxide.”

Photosynthetic cyanobacteria could help patients suffering from heart disease, according to a new study.

At first, the researchers tried to use spinach and kale cells, but the chloroplasts, the structures where photosynthesis occurs, were not stable enough to live outside the plant. “So we kept looking around,” Woo said, saying the next option was photosynthetic bacteria called cyanobacteria because it is “more rugged” and could survive with heart cells in a petri dish.

After that, Woo and his team injected cyanobacteria into the beating hearts of anesthetized rats, comparing the oxygen levels among rats with their hearts exposed to light and rats that did not have light shined on their hearts. “The group that received the bacteria plus light had more oxygen and the heart worked better,” Woo said, adding that the bacteria “dissipated” in about 24 hours. Improved cardiac function lasted at least four weeks, he said. “This is still very preliminary,” Woo said. The study was published in the journal Science Advances.


See also:

Aspirin Linked to Higher Risk of Serious Bleeding in the Elderly
June 13, 2017 — People who are aged 75 or older and take aspirin daily to ward off heart attacks face a significantly elevated risk of serious or even fatal bleeding and should be given heartburn drugs to minimize the danger, a 10-year study has found.

Between 40 percent and 60 percent of people over the age of 75 in Europe and the United States take aspirin every day, previous studies have estimated, but the implications of long-term use in older people have remained unclear until now because most clinical trials involve patients younger than 75. The study published on Wednesday, however, was split equally between over-75s and younger patients, examining a total of 3,166 Britons who had suffered a heart attack or stroke and were taking blood-thinning medication to prevent a recurrence. Researchers emphasized that the findings did not mean that older patients should stop taking aspirin. Instead, they recommend broad use of proton pump inhibitor heartburn drugs such as omeprazole, which can cut the risk of upper gastrointestinal bleeding by 70 to 90 percent. While aspirin — invented by Bayer in 1897 and now widely available over the counter — is generally viewed as harmless, bleeding has long been a recognized hazard.

Peter Rothwell, one of the study authors, said that taking anti-platelet drugs such as aspirin prevented a fifth of recurrent heart attacks and strokes but also led to about 3,000 excess-bleeding deaths annually in Britain alone. The majority of these were in people older than 75. "In people under 75, the benefits of taking aspirin for secondary prevention after a heart attack or stroke clearly outweigh the relatively small risk of bleeding. These people needn't worry," Rothwell said. "In the over-75s the risk of a serious bleed is higher, but the key point is that this risk is substantially preventable by taking proton pump inhibitors alongside aspirin."

Packages of aspirin fill the shelves of a drugstore

Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine President Alan Boyd, who was not involved in the study, said it had been considered that the benefits of aspirin outweighed the risks of bleeding in all patients and that the new research would force a reappraisal. Rothwell, director of the Center for Prevention of Stroke and Dementia at Oxford University, and his colleagues found that the annual rate of life-threatening or fatal bleeds was less than 0.5 percent in under-65s, rising to 1.5 percent for those aged 75 to 84, and nearly 2.5 percent for over-85s.

Because the majority of patients studied were taking low-dose aspirin, rather than more modern anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel or AstraZeneca's Brilinta, the study could not draw conclusions about combined drug use. However, a commentary in The Lancet medical journal, where the study was published, noted that patients on dual anti-platelet therapy were known to have a higher risk of bleeding than those on monotherapy and that the research showed the need for regular evaluation of older patients.


09-13-2017, 12:45 AM
Rare Surgical Infection at New Orleans Children's Hospital...
Child Heart Patients Treated for Rare Surgical Infection
September 12, 2017 — At least a dozen children who had heart surgery at Children's Hospital New Orleans between late May and July have infected incisions, apparently from contaminated equipment.

The hospital's chief medical officer says the infections were linked to a machine that regulates a patient's temperature during heart surgery. Dr. John Heaton says the machine was replaced and patients are responding to intravenous antibiotics.

He says a handful who haven't shown symptoms will see doctors this week, to make sure. Heaton says the hospital's paying for treatment and related costs, such as parents' hotel rooms and meals.

An operating room is seen through a window at a sanitizing station in New Orleans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes the bacteria in question as common in water, soil and dust. It says contaminated medical devices can infect the skin and soft tissues under the skin.


09-29-2017, 05:14 AM
Spot the warning signs of Women and heart diseases...
Women and heart diseases: Spot the warning signs
Friday 29th September, 2017: With the new numbers suggesting that close to 50% women in India are at the risk of heart ailments, today, on World Heart Day, take a moment to think about your ticker.

A survey conducted by the American Heart Association (AHA) found that women didn't consider heart disease as a major cause of concern, in spite of the condition being the no.1 killer in women. Typically, women think of heart disease as a potential threat for males and end up ignoring many symptoms of the same in themselves. The main reason for this is a lack of awareness about the symptoms and the causes of cardiovascular disorders. As per data from The Heart Foundation, 90% women are unaware about high cholesterol being a threat to their hearts. Several women end up blaming their physicians for their limited knowledge of possible risks, which makes them mistake the symptoms of heart-related disorders for a panic disorder or a stress attack.

In fact, almost a third of female heart patients experience chest pain in the month before they have a heart attack. Sadly, they fail to understand the symptoms and do not take necessary precautions. To empower women with the right medical knowledge and help them take corrective steps when the warning signs of a heart attack become apparent, Mahesh Jayaraman, Medical Researcher, Therapist, Health Advisor and Co-founder of health platform Sepalika.com, and Dr Manthan Mehta, Specialty Medical Officer, Dept of Pharmacology, TNMC and Nair Hospital, have listed down some points for ANI.


5 warning signs of a heart attack in women:

1. Is fatigue bothering you? The AHA survey revealed that fatigue is the biggest signal of an oncoming heart issue amongst women. Prior to a heart attack, 70% women experienced weakness even without exerting themselves. While fatigue can often be ignored as a common part of the ageing process, unexplained fatigue can be a warning sign of a heart attack. Fatigue that does not go away even after adequate rest and sleep needs to be addressed. What's the connection between fatigue and heart attack? Well, one of the causes of fatigue is the heart not pumping enough blood. As a result, the cells do not get sufficient oxygen to burn fuel and generate energy.

2. Unable to sleep properly? Ever wondered why your sleep is interrupted often? While work-related issues or other issues can often result in sleep disturbances, if there are no such apparent reasons then you cannot rule out the risk of a cardiovascular disease. A weak heart decreases oxygen levels in the body, which may lead to insomnia or unexplained bouts of waking up at night.

3. Trouble in breathing? If you often have to exert more effort than usual while breathing, then it could be a sign of a heart trouble. Women who are overweight and do not indulge in any physical activities may experience shortness of breath even while lying down or walking. If you're experiencing such symptoms, get yourself tested to ensure your heart is healthy.

4. Experiencing severe stomach pain? A heart attack may not always start with chest pain; it can start with a pain in the upper abdomen as well. The pain can worsen and spread up to your left shoulder and arm. A sharp pain in the stomach could be a sign of an impending heart attack.

5. Is it anxiety that's bothering you? Anxiety attacks can occur unexpectedly, and can leave you shaken. The symptoms you may experience are shortness of breath, sweating, numbness of hands and feet, which could be indicators of an unknown heart problem. Such bouts of anxiety can occur due to improper distribution of oxygen in the body, especially to the brain, and must not be ignored.

Risk factors of heart attack in women: Some of the traditional risk factors for heart disease amongst women are high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension and menopause, due to lower levels of estrogens, stress, depression and obesity. These factors have a bigger role in the development of heart diseases in women as compared to men. Also, women who smoke are at a higher risk of getting heart disease 19 years sooner than non-smokers. In India, both men and women are at an equal risk of heart attacks. However, women tend to disregard the warnings as age-related problems. This tendency needs to be curbed through proper education and awareness building. Women need to understand that they are as prone to heart disease as their husbands, fathers or brothers. Any time a warning sign crops up, they must take it seriously and visit the appropriate medical practitioner in time.


See also:

Diabetes induced heart diseases see steady rise
Friday 29th September, 2017: In order to spread awareness about multiple heart problems, September 29 is celebrated as World Heart Day worldwide every year.

Young people require more education on how they can improve their heart health. Efforts are being made to foster everyone about the small changes that can make a powerful difference and make the heart healthy. A survey conducted by Indus Health Plus indicates that there has been a three-fold rise in cardiovascular disease (CVD) among Delhiites compared to last three years. The risk of heart attack and stroke increases if the person is suffering from diabetes and obesity. 40% of males and 38% women from the age group of 40-50 years have been tested positive for diabetes which has increased their chances of heart ailments. Out of these, 20% males and 22% females are obese too.


Amol Naikawadi, Preventive Healthcare Specialist Indus Health Plus says, "In Delhi young working women between the age group of 25 - 35 years are prone to heart diseases due to lack of estrogen. Prolonged intake of painkillers, hormonal and contraceptive pills can cause clotting of blood in the arteries. This coupled with unhealthy lifestyle and stress increases the risk of heart diseases. Day-to-day lifestyle modifications and changes like jogging, stair climbing, healthy eating, playing anoutdoor game, etc. help in reducing the risk of heart ailments".

Key findings from the survey:

More than 70% of urban males and 69% of rural men from the age group of 35-55 years are under the risk of heart diseases due to hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. 60% of urban as well as rural women between 25-40 years age group were ignorant of heart diseases. More than 50% of corporate employees (both men women) are suffering because of hypertension and heart ailments. Air pollution (caused by industries, vehicles, etc.) is at an all-time high in Delhi which is leading to heart diseases. Children and elderly in urban areas are the most affected with this condition. Young population aged 30 years are at higher risk of heart diseases, due to unhealthy lifestyles, stress, smoking, and drinking. 45% of urban and 43% of rural people were reported to have high cholesterol.

Intake of junk food, ready-to-eat meals are preferred along with lack of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains intake increases the bad cholesterol (LDL) in the body, which can block the blood vessels. Pollution, smoking, high-stress level and sedentary lifestyles are the factors that have led to an increase in the burden of cardiovascular diseases in Delhi. In times when such diseases are on the rise, it becomes important to understand the risk factors and work in the direction to eradicate them especially, if one has a family history of heart diseases.



Ill-effects of sedentary lifestyle on cardiovascular system
Friday 29th September, 2017: Cardiovascular disease is expected to cause 25 million deaths in the entire world in 2020. In India, cardiovascular disorders are the cause of 25 per cent deaths.

Heart disease is not just an ailment restricted to the urban and economically strong; it also affects the rural and underprivileged population. There are many risk factors that may lead to heart disease, such as hypertension, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and metabolic syndrome. The developing societies like India have to face an unfavourable setting characterized by changes in lifestyle, an increase in the consumption of foods with a high caloric density, a reduction of physical activity, and an increase in tobacco use. "Sedentary behaviours include sitting, reclining, or lying down while awake as well as reading, watching television or working on the computer for more than 10 hours. These "inactive activities" mean energy expenditure is less than or equal to 1.5 metabolic equivalents, or METs," says Dr Ram Anil Raj, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Gleneagles Global Hospitals, Bangalore.


Leading a sedentary lifestyle can increase risk of dying from heart disease by 52 percent for men and 28 percent for women. In 2010 the World Health Organization estimated that 3.2 million people die each year due to the failure to engage in physical activity, which constitutes the fourth most important risk factor leading to death in the entire world. Sedentary behaviour is associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, impaired insulin sensitivity (linked with diabetes) and an overall higher risk of death from any cause. Despite the health-promoting effects associated with regular physical exercise, physical inactivity not only continues to be a common problem, but also is becoming increasingly widespread.

Aerobic cardiovascular exercise is best in heart disease prevention. It trains the heart to become more efficient and trains the body to better utilize oxygen. Cardiovascular exercise lowers blood pressure and reduces total cholesterol, two problems associated with heart disease. It increases insulin sensitivity, helping to prevent diabetes and other metabolic conditions. Obesity is often a precursor to heart disease, and cardiovascular exercise is the best method for weight loss. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends engaging in cardiovascular exercise on most days of the week for a minimum of 30 minutes. Methods of exercise include walking, jogging, cycling and swimming. Exercise increases circulation, helps clear arteries, lubricates joints and promotes well-being. It is important to adopt an exercise regimen before signs of heart disease occur and make exercise a lifestyle habit.


10-13-2017, 11:05 PM
Treatments are evolving rapidly to improve clinical outcomes and help patients live an active and productive life ...
Managing heart disease through quality stents
Saturday 14th October, 2017: With cardiovascular diseases becoming new epidemic in the country, affecting younger and older population alike, treatment modalities are evolving rapidly to improve clinical outcomes and help patients live an active and productive life post-treatment

Responsible for 25% of all deaths in the country, cardiovascular diseases (CVD) have also become a leading cause of premature mortality in terms of years of life lost. From the year 1990 to 2010, early deaths, because of CVD in India, have reportedly increased by a staggering 59%. By getting affected with heart conditions in working age, people not only lose out their productive years but also add to the overall economic burden of the disease.

According to a paper, published in the Journal of Harvard School of Public health, cardiovascular disease deaths alone give India the "highest loss in potentially productive years of life" of all countries in the world. "Compounded with a steep rise in the number of young patients, in Rajasthan itself, CVD contributes to approximately 11 percent of the disease burden. I get around 15 percent heart patients below 45 years of age in a month. The major reasons contributing to the early onset of the disease are work-related stress, unhealthy lifestyle, family history, diabetes, and habits like smoking, drinking and lack of sleep. Fortunately, the continuous advancement in technology is changing the way cardiovascular diseases are diagnosed early and treated effectively. But the key to it lies in early recognition of the susceptible individuals and its prevention," says Dr. Sanjeeb Roy, Director, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Jaipur.

Along with these risk factors, the lack of preventive measures at the appropriate time sometimes leads to an elevated risk of having a cardiac disease. In this case, the patient might require undergoing a surgical procedure like stenting to treat the complication. The stent is placed inside the artery through a process called coronary angioplasty, also known as Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI). While the type of stent used depends upon individual patient conditions, the most important thing to be kept in mind when choosing a stent is the quality of stent.

A stent, once implanted, remains in the body forever and hence, the quality of the device should be given prime importance. A bad quality stent might result in stent thrombosis and restenosis and can be fatal for the patient in some cases. This is why cardiologists always emphasize on using the highest quality stent. "With other innovations in cardiac technologies, advances are also taking place in the sphere of devices. A clear example of this is the consistent evolution in stent technology, leading to the development of newer generation stents. However, whichever stents are chosen for placement, it is important to understand that quality plays a vital role in improvising overall patient outcomes. Preference should be given to a stent which has been backed by significant clinical data and has gone through stringent approval norms. In this regard, US FDA approved drug-eluting stents (DES) have been proven to be the most effective," says Dr. Prakash Chandwani, Director, Heart General Hospital, Jaipur. Thus, better quality stent technologies further help to improve the clinical outcomes and optimize the PCI.


10-13-2017, 11:13 PM
You want to have clean pipes. Eat a full clove of raw garlic a day. Remember to chew fresh mint as well or no one may love and kiss on you.

11-12-2017, 08:57 PM
Uncle Ferd says, "Yeah - is fun exercise...
Sex unlikely to cause cardiac arrest, study finds
Mon, 13 Nov 2017 - Sudden cardiac arrest is linked to sexual activity far more often in men than women, a study finds.

Sudden cardiac arrest is associated with sexual activity far more often in men than women, research suggests. But sex is a rare trigger for sudden cardiac arrest. Only 34 out of the 4,557 cardiac arrests examined occurred during or within one hour of sexual intercourse and 32 of those affected were men. Sumeet Chugh, of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, said his study is the first to evaluate sexual activity as a potential trigger of cardiac arrest. The research was presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association.

A cardiac arrest happens when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating. It causes someone to fall unconscious and stop breathing and unless treated with CPR, it is fatal. This differs from a heart attack, where blood flow to the heart is blocked. It is known that sexual activity can trigger heart attacks, but the the link with cardiac arrest was previously unknown.

Couples feet in bed

Cardiac arrest facts

* Almost 90% of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die
* Every minute without cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or defibrillation reduces someone's survival chances by 10%
* CPR, especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person's chance of survival
* During CPR, you should push on the chest at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute. The beat of the Bees Gees' hit Stayin' Alive is a perfect match for this

Source: American Heart Association

Dr Chugh and his colleagues in California examined hospital records on cases of cardiac arrest in adults between 2002 and 2015 in Portland, Oregon. Sexual activity was associated in fewer than 1% of the cases. The vast majority were male and were more likely to be middle-aged, African-American and have a history of cardiovascular disease. The study also found CPR was performed in only one-third of the cases, despite them being witnessed by a partner.

Dr Chugh said: "These findings highlight the importance of continued efforts to educate the public on the importance of bystander CPR for sudden cardiac arrest, irrespective of the circumstance." He said it shows the need for people to be educated about how to administer CPR. Another study presented at the conference showed children as young as six can learn it. After a heart attack or surgery, the British Heart Foundation suggests patients should typically wait four to six weeks before resuming sexual activity.


01-29-2018, 04:53 AM
Adults with a childhood history of heart defects face problems...
Children Who Survive Congenital Heart Defects Can Face New Problems As Adults
January 28, 2018 - A few weeks ago, our family gathered for a meeting that we hope will save my sister's life. Our goal was to demonstrate to a hospital social worker that we could take care of her should she get a heart transplant.

My sister Sara is now 50. (NPR isn't using her last name to protect her medical privacy.) For her to get on the transplant list, her anatomy needed to be suitable and her antibody levels low despite prior surgeries. She had to show that she could withstand the grueling transplant process; that she could consistently take her anti-rejection medications; didn't abuse drugs or alcohol; and had a stable home life. A heart transplant costs about $1.4 million, according to data from the actuarial firm Milliman. And there aren't enough hearts to go around. Sara had to show that she could pay for three months of living near the hospital for the daily checkups and weekly heart biopsies, as well as the anti-rejection medications she would need daily for the rest of her life. My sister has the most gallant heart of anybody I know. But her patched up heart has been slowly failing over the last three to four years.

She was born a "blue baby" in 1967 with transposition of the great arteries, a relatively common but serious heart defect, which deprived her body of oxygenated blood. In a procedure called a Blalock-Taussig shunt, her doctors made a small hole in her heart to allow oxygenated blood to mix with the other blood in her body. At that point, that was the only option. The doctors told our mother to keep her alive until they improved surgical techniques enough to operate again. She was a spindly toddler with purple lips and fingertips. During those years, she couldn't do much, and we would pull her around in a red Radio Flyer wagon. In 1972, when Sara was a kindergartner, surgeons performed a Mustard procedure, attempting to reroute her blood flow. It was an incomplete fix, but her lips and fingers turned pink. Of the three cardiac surgeries performed in the hospital that week, she was the only child to survive.

Sara's nephew and Wendy's son Benny painted this image of a heart that hangs in the author's home.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 percent of children, about 40,000 babies, are born with congenital heart defects a year in the U.S., ranging from simple conditions that don't even need surgery to life-threatening problems like my sister's. "It is the No. 1 birth defect," says Dr. Michael Landzberg, director of the Boston Adult Congenital Heart program. Out of those children with a congenital heart problem, an estimated 5 to 7 percent — about 1,250 babies a year — are born with some variation of transposition, like my sister. According to Landzberg, because of improved medical care, by the 1980s and 1990s more children with serious congenital heart disease were surviving to adulthood. Programs sprouted at major medical centers to provide specialized care and train doctors to deal with this growing population with complex medical needs, who also needed to deal with finding insurance and employment, having children or simply finding a swimsuit that hid the surgical scars.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Landzberg in his tiny office filled with textbooks. He thought I looked familiar. We had never met; it was my sister he remembered. She and her husband had consulted with him to ask if it would be safe for her to become pregnant. I told him that her son was a middle schooler now. Landzberg's face lit up. Landzberg advocates lifetime follow-up for all children born with congenital heart disease. About half only need occasional checkups by their physician under the guidance of an adult congenital heart disease specialist, he says, but the rest need to be monitored more frequently directly by a specialist. Landzberg noted that between the ages of 18 and 25, these patients' mortality risk due to their hearts' anatomical limitations may double or even quadruple, depending upon the severity of their condition. Increasing age intensifies the effect on the heart and body of physiological stressors such as growth spurts, exercise and pregnancy, as well as infections, surgeries and other diseases.

MORE (https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/01/28/579018072/people-born-with-heart-defects-can-have-new-problems-as-adults)

See also:

Survivors Of Childhood Diseases Struggle To Find Care As Adults
June 21, 2017 - Rachael Goldring was born with congenital heart disease. Had she been born a few decades earlier, she probably would have died as a baby. Goldring is now 24 and among a population of patients who present new challenges to a health care system unaccustomed to dealing with survivors of once-fatal conditions.

Today there are more adults than kids living with some of these diseases, and medical training is lagging. Young adults who can't find suitable doctors may drop out of care, and their conditions may worsen. Goldring's condition was pulmonary atresia with tetralogy of Fallot. She was born without a pulmonary valve directing blood from her heart to her lungs. It's the condition that talk show host Jimmy Kimmel's baby was born with this spring. "I had my first surgery when I was 9 months," Goldring says. "Now, they do it from birth." Her condition has also meant three more surgeries, a heart valve from a cadaver, complicated secondary diseases and a lifetime in and out of doctors' offices. "I just celebrated my one-year anniversary of staying out of the hospital for the first time since birth," Goldring says. "So, this year, knock on wood, it's been amazing."

But she fears it might not last. Right now, she is in limbo between pediatric and adult medical care. For Goldring, finding a good doctor could be a matter of life and death. Today, survivors of congenital heart disease can live well past childhood. Dr. Patrick Burke, a pediatrician at Valley Children's Healthcare in Madera, Calif., says other once-fatal ailments like sickle cell disease and spina bifida have undergone similar advances. "This is the so-called medical miracle promised to our parents and grandparents," Burke says, adding that miracle kids like Goldring grow up to be complicated adults. "The job's not done after the surgery or the initial treatment. Many if not most of these conditions require ongoing medical care — lifelong medical care."

As a child, Rachael Goldring had multiple open-heart surgeries to treat her congenital heart disease. At 24, she still sees pediatricians because she has had difficulty finding the right care in adult medicine.

Burke is in charge of a new program at his hospital in the new field of "transitional care." He says many conditions worsen around age 18, right as children age out of pediatric care. For instance, he says, that is when patients with congenital heart disease suffer complications with their blood and organs. The trend is particularly stark for cystic fibrosis. "We're seeing this spike of deaths that are happening in the early 20s. And it's bizarre," he says. Dr. Megumi Okumura, a pediatrician with the University of California, San Francisco, became interested in this transition during her residency in the early 2000s. She would see 40- and 50-year-olds in pediatric wards. The reason, she says, partly lies with a fragmented health care system. "They are transferring from differing systems of care," she says, noting the silos that separate pediatric care from adult care. "We have different funding streams and programs."

Now, Okumura and other researchers are looking for ways to remove what she considers artificial barriers. Clinics around the world are trying out new strategies such as giving nonpediatric doctors more training or bringing in transitional specialists to connect young adults who are chronically ill with new providers. A relatively new fellowship track even trains doctors to work specifically with adults with congenital heart disease. Goldring is fortunate in that she can remain with her pediatricians until she finds the right adult provider. She's working on it, but at the moment, she's much more focused on another transition: She'll be getting married in October.


02-02-2018, 06:49 AM
Some Breast Cancer Therapies Put Heart at Risk...
Doctors Warn of Heart Risk From Some Breast Cancer Therapies
February 01, 2018 - Save your life but harm your heart? Health experts are sounding a warning as potential side effects of a growing number of breast cancer treatments come to light.

In its first statement on the topic, the American Heart Association on Thursday said women should consider carefully the risks and benefits of any therapies that may hurt hearts. Not all treatments carry these risks, and there may be ways to minimize or avoid some. "We want patients to get the best treatment for their breast cancer," said Dr. Laxmi Mehta, a women's heart health expert at Ohio State University who led the panel that wrote the statement. "Everyone should have a conversation with their doctor about what are the side effects."

Chapel Hill, N.C. Health experts are stepping up warnings as more cardiac side effects of some breast cancer treatments come to light. In its first guidance on the issue, released on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, the American Heart Association urges that women and their doctors carefully weigh the risks and benefits of any therapy that may cause heart damage.

There are more than 3 million breast cancer survivors and nearly 48 million women with heart disease in the United States. "Most people with breast cancer fear death from breast cancer. Even after they survive that, they still fear it," but heart disease is more likely to kill them, especially after age 65, Mehta said. Some treatments for other types of cancer may pose heart risks, but they are growing more common for breast cancer patients and the statement addressed only that form of the disease. Here are some questions and answers:

Q: What are the problems and which treatments can cause them?

A: Side effects can include abnormal rhythms, valve problems or heart failure, where the heart slowly weakens and can't pump effectively. Symptoms may not appear until long after treatment ends. Herceptin and similar drugs for a specific type of breast cancer can cause heart failure. Sometimes it's temporary and goes away if treatment is stopped, but it can be permanent. Radiation can affect arteries and spur narrowing or blockages. Other drugs can lead to abnormal heart rhythms or artery spasms, which can cause chest pain and possibly lead to a heart attack. Still others can damage DNA.

Some research suggests that powerful new drugs that harness the immune system to fight cancer may, in rare cases, cause heart damage, especially when used together. "The problem is, no one has this on their radar," so patients are not routinely checked for it, Dr. Javid Moslehi, head of a Vanderbilt University clinic specializing in heart risks from cancer therapies, said when a study reported this problem about a year ago.

Q: What can be done to avoid harm? (https://www.voanews.com/a/doctors-warn-of-heart-risk-from-some-breast-cancer-therapies/4234726.html)

02-02-2018, 12:56 PM
If my farts could be used to heat my house I'm there.

02-15-2018, 06:12 PM
Since waltky has been MIA ten days, I guess I will add in the interesting random news to the thread:


Heart Stents Are Useless for Most Stable Patients. They’re Still Widely Used.

Researchers gathered patients with severe coronary disease at five sites in Britain, and randomized them to one of two groups. All were given medication according to a protocol for a period of time. Then, the first group of patients received a stent. In the second, patients were kept sedated for at least 15 minutes, but no stent was placed.
Six weeks later, all the patients were tested on a treadmill. Exercise tends to bring out pain in such patients, and monitoring them while they’re under stress is a common way to check for angina. At the time of testing, neither the patient nor the cardiologist knew whether a stent had been placed. And, based on the results, they couldn’t figure it out even after testing: There was no difference in the outcomes of interest between the intervention and placebo groups.

Stents didn’t appear even to relieve pain.
Some caveats: All the patients were treated rigorously with medication before getting their procedures, so many had improved significantly before getting (or not getting) a stent. Some patients in the real world won’t stick to the intensive medical therapies, so there may be a benefit from stents for those patients (we don’t know). The follow-up was only at six weeks, so longer-term outcomes aren’t known. These results also apply only to those with stable angina. There may be more of a place for stents in patients who are sicker, who have disease in more than one blood vessel, or who fail to respond to medical therapy.
But many, if not most patients, probably don’t need them. This is hard for patients and physicians to wrap their heads around because, in their experience, patients who got stents got better. They seemed to receive a benefit from the procedure. But that benefit appears to be because of the placebo effect, not any physical change from improved blood flow. The patients in the study felt better from a procedure in the same way that my children did when I rubbed moisturizer on them.

03-21-2018, 10:32 PM
New Technology Being Developed for Pacemakers...
New Technology Being Developed for Pacemakers
March 21, 2018 | WASHINGTON — You may have seen this on TV: Someone whose heart has gone into a wildly abnormal rhythm, or whose heart has stopped, is shocked when a medic uses defibrillator paddles to restart the heart.

The electric shock is so powerful that the body convulses and the patient screams. You can see it on YouTube if you search for “defibrillator shock.” The video makes clear what patients go through, including those who have defibrillators implanted in their hearts. Aydin Babakhani, an engineering professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, likens implantable defibrillators to dial up telephones, which have long since been replaced by smartphones. “Pacemakers use a very old technology. They still use wires. They still use batteries. And they are bulky and large,” he said.

New ways for the heart

Babakhani places tiny sensors on very small chips for industrial and medical use. Before his move to UCLA, he worked at Rice University, where he began collaborating with Dr. Mehdi Razavi, a cardiologist at the Texas Heart Institute. The men were investigating new ways to pace and defibrillate the heart. The collaboration was easy because Rice is across the street from the heart institute.

As a cardiac electrophysiologist, Razavi wants to be able to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm without shocking the patient. Razavi says the idea of placing a number of small chips in the heart could achieve that goal. “The limitation up to now with using pacing is that we simply do not have enough pacing sites to distribute this energy across the heart muscle,” he said. Babakhani developed small chips to pace the heart and help it stay in a normal rhythm. They are smaller than a dime, less than 18 millimeters long. This pacing system has no battery and no leads, the wires that connect the battery to the heart in traditional pacemakers.

Traumatic, painful event

Even when there’s no pain, defibrillation has a huge impact. When John O’Leary’s implanted defibrillator sent shocks to his heart to get it back into a normal rhythm, it stopped him cold. “I thought I walked into a lamp post,” he said. “There was no pain whatsoever. I really felt that I walked into something hard.”

Razavi says another problem with the pacemaker/defibrillators now in use is that once patients are defibrillated, many of them feel traumatized. It can take more than one shock to get the heart back into a normal rhythm. Anne Bunting said she screamed in pain through repeated defibrillations. “It saved my life that day, but it was also a fearsome thing to go through because it was so painful,” she said.

Preclinical trials promising (https://www.voanews.com/a/new-technology-pacemakers/4308251.html)
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Implantable Heart Defibrillators Deliver Shock in More Ways Than One
March 20, 2018 - A resting heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute can be life-threatening. It means the heart is beating too fast to pump blood to the rest of the body, including the brain and the lungs. This can cause the heart to suddenly stop beating. It can cause a stroke or heart failure.

A implantable cardioverter defibrillator, commonly known as an ICD, can prevent sudden death, but the device has drawbacks. One is pain. The other is fear of defibrillation. John O'Leary got an ICD about a year after having a heart attack. "I had a couple of episodes where I became dizzy while exercising. I was out biking, and in one instant, actually, I think I lost conscious for a brief second or so," he said. "I thought it was probably just dehydration, heat, what have you." But it wasn't anything he suspected. Instead, O'Leary had the classic symptoms of a heart rhythm disorder. The lower chambers of his heart were beating too fast and irregularly. The ICD acts instantly when a patient's heart rhythm goes out of sync.

Medronic, a company that makes ICDs, reports that every month, 10,000 people in the U.S. have one implanted. Here's how it works: A doctor inserts a small electronic device under the skin, usually under the collarbone. The ICD is powered by a battery. It's connected to one or more sensing wires, called leads, that are implanted in the heart. If the heart is out of rhythm, the ICD automatically sends small electrical signals through the leads to correct it. If that doesn't work, the defibrillator delivers a shock to restore the heart to a normal rate. "That's just the basic physics of the process," said Dr. Mehdi Razavi, an electrophysiologist at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston. "When you deliver a shock, there's pain involved."

Like 'lightning'

O'Leary didn't experience any pain, but Anne Bunting did. "It was like being hit by lightning. I actually saw a flash of white light and the sound that lightning makes coming down a tree, and then, boom! And it shocked me five times in a row, and I was screaming. That's how much it hurt." Bunting got on the floor to keep herself from falling. Razavi said that when shocks are delivered, they can happen more than once. "You can have half a dozen shocks in a row, and that's typically because the underlying cause has not been immediately reversed," he said. O'Leary compares the shock to walking into a lamp post or a wall. It happened while he was walking toward his car in a parking lot. "There was no lamp post, no wall, there was nothing between me and the car. But that's exactly what it felt like." He also saw a flash of light, which he figured to be the electrical discharge. Then he realized what had happened.

More improvements sought

Over the years, ICD designs have improved. The devices are smaller and less invasive than they used to be. But Razavi wants them smaller still. And he doesn't want patients to even notice that they are being defibrillated. He is working with an electrical engineer at the University of California-Los Angeles to develop small chips that provide small, inconspicuous shocks that return the heart to a normal rhythm, without the patient's noticing — no flash of light, no pain, no feeling of having walked into a wall. Razavi and Aydin Babakhani, the UCLA professor of engineering, feel that they are on to something that fills the bill. It's at least five years away from being available to heart patients, but the men are confident they'll get there.


08-05-2018, 01:07 PM
Even low air pollution may damage heart (https://www.bbc.com/news/health-45034972)...
Low levels of air pollution linked to changes in the heart
3 Aug.`18 - Regular exposure to even low levels of air pollution may cause changes to the heart similar to those in the early stages of heart failure, experts say.


A study of 4,000 people in the UK found those who lived by loud, busy roads had larger hearts on average than those living in less polluted areas. This was despite the fact people in the study were exposed to pollution levels below the UK guidelines. Researchers called on the government to reduce air pollution more quickly. A team of scientists, led from Queen Mary University of London, analysed health data of people who had no underlying heart problems and were part of the UK Biobank study, including the size, weight and function of their hearts.


Researchers also looked at the pollution levels in the areas they lived in. Their study found a clear link between exposure to higher pollution levels and larger right and left ventricles - important pumping chambers in the heart. For every extra one microgram per cubic metre of PM2.5 - small particles of air pollution - and for every 10 extra micrograms per cubic metre of nitrogen dioxide, the heart enlarged by about 1%. The changes were comparable to being consistently inactive or having elevated blood pressure, said Dr Nay Aung, who led the study's data analysis. "Air pollution should be seen as a modifiable risk factor," he said. "Doctors and the general public all need to be aware of their exposure when they think about their heart health, just like they think about their blood pressure, their cholesterol and their weight."

While the exact locations where people lived were not included in the study, most were outside of the major UK cities and all of them were exposed to levels of PM2.5 air pollution well below current UK limits. In the study, average annual exposures to PM2.5 ranged from eight to 12 micrograms per cubic metre. This is lower than the UK limits of 25 micrograms per cubic metre but closer to the World Health Organization's recommended limit of 10 micrograms per cubic metre. This fine particle pollution is particularly dangerous because it can penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system.


Diesel cars are a big contributor of air pollution

Exposure to nitrogen dioxide in the study ranged from 10-50 micrograms per cubic metre - the UK and WHO limits are 40 micrograms per cubic metre. Dr Aung said the changes in the heart were small and potentially reversible. But he said the fact any change at all was detectable suggested even relatively low levels of air pollution may have a harmful effect on health. "If you think the current levels of air pollution are safe, then in theory we shouldn't be able to detect any changes," Dr Aung added.

'Can't expect people to move' (https://www.bbc.com/news/health-45034972)

08-13-2018, 10:52 PM
Multi-gene Test May Find Risk for Heart Disease and More...
Multi-gene Test May Find Risk for Heart Disease and More
August 13, 2018 | WASHINGTON — You know your cholesterol, your blood pressure ... your heart gene score? Researchers say a new way of analyzing genetic test data may one day help identify people at high risk of a youthful heart attack in time to help.

Today, gene testing mostly focuses on rare mutations in one or a few genes, like those that cause cystic fibrosis or sickle cell disease, or the BRCA gene responsible for a small fraction of breast cancer. It is less useful for some of the most common diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes, because they are influenced by vast numbers of genes-gone-wrong working together in complicated ways. Monday, researchers reported a new way to measure millions of small genetic variations that add up to cause harm, letting them calculate someone’s inherited risk for the most common form of heart disease and four other serious disorders. The potential cardiac impact: They estimated that up to 25 million Americans may have triple the average person’s risk for coronary artery disease even if they haven’t yet developed warning signs like high cholesterol. “What I foresee is in five years, each person will know this risk number, this ‘polygenic risk score,’ similar to the way each person knows his or her cholesterol,” said Dr. Sekar Kathiresan who led the research team from the Broad Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

If the approach pans out and doctors adopt it, a bad score wouldn’t mean you’d get a disease, just that your genetic makeup increases the chance — one more piece of information in deciding care. For example, when the researchers tested the system using a DNA database from Britain, less than 1 percent of people with the lowest risk scores were diagnosed with coronary artery disease, compared to 11 percent of people with the highest risk score. “There are things you can do to lower the risk,” Kathiresan said — the usual advice about diet, exercise, cholesterol medication and not smoking helps. On the flip side, a low-risk score “doesn’t give you a free pass,” he added. An unhealthy lifestyle could overwhelm the protection of good genes.

Stephanie Richurk, a nurse at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, sorts blood samples collected from participants in the "All of Us" research program in Pittsburgh

The scoring system also can predict an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, breast cancer and an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, the team reported in the journal Nature Genetics — noting that next steps include learning what might likewise lower those risks. It doesn’t require the most sophisticated type of genetic testing. Instead, Kathiresan can calculate risk scores for those five diseases — eventually maybe more — simply by reanalyzing the kind of raw data people receive after sending a cheek swab to companies like 23andMe. A geneticist who specializes in cardiovascular disease, he hopes to open a website where people can send in such data to learn their heart risk, as part of continuing research. Kathiresan and co-author Dr. Amit Khera, a Mass General cardiologist, are co-inventors on a patent application for the system.

Other scientists and companies have long sought ways to measure risk from multiple, additive gene effects — the “poly” in polygenic — and Myriad Genetics has begun selling a type of polygenic test for breast cancer risk. But specialists in heart disease and genetics who weren’t involved with the research called the new findings exciting because of their scope. “The results should be eye-opening for cardiologists,” said Dr. Charles C. Hong, director of cardiovascular research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “The only disappointment is that this score applies only to those with European ancestry, so I wonder if similar scores are in the works for the large majority of the world population that is not white.”

MORE (https://www.voanews.com/a/multi-gene-test-may-find-risk-for-heart-disease-and-more/4526728.html)