People who restrict their caloric intake in an effort to live longer have hearts that function more like those in people who are 20 years younger.
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that a key measure of the heart’s ability to adapt to physical activity, stress, sleep and other factors that influence the rate at which the heart pumps blood, doesn’t decline nearly as rapidly in people who have significantly restricted their caloric intake for an average of seven years.
The study is available online in the journal Aging Cell.
“This is really striking because in studying changes in heart rate variability, we are looking at a measurement that tells us a lot about the way the autonomic nervous system affects the heart,” says Luigi Fontana, MD, PhD, the study’s senior author. “And that system is involved not only in heart function, but in digestion, breathing rate and many other involuntary actions. We would hypothesize that better heart rate variability may be a sign that all these other functions are working better, too.”…
- You: Calorie-restricted diet keeps heart young (labspaces.net)
Scientists at the University of Leicester are investigating a novel technique that promises to protect heart muscle from life-threatening damage following a heart attack – simply by squeezing an arm. Heart attacks are the major cause of premature death in England, with massive implications for survival and costs of long-term health care.
A new technique called conditioning is being investigated by Dr Sadat Edroos, a postgraduate researcher from the University’s Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, to determine its effectiveness at protecting the heart of people with cardiovascular disease. This technique promises to reduce the damage to the heart that occurs after a heart attack by as much as a quarter. This would have significant beneficial implications for patients’ long term survival and wellbeing.
The method of conditioning is based on the observation that temporarily stopping the blood supply to a muscle makes it resistant to further damage. However protection from one muscle may be transferred elsewhere through the blood stream to another. Squeezing an arm for a few minutes can shield the heart, reducing the extent of damage after a heart attack. “We hope to shed light on this safe and effective therapy,” said Dr Sadat Edroos, “helping it to benefit patients.”
“This work, in conjunction with other studies published in the past two years, is creating a compelling argument for the application of this technique to clinical use. I hope that by the end of the decade this simple, cheap, safe and effective tool will be in use across the country.” …
- MedlinePlus: Heart Attack (resources and links)
- Net Wellness: Heart Diseases (information, resources, links, )
- UpToDate Patient Information – Heart Attack
- One in five heart-attack deaths could be prevented with new drug (medicalxpress.com)
- Reducing the number of heart attack deaths at major sporting venues (medicalxpress.com)
- Magnetic fields could help prevent heart attacks (gizmag.com)
This womenshealth.gov **online 67 page guide includes information on preventative screening tests and immunizations and risk factors. It is in pdf format. This guide offers you a plan for health at all stages of life.
Short informational “fact sheets” presented include the following topics:
- Heart Disease/Heart Attack
- Chronic Health Conditions
- Reproductive Health
- Breast Cancer
- Healthy Bones, Skin, Eyes
- Mental Health
- Dealing with Violence
- Talking with your health care provider
Each topic includes easy to read tips. Many topics include phone numbers and Web sites for further information.
**womenshealth.gov is the US federal government source for women health information.
Fasting has long been associated with religious rituals, diets, and political protests. Now new evidence from cardiac researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute demonstrates that routine periodic fasting is also good for your health, and your heart.
Today, research cardiologists at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute are reporting that fasting not only lowers one’s risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes, but also causes significant changes in a person’s bloodcholesterol levels. Both diabetes and elevated cholesterol are known risk factors for coronary heart disease.
The discovery expands upon a 2007 Intermountain Healthcare study that revealed an association between fasting and reduced risk of coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death among men and women in America. In the new research, fasting was also found to reduce other cardiac risk factors, such as triglycerides, weight, and blood sugar levels.
The findings are being presented Sunday, April 3, at the annual scientific sessions of the American College of Cardiology in New Orleans. …
Updated cardiovascular prevention guidelines for women [link goes to free full text of the article] focus on what works best in the “real world” vs. clinical research settings and consider personal and socioeconomic factors that can keep women from following medical advice and treatment. The guidelines also incorporate illnesses that increase heart disease risk in women, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and pregnancy complications Helping women — and their doctors — understand risks and take practical steps can be most effective in preventing heart disease and stroke.
The 2011 update identifies barriers that hinder both patients and doctors from following guidelines, while outlining key strategies for addressing those obstacles.
“Awareness continues to be a key driver to optimal care,” said Mosca, director of preventive cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and professor of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. “Cause initiatives such as Go Red for Women and provider compliance programs such as Get With The Guidelines® are strong components in our efforts to broaden awareness and improve adherence among patients and providers.”
She said getting a dialogue started between a woman and her doctor is a critical first step.
“If the doctor doesn’t ask the woman if she’s taking her medicine regularly, if she’s having any side effects or if she’s following recommended lifestyle behaviors, the problems may remain undetected,” she said. “Improving adherence to preventive medications and lifestyle behaviors is one of the best strategies we have to lower the burden of heart disease in women.”
To evaluate patient risk, the guidelines incorporate illnesses linked to higher risk of cardiovascular disease in women, including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced hypertension. Mosca said women with a history of preeclampsia face double the risk of stroke, heart disease and dangerous clotting in veins during the five to 15 years after pregnancy. Essentially, having pregnancy complications can now be considered equivalent to having failed a stress test.
“These have not traditionally been top of mind as risk factors for heart disease,” she said. “But if your doctor doesn’t bring it up, you should ask if you’re at risk for heart disease because of pregnancy complications or other medical conditions you’ve experienced.”
The updated guidelines also emphasize the importance of recognizing racial and ethnic diversity and its impact on cardiovascular disease. For example, hypertension is a particular problem among African-American women and diabetes among Hispanic women.
Although putting clinical research into practical, everyday adherence can be challenging, solid scientific evidence is still the basis for many of the guidelines, Mosca said. Some commonly considered therapies for women are specifically noted in the guidelines as lacking strong clinical evidence in their effectiveness for preventing cardiovascular disease and, in fact, may be harmful to some women. Those include the use of hormone replacement therapy, antioxidants and folic acid.
The update includes depression screening as part of an overall evaluation of women for cardiovascular risk, because while treating depression has not been shown to directly improve cardiovascular health, depression might affect whether women follow their doctor’s advice.
Despite a growing body of clinical evidence to fight heart disease and stroke in women, more is needed, Mosca said. Coronary heart disease death rates in women dropped by two-thirds from 1980 to 2007, due to both effective treatment and risk factor reduction, according to the American Heart Association, but cardiovascular disease still kills about one woman every minute in the United States.
In future studies, researchers should look at interventions during specific times throughout a woman’s lifespan ― including puberty, pregnancy and menopause ― to identify risks and determine effective prevention opportunities during those critical times, Mosca said. More cost-effective analyses and clinical trial research with male- and female-specific results are also needed, especially regarding risks posed by preventive therapies.
“Now that science has shown the benefits are often similar for men and women, there is a need to understand if the risks are also similar and acceptable,” she said.
“These guidelines are a critical weapon in the war against heart disease, the leading killer of women,” Mosca said. “They are an important evolution in our understanding of women and heart disease. And I cannot stress personal awareness and education enough. Initiatives such as Go Red For Women give women access to the latest information and real-life solutions to lower their risk of heart disease.”
Rice University scientists refine process at heart of diagnostic bio-nano-chip
Microsponges derived from seaweed may help diagnose heart disease, cancers, HIV and other diseases quickly and at far lower cost than current clinical methods. The microsponges are an essential component of Rice University’s Programmable Bio-Nano-Chip (PBNC) and the focus of a new paper in the journal Small.
The paper by John McDevitt, the Brown-Wiess Professor in Bioengineering and Chemistry, and his colleagues at Rice’s BioScience Research Collaborative views the inner workings of PBNCs, which McDevitt envisions as a mainstream medical diagnostic tool.
PBNCs to diagnose a variety of diseases are currently the focus of six human clinical trials. McDevitt will discuss their development at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, D.C., Feb. 17-21.
PBNCs capture biomarkers — molecules that offer information about a person’s health — found in blood, saliva and other bodily fluids. The biomarkers are sequestered in tiny sponges set into an array of inverted pyramid-shaped funnels in the microprocessor heart of the credit card-sized PBNC.
When a fluid sample is put into the disposable device, microfluidic channels direct it to the sponges, which are infused with antibodies that detect and capture specific biomarkers. Once captured, they can be analyzed within minutes with a sophisticated microscope and computer built into a portable, toaster-sized reader.
The biomarker capture process is the subject of the Small paper. The microsponges are 280-micrometer beads of agarose, a cheap, common, lab-friendly material derived from seaweed and often used as a matrix for growing live cells or capturing proteins.
The beauty of agarose is its ability to capture a wide range of targets from relatively huge protein biomarkers to tiny drug metabolites. In the lab, agarose starts as a powder, like Jell-O. When mixed with hot water, it can be formed into gels or solids of any size. The size of the pores and channels in agarose can be tuned down to the nanoscale.
The challenge, McDevitt said, was defining a new concept to quickly and efficiently capture and detect biomarkers within a microfluidic circuit. The solution developed at Rice is a network of microsponges with tailored pore sizes and nano-nets of agarose fibers. The sponge-like quality allows a lot of fluid to be processed quickly, while the nano-net provides a huge surface area that can be used to generate optical signals 1,000 times greater than conventional refrigerator-sized devices. The mini-sensor ensembles, he said, pack maximum punch.
The team found that agarose beads with a diameter of about 280 micrometers are ideal for real-world applications and can be mass-produced in a cost-effective way. These agarose beads retain their efficiency at capturing biomarkers, are easy to handle and don’t require specialized optics to see.
McDevitt and his colleagues tested beads with pores up to 620 nanometers and down to 45 nanometers wide. (A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.) Pores near 140 nanometers proved best at letting proteins infuse the beads’ internal nano-nets quickly, a characteristic that enables PBNCs to test for disease in less than 15 minutes…….
Co-authors of the paper included first author Jesse Jokerst, a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University; postdoctoral students James Camp, Jorge Wong, Alexis Lennart, Amanda Pollard and Yanjie Zhou, all of the departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Texas at Austin; Mehnaaz Ali, an assistant professor of chemistry at Xavier University; and from the McDevitt Lab at Rice, Pierre Floriano, director of microfluidics and image and data analysis; Nicolaos Christodoulides, director of assay development; research scientist Glennon Simmons and graduate student Jie Chou.
The National Institutes of Health, through the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, funded the research.
Read the abstract at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/smll.201002089/abstract***
CDC launched a new program called CDC Vital Signs, which includes an MMWR Early Release, a fact sheet and website, a media release, and a series of announcements via social media tools.
Vital Signs will be released the first Tuesday of every month. Issues include colorectal and breast cancer screening, obesity, alcohol and tobacco use, access to health care, HIV testing, seat belt use, cardiovascular disease, teen pregnancy and infant mortality, healthcare-associated infections, asthma, and foodborne disease.
The feature issue High Blood Pressure and Cholesterol includes and overview, latest findings, outline of what can be done, and links to related social media (as Facebook and Twitter)
HEART ATTACK INFORMATION FOR WOMEN by the National Women’s Health Center includes
- Information on 7 heart attack symptoms
- Myth of the Hollywood heart attack
- Heart Attack Quiz
- How to survive a Heart Attack
CDC Reports Most Americans with High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol are Not Being Treated Effectively
CDC Reports Most Americans with High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol are Not Being Treated Effectively
Two out of three U.S. adults with high cholesterol and half of U.S. adults with high blood pressure are not being treated effectively, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Among the findings in the Vital Signs Report:
- By the Numbers – High Blood Pressure
- 1 in 3 Adults has high blood pressure
- 1 in 3 Adults with high blood pressure does not get treatment
- 1 in 2 Adults with high blood pressure does not have it under control
- By the Numbers – High Cholesterol
- 1 in 3 Adults has high cholesterol
- 1 in 2 Adults with high cholesterol does not get treatment
- 2 in 3 Adults with high cholesterol do not have it under control
- Is Your Medication Raising Your Cholesterol? (everydayhealth.com)
- Study Suggests That ‘Bad’ Cholesterol Is Not As Bad As People Think (6 May 2011, Medical News Today)
“The so-called “badcholesterol” – low-density lipoprotein, commonly called LDL – may not be so bad after all, shows a Texas A&M University study that casts new light on the cholesterol debate, particularly among adults who exercise. “
“Riechman and colleagues examined 52 adults from ages to 60 to 69 who were in generally good health but not physically active, and none of them were participating in a training program. The study showed that after fairly vigorous workouts, participants who had gained the most muscle mass also had the highest levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, “a very unexpected result and one that surprised us.
“It shows that you do need a certain amount of LDL to gain more muscle mass. There’s no doubt you need both – the LDL and the HDL – and the truth is, it (cholesterol) is all good. You simply can’t remove all the ‘bad’ cholesterol from your body without serious problems occurring. “
“”Our tissues need cholesterol, and LDL delivers it,” he notes. “HDL, the good cholesterol, cleans up after the repair is done. And the more LDL you have in your blood, the better you are able to build muscle during resistance training.”
Riechman says the study could be helpful in looking at a condition called sarcopenia, which is muscle loss due to aging. Previous studies show muscle is usually lost at a rate of 5 percent per decade after the age of 40, a huge concern since muscle mass is the major determinant of physical strength. After the age of 60, the prevalence of moderate to severe sarcopenia is found in about 65 percent of all men and about 30 percent of all women, and it accounts for more than $18 billion of health care costs in the United States.
“The bottom line is that LDL – the bad cholesterol – serves as a reminder that something is wrong and we need to find out what it is,” Riechman says.
“It gives us warning signs. Is smoking the problem, is it diet, is it lack of exercise that a person’s cholesterol is too high? It plays a very useful role, does the job it was intended to do, and we need to back off by always calling it ‘bad’ cholesterol because it is not totally bad.”
- Diagnosing High Cholesterol (everydayhealth.com)
- Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet for High Cholesterol (everydayhealth.com)
How studded winter tires may damage public health, as well as pavement
Scientists are reporting new evidence on how studded tires — wintertime fixtures in some areas but banned in others for causing damage to pavement — may also damage the health of motorists and people living near highways. Studded tires have small metal protrusions from the rubber tread that improve traction on icy or snow-covered roads. Their study appears in ACS’ Chemical Research in Toxicology, a monthly journal.
Anders Ljungman and colleagues note that studded tires grind away at the road surface, generating the kind of dust particles believed to contribute to heart and respiratory disease when inhaled into the lungs. Studded tires are winter mainstays in Finland, Norway, Sweden and other northern countries, but have been banned or restricted in others and in some states because they damage pavement. The scientists’ past research found that road dust from studded tires causes biological changes in cells related to inflammation, a process underlying heart and respiratory diseases.
In the new research, the scientists pinpointed specific changes in proteins in cells related to the road dust exposure. Dust exposure resulted in significant increases in three proteins associated with increased inflammation and decreased levels of seven proteins, including some involved in fighting inflammation and maintaining normal metabolism. The results reveal important chemical markers in the body that could help scientists better understand the link between pavement dust and heart disease, the scientists suggest.