Health and Fitness

Judy Riffle Elected International Fellow

Judy S. Riffle, professor of chemistry and director of Virginia Tech's Macromolecular Science and Engineering program, has been elected a Fellow in the Polymeric Materials Science and Engineering (PMSE) division of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Riffle was one of only three chemists worldwide to be named a PSME Fellow for 2010. She was recognized for her significant contributions to the science and engineering of polymeric materials. Riffle joined the chemistry department in the College of Science as an assistant professor in 1988. One of her many achievements has been the initiation and growth of interdepartmental graduate programs in macromolecular science and engineering. She also led a National Science Foundation (NSF) Integrated Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) initiative, which encompassed students and faculty from six interdisciplinary departments. Riffle's polymer research has led to the development of materials used in heart transplants, arterial grafts, and contact lenses.

Eribis Pharmaceuticals Receives Investment For Clinical Development Of Novel Cardiovascular Therapy

Eribis Pharmaceuticals AB part of the Karolinska Development portfolio announced that it has received follow-on financial investment enabling the company to continue its clinical development program. Based on cardio-protective effects, Eribis' candidate drug has the potential to become an important new therapy for treating acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and reperfusion injury (damage to tissue caused when blood supply returns after a period of ischemia), as well as for surgical preconditioning. The new round of investment from Karolinska Development AB will allow Eribis to strengthen the preclinical material. In studies to date, Eribis' novel peptide therapy has shown excellent Cardio-protective effects in conditions of ACS and reperfusion. Potential benefits of the candidate drug include a decrease in the amount of cardiac tissue damage, an extension of the window of time available for treatment of ischemic conditions and a reduction of cardiovascular complications such as heart failure.

New Software Provides 3-D Views Of Arteries In Catheterization Lab

New technology that allows doctors to see three-dimensional images of heart arteries in the catheterization lab passed its first major testing hurdle - moving doctors closer to understanding its impact on clinical practice, researchers report in Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions, an American Heart Association journal. Still in the early stages of testing, the 3-D images may allow cardiologists to more accurately and quickly assess the length, branching pattern, and angles of heart arteries and any blockages. "Coronary interventions may be improved by having a realistic, 3-D image of the coronary artery tree, " said John. D. Carroll, M.D., an investigator for the study and professor of medicine and director of interventional cardiology in the Division of Cardiology at the University of Colorado in Aurora, Colo. Currently, doctors take multiple two-dimensional X-ray images from different views to visualize what the arteries look like inside the body. The new software, which uses existing X-ray systems, could reduce the need for multiple X-rays, thus decreasing patients' exposure to radiation and contrast dye and cutting the time doctors spend analyzing the images.

Calls For Europe-Wide Salt Legislation Prompted By Study

"This study provides excellent ammunition both to convince patients about the benefits of reducing their individual salt intakes and also to persuade the EU of the urgent need to introduce legislation to restrict the salt content of processed foods, " said ESC spokesman Professor Frank Ruschitzka, a cardiologist and hypertension specialist from the University of Zurich, Switzerland. "This study represents the evidence that a reduction of salt intake not only lowers blood pressure but also prevents cardiovascular events. The case for population-wide salt reduction is now compelling, " he added. In the paper, Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo and colleagues, from the University of California, San Francisco, USA, undertook a computer simulation showing the effects of population wide reductions of dietary salt intakes in all adults aged 35 to 85 years in the USA. Reducing dietary salt intake by 3 g per day (1200mg less sodium per day) could result in 60, 000 to 120, 000 fewer cases of heart disease, 32, 000 to 66, 000 fewer strokes and 54, 000 to 100, 000 fewer heart attacks.

Trauma Patients Safe From Mortality Risks, Complications Associated With So-Called Weekend Effect, Penn Study Shows

People who are in car crashes or suffer serious falls, gunshot or knife wounds and other injuries at nights or on weekends do not appear to be affected by the same medical care disparities as patients who suffer heart attacks, strokes, cardiac arrests and other time-sensitive illnesses during those "off hours, " according to new research from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. In contrast to previous, multi-hospital studies showing that patients treated for cardiac or neurological emergencies overnight and on weekends are more likely to experience complications and even die than those who come to the hospital on weekdays, the new pilot findings suggest that trauma patients are insulated from this so-called "weekend effect" tied to the time of day in which they're brought to the hospital. The new study, which will be presented at the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma on January 22, points to the trauma system's unique organization and staffing as a built-in protection for these critically injured patients.

Study Finds Common Heart Medications May Also Protect Against Parkinson's Disease

UCLA researchers have discovered that a specific type of medication used to treat cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension, angina and abnormal heart rhythms may also decrease the risk of developing Parkinson's disease. In the first large-scale population-based study of its kind, Dr. Beate Ritz, professor of epidemiology at the UCLA School of Public Health, in collaboration with researchers from the Danish Cancer Society, found that a specific sub-class of dihydropyridine cardiovascular medications was associated with a 26 to 30 percent decrease in the risk of Parkinson's. The findings appear in an upcoming print edition of the journal Annals of Neurology and are currently available online. Parkinson's disease, the second most common neurodegenerative disorder in the United States, is characterized by a loss of voluntary movement, the result of the death of neurons in an area of the brain known as the substantia nigra, which is involved in movement control. Neurons of the substantia nigra that are important in Parkinson's are known to have calcium channels in their cell membranes.

Listen To Your Heart When It Comes To Substance Abuse And Mental Health

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) would like to remind Americans that substance abuse and mental health problems affect those with heart disease. In fact, nearly a million Americans experiencing a serious psychological disorder in the past year also suffered from heart disease. Similarly more than a quarter of a million Americans who had a substance abuse disorder in the past year also experienced heart disease. So it's important for the health of your heart as well as your overall wellbeing that you seek help for any substance abuse or mental health problems you may be facing. By getting treatment you can lead a longer and happier life. To access information on the mental health treatment services in your area go here. For substance use treatment providers in your area you can go here. Source Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA)

Longevity Gene Variant Linked To Lower Risk Of Dementia, Alzheimer's

New research from the US reveals that a variant of the plasma gene CETP that has already been associated with longevity may also be linked to slower age-related memory decline and a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease. The researchers said drugs that mimic the gene's effect and could protect against Alzheimer's are now being developed. The researchers, from the Department of Neurology, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health and the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University, Bronx, New York, and Departments of Genetics and Genomic Sciences and Neurology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York, revealed their findings in a paper published in the 13 January issue of JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association. The authors explained that CETP helps control the size of cholesterol particles, and the favourable variant increases blood levels of "good" cholesterol (HDL, high-density lipoprotein) while also resulting in larger-than-average sized particles of both HDL and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad" cholesterol).

Study Reveals The Role Played By Cocaine In Sudden Death

Forensic pathologists have shown that over three per cent of all sudden deaths in south-west Spain are related to the use of cocaine. They believe their findings can be extrapolated to much of the rest of Europe, indicating that cocaine use is a growing public health problem in Europe and that there is no such thing as "safe" recreational use of small amounts of the drug. The study published in Europe's leading cardiology journal, the European Heart Journal [1] on 13 January 2010, carefully investigated all the circumstances surrounding a consecutive series of sudden deaths between 2003 and 2006. During post-mortems the pathologists tested blood and urine for traces of toxic substances, and studied the organs, focusing on the cardiovascular system and toxicological analysis; they also gathered information on substance abuse prior to death, the circumstances of the death and death scene investigations. Out of 668 sudden deaths during the study period, 21 (3.1%) were related to cocaine use;

Why Certain Anticancer Drugs Can Cause Heart Failure In Some Patients

Several types of cancer are characterized by overexpression of PDGFR proteins, and molecules that inhibit PDGFR signaling have proven useful anticancer therapeutics. Recently, however, several such anticancer drugs have been associated with clinical heart failure in some patients. Aarif Khakoo and colleagues, at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, have now identified a role for PDGFR-beta in mouse heart muscle cells that might help explain why inhibitors of PDGFR signaling can cause heart failure. In the study, expression and activation of PDGFR-beta was found to increase dramatically in the hearts of mice exposed to pressure overload (a model of high blood pressure ). Further, mice lacking PDGFR-beta in heart muscle cells developed more severe heart failure when exposed to pressure overload than did normal mice. Further analysis indicated that PDGFR-beta in heart muscle cells contributes to the protective response to pressure overload by triggering the growth of new blood vessels, providing new insight into the physiologic functions of PDGFR-beta.

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