Health and Fitness

5.6 Million Contract For Heart Assist Device For Infants And Toddlers

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and their collaborators have been awarded a $5.6 million federal contract to pursue the continued development of an implanted ventricular assist heart pump for infants and small children with congenital or acquired heart disease. The project aims to provide much-needed access to the sophisticated technologies that have saved the lives of older heart failure patients. Harvey Borovetz, Ph.D., distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Bioengineering and a deputy director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, is the principal investigator of one of four projects that comprise the Pumps for Kids, Infants and Neonates (PumpKIN) Preclinical Program, a $23.6 million effort sponsored by the National Institutes of Health's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). He and his colleagues at Pitt, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, Carnegie Mellon University, Goleta, California-based LaunchPoint Technologies, and Salt Lake City-based WorldHeart Inc.

Childhood Obesity Alone May Increase Risk Of Later Cardiovascular Disease

By as early as 7 years of age, being obese may raise a child's risk of future heart disease and stroke, even in the absence of other cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, according to a new study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM). "This new study demonstrates that the unhealthy consequences of excess body fat start very early, " said Nelly Mauras, MD, of Nemours Children's Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida and senior author of the study. "Our study shows that obesity alone is linked to certain abnormalities in the blood that can predispose individuals to developing cardiovascular disease early in adulthood. These findings suggest that we need more aggressive interventions for weight control in obese children, even those who do not have the co-morbidities of the metabolic syndrome." The metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors that raise the risk of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

New Blood Test For Coronary Artery Disease Now Available At Vanderbilt Heart And Vascular Institute

Just in time for American Heart Month, Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute is offering a new blood test that can predict if a patient is at high risk for heart disease. Vanderbilt is among the first institutions in the country, and the only one in Tennessee, to offer this test. "We now have a novel way to check for the presence of significant coronary artery disease by looking at genes that are associated with heart disease, " said John McPherson, M.D., director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "This is the first of many future tests that will move in the direction of evaluating diseases by looking at a patient's genetics and the dynamic changes in expression of genes when disease is present." McPherson participated in a study to evaluate a non-invasive blood test called Corus CAD, which is manufactured by CardioDX. He and researchers from 40 centers across the country collected more than 2, 800 samples from 1, 795 patients without diabetes and with chest pain or at risk for coronary artery disease, who were undergoing invasive coronary angiography.

Researching Treatments Shows Paths To Health Savings

An orthopedic surgeon in Sacramento became suspicious of a new therapy that helps tendons heal by injecting platelet-rich plasma into joints, The Sacramento Bee reports. So, he decided to do a test. It turned out, his patients outcomes were no different when he used the platelet-rich plasma therapy as when he didn't. The plasma treatment costs hundreds of dollars more per patient. "The country as a whole could use a dose of such skepticism when it comes to expensive new therapies, critics say, " in order to cut back on an estimated $700 billion in annual spending on unnecessary health services. The health overhaul - now in limbo - would add to $1.1 billion toward this type of research (Calvan, 1/25). Another way to achieve savings in health spending may be better prevention programs, Crain's Detroit Business reports. "A new study indicates that Michigan's employers and health care providers could do a better job offering prevention and early detection programs to reduce the state population's higher-than-average numbers of hospital discharges for cardiovascular disease, depression and back disorders, according to Ann Arbor-based Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation.

New Procedure Cuts Arrhythmia, Recovery Time

A surgeon and an electrophysiologist in the Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center last week worked together to perform a novel, minimally-invasive procedure to treat a common but dangerous arrhythmia in a 61-year-old lawyer from east Texas who has suffered from the condition for months. By combining their talents, the physicians could perform the procedure through two small incisions, rather than six, which is common for minimally-invasive approaches. "We're hoping that by combining the expertise of a surgeon with that of an electrophysiologist, we'll make the treatment more effective, while also making it easier on the patient in terms of recovery time, " said Dr. Basel Ramlawi, cardiac surgeon who performed the surgical portion of the hybrid procedure. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common type of arrhythmia, a condition in which the top chamber of the heart quivers instead of pumping. When it quivers, blood pools in the chamber, causing blood clots that can break off, travel to the head and cause strokes.

In Light Of Research About Teens' Heart Disease Risk, Lifestyle Changes Critical

Pamphlets detailing the warning signs associated with heart disease may soon end up in an unexpected location: your child's pediatrician's office. According to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five American teens has at least one risk factor for developing heart disease in adulthood. With heart health front-and-center this month in honor of American Heart Month, most media coverage will focus on at-risk adults. But that's a mistake according to Sarah Wally, a dietitian with the National Association for Margarine Manufacturers. "Although heart disease is typically diagnosed in adulthood, its roots often begin in childhood, " says Wally. "Heart disease is the result of a lifelong process and intervention strategies to reduce risk should begin as early as possible." The new CDC report, released earlier this year, highlights the need to intervene early. The report reveals that twenty percent of children and teens in the U.S. have an abnormal lipid profile - a sign of high triglycerides, low levels of good cholesterol or high levels of bad cholesterol - and a strong marker for future heart disease risk.

St. Jude Medical Announces IRASE AF Clinical Trial To Evaluate Cardiac Ablation Catheter System For Treatment Of Atrial Fibrillation

St. Jude Medical, Inc. (NYSE:STJ) announced it has received an Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin enrollment in the IRASE AF (IRrigated Ablation System Evaluation for AF) trial, a multicenter, randomized, single-blind study evaluating the safety and efficacy of the company's Duo 12 port open irrigated catheter ablation system for treatment of Atrial Fibrillation (AF). AF is the most common cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat), affecting an estimated 3.3 million Americans and millions more worldwide. The IRASE AF trial is the industry's first and the largest head-to-head IDE trial studying irrigated ablation catheters, which use radiofrequency (RF) energy in a non-invasive procedure to destroy abnormal heart tissue. The trial will randomize patients 1:1 between the company's Duo 12 port open irrigated catheter ablation system and an irrigated catheter ablation system that has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of paroxysmal AF, a type of AF that begins suddenly and ends spontaneously.

Is Your Kitchen Heart Friendly?

Lurking in your kitchen may be a killer. According to Saint Louis University cardiologist Melda Dolan, M.D., the fast, convenient and processed foods that fill American's freezers and pantries are bad news for your heart and waistline, as well as your taste buds. This February, in honor of American Heart Month, Dolan is encouraging the SLU community to give their kitchen a heart-healthy makeover. "Maintaining a heart healthy diet is easier than you might think, but it does require a life-style change, " Dolan said. "Once you learn how to shop for and cook with fresh ingredients, you'll see that it's easy to do." According to Dolan, one's diet plays a major role in the development of heart disease the No. 1 killer of Americans. Unlike your genes, your diet is something you can control to directly impact your heart health. Dolan offers 10 tips for giving your kitchen and diet a heart-healthy makeover. 1. Shop the perimeter of your local grocery store. This is where you will typically find fresh produce, dairy, seafood and meat.

Cholesterol's Link To Heart Disease Gets Clearer - And More Complicated

By considering molecular-level events on a broader scale, researchers now have a clearer, if more complicated, picture of how one class of immune cells goes wrong when loaded with cholesterol. The findings reported in the February 3rd issue of Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication, show that, when it comes to the development of atherosclerosis and heart disease, it's not about any one bad actor - it's about a network gone awry. The new findings also highlight a pretty remarkable thing, Heinecke says: "Despite 30 years of study, we still don't know how cholesterol causes heart disease." But, with the new findings, scientists are getting closer. Earlier studies had shown that heart disease is about more than just high LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Cells known as macrophages also play a critical role. Macrophages are part of the innate immune system that typically gobble up pathogens and clear away dead cells. But they also take up and degrade cholesterol derivatives. When they get overloaded with those lipoproteins, they take on a foamy appearance under the microscope to become what scientists aptly refer to as foam cells.

When It Comes To Heart Health, Think About Your Lifestyle Habits

When it comes to heart health, whether or not your job is stressful isn't what you should be worried about, according to doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Diet, exercise and risk factors like high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity are what contribute to a person's chance of having a heart attack. "In my opinion, executives tend to be very organized and disciplined and often work exercise into their schedules, " said Dr. James de Lemos, assistant professor of cardiology at UT Southwestern. "They do not have more heart attacks than the rest of the population. People with less-stressful jobs are just as susceptible to heart attacks." Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center

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