Health and Fitness

New Heart Procedure Eliminates X-Ray Exposure

A growing body of research continues to warn of the potential long-term effects of radiation exposure for patients and medical providers during such imaging procedures as x-rays and computed tomography (CT) scans, both of which are traditionally used with certain heart procedures. Now researchers at the University of Virginia Health System have developed a promising x-ray free technique to treat a common heart disorder called atrial fibrillation - a breakthrough that could all but eliminate radiation exposure to patients and their medical providers. "One of the most exciting things about our research is the direct impact on patient care and safety, " says John D. Ferguson, MD, associate professor of cardiology in the UVA School of Medicine. The study, led by Ferguson, appears in the December 2009 issue of Circulation. "Cardiac interventions continue to evolve toward lower risk procedures, and this study is another huge step in that direction." More than two million Americans suffer from atrial fibrillation (AF), a condition characterized by an irregular heart rate that can lead to weakness, blood clotting and even stroke.

TYRX Enrolls First Patient In CENTURION Study For AIGISRx Anti-Bacterial Envelope With CRT Replacements

TYRX, Inc., a leader in the commercialization of implantable drug-device combination products, announced that it has enrolled its first patient in CENTURION, the first of two large scale, prospective, multicenter studies. CENTURION will enroll 2000 patients at 50 clinical study sites across the U.S. Each patient is currently implanted with either a pacemaker, implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) or a cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) device which will be replaced with a CRT device accompanied by AIGISRx. This patient population will be compared to 2000 case-matched controls that have also undergone a pacemaker, ICD or CRT device replacement without AIGISRx. The primary endpoints will be 1) major CRT device-related infection and 2) CRT device mechanical complication. Patients will be followed for 12 months, with pre-defined interim analyses at 3 and 6 months. The second study, CITADEL, will enroll 2300 patients, at 50 clinical study sites across the U.S. Each patient is currently implanted with either a pacemaker, ICD or CRT device which will be replaced with an ICD accompanied by AIGISRx.

Growth Factor Hit By Cancer Drugs Also Protects Heart

A growth factor that is a common target of cancer drugs also plays an important role in the heart's response to stress, researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center report online this week in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. In many cancers, the body makes too much platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR), a type of protein that controls cell growth, allowing cancer cells to increase uncontrollably. Several chemotherapy agents, including Sutent ® (sunitinib), Nexavar ® (sorafenib) and Gleevec ® (imatinib), work by targeting and inhibiting PDGFR. This slows the growth of cancer - as well as angiogenesis, which is the growth of new blood vessels. "Recently, some of these targeted anti-cancer drugs have been associated with heart failure, " said Aarif Khakoo, M.D., assistant professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Cardiology and corresponding author on the study, said. "But the role of PDGFR signaling in the heart has been largely unexplored until now.

U-M Heart Center Hosts Tweet Chat On Heart Defect Surgeries

The public, including parents of babies with severe heart defects, are invited to submit questions for inclusion in a tweet chat about surgical approaches for heart defects from noon-2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20 on Twitter. New research by the University of Michigan Congenital Heart Center shows infants born with a severely underdeveloped heart are more likely to survive to their first birthday when treated with a new shunt procedure - yet it may not be the safest surgery long term. Richard G. Ohye, M.D., associate professor of surgery at the University of Michigan Medical School and pediatric cardiac surgery at the U-M Congenital Heart Center, and John Charpie, M.D., pediatric cardiologist at U-M, will answer submitted questions. Ohye was lead author of a featured study recently presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions that compared surgeries for infant heart defects. Babies born with a critically underdeveloped left side of their hearts require three surgeries to correct the problem.

Blood Pressure And Heart Disease Drugs May Help Fend Off Dementia, Including Alzheimer's Disease

Research published today on reports that angiotensin receptor blockers are associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. These drugs are normally used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease. In addition, the study concludes that angiotensin receptor blockers appear to offer greater protection against Alzheimer's disease and dementia than other high blood pressure and heart disease medication. A growing number of people are threatened by dementia (including Alzheimer's disease) as they get older. This has important economic implications since individuals who suffer from either disease can spend long periods of time in nursing homes. Dementia and Alzheimer's disease are complex diseases. There is increasing evidence of three main risk factors: в age в genetics в heart disease Mid-life diseases particularly like diabetes and high blood pressure seem to be associated with a higher chance of developing dementia. Researchers explain that this is the first large scale study to investigate whether angiotensin receptor blockers reduce the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

In Early Heart Development, Genes Work In Tandem

Studying genes that regulate early heart development in animals, scientists have solved a puzzle about one gene's role, finding that it acts in concert with a related gene. Their finding contributes to understanding how the earliest stages of heart development may go awry, resulting in congenital heart defects in humans. Peter J. Gruber, M.D., Ph.D., a cardiothoracic surgeon at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, led a study published this week in the Jan. 15 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Occurring in approximately 1 in 200 children, congenital heart defects represent the most common human birth defect. "We uncovered a role for the Gata5 gene, a role that has been unappreciated in vertebrate cardiac development, " said Gruber. "Gata5 is a gene that is essential to heart development in other animals, such as frogs and zebrafish, but contrary to expectations, deleting this gene seemed to have no effect on the hearts of mammals. We found, however, that in mice, this gene cooperates closely with other genes to affect heart development.

Excess Protein In Urine Is Indicator Of Heart Disease Risk In Whites, But Not Blacks

The cardiovascular risk that is associated with proteinuria, or high levels of protein in the urine, a common test used by doctors as an indicator of increased risk for progressive kidney disease, heart attack and stroke, has race-dependent effects, according to a new study by researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. The study appears in the January issue of Diabetes Care. "Proteinuria, a long accepted indicator of heart disease risk, has far less impact on blacks than it does on whites, " said Barry Freedman, M.D., John H. Felts III Professor, chief of the Section on Nephrology, and lead researcher on the study. "In the medical community, it is believed that the more protein in a patient's urine, the greater the risk for heart disease and stroke, and this is true - in white populations. Our study indicates that excess protein in the urine - a common finding with progressive kidney disease in individuals with diabetes - is strongly associated with calcium deposition in the major arteries in white patients, but not in black patients.

Alzheimer's Society Comment On BMJ Research Into Impact Of Blood Pressure Treatments On Dementia

New research published in the BMJ shows that angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), commonly used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease, could protect against Alzheimer's disease. The study from the University of Boston looked at predominantly male participants (98%) with cardiovascular disease over the age of 65. The findings also show that ARBs could slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease or dementia, reducing incidence of early death or admission to nursing homes - helping people with dementia to maintain independence for longer. 'We have known for a while that it is important to control blood pressure from mid-life to reduce the risk of developing dementia. This new research not only adds to the evidence that treatments for high blood pressure could help stop the development of dementia but suggests that some of these treatments may be more suited to this than others. The prospect of using already existing drugs to help in the fight against dementia is attractive. However, more research is needed to weigh up the benefits of this type of treatment as a protective tool.

Nanoburrs To Clear Arteries, Fight Heart Disease

"Nanoburrs" are nanoparticles coated with a sticky protein that makes them cling onto artery walls while they slowly release drugs: the US researchers who are developing them hope they will one day provide an alternative to drug-releasing stents in fighting heart disease. The researchers, based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (MIT) and Harvard Medical School, wrote about how they developed and tested the nanoburrs as potential drug-releasing agents for targeting and repairing damaged blood vessels in a paper that was published online on 19 January in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The nanoburrs can release their drug payload over several days, and could be used to deliver drugs to treat treat atherosclerosis and other inflammatory cardiovascular diseases, the researchers told the press. They hope one day the nanoburrs can be used with vascular stents, the standard of care for most cases of clogged and damaged arteries, and in some cases may even replace stents in locations they are not well suited for, such as near a fork in the artery.

New Treatment Hope By 'painting The Colours Of The Heart'

Scientists at the University of Leicester are 'painting' the colours of the heart in an innovative project that has potential to bring benefits for millions of people with irregular heart rhythm. An estimated 4.5 million people in the European Union are known to have Atrial fibrillation (AF) the most common type of arrhythmia or abnormal heart rhythm. The condition affects about 10% of people over the age of 70. Considering the advancing age in the general population and links to body size and obesity, scientists say the increase in AF is almost approaching epidemic proportions. Researchers from the Department of Engineering at the University of Leicester are working with colleagues in the University's Department of Cardiovascular Sciences and St Jude Medical UK to devise a new way of 'mapping' the electrical signals of the heart and creating a colour map of abnormal signals. This will allow cardiologists to target them with unprecedented accuracy. University of Leicester scientists Dr.

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