Bypass a Stent for a Longer Life
Information gathered from multiple large databases found that the death rate for people who have bypass surgery is 16.4 four years post-surgery compared to 20.8 in those who had stents placed in their blocked coronary arteries. Placing a stent, called an angioplasty procedure, involves opening up a blocked vessel by threading an instrument into the artery and inserting a wire mesh to hold it open. A bypass involves taking a vein from another part of the body and creating another route for blood to flow to the heart muscle. It is possible the different levels of risk between both groups may have accounted for the difference in death rates, but previous research that supports these results in addition to lifestyle changes and preventive care are playing a part in reducing stents procedures.
A Sleepy Medium for Heart Health
Preliminary results from a study looking at over 3,000 patients over 45 years old in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that getting less than six hours or more than eight hours of sleep can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems. Sleep deprivation raises the odds of suffering a stroke, heart attack and congestive failure while those who oversleep risk angina and coronary artery disease in which the vessels that bring blood and oxygen to the heart muscles get narrow. Factors such as sleeping difficulties, age, cholesterol, smoking and obesity were accounted for but the strong association remained. Prior research has shown that lack of sleep leads to a wide range of problems such as diabetes, inflammation and increases stress hormones and blood pressure.
Taurine and Cholesterol
Taurine, found in dark poultry meat and some seafood, may prevent women with high cholesterol from developing coronary heart disease (CHD), says a NYU Langone Med. Ctr. study. This is the first study to examine the effects of taurine consumption and heart disease in humans. The research, which relied on data and samples from the NYU Women’s Health Study of 14,000+ women, ages 34 to 65, found that among women with high cholesterol, those with high serum levels of taurine were 60% less likely to develop or die from CHD compared to those with lower serum levels of taurine. Researchers believe that, “if these findings are confirmed, one day we might be able to suggest that someone with high cholesterol eat more poultry, specifically dark meat,” says lead researcher Yu Chen, PhD.
Measures Coronary Artery Calcium
A "gated" computed tomography (CT) scan may determine which diabetics are at risk of dying early due to coronary heart disease from plaque build-up which narrows arteries. It uses fewer x-rays than the standard CT to measure the quantity of calcified "plaque" build-up in coronary blood vessels called a coronary artery calcium (CAC) score. There are diabetics with no calcified plaque buildup and individuals whose arteries are almost completely calcified and everything in between. Over 1,000 volunteers were divided into five groups based on their initial CAC scores. Over the 7.4 year follow-up, those with the highest CAC scores were six times more likely to die prematurely compared to those with the lowest scores. The test is quick, relatively cheap and covered by insurance in some cases.
Rethinking This Modern Disease
An Egyptian princess, ca.1580 BC, is the first known person to have had coronary artery disease as visualized by CT scanning. The princess, who was in her 40s, was most likely active and ate a diet of fruit, vegetables and some meat. Of 52 mummies studied, 20 had arterial calcification; three had blockages. We think of CV disease as modern, due in part to diet and lifestyle. This study shows a genetic inheritance as well as a possible inflammatory response to the frequent parasitic infections common at the time, say researchers. However, "... from what we can tell from this study, humans are predisposed to atherosclerosis, so it behooves us to take the proper measures necessary to delay it as long as we can,” says Dr. Randall C. Thompson, St. Luke’s Mid-Am. Heart Inst.
But Don’t Give Up Food Yet
Routine periodic fasting is good for heart health - and for health in general, finds a new study that recorded reactions in the body’s biological mechanisms during fasting. Research cardiologists report that fasting lowers the risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes and also changes blood cholesterol levels. In addition, fasting was found to reduce weight, blood sugar levels and triglycerides. Participants fasted for a period of 24 hours during which time they consumed nothing but water and were monitored throughout. Researchers say more studies are needed to fully determine the body’s reaction to fasting and its effects on health. Principal investigator Dr. Benjamin D. Home believes that fasting may one day be prescribed to prevent diabetes and coronary heart disease.
Drug Removed from Market
The FDA is urging consumers to stop using Fruta Planta and Reduce Weight Fruta Planta (the same product marketed under two names), both of which contain sibutramine, a drug that's been taken off the market for safety reasons. According to the FDA, sibutramine can increase both blood pressure and pulse rate, posing a danger to people with a history of stroke, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure or arrhythmias. The FDA is aware of several cardiac events and one death associated with the use of Fruta Planta weight loss products. PRock Marketing LLC, of Kissimmee, Florida has recalled all lots of the drug. The FDA says that the product should be disposed of in a sealed container or returned to the manufacturer.
O for Heart Attack Protection
Researchers have discovered the gene that leads to developing type O blood appears to reduce the risk of having a heart attack even in the presence of cardiovascular disease. About 13,000 people with heart disease were compared to 7,400 healthy people. They also looked at 5,800 who had a heart attack and 3,600 with the condition who did not and discovered a gene called ADAMTS7 linked to an increased risk of coronary artery disease and also found that the gene that produces type O blood reduces the risk of a heart attack. This does not mean people with type O should not prevent heart disease, but researchers believe that these results will provide them with a better understanding of heart disease and lead to treatments by altering the function of the gene and blood typing.