Entries in Heart Failure (14)


High Doses of NSAIDs Raise Risk of Heart Failure

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New research shows that high doses of common pain relievers may increase your risk for cardiovascular issues.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs -- known as NSAIDs -- are among the most common pain-relief medicines in the world, including aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. Millions of Americans take those drugs or the number of prescription painkillers classified as NSAIDs every day, but new research shows that use of NSAIDs can increase your risk of heart failure, perhaps even double it.

The study, published in The Lancet, analyzed studies including over 353,000 people and found that all of the NSAIDs together roughly doubled the risk of heart failure. The risk was highest among people who already had underlying risk factors for heart disease.

The researchers did point out that the overall risk is relatively small and that the true danger of NSAIDs is only seen in high doses. Anyone who frequently uses high doses of these pain killers is urged to speak to a doctor.

Aspirin, interestingly, works to prevent the formation of blood clots, which can cause heart attacks. Other NSAIDs do not work to prevent blood clots.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Getting Fit in Middle Age Helps Lower Risk of Heart Failure

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Contrary to popular belief, middle age is not too late to start getting fit, says new medical research.

According to HealthDay News, the research not only shows that fitness is an important factor in terms of limiting risk of heart failure, but also that people who improve their fitness -- even in middle age -- diminish their risk of heart failure in the future.

The results of the study were presented on Wednesday at a meeting of the American Heart Association in Baltimore.

Heart failure is the most common reason that older adults are hospitalized, according to the American Heart Association, and as many as five million Americans currently have heart disease. Dr. Gregg Fonarow, director of the Cardiomyopathy Center at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, told HealthDay News that nearly 20 percent of American adults will develop heart failure in their lifetime.

Fonarow did say, however, that "heart failure is preventable by maintaining cardiovascular health and control of heart failure risk factors."

The study analyzed the fitness levels of over 9,000 middle-aged adults, who were tested twice each -- 8 years apart. According to HealthDay News, those people who were not physically fit at the beginning of the study had a higher risk of heart failure later in life. However, those who improved their fitness level had a lower risk of heart failure than those whose fitness remained poor.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Cardiologist Makes TV Debut on ABC's "Grey’s Anatomy"

Mike Ferrari/UH Case Medical Center(LOS ANGELES) -- On ABC's Grey’s Anatomy this week, as Dr. Christina Yang, played by actress Sandra Oh, performed an operation to insert a parachute device into a patient’s heart. As she explained how it worked, her intern, Dr. Heather Brooks had one thing to say:

“That is crazyballs.”

In the scene, real life cardiologist Dr. Marco Costa is standing next to Yang, though he doesn’t have any lines. Costa was there to teach Oh how to fake the surgery for the cameras because he’s one of two leading experts on the device. As a reward, they put him in the episode.

After a 10-hour day on set to make sure Oh had the steps just right, the 30-second shot aired Thursday night.

“It was quick,” Costa, a University Hospitals cardiologist, told ABC News of his television debut. His face is in shadow during the scene, but the intern is holding the parachute device up for the cameras.”This kind of attention is important to create awareness and to help people that are out there that have a heart problem and have been given no option of therapy to learn that there is an option.”

The Parachute Ventricular Partitioning Device, which resembles an inside-out cocktail umbrella, redirects blood flow in a heart damaged by heart attack, Costa said. A damaged heart loses some of its shape, making it less able to pump blood where it needs to go as the muscle contracts. But the parachute has a conical shape that moves with the heart to focus blood flow, allowing the healthy parts of the heart to function normally when they would otherwise be overcompensating for the damaged parts.

Crazyballs, right?

Although the Grey’s Anatomy scene was short, Oh and Costa were standing over a “patient” who was awake but sedated. The parachute implantation procedure is somewhat like implanting a stent. The doctors use cardiac catheterization to deliver the parachute to the heart by inserting a tube into an artery in the patient’s thigh and pushing the device to the heart.

“We rehearsed a little so she [Oh] would understand all the little steps take place,” Costa said. “I think she did very well. I wish she was in the medical field. It would be easy to teach her how to do a lot of things.”

Although Americans invented the parachute and it is made by California-based medical device company CardioKinetix, it is not yet approved for standard care in the United States. Costa and his colleague, Dr. William Abraham at Ohio State University, are leading a clinical trial that will allow 500 patients to receive the device in the U.S. and Canada. They’ve already used it in 100 patients in Europe, where it was recently approved for standard use.

“Heart failure is an end of life disease we have in cardiology,” Costa said. “We believe a mechanical approach can make the heart work better. To take the ‘failure’ out of ‘heart failure,’ this might be one of the solutions.”

About 5.7 million people in the United States have heart failure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the primary cause of 55,000 deaths a year.

Costa’s latest trial has already begun with patients in Kansas, Kentucky and Ohio, Costa said.

As for whether stardom has gone to Costa’s head, it’s safe to say he’ll stick to surgery.

“They told me to try to look normal, and I was like, ‘That’s easy for you to say,’” he said. “When the scene actually took place, we were more familiar with the crew and the team, but it was still not easy. I would rather do a real procedure than acting.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Heart Weakness Common Yet Undiagnosed in Some Older Patients

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Older people living with heart abnormalities that could lead to heart failure may have never had those abnormalities diagnosed, meaning they miss out on treatments that could help, according to a new study.  But deciding whether someone would benefit from taking these drugs in the last stages of life is important too, doctors say.

The heart naturally gets weaker as people age, but Bernard Keavney, a professor of cardiology at Newcastle University in Tyne, England, and the study's lead author, said scientists don't often study heart failure or the best way to treat it in the very old.

"We can only treat heart failure if we know it's there," Keavney said.

Keavney and his team went to the homes of about 375 people ages 87 to 89 living in northeast England, armed with equipment to test their heart function.  They found that about one-third of them had a heart with a reduced ability to pump blood, called a left ventricular systolic dysfunction.  Another 20 percent had a diastolic dysfunction -- heart muscles that could not relax enough to allow the heart's chambers to fill with blood, keeping the heart from pumping enough blood to the rest of the body.

People aren't born with these abnormalities, but they increase as people age and develop cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.  They can also lead to heart failure, a condition in which the heart can't pump blood effectively to the rest of the body.

For 26 percent of the people in the study, the problems had never been diagnosed by a physician.

The findings were published Tuesday in the journal Heart.

It's not clear why these people had never gotten a diagnosis.  Doctors say it could be that they simply didn't realize there was a problem and may have thought their symptoms, such as shortness of breath and fatigue, were simply part of old age.

"Likely because the level of activity in these patients in these kinds of home care settings is low, they don't stress their heart enough to know that there is a problem," said Dr. Robert Myerburg, a professor of medicine and physiology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

About 5.8 million Americans have heart failure, according the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, and as greater numbers of people reach old age in many Western countries, it's possible that that number will grow.

Keavney said because greater numbers of people survive heart attacks, these kinds of heart abnormalities may increase.

"There would have been people in previous years who would have come into the hospital after a heart attack and died from it.  Now more may survive, but they're going home with a weakened heart," he said.

Doctors say although the symptoms of these heart abnormalities seem pretty common for older people, it's important that they not be dismissed as simply signs of "old age."

"There is no clinical diagnosis of 'old age,'" said Dr. Clyde Yancy, chief of cardiology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and a past president of the American Heart Association.  "We should keep our antenna up at all times for treatable diseases that may reduce symptoms and improve the quality of life."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


With Each Operation, Artificial Hearts Show More Promise

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Not long ago, patients diagnosed with heart failure would have faced a grim prognosis, as there would have been few options available to sustain them until a donor heart became available.  But that may be changing.

On June 21, physicians at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston announced that they had performed the first successful artificial heart transplant in New England for a patient who had advanced heart failure.

"It's a regional milestone," said Dr. Gregory Couper, surgical director of the heart transplant program at Brigham and Women's.  "This is the first implantation of an artificial heart in a patient needing a heart transplant in New England."

Although this is the first transplant in New England, other artificial heart transplants have already been performed around the United States and internationally.  In fact, artificial hearts are being manufactured by a few companies, one of which is testing their device at 30 sites across the country.

More than five million people in the United States currently have heart failure.  In heart failure, the heart muscles weaken such that the heart is unable to pump a sufficient amount of blood through the body.  If the heart failure is left untreated, then other organs, including the kidneys, begin to fail.

Physicians will first attempt to manage heart failure patients with medications that help get rid of excess fluid in the body while also controlling blood pressure.  For the 50,000 to 100,000 patients with advanced heart failure who cannot be treated with medications, a device known as the left ventricular assist device (LVAD) may be helpful.  LVADs are devices that replace the function of the failing heart, and artificially pump blood throughout the body's circulatory system.

But in some cases even LVADs may not be effective in helping heart function. That is where artificial hearts come into play. The artificial heart acts as a bridge therapy -- a temporary measure until a patient can get off the organ donor waiting list and receive a heart transplant.  

About 2,000 heart transplants are performed in the U.S. each year, although thousands more -- if enough donors were available -- could potentially benefit from them.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Coffee May Reduce the Risk of Heart Failure

Gerald Zanetti/FoodPix(BOSTON) -- Hey java drinkers: that coffee buzz you love so much may also help prevent heart failure, according to a new study published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation Heart Failure.

While many believe coffee drinking may be dangerous to the heart, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston said moderate consumption of your daily joe may be beneficial.

The scientists analyzed five prospective studies, which included more than 140,000 men and women that related to coffee consumption and heart risk. Four of the studies were based in Sweden, and one was conducted in Finland. They found that those who drank a moderate amount of coffee daily, defined as the equivalent of two 8-ounce American cups per day, may experience protective benefits against heart failure by as much as 11 percent.

The scientists didn't account for the strength of the coffee, but the drink tends to be made weaker in the U.S. than in Europe. They also didn't account for caffeinated versus decaffeinated coffee, though most people in Northern Europe consume a caffeinated form of the beverage.

Low levels of coffee consumption were not associated with a positive or negative effect on heart failure risk, but more than four to five cups of regular coffee consumption were associated with a higher risk.

More than half of American adults drink some form of coffee each day, according to the National Coffee Association. Caffeine is also the most frequently consumed stimulant in the world.

The American Heart Association currently recommends that heart failure patients drink no more than one to two cups of coffee or other caffeinated beverages per day.  

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Doctors Unravel Mysteries of Heart Failure During Pregnancy

Hemera/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- A mysterious and sometimes deadly type of heart failure that can strike otherwise healthy, expectant mothers late in pregnancy and leave them sick for life at last can be traced to faulty blood vessels in the heart, researchers report Wednesday.

The team from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston found there's something that puts the brakes on proteins that are supposed to ramp up and produce new blood vessels to meet the extra demand on a heart beating for two -- the mother and her unborn child.

Without those new blood vessels, which are created through a process called angiogenesis, a woman develops shortness of breath and other symptoms, as her heart cannot pump enough blood late in pregnancy and around the time of delivery.

Her weakened heart muscle then becomes more prone to scarring, further compromising its ability to serve her and her baby. About half of women who develop this late-pregnancy complication, called peripartum cardiomyopathy, which can occur through the first five months after delivery, become sicker and may eventually need a heart transplant. The others get better on their own. Peripartum cardiomyopathy can strike up to one in 300 of expectant mothers.

The insights, drawn from a combination of mouse and human studies, are important because they have the potential to help millions of women worldwide who suffer from heart failure that is more common among women with a related late-pregnancy complication called preeclampsia, which produces a dangerous rise in blood pressure, and those carrying multiples. With what they now understand, scientists can target women at high risk of developing pregnancy-related heart failure and test new drugs to treat them.

"It's been a real mystery," said senior study author Dr. Zoltan Arany, an investigator at Beth Israel's CardioVascular Institute. "The majority of women who develop this condition are otherwise healthy, even active."

Given that the "real stressors of pregnancy occur in the first trimester," Zoltan said it's been a big question why these mothers-to-be develop such serious problems at the end of pregnancy.

The new insights build on work done in Arany's lab with a gene that turns on angiogenesis. Mouse studies with that gene "told us that PPCM is indeed a vascular disease, something that was previously not appreciated," said Zoltan, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The researchers then used insights from another Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center scientist, Dr. S. Ananth Karumanchi, who had found that women with preeclampsia had high levels of another gene responsible for blocking angiogenesis, to flesh out their theory further. The angiogenesis blocking gene plays a role in a normal pregnancy to prevent excessive bleeding during delivery. Arany's team then determined that this second gene was also playing a role in development of blood vessel abnormalities setting the stage for heart failure.

The search continues for a still-undiscovered factor that leaves some women's hearts unable to "handle the wave" of blood vessel altering factors late in pregnancy, Arany said. "While we still have a lot to learn, I think we are now close to understanding, and maybe even treating, this devastating disease."

The findings appear in Wednesday's online issue of the journal Nature.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Women Have Lower Risk of Death from Heart Disease

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(OXFORD, England) -- Women have a lower risk of death from heart failure, according to a new report.

The study, published by the European Journal of Heart Failure on Thursday, was conducted on 41,949 heart patients. The data was gathered from 31 studies of 28,052 men and 13,897 women.

After three years of patient follow-up, the study found that 25.3% of women and 25.7% of men died with the disparities more marked as the age of patients increased.

The reason for the disparities are attributed in part to the better response of women’s hearts to injury as well as the higher risk of death for patients with reduced ejection fraction, more common in males, reports HealthDay.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Stem Cells Offer New Hope for Heart Failure Patients

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- For the first time, stem cells from patients' own hearts have been shown to battle heart failure.

In a small study of 16 patients, cardiac stem cells improved heart function and reduced the amount of tissue damage in patients with heart failure -- a disabling and lethal condition caused by the death of heart muscle tissue.

"If this is confirmed in further studies, it could offer an entirely new option and a potential cure for patients who are now dying from heart failure," said Dr. Roberto Bolli, director of cardiology at University of Louisville and lead author of the study published Monday in The Lancet.

Cardiac stem cells have the potential to divide and develop into cardiomyocytes -- the muscle cells that make the heart contract and pump blood.

Among 14 patients who responded to the stem cell treatment, the heart's blood-pumping efficiency increased from 30.3 percent before the treatment to 38.5 percent after.  And in seven patients who underwent magnetic resonance imaging, the amount of dead heart muscle tissue decreased by 24 percent over four months and 30 percent over a year.

Seven control patients who did not receive the stem cell treatment showed no improvement.

"What is really exciting about the use of cardiac stem cells is we think we're attacking the fundamental problem: replacing dead tissue with new cardiac muscle," said Bolli. "Again, if these results are confirmed, this would be a true revolution in medicine; one of the biggest advances in cardiology in my lifetime."

Stem cell-treated patients also reported feeling better and more capable of doing daily activities.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Lifetime Risk for COPD Higher than Heart Failure, Common Cancers

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- COPD: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It's a disease that affects your air passages, causing difficulty breathing, and now a new study suggests COPD is a greater threat than heart disease or cancer.
COPD covers a range of diseases that restrict the function of your lungs, such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Symptoms include difficulty breathing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chronic coughing that produces mucus. It is sometimes mistakenly thought to be a "smoker's cough."
A new study in the medical journal Lancet shows that one in every four people 35 and older are likely to develop COPD in their lifetime, comparable to diabetes and asthma.
Researchers at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto followed 13 million Canadians for up to 14 years.
They found the risk of getting COPD was double that of congestive heart failure, three to four times greater than breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men and more than seven times the risk of other cancers.  
By 2030, COPD is projected to be the third-most common cause of death worldwide.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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