February 6, 2011

Super Bowl 2011 Makes Heart Attack Headlines

Posted in Heart Disease in the News tagged , , , , , at 2:17 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

The San Francisco 49ers' Super Bowl XXIX troph...

Image via Wikipedia

The Miami Herald as well as several other publications put a heart disease spin on the Super Bowl yesterday.

The media reported on a recent study article in the Journal of Clinical Cardiology which says that fans of the losing Super Bowl team are more likely to die from heart problems 2 weeks after the big game than the winning team’s fans.  The study also found that female fans of the losing team are even more likely to die than their male counterparts.

There were several theories reported for what causes this post-game heart attack dilemma.  Some reporters interviewed cardiologists who felt the problem was overeating which was previously found to increase heart attack risk immediately following a big meal.  Other cardiologists, including the study’s lead author, felt the problem lies in stress and “emotional attachment.”

It seems difficult to tell people not to get emotionally attached to their favorite team playing in the biggest football game of the year.  A more realistic goal would be avoidance of overeating.  Portions should be kept small and consider skipping dinner if you have already eaten many different appetizers.  One more thing to remember is to pay attention to your symptoms.  Do not hesitate to call 911 if you feel chest pain, chest pressure, significant shortness of breath, dizziness or if you almost pass out.

January 24, 2011

Could Your Cardiologist Help MS Patients in the Future?

Posted in Heart Disease in the News tagged , , , , , , at 2:57 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

Main symptoms of Multiple sclerosis. Sources a...

Image via Wikipedia

A large meeting of physicians held last week discussed a new procedure which could lead to interventional cardiologists helping patients with MS (Multiple Sclerosis).

It may seem like treating MS is completely out of a cardiologists’ realm but some scientists are suggesting there can be a link between the blood vessels and MS.  MS is a chronic disease which involves numbness, weakness and muscle spasms in various parts of the body.  The most afflicted patients have tremors and are unable to walk or speak.  Most medical websites state the disease is caused by problems with the immune system and it is best treated with drugs.  Apparently some physicians are working on a non-pharmacologic method now.

At the International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy in Miami last week, physicians discussed a new procedure in which the veins in the neck and around the spine are opened up more with balloon angioplasty (similar to the procedure done in the heart arteries for blockages).  This vein angioplasty has been experimented on patients with MS and some of those patients saw improvement in their symptoms.  More trials are underway to look for benefits in more MS patients.

The procedure itself brought up quite a bit of controversy at the meeting.  While the MS community is hopeful for a promising new procedure such as this, the physicians themselves appear to be less enthusiastic about performing the vein angioplasty until studies show conclusive evidence of it’s benefit.

December 9, 2010

Not all hospitals are equal in heart care

Posted in Heart Disease in the News tagged , , , , , , , at 5:12 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

CPR training

Image via Wikipedia

Some of the more reputable hospitals in your area may not have the latest equipment to save your life during a heart attack.

A recent article in Sports Illustrated actually highlighted this issue.  Yes, that’s right…Sports Illustrated.  Not Time or Newsweek but a magazine that usually discusses sports published an article called “The Cardiac Kid” about a teenage boy who was saved by some cutting edge medical equipment in Atlanta, GA.

The 17-year-old boy whom Sports Illustrated tells the story of collapsed from a heart attack while running track.  After receiving life-saving CPR immediately on the scene, the boy was transported to Piedmont Hospital.  The article states, “if Piedmont Hospital doctors hadn’t induced hypothermia to prevent neurological damage; if the hospital hadn’t been one of a handful with a TandemHeart device, which allowed Scott’s blood to flow in spite of his nonfunctioning heart and lungs…Scott wouldn’t have had a chance.”

For many native Atlantans, Piedmont Hospital is not where they automatically think to go for cardiac care.  St. Joseph’s Hospital was the main center for heart surgery 20 years ago and people still tend to think they are the best place.  What they don’t realize is that many cardiologists left St. Joseph’s to go to Piedmont.  In addition, St. Joseph’s does not use the TandemHeart device so they do not provide the same cutting edge cardiac care which saved The Cardiac Kid’s life.

Even if you don’t live in Atlanta, this story holds true in many other cities as well.  Ask your doctor about the best place to go in an emergency.  You may find that driving an extra few miles could mean the difference between life and death.

November 13, 2010

The Latest in Pradaxa News

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Helpful Heart Links, New Heart Studies tagged , , , , , , , , , at 7:33 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

photo by br3akthru

It’s assumed that patients and cardiologists alike will love the new Coumadin alternative, Pradaxa.  On Monday, we’ll get to hear more about the drug and cardiologists’ reactions to it.

The American Heart Association‘s Scientific Sessions will surely be buzzing during their presentations about the latest treatments for anticoagulation.  The scientists who tested Pradaxa on 18,000 patients in the RE-LY study are reportedly presenting their findings to the thousands of cardiologists at this large conference in Chicago (reported by The Sacramento Bee).

It should be interesting to see what the conference attendees have to say about Pradaxa at the end of the Session.  Currently it doesn’t appear that there has been a huge surge of prescriptions for this only alternative to Coumadin.  It could be that cardiologists are just not completely comfortable switching their patients yet.  Once the trend catches on though, Pradaxa could easily become the most popular drug of 2011.

Read more about Pradaxa in Yes, Your Pharmacy Can Now Give You An Alternative To Coumadin! Pradaxa is HERE!

To learn more about atrial fibrillation and heart disease, check out the book What To Do When You Have Heart Disease.

September 29, 2010

Robotically Assisted Ballon Angioplasty and Stent Placement

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, New Heart Studies tagged , , , , , , at 12:20 am by keepyourhearthealthy

photo by Filomena Scalise

You may have heard of robotically assisted bypass surgery but now there are even more complex machines placing stents in people.

Robotics in a medical setting help to create more precise cuts and movements.  For bypass surgery, robotically assisted open heart has been rumored to create smaller incisions.  The first case of robotically assisted stent placement was reported last week in Washington, DC.

Undergoing a heart stent procedure does not involve large cuts by any means.  There is only a small needlestick in the groin area.  So, how can robotics help in a situation like this?  First, it helps your cardiologist live more comfortably.  When the cardiologist is placing a stent, they are exposed to radiation from the x-rays needed to see where the heart arteries are.  They also must wear a very heavy lead apron to avoid overexposure of radiation to their body.  Robotics can also be helpful with stents by making placement of the stent to certain areas more accurate.  A cardiologist can use a joystick to make the tiniest movements of the catheter and stent.

The technology is still a long way off but I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes much more popular over the next 20 years…assuming we haven’t found a cure for heart disease by then!

September 25, 2010

The Most Minimally Invasive Aortic Valve Replacement

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Heart disease tips, Helpful Heart Links, New Heart Studies tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 12:21 am by keepyourhearthealthy

photo by jscreationzs

Aortic Stenosis Fixed With A Poke Of The Needle?

From my earlier post you will see that there have been several new advances reported this week in cardiology.  The biggest one by far is a study called TAVI or Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation.  This new study has reported some great results with implanting a brand new aortic valve through a simple needlestick during a heart catheterization.

As people get older, the aortic valve frequently becomes hard and narrowed.  This condition is called aortic stenosis.  Aortic stenosis is considered severe when the valve area is less than 1cm².  Greater than 4% of patients over age 85 have aortic stenosis but unfortunately they are considered a poor candidate for traditional open heart surgery to replace the valve by that age. A recent option for older patients has been balloon angioplasty of the valve by heart catheterization but this gives poor results and adds less than a year of optimal results.

The new TAVI study has shown that a prosthetic aortic valve can actually be placed safely over the old, hardened valve by a simple needlestick during heart catheterization.  The results of the study show significant improvement in valve function and much fewer deaths one year after the procedure.  To see a video of this type of procedure, check out the following link:


September 24, 2010

Cardiology On The Verge Of Technological Change

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, New Heart Studies tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 12:16 am by keepyourhearthealthy

GIF-animation showing a moving echocardiogram;...

Image of echocardiogram of heart via Wikipedia

People with heart disease have been on the look-out for newer treatments over the past several years.

It had seemed that cardiology was stagnant for awhile and many patients started to turn to alternative treatments just to see their options.  For the most part, there have been very few monumental advances in heart disease treatment since the development of stents 20+ years ago.

This week has been eye-opening for those patients looking to new treatment options.  Several studies have been reported at various cardiology conferences that could finally lead to some new monumental heart treatments.  The most promising ones are:

  1. Placement of New Heart Valves by Heart Catheterization
  2. Robotically Assisted Ballon Angioplasty and Stent Placement
  3. Left Atrial Appendage Closure for Patients With Atrial Fibrillation
  4. Self-Injections of Nesiritide Improves Function of Heart in Heart Failure

All of these new studies have the potential to bring about major changes in heart disease management.  For people with previously untreated aortic stenosis, they can get a new heart valve put in through a simple needle stick during a heart catheterization.  Cardiologists can provide more efficient care with robotically assisted balloon angioplasty and stenting.  Patients with atrial fibrillation may be able to go off of their Coumadin or other blood thinner if they have a left atrial appendage closure.  Heart failure patients could feel significantly better and avoid hospital stays by giving themselves shots of a heart failure drug at home.

Over the next week I will update you about each of these promising new treatments specifically so check out the upcoming posts for more info!