March 17, 2011

Stents or Bypass? New Study Says They Are Equal One Year Later

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Heart disease tips, Helpful Heart Links, New Heart Studies, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 7:34 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

Three coronary artery bypass grafts, a LIMA to...

Image via Wikipedia

WebMD took a closer look at a new study comparing the benefits of stenting vs. bypass.

Well-informed patients with heart disease will certainly find this new WebMD article interesting.  Patients who undergo Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG) frequently ask the question, “Why did I have to get bypass instead of stents?”  Alternately, people with stents frequently wonder how they dodged the bullet by avoiding bypass.  Many more people may be dodging the bullet in the future thanks to this new study and the continual improvement in stenting procedures.

Several years ago, the decision for bypass was made whenever someone had more than 3 blocked arteries OR a significant blockage in the heart’s main artery (called the left main).  In the study, a group of 1800 patients who traditionally might have all gone on to bypass surgery were split into 2 groups: approximately half went ahead with bypass while the other half underwent stenting instead.  The results showed the 2 groups felt similar improvement after 1 year. In addition, the rate of heart attacks or death were about the same for both groups after one year.

There were some differences noted though when you look closely. People who got stents felt better much quicker and had a faster recovery than those who had bypass.  On the other hand, people with stents were more likely to need another stenting procedure within the first year.  Also, people who had daily or weekly chest pain prior to their procedure felt more relief of their chest pain with bypass surgery by 6 months out.

While this study may lead to more stents and fewer open heart surgeries, it won’t be making bypass extinct anytime soon.  Many patients dread the idea of bypass surgery but if you have 3 or more blocked arteries AND you get chest pain at least once a week, bypass will still be highly recommended.

Read more about the study at WebMD’s article which is listed below:

March 10, 2011

More Genetic Markers Implicated in Heart Disease

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Uncategorized tagged , , , at 8:44 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

This image shows the coding region in a segmen...

Image via Wikipedia

Another 18 heart disease genes have reportedly been discovered…but are we any closer to a cure for the number one killer?

Despite the fact that 30 genes have now been implicated in the progression of plaque buildup in the heart arteries, scientists are estimating that we are only about 10% of the way there.  Of all the heart attacks which appear to be inherited, the genetic markers discovered thus far explain only about 10%.  What seems even more confusing is that some of these markers are common in the general population as well.

Some of the researchers feel they have made significant progress while others seem frustrated by the lack of knowledge after many years of research.  According to’s article yesterday,  Dr Hugh Watkins  from the University of Oxford said,  “In terms of identifying risk, I don’t think these new discoveries add that much. There are still a large number of CAD genes out there yet to be discovered, but I would think their effects will all be small. This is bad news in terms of developing a test for heart-disease risk, as each culprit gene is responsible for only a very small incremental risk.”

January 26, 2011

Family History Almost Doubles Risk of Future Heart Attack

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, New Heart Studies tagged , , , , , , , , , at 8:08 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

image by dream designs

Cardiologists worldwide have known for many years that family history is important when considering risk factors for heart attack.

A new study called INTERHEART now gives that risk a number…and it’s higher than many had expected!  After reviewing the cases of more than 12,000 patients, the INTERHEART researchers have found that a patient’s risk of heart attack nearly doubles if they had one parent with a history of a heart attack.

The increased risk held true even when they looked at genetic markers for heart attack.  Despite carrying genetic markers for heart attacks, some patients may never have a heart attack.  Of all the patients in the study who did carry the gene for heart attacks, people with a family history were much more likely to have a heart attack themselves.

Essentially this study proves that the medical community needs to be more aggressive in treating patients with a significant family history of heart attacks.  Currently the risk assessment guidelines do NOT include family history.  The guidelines need to be updated but until then patients need to be proactive in getting the best heart care possible.

January 6, 2011

Cardiologists May Be Implanting Defibrillators Too Soon

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , at 11:22 am by keepyourhearthealthy


LifeVests can be given instead of ICD when patients do not meet criteria

The National Cardiovascular Data Registry has released new data suggesting that cardiologists are jumping the gun with ICD’s (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators).

Initially, the data seems quite shocking: nearly a quarter of ICD’s were put in despite not meeting the criteria between 2006 and 2009.  The report also goes on to say that the people who received unnecessary ICD’s had more in-hospital complications.  Apparently one of the most popular reasons why these ICD’s did not fall into the guidelines was because the cardiologist did not wait long enough.  The guidelines dictate that you should wait 3 months after a diagnosis of heart failure and at least 40 days after a heart attack before placing an ICD inside someone’s chest. For the most part, the patients who received the ICD’s outside of the guidelines were very sick patients who had a low heart function and were at high risk of deadly heart rhythms.    It seems certain that the cardiologists who implanted the ICD’s had a higher suspicion of poor outcome for these patients and were trying to prevent it.  The fact that those patients were shown to have more complications in the hospital means that the cardiologists were right to suspect a worse prognosis.

As you might expect, this report has started some heated controversy among the clinicians who regularly implant ICD’s.  Comments in response to the article on range anywhere from talks of indictment to the blame game to roadblocks for appropriate treatment in the future.  Some clinicians are saying these “inappropriate” ICD’s are more often being put in by cardiologists who do not specialize in putting in devices and are therefore unfamiliar with the guidelines.  Many other clinicians are defending the implants and pointing out the need for treating each patient individually instead of practicing “cookbook medicine.”

A few clinicians have already stepped forward to provide a  solution to the problem of early implants…a LifeVest.  Not the water kind that saves you from drowning but the defibrillator kind that saves you from deadly heart rhythms.  A LifeVest is a wearable defibrillator that can go home with you from the hospital.  As long as you are wearing the vest then you are protected.  This can help get people through the recommended timeline of 40 days after a heart attack or 3 months after a diagnosis of heart failure.  At the end of that timeline a patient may not even require an ICD if their heart has recovered well enough.  Read more about a personal story on the LifeVest at:

Close to the heart | The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, PA.

December 3, 2010

A Link Between Pregnancy and Heart Disease

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, New Heart Studies tagged , , , , , , , , , at 1:03 am by keepyourhearthealthy


photo by Suat Eman

I can think of 2 things that we pray never occur together medically: pregnancy and heart attacks.  Apparently most women’s bodies agree.

Sadly, heart attacks can happen while a woman is pregnant but it tends to be rare.  Now a new study is showing that women who have multiple miscarriages are also at a much higher risk of heart attacks as they get older.  This study is not saying that miscarriages cause heart attacks. The most likely problem is an underlying medical disorder such as high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol which increases the chance of miscarriage as well as heart attacks.

Any woman who has more than one miscarriage should consider seeing a primary physician for risk factor assessment.  Obstetricians see pregnant patients on a regular basis and screen for diabetes in addition to high blood pressure.  However, they do not often check cholesterol or ask about heart disease symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain with exertion.

You can see the full article regarding the link between miscarriages and heart disease at the following link:

Miscarriages increases the risk of heart disease in women

December 1, 2010

Top 10 Heart Disease Tips of 2010

Posted in Heart disease tips, New Heart Studies, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:52 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

image by Francesco Marino

The year 2010 has been filled with studies and new medicines that have changed the world of heart disease.  Did you catch them all?  If not, check out this list everyone with heart disease should see!

10.  Avoid eating huge meals…studies show it could give you a heart attack!

9.  If you’re going to drink alcohol, drink small amounts daily instead of binge drinking.

8.  Teach your loved ones CPR with the new American Heart Association Home CPR Kits

7.  Discuss taking fish oil supplements with your cardiologist.  It might improve heart failure in addition to raising good cholesterol.

6.  Hold off on buying non-stick pans. There has been some evidence that it raises cholesterol.

5.  Shop around for the best place to have bypass surgery by using Consumer Reports.

4.  Choose nuts instead of processed red meat when possible.  Women can cut their risk of heart disease significantly by doing this.

3.  Bundle up during the winter. More heart attacks occur when the weather is coldest.

2.  Stop taking Folic Acid supplements.  The world of cardiology has agreed there is no benefit for your heart.

1.  If you’re taking Coumadin or warfarin for atrial fibrillation, ask your doctor about switching to the new drug Pradaxa. It’ll mean no more fingerstick checks and you can eat green vegetables without worries!

November 25, 2010

Binge Drinking Suspected in Heart Attacks

Posted in New Heart Studies tagged , , , , , , , , , at 1:11 am by keepyourhearthealthy

photo by Paul

A new study has confirmed what previous studies have shown about binge drinking…it’s bad for your heart!

Reports about drinking alcohol seem to be a bit confusing at times.  Alcoholics are prone to many significant diseases including heart disease.  However, over the past decade, new studies have shown that light to moderate consumption of alcohol (particularly red wine) may improve heart disease risk.  But how much is too much? At what point does a wine drinker cross the point of “better” for your heart vs. “worse” for your heart?

One study recently showed that nurses who drank one glass of wine a night had less heart attacks than those who drank none OR those who drank 2 or more glasses per night.  Now the studies have taken a bit of a new direction in viewing alcohol consumption and heart disease.  It appears that binge drinking is worse for your heart than having one glass of wine every day. This latest study compared men in their 50’s throughout specific portions of Ireland and France.  Apparently in Ireland some men tend to drink heavily on the weekend and not much during the week.  The men in France tended to drink every single day.  Overall, the men in France had a lower rate of heart attacks and heart related deaths.

It certainly is a difficult problem to address in the general population.  Many people consider themselves to be a “social drinker” which means they only drink alcohol at special occasions.  If more studies show the ill effects of binge drinking, the term “social drinker” could be considered a risk factor for heart disease in the future!