May 5, 2011

Red Wine May Be Good For Your Heart but Is It Beneficial Inside Stents?

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, New Heart Studies, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 1:50 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

This image shows a red wine glass.

Image via Wikipedia

A new study is currently testing “red wine” stents in animals.

As far as eye-catching research goes, this one certainly has attracted some attention.  A new study of lab rats showed that a component of red wine used during angioplasty reduced the chances of plaque buildup.  Red wine has a high concentration of polyphenols which have been shown in past studies to reduce plaque buildup, thin the blood and promote positive vessel regrowth.

All of the good effects of red wine are hopefully going to be included in a new type of drug-eluting stent for humans in the near future.  The rat studies have been promising thus far.  Unlike other drug-eluting stents, the red wine polyphenols prevent re-blockage while also promoting healing.  The ability to heal safely without blocking the vessel is key to making the red wine stents successful.

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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:

January 16, 2011

Absorbable Stents…The Wave of the Future?

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, New Heart Studies, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , at 3:37 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

Stents for peripheral vessels

Image via Wikipedia

Europe approved the first bioabsorbable stent this week giving cardiac patients hope for a future without the need for Plavix or Effient.

Ever since stents became widely popular over 20 years ago the art of stent placement has been evolving.  Stents are tiny wire-mesh tubes placed over a blockage in an artery of the heart.  Initially bare metal stents were used but they were prone to inflammation and further bloackages within several years in some cases.  Eventually drug coated or drug eluting stents were developed which lowered the rate of reblockage as long as the patient takes aspirin and either Plavix or Effient.  Without Plavix or Effient, patients with drug coated stents are more likely to have a heart attack related to blockages within their stent.

The concept of stenting a heart artery at this point in time is not perfect.  Europe hopes to bring it closer to perfection with the latest in stent technology.  A bioabsorbable stent will soon be available for implanting in the general public of Europe. This new absorbable stent is absorbed by the artery wall and thereby nearly vanishes within years.  The stent has been shown in studies to be at least one-third absorbed within 2 years.  A stent that vanishes means patients will no longer be required to take Plavix or Effient.

Patients in the US may be able to enroll in a global trial using the new absorbable stents later this year.  Don’t expect to see them going mainstream here anytime in the next few years though.  Large-scale studies need to be completed long before a technology such as this can be FDA-approved in the US.

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 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!

November 21, 2009

Medication Organizers Can Make Life Easier

Posted in Heart disease tips tagged , , , , , , , , , at 2:59 am by keepyourhearthealthy

Most heart disease patients are on multiple different medications to help prevent a future heart attack and lower the risk of death. Taking a handful of pills all at once though is undesirable for many people. Taking all the pills at once may make you feel lightheaded when they all take effect at the same time. The best way to take them is by creating a schedule of doses. For instance, take half of them at 8am and the other half at 8pm. If it gets too confusing, I recommend you use a medication organizer.

Medication organizers are a type of pill box that you place your medicine into ahead of time. The compartments are separated by days and times. Some pharmacies will even offer the service of filling the organizer for you! The best part is that when you miss a dose, you’ll notice right away that you still have pills in the box!