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Lifestyle changes credited in drop in heart deaths

HeartAug 25 05

Healthier eating habits and a decline in smoking may explain a large share of the drop in Heart Disease deaths the UK has seen since the 1980s, a new study suggests.

Research has shown that since the 1980s, Heart Disease deaths have fallen by roughly one-half in many industrialized countries. The relative importance of the various reasons for this decline is not fully clear, however.

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Exercise test spots trouble ahead for healthy men

HeartAug 09 05

While apparently healthy men don’t routinely undergo exercise stress testing, it may be useful for raising a red flag about impending health problems, Norwegian investigators report based on a study of middle-age men.

Exercise stress tests are usually reserved for assessing cases of suspected Heart Disease. However, the new study shows that men who seem healthy but who terminate an exercise test only because they have trouble breathing actually have a high long-term risk of dying early from Heart Disease or lung disease.

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Drug curbs BP boost from cocaine, methamphetamine

HeartJul 06 05

A calcium channel blocker, isradipine, reduces the dangerous rise in blood pressure (BP) caused by taking cocaine or methamphetamine, according to researchers.

“Both cocaine and methamphetamine have powerful effects on blood pressure that are associated with strokes and heart failure,” Dr. Bankole A. Johnson, of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, told Reuters Health.

“Importantly,” he added, isradipine reduces these effects, “thereby lowering the risk of heart failure and stroke in cocaine or methamphetamine addicts.”

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Guidant tells doctors not to implant some devices

HeartJun 24 05

Guidant Corp. on Friday said it advised doctors to stop implanting some of its defibrillators, which U.S. regulators may recall, sending the medical device maker’s shares down nearly 11 percent.

Continuing reports of problems with the company’s key cardiac devices have pressured the stock and raised concerns that Guidant’s deal to be acquired by Johnson & Johnson may be in jeopardy.

Guidant shares fell to $61.20 on the Inet electronic brokerage before the market opened, down 10.8 percent from Thursday’s close of $68.60 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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Cardiac arrest response slow for hospital visitors

HeartJun 23 05

You might think that, if it’s going to happen, the best time for your heart to stop might be while you’re in a hospital, visiting. That isn’t necessarily so, according to a new study.

“As a public citizen, you’re better off suffering a cardiac arrest in a casino or airport terminal than in a hospital lobby,” Dr. Bruce D. Adams, from Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, told Reuters Health. “The time to defibrillation in hospital lobbies appears to be much worse than what has been reported for casinos and airports.”

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Scan effective at finding clogged arteries - study

HeartMay 25 05

An imaging device that scans slices of the body diagnosed clogged arteries about as well as the traditional method where dye is injected through a catheter threaded into the body, researchers said on Tuesday.

The scanning method, called multislice computed tomography, was performed on 103 patients suspected of having coronary artery disease and the accuracy of diagnoses were only percentage points lower than traditional invasive coronary angiography.

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Happy marriage may do a woman’s heart good

HeartMay 19 05

Wedded bliss may provide women some protection against Heart disease and Stroke, new study findings suggest.

The study, which followed 413 middle-aged women over a dozen years, found that those who were happy in their marriages were less likely than their dissatisfied peers to develop metabolic syndrome.

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Testosterone may protect against atherosclerosis

HeartMay 17 05

Contrary to the thinking in some circles, middle-aged men who maintain normal testosterone levels appear to be protected against hardening of the arteries, Finnish and UK researchers report.

Despite findings from animal studies that suggest that male hormones encourage build up of plaque in the arteries, clinical studies “have suggested that testosterone may protect elderly men from developing atherosclerosis,” said Dr. Olli T. Raitakari of the University of Turku.

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Wyeth drug cuts atrial fibrillation relapse

HeartMay 06 05

Wyeth’s drug Cordarone does a better job at preventing the return of an irregular heart rhythm than Betapace, a Schering drug designed to do the same thing, researchers said on Wednesday.

But the benefit does not occur in patients where the flow of blood to the heart muscle has been restricted by Heart disease.

The head-to-head study, published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine, involved patients with Atrial Fibrillation, a condition where the rhythm in the upper part of the heart becomes rapid and chaotic.

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Drug-eluting stents not as good in real world

HeartMay 05 05

The new generation of stents—tiny mesh tubes used to prop open clogged coronary arteries—may not perform quite as well as studies suggest in preventing re-blockage.

The stents release drugs that are intended to prevent over-growth of the artery walls that can cause the artery to close up again. According to a report in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association, however, rates of blood-clot formation reported with drug-eluting stents are higher in real-world settings than those achieved in clinical trials.

In clinical trials, the rate of blood-clots occurrences in stents after 9 to 12 months has ranged from 0.4 percent to 0.6 percent, depending on the type of drug-eluting stent.

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Statin safe in kids with high cholesterol

HeartMay 04 05

Pravastatin, a cholesterol-lowering drug commonly used in adults with elevated cholesterol levels is safe for use in children aged 4 or older with an inherited cholesterol disorder known as Familial hypercholesterolemia, suggest results of a study conducted in Finland.

Children with slight or moderate but not severe hypercholesterolemia can expect a “satisfactory” reduction in total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, the study shows, with no harmful effects on growth and development.

Familial hypercholesterolemia is caused by a mutation in a gene that normally helps control LDL levels. Patients typically develop heart and blood vessel disease as well as deposits of fatty plaques inside the arteries at a young age.

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Air travel can rob the body of oxygen

HeartMay 04 05

If flying makes you breathless, there may be good reason. New research suggests that air travel can diminish the blood’s oxygen supply to levels that, on the ground, might require treatment.

The study of 84 airline passengers found that when flights were at maximum altitude, more than half of the passengers had “oxygen saturation” levels at or below 94 percent. This means that less than 95 percent of their red blood cells were fully loaded with oxygen, a level at which many doctors would give a person supplemental oxygen, according to the study authors.

All of the passengers, whether on short or long flights, showed declines in their blood oxygen levels, with the average oxygen saturation descending from 97 percent on the ground to 93 percent at cruising altitude, the authors report in the journal Anaesthesia.

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