Heart Disease News:
Trials Fail to Include Enough Seniors:
Researchers say clinical trials that involve heart
failure patients are too narrow, with consequences that may be particularly
important for heart failure.
Heart Disease News:
Can Be Performed Safely in Most Octogenarians:
Researchers say data from 8,828 angioplasties performed
on octogenarians shows the procedure both effective and safe for
Wine Can Reduce Heart Disease Risk in Obese People:
Researchers say the advantages of light to moderate
consumption of red wine in reducing cardiovascular risk are very
Not Sticking With Statins Despite Documented Heart Benefits:
Researchers say two years after the initiation of
statin therapy, fewer than half the patients who had an acute coronary
event in the last year still adhered to their therapy.
of Depression From Taking Beta Blockers Said Unfounded:
Researchers say studies show no significant increased
risk of depressive symptoms and only small increased risks of fatigue
and sexual dysfunction.
Set on Whether Drug for Periodontal Disease Protects Heart:
A large study will seek to determine whether the
localized antibiotic treatment known as Atridox can protect against
a second heart attack or other major coronary event.
with Heart Disease Should Consult Doctor on Walking Course:
Researchers say some less-fit patients with heart
disease are in danger of exceeding a safe level of exercise and
should be encouraged to use a motorized cart.
Smoke Raises Risk of Heart Disease for Non-Smokers:
Researchers say people exposed to cigarette smoke
fewer than three times a week for more than 30 minutes on each occasion
were found to have a 26 percent increased risk of developing acute
Drug Helps Heart Failure Patients:
Researchers say the drug allopurinol may block the
creation of harmful free radicals, which increase in heart failure
patients and can damage blood vessels.
Smoking as Harmful to Heart as Heavy Cigarette Use:
Researchers found even a small amount of exposure
to cigarette smoke can set in motion the biological processes that
lead to heart disease.
With Anemia Can Help Congestive Heart Failure Patients:
Researchers found that treating anemia, which is
often ignored, can improve heart function and the ability to exercise
in those suffering from congestive heart failure.
Belly Size May Be Best Way to Protect Your Heart:
Researchers found that those with higher waist-to-hip
ratios had nearly a threefold higher risk of coronary events than
those with lower waist-to-hip ratios.
Seniors Using Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs After Heart Attack:
A new study shows that six out of 10 heart attack
patients are now taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, which have been
shown to reduce mortality and adverse cardiac events among those
aged 65 to 75.
Patients More Likely to Die After Bypass Surgery:
Anemic patients are five times more likely to die
in the hospital after undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery
than those with normal hemoglobin concentrations, according to a
study in the May 16th issue of the Lancet.
Tea Drinking Helps Heart Attack Survivors Life Longer: The
heart health benefits of tea have been reported widely, but now
researchers claim that the amount of tea that heart survivors drink
may have a lot to do with their survival afterwards.
Far More Likely To Get Cardiac Rehabilitation: A
new study finds that men are far more likely than women to be referred
to such programs after a heart attack or with unstable angina.
of Sudden Heart Attack Differ for Men and Women: Researchers
report men and women are more likely to suffer a sudden heart attack
for different reasons. For women, the common trigger is stress.
For men, it's physical exertion.
Heart Disease Patients Should Have Dental Work in the Morning: Researchers
said patients whose blood pressure does not adapt well to stress
are at high risk of experiencing heart failure during dental procedures,
and should have appointments earlier in the day to reduce stress.
Surgery Patients Have Better Chance at High-Volume Hospitals: Researchers
found death rates at the highest volume hospitals were between two
percent and five percent lower than at the lowest volume hospitals.
May Cut Need for Valve Replacement Surgery in the Elderly: Researchers
say people taking statins had a 62 percent lower median rate of
calcium accumulation than those who didn't take them.
Everybody Gets Equal Heart Disease Protection From Aspirin: Researchers
have found that not everybody gets the same heart disease protection
from taking aspirin, according to a report in the March 25 issue
of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
Emergency Room Patients With Heart Symptoms Get Right Drugs: Only
one in four emergency room patients with acute coronary syndrome
is receiving the proven drugs to prevent blood-clotting that reduce
heart attacks and death, according to Duke University medical researchers.
Drugs Add to Risk for Oldest Patients: Harvard Medical
School researchers have added to the growing body of evidence that
clot-busting drugs known as thrombolytics increase the overall risk
of death for the very oldest patients.
Some 7 million
Americans suffer from coronary heart disease (CHD), the most common
form of heart disease. This type of heart disease is caused by a
narrowing of the coronary arteries that feed the heart. CHD is the
number one killer of both men and women in the U.S. Each year, more
than 500,000 Americans die of heart attacks caused by CHD.
CHD is caused
by a thickening of the inside walls of the coronary arteries. This
thickening, called atherosclerosis, narrows the space through which
blood can flow, decreasing and sometimes completely cutting off
the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the heart. Atherosclerosis
usually occurs when a person has high levels of cholesterol, a fat-like
substance, in the blood. Cholesterol and fat, circulating in the
blood, build up on the walls of the arteries. The buildup narrows
the arteries and can slow or block the flow of blood. When the level
of cholesterol in the blood is high, there is a greater chance that
it will be deposited onto the artery walls. This process begins
in most people during childhood and the teenage years, and worsens
as they get older.
to high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking also
contribute to CHD. On the average, each of these doubles your chance
of developing heart disease. Therefore, a person who has all three
risk factors is eight times more likely to develop heart disease
than someone who has none.
Chest pain (angina)
or shortness of breath may be the earliest signs of CHD. A person
may feel heaviness, tightness, pain, burning, pressure, or squeezing,
usually behind the breastbone but sometimes also in the arms, neck,
or jaws. These signs usually bring the patient to a doctor for the
first time. Nevertheless, some people have heart attacks without
ever having any of these symptoms. It is important to know that
there is a wide range of severity for CHD. Some people have no symptoms
at all, some have mild intermittent chest pain, and some have more
pronounced and steady pain. Still others have CHD that is severe
enough to make normal everyday activities difficult.
for CHD may include the following tests:
- An electrocardiogram
(ECG or EKG) is a graphic record of the electrical activity of
the heart as it contracts and rests. Abnormal heartbeats and some
areas of damage, inadequate blood flow, and heart enlargement
can be detected on the records.
- A stress
test (also called a treadmill test or exercise ECG) is used to
record the heartbeat during exercise. This is done because some
heart problems only show up when the heart is working hard. In
the test, an ECG is done before, during, and after exercising
on a treadmill; breathing rate and blood pressure may be measured
as well. Exercise tests are useful but are not completely reliable;
false positives (showing a problem where none exists) and false
negatives (showing no problem when something is wrong) are fairly
- Nuclear scanning
is sometimes used to show damaged areas of the heart and expose
problems with the heart's pumping action. A small amount of radioactive
material is injected into a vein, usually in the arm. A scanning
camera records the nuclear material that is taken up by heart
muscle (healthy areas) or not taken up (damaged areas).
angiography (or arteriography) is a test used to explore the coronary
arteries. A fine tube (catheter) is put into an artery of an arm
or leg and passed through the tube into the arteries of the heart.
The heart and blood vessels are then filmed while the heart pumps.
The picture that is seen, called an angiogram or arteriogram,
will show problems such as a blockage caused by atherosclerosis.
CHD is treated
in a number of ways, depending on the seriousness of the disease.
For many people, CHD is managed with lifestyle changes and medications.
Others with severe CHD may need surgery. In any case, once CHD develops,
it requires lifelong management.
advances have been made in treating CHD, changing one's habits remains
the single most effective way to stop the disease from progressing.
If you know
that you have CHD, changing your diet to one low in fat, especially
saturated fat, and cholesterol will help reduce high blood cholesterol,
a primary cause of atherosclerosis. In fact, it is even more important
to keep your cholesterol low after a heart attack to help lower
your risk of having another one. Eating less fat should also help
you lose weight. If you are overweight, losing weight can help lower
blood cholesterol and is the most effective lifestyle way to reduce
high blood pressure, another risk factor for atherosclerosis and
CHD can also benefit from exercise. Recent research has shown that
even moderate amounts of physical activity are associated with lower
death rates from CHD. However, people with severe CHD may have to
restrict their exercise somewhat. If you have CHD, check with your
doctor to find out what kinds of exercise are best for you.
Smoking is one
of the three major risk factors for CHD. Quitting smoking dramatically
lowers the risk of a heart attack and also reduces the risk of a
second heart attack in people who have already had one.
are prescribed according to the nature of the patient's CHD and
other problems. The symptoms of angina can generally be controlled
by "beta-blocker" drugs that decrease the workload on the heart,
by nitroglycerine and other "nitrates" and by "calcium-channel blockers"
that relax the arteries, and by other classes of drugs. The tendency
to form clots is reduced by aspirin or by other platelet inhibitory
and anticoagulant drugs. Beta-blockers are given to decrease the
recurrence of heart attack. For those with elevated blood cholesterol
that is unresponsive to dietary and weight loss measures, cholesterol-lowering
drugs may be prescribed, such as lovastatin, colestipol, cholestyramine,
gemfibrozil, and niacin. Impaired pumping function of the heart
may be treated with digitalis drugs or ACE inhibitors.
can control CHD with lifestyle changes and medication. Surgery may
be recommended for patients who continue to have frequent or disabling
angina despite the use of medications, or people who are found to
have severe blockages in their coronary arteries.
or balloon angioplasty begins with a procedure similar to that described
under angiography. However, the catheter positioned in the narrowed
coronary artery has a tiny balloon at its tip. The balloon is inflated
and deflated to stretch or break open the narrowing and improve
the passage for blood flow. The balloon-tipped catheter is then
removed. Strictly speaking, angioplasty is not surgery. It is done
while the patient is awake and may last 1 to 2 hours.
does not widen the artery or if complications occur, bypass surgery
may be needed. In a coronary artery bypass operation, a blood vessel,
usually taken from the leg or chest, is grafted onto the blocked
artery, bypassing the blocked area. If more than one artery is blocked,
a bypass can be done on each. The blood can then go around the obstruction
to supply the heart with enough blood to relieve chest pain. Bypass
surgery relieves symptoms of heart disease but does not cure it.
will need to make a number of changes in your lifestyle after the
operation. If your normal lifestyle includes smoking, a high-fat
diet, or no exercise, changes are advised.
provided by: The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National
Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892