Story ideas for February, American Heart Month

January 24, 2000

American Heart Month is sponsored annually by the American Heart Association. We can provide you with patients, physicians and researchers from the Rush Heart Institute who are experts in their respective fields of heart disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment and research. The following are a few story ideas you may want to consider.

Heart disease: the #1 killer among american women

Coronary heart disease kills nearly twice as many women as all forms of cancer combined. More than one in five women have some form of cardiovascular disease and more women than men experience chest pain associated with coronary artery disease.

Women can recognize the seriousness of cardiovascular diseases and take steps to reduce their risk. Preventative measures include reducing high cholesterol, reducing high blood pressure, stopping smoking, increasing physical activity, reducing body weight and, if necessary, controlling diabetes.

Resources:
- Dr. Robert Rosenson, director, preventive cardiology center; medical director, cardiac rehabilitation program
- Dr. Annabelle Volgman, medical director, electrocardiography services
- Linda Powell, PhD, director, section of epidemiology

Mending children's heart defects without surgery

Ventricular septal defect (VSD), the most common heart defect in children, is a hole in the wall separating two chambers of the heart called ventricles. It causes more blood to flow to the lungs than usual. Symptoms may range from rapid breathing, poor feeding and poor weight gain in a baby with a large VSD to no symptoms at all in a baby or child with a small VSD.

While 40 percent of VSDs close on their own, patients who are among the remaining 60 percent now have the option to have this defect closed surgically through a new "patch" procedure that does not require open heart surgery. The catheterization procedure secures the CardioSeal patch to the edge of the hole using surgical sutures.

Also, many heart defects can now be diagnosed in the womb, enabling doctors to better treat heart problems shortly after birth.

Resources:
- Dr. Carlos Ruiz, medical director, pediatric heart transplantation
- Dr. Ernerio Alboliras, director, pediatric & fetal echocardiography

Irregular heart beats -- fixing the problem that affects Bill Bradley and 10 million other people vs. treating the symptoms

Atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat, is the most common heart rhythm disorder. Its prevalence increases with age, occurring in almost 10 percent of people over age 70. Anticoagulant drugs are the most common form of treatment.

To fix the source of the problem, Rush electrophysiologists use catheterization to reach the heart muscle that is the source of the irregular heartbeat. Radiofrequency catheter ablation delivers radio waves through a thin, flexible wire to create scar tissue that blocks fibrillation waves. The procedure restores normal rhythm and can eliminate the need for implantation of a permanent pacemaker or the use of medications.

Resources: - Dr. Sergio Pinski, director, arrhythmia device clinic
- Dr. Richard Trohman, director of electrophysiology, arrhythmia, and pacemaker services
- Dr. Annabelle Volgman, medical director, electrocardiography services

Tiny channels created in heart muscle relieve chronic chest pains

Each year, approximately 80,000 Americans develop severe coronary artery disease and angina, or chest pains, which cannot be treated by conventional techniques, such as bypass surgery or angioplasty. More than 7 million suffer from chest pain due to coronary artery disease.

These people may have a new treatment option. Rush is one of only five medical centers in the U.S. participating in a clinical trial of a catheterization procedure called percutaneous myocardial channeling (PMC). PMC relieves pain from angina by creating channels in the inner wall of the heart. These channels promote the growth of new blood vessels (a process known as angiogenesis) thereby improving blood supply to the tissues in need of nourishment. Using a unique electromechanical mapping procedure, Rush cardiologists guide the special catheter through the groin and a magnetic device leads the physician to the problem areas.

Preventing heart arteries from re-closing after being opened through catheterization

A new device that delivers low-dose radiation to the inside of the coronary artery may prevent the artery from re-narrowing, a problem that affects 30 to 50 percent of people who undergo angioplasty procedures. Last September, Rush became the one of the first hospitals in the nation to participate in START, Stent and Radiation Therapy Trial. The trial uses the Beta Cath system to keep arteries permanently clean and prevent arteries from becoming blocked again. START was launched to evaluate the effectiveness of low-dose beta-irradiation inside the coronary artery after balloon angioplasty or stent placement to prevent the artery from reclosing (restenosis). Over the last decade, many studies have evaluated new medications and devices designed to reduce the rate of restenosis after coronary angioplasty.

Resources:
- Dr. Gary Schaer, director, cardiac catheterization laboratories
- Dr. Jeffrey Snell, associate director, interventional cardiology; director, peripheral vascular interventional cardiology

Xenotransplantation

In 1998, 2,340 heart transplants were performed in the U.S. while 4,288 Americans were on the heart transplant waiting list.

The increasing number of patients in need of heart transplants and the decreasing number of human hearts available for transplant have led researchers to study the potential use of animal hearts as an alternative. Biotechnology researchers have made strides in addressing the problems associated with patient rejection of the "foreign" transplant organ, and in engineering pig tissue to be more "accepting" of a host recipient. Xenotransplantation, or cross-species transplantation, may prove to be the only realistic solution for the growing number of people awaiting donor hearts as our population lives longer and longer.

Resource:
- Dr. Verdi DiSesa, surgical director, Rush Heart Institute; chairman, department of cardiovascular/thoracic surgery
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Related Heart Muscle Articles from Brightsurf:

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Muscle protein abundant in the heart plays key role in blood clotting during heart attack
A prevalent heart protein known as cardiac myosin, which is released into the body when a person suffers a heart attack, can cause blood to thicken or clot--worsening damage to heart tissue, a new study shows.

Heart muscle cells change their energy source during heart regeneration
Researchers from the Hubrecht Institute (KNAW) have found that the muscle cells in the heart of zebrafish change their metabolism during heart regeneration.

New study may have the reason why heart medication gives muscle pain
The McMaster research team found muscle cells treated with statins released the amino acid called glutamate at much higher levels than muscle cells that were untreated.

Vitamin E found to prevent muscle damage after heart attack
Early studies from scientists at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia and Jena University in Germany have found Vitamin E could be used to save the muscle from dying during a heart attack.

A simple method to improve heart-attack repair using stem cell-derived heart muscle cells
The heart cannot regenerate muscle after a heart attack, and this can lead to lethal heart failure.

What is known -- and not known -- about heart muscle diseases in children
Cardiomyopathies (heart muscle diseases) in children are the focus of a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association that provides insight into the diagnosis and treatment of the diseases as well as identifying future research priorities.

Being overweight as a teen may be associated with higher risk of heart muscle disease in adulthood
The risk of developing cardiomyopathy, which often leads to heart failure, increased in adult Swedish men who were even mildly overweight around age 18.

Heart patch could limit muscle damage in heart attack aftermath
Guided by computer simulations, an international team of researchers has developed an adhesive patch that can provide support for damaged heart tissue, potentially reducing the stretching of heart muscle that's common after a heart attack.

UA scientist identifies cellular gene signatures for heart muscle regeneration
A research team led by Jared Churko, PhD, director of the University of Arizona iPSC Core in the UA Sarver Heart Center, used a transcriptomic approach -- studying what genes are expressed -- to identify gene signatures of cell subpopulations identified as atrial-like or ventricular-like.

Read More: Heart Muscle News and Heart Muscle Current Events
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