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News Tips Friday, March 26, 1999

March 26, 1999

From the American Heart Association's
39th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention
March 24-27, 1999, Orlando, Fla.

To complement our news releases, here are some additional news tips reported by the American Heart Association for Friday, March 26. For more information, March 24-27, call Carole Bullock or Darcy Spitz at the Omni Rosen Hotel, Ph.: 407-996-2410. Before or after those dates, call the AHA's News Media Relations office in Dallas, Ph.: 214-706-1173.

12:15 p.m. -- #P67 -- More exercise means less inflammation and lower risk for cardiovascular disease in elderly. Higher levels of physical activity are associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease and there is growing evidence linking inflammation to the development of atherosclerosis. Researchers combined these two ideas and investigated the association between inflammation and physical activity in a group of 5,888 healthy men and women over age 65 involved in the Cardiovascular Health Study. The study found that those with the highest levels of physical activity had lower blood levels of C-reactive protein, white blood cell count and fibrinogen -- all markers for inflammation -- when compared with individuals with the lowest levels of physical activity. The study suggests that reduced inflammation may be a benefit of exercise. The researchers say more investigations are needed to verify their findings. Dominic Geffken, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, Ph.: 802-656-8964.

12:15 p.m. -- #P93 -- Size does matter: The size of cholesterol particles is an independent risk factor for heart disease study shows. Researchers have determined that having small-sized particles of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) -- which carry cholesterol in the blood -- was associated with an increased risk for heart disease. The scientists analyzed information from three long-term studies: Physician's Health Study, Stanford Five-City Project and the Quebec Cardiovascular Study. They found that for every one nanometer decrease in LDL particle size, heart disease risk increased by 60 percent. When researchers controlled for blood levels of triglycerides and HDL (the "good" cholesterol) the risk was still 30 percent. LDL can range from about 24 to 29 nanometers. Smaller LDL particles may become more easily trapped in blood vessel walls than larger ones. Melissa Austin, Ph.D., University of Washington, Seattle, Ph.:206-685-9384.

12:15 p.m. -- #P96 -- Lipoprotein (a) may be more important for assessing heart disease risk in men than in women. In a study that included African-American and white men and women, researchers at Bassett Healthcare and the Harlem Hospital Center in New York investigated the association between blood levels of lipoprotein (a) -- Lp(a) -- and coronary artery disease (CAD), the cause of heart attacks. The researchers used two different methods to measure blood levels of Lp(a) in 234 individuals with CAD. The standard method of identifying Lp(a) levels with an antibody did not show an association between Lp(a) levels and coronary artery disease. However, when scientists used a another method -- combining two different identifying antibodies instead of just one to measure blood levels of Lp(a) -- they found an association of Lp(a) with increased CAD in both black and white men but not in the women in the study. The researchers contend that their alternate way of measuring Lp(a) can provide additional useful information in determining risk for and severity of coronary artery disease. Herbert Marx, Bassett Healthcare, Cooperstown, N.Y., Ph.: 607-547-3048.

12:15 p.m. -- #P98 -- Current cholesterol screening may misclassify many U.S. children as high risk. A University of Texas study suggests that current cholesterol tests may have returned a "false high" for many children due to a misrepresentation of what "normal" cholesterol is for a particular age group. The current test uses a fixed number to distinguish among "acceptable" (less than 170 mg/dL), "borderline" (170-199 mg/dL), and "high" (200 mg/dL or over) for all children ages 2-19 years and for both sexes. However, the researchers say using a fixed number is misleading because it is normal for total cholesterol to change with age and differ significantly by gender and race. What is normal for a three-year-old black female may be significantly lower or higher than what is normal for a 12-year-old white male. The scientists call for using age, race and gender-specific percentile values of "normal" cholesterol levels when screening for total cholesterol in children and adolescents. Darwin Labarthe, School of Public Health, University of Texas, Houston, Ph.: 713-500-9416.

American Heart Association

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