Friday, January 07, 2011

A New Way To Curb Heart Failure!

You might have heard a lot about heart failure, either from newspapers or from friends and relatives. For instance, someone had collapsed or dropped death because of heart failure. But, how much do you know about heart failure?

More often than not, heart failure is incorrectly used to describe other heart-related disease including myocardial infarction (heart attack) and cardiac arrest. According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, heart failure is a condition in which the heart is unable to pump blood at an adequate rate or in adequate volume, or cessation of heartbeat (death).

Victims of heart failure might not die instantly but heart failure is a potentially deadly condition. About 2 percent of adults in developed countries suffer from heart failure. For those aged 65 and above, the number increases to between 6 and 10 percent.

Heart failure can be triggered by heart events such as myocardial infarction (heart attacks) and other forms of ischemic heart disease, hypertension, valvular heart disease, and cardiomyopathy. A number of symptoms, including shortness of breath (typically worse when lying flat), coughing, ankle swelling, and exercise intolerance, can be seen in people with heart failure.

Frequently, doctors treat their heart failure patients by changing lifestyle such as smoking cessation, light exercise, reduced salt intake and changes in diets; medications; implantation of devices or in serious case by surgery.

Recently, researchers from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) revealed a breakthrough method to curb heart failure. In a paper appeared in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, they reported that they had found a way, using gene therapy, to block the actions of a gene-encoded protein that can contribute to heart failure.

The protein, known as beta-arrestin 1, can raise the production of aldosterone, which is a hormone, from the body's adrenal glands into the blood. It also increases the re-absorption of sodium and water into kidneys, causing high blood volume and blood pressure. Moreover, it has several direct damaging effects on the heart, such as fibrosis, hypertrophy, and inflammation.

An increase in blood volume means higher blood pressure. This in turn decreases the pumping action of the heart, and is one of the causes of heart failure. By blocking beta-arrestin 1 through the gene therapy approach, it is hoped that reduction of the severity of heart failure could be achieved.

1 comment: