Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Women Benefit More In Certain Heart Disease Treatment!

Heart failure is a condition in which heart is unable to pump blood at an adequate rate or in adequate volume. In serious cases, heart failure patients could lose their life with cessation of heartbeat.

There are numerous reasons why one might develop heart failure, which can be sudden or happen gradually over a periods of time. Some common causes are heart attack, high blood pressure, defective valves in the heart, cardiomyopathies (diseases of the heart muscle), too much alcohol, and congenital conditions that one is born with.

Besides taking right mix of medications, heart failure patients could have their condition reversed if the heart valve is repaired or fast heart rhythm is controlled. In some cases, certain devices are used to help the heart beat and contract properly. For example, cardiac resynchronization therapy with defibrillator (CRT-D), which is a form of therapy for congestive heart failure caused by dilated cardiomyopathy, have been found to have remarkable benefits on appropriately selected patients with heart failure.

CRT-D can help guard against sudden death from irregular heart rhythm by using a specialized pacemaker to re-coordinate the action of the right and left ventricles in patients with heart failure. It can also help strengthen pumping action in patients with heart damage.

Researchers from the University of Rochester pointed out in their findings that CRT-D works twice as well in women. Their study, which was published on February 7, 2011 in the ‘Journal of the American College of Cardiology’, found that when using CRT-D, there was a 70 percent reduction in heart failure in women compared a 35 percent drop in men.

This is probably the first time in history of heart disease research that has credited a certain type of treatment that is more effective in women than in men. In the past cardiac studies, men and women generally received similar benefit from preventive medical therapy.

According to researchers, CRT-D works better in women because women tend to suffer from a different type of heart disease than men. The male participants in the study were more likely to have coronary heart disease while the female participants were more likely to suffer from non-ischemic heart disease.

Coronary artery disease, which is also known as ischemic heart disease, is a condition in which narrowed vessels restrict blood flow to the heart. Non-ischemic heart disease, on the other hand, is one that involves more generalized scarring of heart tissue.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

How To Help Women Quit Smoking?

Smoking is definitely not a good habit for health. Smokers are at a higher risk of getting not only lung cancer but also other diseases including heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). More importantly, smokers can pose health risk to people around them through secondhand smoke.

While smokers are aware of the risk they face, many of them especially females are reluctant to quit because they afraid they could gain weight after they stop smoking. In fact, most smokers who quit smoking will eventually gain 5 to 15 pounds.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center reported that a combination of specialized counseling and the anti-smoking drug Zyban might boost, at least for a while, chances of quitting smoking for female smokers.

Zyban is a prescription drug used to help smokers give up their habit. It comes in a pill form, and it does not contain nicotine. Hence, it is not a nicotine replacement therapy product. Zyban is the trade name of the drug called “bupropion” and it was approved in 1997 as a stop smoking aid.

The findings, appeared on March 22, 2010 in the ‘Archives of Internal Medicine’, showed that over a period of 6 months of treatment, women who received the combo therapy were more successful at quitting than those who received weight counseling only, and more successful than those who received standard smoking-cessation counseling plus Zyban.

Over the period of 6 months, 34 percent of women in the group that received weight counseling and Zyban consistently abstained, comparing to 21 percent of women who received standard counseling and Zyban, 11 percent of those who received weight counseling and placebo (inactive pills) and 10 percent of those who had standard counseling and placebo.

However, the positive effect faded after treatment ended. At the 1-year mark, 24 percent of women in the group that received weight counseling and Zyban had still remained abstinent, as compared with those in the group that received standard therapy/Zyban. Yet, researchers still insisted that cognitive behavioral therapy, which was developed by them, aimed at smokers' weight-gain issues could give certain women an extra push to quit.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Higher Risk of Hip Fracture for Asian Diabetics!

A diabetic is one whose blood sugar is high either because the body does not produce enough insulin or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced. Diabetes can damage one’s eyes, kidneys and nerves. It can also lead to heart disease, stroke and even limb amputation.

In Asia, researchers from National University of Singapore (NUS) have also found that there is a link between diabetes and osteoporosis, which is the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time. The data obtained in the study showed that Asians with diabetes experience an increased risk of osteoporotic hip fracture, just like the diabetics in the West.

This is the first Asian study on the correlation between diabetes and osteoporosis, and its findings, which were published in May 2010 in ‘Diabetes Care’, a journal by the American Diabetes Association, were identical to the combined results of 11 previous studies done in the West.

Using the Singapore Chinese Health Study, a cohort study of more than 63,000 Chinese aged between 45 and 74 years, researchers examined the link between the 2 conditions. Established between 1993 and 1998, the study followed the participants for 12 years. Interviews were used to get the diabetes status and the number of hip fractures was identified through a nationwide hospital discharge database.

There was significantly more women had hip fractures: out of about 1,200 cases of hip fracture, there were 871 women, compared to 342 men. Meanwhile, the risk of hip fracture among people with diabetes was found to be twice that among those without diabetes.

While the participants were all Chinese, the researchers confirmed that the link so found could also exist across different populations with varying lifestyle or genetic make-up. In other words, the results in the study will apply to Malays and Indians too.

It is hoped that the findings could alarm the public so that doctors who manage diabetes and diabetic patients themselves will test for osteoporosis early to cut down the risk of hip fracture.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Let Garlic Help You Lower Hypertension!

While garlic is widely used as a seasoning or condiment, it has also been used as a remedy for infections, digestive disorders and fungal infections. In fact, traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine practitioners have been using garlic to prevent high blood pressure for centuries. Meanwhile, many past studies also linked it to prevention of cancer and heart disease, and reduction of blood sugar.

A 12-week trial involving 50 patients that was conducted by Australian researchers from University of Adelaide reported that people with hypertension (high blood pressure) who took 4 capsules a day of a aged garlic extract had their systolic blood pressure reduced by around 10 mmHg, as compared with those who were given a placebo. The findings were published in October 2010 in the scientific journal ‘Maturitas’.

A placebo is a sham or simulated medical intervention that is commonly used in medical research. It is given as control treatments and can be inert tablets, sham surgery and other procedures based on false information.

However, the researchers pointed out that garlic, if it is taken in any other way, for instance, raw, fresh or in powdered form, does not have the same effect. When fresh garlic is cooked, its ingredient that is responsible for lowering blood pressure simply disappeared.

Though this was not the first study to examine the beneficial property of garlic, it was the first study to assess the impact of aged garlic extract that was evaluated as an additional treatment to other high blood pressure drugs, as claimed by the researchers.

Hypertension is a risk factor for coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure, kidney failure, peripheral vascular disease and many other medical conditions. Globally, about 1 billion people have hypertension, which also affects about 1 in 3 adults in the United States. If hypertensive patients can have their blood pressure normalized, the risk of getting heart disease and stroke could be reduced.

Nevertheless, as garlic has blood-thinning effect and might interact with many drugs, it is advisable for patients to seek advice from qualified health practitioners or doctors before taking any garlic supplements.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Heart Failure Could Be Predicted By New Blood Test

Heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure, is a condition in which the heart is unable to supply sufficient blood flow to meet the need of the body. It is a common and potentially deadly condition. It affects about 6 to 10 percent of people aged 65 and above.

A number of tests that are commonly used by doctors to diagnose heart failure include ECG (Electrocardiogram), heart CT scan (computerized tomography), MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) of the heart and cardiac stress tests. Routine blood test could help identify heart failure too.

Researchers from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and the University of Texas, Dallas in the United States declared on November 15, 2010 in the ‘Journal of the American Medical Association’ (JAMA) that they have developed a new blood test to predict the risk of heart failure in older adults who do not have symptoms of heart disease.

The new test is a supposed to be more advance than that is currently used in emergency rooms to identify whether patients having chest pain is getting a heart attack or otherwise. Such findings might help assess the risk of death for older people aged above 65 who appear in good health. This group of people, which sees 80 percent of new congestive heart failure cases, is particularly difficult to gauge.

5,613 participants, who were all 65 years or older and free of heart failure at the outset, were involved in an ongoing study of cardiovascular health. The blood samples of 4,221 participants were studied and stored for up to 18 years. The marker was detected in two-thirds of the participants.

What the test does is to measure the level of troponin T that is a marker for the biological process of cell death leading to heart failure. The higher the level of troponin, the higher the risk that individual would have symptoms of heart failure or death from cardiovascular disease over the next 10 to 15 years.

While the meaning of these elevated levels was still unknown, the new test could detect troponin levels that are 10 times lower than the existing tests. The new test, however, is not commercially available in the United States yet.