Tag Archives: Heart disease

Blood test could become early-screening tool for heart disease

It’s a long way off from availability, but isn’t it nice to know that some researchers who were looking for something else entirely – isn’t that how half our best discoveries are made? – have found a molecule that might be able to tell us with a simple blood test if we’ve got coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD is responsible for heart attacks and strokes and is the number one cause of death in the United States, according to an article in MedNewsToday.com.

Up til now, most people have no idea they have CAD (also known as atherosclerosis and, to many folks, just plain old heart disease) until they have a heart attack. Many felt fine and noticed no warning symptoms. Then suddenly, they’re in the hospital and terrified.

Researchers noticed the molecule – malondialdehyde-acetaldehyde (MAA) – because it showed up where there was inflammation while they were investigating arthritis and liver disease.

While a blood test isn’t totally non-invasive, it’s a darn sight less so than nasty tests like angiograms and catheterizations. So here’s hoping they can hurry this research along. Once it’s developed, people will know ahead of time that they have to make diet and lifestyle changes to avoid a heart attack.


Four Cheese Pizza at Grand Grill and Pizzeria


But I guess we already hear that all the time, and yet it doesn’t hit home to many. Maybe this test will come to serve as a less drastic wake-up call.

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Stem cells found to repair human hearts

Stem cell diagram illustrates a human fetus st...
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Didn’t it have to be only a matter of time? I’m happy but not surprised to find that heart patients are beginning to benefit from having stem cells injected into their body’s operating plant. So far studies are limited, but they involve human hearts, not mice or pigs, and are yielding some very promising results.

In one case patients who’d had a heart attack had their hearts injected with bone marrow stem cells and experienced stronger healing. Even some scars in heart tissue began to fade. In another study patients battling heart failure after a heart attack benefited from injections of their own cardiac stem cells.

Research indicates that timing and sourcing are important. Using cardiac stem cells seems more effective than those from bone marrow. Injecting stem cells too soon or too late can cut short or even nullify benefits.

All the heart patients today have got to be on pins and needles hoping this research will progress rapidly enough to make a difference for them and those who love them.

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Summer=watermelon=nitric oxide=lower blood pressure

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Yep. Eating watermelon boosts your nitric oxide which in turn lowers your blood pressure, according to this report.  It’s not that watermelon introduces NO directly into your body. Rather, your body converts into nitric oxide a substance watermelon has lots of, L-citrulline.

The Emory University professor says this juicy fruit is also full of lycopene, the antioxidant carotene that tomatoes have been bragging about for years now. Good to hear, I guess. ‘Cuz I always thought the watermelon my parents served us out in the yard some hot summer nights was just a big messy excuse for spitting stuff out—an activity normally proscribed by good manners.

Reminds me of the time I discovered a new nutritional fact about one of my favorite vegetables, green beans. I’d wondered for years what the hell made these little guys so tasty since I couldn’t find any listing showing they had any  significant quantities of any known-to-be-valuable vitamins or minerals. And then scientists discovered flavonoids—and wow, turns out green beans promote the production of NO and are really good for us. I’m guessing the same thing may happen one day with other foods that people love but for which scientists haven’t yet figured out redeeming nutritional values.

Potato chips
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I’m wishing potato chips would fall into that category one day.

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New marker for diagnosing heart failure

The illustration shows the major signs and sym...
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If you find yourself not being able to breathe very well—gasping or huffing and puffing on slight exertion or on lying down—your doctor can go down a number of different routes to find out what the problem is. Since I know from personal experience they don’t necessarily go down the right road, even when they keep reaching dead ends on the ones they do pursue, this could be a good thing for you to know yourself.

If you already know you have heart trouble, your doc will probably look down that route first. And now there’s a way for even your internist to tell if your troubled breathing might be due to congestive heart failure rather than to a respiratory or other issue. A simple blood test for BNP (B-type natriuretic peptide) can tell whether you have much higher levels than someone who’s breathing trouble is lung- or other-related. Any doctor can read the test–doesn’t have to be a cardiologist. And even happier, the BNP test can be done quickly–as in emergency room speed–so docs can treat for the right thing right away.

Earlier treatment can vastly improve quality of life and potentially extend a patient’s lifespan. It can also mean savings in treatment costs over the course of the condition. So it’s good news for hospitals as well as for patients.

Well, I guess it’s never too early to  learn the truth if docs can give you medications to ease the symptoms. Plus, it gives you more time to decide if there’s anything you want to get done before your number’s up.

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Ask your heart doctor: die quickly & painlessly or linger and be sick?

A patient having his blood pressure taken by a...
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As baby boomers age, heart doctors are having to look at things a little more broadly. Cardiologists need to start thinking like generalists, according to a recent paper published The Journal of Cardiology. Because so many older patients are considered “complex”–they have other conditions and may be taking several other types of medications–cardiologists must use more systematic treatment. They can’t think so narrowly about their specialty–in other words, they need to stop treating the cardiovascular system as if it exists in a relative vacuum.

New treatment options may allow doctors to extend lifespans. But the end results for patients will sometimes mean choices people didn’t used to be able to make. Do I want to live longer but with a much greater chance I’ll be disabled/sickly/fragile for certain of those months/years? In the old days more people died of sudden, painless heart attacks or relatively quickly from other heart diseases.

Instead today we can keep people alive for years with heart conditions. One I know about personally is mitral stenosis–a valve disease that leads to atrial fibrillation at some stage and eventually to heart failure. Today doctors can replace the mitral valve. And with medications to control a-fib, patients can live relatively comfortably. But if they have a stroke–a common complication of a-fib–they could then end up paralyzed or damaged in other ways. Other diseases present even more complex challenges.

It can only be a good thing that cardiologists start thinking more holistically. And that advisory should be given across the board to every medical specialist. There’s no telling how many people suffer for years with missed or incorrect diagnoses because some specialist doesn’t look beyond his/her expertise to find out why that person is having specific symptoms.

Let’s hope this idea passes like lightning through the ranks of medical educators and practitioners.  And maybe we’ll see more doctors with a greater understanding and appreciation for the benefits of Eastern and alternative therapies which already tend to treat the patient as a whole.

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