The American Heart Association - Scientific Sessions was held in Chicago, Illinois, November 12-15, 2006.
Technology Predicts Outcome of Child Heart Surgery
Researchers have developed an innovative new technology that will help pediatric cardiac surgeons design and test a customized surgical procedure before they ever pick up a scalpel. With a better understanding of each child’s unique heart defect, surgeons could greatly improve the likelihood that children with complex defects requiring multiple surgeries over a period of several years could have smoother recoveries and an improved quality of life after their operations.
Link Between Obesity and Inflammation Could Lead to New Therapies
This is a study involving obesity and inflammation that could lead to new therapies to prevent diabetes and heart disease.
Chocolate “Offenders” Teach Science a Sweet Lesson
Some “chocoholics” who just couldn’t give up their favorite treat to comply with a study to test blood stickiness have inadvertently done their fellow chocolate lovers - and science - a big favor.
“Broken Heart Syndrome” Recurs in 1 of 10 Patients
In the largest review of “broken heart syndrome” patients ever conducted, Mayo Clinic researchers studied 100 patients and found symptoms recurred in 1 out of 10 patients over a four-year period, and that patients experiencing physical stress had a worse survival rate than those under emotional stress.
Anti-Cancer Drug Shows Early Promise in Pulmonary Hypertension
A drug used to treat kidney cancer can prevent the development of pulmonary hypertension in rodents. There is no curative therapy for this condition.
Sleep Apnea Patients at Higher Risk for Deadly Heart Disease
Researchers looked at 134 patients with coronary heart disease who hadn’t been diagnosed with a sleep disorder. In the patients who had a type of an irregular heartbeat called ventricular premature contraction, more than 40 percent also had severe sleep apnea – and didn’t realize it.
Soy Protein Study Generates New Findings
A Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing soy protein study has yielded new findings pertaining to cholesterol reduction, metabolic syndrome, and recruitment for clinical trials. The results are published this month in Menopause and Ethnicity and Disease
Adult Pig Stem Cells Show Promise in Repairing Animals’ Heart Attack Damage
Johns Hopkins scientists have successfully grown large numbers of stem cells taken from adult pigs’ healthy heart tissue and used the cells to repair some of the tissue damage done to those organs by lab-induced heart attacks. Pigs’ hearts closely resemble those in humans, making them a useful model in such research.
Fast Test for Low Blood Flow in Dogs Detects Early Heart Trouble
Working with dogs and using the latest in imaging software and machinery, also known as a 64-slice CT scanner, Johns Hopkins heart specialists have developed a fast and accurate means of tracking blood that has been slowed down by narrowing of the coronary arteries. Researchers say it took them less than half the time of exercise stress tests and echocardiograms currently used to find early warning of vessels more likely to become blocked and cause heart attack.
New Understanding of Molecular Roots for Atrial Fibrillation
Robert Kass, Ph.D., chairman of the department of Pharmacology at Columbia University Medical Center, presented the latest research on the discovery of a potential molecular culprit for atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common arrhythmias in the human heart, which can be a precursor for stroke. Dr. Kass has found evidence that hyper phosphorylation of the KCNQ1/KCNE1 potassium ion channel can predispose tissue to rapid and spontaneos electrical events, a hallmark of AF. This is the first report to discuss the hyper-phosphorylation of the KCNQ1/KCNE1 pottasium ion channel, and Dr. Kass hopes that these findings will lead to the development of drugs that can disrupt hyperphosphorylation of this channel, thereby allowing prevention and treatment for this serious cardiac arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation.
Genes Influence Heart Transplant Rejection
Mario Deng, MD, assistant professor of Medicine in the division of Cardiology and director of the Cardiac Transplantation Research at Columbia University Medical Center, presented his laboratory’s research on the relationship between genes and the rejection of transplanted hearts. Dr. Deng reconstructed the network of genes that are active at the time of heart transplant rejection and those active when the transplant is not rejected. The researchers found that different genes were active in the white blood cells of patients who rejected the transplant. These findings will hopefully help to develop new non-invasive anti-rejection diagnostic tests and target molecules for immuno-suppression and ultimately improve survival rates and quality of life after organ transplantation.
The Cost of End Stage Heart Failure
Mark Russo, M.D., M.S., a researcher at Columbia University's International Center for Health Outcomes and Innovation Research in New York presented findings from a study of the cost of medical management in chronic end-stage heart failure patients. The study found that despite the terminal nature of end-stage heart failure, costs and resource utilization increased dramatically as death approached. Dr. Russo and his colleagues report that on average between $82,963 and $97,420 was spent treating these patients during their last 6 months of life, making end-stage heart failure many times more costly than other terminal diseases such as lung cancer and pancreatic cancer. These high costs were largely driven by in-hospital care. In fact, chronic end-stage heart failure patients spent nearly 1 in 4 days in the hospital during their last 3 months of life. With between 60,000 and 100,000 people in the U.S. dying from end-stage heart failure each year, the researchers estimated that as much as $8 billion per year are spent on end-stage heart failure with less than 6 months to live. Researchers concluded that, despite the poor prognosis of these patients, this aggressive use of medical resources is more consistent with prolongation of life than palliation of disease. Given these findings, Dr. Russo says clinicians and researchers must find alternative management strategies that improve outcomes, minimize suffering, and/or reduce expenditures.
Repairing Damage from Heart Failure Using Stem Cells
Fiona See, Ph.D., postdoctoral research fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Silviu Itescu, M.B., B.S., presented two groundbreaking abstracts on repairing damage from heart failure with stem cells at AHA this year. In the first study, the researchers isolated adult human stem cells from bone marrow using a novel stem cell marker. They administered these cells in a rat model of heart failure by direct injection into the heart muscle and observed improvements in cardiac function and preservation of cardiac structure. They then examined the mechanisms by which these stem cells produce their beneficial effects. In examination of the rat hearts, the researchers found low rates of stem cell survival, leading them to hypothesize and then demonstrate in the second study that when these cells are injected into the heart, they release chemicals which promote the survival of cardiac muscle and the growth of new blood vessels and thereby support cardiac function. They will also present data which profiles the chemicals that these cells secrete.