Keeping you up to date on recent headlines in cardiovascular healthcare:
BPA increases arhythmias in female rodents .... Bisphenol A (BPA) has been linked to an increased frequency of arrhythmias in female rodents, a new study has found. Previous studies have shown that BPA may harm the reproductive, nervous and immune systems of animals. And one study has found an increased cardiovascular disease in people with high levels of BPA in their urine. In both working hearts and cultured heart muscle cells exposure to BPA increased the frequency of arrhythmias, compared to baseline, in female rodents but not in males. The arrhythmias were most frequent in the female rats and mice when they received both BPA and estrogen, at levels normally found in female humans. The results were presented Saturday at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society (Chevy Chase, Maryland) in Washington. (http://healthnews.uc.edu/news/?/8709/)
Fenestrated endografts viable for juxta-renal, para-renal aneurysms .... The use of fenestrated endografts to treat juxta-renal and para-renal aneurysms (adjacent to and involving the visceral segment of the aorta) after prior aortic reconstruction, is a viable alternative to open repair, according to a study presented at the just-concluded annual meeting of the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS; Chicago) in Denver. Of 56 target vessels, all were successfully revascularized with a combination of: fenestrations with bare metal (12) or covered (25) stents; directional graft branches; or proximal graft scallops (18). There were no deaths at 30 days, and at one-year mortality was 11%. The procedures were performed using customized endografts from Cook (Bloomington, Indiana) "based on ... preoperative 3-D imaging," said Adam Beck, MD, a vascular surgery fellow at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (Lebanon, New Hampshire).
Asymptomatic perioperative myocardial injury affects vascular outcomes .... A new study reports that 75% of cardiac damage after vascular surgery is asymptomatic or patients' symptoms are concealed by postoperative complaints, such as nausea and incision pain, and is associated with increased mortality. Following surgery, cardiac damage occurred in 213 (14%) asymptomatic patients and 71 (5%) symptomatic patients; 13% of patients without cardiac damage died during follow-up vs. 40% with asymptomatic damage. The researchers said that screening for post-surgical cardiac damage – via cardiac troponin T (cTnT) measurement and ECG can identify high-risk patients who might benefit from more aggressive medical therapy. The findings were presented at the SVS annual meeting.
U-M, University of Utah lead hypothermia study of in children .... In the first large-scale study of its kind, researchers at the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) and the University of Utah (Salt Lake City) will study if hypothermia-lowering body temperature can prevent or reduce brain damage in children deprived of oxygen due to cardiac arrest. "Cardiac arrest in children is a tragic event that usually leads to death, or long term disability in survivors," said one of the researchers, and that no therapies have been shown to improve recovery. The Therapeutic Hypothermia After Pediatric Cardiac Arrest (THAPCA) trials begin this fall. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute is providing initial funding; with trial success, it could receive additional NIH funding for six years of subject accrual from 30 sites.
Recommended: screen relatives of patients with bicuspid aortic valve .... A research study at the Cardiac Noninvasive Laboratory of Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute (Los Angeles) has indicated that a third of first-degree relatives (siblings, children or parents) of patients with bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) – two valve leaflets instead of the normal three — are likely to have enlarged aortas. This was found even in the absence of any other valve abnormalities. Nearly one-third of first-degree relatives with no heart valve abnormality had significantly larger aortas than expected for their age, gender and body size. "If you know that a relative does have bicuspid aortic valve, then you know that you should be screened," said study author Kirsten Tolstrup, MD. The study appears in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Immune cells ameliorate hypertension-induced heart damage in mice .... Researchers at the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres (Berlin) report that a specific type of immune cell, the regulatory T lymphocyte (Treg) plays an important role in hypertension-induced cardiac damage. The injected Treg that they harvested from donor mice into recipient mice were infused with angiotensin II, a BP-raising peptide. Tregs had no influence on the BP response to angiotensin II; however, cardiac enlargement, fibrosis and inflammation were sharply reduced by Treg treatment, and the tendency to develop abnormal heart rhythms was also reduced, and the hypertensive mice that received Treg cells, exhibited less cardiac damage. The researchers said it remains to be seen, if Treg cells will ever be used for short-time therapy. "However, perhaps the body's own Treg could be recruited as a treatment." The study appears in Circulation (Vol. 119, No. 22, June 9, 2904-2912).
Canada makes progress in heart attack prevention .... The Health Indicators 2009 report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows that heart attacks in Canada declined 13% between 2003-2004 and 2007-2008. There were 251 hospitalizations for heart attacks per 100,000 people in 2003, dropping to 219 hospitalizations per 100,000 in 2008. The rates do not include Quebec because of differences in data collection. The researchers attributed the reduction to less invasive procedures, such as earlier angioplasty, for treating heart conditions. The researchers also found decreases in the rate of stroke hospitalizations over the last five years, falling 14% from 152 per 100,000 between 2003-2004 to 130 per 100,000 in 2007-2008.
Program to focus on BP in African-Americans .... Nearly two-thirds (63%) of African Americans with high BP say they worry more about their finances than their personal health, according to a new "My Pressure Points," a survey commissioned by Daiichi Sankyo (Parsippany, New Jersey) in collaboration with the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC; Atlanta). And almost half say they are stressed about their work. In response, ABC and Daiichi Sankyo are launching the "My Pressure Points" national education program to encourage African Americans to focus on their high BP as well as their external pressures and have established a resource at www.mypressurepoints.com.
In memoriam: Robert Brandenburg, MD .... The American College of Cardiology reported the death of Dr. Robert Brandenburg, former president of the ACC, at his home June 5 in Bloomington, Minnesota. He was 90. Besides his service as ACC president, Brandenburg had served as chairman of the cardiology department at Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota). Brandenburg received the ACC's Distinguished Fellowship Award in 1988. Following his retirement from Mayo in 1984, he and his wife moved to Arizona. He taught at the University of Arizona Medical School (Tucson), was a consulting physician at the Tucson VA Hospital, and served as president of the Green Valley chapter of the American Heart Association. The Brandenburgs returned to Minnesota in 2002. The family requests that donations be made to the AHA.
— Compiled by Don Long, MDD National Editor