Posts tagged with "American Heart Association"

Study debunks ‘standard operating procedures’ for blocked arteries

November 19, 2019

The findings of a large federal study on the efficacy of cardiac bypass surgeries and stents—led by NYU Langone Health with collaboration from 15 other leading U.S. and Canadian hospitals—call into question the medical care provided to tens of thousands of heart disease patients with blocked coronary arteries, scientists reported at a meeting of the American Heart Association on November 16.

The purpose of the ISCHEMIA trial was to determine the best management strategy for higher-risk patients with stable ischemic heart disease (also known as hardening of the arteries). The study involved over 5,000 participants.

Among the researchers’ key findings: Drug therapy, alone, may save lives just as effectively as bypass or stenting procedures. Stenting and bypass procedures, however, did help some patients with intractable chest pain, called angina.

“You would think that if you fix the blockage the patient will feel better or do better,” Dr. Alice Jacobs, director of Cath Lab and Interventional Cardiology at Boston University, told The New York Times after the results were released.. The study, she added, “certainly will challenge our clinical thinking.”

This is far from the first study to suggest that stents and bypass are overused. But, the Times reports, previous results have not deterred doctors, who have called earlier research on the subject inconclusive and the design of the trials flawed.

Previous studies did not adequately control for risk factors, like LDL cholesterol, that might have affected outcomes, Dr. Elliott Antman, a senior physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston told the news outlet in an interview. Nor did those trials include today’s improved stents, which secrete drugs intended to prevent opened arteries from closing again.

With its size and rigorous design, the new study, called Ischemia, was intended to settle questions about the benefits of stents and bypass.

“This is an extraordinarily important trial,” Dr. Glenn Levine, director of Cardiac Care at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told The New York Times.

The results will be incorporated into treatment guidelines, added Dr. Levine, who sits on the guidelines committee of the American Heart Association.\

However, there may be a catch: The conventional wisdom among cardiologists is that the sort of medical therapy that patients got in Ischemia is just not feasible in the real world, said Dr. William E. Boden, scientific director of the Clinical Trials Network at VA Boston Healthcare System, who was a member of the study’s leadership committee.

Doctors often say that making sure patients adhere to the therapy is “too demanding, and we don’t have time for it,” he said.

But getting a stent does not obviate the need for medical therapy, Dr. Boden told the Times. Since patients with stents need an additional anti-clotting drug, they actually wind up taking more medication than patients who are treated with drugs alone.

About one-third of stent patients develop chest pain again within 30 days to six months and end up with receiving another stent, Dr. Boden added.

“We have to finally get past the whining about how hard optimal medical therapy is and begin in earnest to educate our patients as to what works and is effective and what isn’t,” Dr. Boden said.

Research source: @nytimes

Both diet soda and sweetened fruit juice may increase stroke risk

February 19, 2019

Scientists are warning us that things don’t really go better with Diet Coke—or with your morning orange juice, for that matter.

New research finds that consuming diet sodas and artificially sweetened fruit juices may increase your risk for strokeespecially if you are a mature woman, CBS News reported on February 17.

In a study that tracked nearly 82,000 postmenopausal women, those who drank two or more diet drinks per day saw their overall stroke risk rise by 23%, compared with those who consumed diet drinks less than once a week.

Blocked arteries are often the main culprit, the network news outlet notes, with heavy diet drink consumption linked to a 31% greater risk for an ischemic stroke, which is triggered by a clot, the study findings showed.

Study author Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani—a nutrition scientist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City—acknowledged in an interview with CBS News that an “association does not imply causation.” But she stressed that the findings held up even after taking into account the nutritional value of each participant’s overall diet.

So, “we can’t assume these diet drinks are harmless, particularly when consumed at high levels,” Mossavar-Rahmani said.

“The take-home message is that these findings give us pause,” she added. “We need to do more research on why we are seeing these associations. What are the scientific mechanisms? Is there something about the artificial sweeteners, for example, that affects the bacteria in the gut and lead to health issues?”

Indeed, the American Heart Association (AHA) recently underscored the lack of sufficient research into the cardiovascular impact of diet sodas, CBS News points out. Until more work is done, the AHA says the jury remains out on whether artificially sweetened beverages do or do not hasten heart disease.

Women in the latest study were between 50 and 79 when they first enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative trial between 1993 and 1998.

Investigators tracked the general health of all the participants for an average of nearly 12 years. During that time—at the three-year mark—all the women were asked to indicate how frequently they consumed diet sodas and diet fruit drinks over a three-month period.

The researchers did not take note of which brands of artificially sweetened drinks the women drank, and so did not know which artificial sweeteners were being consumed, CBS News reports.

That said, nearly two-thirds of the women consumed diet sodas or drinks very infrequently, meaning less than once a week or never. Only about 5% were found to be “heavy” consumers of artificially sweetened drinks.

After taking into consideration a variety of stroke risk factors — including blood pressure status, smoking history and age — the study team concluded that heavy consumption of diet drinks did appear to be tied to cardiovascular risks in a number of ways.

For example, those women who drank two or more diet beverages a day saw their overall risk for developing heart disease increase by 29%. They also were 16% more likely to die prematurely from any cause.

Certain groups fared even worse: Among obese women and black women with no history of heart disease or diabetes, a diet drink habit pushed clot-driven stroke risk up by roughly twofold and fourfold, respectively, the researchers reported.

Whether or not the findings would apply to either men or younger women remains unclear, the study authors noted.

The findings were published online February 14 in the journal, Stroke.

A group representing the artificial sweetener industry offered the following response, CBS News noted:  “The contribution of reverse causality, meaning that individuals already at a greater risk of stroke and cardiovascular events chose low-calorie sweetened beverages, is very likely the cause of the associations presented by these researchers.”

Research contact: @CBSNews

What’s your poison? It could be coconut oil.

August 23, 2018

We are what we eat—which is why the conflicting news we receive on a regular basis about nutrition is making it increasingly difficult to decide which foodstuffs are beneficial and which are just plain bad.

 Now, coconuts—and specifically, coconut oil—which once were recommended as a “superfood’ and a remedy for everything from gum disease to Alzheimer’s, are being reviled. Both the American Heart Association and a professor at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health are saying that the oil is high-fat and high-risk.

Indeed, Karin Michels, the director of the Institute for Prevention and Tumor Epidemiology at the University of Freiburg in Germany and a professor at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has caused a bit of a stir online. In a lecture posted on YouTube that has gotten nearly one million hits, Michels calls coconut oil “pure poison” and identifies it as “one of the worst foods you can eat,” Business Insider reported on August 20.

Her 50-minute German-language lecture, entitled Coconut Oil and other Nutritional Errors, has become a viral hit .

There’s no study showing significant health benefits to coconut-oil consumption. And, according to Michels, coconut oil is more dangerous than lard because it almost exclusively contains saturated fatty acids—ones that can clog the coronary arteries, Business Insider reported.

Based on the fact that they contain a lot of unsaturated fatty acids, experts recommend olive or rapeseed oil as an alternative, and while it can’t be used for cooking, flaxseed oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and is just as good for the body.

While Michels doesn’t describe other superfoods like acai, chia seeds, or matcha as harmful, at most she considers them ineffective because, in most cases, the nutrients they’re touted for are available just as readily in other foods that are more easily accessible such as carrots, cherries, and apricots.

“We are well and sufficiently supplied,” she said.

According to Statista, Americans consumers 443 tons of coconut oil during 2017. The global production volume of coconut oil was 376 million tons.

Research contact: k.michels@ucla.edu

U.S. women are unaware they could be ‘heartsick’

February 7, 2018

Results of a national poll, commissioned by CVS Health and released on January 3, reveal that—while 92% of American women are aware of the dangers of heart disease—few acknowledge their personal risk for an attack.

In fact, just 18% of women nationwide consider heart disease to be the greatest health problem facing Americans today and the majority of American women are unaware of their status for factors that could increase their risk of heart disease—including cholesterol levels (57%), blood sugar (58%), Body Mass Index (BMI) (61%), or waist circumference (62%).

The poll was conducted as part of CVS Health’s continued support of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement, which calls upon women to come together to take action in the fight against heart disease and stroke.

The results of the national survey of 1,141 adult women, conducted on behalf of CVS Health by Morning Consult, also found that heart-related conditions are prevalent among U.S. women, with more than one in three women (37%) saying they have conditions such as high cholesterol, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, history of stroke or a heart defect.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading killer among women, causing one in three deaths each year, or one woman every 80 seconds. Fortunately, about 80% of cardiovascular diseases can be prevented through education and lifestyle changes.

According to the survey results, 64% of women say pharmacists play a role in managing heart health, but few (15%) say they have asked their pharmacist questions about heart health or about the heart medications they are taking (36%). Of those who had questions about their heart medications, 70% say they found their pharmacist to be very helpful.

Research contactJoseph.Goode@CVSHealth.com