Skip Navigation LinksHome > November 2008 - Volume 2 - Issue 4 > New Research Findings You Can Put To Use — Now
HEART Insight:
doi: 10.1097/01.HEARTI.0000343111.43423.36
Departments: HeartBeat

New Research Findings You Can Put To Use — Now

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Post-traumatic Stress

Male Vietnam veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are twice as likely to die from heart disease as those without PTSD, according to a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine. Researchers followed 4,328 male Vietnam veterans who were healthy when they enrolled in the study in 1985 and found that the most serious cases of PTSD are correlated with early death from heart disease. The researchers believe that stress hormones associated with PTSD may cause inflammation that damages the cardiovascular system — a plausible hypothesis, since these men were also at increased risk of developing psoriasis, arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

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Pre-Diabetes

The American College of Endocrinology (ACE) and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) have issued joint recommendations on managing pre-diabetes — elevated fasting blood sugar levels or impaired glucose tolerance — to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and related cardiovascular complications. The first step is to identify those most at risk, and the experts recommend regular screening to check blood pressure, measure waist circumference, and get fasting glucose and lipid levels. Where appropriate, doctors should recommend changes in diet to reduce fat and cholesterol intake and promote weight loss, encourage increased physical activity and treat elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels. An estimated 56 million Americans may have pre-diabetes without being aware of it.

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Heart Failure

Based on data from more than 48,000 heart failure patients admitted to 259 hospitals nationwide, doctors have a new way to gauge the severity of the condition so as to more quickly identify patients at highest risk of imminent death and to more aggressively monitor and treat them. As part of the OPTIMIZE-HF (Organized Program to Initiate Lifesaving Treatment in Hospitalized Patients with Heart Failure) study, researchers correlated risk of in-hospital death with such factors as medical history, vital signs and lab results at admittance, and heart failure characteristics or history. A history of vascular disease, liver disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as well as increased age, creatinine levels and systolic blood pressure (the top number), were all associated with a higher risk of death.

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Stroke

People who develop gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding after a stroke are three times more likely to die during their hospital stay or to be severely disabled and dependent on others at discharge than those who do not, according to research published in Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. In the study, which involved 6,853 Canadians who had ischemic strokes that reduced or blocked blood flow to the brain, GI bleeding was also associated with a higher risk of death six months later. Follow-up research is needed to determine whether treatment with antacids to prevent this complication will improve patient outcomes.

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Physical Activity

Inactive, healthy older adults who took part in a supervised physical activity regimen that included about an hour of walking, running or cycling three to five days a week were able to turn back the clock on heart function, according to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology. Researchers measured heart glucose metabolism in six men and six women between the ages of 60 to 75 years at the start of the study and after 11 months of endurance training, and found that their hearts had doubled glucose uptake during exertion — the same way younger hearts do. Improved cardiac function during periods of physical stress is associated with lower risk of ischemia (inadequate blood supply to the heart) and heart attack.

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© 2008 American Heart Association, Inc.

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