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The drug ramipril significantly reduced the onset of debilitating and often-fatal heart failure in a large group of high-risk patients, researchers report in today's rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. Ramipril, trade-named Altace, is one of a family of high blood pressure medications known as ACE inhibitors. The drugs reduce the risk of death from heart failure ? the inability of a weakened or damaged heart to pump enough blood through the body ? in people who suffer heart attacks. The American Heart Association estimates that nearly 5 million people in the United States have congestive heart failure.
An interruption in normal breathing patterns during sleep which is often seen in heart failure patients may contribute to heart failure rather than just being a result, according to findings of a Mayo Clinic study. "We are now finding that central sleep apnea, which has been previously understood as a symptom of heart failure, may contribute to the development of heart failure in people at risk," said the study's lead researcher.
Heart failure patients at the Ohio State University Heart Center may be seeing less of their doctors. And the doctors couldn't be happier. A group of patients is testing a first-of-its-kind implantable monitor that transmits critical data from their heart over the telephone, eliminating travel to the doctor's office for the same type of monitoring. Proven successful, the experimental device could herald a major breakthrough for the growing number of people diagnosed with heart failure. Those living with heart failure could enjoy an improved lifestyle with less dependency on frequent doctor visits, and for cardiac researchers it might be the most advanced bellwether device yet for detecting heart problems at their earliest stages.
More than one-fourth of adults over age 45 have abnormalities in the way their heart fills with blood and are at significantly increased risk for premature death, according to results of a study of 2,042 randomly selected residents of Olmsted County, Minn. The study is published in the Jan. 8 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Researchers have determined the molecular machinery that triggers normal cardiac muscle growth and survival, and have linked defects in this complex to an inherited form of human cardiomyopathy, a type of heart failure where an enlarged heart loses its ability to pump blood. Published in the December 27, 2002 issue of the journal Cell, the study also identifies a subset of German cardiomyopathy patients with a specific gene mutation that disrupts the heart muscle's normal stretch activity. This mutation has apparently been passed down through several generations of Northern Europeans.
At least half of older adults with hypertension do not have their blood pressure controlled to normal levels, according to a survey of 5,888 patients around the country. The failure to control blood pressure to less than 140/90 mmHg may account for as much as 22 percent of myocardial infarctions and 34 percent of strokes in older adults, according to University of Washington researchers.
Survival after a heart failure diagnosis has greatly improved over the past 50 years, according to a study from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health. The study found that the risk of dying after being diagnosed with heart failure had dropped by about a third in men and women during that period. About 4.8 million Americans have heart failure, with about 550,000 new cases being diagnosed each year. Heart failure contributes to about 287,000 deaths a year.
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