Heart Beat: September 2012
TICAGRELOR AS EFFECTIVE AS OTHER ANTIPLATELET MEDICATIONS
New guidelines issued by the American Heart Association (AHA) Task Force on Practice Guidelines and the American College of Cardiology Foundation (ACCF) say that ticagrelor (Brilinta) should be considered alongside established antiplatelet drugs clopidogrel (Plavix) and prasugrel (Effient) for treating patients with chest pain or those who have had a certain type of heart attack known as non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI). In NSTEMI, there are abnormal heart enzymes that indicate damage to the heart muscle is occurring. The guidelines, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, also recommend that all patients go on aspirin therapy immediately after hospitalization. That aspirin therapy should last as long as the medication is tolerated. Other guideline highlights include the recommendation that all patients undergoing invasive procedures take aspirin and another antiplatelet medication. These drugs help keep platelets from gathering and forming blood clots that can lead to strokes.
NATURALLY OCCURRING MOLECULE MAY HELP PREVENT ATHEROSCLEROSIS
Cleveland Clinic researchers have discovered that a naturally occurring molecule helps prevent plaque buildup inside arteries. The research, led by Eugene Podrez, MD, PhD, of the Department of Molecular Cardiology, identified the role of the molecule Akt3 in regulating lipid processing. The research could lead to plaque-fighting drugs and a better way of screening patients at risk of developing atherosclerosis. Plaque buildup results from macrophages, which are white blood cells in the blood vessel wall, absorbing, processing and storing cholesterol (lipids). Plaque buildup can also restrict blood flow as well as pose a stroke risk if plaque ruptures and a clot forms. Dr. Podrez and his research team are now exploring the mechanism behind Akt3’s role in lipid processing with the longer term goals of developing drugs that can replicate that function.
STRAWBERRIES MAY HELP PREVENT HEART DISEASE AND DIABETES
Strawberries are known as great sources of vitamin C, but recently researchers have found that strawberries appear to activate a protein in our bodies that helps decrease blood lipids and cholesterol—both of which lead to cardiovascular problems. The protein, called Nrf2, was found to increase antioxidant and other protective activities. Researchers from the University of Warwick presented their findings recently at the Society for Free Radical Research International (SFRRI) conference in London. Strawberries have been praised as helpful foods in regulating post-meal blood glucose levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol levels. With this study, researchers now have a better understanding of how strawberries counter the development of diabetes and heart disease. The next step is to determine how many servings of strawberries should be consumed to afford optimal benefits. A separate study, published in a recent issue of Annals of Neurology, found that older adults who eat at least two servings of strawberries a week experienced delayed memory decline.
SALT INTAKE MAY DAMAGE BLOOD VESSEL WALLS OVER TIME
Eating a lot of salty foods may damage your blood vessels, increasing the risk of hypertension. In a study published in a recent issue of the journal Circulation researchers analyzed the association between sodium consumption and levels of uric acid and albumin in the urine—both markers of blood vessel damage. Higher sodium intake was associated with increasing levels of uric acid over time. The study hints at the presence of a “sodium amplification loop,” in which the consumption of too much sodium over a long period of time leads to greater odds of developing hypertension. Doctors have long advocated a lower-sodium diet for the general population, and in particular for people with heart disease risk factors. The American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium consumption to 1,500 mg daily. That’s about four grams or about two-thirds of a teaspoon of table salt.