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American Heart Association Lists Top 10 Advances

separator The American Heart Association has listed what it sees as the top 10 advances in heart treatments in 2003. Here’s an overview:

  1. New blood pressure guidelines that have put more people in higher risk categories and added a new category—“prehypertension.” The result is that more people are candidates for medication, and more people are being made aware of the importance of lifestyle changes that can keep them from developing actual hypertension in the first place.
  2. The first new anti-clotting drug in 50 years that may become an easier-to-manage alternative to warfarin, the current anti-clotting medication. The new drug is called ximelagatran. It does not require the adjustments and close monitoring that warfarin does, and, unlike warfarin, it has no interactions with food or other drugs.
  3. A new study showed that putting defibrillators in well-traveled public places, and training volunteers how to use the devices, can cut deaths from cardiac arrest by half.
  4. A new drug called eplerenone, that can reduce the death rate of congestive heart failure.
  5. The discovery that a patient’s own stem cells can be directly injected into a failing heart and increase the heart’s pumping ability.
  6. Results of tests showing that stents coated with drugs (stents are used to prop open artery walls during angioplasty) are safe and effective at preventing death, heart attack, and repeat visits among patients who are older and sicker than patients typically used in clinical trials.
  7. Test results showing the location of a gene responsible for an inherited, life-threatening heart disorder called familial thoracic aortic aneurysm and dissection, or TADD. In people with TADD, the disorder typically goes undetected until the aorta suddenly bursts. This research brings experts closer to developing a test that will identify people who have the disorder, so that they can have surgery on the aneurysm before the damage is done.
  8. A clot-busting substance that comes from the saliva of vampire bats. Currently, people who have an ischemic stroke have a 3-hour window of time to get clot-busting drugs. The new clot buster may be able to extend that window to about nine hours.
  9. A study showing that five weekly infusions of HDL, or “good cholesterol,” seems to be able to reverse coronary artery disease by removing plaque from clogged arteries.
  10. New information about now best to use a blood test for C-reactive protein, or CRP, to assess heart disease risk.

To read about these advances in more detail, visit the American Heart Association

American Heart Association
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