Each year over one million Americans suffer from a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when blood cannot adequately flow to the heart muscle, causing a starvation of oxygen. Also known as myocardial infarction (MI), each heart attack leaves long-term, permanent damage on the tissue of the heart.
If left untreated the suffocating tissue dies and leaves behind useless scarred tissue. These scars cannot be repaired once they appear, and without all the tissue that the heart normally has to function, the chances of another heart attack occurring significantly increases. However, thanks to the continued efforts of scientists and researchers we may soon be able to replace this scarred tissue. According to the online British journal: Scientific Reports, a team of Japanese scientists have used human-generated pluripotent stem cells to successfully create cardiac tissue sheets.
Kyoto University professor Jun Yamashita and his research team hope that this achievement will lead to new treatments in heart disease. Laboratory tests of the sheets have already shown promising results in lab mice. A three-layer sheet of cardiac tissue was transferred to nine mice with dead or damaged heart tissue caused by heart attacks. These sheets were made of differentiated iPS stems cells that would become cardiac muscle cells, vascular mural cells, and endothelial cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels. Four of the mice showed improved cardiac function because new blood vessels formed where the 1 cm diameter sheets were transplanted.
Yamashita is confident that there is real potential for this to heal the scarred tissue of those who have suffered from heart attacks. However, there is a concern for the development of cancer from the iPS stem cells. A small portion of the sheet was made up of unchanged cells, leading the team to believe that there is serious potential for cancer cells to form in their place in the long run. While more tests are required, the success of the sheets during recent tests gives the team hope for the future of the project.
To learn more about the newest innovations and discoveries occurring in the cardiac health community, or for tips to show your patients how to can keep their heart healthy and strong, check out the Medicomp Inc. blogs today.
The American Heart Association is urging physicians to better understand the risks of radiation exposure in cardiac monitoring procedures. Cardiac imaging is an important procedure for diagnosing life-threatening heart conditions; however, an inadequate understanding of the levels of radiation a patient is exposed to during each procedure may result in a debilitating condition in the long run. This is especially true for children who have younger tissue that can be affected. These children are at increased risk of developing conditions such as cancer due to the excess exposure to imaging-producing radiation. While some studies have indicated that the perceived risk is low or negligible, there are other findings that suggest complex procedures, filled with radiation, can increase risks for illness in the future.
Physicians should have a full understanding of the procedure, the radiation dose during each procedure, and the risks associated with the dose, especially for patients undergoing multiple procedures in a short period of time. The risks and benefits should also be discussed with the patient so they have an understanding of what to expect from the procedure.
Cardiac imaging procedures account for about 40% of the radiation exposure in medical-imaging procedures. That is why the American Heart Association stresses the importance of understanding the procedure and fully communicating the impact it can have on patients. Learning and practicing caution is a habit worth investing in when it comes to patient care. Minimizing extra complications from life-saving procedures is important to the overall well being of patients in the long run.
The American Heart Association is urging physicians to be fully transparent and to consider all variables before recommending a patient for imaging procedures that use radiation, in an effort to betterment the future of both young and old cardiac patients. Generally speaking, the risks associated with radiation exposure during imaging procedures are relatively low, and when the test is deemed necessary and appropriate by the leading physician, the benefits of the test significantly supersede the risks. However, each case varies and physicians should use their best judgement when looking into the appropriate procedure for each patient. To learn more about some of the latest news in cardiac monitoring and research, browse through the Medicomp Inc. blog page.
Heart rhythm disorders, more commonly known as cardiac arrhythmias, are irregularities in the electrical rhythm of the heart. This can cause the heart to flutter, skip a beat, or skip between the two for a short time. Most of the time these events are not life threatening and many people have them without even noticing. However, when arrhythmias are accompanied by dizziness, fainting, palpitations, and otherwise unexplained strokes they pose a serious risk to the sufferer’s life.
When these symptoms occur, it is imperative that the patient meet with their doctor to arrange a monitoring session. Cardiac monitoring is important to diagnose heart rhythm disorders because heart rhythm disorders are sporadic and might not present themselves during a single meeting with a doctor. Extended monitoring is also important to get as much information as possible to make an accurate diagnosis and find the source of the rhythm disorder.
Cardiac monitors are portable devices that detect and record the electrical signals of the heart. There are two types of cardiac monitors: external monitors and implantable monitors.
- External Monitors. These are the traditional models and are intended for short term use. External monitors, also known as Holter monitors, are small tape recorder sized devices that are used by patients for about 30 days at a time. Once a session is done the doctor takes the information from the monitor along with the information recorded by the patient and looks for signs of a heart rhythm disorder.
- Implantable Monitors. Designed for longer sessions, implantable monitors are small devices that are placed just under the skin. Just like its external counterpart it will detect and record the electrical activities of the heart for up to three years in a single session. These are usually used when external monitors fail to detect a heart rhythm problem in a short session.
Cardiac monitors make it possible to find these otherwise elusive heart rhythm disorders. The future of the cardiac monitor industry promises new innovations to help physicians diagnose irregular heartbeats quickly and more easily. To learn more about Holter monitors and other innovations in the field of cardiac monitor production, continue to scroll through the Medicomp Inc. blogs today.
Every year, more than half a million Americans experience the most common form of stroke: ischemic stroke. An ischemic stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked, causing vision loss, dizziness and trouble walking, sudden numbness or weakness in the body, sudden confusion and trouble speaking, and a sudden and severe headache. About a quarter of the documented cases have no apparent underlying cause, which makes it difficult for patients to receive the proper treatment to avoid another stroke.
Two major studies now suggest that a portion of these may be caused by atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of arrhythmia or irregularity in the beat of the heart, caused by electrical impulses in the heart’s two upper chambers, making them contract rapidly. This finding will encourage doctors to look for signs of atrial fibrillation after a stroke if no other cause can be found.
Patients are usually screened with electrocardiographic monitoring after a stroke to look for signs of a recurring heart problem. However, the 24-hour window this screening takes place in might not be enough time to find signs of atrial fibrillation, sign these signs occur at random. The studies found that patients who were monitored for longer periods of time found evidence of atrial fibrillation that could have been the cause of the stroke.
During one particular study, patients were hooked up to special cardiac monitors and observed for 30 days following their stroke. During this observation, researchers diagnosed five times as many patients with atrial fibrillation, when compared to those who were monitored for 24 hours following their stroke. The second study monitored patients who suffered a stroke with no known cause for up to three years. Results of the study indicated that about a third of the patients experienced an atrial fibrillation, often showing no signs or symptoms. In both cases the longer cardiac monitoring time allowed doctors to make an accurate diagnosis of the problem and allowed appropriate treatment as a result.
As a result of these studies the American Heart Association has updated its guidelines to encourage medical professionals to monitor their patients for longer periods of time following a stroke. Atrial fibrillation is an unpredictable and serious event for stroke sufferers. To spread awareness and ultimately save lives, the responsibility lies within the medical community to encourage and enact longer cardiac monitoring of stroke patients.
To find out more about research and recent findings regarding heart disease in the medical community, look through the Medicomp Inc. blog page today.
Heart failure refers to a number of conditions that cause the heart to become less effective at pumping blood through the body. Essentially, the heart can no longer perform its normal functions unassisted. Therefore, it’s crucial that patients suffering from heart failure be monitored closely by a cardiac care team as part of their routine treatment.
Medications are a given for most heart failure treatments. However, new patients and their doctors may not be aware how exactly they will react to the medication they are prescribed. Patients must follow detailed instructions on how and when to take medications, as well as guidelines on specific activities or substances to avoid while taking these medications. Cardiac care professionals can easily assist patients as they adjust to their newly prescribed routine.
In addition to medications, patients have to understand what activities they should take up and what activities they should avoid to reduce the risk of worsening their condition. Keeping up with certain physical activities, that will not put too much strain on the body, will help strengthen the heart. Picking the right foods is important to both strengthen and reduce unnecessary strain on the heart. Foods that are high in salts, sugars, and cholesterol should be sparse or nonexistent while foods containing heart healthy oils and protein should be abundant. Regular visits to cardiac care professionals will inform patients how their treatment is going and whether there are any problems with their blood pressure or cholesterol that needs to be fixed.
A heart condition should not stifle any patient’s outlook on life and happiness. Heart failure requires adjustments to certain lifestyle habits to ensure health, but happiness and life experiences should never be ceased because of a heart condition. The close care provided by cardiac care teams will help patients get the most out of their treatment, ensuring they live their lives to the fullest.
Educate your patients about how to get the most out of their heart through healthy lifestyle choices. For additional information on cardiac monitoring and health, visit the Medicomp Inc. blogs today. How do you counsel your patients on their heart health management and care?
As you go about your daily business, your heart pumps blood through your body at a steady pace. You barely notice it as it works because the steady beat is something you’re used to feeling. However, you may notice on occasion that your heart suddenly skips a beat or picks up and beats faster for a split second. This is known as an arrhythmia and they are common occurrences that happen from time to time. One specific example of an arrhythmia is an atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia. An atrial fibrillation occurs when the top two chambers of the heart, known as the atria, begin to quiver. Sometimes these chambers will beat as much as four times as normal. The heart and its beat are controlled by electrical signals that run up and down the heart at a steady pace. These electrical signals originate from a group of cells called the sinoatrial node. In a healthy heart, the signal is sent 60 to 100 times a minute. However, when an atrial fibrillation occurs the signal is sent from another node first, throwing off the rhythm.
Most of the time, these fibrillations are nothing to be alarmed about, and most of them go unnoticed. However, atrial fibrillations can signal the onset of serious heart problems like a stroke because of the disruption in normal blood flow. Recognizing the symptoms of problematic atrial fibrillations is important to receive quick and decisive medical treatment. Symptoms include:
- Abdominal and/or chest pain
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty exercising
Make sure your patients are well aware of the symptoms associated with atrial fibrillation. If they experience these symptoms, they should seek medical assistance immediately. Atrial fibrillations can affect anyone but tend to create complications in older people.
To learn more about different kinds of arrhythmias and arrhythmia monitoring, take a look at the Medicomp Inc. blogs today. How else do you counsel your patients about atrial fibrillation and other heart disease? Tell us your tips and we’ll share them with our followers.
The American Heart Association has worked tirelessly for decades to educate the public about the dangers of smoking. For years, they’ve been working to push forward legislation to regulate their sales. Thanks to evidence and research performed by the AHA and its partners, the control efforts have cut the youth smoking rate from 1997 to 2007 in half. This progress has saved over 8 million lives in the past 50 years alone. Despite this impressive feat, their work is far from over.
Tobacco industries have been pushing a new product over the past few years: the e-cigarette. E-cigarettes are advertised as being safer than normal cigarettes. They’re even framed as a product that helps those interested in quitting smoking. No matter how they’re marketed, trust the AHA and know better than to take these claims at face value. About 50 years ago tobacco industries put low-tar cigarettes on the market. Just like e-cigarettes, they were advertised as being safer than regular cigarettes, and this claim not only got the current smokers of the time to switch over, but it also convinced a new generation of smokers to start. Low-tar cigarettes turned out to increase lung cancer chances and were no better for the heart.
Learning from history, the AHA has been quick to push forward more regulation and clinical testing behind the claims of e-cigarettes. The AHA recently released a policy statement on electronic cigarettes to emphasize the importance of e-cigarette regulation. As it stands now, e-cigarettes are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Also, there have been no significant studies to support the claim that e-cigarettes are safer and can be used as a tool to help quit smoking. Without regulation, the AHA fears e-cigarettes will become the new low-tar cigarettes of the past, and with their growing popularity and new reports of high nicotine exposure from e-cigarettes appearing, it’s not hard to see why.
While it may seem like a good idea to create safe smoking e-cigarettes to act as smoking cessation aids, such products only normalize the action of smoking itself and cause the habit to embed itself deeply in the patient’s behavior. Part of the appeal, especially with e-cigarettes today, is that smoking is treated as a recreational norm. If smoking is no longer a normal activity, the habit will die down on its own.
To learn more about heart health and cardiac monitoring devices, continue to browse through the Medicomp Inc. blogs. What do you think about e-cigarettes? Do you think they’ll become the new low-tar cigarette?
Congenital heart defects are malformations in the heart or the large blood vessels near the heart. These defects are present at birth, and the malformations can impair the normal circulation pattern of the heart that is necessary to carry oxygen-infused blood throughout the body. The severity of the malformation can range from barely noticeable holes between the chambers of the heart to the absence of a chamber or valve all together.
Treatment for congenital heart defects often includes multiple diagnostic cardiac catheterizations, which includes repeated exposure to ionizing radiation. While the procedure is necessary to identify the location of the malformation, there is a growing concern in the medical community about the adverse effects that repeated radiation exposure will have on young patients. Infants and children in early stages of development are especially susceptible to adverse effects because their organs are more sensitive than their adult counterparts. In addition, the longer life span that children have ahead of them allows more time for detrimental effects such as cancer to metastasize.
For every 1000 children born, 9 will be afflicted with a congenital heart defect. In 2013, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) launched its Reducing Radiation Risk quality improvement initiative. It is the first NCDR quality initiative with the focus on reducing the amount of radiation exposure by the patient. According to the ACC, the initiative offers its participants the goals of “improving CHD patient outcomes by reducing radiation exposure received by patients undergoing congenital heart cath by 25 percent from baseline and cultivating quality improvement program capabilities in catheterization programs and hospitals.”
The efforts are ongoing and the initiative encourages people working in IMPACT Centers, specifically those who work with patients in a cath lab, to enroll in the Reducing Radiation Risk quality improvement initiative.
To learn more about events happening in the medical community and our cardiac monitoring solutions, continue to browse through the Medicomp Inc. blogs. What do you think of the efforts presented by the ACC? Share your comments with us below.
Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in American, carrying a heavier death toll than smoking and cancer. It’s been said, time and time again, how important it is to take care of your heart, and recent studies have shown that the message has begun to sink in.
However, despite the decline in heart-related illnesses and deaths that have been achieved thus far, heart disease still hold that top spot in annual fatalities. For those who have yet to make the change, these sobering statistics and facts might change their minds the next time they want to forgo their heart health.
Here are some of the statistics concerning heart disease:
- About 600,000 people die from heart disease in America annually
- One in every four of those deaths is caused by cardiovascular complications
- About 720,000 Americans suffer a heart attack every year, about 515,000 of these victims are first time sufferers, while the rest have previously experienced one or more heart-related events
- Coronary heart disease alone costs America about $108.9 billion a year–take into account the medications, health care services, and lost productivity; after a while, it all adds up
After examining the statistics, it’s not hard to see how heart disease affects more than direct sufferers. Billions of dollars are spent annually to treat coronary heart disease, and it’s only going to increase as the number of seniors requiring care increases.
Heart attacks alone are a serious problem, and it’s surprising how few know how to recognize the major symptoms of a heart attack–other than a pain in the left arm. During a survey taken in 2005, only 27 percent of respondents were aware of all the major symptoms associated with a heart attack before they called 9-1-1. Combined with the statistic that 47 percent of all sudden cardiac deaths occur outside a hospital suggests that people aren’t responding to the early warning signs. Major signs of a heart attack include chest pain; upper body pain or discomfort, especially in the arms, back, neck, jaw, and upper stomach; shortness of breath; and cold sweats. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you or someone around you experiences these symptoms.
To learn how you can adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle, and our cardiac monitoring services and products, contact Medicomp, Inc. today! Also, share this post and help to educate others about heart disease.
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Arrhythmias refer to a change in the heart’s regular rhythm. It can feel like your heart suddenly speeds up, slows down or stops, or simply beats in a strange, abnormal rhythm. Almost everyone has felt this irregularity at least once in their lifetime. Arrhythmias are extremely common, especially as you get older, and in most cases, they’re nothing to be worried about. Millions of people experience arrhythmias annually. However, on rare occasions, arrhythmias can indicate something severely wrong with the heart.
Symptoms of arrhythmias present themselves on a broad range from barely noticeable to heart failure. Premature beats are called palpitations, and a rapid succession of these can often feel like a fluttering sensation in your chest or neck. If an arrhythmia lasts long enough, you will begin to notice a wider range of serious symptoms including:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden cardiac arrest
It’s important to understand how arrhythmias present themselves and talk to a doctor if you are worried about an arrhythmia experience.
If your doctor shares your concern, they may give you a cardiac monitor to record your heart’s activities. Although there are different types, cardiac monitors are generally small battery operated recorders that you wear around your chest or waist. While you go about your daily activities, the monitor records the electric activity in your heart. You will also be instructed to keep a journal of your activities so your doctor has something to reference when your heart shows different levels of stress. After the recording time, the doctor will review the results and let you know if there is anything wrong and if there are any other actions that need to be taken.
To learn more about arrhythmia monitoring and the devices used to record them, take a look at the Medicomp, Inc. blog today!