A study in the May 2 issue of JAMA reveals that daily ingestion of fish oil did not lower the percentage of grafts with loss of patency, i.e. that remained open in patients with new synthetic arteriovenous grafts within 12 months. An arteriovenous graft is a synthetic tube that is grafted between an artery and vein in order to gain vascular access for hemodialysis. Those who took fish oil were observed to have a longer period of time without thrombosis - their rate of thrombosis was reduced by 50% and they achieved a significant decrease in the frequency of radiological and surgical interventions compared with those who did not. According to the article's background information: "Optimal hemodialysis requires reliable vascular access. Current options include the arteriovenous fistula [surgical creation of a connection between an artery and vein], synthetic arteriovenous graft, and central venous catheter, which in the United States are used in 55%, 21%, and 24% of prevalent patients receiving hemodialysis, respectively.
An invasive heart test used routinely to measure heart function is being dramatically overused, especially among patients who recently underwent similar, more effective tests, according to a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine. "This adds both risk to the patient and significant extra cost, " said first author of the study Ronald Witteles, MD, assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine and program director of Stanford's internal medicine residency training program, who called the rates of unnecessary use "shockingly high." The procedure, called left ventriculography or left ventriculogram, was developed 50 years ago to assess how well the heart functions by using a measurement method called "ejection fraction" - the percentage of blood that gets squeezed out with each heartbeat.
After nearly 13 years of study and intense debate, a pair of new papers from the Perelman School of Medicine, at the University of Pennsylvania have confirmed exactly how a once-popular class of anti-inflammatory drugs leads to cardiovascular risk for people taking it. It has been almost eight years since Vioxx ® was withdrawn by Merck from the market, provoking an intense controversy about the role inhibitors of the enzyme COX-2 play in causing heart attacks and strokes. Since then, other drugs in the class from Pfizer, Novartis, and Merck have been withdrawn ( Bextra ® ); have failed to be approved (Arcoxia® , Prexige® ); or have been retained on the market in the US with a "black box" warning on the label (Celebrex® ). COX-2 is one of two similar enzymes that churn out short-lived fats called prostaglandins.
Tasers, also known as stun guns, can cause sudden cardiac arrest and death, researchers from Indiana University School of Medicine reported in the journal Circulation. The author explained that applying an electric shock with an electronic control device to the chest can be deadly. Sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart suddenly, unexpectedly stops beating; the patient stops breathing and loses consciousness. In a communiquÃ yesterday, Circulation wrote that this study is the first published and peer-reviewed one in a medical journal to link tasers with cardiac arrest and death. Author Douglas P. Zipes, M.D., said: "Law enforcement and other individuals using a stun gun need to be aware that cardiac arrest can occur, however infrequently, and therefore it should be used judiciously, and an unconscious individual should be monitored closely and resuscitated if necessary.
Engineers at Stanford University have demonstrated how a tiny, externally controlled, wirelessly-powered medical device, is able to propel itself through blood, in a manner reminiscent of the 1966 film Fantastic Voyage, where a microscopic submarine and scientific crew are injected into the bloodstream of a man. Assistant professor and electrical engineer Ada Poon heads the Poon Research Group at Stanford University School of Engineering. She and her team pursue new ways to use wireless communication and integrated circuit technologies in medicine. Earlier this year, at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco, before an audience of her peers, Poon presented a study that suggests the day when we are invited to "swallow the surgeon" as part of a diagnostic test may be closer than we imagined.