Tag: heart disease

How Cold-War Nuclear Tests Are Helping Heart-Disease Patients

By Veronique Greenwood | April 9, 2011 3:11 pm

arteriesShould we be strapping these to our torsos?

We’re all a little bit radioactive now. Thanks to atom bomb tests in the mid-20th century, it’s possible to use radioactive (but harmless) carbon-14 to date not only bristlecone pines and putative Noah’s Arks but also, in a recent Karolinska Institutet study, Grandma and Grandpa’s artery fat.

The technique used in this study—radiocarbon dating—is widely employed by archaeologists and geologists to determine when organisms like fossilized trees or plants lived. All organisms absorb carbon-14 along with normal carbon-12 in a ratio that mirrors how much of each type is present in the atmosphere. (Carbon-14 is produced naturally in the upper atmosphere by cosmic rays, and then mixes throughout the atmosphere and into the oceans.) When an organism dies, the carbon-14 starts to decay at a known rate—half the atoms become nitrogen-14 in about 5,700 years—and the amount left in the tissue when it’s dug up can be used to back-calculate its age.

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When Doctors Diagnose "Broken Heart Syndrome"

By Eliza Strickland | February 12, 2010 2:03 pm

broken-heartIn honor of Valentine’s Day, we bring you the story of how hearts really can break. Doctors do occasionally diagnose someone with “broken heart syndrome,” but the patients aren’t necessarily the lovelorn dump-ees of the world.

The heart problem, which is more technically known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy, can be brought on by all kinds of emotional and physical stresses. Externally, someone with broken heart syndrome may appear to be having a heart attack, but the physical mechanism is actually quite different.

ABC News reports:

While a heart attack is usually caused by blocked arteries, medical experts believe broken heart syndrome is caused by a surge in adrenaline and other hormones. When patients experience an adrenaline rush in the aftermath of a stressful situation, the heart muscle may be overwhelmed and become temporarily weakened.

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Booming Music May Have Triggered Club-Goer's Heart Attack

By Darlene Cavalier | December 31, 2009 9:00 am

clubABC News reports on an unusual and tragic case of a heart attack triggered by blasting music. A British teenager died shortly after complaining of loud music at a London nightclub, according to reports. Details are sketchy but U.S. doctors suspect a genetic condition may be to blame.

From ABC News:

“Any time someone in a setting of excitement has a sudden cardiac arrest, especially at a young age with a seemingly normal heart, you have to consider [an inherited condition] such as long QT,” said Dr. Richard Page, chair of medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and president of the Heart Rhythm Society. “One of the genetic variants is especially predisposed to having an arrhythmia when exposed to loud sound.”

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MORE ABOUT: heart disease, music

Erectile Dysfunction Could Signal a Heart Attack

By Melissa Lafsky | May 19, 2008 12:34 pm

erectile dysfunctionWe’ve touched on the many uses of Viagra, both medicinal and recreational. But for those simply popping a pill and heading to bed, you may be overlooking a much bigger problem. Two new studies of men with type 2 diabetes found that erectile dysfunction (ED) was a major warning signal for heart disease, heart attacks, and even death. The subjects’ floundering erections began up to three years before their coronary symptoms appeared, and often served as a good indicator of their overall cardiovascular health.

The first, and larger study consisted of 2,306 men with type 2 diabetes, 25 percent of whom had ED. The research team followed their health for four years, and found that the men with ED had a much greater chance of having a heart attack, chest pains, or bypass surgery, or, worst of all, dying from heart disease.

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MORE ABOUT: heart disease
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