The Washington, D.C. based American College of Cardiology (ACC) closed up its 2010 Annual Conference with some very interesting announcements earlier this week. The ACC is the main advocate for quality cardiovascular care through education, research promotion, development and application of standards and guidelines, and has been a main partner with major decision makers in the current health care reform debate.
Some of the most notable announcements this past week included studies into heart problems suffered by many World Trade Center workers following the 9/11 terrorists attacks; the effect of the stock market on your heart's health; and the announcement of new, less invasive procedures to fix leaky heart valves.
However, two other items really made news. The first was the announcement that a recent study (called ACCORD) found that a drug taken for decades by millions of people with type 2 diabetes to prevent heart attacks, strokes and deaths offered no benefit in a broad group of patients. The drug, known as Tricor, lowers triglycerides and boosts good cholesterol, seemingly lowering heart risk. But in most type 2 diabetes patients, it failed to achieve the goal of reducing a combination of heart attacks, strokes and deaths. The study involved 5,518 patients, and it found that treating diabetic patients with Tricor and cholesterol-lowering simvastatin offered no greater benefit than the statin alone.
The second very interesting study result that was released during the conference involved marathon runners. The researchers' study showed that marathon runners are at risk for high blood pressure and heart complications, as endurance training can stress the cardiovascular system. Researchers with the Athens Medical School and Hippokration Hospital in Athens, Greece, said that while moderate exercise has a protective effect and people who don't exercise have a higher risk of developing heart- related problems, exercising too much can do harm.
The runners in the study trained about 10 to 19 hours a week, for periods ranging from about 2 to 20 years, the researchers said. Standard marathoners run 26.2 miles (42 kilometers) from start to finish. The scientists used an evaluation index called pulse wave velocity that measures stiffness in the aorta. The test showed marathon runners had a higher wave velocity, indicating rigid artery walls. Stiffness in the aorta causes high blood pressure, and can be an indicator of cardiovascular disease and predictor of heart attack and related death.
Published On: March 19, 2010