Tag Archives: Washington University School of Medicine

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy

  1. Other Names: Broken-heart syndrome, Transient apical ballooning syndrome, Apical ballooning cardiomyopathy,Stress-induced cardiomyopathy, Gebrochenes-Herz-Syndrom, and Stress cardiomyopathy.
    Definition:
    Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is a type of non-ischaemic cardiomyopathy in which there is a sudden temporary weakening of the myocardium. Because this weakening can be triggered by emotional stress, It occurs as the response of the heart to sudden, intense emotional stress such as the death of a spouse; rejection at the workplace; acute fear; or uncontrolled anger. These intense emotions can cause immediate breathlessness or strokes. The broken heart can occur simultaneously or a few minutes later. Stress cardiomyopathy is a well-recognized cause of acute heart failure, lethal ventricular arrhythmias, and ventricular rupture.

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Around ten years ago, there were a few high profile deaths in young people. They were diagnosed as having died from a “broken heart”. Now, a broken heart or stunned myocardium syndrome is a documented condition.
Symptoms:
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy or Broken heart syndrome symptoms can mimic a heart attack.The symptoms are similar to a heart attack – chest pain, sweating, giddiness or dizziness, nausea, vomiting, weakness and palpitations. Blood pressure may drop. Heart failure may develop.

Any long-lasting or persistent chest pain could be a sign of a heart attack, so it’s important to take it seriously and call your doctor if you experience chest pain.

Causes:
The exact cause of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is not very clear. It is thought that a surge of stress hormones, such as adrenaline, might temporarily damage the hearts of some people. How these hormones might hurt the heart or whether something else is responsible isn’t completely clear. A temporary constriction of the large or small arteries of the heart may play a role.

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is often preceded by an intense physical or emotional event. Some potential triggers are:

*News of an unexpected death of a loved one
*A frightening medical diagnosis
*Domestic abuse
*Losing a lot of money
*Natural disasters
*A surprise party
*Having to perform publicly
*Job loss
*Divorce
*Physical stressors, such as an asthma attack, a car accident or major surgery

It’s also possible that some drugs, rarely, may cause broken heart syndrome by causing a surge of stress hormones. Drugs that may contribute to broken heart syndrome include:

*Epinephrine (EpiPen, EpiPen Jr), which is used to treat severe allergic reactions or a severe asthma attack
*Duloxetine (Cymbalta), a medication given to treat nerve problems in people with diabetes, or as a treatment for depression
*Venlafaxine (Effexor XR), which is a treatment for depression
*Levothyroxine (Synthroid, Levoxyl), a drug given to people whose thyroid glands don’t work properly
Differances between Takotsubo cardiomyopathy and hear attack are:

Heart attacks are generally caused by a complete or near complete blockage of a heart artery. This blockage is due to a blood clot forming at the site of narrowing from fatty buildup (atherosclerosis) in the wall of the artery. In Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, the heart arteries are not blocked, although blood flow in the arteries of the heart may be reduced.
Diagnosis:
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy or Transient apical ballooning syndrome is found in 1.7–2.2% of patients presenting with acute coronary syndrome. While the original case studies reported on individuals in Japan, Takotsubo cardiomyopathy has been noted more recently in the United States and Western Europe. It is likely that the syndrome went previously undiagnosed before it was described in detail in the Japanese literature.

The diagnosis of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy may be difficult upon presentation. The ECG findings are often confused with those found during an acute anterior wall myocardial infarction. It classically mimics ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, and is characterised by acute onset of transient ventricular apical wall motion abnormalities (ballooning) accompanied by chest pain, dyspnea, ST-segment elevation, T-wave inversion or QT-interval prolongation on ECG. Elevation of myocardial enzymes is moderate at worst and there is absence of significant coronary artery disease.

The diagnosis is made by the pathognomonic wall motion abnormalities, in which the base of the left ventricle is contracting normally or is hyperkinetic while the remainder of the left ventricle is akinetic or dyskinetic. This is accompanied by the lack of significant coronary artery disease that would explain the wall motion abnormalities. Although apical ballooning has been classically described as the angiographic manifestation of takotsubo, it has been shown that left ventricular dysfunction in this syndrome includes not only the classic apical ballooning, but also different angiographic morphologies such as mid-ventricular ballooning and rarely local ballooning of other segments.

The ballooning patterns were classified by Shimizu et al. as takotsubo type for apical akinesia and basal hyperkinesia, reverse takotsubo for basal akinesia and apical hyperkinesia, mid-ventricular type for mid-ventricular ballooning accompanied by basal and apical hyperkinesia and localised type for any other segmental left ventricular ballooning with clinical characteristics of takotsubo-like left ventricular dysfunction.

The ECG changes are atypical, with imprecise changes in the ST segment and T waves. They are “suspicious of but non conclusive” of myocardial infraction. Blood tests for the enzyme creatine kinase and proteins troponin should be done. These are elevated in a heart attack. In a stunned heart, these results too are inconclusive. The echocardiogram is the clincher. The heart is ballooned out. This change occurs typically at the apex of the heart. It is important to make a distinction between heart attack and takotsubo as the medication is different.

Treatment:
The treatment for takotsubo is mainly supportive. Medication is given to remove fluid from the lungs and prevent clots. Recovery occurs within a few days.

About two per cent of people who were thought to have a heart attack actually had broken hearts. In the case of women, this increases to seven per cent. Women, mainly menopausal ones (60-75 years), have “broken hearts” eight to nine times more often than men. Some people are genetically prone to “broken hearts.” Depression plays a role in susceptibility to this condition. Recurrences can occur in 10 per cent of people.

People who are in poor physical condition do not need severe emotional stress to suffer a broken heart. An episode may be precipitated by a minor event like rejection, or even a lecture or talk before an audience.

In order to never develop this condition; it is important to develop metal and physical toughness. Walking for 40-60 minutes a day at a brisk pace exposes the heart to small doses of adrenaline and nor adrenaline in a controlled manner. The heart gets conditioned and is immune to sudden chemical surges. Meditation and yoga provide calmness and the mental strength to cope with good days and bad.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takotsubo_cardiomyopathy
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/broken-heart-syndrome/basics/causes/con-20034635
http://www.telegraphindia.com/1141208/jsp/knowhow/story_2612.jsp

Abdominal CT Scan

Introduction:
An abdominal CT scan is an imaging method that uses x-rays to create cross-sectional pictures of the belly area. CT stands for computed tomography.
CT scans are pictures taken by a specialized x-ray machine. The machine circles your body and scans an area from every angle within that circle. The machine measures how much the x-ray beams change as they pass through your body. It then relays that information to a computer, which generates a collection of black-and-white pictures, each showing a slightly different “slice” or cross-section of your internal organs. Because these “slices” are spaced only about a quarter-inch apart, they give a very good representation of your internal organs and other structures. Doctors use CT scans to evaluate all major parts of the body, including the abdomen, back, chest, and head.

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CT stands for computerized tomography. In this procedure, a thin X-ray beam is rotated around the area of the body to be visualized. Using very complicated mathematical processes called algorithms, the computer is able to generate a 3-D image of a section through the body. CT scans are very detailed and provide excellent information for the physician.

A CT scan is an excellent way to view the organs inside your abdomen. It is especially useful for looking at solid organs, such as the liver, pancreas, spleen, kidneys, and adrenal glands. It is also excellent for viewing the large blood vessels that pass through the abdomen (the aorta and vena cava) and for finding lymph nodes in the abdomen. Organs that can change their shape when they are empty or full, such as stomach and intestines, are harder for a CT scan to evaluate well, because it is sometimes difficult for a doctor to tell for sure if they are abnormal. Often the CT can give some information about these organs, though. Abdominal CT scans are often used to look for signs of inflammation or infection inside the abdomen in different organs, to look for cancer, or to look for injury to one or another internal organ.

A CT scan provides a better picture of internal organs than traditional x-rays. The benefits of an abdominal CT scan usually far outweigh the risks of radiation exposure.

How the Test is Performed
You will be asked to lie on a narrow table that slides into the center of the CT scanner. Usually, you will lie on your back with your arms raised above the head.

The health care provider may inject a dye into one of your veins. This helps certain diseases and organs show up better on the images.

Once inside the scanner, the machine’s x-ray beam rotates around you. Small detectors inside the scanner measure the amount of x-rays that make it through the abdomen. A computer takes this information and creates several individual images, called slices.

You must be still during the exam, because movement causes blurred images. You may be told to hold your breath for short periods of time.

The actual scan time only takes a few minutes, although the entire procedure usually takes much longer.
A CT scan is an excellent way to view the organs inside your abdomen. It is especially useful for looking at solid organs, such as the liver, pancreas, spleen, kidneys, and adrenal glands. It is also excellent for viewing the large blood vessels that pass through the abdomen (the aorta and vena cava) and for finding lymph nodes in the abdomen. Organs that can change their shape when they are empty or full, such as stomach and intestines, are harder for a CT scan to evaluate well, because it is sometimes difficult for a doctor to tell for sure if they are abnormal. Often the CT can give some information about these organs, though. Abdominal CT scans are often used to look for signs of inflammation or infection inside the abdomen in different organs, to look for cancer, or to look for injury to one or another internal organ.

Why the Test is Performed
An abdominal CT rapidly creates detailed pictures of the belly area. The test may be used to:

*Study blood vessels
*Identify masses and tumors, including cancer
*Look for infections, kidney stones, or appendicitis
.How to Prepare for the Test
If you are having an abdominal CT scan, you might have to fast 2–4 hours before your test. You also may have to drink a large quantity of oral contrast, a fluid that will show up on the CT scan and help define the lining of some internal organs.

Tell your doctor if you’re allergic to x-ray contrast dyes, may be pregnant, or have diabetes and take insulin. Insulin can cause hypoglycemia after missing a meal. or have had difficulty with previous CT scans.

If contrast or sedation is used, you may also be asked not to eat or drink anything for 4-6 hours before the test.

Since x-rays have difficulty passing through metal, you will be asked to remove jewelry and wear a hospital gown during the study.

What happens when the test is performed?
The test is done in the radiology department of a hospital or in a diagnostic clinic. You wear a hospital gown and lie on your back on a table that can slide back and forth through the donut-shaped CT machine. A technician or other health care professional inserts an IV and injects more contrast dye through it. This dye outlines blood vessels and soft tissue to help them show up clearly on the pictures.

The technologist moves the table with a remote control to enable the CT machine to scan your body from all of the desired angles. You will be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds each time a new level is scanned. The technologist usually works the controls from an adjoining room, watching through a window and sometimes speaking to you through a microphone. A CT scan takes about 30–45 minutes. Although it’s not painful, you might find it uncomfortable if you don’t like to lie still for extended periods.

How the Test Will Feel
The x-rays are painless. Some people may have discomfort from lying on the hard table.

Contrast give through an IV may cause a slight burning sensation, a metallic taste in the mouth, and a warm flushing of the body. These sensations are normal and usually go away within a few seconds.

Risk Factors:-
There are a few small risks. The contrast dye used in the test can damage your kidneys, especially if they are already impaired by disease.However, some newer dyes are less likely to cause kidney injuries. If kidney damage does occur, this is usually temporary, although in some rare cases it becomes permanent. If you are allergic to the dye used in the procedure, you may get a rash or your blood pressure may drop enough to make you feel faint until you get treatment. As with x-rays, there is a small exposure to radiation. The amount of radiation from a CT scan is greater than that from regular x-rays, but it’s still too small to be likely to cause harm unless you’re pregnant.

An abdominal CT scan is usually not recommended for pregnant women, because it may harm the unborn child. Women who are or may be pregnant should speak with their health care provider to determine if ultrasound can be used instead.

CT scans and other x-rays are strictly monitored and controlled to make sure they use the least amount of radiation. CT scans do create low levels of ionizing radiation, which has the potential to cause cancer and other defects. However, the risk associated with any individual scan is small. The risk increases as numerous additional studies are performed.

In some cases, a CT scan may still be done if the benefits greatly out weigh the risks. For example, it can be more risky not to have the exam, especially if your health care provider thinks you might have cancer.

The most common dye used is iodine based. A person who is allergic to iodine may have nausea, sneezing, vomiting, itching, or hives. Rarely, the dye may cause anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic response).

Results:-
What Abnormal Results Mean

The CT scan may show the following:

*Abdominal aortic aneurysm
*Abscesses
*Acute bilateral obstructive uropathy
*Acute cholecystitis
*Acute unilateral obstructive uropathy
*Addison’s disease
*Amebic liver abscess
*Appendicitis
*Bilateral hydronephrosis
*Bowel wall thickening
*Carcinoma of the renal pelvis or ureter
*Cholangiocarcinoma
*Choledocholithiasis
*Cholelithiasis
*Chronic bilateral obstructive uropathy
*Chronic cholecystitis
*Chronic pancreatitis
*Chronic unilateral obstructive uropathy
*Complicated UTI (pyelonephritis)
*Cystinuria
*Cysts
*Echinococcus
*Enlarged lymph nodes
*Enlarged organs
*Gastrointestinal or bowel obstruction
*Glucagonoma
*Hairy cell leukemia
*Hepatocellular carcinoma
*Histoplasmosis; disseminated
*Hodgkin’s lymphoma
*Islet of Langerhans’ tumor
*Multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) II
*Nephrocalcinosis
*Nephrolithiasis
*Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
*Ovarian cancer
*Pancreatic abscess
*Pancreatic carcinoma
*Pancreatic pseudocyst
*Pancreatitis
*Pheochromocytoma
*Primary hyperaldosteronism
*Pyelonephritis – acute
*Pyogenic liver abscess
*Renal cell carcinoma
*Retroperitoneal fibrosis
*Sclerosing cholangitis
*Stones (bladder, kidney, liver, gall bladder)
*Testicular cancer
*Tumors
*Unilateral hydronephrosis
*Ureterocele
*Wilms’ tumor
*Wilson’s disease
*Zollinger-Ellison syndrome

Additional conditions under which the test may be performed include the following:-
*Acute renal failure
*Alcoholic liver disease (hepatitis/cirrhosis)
*Atheroembolic renal disease
*Chronic glomerulonephritis
*Chronic renal failure
*Cushing syndrome
*Cushing syndrome caused by adrenal tumor
*Injury of the kidney and ureter
*Medullary cystic kidney disease
*Multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) I
*Polycystic kidney disease
*Reflux nephropathy
*Renal artery stenosis
*Renal vein thrombosis
*Skin lesion of histoplasmosis

How long is it before the result of the test is known?
The radiologist can probably give you preliminary results within a day. The formal reading of your CT scan might take another day.

Resources:
https://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/diagnostics/abdominal-ct-scan.shtml
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003789.htm

Exercise ‘Cuts Colon Cancer Risk’

Endoscopic image of colon cancer identified in...

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Taking exercise can cut the risk of the most common kind of bowel cancer by a quarter, research suggests.

US scientists, who reviewed 52 previous studies, calculated the most active people are 24% less likely to develop colon cancer than the least active.

……
Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death

Colon cancer is the most common form of bowel cancer, a disease which affects more than 36,500 people a year in the UK, causing 16,000 deaths.

These results give us a very reliable calculation of the positive effect that exercise can have on reducing colon cancer risk ” says Dr Kathleen Wolin of Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis

The study appears in the British Journal of Cancer.

The study took into account many different types of physical activity including occupational activity like manual labour, as well as more traditional leisure-time activity such as running or going to the gym.

Lead researcher Dr Kathleen Wolin, from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis said: “These results give us a very reliable calculation of the positive effect that exercise can have on reducing colon cancer risk.

“It’s very positive to see that exercise has such a clear benefit in reducing cancer risk and we hope it will encourage people to enjoy a healthy active lifestyle as well as treating it as a way to minimise their colon cancer risk.”

Dr Wolin said she hoped it would eventually be possible to give individuals a detailed breakdown of how they could reduce their chances of cutting their risk of bowel cancer tailored to their own specific circumstances.

Sara Hiom, director of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: “One hundred people a day are diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK alone, so it’s imperative that we do all we can to prevent the disease.

“We know that around half of all cancers could be prevented by changes to lifestyle.

“Maintaining a healthy bodyweight is one of the best ways to lower the risk of bowel and other cancers – potentially helping to avoid an estimated 13,000 cases each year.”

You may click to see:->
Hopes over DIY bowel cancer tests
Shining a light on bowel cancer
Tag for aggressive bowel cancer
Bowel cancer screening to begin

Sources: BBC NEWS: 12Th. Feb.’09

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Exercise is the Heart’s Fountain of Youth

Older people who do endurance exercise training end up with metabolically younger hearts, according to a study at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. By at least one metabolic measure, women benefit more than men from the training.

Researchers measured heart metabolism in sedentary older people both at rest and during administration of dobutamine, a drug that makes the heart race as if a person were exercising vigorously. At the start of the study, they found that the hearts of the study subjects didn’t increase their uptake of glucose in response to the dobutamine.

But after endurance exercise training involving walking, running or cycling exercises three to five days a week for about an hour per session, the participants’ hearts doubled their glucose uptake during high-energy demand, just as younger hearts do.

If heart muscle doesn’t take in glucose in response to increased energy needs, it goes into an energy-deprived state, which can raise the risk of heart attack. But if it can increase glucose uptake, the heart is better protected against heart attack and ischemia (low oxygen).
Sources:
Science Daily July 24, 2008
American Journal of Physiology — Heart and Circulatory Physiology June 20, 2008

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Itch Gene Discovered

Relief may soon be at hand for chronic scratchers:-
Scratch no more. A remedy for that unpleasant itching sensation could be in the offing with researchers spotting the first ever gene responsible for itchiness in the central nervous system.

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Itching is a widespread problem often associated with skin diseases.

The discovery of the itch gene  GRPR (gastrin-releasing peptide receptor) — by two Washington University School of Medicine researchers could lead to treatments that provide relief from chronic and severe scratchiness.

Zhou-Feng Chen and his post-doctoral fellow Yan-Gang Sun reported in Nature last week the GRPR gene codes for a receptor that resides in a very small population of spinal cord nerve cells that relay pain and itch signals. Their tests on mice showed that the animals that lacked this gene scratched much less than those having it when given itchy stimuli.

Chronic itching is a widespread problem and is often associated with skin disorders such as eczema. But sometimes kidney failures or liver disorders too trigger an itching sensation. It can also be a serious side effect of certain cancer therapies or powerful painkillers like morphine. For some, chronic itching can be very disruptive, interfering with sleep or resulting in scarring. Whatever the cause, effective treatment options are limited for itchiness.

Traditionally, scientists regarded itchiness as just a less intense version of the pain sensation. As a result, research on itching has been patchy. Itch research has always lived in the shadow of pain research,….says Chen.

In the beginning, Chen’s team, too, wasn’t actually looking for the itch gene. The scientists stumbled upon it accidentally while trying to figure out the genes associated with the pain stimuli. Among the pain-sensing genes they identified, GRPR stood out because it was present in only a few nerve cells in the spinal cord known to relay pain and/or itch signals to the brain. This prompted them to study some mice that were missing the GRPR gene to find out how they were different from normal mice.

The research was a little disappointing at first,  says Chen.  The knockout mice seemed to have the same reactions to painful stimuli as normal mice.

But the puzzle was resolved when his co-worker, Sun, injected a substance that stimulated GRPR to the spinal cords of normal mice — the rodents started scratching themselves as if they had a severe itch. This tip off led to detailed investigation that resulted in the discovery of the first gene implicated in the urge to itch.

Source:The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)