Battling cancer, video of hope

March 11, 2012 by  
Filed under CANCER, VIDEO

Life in a clinic

June 30, 2010 by  

Yesterday, I was visiting a friend of mine who was admitted to a rehabilitation clinic following cancer treatment. She was looking good and upbeat and I was glad to catch up with her after all these months. In course of our talk, I learned so many things about how being in a clinic can affect one’s life, not only as a patient, but also as family and friends of the patient.

The patient

A patient is caught between uncertainty and hope. My friend was in a beautiful private clinic with lovely gardens and friendly staff and even a pool. There is no canteen but a restaurant where patients and their guests can dine on good food chosen from 3 different menus. Yet my friend is longing to go back home where she has to do all the housework plus the cooking.

A patient feels like a patient even in such luxurious amiable surroundings. There is no place like home and for many patients, the prospect of not being able to go home again is difficult to accept. Yet he or she must prepare herself/himself for this eventuality.

One thing that makes life for a patient even more difficult is strained personal relationship that somehow gets even worse under such circumstances.

The family

The family has to learn to cope without the patient while he or she is undergoing treatment or convalescing. If it is the wife/mother who is the patient, then the husband and children have to pitch in and take care of the household temporarily. If it is the husband/father, the mother has to perform all parental duties alone for a while. If the patient is the sole breadwinner of the family, then the healthy partner/spouse has to take over the financial responsibilities for a while. In this case, sometimes the role reversal opens a spouse’s/partner’s/child’s eyes to the important role of the patient in their lives. My friend’s husband finally realized how difficult it had been all these years for her to do the laundry without a tumble dryer. Another friend whose husband is undergoing chemotherapy was called for a meeting to her son’s kindergarten. The boy has been telling the whole class that he and his mom might have to live on the streets if his dad doesn’t recover.

But it is not only about the housework or the finances. My friend’s 12-year old son is sad to come home to a cold empty house and badly misses his mom’s presence. Let this be a lesson to all of us. We seldom appreciate how important our mom, our dad, our wife, our husband, our partner, our child, our sister, our brother, our friend to us until he or she is not around, whether temporarily or permanently.

Show your appreciation – now!

CVD News Watch November 28

November 28, 2008 by  

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Hope you are having a relaxing long weekend. Here’s your heart and stroke news round up.

CVD intervention watch

German doctors perform heart surgery sensation
Only 4 or 5 such operations are done each year and only the top heart surgeons do it. Still, the chances of survival are very low. Yet, 4-month old Katy May is alive and doing well. She was born with a heart anomaly wherein “her four-centimetre heart had turned 90 degrees in her body, causing her artery to shut off her windpipe.” If not operated upon, the baby would have died of suffocation. Another event to be thankful for at Thanksgiving.

CVD aging watch

Bittersweet milestones
The elderly are rapidly aging and many are wondering whether this will be their last Thanksgiving. According to the US Bureau of the Census, there are currently more 60,000 in the country who are at least 100 years old and this figure is expected to increase. Unfortunately, people reaching that ripe age tend to be depressed. Better quality of life for centenarians may actually depend on their caregivers, doctors, and family members.

CVD weight loss watch

Proof: high protein diet burns fat
Is this finally the answer to weight loss? Australian researchers report that protein-rich meals burn fat. This is great news because this means we can actually eat anything we want as long as they are high in protein and low in fat and sugar. According to the author, “forget the fad diets that are so fashionable these days. Instead, include lean protein from healthy foods like lean red meat, chicken and fish, legumes, eggs, nuts and reduced-fat dairy foods. People wanting individual advice on how much protein they need should see an Accredited Practising Dietitian.”

CVD health care watch

Poorest Canadians more likely to enter hospital: report
A report based on the Canadian study Reducing Gaps in Health: A Focus on Socio-Economic Status in Urban Canada says that “poorer Canadians are more likely to enter hospital for health problems such as child asthma, mental illness and diabetes, including potentially preventable conditions.” This underlines a great need for prevention measures especially among the low socio-economic groups.

CVD patient watch

Girl Survives Months Without Heart
This 14-year girl from Britain has been without a heart for almost four months now. D’Zhana Simmons is on a “bridging device”, a specially designed blood pumping device which enables her to live while waiting for a heart donor. Watch a video report on SkyNews by clicking here.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

CVD Newswatch October 10

October 10, 2008 by  

A round up of heart news for you from all over to mark the end the week.

CVD prevention watch

Pneumococcal vaccination ‘halves MI risk’

This vaccine was developed to protect people from one disease but it has shown additional beneficial effects in another indication – cardiovascular health. The pneumococcal vaccine is meant to prevent acute infections caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae. However, the vaccine seems to lower people’s risk of having heart attacks 2 years (and beyond) after inoculation. The authors interpret their results as follows:

“Pneumococcal vaccination was associated with a decrease of more than 50% in the rate myocardial infarction 2 years after exposure. If confirmed, this association should generate interest in exploring the putative mechanisms and may offer another reason to promote pneumococcal vaccination.”

CVD treatment watch

1 dose of EPO may halt cell suicide following a heart attack

A single intravenous dose of the hormone erythropoietin (EPO) immediately after a heart attack can significantly reduce cell death and heart damage, according to Japanese researchers. Following a heart attack, damage occurs in two ways: necrosis (normal cell death) and apoptosis (programmed cell death or cell suicide). EPO administration reduced apoptosis as demonstrated in laboratory rats.

CVD clinical trial watch

Northwestern Memorial trials implantable device to manage congestive heart failure symptoms

This aptly named clinical trial called US PARACHUTE evaluates a device to improve the heart’s pumping action in the management of congestive heart failure. The trial tests the efficacy of placing a small device in the main pumping chamber of the heart – the left ventricle. Cardiologists at the Northwestern Memorial physicians has just recently implanted device in the first study participant, so far only the sixth person in the United States to undergo the procedure.

The goal of the study is to return the ventricle to a normal shape, decrease heart failure symptoms and prevent the heart from further deterioration,” according to the trial’s chief investigator.

CVD stem cell watch

Can stem cells heal damaged hearts? No easy answers, but some signs of hope

In a previous post, I reviewed nonclinical studies on the use of stem cells in treating heart disease. According to experts who reviewed existing data, more research is needed before stem cell therapy can be used in the clinical setting.

 “…More clinical trials are needed to assess the effectiveness of stem cell therapies for heart patients, as well as studies to establish how these treatments work.”

CVD patient watch

450kg man dies after pleading for help

He weighed 450 kg but he wasn’t the heaviest man in the world. The online newspaper The Australian reports that Jose Luis Garza died of heart failure shortly after appealing for medical help on national (Mexican TV). The man who holds the record for being heaviest – Manual Uribe is 560 kg – lives just about an hour away.


Photo credit: world news by jayofboy at stock.xchng

CVD weekend news watch, September 19

September 19, 2008 by  

Due to some technical problems, I couldn’t bring you a news round up last week. But I have some for you this week. Happy reading.

CVD pollution watch

Air pollution can hinder heart’s electrical functioning

Heart patients, stay away from traffic-polluted areas! According to this study reviewed by the American Heart Association (AHA), heart attack survivors and other cardiac patients should avoid being around heavy vehicular traffic. Fumes coming from the exhaust of vehicles contain microparticles and black carbon. These pollutants in the air have adverse effects on the heart’s electrical functioning.

CVD tobacco watch

Smoking influences antiplatelet response to clopidogrel

Here’s another reason why heart disease and smoking do not go together. It seems that smoking interferes with the clinical effects of the medication clopidogrel, an anti-platelet drug indicated for preventing blood clots in patients with high risks for heart attacks and stroke. “Current smokers have increased platelet inhibition and lower platelet aggregation“, according to heartwire.

CVD infection watch

Bleeding Gums Linked To Heart Disease

Poor dental and oral hygiene increases the risk for a heart attack, according to a study by microbiologists from the University of Bristol and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. According to one author, “oral bacteria such as Streptococcus gordonii and Streptococcus sanguinis are common infecting agents, and we now recognise that bacterial infections are an independent risk factor for heart diseases.”

CVD biotech watch

Stem cell regeneration repairs congenital heart defect

Promising results from stem cell research. Researchers at Mayo Clinic were able to demonstrate that dilated cardiomyopathy, a congenital heart defect, can be treated with stem cells. Using embryonic stem cells, they were able to regenerate heart tissue that can repair birth defects of the heart. This is good tidings for many patients, most of them children, who were born with this defect. In most of these cases, heart transplant is the only cure. With this new technology, more young lives will be saved.

CVD patient watch

CPR Saves Zayden’s Life

CPR saved this baby’s life, thanks to his mother who had taken a CPR course years before. The boy slipped out of his safety bath seat and fell into the water. Check out your heart advocacy group now for a CPR course now!

CVD medical device watch

FDA Approves Software Update that Identifies Potential Defibrillator Lead Fractures

With the controversies on recalls of defibrillators, portable (AEDs) or implantable (ICDs), the manufacturer Medtronic is stepping up on safety of the patients and try to rescue products that are losing popularity. This new software will alert both patients and physicians of a potential lead fracture in the ICD Sprint Fidelis. The model’s lead was the subject of a recall last year because it was prone to fracture.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

CVD News Watch for the Weekend, August 1

August 1, 2008 by  

It’s Friday again and I am bringing you good and not-so-good news from the CVD front.

CVD biotech watch

New research on pre-eclampsia in mice may have important implications for humans

Researchers at the University of Texas-Houston Medical School were able to induce pre-eclampsia in mice by injecting the animals with certain human autoantibodies isolated from women with the disorder. The researchers were able to reverse the symptoms by giving the mice drugs that blocked the autoantibodies. This breakthrough can lead to new therapies for the prevention and management of pre-eclampsia.

CVD patient watch

Overweight elderly Americans contribute to financial burdens of the US health care system

Overweight people incur higher healthcare costs than those with normal weight, according to reports published in Health Services Research. Over a lifetime, an overweight or obese elderly person will cost Medicare 6 to 17% more than a person of similar age but of normal weight. Obesity is major risk factor for cardiovascular disorder and type 2 diabetes.

CVD drug watch

Federal authorities seize xiadafil vip tablets after company refuses to recall product

This drug is sold as nutritional supplements but actually contains hydroxyhomosildenafil, which is very similar to sildenafil, otherwise commonly known as Viagra, the popular prescription drugs against erectile dysfunction (ED).

ED is a common problem in men who have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease. Because they may have been advised against taking ED drugs, men with these conditions may seek alternative products like Xiadafil VIP tablets because they are marketed as “all natural” or as not containing the active ingredients in approved, prescribed ED drugs. Furthermore, because the manufacturing source of the active ingredients in many of these alternative products is unknown, consumers should also be aware that the safety, efficacy, and purity of these ingredients have not been verified by the FDA.

CVD nutrition watch

Iron intake linked to blood pressure

Intake of total and non-haem iron which is found in vegetables has a positive effect on blood pressure (BP), according to researchers at the Imperial College London. However, no link was found between BP and dietary haem iron from animal sources.

CVD legislation watch

Statement by American Heart Association President Timothy J. Gardner, M.D. in response to Senate vote on STOP Stroke Act omnibus package

The American Heart Association expressed disappointment over the House of Senate’s vote on the STOP Stroke Act omnibus package. According to AHA President,

“…the Senate vote is a huge setback for stroke patients, caregivers and healthcare providers in our ongoing battle against this debilitating and costly disease…Our lawmakers missed an opportunity to help Americans get appropriate and timely care to minimize the devastating consequences of a stroke.”

Photo credit

CVD News Watch for the Weekend, July 25

July 25, 2008 by  


Have a great weekend!

CVD nutrition watch

Margarine, pastry producers slow to reduce trans-fat levels: task force

Some food companies are resistant to lowering the trans-fat content of the food they sell, according to a task force formed by Health Canada and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Some of these food companies are listed in this CBC News report.


CVD pollution watch

Beijing pollution may trigger heart attacks, strokes among spectators

In this podcast, two professors of medicine at the Northwestern University, Dr. Gokhan Mutlu and Dr. Scott Budinger discuss the health risks that visitors to the Beijing Olympics might encounter. It’s not only the athletes who are in danger, it’s the spectators as well.


CVD biotech watch

Researchers grow human blood vessels in mice from adult progenitor cells

Another first! Researchers at Harvard have developed human blood vessels from adult blood and bone marrow stem cells for the first time. And they work. The blood vessels have been successfully implanted in mice.


CVD weight loss watch

Limiting fructose may boost weight loss

Researchers at the UT Southwester Medical Center report that less fructose in our diet can help get rid of those extra pounds. Fructose occurs naturally in fruits and has always been thought to be a healthier alternative to table sugar. Some food products, especially beverages use this as artificial sweetener. Now we know better.


CVD fitness watch

Exercise could be the heart’s fountain of youth

Previous research studies have shown that exercise can delay, even reverse aging. It is also known that the heart deteriorates with age. Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine studied how exercise can affect the heart – with very encouraging results. Endurance exercise seems to keep the heart younger! More about exercise next week.


CVD patient watch

Heart Surgery Survivor Looks Forward to Motherhood

Heart surgery survivor Rebecca Venis was diagnosed with a bad aortic valve at the age of 8. She underwent human aortic valve transplant in 2000. The graft started leaking and she underwent another surgery, this time a pig valve replacement. This one seems to work well and Rebecca is back to running and mountain climbing. It might even now be possible for her to get pregnant.


CVD treatment watch

Scientists suspect omega-3 fatty acids could slow acute wound healing

They are supposedly good for the heart, but this popular fish oil used by many as nutritional supplement seems to slow down wound healing, according to researchers at the Ohio State University. In their research, they compared the healing process of blister wounds of people taking omega-3 supplements compared to those taking only placebo. Although healing seemed to have proceeded almost at the same time in the two groups, something different was observed at the cellular level. There were more proteins associated with initiating and sustaining inflammation observed in the blister fluid of those who were taking the active supplement. The researchers expected exactly the opposite and are still trying to figure out the mechanisms behind this.

These findings are very significant because many heart patients are on omega-3 supplementation. If healing is indeed slowed down by these supplements, then such supplements are not suitable for patients scheduled for surgery.


Photo credit

CVD News Watch for the Weekend 11 July 2008

July 11, 2008 by  

Here is your compiled CVD news to enjoy over the weekend.

CVD lifestyle watch

Heart-Friendly Cities Revealed

The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement, through Sperling’s BestPlaces, conducted a study to determine how heart-friendly is your city.

And here are the results.

Top 3 most heart-friendly mega metros (= cities with population equal or greater than 1.5 million)

  • Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
  • San Francisco-San Jose-Oakland, CA

3 least heart-friendly mega metros

  • Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI
  • St. Louis, MO-IL
  • Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro, TN

Want to know whether your city is heart-friendly? Click here for a full list of heart-friendly cities in the US.

CVD patient watch

From CBC News: “Ontario woman gains East Coast accent following stroke

This woman was very lucky to survive a stroke but at the expense of her accent. Her Ontario accent was replaced by a much slower Canadian East Coast accent.

The rare syndrome affects people who have had a stroke, causing them to speak in a different accent than the one they had before the stroke. It usually occurs after a stroke damages the areas of the left hemisphere of the brain related to speech production, such as Broca’s area, pre-motor and motor areas and the basal ganglia.”

Small price to pay for surviving a stroke, I’d say.

CVD weight watch

From Reuters: “How weekend eating adds up

We are eating more on weekends, especially on Saturdays, leading to weight gain that adds up to almost 10 lbs a year! Careful, today is Friday.

CVD medical device watch

XIENCETM V Everolimus Eluting Coronary Stent now approved in the US

The US FDA approves Xience V, the eluting coronary stent system containing the drug everolimus. According to the FDA

“The XIENCE V stent is used in patients who have a significant narrowing in their coronary arteries caused by coronary artery disease – a condition that occurs when the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to the heart muscle become narrowed or blocked by a gradual build-up of ‘plaque’.”

For more information about this device, check out this video clip from Abbott.

CVD cholesterol watch

The New York Times “Cholesterol Drugs for Kids

The American Academy of Pediatrics broadens existing guidelines to include more cholesterol screening for children starting at age 2 and the use of cholesterol-lowering medications in children as young as 8 years old. More about the AAP guidelines next week.

CVD clinical trial watch

From heartwire: “FDA advisory committee recommends cardiovascular safety studies for diabetes drugs

After Avandia, the FDA is more wary about diabetic drugs. The regulatory body would require more clinical studies on new diabetes drugs to rule out cardiovascular risk before they can be approved for marketing.

Have a nice weekend.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.