Heart beat: News you can use (someday) from the AHA meeting

Heart beat

News you can use (someday) from the AHA meeting

With almost 4,000 presentations crammed into four days, the American Heart Association's annual meeting offers an almost overwhelming peek into the future of heart disease and heart health. In keeping with this issue's theme, here are summaries of more down-the-road research from the AHA meeting. We will explore these in more detail in later issues.

Reshaping the heart. Overwork and scar tissue can cause the heart to get out of shape — literally. An overgrown, flabby left ventricle, one of the hallmarks of heart failure, can't pump as efficiently as a normal-sized heart. Duke University researchers demonstrated that an operation to sculpt an overextended left ventricle into a stronger elliptical shape is feasible, though complex. A mesh-like stocking that wraps around the heart, called the CorCap Cardiac Support Device, also appears to help the heart pump more efficiently.

Anti-marijuana for weight loss, cholesterol. A new drug called rimonabant that blocks the substances in marijuana that give cannabis smokers hunger pangs ("the munchies") seems to help overweight people shed pounds while also lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and raising HDL (good) cholesterol.

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