Harvard Heart Letter

In Brief: Back on your feet again

In Brief

  • Back on your feet again. After a heart attack, most people are told to wait six to eight weeks before returning to work or "normal activities." An Australian team suggests that those at low risk for having a repeat heart attack can get back to normal after just two weeks. In this study, low risk meant being free from chest pain following the heart attack, having adequate pumping power in the left ventricle, and having a negative exercise stress test. (American Journal of Cardiology)

  • New transplant drug. In March 2006, the FDA approved Prograf, the first new drug since 1998 to keep the body from rejecting a transplanted heart. The active ingredient in Prograf is tacrolimus, which is also being tested in some artery-opening stents. (FDA)

  • Monitoring rejection. Speaking of heart transplants, a genetic tool called AlloMap offers an early warning that the body is rejecting a new heart. This blood test looks at the activity of 20 or so genes in white blood cells. It could someday replace the uncomfortable biopsy as the standard tool for monitoring heart rejection. (International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation)

  • Nitrates may fail Asians. A common genetic mutation may explain why nitroglycerin, a key drug for controlling chest pain (angina), doesn't always work for Asians. Researchers from Shanghai and the United States found that one-third to one-half of Asians carry a gene that blunts or cancels out the artery-opening effects of nitroglycerin. (Journal of Clinical Investigation)

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