February 2009 references and further reading

Heart disease and stroke statistics update — 2008. American Heart Association. National quality indicators: 2005 national statistics, coronary artery bypass surgery. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Culler SD, Simon AW, Brown PP, Kugelmass AD, Reynolds MR, Rask KJ. Sex differences in hospital risk-adjusted mortality rates for Medicare beneficiaries undergoing CABG surgery. Archives of Internal Medicine 2008; 168:2317-22. (Locked) More »

Links to Home INR monitoring information

For anyone who takes warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven, generic), a number of studies have demonstrated that checking how quickly blood clots using a meter at home once a week is as good as going to a clinic once a month. It's much less hassle and just as accurate. The Home INR Study, reported at the American Heart Association meeting, showed that the two strategies are equivalent. Unfortunately, it isn't as easy to get a meter to check your international normalized ratio (INR), a measure of the blood's tendency to clot, as it is to get a home blood sugar monitor. First you have to get a prescription from your doctor. Then you have to get a loaner device and be trained to use it. Some doctors' offices are set up to do this, but most work with a business that specializes in home INR monitoring. These include: Philips INR@Home Quality Assured Services and ATS Medical (Locked) More »

Six minutes to save a life

Adapted from the Harvard Heart Letter Minutes matter when someone collapses from a cardiac arrest. Every day more than a thousand Americans keel over, felled by a cardiac arrest. Most stricken with this type of attack die. More could be saved with faster emergency care. (Locked) More »

Tracking down generic alternatives to brand-name drugs

Generic medications work as well as their brand-name counterparts at a fraction of the cost. Doctors aren't always aware of which drugs have generic versions, so you may need to do some sleuthing. We can recommend two excellent Web sites for doing this: DrugDigest.org lets you look up individual drugs or browse through drug categories. To find out whether a brand-name drug has a generic alternative, enter its name in the Search box on the left side of the page. Along with telling you its active ingredient and drug class, the information lists whether or not there's a generic version available. Just because a particular drug hasn't yet gone generic doesn't mean there isn't a generic alternative. At the top of the DrugDigest.org page, hover over the "Compare Drugs" tab and choose "Drug Comparisons" from the drop-down box. (Locked) More »

Bypass results vary by hospital

Researchers examining deaths during or soon after bypass surgery found that the surgeons and hospitals that did the most surgeries had the lowest death rates. (Locked) More »

Two-way street between depression and heart disease

Heart disease and depression are often closely linked. Depressed people are more likely to develop heart disease, and those living with heart disease are more likely to become depressed. The main avenues of treatment are medication, therapy, and exercise. (Locked) More »


Using a special garment to squeeze the legs in time with the heart can ease chest pain. The inflammation that causes rheumatoid arthritis affects the heart as well as the joints. (Locked) More »