March 10th, 2013
07:58 PM ET
Talk about a startling juxtaposition: A mummy in a CT scanner. You may be wondering: Why in the world would a mummy get a CT scan?
It turns out that preserved peoples are great study subjects, especially when you are trying to figure out the roots of health problems that span millennia.
A study released Sunday in The Lancet suggests that atherosclerosis - the disease that makes arteries go rigid, and is a leading cause of death worldwide - may have been around for thousands of years.
"We like to say that we found the serial killer that's stalked mankind for 4,000 years," said Dr. Randall Thompson, attending cardiologist at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute, and lead author of the study.
August 29th, 2012
01:01 PM ET
Calorie restriction has long been used to examine aging in rodents and monkeys. Past studies have shown that restricting calories in a nutritious diet by 10 to 40% can delay or prevent chronic diseases, slow aging and increase life spans.
But new research published this week in the journal Nature shows quite the opposite – that calorie restriction does not improve survival outcomes. Turns out, the issue may be more complicated than first thought.
Researchers at the National Institute of Aging have been studying the effects of calorie restriction in rhesus monkeys for more than 20 years in hopes of eventually applying the results to humans.
Male and female monkeys of all ages are enrolled in the study. The experimental group eats approximately 25% fewer calories than the control group. Any animal that dies during the study undergoes a necropsy (an autopsy performed on an animal) to find the probable cause of death.
August 15th, 2012
05:38 PM ET
A new study suggests eating egg yolks can accelerate heart disease almost as much as smoking.
The study published online in the journal Atherosclerosis found eating egg yolks regularly increases plaque buildup about two-thirds as much as smoking does. Specifically, patients who ate three or more yolks a week showed significantly more plaque than those who ate two or less yolks per week.
It may seem harsh to compare smoking with eating egg yolks, but lead study author Dr. David Spence says researchers needed a way to put it into perspective since both eating cholesterol and smoking increase cardiovascular risks - but the general public believes smoking is far worse for your health.
March 21st, 2012
04:18 PM ET
Most heart attacks hit without warning – when a blister plaque on the blood vessel wall ruptures. The resulting clot starves the heart of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood, causing a heart attack and possibly death.
Traditional diagnostic tools like treadmill stress tests only pick up major blockages in the blood vessels, but they don’t alert doctors to this type of impending catastrophe. That’s because the vast majority of heart attacks occur in people whose blood vessels are narrowed only slightly by cholesterol-laden plaque.
“We can’t detect these mild narrowings, which are almost exclusively responsible for heart attacks,” says Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California.
But Topol and a team of researchers now think they’ve found a way to determine which patients are only days or weeks away from a heart attack.
March 12th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
It's no secret that the empty calories in soda and other sugary drinks can contribute to weight gain and obesity. But a new study suggests these beverages also may harm your heart, even if they don't cause you to gain weight.
The study, which followed nearly 43,000 men for an average of 22 years, found that those who habitually drank one 12-ounce sweetened beverage per day were 20% more likely to have a heart attack, fatal or otherwise, than men who drank none.
The association could not be explained by obesity or weight gain alone. The researchers took into account the men's body mass index, along with their dietary habits, exercise levels, family history of heart disease, and other extentuating factors.
March 7th, 2012
03:49 PM ET
T. Colin Campbell co-authored a bestselling book touting the health benefits of eating like the rural Chinese. Now he’s trying to reacquaint the Chinese with the benefits of the plant-based diet he learned from them.
Campbell, who co-authored "The China Study" with his son, Thomas M. Campbell, said the Chinese are abandoning their vegetable-rich meals for fast food and other western fare.
“It’s ironic that some of the things we learned from the Chinese now we’re sort of taking back to China,” said Campbell, an American who is professor emeritus in nutritional sciences at Cornell University.
November 11th, 2011
02:40 PM ET
Children should all be tested for high cholesterol between ages 9 and 11 and again between 17 and 21 years of age, regardless of their family history, according to new guidelines released Friday.
The updated recommendations, aimed at fighting cardiovascular disease before it starts, came in a report released by the National Institutes of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“The more we learn about heart disease and stroke in adults, the more we know that the process begins in childhood and progresses over time,” wrote Dr. Stephen R. Daniels, chairman of the panel that reviewed the guidelines. “By working with families, we can keep kids at a lower lifetime risk and prevent more serious problems in adulthood.”
October 13th, 2011
03:00 PM ET
The prevalence of heart disease in the United States is declining, though rates vary widely depending on gender, race, education and geography, according to new figures released by the government.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the prevalence of coronary heart disease decreased from 6.7% to 6.0% from 2006 to 2010. The results, based on a national telephone survey, were published Thursday in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
"That’s a very significant decline, from 6.7% to 6% in five years,” said Dr. Jerome Cohen, a board member of the National Lipid Association and professor emeritus in preventive cardiology at St. Louis University.
“The bottom line is good news and bad news,” Cohen added. “It shows what we can do [with treatment]. How we can do better is also shown by the wide disparities.”
October 7th, 2011
02:31 PM ET
A new combination drug to treat both type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol was approved by the Food and Drug Administration Friday. Juvisync combines the blood sugar lowering drug sitagliptin or Januvia with the cholesterol lowering drug simvastatin sold under the brand name Zocor.
"This is the first product to combine a type 2 diabetes drug with a cholesterol lowering drug in one tablet," said Dr. Mary H. Parks, director of the Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "However, to ensure safe and effective use of this product, tablets containing different doses of sitagliptin and simvastatin in fixed-dose combination have been developed to meet the different needs of individual patients. Dose selection should factor in what other drugs the patient is taking."
August 29th, 2011
12:12 PM ET
Cholesterol-lowering medications like Lipitor seem to protect the body against more causes of death than just cardiovascular disease.
According to a retrospective study published Sunday in the European Heart Journal, the popular drug atorvastatin – sold by Pfizer under the name Lipitor – can also prevent death from infection and respiratory illness.
A clinical trial measuring the drug’s effectiveness ended in 2003 after having successfully shown to help prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Since then, the group taking atorvastatin has continued to experience “legacy effects” from that study – a 14% lower mortality rate compared to the group taking a placebo for the study.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.