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U of M Expert Perspectives: Assessing the potential of the world’s first bioprosthetic heart

Twelve days after receiving the world’s first bioprosthetic heart from French company Carmat, a 75 year old Frenchman is in “very satisfactory condition” according to a statement from the Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris.

In addition, the surgeons who implanted the device released a statement to the media which said, “the artificial heart is functioning normally, automatically catering to the body’s needs without any manual adjustment.”

Should the patient continue to make progress, the case – which captured international headlines prior to Christmas – may offer hope to thousands of heart failure patients nationwide who cannot receive a donor heart due to their age or lack of organ availability.

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University of Minnesota surgeons unveil new hybrid OR

Earlier today, surgeons from University of Minnesota Heart at Fairview performed a complex endovascular aneurysm repair that demonstrated the technology and capabilities of a new hybrid operating room at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, that integrates vascular surgery, cardiology, interventional radiology, cardiac surgery and anesthesia services.

The room, developed in partnership with Philips Healthcare, is a unique combination; part endoscopy suite and part operating room that offers unparalleled technology including:

  • An integration of technologies that allows for 70 percent less radiation exposure to patients and clinical providers during X-ray based procedures
  • A Philips Flexmove x-ray beam mounting system that allows for better beam positioning
  • A complete compliment of ultrasound and echo technology, as well as the ability to display a patient’s previous CT and MRI images, allowing for improved disease targeting and a reduction or elimination of some surgical incisions.
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Positivity and physical activity remain key in the fight against cardiovascular disease

Two recent studies have armed cardiologists with even more evidence that a positive mindset and physical activity can reduce the risk and impact of cardiovascular disease.

First, in late September researchers from Tillburg University in the Netherlands announced results of a new study that found positivity might go a long way in helping people survive manage their heart disease.

Then, in a second study published earlier this month in the British Medical Journal, a research team comprised of experts from the London School of EconomicsHarvard Medical School and the Stanford University School of Medicine found that physical activity and exercise was often as effective as medical intervention in managing conditions like heart disease, heart failure and pre-diabetes.

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U of M expert perspective: Understanding the differences in heart attack symptoms in men and women

Thanks in part to decades of conditioning, a majority of the general public still believes that the ultimate telltale sign of a heart attack centers around one symptom: chest pain.

But now, new research from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre in Canada has found that in young and middle-aged women, chest pain might not be the first signal a heart attack is occurring.

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Health Talk Recommends: Sugar Love (A not so sweet story)

In a fascinating National Geographic feature appearing this month, writer Rich Cohen provides a look at just how sugar grew from crop to luxury spice to dietary staple. It’s an interesting read.

Cohen profiles how, in our early history, sugar’s popularity rose as empires expanded. As our exposure to sugar increased, the demand for access fueled European expansion as national leaders sought new territories possessing cane-friendly climates. In a sense, as humanity’s exposure to sugar grew, so did our appetite for the sweet stuff.

Cohen writes:

“Sugar was the oil of its day. The more you tasted, the more you wanted. In 1700 the average Englishman consumed 4 pounds a year. In 1800 the common man ate 18 pounds of sugar. In 1870 that same sweet-toothed bloke was eating 47 pounds annually. Was he satisfied? Of course not! By 1900 he was up to 100 pounds a year. In that span of 30 years, world production of cane and beet sugar exploded from 2.8 million tons a year to 13 million plus. Today the average American consumes 77 pounds of added sugar annually, or more than 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day.”

From there, Cohen outlines how the body perceives sugar and why as our intake creeps upward, so does the danger to our body. He points out what many simply might not know: your body metabolizes glucose and fructose differently. And sadly, fructose is what gives table sugar (and most of your favorite snacks) their sweetness.

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Health Talk Recommends: Odra Noel’s Map of Health

Sometimes, information and art can intersect in wonderful ways. Take, for example, this recent “Map of Health” from British physician-slash-artist Odra Noel.

Through her art, Noel often explores human organs and tissues, cell structure and mitochondria. But in her “Map of Health,” Noel illustrates major causes of death across the world by shading broad expanses of global territory with illustrations of the tissues and cells impacted by the conditions and diseases most common in those areas.

For example, North America’s boundaries are filled in with the adipose tissue that composes fat to represent our obesity epidemic. The far East and Pacific are shaded with pancreatic acinar tissue because its failure leads to diabetes, a rising epidemic.

Noel concludes her project’s description as follows:

“The good news is, we have medicines and other treatments to cure, alleviate, prevent or slow down the progression of all these diseases. And many people around the world are doing research to make progress on all these fronts.”

She’s right. Just here at the University of Minnesota our experts are making progress in major disease areas like diabetes, HIV and AIDS, heart disease, cancer and combating the obesity epidemic. Someday soon, Noel’s map may look far different.

Check out the full map and descriptions of cells and tissues chosen by visiting Noel’s website.

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