Is a new heart medicine different from old heart medicine?
New heart medicine is on the horizon thanks to increased research into coronary health. Stem cell research (using adult-derived not embryonic cells) is an increasingly active area of research for heart disease and will make today’s medicines seem as outdated as leeches.
How Has Treatment for Heart Disease in Women Changed Over the Last Decade?
Part of the attraction of stem cell research is that it saves billions of dollars in the testing phase. The aim is to generate healthy muscle cells in the lab and transplant them into patients with chronic heart conditions. New therapies such as VesCell seek to regenerate heart tissue using the patient's own cells—from muscles, bone marrow, lining of blood vessels and even other healthy cardiac cells.
Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death for American women today. Annually, 8.6 million women die of heart disease and stroke world wide. This is more than the deaths from cancer, HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. There have been significant improvements and advances in treating women for heart disease over the last decade. However, because women were under-represented in previous studies, less progress has been made on establishing the conditions that specifically affect females (such as estrogen levels, numbers of pregnancies, menopause, etc.). Despite the progress, the statistics published by the American Heart Association on women's heart disease are both sobering and startling. The Association says:
- 90 percent of primary care physicians don't know that heart disease kills more women then men each year.
- Physicians are less likely to prescribe certain tests or treatments for heart disease for women than they are for men.
- Doctors often don't know how safe and effective a particular medicine or device is for women.
The Association supports the legislation called the HEART for Women Act which aims to raise awareness among women and health care providers, provide gender and race specific information to practitioners and improve screening for low-income women at risk. Treatment for heart disease in women has changed over the last decade but still has a long way to go.
Newest Heart Medications
- A powerful drug, called tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), made through genetic engineering, has been developed and is awaiting FDA approval. tPA dissolves clots in arteries and improves the heart's pumping action.
- A new transcatheter, in which an aortic valve is placed via a thin tube through an artery, has been developed for those not strong enough for open heart surgery.
- An anti-coagulant, marketed in Europe as Pradaxa, may replace the popular Warfarin in the near future.
- Another anti-clotting drug pending approval is Brilinta. It appears to work better than the well-known Plavix in preventing heart attacks and strokes.
It may seem over-simplistic to say, but the best heart medication is the one that works with your metabolism and makes you feel better. To get there, you need to be proactive with your physician and not assume that what is prescribed is all that is available to you.