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For Immediate Release: November 8, 2007, 9:00 AM EST

NHLBI Communications Office
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For Immediate Release: November 8, 2007, 9:00 AM EST

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NHLBI Research Highlights at American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions

Findings on Women and Menstrual Cycling, Weight Gain Prevention Intervention in African American Girls, Impact of Breastfeeding on Adult HDL Cholesterol Levels


At the American Heart Association's 2007 Scientific Sessions in Orlando held November 4 - 7, scientists supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health present the latest research findings, including studies on the relationship between physical activity and a stable body mass index (BMI), new insights in hormone therapy and coronary artery disease in women, and how bystander use of automated external defibrillators during cardiac arrest more than doubles survival chances.

News stories are embargoed until papers are presented or a news conference or poster session begins. To reach NHLBI spokespeople, call the NHLBI Communications Office at 301-496-4236.

Breastfeeding boosts adult HDL "good" cholesterol levels. (Embargoed until 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time, Monday, November 5.) Data collected from third generation participants in the Framingham Heart Study revealed that breastfeeding in infancy is associated with lower body mass index (BMI) and increased HDL cholesterol in adulthood. Overall 26 percent of participants had been breastfed as infants – as reported by their mothers – and those participants were found to have lower BMI and increased levels of HDL in adulthood. Upon adjustment for BMI, the difference in HDL between breastfed and bottle-fed participants was lessened. Breastfeeding was not associated with other examined adult cardiovascular disease risk factors. NHLBI spokesperson: Caroline Fox, M.D. Framingham Investigator: Nisha Parikh, M.D., Framingham, MA. Contact Dr. Parikh at (617) 388-0017 or nparikh@bidmc.harvard.edu.

Bystanders using automated external defibrillators greatly increase survival.  (Embargoed until 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time, Monday, November 5.) Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) combined with bystander use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) more than doubled the chances of surviving out-of-hospital cardiac arrest compared with using CPR alone. Researchers from the Resuscitations Outcomes Consortium (ROC), a network of 11 urban and rural communities in the United States and Canada involved in studies of prehospital emergency care, analyzed data gathered over one year on patients suffering out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Findings confirm that AEDs used by bystanders before arrival of emergency personnel significantly improves survival over CPR alone. Bystanders included lay volunteers, police, and healthcare workers. The findings reinforce results from the Public Access Defibrillation trial, which showed that training and equipping lay volunteers to use an AED in community settings doubled the number of survivors after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest compared to training in CPR alone. Based on national statistics related to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, researchers estimated that bystander CPR plus use of an AED in the United States and Canada saves 522 lives a year, or more than one life per day. This number could be greatly increased with the installation of more public access defibrillators.  NHLBI spokesperson: George Sopko, M.D. ROC Investigator: Myron L. Weisfeldt, M.D., Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Weisfeldt can be reached at (410) 955-6642 or mlw5@jhmi.edu.

Physical activity helps maintain weight.  (Embargoed until 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday, November 5.) Maintaining high levels of physical activity from young adulthood into middle age increases the odds of maintaining a stable weight during that time period, according to a new analysis of the CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults) study. The odds of maintaining a stable body mass index (BMI) over the twenty years from young adulthood into middle age were increased by 38 percent for each increase of 30 minutes per day of vigorous physical activity recorded at the start of the study. Men and women ages 18-30 were enrolled in CARDIA and followed through seven exams over 20 years. Participants who consistently maintained the higher level of activity – more than 30 minutes of vigorous activity each day  – were more than twice as likely to maintain a stable BMI over 20 years.  NHLBI spokesperson Gina Wei, M.D. CARDIA Investigator: Arlene Hankinson, Northwestern University. Contact Arlene Hankinson at alhankinson@northwestern.edu.

Women with irregular menstrual periods are more likely to have heart attack or chest pain. (Embargoed until 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time, Tuesday, November 6.) Women with self-reported irregular menstrual cycles have a greater frequency of diabetes and adverse cardiovascular events, suggesting that coronary artery disease or associated risk factors might be linked to ovarian dysfunction.  Researchers from the Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) study used diagnostic coronary angiography to determine the presence or severity of blocked coronary arteries in approximately 700 postmenopausal women and compared the results between women with a history of irregular menstrual cycles and those who had regular cycles. During the six year study, they found that both groups were equally likely to have coronary artery disease. However, women with a history of menstrual irregularity but who did not have blocked arteries had an increased risk of heart attack and angina compared to women with regular cycles.  Women with a history of irregular menstrual cycles were also more likely to have experienced menopause at a younger age and to have had surgical menopause (removal of their ovaries or uterus).  NHLBI spokesperson: George Sopko, M.D. WISE Investigator: B. Delia Johnson, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh. Contact Dr. Johnson at (412) 624-7256 or djohnson@edc.pitt.edu.

Cardiovascular effects of hormone therapy linked to type of menopause and age.  (Embargoed until 1:45 p.m. Eastern Time, Wednesday, November 7.) There is growing evidence that younger women have fewer adverse cardiovascular effects – or perhaps have less risk of heart disease – from hormone therapy compared to older women who use hormone therapy. The first prospective study to show cardiovascular effects of hormone therapy using diagnostic coronary angiography supports the theory that a woman's age when she begins hormone therapy matters. However, cardiovascular benefits in younger women appear to apply only to women who undergo natural menopause. In the Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) study of about 650 postmenopausal women, those who experienced natural menopause and who began hormone therapy before age 45 had lower rates of coronary artery disease compared to their peers who began hormone therapy after age 45 or who did not take hormone therapy. Use of hormone therapy did not affect heart disease rates among surgically menopausal women regardless of age. NHLBI spokesperson: George Sopko, M.D. WISE Investigator: B. Delia Johnson, Ph.D., Universityof Pittsburgh. Contact Dr. Johnson at (412) 624-7256 or djohnson@edc.pitt.edu.

Obesity prevalence in African American girls remains high. Are intervention programs effective? (Embargoed until 5:15 p.m. Eastern Time, November 7.) Researchers with the NHLBI-funded GEMS (Girls Health Enrichment Multisite Studies) project evaluated the effectiveness of an intervention program in preventing excessive weight gain among girls ages 8-10 years.  Three hundred predominately low-income 8-10 year old African American girls were randomly assigned to either a behavior intervention program focusing on improving diet and promoting physical activity, or a control program promoting self-esteem. Both groups were offered weekly meetings for 14 weeks, followed by monthly contacts. After two years, girls in the intervention group exhibited a slower and more normal weight gain and had nearly 50 percent lower gain in body mass index than girls in the control group. Those in the intervention group also decreased their total daily caloric intake by 162, increased their vegetable intake and water consumption, and decreased consumption of sweetened beverages. Researchers did not observe any differences in physical activity between the groups. NHLBI spokesperson: Charlotte Pratt, Ph.D. GEMS Investigator: Bob Klesges, Ph.D., St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Contact Dr. Klesges at (901) 283-6074 or bob.klesges@stjude.org.

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Part of the National Institutes of Health, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) plans, conducts, and supports research related to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases; and sleep disorders. The Institute also administers national health education campaigns on women and heart disease, healthy weight for children, and other topics. NHLBI press releases and other materials are available online at: www.nhlbi.nih.gov.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.