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December 27, 2016 : UPI

Hospitalized patients tend to have a higher risk of cardiac arrest and transfers to an intensive care unit if they are in wards when other patients have experienced similar emergencies, a new study suggests.  The observational study followed about 84,000 patients over a four-year span.  After one patient on a ward experienced a “critical event” (such as cardiac arrest, death, or transfer to ICU), the likelihood that a second patient on the ward might do so within the next six hours rose by nearly 18 percent, the study found.  The findings underscore the need for hospital-based physicians to pay closer scrutiny to other patients who share the same unit as critically ill patients being treated on hospital wards, the researchers say. The study, which is funded by NHLBI, was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. 

December 22, 2016 : CNBC

After more than four decades of progress in prevention and treatment, NHLBI researchers say the 0.9 percent increase in deaths from heart disease in 2015 should be a wake-up call. More research is needed regarding treatment of cardiovascular disease, but the researchers warn about complacency and call for redoubling the efforts to do what is known to work, particularly in the prevention side by focusing of risk factors such as obesity, blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking and blood glucose.

December 21, 2016 : Nature Genetics

Researchers are reporting that, using the newest bioinformatics analytic tools, they were able to develop a new system that utilizes genetic markers to predict disease progression and survival in those with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). MDS is a group of disorders associated with leukemia in which the bone marrow fails to produce enough healthy blood cells. This condition, which is difficult to treat and has no cure, can progress to leukemia (blood cancer) in some patients. In the new study, the scientists analyzed blood samples from 2,250 people with MDS in order to characterize genetic mutations associated with the disease. They found that certain gene mutations could allow early detection of progression to leukemia and help predict overall survival chances.  The study, which is partly funded by NHLBI, was published in Nature Genetics.

December 21, 2016 : Phys.org

Researchers are reporting new insights into protein expression, the fundamental process that determines how proteins are formed by cells, that could lead to novel approaches for treating cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other conditions where abnormal amounts of proteins can form. One of the ongoing puzzles in molecular biology is how the amount of protein generated from messenger RNA (mRNA), molecules that help transcribe genes into proteins, is determined.  In lab studies, scientists demonstrated that chemicals called methyl groups attach to the beginning of mRNA molecules and influence their stability, which in turn affects protein production. They showed that more methyl groups appear to increase protein production, while fewer methyl groups appear to lower protein levels.  Thus, designing drugs to control how methyl levels affect mRNA may provide a way to regulate abnormal protein levels underlying certain disease processes, the researchers suggest.  The study, funded partly by NHLBI, appeared in Nature.

December 21, 2016 : Nature

A protein called Piezo2 has been identified as playing an important role in helping the body determine when the lungs are full of air, according to a study in Nature. The discovery, made with support from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, could help researchers better understand the causes of sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and other breathing disorders.

December 21, 2016 : Journal of the American College of Cardiology

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute explains the steps it has taken to create an ecosystem to help small businesses turn basic discoveries into commercial products that can benefit patients as well as public health, according to an article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

December 21, 2016 : CBS News

In the U.S., nearly 1,000 babies are born with half their heart too small or missing altogether. It is called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, the most complex cardiac birth defect. Now, doctors are testing if stem cells injected directly into an infant’s heart can boost its pumping power, and, said NHLBI pediatric cardiologist Dr. Kristin Burns, “treat the underlying problem.” 

December 20, 2016 : Nature Genetics

Researchers have uncovered the first genetic link between sleep disturbance and conditions including obesity and schizophrenia, according to a study in the journal Nature Genetics. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute supported the work, which could one day offer new treatment targets to combat the problem.

December 19, 2016 : Fox News

Researchers studied more than 3,500 pregnant women and found an association between sleep-disordered breathing, such as apnea, and preeclamsia, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and gestational diabetes mellitus. The research, supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, appears in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

December 15, 2016 : FierceBiotech

A single gene mutation causes a hole in the heart of infants and heart failure in adolescents, according to a study partly funded by NHLBI. The researchers were studying one family’s genetics to understand congenital heart disease, when they pinpointed a mutation in a gene that causes both heart conditions. The findings, published in Cell, might lead to new treatments.

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