FYI from the NHLBI Index

September 2002: Vol. 3, Issue 2
In the News


News from Capitol Hill

Capitol Dome

On June 6, NHLBI Director Dr. Claude Lenfant and Dr. Audrey Penn, Acting Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, participated in a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health (the authorizing committee for the NIH). The hearing, titled The National Institutes of Health: Investing in Research to Prevent and Cure Disease, was the first of a series to examine how the NIH is managing the large annual increases it received as part of the effort to double the NIH budget.

Representatives Ralph Regula (R-OH), chairman, and David R. Obey (D-WI), ranking member, of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education invited the NIH to participate in health forums in their districts. Dr. Gregory Morosco, Associate Director for Prevention, Education, and Control, represented the NHLBI. He led roundtable discussions about NHLBI activities and distributed materials from the Act in Time to Heart Attack Signs program.

At the request of Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Dr. Jacques Rossouw, Acting Director of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), and other NIH colleagues participated in a health forum in Providence, Rhode Island. Dr. Rossouw discussed the results of the WHI hormone trial.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted in favor of the fiscal year (FY) 2003 Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations bill on July 18, clearing the way for action by the full Senate. The Senate bill completes the doubling of the NIH budget over five years with a FY 2003 increase of $3.7 billion, bringing total funding for the NIH to $27.2 billion. The House version of the FY 2003 Labor-Health and Human Services-Education appropriations bill is scheduled to be marked up on September 5.


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Recent Advances from the NHLBI

Continued Follow-up Needed for Children Born to Women with HIV

New results from a five-year, pediatric AIDS study supported by the NHLBI and the National Center for Research Resources demonstrate that infants whose mothers are infected with HIV have significantly worse cardiac function than infants whose mothers are not infected with HIV. Cardiac abnormalities were noted irrespective of the infants' HIV status, although the hearts of HIV-positive infants tended to be larger and less efficient.

"We believe that the intrauterine environment may play an important role in the development of these heart abnormalities, perhaps through factors such as maternal nutrition and the inflammatory process triggered by HIV," stated Dr. Steven Lipshultz of Golisano Children's Hospital, University of Rochester Medical Center. "This research offers additional clues to how influences during fetal life might affect cardiovascular disease."

"These results reinforce the importance of careful follow-up and the need to be alert to the possibility of cardiac complications when caring for children born to HIV-infected mothers," said NHLBI Director Dr. Claude Lenfant.

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Steeped in Research: Tea Linked to Survival After Heart Attack

Teapot

Drinking lots of tea may reduce a person's risk of dying after a heart attack, according to a study funded in part by the NHLBI. In the Determinants of Myocardial Infarction Onset Study, participants who drank more than 14 cups per week were the least likely to die during the three or four years after a heart attack. The researchers suspect that this may be because tea contains flavonoids and other antioxidants. Flavonoids are found naturally in various foods derived from plants, especially black and green tea. In previous studies, consumption of flavonoids was linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease.

"We found that tea drinkers generally had lower death rates regardless of age, gender, smoking status, obesity, hypertension, diabetes or previous heart attack," stated lead author, Dr. Kenneth Mukamal with the Harvard Medical School. He adds that controlled studies are needed to further test the association between tea consumption and the reduction in risk of death after a heart attack.

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Sleep .... Too much of a good thing?

People who sleep for more than 9 hours a night may not be as lucky as they seem. NHLBI-supported researchers reported at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine's annual meeting that routinely sleeping for more than 9 hours a night may be just as bad as being sleep-deprived. Even after considering various cardiovascular risk factors, one group found that women who did not have heart disease were more likely to have a heart attack within 10 years if, on average, they got more than 9 or less than 5 hours of sleep (rather than the standard eight). Other researchers found an approximately 1.5-fold increase in mortality in men and women who regularly slept less than 6 or more than 9 hours a night, compared with those who slept between 7 and 8 hours a night.

To learn more about sleep and to "Test Your Sleep IQ," visit the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) Web page. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, which also is involved in sleep research, has an outstanding Web page called Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep.

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