This Week in Health: emotional stress linked to female artery dysfunction

Stressed out woman
Study finds anger to contribute to artery dysfunction in some women
Credit: Thinkstock

Emotional stress may trigger artery dysfunction in some women

Location of study: U.S.

Study subjects: 24 women, 16 of whom had microvascular dysfunction

Results: In an effort to better understand gender-related coronary artery disease, researchers at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute studied the effects of emotional stress on women with a type of coronary artery disease called microvascular dysfunction. The condition occurs when the smaller arteries of the heart fail to work properly. Researchers found that the emotional stress of anger may contribute to the disease, which can lead to heart attacks and other cardiac issues.
Significance: The study sheds light on the differences between male and female coronary artery disease. Most men with the disease typically exhibit blockages in the large arteries, while many women do not. Researchers also say that since smaller arteries are partly controlled by the nerve network that regulates heart rate, our thoughts and emotions may impact blood flow in these small vessels.
Migraine sufferers will soon have access to drug-free preventative therapy

Location of study: Belgium

Study subjects: 67 people with frequent migraines

Results: In a recent study, a battery-operated device that uses external cranial neurostimulation to prevent migraines resulted in a significant drop in overall migraine frequency. The Cefaly device, which resembles a headband, is to be worn daily for 20 minutes before the onset of a migraine. When compared to those who used a placebo device, patients who used Cefaly reported an up to 75 percent reduction in the amount of migraine medications they consumed.
Significance: The results of the study were so impressive, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved it for use in the United States. The Cefaly medical device will hit the U.S. market in early April and will be available through a prescription.

Clinical trial underway to test potential prostate cancer vaccine
Location of study: U.S.
Study subjects: Men with newly diagnosed, localized prostate cancer

Results: If successful, a developmental prostate cancer vaccine may potentially trigger the body’s own immune system to kill deadly cancer cells. The treatment, called ProstAtak, is designed for early-stage prostate cancer. It works through a series of three injections of a viral vector that goes directly into the prostate using gene transfer technology. Each injection is accompanied by a round of antiviral pills and standard radiation therapy. The combination seems to awaken the immune system to attack the cancer.

Significance: With the immune system jump-started, the patient potentially develops a life-long immunity specifically to their own cancer. This circulating immunity may also be enough to mop up any leftover cancer cells throughout the body. In a previous study, the treatment was associated with a significant decrease in expected tumor recurrence. A new study taking place at Advanced Radiation Centers of New York (ARC) and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is currently enrolling patients with newly diagnosed, localized prostate cancer.
RNA fragment found to play key role in heart failure

Location of study: U.S.

Study subjects: Mice

Results: Researchers have discovered a critical component in the progression of heart failure – a microRNA called miR-25 that blocks a gene responsible for regulating calcium flow in the heart. This decrease in gene activity is known to affect heart contractions and cause heart enlargement. This, in turn, impairs heart function. Researchers found that when miR-25 was blocked, it dramatically stopped the progression of heart failure in mouse models. Improved cardiac function and survival were also reported.

Significance: The discovery marks a breakthrough in heart failure research. Current medications used to treat the condition have yet to address the underlying mechanisms that weaken heart contraction.

Content provided by ZipTrials, a trusted source for the most up-to-date medical news and trending health stories.


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