National Geographic article on Heart Disease

National Geographic article on Heart Disease - Hearts...

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Hearts, Mending Broken Hearts - National Geographic Magazine o NAlJONAlGEOGRAPHIC.COM 01 24 2007104, MI As heart disease reaches epidemic proportions worldwide. researchers are moving away from the old "clogged-pipes" model to search for triggers lurking in our genes, Cheeseburgers, smoking, stress, the rise of the couch potato: These are the usual suspects on the list of risk factors for heart disease, a malady reaching global epidemic proportions, Now discoveries about genetic triggers may help us spot trouble before it starts. Gloria Stevens is lying on her back, sedated but alert, staring at an image of her own beating heart. Metaphorically, Gloria's heart is the very core of her emotional self-not to be worn on the sleeve, much less displayed on an overhead monitor. More literally, it is a blood-filled pump about the size of a clenched fist whose rhythmic contractions have kept Gloria alive for 62 years, and with a little tinkering will keep her gOing for an indeterminate number more. At this moment, her doctor is threading a thin catheter up through her femoral artery from an incision in her groin, on Into the aorta, and from there Into one of the arteries encirc'inp Gloria's heart. At the tip of the catheter is a small balloon. The doctor gently navigates the tip to a spot where plaque has narrowed the artery's channel by 90 percent With a quick. practiced movement he inflates the balloon to push back the artery wan deflates the balloon, then inserts an expandable stent-It looks like a tmy tube of chicken wire-that will keep the passage open, As Glona watches on the monitor, the crimp In her artery disappears, and a wide laminar flow gushes through the vessel, like a river in flood The procedure is over. It has lasted only half an hour. In all likelihood, Gloria will be able to go home the next day. So Will a few thousand other patients in the United States undergoing such routine anqioplasty-s-more than a million of them a year. Pipe fixed, patient cured, right? Wrong http/ /www7,nationalgeographlG.com/ngm/0702 /feature l/index,html I Cookies are required ;0 view trus pagp To order National Geoq.ec':«: !v1agazl'1t~ please ;,.:,._~, ; ie:.- f'aqe I of S
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Hearts, Mending Broken Hearts - National Geographic Magazine 01 24 2007 Because of her treatment. Gloria's quality of life will likely Improve She'll breathe easier and maybe live longer. But she IS hardly cured. Her coronary atherosclerosis-a hardening and narrowing of the arteries that supply the heart with oxygen-rich blood-still leaves her vulnerable to future blockages and coronary heart disease. Although hearts suffer many maladies-valves leak, membranes become inflamed---coronary heart disease, which can iead to heart attack and ultimately to heart failure, IS the number one kitler of both men and women In the United States, where 500.000 die annually. Vvorldwide. it ki!ls 7.2 million people every year. Exacerbated by the export of Western Ilfestyle- motorized transport, abundant meat and cheese, workdays conducted from the comfort of a well-padded chair-incidence of the disease IS soaring
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