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November 9, 2004

BehindTheMedspeak: Pantyhose for the heart


A revolutionary device and procedure offer a new approach to heart failure.

It's called the CorCap Cardiac Support Device.

Terrible name - but I guess if you've got something truly innovative and effective, it doesn't matter a whole lot.

Just off the top of my head, though, I can think of better names: HeartWrap and CorFit come to mind. But I digress.

By compressing the lax muscle of diseased hearts, the device makes myocardial contraction and blood pumping more efficient.

The volume of blood in the left ventricle - the heart's pumping chamber - decreases, improving the heart's efficiency and decreasing its workload.

Increased efficiency = less work = better cardiac function = improved health.

Sounds great, right?

But there's one catch: you have to crack the chest open to put the thing on.

That's major surgery, with a prolonged recovery and big-time post-op pain.

Once they make this doable via a laparoscopic approach - and it will happen - the sky's the limit for this procedure.

Back in the mid-1990s Dr. Randas Batista, a Brazilian cardiovascular surgeon, revolutionized the surgical treatment of failing hearts by removing part of the left ventricle to shrink the organ and make its remaining tissue more efficient.

The CorCap continues this effort to reshape the heart, squeezing the heart into a more functional form.

Dr. Douglass L. Mann, a cardiologist at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston who led the study (presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in New Orleans), said in yesterday's Wall Street Journal that the device works by relieving stress on the heart, enabling it to heal, shrink back to a more normal size, and recover much of its normal shape.

"It returns from a basketball shape to a more mechanically efficient football shape," he said.

"Bigger hearts become smaller hearts."

Here's yesterday's Associated Press story.

Study Says Mesh Stocking Can Help Weak Hearts Pump Blood

A mesh stocking pulled up over the wide bottom of a weak heart can help it pump better and even shrink back to a more normal size, according to a study described Sunday at an American Heart Association Conference here.

About 150 heart failure patients who received this simple device felt better, were less likely to need heart transplants or other operations, and improved in other ways when compared with people who did not get the fabric wrap, the researchers said.

"There was a 75% overall improvement," said Dr. Douglas Mann, a cardiologist at the Baylor College of Medicine who led the study for the device's maker, Acorn Cardiovascular, and reported its results on Sunday.

"This does more than any existing therapy that's out there today."

Several experts said the surgically implanted polyester stocking could fill a gap for people who were not helped by drugs or pacemakers and who did not want, or could not have, a mechanical heart pump or an organ transplant.

"We have little to offer surgically," said Dr. Timothy Gardner, a heart surgeon from the University of Pennsylvania who had no role in the study.

"There's a lot of interest in this kind of simple technique."

The heart wrap is still experimental.

But Acorn Cardiovascular of St. Paul, Minnesota already has approval to sell it in Europe and plans to seek approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration early next year.

The stretchy mesh device looks like fishnet hose but acts like support stockings.

It requires no batteries or moving parts.

Once placed around the heart through an incision in the chest, the mesh sticks to it and becomes a permanent implant.

Heart failure occurs when the heart is weak or damaged and cannot pump effectively.

It enlarges to accommodate the extra blood, and fluid can back up into the lungs, leaving people short of breath and tired all the time.

Patients usually grow progressively weaker, and most live only about five years after diagnosis.

About five million Americans have heart failure, and more than a million have the moderately severe type that might be helped by the wrap.

"There are many patients in this class who are progressing and don't have good treatment options," said Dr. Spencer Kubo, Acorn's medical director.

The study included 300 patients at 28 hospitals in the United States and one in Canada.

November 9, 2004 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack



Great conversation starter.

Walk into a party wearing these, and plenty of conversations will start.

Only $24.99 here, but they're going fast.

[via dr-leech.com]

November 9, 2004 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Snoezelen room


A Snoezelen room (above) is a therapeutic environment designed for children with mental and physical disabilities as well as people with brain injury, post-traumatic stress, dementia, or autism.

The word "Snoezelen" comes from the Dutch for "sniff" and "doze."

The International Snoezelen Association's website can tell you much more.

That is, if you understand German.

French your preference?

OK, then: here's a French website.

Users take in a light show, meditative music, aromas, vibrating chairs and an array of things to touch.

Studies show people in these rooms experience reduced agitation, aggressiveness and self-injury.

Nursing and residential care homes are increasingly employing them as part of their overall programs.

Nirbhay Singh, who published a study on Snoezelen earlier this year, said the environment "gently recalibrates [patient] arousal levels. It calms them down when they need it, or ups their arousal when stimulation in their regular environment is low."

So far Snoezelen is under the radar in the U.S., not well known.

This post will probably do the trick.

[via Ranit Mishori and the Washington Post]

November 9, 2004 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Wearable Squeezed Lemons


Fuji Spinning Company's vitamin-infused shirts are made out of a fiber called V-UP and contain the equivalent vitamin content of two lemons.

The emulsified provitamin supposedly dissolves upon contact with sebum and sweat on the skin's surface, is absorbed, and changes into functional vitamin C inside the body.

I have my doubts about that.

The company also sells a T-shirt containing vitamin E as well as vitamin C, and plans to market vitamin-enhanced lace underwear (!).

[via popgadget]

November 9, 2004 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The 'Vagina Monologues' come to Singapore


The show has been banned in China, India, and nearby Malaysia, but it's now playing at Singapore's Arts House through next Sunday, November 14.

The Philippine-based New Voice Company has partnered with the Singapore Arts House to mount the new production, which features a more localized approach and a different, less confrontational style.


Said New Voice artistic director Monique Wilson, in a story in yesterday's Financial Times, "Even though Singapore is becoming more like America, I think it's safe to say that we don't react the same way."

Wilson founded New Voice after her run in the original London cast of "Miss Saigon" inspired her to seek more realistic portrayals of Asian women.

The production has cast all local women and staged the show in the space where the Singapore Women's Charter was passed 40 years ago.


Anita Kapoor, deputy editor of Singapore Harper's Bazaar, makes her stage debut in the production.

She said, "We're still quite conservative and to make this production relevant we have to reach a broad cross-section of people, not just the liberal 5% who would come anyway."

Memo to file: ask my intrepid Singapore bookofjoe correspondent


Joyce Mah, aka thedoll, why she's not in the show.

[via Ken Smith and The Financial Times]

November 9, 2004 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: What's the difference between Tylenol Arthritis and Tylenol 8-Hour?


The price.

Otherwise, they're identical.

Tylenol Arthritis contains 650 mg of acetaminophen.

Tylenol 8-Hour contains 650 mg of acetaminophen.


It's the same story with all the old stalwarts; as with Oreos - all 62,000 different versions -


brand extension has come to the pharmaceutical arena, in a big way.

And that means big, big profits for Big Pharma, by simply repackaging the same old same old in fancy new boxes and bottles.

Motrin Migraine and Advil Migraine? They're identical to their regular counterparts, simply more expensive.

Excedrin Migraine is identical to its extra-strength sibling.

Look carefully at the ingredients next time you're at the market; then look at the prices.

You'll thank me and enjoy all the extra cash jingling around in your pocketbook.

Trust me.

I'm a doctor.


Oops; wrong one.

November 9, 2004 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Computerized Coffee Mug


From the website:

Excalibur 467 Coffee Master - The Ultimate Coffee & Tea Guide

Everyone who enjoys coffee or tea will love Coffee Master!

Get 250 recipes for popular coffee-drinks from around the world, from American coffee to Irish coffee to cappuccino and coffee mocha.

And you'll love trying the 250 delicious desserts - complete with recipes - that go so well with that cup of coffee or tea after dinner.

Get tips on tea, from how to brew it to what teas go with what foods.

Find out about caffeine and your health.

Want to check out the best in coffee houses wherever you are ?

Just put in your zip code and Coffee Master will give you the locations and phone numbers of the ones nearest you!

Understand the differences between single-origin coffee and blended coffee and terms like aroma, acidity, body and flavor.

Find out which brewing methods are right for your tastes.

Learn where it all begins, with types of coffee beans ...as well as roasting and grinding tips.

[via ubergizmo.com]

$29.95. I'm not surprised it's back-ordered.

But what I want to know is, if I put in my ZIP code like it says, will it really show me the location and phone number of Greenberry's Coffee and Tea at the nearby Barracks Road Shopping Center here in Charlottesville, Virginia?

If so, this is one awesome product.

If only it could do email... you could lose your BlackBerry and just drink coffee all day.


November 9, 2004 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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