Vibrating cushion can give you heart bypass
SCIENTISTS have developed a vibrating cushion for treating heart disease and angina. It works by encouraging the growth of new blood vessels. The device, which is placed behind your shoulders as you sit in a chair at home, massages your back gently. The vibrations are thought to stimulate the formation of blood vessels to bypass blocked arteries.
Heart disease is the result of the arteries becoming constricted and hardened thanks to a build-up of fatty material known as plaque; this reduces the flow of blood to the heart and other parts of the body.
Reduced blood flow means the heart has to work harder, which can cause angina (chest pain), the most common symptom of heart disease.
If a piece of plaque breaks off, it can trigger a blood clot, which cuts off the blood supply, causing a heart attack. Heart disease and attacks can lead to heart failure, where the heart becomes too weak to pump blood properly.
Treatment for heart disease ranges from dietary changes to surgery where small metal coils (stents) are inserted to open up narrowed arteries.
In severe cases, patients may be offered a heart bypass, where blood is re-routed around the blocked or narrowed section of artery using a vein taken from another part of the body.
Newer treatments include extracorporeal ultrasonic shockwaves, where soundwaves are fired at the diseased arteries to trigger production of substances that stimulate the growth of new blood vessels. While this has shown promise in trials, it is expensive and involves specialist hospital treatment.
The new device, developed by a Canadian company, Ahof Biophysical Systems, is based on the same principle, with low level vibrations acting like the soundwave treatment. A similar approach is used for wound healing — a study from the University of Illinois found that applying a vibrating device to wounds for 30 minutes five times a week healed them more quickly, reported the journal PLOS One last year. The cushion contains a device that vibrates — the patient reclines in any chair and positions it
at the top of their back, so the vibrations are applied between their shoulders. Previous research at Tohoku University School of Medicine in Japan suggest it stimulates blood flow around the heart and strengthens heart contractions.
Now a clinical trial of the cushion is under way, where 30 patients with heart disease or angina will have daily 30-minute sessions for three months using the vibrating device or an ordinary cushion.
DRAZFAR ZAMAN, a consultant cardiologist at Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, and spokesman for Heart Research UK, says: ‘ This is an interesting concept.
‘ If early promising data is confirmed in large clinical trials then sending soundwaves to the hearts of patients with angina may improve the lives of many people who haven’t responded to medical treatment.’
TREES could protect women from heart disease, a new study suggests. Using date covering 20 years, U.S. researchers tracked the heart health of more than 150,000 women in a town where trees were infested by a deadly beetle.
Results in the journal Health & Place showed that women living in the town with the emerald ash borer beetle and who, therefore, saw less greenery and trees, had a 25 per cent increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
It’s thought reduced natural environments raise stress levels. Previous research has found that stress is linked to reduced blood flow to the heart.