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Sanjay Gupta MD

Innovations That Are Helping Hearts Beat Stronger And Longer; Reducing Risk Of Heart Disease Takes Diet, Exercise And Possibly Medication; Charlie Hoff's Cutting Edge Therapy Heart Repair Therapy; Charter School Stresses Yoga, Meditation, Exercise and Healthy Food; Spicing Up the Treadmill

Aired February 18, 2006 - 08:30   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Now in the news, three Americans and a British citizen have been abducted in Nigeria. They're among nine foreigners who were taken hostage in the region. The group has been working for an oil services firm. Now, the kidnappers are with the same group which has claimed responsibility for pipeline attacks. They say they're fighting foreign oil interests.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. aid in the form of two warships and 1,000 Marines are steaming for the Eastern Philippines to help rescue mudslide victims, but local rescuers say the situation looks grim. 1800 people are still missing. And so far, only 56 survivors have been found. The mudslides followed a record month of rainfall in the region.

NGUYEN: The militant group Hamas officially took control of the Palestinian parliament this morning. And the new leaders immediately rejected calls for peace talks with Israel. It's believed the group has masterminded nearly 60 suicide attack against Israel since 2000.

HARRIS: This week was one for following your heart with Valentine's Day and all. Today, we're talking about how to keep it healthy on "HOUSE CALL" this morning. CNN senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta shows you the best and newest ways to keep that heart beating stronger, longer. And low carb versus low fat. Which is better for you? That's today on "HOUSE CALL." And it starts right now.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning and welcome to HOUSE CALL. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

For many this week, matters of the heart were a top priority. And this morning, we want to continue that thinking, except we're talking about loving your own heart, not necessarily that special someone's.

We're looking at innovations that are helping our hearts beat stronger and longer. Let's start with a new way that doctors can pinpoint future heart problems.


GUPTA, (voice-over): James Howard has been around a lot of medical technology. As an endocrinologist with Washington Hospital Center and former medical director, Dr. Howard has signed off on lots of high tech equipment.

So when he needed a heart test, he took advantage of the hospital's state of the art diagnostic machines. He's lucky he did.

JAMES HOWARD, DR., HEART PATIENT: It discovered a significant coronary lesion, a plaque in my coronaries that I had not known was there.

GUPTA: That plaque could have killed him, but it was caught in time by a new device known as a 64-slice CT scanner. It's a machine that offers incredible pictures of the heart without ever entering the body.

The scanner is able to transmit 192 images a second to create a 3-D picture of the heart from all angles. Cardiologists can then study the images off a computer screen, look for even the smallest abnormalities or plaque build-up, and give a patient a full diagnosis of their heart health in about 10 minutes.

GUY WEIGOLD, DR., WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER: The CT scans are sort of slices of the body. For the kind of resolution we need to visualize, these small little coronary arteries, not only that, but also the ability to visualize this organ, which is beating and moving around inside the chest.

GUPTA: Before the 64-slice CT scanner, high risk heart patients would have to undergo a stress test or an angiogram, which is an x-ray of the blood vessels using a catheter in the vein. With the 64- scanner, CT images are so fast and so accurate, doctors can evaluate the cause of a problem with one simple scan.

DOUGLAS JONES, DR., SUBURBAN HOSPITAL: It's much quicker. It's much less expensive.

GUPTA: And the scan can be used as a screening tool for high risk patients. Like in Dr. Howard's case, the images can be used to detect certain heart problems, before they happen.

HOWARD: It certainly contributed to my well-being and probably gave me as I like to say an extended warranty. I think it's prolonged my life.

GUPTA: There are some risk factors with the 64 CT scanner. The first being the high dose of radiation. At this time, doctors will only use it on high risk patients. Not everyone can go in and have a 64 CT scanner of their heart.

And there's the risk of allergic reaction to the dye they inject into the body, but those allergies are rare.


GUPTA: So to scan or not to scan, that's up to your doctor. But the 64-slice CT scanner can cost you between $500 to $1500. Usually not covered by your insurance. But if you're a high risk patient, it can't hurt to ask your doctor about it. Scanning has become very popular recently, but it's not without controversy. Here to help us separate fact from fiction is Dr. Nieca Goldberg. She's a cardiologist in New York. She's also author of the "Women's Healthy Heart Program."

Welcome, Dr. Goldberg.


GUPTA: Let me start by saying I'm a great admirer of your work. I think you do some very important thing with regards to women's health and heart disease. So thank you for being with us.

GOLDBERG: Thank you.

GUPTA: Look, you're talking about these new scans. Doctors aren't really sure how these scans should be used. I mean, for example, getting one of these calcium scans, you could get a false positive. And then you think that you're about to have a heart attack. Or it might not really detect the problem at all. So you don't know whether you might have heart disease.

What is your opinion? I mean, should someone who's concerned about this actually run out and get one of these scans?

GOLDBERG: Well if you're concerned about your heart, I think we often have to start with the basics. I think you need to go into your doctor and have a whole evaluation that includes your risk factors, like your cholesterol, and blood pressure, and your blood sugar to make sure you're not diabetic.

We commonly use this test in people who have high risk for heart disease and have particularly a very strong family history. It's been very useful in many people to identify the presence of plaque and even some blocked arteries that we weren't aware of.

But I consider it just part of the spectrum of tests that we have for heart disease. It's not going to eliminate the traditional angiogram that we use to diagnosis blocked arteries...

GUPTA: Right.

GOLDBERG: ...because we need to do the angiograms in the hospital, particularly in people who have blocked arteries to open them up.

In fact, a number of my patients who have had the CT scans find a - we find a blockage that they end up getting an angiogram, which means they get double the dose of radiation.

GUPTA: Let's scroll down on this. Many people are trying to find out if they have a heart problem before it becomes a problem.

And that was the case for one of our viewers, Debra in California who wrote this question, Dr. Goldberg. "I'm a woman with a family history of heart disease. What heart tests can I have done that would catch something now before it becomes a problem?"

And I guess Dr. Goldberg, sort of talking about this, but for so many people I guess they know that they should go to their doctor, they should eat right, they should exercise, be screened for diabetes. But we live in a quick answer society. They want to know now. What can they do to figure out if they're going to have a heart attack, if they're going to develop heart disease. What would you tell Debra?

GOLDBERG: Well, unfortunately, there is no quick answer in a lot of cases, particularly in women. We just learned last week that women may have hidden heart disease that are -- which may be invisible to some of these tests.

Women -- many women don't get blocked arteries in the large vessels that supply the heart muscle. They actually get blocked arteries in the secondary blood vessels that are embedded in the heart and invisible to the angiogram and even to the 64-slice CT.

So in fact, we actually are developing a new technique to look at this particular kind of heart disease in women, called nuclear magnetic resonance stress testing.

So I think that the test is a good test, the 64-slice CT, but it's not a perfect test. In fact, if you're very overweight, or have already had heart disease, or heart surgery, the test may not be accurate.

GUPTA: All right, let's stay on theme here. Another question coming in from Amarish in Atlanta. "I'm a 47 year old male with no medical conditions, but with a family history of coronary heart disease. Should I take a baby aspirin a day?"

And doctor, you know, when we solicited questions, this is one of the most popular ones we received. What do you tell him?

GOLDBERG: Well, that's a very good question. Middle age men do benefit from taking an aspirin a day to reduce their risk of heart attack.

Quite interesting in women who are healthy may have a family history, and aspirin reduces risk only after the age of 65 in terms of healthy women of heart attack and stroke.

However, aspirin should be taken by individuals who can take it of all ages who have heart disease, who had a heart attack, or have multiple risk factors like a combination of diabetes and high cholesterol.

So it's really very important to call your doctor if you're not on an aspirin to ask if you should be on it.

GUPTA: And it's important to point out as well, aspirin is not a totally benign drug. I mean, you should talk to your doctor, as you just pointed out. Really good advice from Dr. Nieca Goldberg.

Coming up, what should you take away from all these diet studies? Stay tuned.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can plaque in your heart dissolve without medication? Plus, how women could be caught off guard by a heart attack. That's just ahead. And later...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is, you know, this is my best hope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A new heart treatment might save this man's life. Find out how.

First answer this. How long does it take for blood to circulate through your entire body? A, 20 seconds; B, 60 seconds; or C, two minutes?




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Checking today's quiz, we asked how long does it take to circulate blood to circulate through your entire body? A, 20 seconds; B, 60 seconds; or C, two minutes?

The answer A. It takes your blood only 20 seconds to travel through your vessels, arteries, and capillaries before returning to the heart.


GUPTA: And the heart is truly an amazing muscle. Imagine any machine you own pumping that hard and at that pace for 70 plus years.

And we're here to help you keep your heart pumping stronger and longer every day. One way to do that is through your diet, as you know. But two recent studies may have left you a little confused. One showing a low fat diet won't help post menopausal women prevent heart disease, and another diet showing a low carb diet may increase your bad cholesterol.

Cardiologist Dr. Nieca Goldberg is back to help us make sense of all this. Doctor, you know, it's one of the most challenging things we have to do in the media is to try and make sense of all these studies so the viewers can actually take something home from these studies. What do you tell them about these two particular diet studies?

GOLDBERG: Well, it's a challenge in my office. Last week, my patients didn't know whether to stop eating, or go and eat anything they wanted to.

GUPTA: Right.

GOLDBERG: The thing is about diet is that diet alone doesn't reduce risk of heart disease. It's really a combination of diet, exercise, maybe aspirin, if you would benefit from it, sometimes medications for cholesterol and blood pressure.

What's really important about this diet study is it showed that lowering your fat didn't lower your risk of heart attack or stroke. But now we know that you really need to have a diet that has good components of all food groups.

Like instead, we're focusing on eating good fats like monounsaturated fats and canola and olive oil, polyunsaturated fats like in fish. The Omega-3 fats are very heart protective.

And also eating complex carbohydrates, instead of the sugars and processed foods, and even soft drinks. So my recommendation is to reduce your intake of saturated fats, like in butter, and whole milk, and eggs, and meat, and also eliminate trans fats.

And in terms of the carb diet, stay off the cookies, candy, cake, white flour foods, and soft drinks.

GUPTA: And it makes sense when you say it like that, obviously. And you know, when you say low fat, there are good fats and bad fats. And I think people fundamentally get that as well. So that's good advice.

And Dr. Goldberg, you've also really taken on the issue of women in heart disease, trying to educate women specifically about heart disease. Karyn in Florida had a question for you about that. She wrote this, "How do the symptoms of a heart attack in women differ from those in men?"

Doctor, your first book is titled "Women Are Not Small Men." What should women specifically be looking for?

GOLDBERG: Well, women -- when we went to medical school, we knew that -- we were taught that a heart attack was a 165-pound man clutching his chest having a heart attack.

Yet when I graduated, I got on the job training, finding out that not only women have heart disease, but they had symptoms of shortness of breath, unexplained fatigue, or even pressure lower down in their chest, where they easily mistaken it for a stomach problem.

So they stayed home, instead of going to the hospital. And it's really important that women know that their symptoms may not be the old textbook classic case of chest clutching. Because in our country, two-thirds of the women who have heart attacks actually die suddenly, because they never make it to the hospital.

GUPTA: Right, right. You know, just -- what you're saying right now, hopefully people are watching at home. It may have just saved somebody's life. It's really, important, valuable information. We are talking with Dr. Nieca Goldberg. More HOUSE CALL coming up after the break.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've done about a third of the injection. Can you see what we're doing?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How these injections could be a fix for broken hearts.

Plus, a guide on taking your treadmill ride to a new level. First, this week's medical headlines in "The Pulse".



CHRISTY FEIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tulane University Hospital, flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, has reopened its emergency department and other patient services. The hospital has 63 inpatient beds, down from 253 before the hurricane, but it plans to double its staff during the upcoming Mardi Gras festivities.

McDonalds is unveiling its new packaging with nutritional information during the Olympics in Torino, Italy. The fast food giant's food boxes and wrappers will now have icons and numbers showing calories, protein, fat, carbs, and salt content.

But you have to know some nutritional hieroglyphics. For example, the symbol for fat is a little tape measure. The new labels will hit McDonalds restaurants in the U.S. later this month.

Christy Feig, CNN.



GUPTA: For more information on heart disease prevention and treatment, click on the American Heart Association's Web site at

We're talking about heart disease this morning. And from prevention, to fixing broken hearts, great strides have been made.

For instance, we followed former CNN newsman Charlie Hoff through a cutting edge therapy that could help his heart repair itself. Hoff is only one of 15 people in the United States to undergo this new treatment.


GUPTA (voice-over): Charley Hoff's heart has been broken. Well not literally, but he has had three heart attacks in the past. Each time, part of his heart muscle died and his heart became weaker and weaker. CHARLIE HOFF, HEART PATIENT: I tried to turn the wheel, you know. And I have a pain in my shoulder, in my left shoulder.

GUPTA: He suffered his first heart attack in Jerusalem almost 12 years ago, when he was CNN's bureau chief. His cardiologist's words still ring in the head.

HOFF: You waited around and wasted enough time that you've really done it now. You have had a myocardial infarction. And part of your heart is dead.

Hey, buddy, how you doing?

GUPTA: Now with each beat, Charlie's heart is only able to pump out about half as much blood as a healthy heart. That's a condition called congestive heart failure.

HOFF: Did you get everything?

You know, you want to get out, you want to go to the park. Just go for a walk. And I'm really not capable of doing very much of that.

GUPTA: Sometimes just going out to the grocery store wears him out. But first and foremost, Charlie Hoff is a newsman. So he decided to collect as much information as he could.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take a breath here.

GUPTA: He found a clinical trial using breakthrough technology that injects special cells directly into his heart in hopes of repairing it.

HOFF: I got a chance to do something that will make me like I was, you know?

GUPTA: Dr. Nicholas Chronos and his team at Saint Joseph's Hospital in Atlanta took some muscle from Charlie's leg and sent it off to a laboratory. Researchers separated out certain types of cells and then stimulated millions of them to multiply.

NICHOLAS CHRONOS, SAINT JOSEPH'S HOSPITAL: The earlier cells that what are called progenitor cells, and they appear to be on the route to become muscle cells.

GUPTA: A special catheter is then threaded into Charlie's heart. And 225 million of the progenitor cells, also called myoblasts, are injected into the damaged tissue. Charlie gets 18 injections.

CHRONOS: We've done about a third of the injections. Can you see what we're doing?

HOFF: Yes.

GUPTA: Doctors believe that the cells somehow create a muscular scaffolding, that helps stabilize the heart so that it pumps more efficiently and delivers more blood to the body. It will be three to six months before Charlie knows whether the procedure has helped mend his broken heart.


GUPTA: Hmm, he looks pretty good there. Charlie Hoff, good luck from all of us here at CNN.

We are talking with Dr. Nieca Goldberg. She's a cardiologist in New York. And she's author of the "Women's Healthy Heart Program" as well.

You just heard, and I'm sure you already knew about this new treatment out there. Are there other new heart treatments showing any promise, doctor?

GOLDBERG: Well, actually, the work that's being done with genetics is very interesting, because it will actually help us to earlier predict various kinds of heart diseases. So that's really the focus of a lot of the research.

In terms of testing for heart disease, the nuclear magnetic resonance stress testing that is being tested in women, I hope that becomes more widely available so we can really fine tune or diagnosis of heart disease in women.

And certainly MRI is also being used, so we can actually look even closer at some plaque that builds up in the arteries, so we can better treat it.

GUPTA: So much of the focus being on prevention and diagnostics. Really good, valuable information. Dr. Nieca Goldberg, thanks for being with us today. And I applaud the work that you're doing. Keep up the good work.

GOLDBERG: Thank you.

GUPTA: Coming up, we're taking you to a school like no other.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Visit the Namaste School, where meditation and exercise are changing lives.


GUPTA: We're back with HOUSE CALL. In our continuing look at childhood obesity, we came across a truly original idea for helping kids get healthy. Elizabeth Cohen takes us to a school with a new approach to learning and health.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a cold Chicago morning, Alejandro Gutierrez runs to catch the bus.

And this is the bus. No fuel, just feet. There are no regular buses to this school. The principal banned them. She also banned Pop-Tarts, pastries, and sugar cereals for breakfast. And that's just the beginning.

Welcome to Namaste Charter School, where every morning starts with yoga and meditation. Later in the day, there's an hour of Phys Ed and then recess, too.

ALLISON SLADE, PRINCIPAL: And what we've really seen is that kids who are healthy and active do perform better in the classroom.

COHEN: Allison Slade, the principal, says she's getting results. She started this charter school last year in a largely Hispanic neighborhood with low test scores and high obesity rates. Now many overweight kids here are slimming down. And in a city where most kids fall short of the state's literacy goals, 80 percent of Namaste students are now doing better than the city average.

SLADE: What did you make, Josh?

COHEN: Slade started the school because she was horrified by what she saw as a teacher in other public schools.

SLADE: I used to see my kids come to school and they ate fiery hot Cheetos for breakfast and lunch.

COHEN: Here, no chips, no fries at lunch. Instead, a mini salad bar and fresh fruit, which the kids actually eat. The school also serves foods like pizza and chocolate milk, just not that often.

At this school you don't have a lot of ice cream, you don't have a lot of cakes, you don't have a lot of cookies, you don't have a lot of fried foods. Do you miss them?


COHEN: It all sounds pretty earthy, crunchy. And some parents were initially skeptical, including Ricky and Jessie's mom. But then she saw how the school changed her kids.

SABRINA BASQUEZ, MOTHER: They surprised me, because you don't expect a seven-year-old to say no to Doritos or no to cookies.

COHEN: Right now, so many parents want yoga, meditation and healthy food for their kids, the school has two applicants for every space.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Chicago.


GUPTA: All right, Elizabeth, thanks. I wish there was a school like that when I was growing up.

As we all know, once you're grown up, exercise isn't about playtime anymore. But our bod squad shows us how to spice up the sometimes dreaded treadmill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Tired of the same old boring workout on the treadmill? Now you can spice it up just by stepping it up. Sprinting up hills, walking or running on flat roads, tread ride is an aerobic class on treadmills.

JENNIFER RENFROE, CRUNCH FITNESS: It's all set to music. So we runs hills and flat roads and change the incline and change the pace. And it's a great cardiovascular workout in about 45 minutes.

COSTELLO: She says people who workout regularly on the treadmill may not be working out at the intensity they need to burn the most calories during their workout. This class is designed to amp up the intensity level.

LYDIA O'BERRY: You know, how your clothes fit better. You feel better about yourself. You can go home and eat a Snickers bar.

MARGO GREGORY: I thought it was awesome. It was my first time taking the class. And I thought it was an awesome workout. I'm actually a runner, so this would be a great cross training tool for me.

COSTELLO: Jennifer says you could make the class tougher by adding a 4 to 16 pound weighted vest, but that's optional. The best part is you will burn anywhere from 400 to 700 calories per hour.

Carol Costello, CNN.



GUPTA: Remember, this is the place for the answers to all of your medical questions. Make sure to tune in every weekend for another edition of HOUSE CALL. Also, e-mail us your questions,

Thanks for watching. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Stay tuned now for more news on CNN.