Heart Study Looks At African-American Parents Children

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NIH researchers are enrolling multiple generations of patients in a landmark study designed to identify the early warning signs of heart disease among African-Americans. The new feasibility study will enroll children and grandchildren of African-American adults participating in the ongoing Jackson Heart Study in Jackson,  MS.

This pilot study, which researchers hope will help them create a larger, full-scale version later, is named the Jackson Heart Kids Study (JHS Kids). 1 The 200 children, ages 12 to 19, who will eventually be enrolled in the study will be carefully watched as they grow into adulthood.

Obesity is one of the most prominent factors researchers will observe. Studies have shown that becoming overweight as an adult is a process that begins in childhood and adolescence. JHS Kids, it is hoped, will not only help confirm but also track patients’ health through several stages of life.

Researchers will visit participants’ homes in the Jackson area to record physical attributes, collect blood and other biological samples, and gather detailed information on the children’s lifestyles. Diet and exercise patterns will be carefully tracked.

By comparing information from the adolescent participants in the study to their older relatives enrolled in the Jackson Heart Study, scientists will be able to better determine the role of hereditary factors and the environment play in the risk for obesity and, later in life, heart disease.

The focus on African-Americans and heart disease is a response to many years of data showing that African-Americans are not only more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease, but also far more likely to die from it.

The Jackson Heart Study began in 2000 with the support of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

1. Taylor HA Jr. The Jackson Heart Study: an overview. Ethn Dis. 2005 Autumn;15(4 Suppl 6):S6-1-3. PubMed PMID: 16317981.

New Information on Palliative Care in CHF

Palliative care should be integrated early on with chronic heart failure patients, according to data gathered by Denver VA Medical Center researchers. 1

While guidelines for the management of heart failure recommend palliative care at the end of life, previous studies do not provide concrete guidance for what palliative care needs are the highest priority or how a program should be constructed.

Denver VAMC researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 33 veteran outpatients with symptomatic heart failure and 20 of their family caregivers. They examined the major concerns and needs of the patients and family caregivers, attempting to determine how and when palliative care would be most useful.

Researchers found that, overall, both patients and their caregivers wanted early support that was appropriately adjusted to the patient’s course of illness. They also wanted the family caregivers included in the patient’s palliative care — effectively making them part of the treatment team. They were particularly interested in psychosocial support and symptom control.

The Denver researchers recommended that future research test the feasibility and effectiveness of integrating such a program into routine heart failure care.

1: Benkelman DB, Nowels CT, Retrum JH, Allen LA, Shakar S, Hutt E, Heyborne T, Main DS, Kutner JS. Giving voice to patients’ and family caregivers’ needs in chronic heart failure: implications for palliative care programs. J Palliat Med. 2011 Dec;14(12):1317-24. Epub 2011 Nov 22. PubMed PMID: 22107107.

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