Cow heart tissue offers hope
* Doctors are using a new procedure to take tissue from a cow heart and patch the hearts of human patients suffering from severe congestive heart failure. The new procedure, called ventricular restoration, uses a patch made of cow heart muscle to repair an enlarged and poorly functioning portion of a human heart damaged by heart attacks. A healthy ventricle looks like a football in shape, while a damaged ventricle expands to look more like a round basketball. The patch helps to reshape the ventricle from the basketball back to the football shape, according to Pasala Ravichandran, a heart surgeon at Oregon Health and Science University.
New cells inserted into heart
* Some people almost homebound by congestive heart failure dramatically improve and even return to work after doctors insert new cells into their severely damaged pumping muscle. The experiment is the latest attempt at cell therapy, an approach still early in development that shows enticing hints it can restore life to stunned and scarred areas of weakly beating hearts. Several teams around the world are using a variety of approaches, involving either primitive bone marrow cells or immature skeletal muscle cells to refurbish damaged heart muscle. Although it is still too soon to say how well the approach works-or even whether it does at all-doctors say they have been impressed with apparent reversals of severe heart failure after the experiments.
Superdrugs called threat
* Doctors are being more careful about prescribing antibiotics for common ailments, but when they do, they are turning too often to powerful new superdrugs, a new study says. The overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics for minor infections poses a serious health threat because it could speed bacterial resistance to valuable and potentially lifesaving drugs, according to a study in the April 1 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.