Beta blockers are among the most prescribed heart medications. They help against hypertension, stabilize cardiac arrhythmia and relieve heart failure. Now it has been found: The active ingredients reverse changes that cause unfavorable genes in the body are active.
Such reversible genetic changes are termed "epigenetic." They do not alter the genetic code itself, such as mutations, but only regulate which genes are read and which are not. But that can be crucial: good genes are turned off, unfavorable ones.
The fact that beta-blockers have a positive effect on heart failure in this way has been discovered by John McDermott and his colleagues at York University.
Mice with too big a heart
For their experiments, they used mice with an operatively narrowed aortic arch, which is one of the main supply vessels of the brain. Consequences of such a condition are heart failure and as a result, a pathological enlargement of the heart. Such aortic valve stenosis is treated in humans with beta-blockers.
The influence of this condition on gene activity was investigated by scientists using the so-called transcriptome. This shows which genes of a cell are read out at a specific time.
32 altered genes
The researchers were able to determine that, as the aortic arch narrowed, 32 genes changed their activity. These included, among others, those associated with exposure to oxidative stress, organic changes in the heart, and apoptosis. The latter is a process that makes sick cells activate a salutary self-destructive mechanism.
A key role in cardiac cells is played by the Myocyte Enhancer Factor 2 (MEF2), which controls a whole bunch of cardiac genes. In heart failure, the activity of MEF2 is increased. But that changed with the addition of beta-blockers. "We discovered that beta-blockers reversed the pathological change in gene activity seen in cardiac insufficiency," says McDermott. The researchers also found that the function of the mouse heart improved again when betablockers were given.
Immungene are also affected
Interestingly, the researchers found that some genes were also deregulated in cardiac insufficiency associated with the immune system. This fits in with the findings of previous studies suggesting that immune-stimulated inflammatory processes are involved in the development of heart failure.
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10 tips for heart failure
People with heart failure can do a lot for themselves and your health. And they should as well, because a healthy lifestyle can slow down the progression of the disease - find out here ten tips that lead to success without much effort!
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Salt binds water in the body! This increases blood pressure and puts a strain on the heart. Avoid strong salted foods (such as salami, raw ham, salted meats, potato chips, savory biscuits, etc.). Caution: Ready meals or spice mixes also contain a lot of salt. If you are cooking yourself, use fresh herbs. Not only do they contain vitamins and taste good, they also help to save salt.
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Do not drink too much!
Depending on how pronounced the cardiac insufficiency is, you should only take a limited amount of fluid, otherwise the heart will be additionally burdened by the large amount of fluid in the body. Kidney function also plays a role here. Generally it should not be more than three liters per day. Caution: Even fruits and vegetables contain liquid! It is best to discuss with your doctor how much fluid you are allowed to take each day.
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Measure with alcohol
Some forms of heart failure are triggered by chronic alcohol consumption. In this case, you should completely abstain from the alcohol. Otherwise, you may drink a glass occasionally. Where: women do not drink more than twelve grams of pure alcohol per day, men no more than 24 grams. 0.2 liters of wine contains about 17 grams of alcohol, 0.3 liters of beer 11.5 grams and a glass of liquor (0.02 liters) about six grams.
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If you are gaining weight, this may be an indication that heart function has deteriorated. So weigh yourself every day. You can write down the values, so you have a better overview. If you gain more than one kilogram overnight or more than 2.5 kilograms in one week, talk to your doctor. Also, a significant weight loss may indicate a deterioration in health.
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Losing weight is important
Conscious slimming down can, under certain circumstances, strengthen your heart - especially if you are very overweight.With a body mass index of more than 40 kg / m2, you should lose weight. Before you start, talk to your doctor.
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Do not swallow indiscriminately tablets
Even if you feel good: Take regularly prescribed by the doctor medication! Also, be aware of possible drug-drug interactions. For example, many analgesics reduce the effects of heart medication when taken frequently. Talk to your doctor before using additional substances.
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Goodbye to stinking!
Smoking causes the entire body, including the heart muscle, to receive less oxygen. People who suffer from heart failure should therefore absolutely quit smoking. Ask your doctor if you need help with stopping smoking. Also health insurance companies offer special weaning programs.
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Exercise is healthy, especially for people with heart failure! Sport has several benefits: better lifestyle, less discomfort, longer life expectancy. Talk to your doctor first before you start exercising. Special heart sports groups can respond individually to your health restrictions. Another plus: you do not have to exercise alone!
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Travel without remorse
Traveling is not a problem for well-adjusted patients with minor health problems. However, there are some things to keep in mind: If you travel to a hot or humid climate, you may need to adjust the medication. Beware of travel areas that are higher than 1,500 meters: From this altitude, the air contains less oxygen. Also avoid long air travel. This can lead to lack of water in the body, water retention in the body and blood clots in the legs.
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Heart failure often causes problems when those affected additionally suffer from respiratory infections. The annual flu shot and the vaccine against pneumococci is therefore advisable. Your doctor can advise you on the pros and cons.
Heart failure or heart failure - this term unites different clinical pictures. They all have in common that the pumping power of the heart is reduced, so that the heart is no longer able to provide the body with sufficient blood and oxygen. In Germany, it is the second most common among women and the fourth leading cause of death among men.