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Chemical in some medical devices impairs heart function, leaches out into body

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Beware of cyclohexonone, that organic solvent manufacturers used in making polyvinyl chloride (PVC) devices. Did you know that the tubing in those IV bags, catheters, mesh, joint replacements, filters, and various tubes that hold the IV medicines and various implanted devices that go into people's bodies and bloodstreams are made of and/or contain this solvent?

It's effects on the body aren't good. Cyclohexanones can produce heart failure, arrhythmias, blood pressure changes, swelling/edema, and pulmonary hypertension. How many people or physicians even begin to connect the leaching out of a chemical from plastic tubing or other devices in the body to high blood pressure in the lungs that leads to the right side of the heart working harder than the left and other symptoms?

The chemical called cyclohexanone moves out of the tubing, leaches out and moves into your body. Tests can detect it in urine, including the urine of newborns in hospital nurseries, and it's also found in ICU adult patients. The chemical is found in a variety of tubing for dialysis, filters, mesh, joint replacements and other medical devices. And the effects of this chemical leaching out into your body are nasty. Ironically, many doctors haven't heard of the effects on the human body (or an animal's body) of cyclohexanone.

How many look at what chemicals are in an IV bag and which of these chemicals in the plastic tubing are leaching out into a patient's body?

Various types of plastics and rubbers that are in plastics also are used when people get blood transfusions, for example. You may wish to check out the May 1, 2009 news release, "Chemical Found in Medical Devices Impairs Heart Function." Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have found that a chemical commonly used in the production of such medical plastic devices as intravenous (IV) bags and catheters can impair heart function in rats. You'll come across the study, "Cyclohexonone contaimination from extracorporal circuits impairs cardiovascular function." Authors are Thompson-Toprgerson, CS, et al. The study comes from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, published June 2009 in the Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiology. (by the American Physiological Society.) See, "Cyclohexanone contamination from extracorporeal circuits impairs cardiovascular function."

Reporting online in May 2009 in the American Journal of Physiology, these new findings suggest a possible new reason for some of the common side effects—loss of taste, short term memory loss--of medical procedures that require blood to be circulated through plastic tubing outside the body, such as heart bypass surgery or kidney dialysis. These new findings also have strong implications for the future of medical plastics manufacturing.

In addition to loss of taste and memory, coronary bypass patients often complain of swelling and fatigue

These usually resolve within a few months after surgery, but they are troubling, sometimes hinder recovery, but generally go away. His personal experience with coronary bypass surgery propelled his search for a root cause for the loss of taste phenomenon, reports principal investigator Artin Shoukas, Ph.D., professor of biomedical engineering, physiology and anesthesiology and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins. “I’m a chocoholic, and after my bypass surgery everything tasted awful, and chocolate tasted like charcoal for months.”

Shoukas and Caitlin Thompson-Torgerson, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in anesthesiology and critical care medicine suspected the trigger for these side effects might be a chemical compound of some kind. To test their theory, Shoukas and his team of researchers took liquid samples from IV bags and bypass machines before they were used on patients.

Does this chemical leaching out trigger side effects?

The team analyzed the fluids in another machine that can identify unknown chemicals and found the liquid to contain a chemical compound called cyclohexanone. The researchers thought that the cyclohexanone in the fluid samples might have leached from the plastic. Although the amount of cyclohexanone leaching from these devices varied greatly, all fluid samples contained at least some detectable level of the chemical.

The researchers then injected rats with either a salt solution or a salt solution containing cyclohexanone and measured heart function. Rats that got only salt solution pumped approximately 200 microliters of blood per heartbeat and had an average heart rate of 358 beats per minute, while rats injected with cyclohexanone pumped only about 150 microliters of blood per heartbeat with an average heart rate of 287 beats per minute.

In addition to pumping less blood more slowly, rats injected with cyclohexanone had weaker heart contractions

The team calculated that cyclohexanone caused a 50 percent reduction in the strength of each heart contraction. They also found that the reflex that helps control and maintain blood pressure is much less sensitive after cyclohexanone exposure. Finally, the team observed increased fluid retention and swelling in the rats after cyclohexanone injections.

According to Thompson-Torgerson and Shoukas, they would like to figure out how these side effects—decreased heart function and swelling—occur and to what degree cyclohexanone is involved. Despite the findings in this study, they emphasize that patients should listen carefully to the advice of their physicians.

“We would never recommend that patients decline this type of treatment if they need it,” says Shoukas, according to the news release, Chemical Found in Medical Devices Impairs Heart Function. “On the contrary, such technologies are life-saving medical advances, and their benefits still far outweigh the risks of the associated side effects. As scientists, we are simply trying to understand how the side effects are triggered and what the best method will be to mitigate, and ultimately remedy, these morbidities.”

This study was funded by the Bernard A. & Rebecca S. Bernard Foundation, the American Heart Association, the W.W. Smith Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Pulmonary Vascular Research Institute, the American College of Cardiology, the Shin Chun-Wang Young Investigator Award, the American Physiological Society, the Joyce Koons Family Cardiac Endowment Fund, and funds from Dr. Shoukas. Authors on the paper are Caitlin S. Thompson-Torgerson, Hunter C. Champion, Lakshmi Santhanam, Z. Leah Harris and Artin A. Shoukas, all of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

In another study: High protein low carb diets effects depend on how old you are

The low carb diet may not be so good for older adults. On another note, another study (or its abstract) worth perusing is "High protein - low carbohydrate diet: deleterious metabolic and cardiovascular effects depend on age." That study reminds you how high protein - low carbohydrate (HP-LC) diets have become widespread. Yet their deleterious consequences, especially on glucose metabolism and arteries, have already been underlined, says the study's abstract.

A previous study has already shown glucose intolerance with major arterial dysfunction in very old mice subjected to an high protein - low carbohydrate (HP-LC diet). The hypothesis of the study using lab mice examined whether this diet had an age-dependent deleterious metabolic and cardiovascular outcome. Young mice did not exhibit any significant metabolic modification, whereas adult mice presented marked glucose intolerance associated with an increase in resistin and triglyceride levels.

These metabolic disturbances were responsible for cardiovascular damages only in adult mice, with decreased aortic distensibility and left ventricle dysfunction, says that study's abstract.

These seemed to be the consequence of arterial dysfunctions. Mesenteric arteries were the worst affected with a major oxidative stress, whereas aorta function seemed to be maintained with an appreciable role of COX2 to preserve endothelial function. This study highlights for the first time the age-dependent deleterious effects of an HP-LC diet on metabolism, with glucose intolerance and lipid disorders, vascular (especially microvessels) and cardiac functions.

This work shows that HP-LC lead to equivalent cardiovascular alterations as observed in very old age and underlines the danger of such diet. So when older people start eating more vegetables and some fruit and berries, there may be something to such a dietary approach, depending upon how the individual reacts to certain foods. Older adults are told so often that their muscles will waste if they stop eating their high protein diets such as meat and diary products. But this study opens the door to a variety of dietary changes that tailor the food to the person's metabolic, chemical, and cellular needs at various stages of life.

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