Monday, January 15, 2007

More Hope for Heart Patients

Dr. Wes: Stem cells create beating heart tissue.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am all for human beings leading full, long and healthy lives however, I am not convinced that human beings are intellectually and emotionally mature enough to handle their newfound Fountain of Youth.

It is a bit freaky that we as a culutre spend so much of our time trying to be youthful that we are forgetting that we have a limited shelf life.

My father bought into the 'I'm going to life to 110' philosophy and lived his life accordingly, he did not smoke, consumed a little wine, ate a healthy diet, exercised daily, kept his body weight just below normal, meditated daily, read all the long-life books and had physicals twice a year.

He died in 2000, one month short of his 70 birthday from a combination of discovering he was Stage 4 terminal small cell lung cancer (determined just three short months after his last physical). The discovery of having cancer increased his stress level upon which his heart eventually failed. He could not understand after having lived his life following all the right rules that he was Stage 4 terminal. Through all this it was interesting that as he neared death his out reach for God grew. On the flip side, though my parents were divorced some thirty years, my mother was diagnosed Stage 4 terminal small cell lung cancer just a few months after my father died. She smoked, never exercised, never went to the doctor and didn't dwell upon youthfulness nor living forever yet she managed to live until the age of 75 (she passed away Aug 2006) If disease is genetic I will most probably die of some form of lung cancer no matter what I do, so instead of spending the rest of my life trying to live to 110 I'm now live my life celebrating every wrinkle I acquire, every ache and pain I suffer because I know I have 'made it thus far'. I no longer fear death like I did when my father was alive lecturing a pious concept that leading an 'unhealthy lifestyle' is for ignorant people.

Going through my fathers death was the most painful experience that he and our family went through, not the disease itself but the painful experience of not knowing how to deal with death. My mother was far more accepting and gracious about her eventual passing.

Vaclav Havel has a profound quote on man, science and such:

"As soon as man began began considering himself the source of the highest meaning in the world and measure of everything, the world began to lose its human dimension, and man began to lose control of it."

Personally, I am living my life as humanly as possible rather than wasting every moment in a fallacy that I can be God.

8:19 AM, January 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep hope alive!

Let Love Live.

All men are created equal (in the eyes of the Lord).

8:51 AM, January 15, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Anonymous 8:19:

I do understand how you feel--doing everything right is no recipe for a long life, I tried and had a heart attack. However, if one is going to live, quality of life is an issue. Living with a compromised heart is a very difficult and pretty awful place to be. If there are treatments out there that will allow for a better quality of life, sign me up.

9:02 AM, January 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Helen:

I don't know for certain, but I think that the anonymous poster is onto a different concept.

Most people know that using medical science is a good thing.

But there are many people who make pseudo-moral judgements about health nowadays, like apparently the anonymous poster's late father (prior to his cancer). And since they cannot be religious, it is a "health snobbery" issue. I have seen such people almost sneer at smokers for getting lung cancer, for example (to be sure, smokers shouldn't smoke...but why sneer about a tragedy?).

The uncomfortable fact is that we are all dying from the time we are born. Some of us are dying faster than others.

Whatever medical science can do to relieve disease is a good thing.

But eating bran and jogging does not lend any moral authority.

Anonymous poster---I am sorry again for your loss, but I am happy that you have found some spiritual ways of dealing with your life. And Dr. Helen, I can think of a whole long list of people who deserve your health problem more than you do. I admire the heck out of your life strategies.

9:26 AM, January 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder how long before unintended concequences, greed, further government intervention, legal "lifetime" expectations, lifestyle, diet, National economies, culture, arts, and yes age-race-sex discrimination issues become
part of the picture?

Yes, you too can expect a longer life
with our model 3 heart, a manditory lifetime maintenance prescription of our patented bornagin is required, pre-approved credit transfers
only. Must be cross-registered with implanted bio chip for your safety !

What will the market for cloned v. harvested human and animal organs
unveil? Has the mechanical market

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

10:48 AM, January 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every generation feels that way about medical innovation.

Why, 150 years ago, the idea of doctors washing their hands was considered heretical.

There are always trade offs, of course. Society as a whole must accept or reject those changes.

What I tell my students is that no one *must* accept new medical technology. The choice is generally the patient's.

11:13 AM, January 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Something always seems to fly in the face of every ounce of prevention, every effort to do what is best for our personal health and longevity. Heck, the DNA mixture we end up with is a crap shoot. Most folks aren't as stupid as I have been. Now I'm a "health nut", but the door is wide open and the barn is empty.

As stated above, as sure as we're born, we will all come to the inevitable other side of the equation. Rats.

Captdmo's post, parts of it, somehow reminded me of one of the earliest alarmist type global warming movies I can remember seeing in the seventies - Soylent Green - with Charlton Heston. I remember the punch line at the end, "Soylent Green is People!!"

Do you think it could ever....naaaaa.

Except for the occasional thorn, there are some fine people on this web blog. I feel almost blessed stumbling upon it. Hope I'm not a pest.

Why couldn't one of you ended up as my next door neighbor instead of the prince that lives next to me now? I must have pulled wings off butterflies as a kid or something.

7:10 PM, January 15, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


I think you are right, our DNA is a crap shoot, which is why I am glad that medical advances are making that crap shoot a little more tolerable for those of us who are either dealt a bad hand or those of us who are more vulnerable to the effects of bad health habits. I know people who smoke and drink for years that end up living long lives free of disease and those who do everything right and die early. Who says life is fair? It's not and all that we as human beings can do is make the best of it.

BTW, I am glad you stumbled upon my blog and hope you will continue to find the discussion interesting.

7:29 PM, January 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Viannese birthing wards/fever wards
college cadaver labs (see "eric blair" washing hands above)
Mercury based medicines
Mercury biocides
Frontal lobotomies
Baby Formulas exported to India
Medicade fraud
Tropical medical colleges
Hospital borne fatal diseases-
(can't remember the name for it)
ANY drug advertised in a popular magazine (see disclaimers)
Botched/ill advised cosmetic surgery
Chinese (so far)human organ market
AIDS infected blood/organ/tissue transplants
Cadaver transplants
Hydrotherapy (not what you're thinking)
Chemotherepy "guesses"
Leaches-(actually works fairly well in reconstructive blood vessel recirculation)
Maggots-(actually works fairly well with intricate dead-tissue eradication)
Penicillin resistant mutations
Arterial stents
Jarvic anything
Dakon (Dalcon?) Shield
Lippes loop
Rely tampons
Red dye #2
Agent Orange

All offshoots of "great" new ideas and
"wonder" technologies, never mind the unintended concequences of social activism-(Help me out with this please tomcal!)

I have no qualms with the inevitable
benifits in discoveries in medicine and the quest for ease. I have no doubts in the power of inevitable bureauocratic control intervention, greed, and stupidity, on BOTH sides of aesculapius on a catastrophic scale either.

I asked a pharmacist for quinine about five years ago and thought she was going to pull a gun on me! (Yes, I was going to a jungle)I can't get belladonna tainted stomach stuff anymore? Sulphadine(tm)-available in England, with a bit of lemon juice, was very helpful with flu/hangover!(basicly bicarbonate, analgesic, and codine)

11:14 PM, January 15, 2007  
Blogger Simon Kenton said...

CaptDMO -

The word you are looking for might be "nosocomial." The common and frightening one of these is MRSA, methycillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus.

Too many people that enter them come out slabbed, so I try to stay clear of hospitals, and keep it brief and cheery when I have to go in.

12:06 AM, January 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as I know, going back 3 generations everyone in my family on both sides has died of heart disease or stroke. Usually at a ripe old age. We have it all. Arythmias, atrial and ventricular fibrillation, valve failures, coronary artery disease, etc, etc. Cancer doesnt seem to get us (knock on wood).

4 years ago, my dad, now 79, was informed that he needed a quadruple bypasss (he was completely asymptomatic and appeared in great shape) or he'd be dead within a few years. He did it, and I am sure that as far as he is concerned, the cure was worse than death. Especially the lingering nosocomial infection at the harvest site in his leg, the stroke he suffered which may be related to the surgery, and the fact that he has never again felt as good as before the surgery.

But life is risky. You take your best shot and live with the results.

I have children in their teens. I would suffer a lot to keep myself around for them. My gut feeling is that if I were in my 70's, felt fine, and was told that without some medical proceedure I was going to suddenly drop dead, I would probably pass.

But I'm not 70, and one's perceptions of "quality of life" change with age. Even now I live with more aches and pains than I would like (or would have imagined when I was younger), but I'm no where near ready to go.

So I suppose I'll ultimately do like most people, undergoing great suffering for a few extra years; Using whatever medical technology is available at the time to the fullest.

Meanwhile, I try to make every day count. After all, I could be struck by lightening tomorrow.

2:20 AM, January 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And for the record I have no moral or ethical problems with stem cell research, regardless of their origin. Such research will most certainly have unintended consequenses over the years, but so have all other inventions in human history.

2:41 AM, January 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tc has a point - no matter what solution we come up with, it will have unintended, and unpredictable, consequences. That obviously makes many people - especially policy-makers - averse to sponsoring or employing new technologies. The game of "what if" never seems to end. But if we balk at every new capability, we will cease to evolve.

The idea of healing ourselves from within, as it were, is more attractive than being eternally reliant on chemical cocktails. (How many drugs does Dr. Helen have to take each day?) We'll never know if this approach is practical if we continue to hesitate.

Let's face it: If they can get stem cells to mutate into really big johnson cells, I say to hell with the risks.

12:03 PM, January 16, 2007  
Blogger Quadraginta said...

our DNA is a crap shoot

It's supposed to be, that's how the species improves: some of those rolls end up with amazingly helpful new gene combinations, and those are supposed to prosper and (eventually) pass around to everyone.

In principle, folks with unusually bad rolls of the die are "supposed" to die young, without offspring, so those deadly gene combinations are edited out of the species. Nature, red in tooth and claw, eh?

We don't allow natural selection to work freely any more, of course. The birth defect rate has been steadily rising, too, probably partly as a consequence. In principle we are stuck between unpleasant options: (1) allow people with "bad" sets of genes to die, or (2) allow the bad genes to spread to a larger fraction of our descendants.

Fortunately, we'll probably figure out how to proofread and correct our genes before birth sooner or later, and then we can just fix the bad genes directly.

9:43 PM, January 17, 2007  
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