New drug dissolves arterial plaque – a major cause of heart disease

An injectable drug, Repatha, has been shown to dissolve damaging arterial plaques in a new patient trial.

Plaque deposits are responsible for clogging up arteries and contribute to blood clots – a major cause of heart attacks. Clots block the blood supply to the heart, leaving the crucial cardiac muscles starved of oxygen. Therefore treatments which can stop or reverse the build up of atheromas, cut heart attack risk and save lives.
Data from a trial of 968 patients, was unveiled at the recent American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions meeting in New Orleans, and showed that 64% of those treated with both Repatha and statins saw their atheromas shrink over 18 months.

But of the statins group only 48% experienced shrinkage and to a far smaller degree. Whereas the average patient treated with Repatha had a shrinkringe of plaque of 5.8 cubic mm, more than six times more than the 0.9 cubic mm shrinkage seen among those treated with statins alone.

Researcher Dr Stephen Nicholls, of the University of Adelaide, said the plaque reversal was ‘really quite profound’ – and was more than enough to stop a heart attack.

‘It is the difference in disease progression between those who have an event and those who don’t,’ he told the meeting.

Coronary heart disease, in which the major arteries become clogged, affects more than 2.3million people in Britain, and 69,000 die from heart attacks every year.

US company Amgen which makes the drug hopes that an even larger trial which completes next year , of nearly 30,000 people, will prove that the medicine does stop heart attacks.

Repatha is already available in the UK on the NHS and an estimated 325,000 people in the UK are already eligible to be prescribed it. That approval was made on the basis of trials which showed they reduced cholesterol by about 60 per cent more than statins.

Repatha is one of the first new cholesterol treatments developed since statins launched some 30 years ago – offer the first real alternative for people who cannot cope with the brutal muscle aches that sometimes accompany statins, or for whom statins simply do not work.

They have been approved in the UK for two main groups – those with a genetic condition which means they have dangerously high cholesterol, and people with heart disease who cannot cope with the side effects of statins.

But the new findings suggest the drugs could benefit hundreds of thousands more people – with up to 1.5million people potentially benefitting if the guidelines are changed.

The researchers, led by the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, found patients were still seeing their plaques shrink even when their cholesterol levels had reached very low levels – about a tenth of the level at which British patients are eligible for the drug.

Repatha, which is also known as evolocumab has so far been given to only handfuls of NHS patients, mostly because the of the cost. It costs about £4,400 per patient per year, although the NHS has agreed an undisclosed discount on this price.

Statins are incredibly cheap in comparison, costing the NHS about £20 a year per patient.

But doctors are more likely to start prescribing the drugs based on the new findings, which show for the first time that it has a clinical effect that extends beyond simply lowering cholesterol.

Scientists reveal how L-Arginine cleans arteries


London: Scientists at Imperial College London have used a new chemical imaging technique to reveal how a simple dietary supplement cleans up arteries.

The new technique could one day help in the fight against atherosclerosis – the disease in which arteries get clogged up with plaque and fats, suggests the research research. (published in the August 2009 edition of the Journal of the Royal Society Interface).

Atherosclerosis is the disease underlying most heart attacks and strokes and it is characterised by lesions in the arteries, made of fats, collagen and cells.

The lesions cause artery walls to harden and thicken, which severely restricts the flow of blood around the body and they can also rupture, leading to heart attacks and strokes. Understanding the precise chemical composition of an individual’s lesions is important because the ones with higher levels of a type of fat, called cholesteryl ester, are more prone to rupture.

The team behind the new imaging technique, which is known as Attenuated Total Reflection Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopic Imaging (ATR-FTIR imaging), believe that with further refinement, it could become a useful tool for doctors wanting to assess a patient’s lesions.

For example, by combining fibre optic technology with ATR-FTIR imaging, the researchers believe doctors could carry out real-time inspections of patients with atherosclerosis, in order to assess the progress of the disease and establish which patients are at the greatest risk of complications.

Currently, doctors can use ultrasound to assess the size and location of lesions but they need to take biopsies of lesions in order to determine their chemistry. This is a complex and invasive procedure.

The researchers say the ATR-FTIR imaging could potentially improve current imaging techniques because it could combine imaging and chemical analysis, which would provide a comprehensive and accurate picture of a patient’s lesions in one procedure. In the present study, the researchers demonstrated that ATR-FTIR imaging was able to reveal the precise composition and size of the lesions and the levels of elastin, collagen and cholesteryl ester in them.

The ATR-FTIR imaging technology works by using infrared light to identify different chemical molecules, which are mapped by an array detector to create a ‘chemical photograph’.

The researchers used the technique to study the effects of age and an amino acid called L-arginine on the composition of lesions in cholesterol-fed rabbits. The work appeared to confirm that dietary L-arginine can remove lesions in the arteries of mature rabbits.

The researchers say further studies need to be done before the ATR-FTIR imaging could be used for patient care.

Lead-author, Professor Sergei Kazarian, from the Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemical Technology at Imperial College London, says:

“Atherosclerosis can be a dangerous condition and our hope is that with further work, our approaches could ultimately be used to determine which patients are most at risk of complications. That way, doctors can target treatments at those patients who most need it, in order to prevent strokes and heart attacks.”

This research was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Wimpole Aesthetic Centre – London

Wimpole Aesthetic Centre
48 Wimpole Street
London W1G 8SF
T: + 44 (0)20 7224 2247
This clinic offers all kinds of fillers and anti-ageing facial treatments such as Botox, skin peels, mesotherapy as well as treatments for skin conditions such as acne, hair removal, thread veins etc.

Dr Josh Berkowitz is also an expert in non-invasive forms of fat removal such as SmartLipo.


Varicose & spider veins – the second most popular US surgery


Varicose vein removal has moved ahead of eyelid surgery as the second most often performed cosmetic surgical procedure, according to a new survey.

The reason for this, the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS) says in a news release, is cosmetic surgery preferences of men, not women, have changed dramatically. Sclerotherapy, the removal of spider veins and varicose veins, has increased about 226 percent among US men in the past five years, the AACS says, while it has only increased about 3.5 percent as a preference for US females.

By contrast, US men seem to be thinking twice about hair transplants, according to the survey. Price may be a factor, with hair transplant costs increasing by almost $1,300 in the past five years, while sclerotherapy costs have declined by slightly more than $100, according to AACS statistics.

Liposuction remains the top cosmetic surgical procedure, the AACS says, followed by sclerotherapy and blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery). The top non-surgical cosmetic procedure is Botox injection, the AACS reports.

Thread veins – can you get rid of them after pregnancy?


London: Dr Angus Gordon, Medical Director of the Katherine Corbett Clinics, discusses treatments for unsightly thread veins, which can arise during pregnancy.

Becoming and being pregnant is a life changing experience. The nine months that follow, are supposed to be filled with anticipation and excitement – then reality sets in.

No one properly explains to you the morning sickness, the cramps, the mood swings, and the vast and complex array of changes your body goes through. Coupled with all of this, is the frustration of trying to feel attractive, while coming to terms with how you are no longer able to slide into your favourite pair of jeans.

Then there is the unsightly condition of thread veins, something which is becoming more common in young women during pregnancy. Thread veins are small red or purple capillaries close to the surface of the skin which are harmless but women do find them unpleasant. Thread veins tend to be hereditary and expectant women can develop them due to high levels of oestrogen. Another cause may be due to obesity — a growing problem in the UK and western societies in general. Thread veins are extremely common and often affect the face and legs, but can be found on other parts of the body too.

The removal of thread veins is classed as a cosmetic treatment, and because of this it is not a procedure available through the UK’s government health service, the NHS. Many expectant mothers develop them during their pregnancy, and become anxious as they believe there is no proper treatment for the condition. However, one of London’s leading and longest established aesthetic clinics, specialising in surgically non-invasive treatments, the Katherine Corbett Clinics (KCC), has been providing safe and effective treatments for over 50 years.

KCC’s Medical Director, Dr Angus Gordon says: “I fully understand the anxiety and psychological impact thread veins can cause. Thread veins affects women of all ages – in some cases they can be as young as 18, so I think they can be reassured that treatment is available that will reduce and improve the unsightly appearance of the veins”.

Dr Gordon explains: “Our clinic specialise in such treatments for women who have recently given birth. Our sclerotherapy treatment programmes have proved to be more effective than laser alternatives, which can have unpleasant side effects. Initially, a patient may require two or three sessions spread over a few months and after that an annual check up. However, as all patients are different in some instances a patient can go up to five years before they need further treatment”.

The Katherine Corbett Clinic in the centre of the West End at South Molton Streetis home to a dedicated team of experienced and professionally qualified nurses, who work closely with Dr Gordon, and are committed to ensuring that patient safety always comes first. A free consultation will always result in a realistic assessment of whether sclerotherapy will provide the results a particular patient is hoping for.

“It is an important philosophy of our approach to ensure that patients are not given false expectations about the outcomes for the treatment, or indeed, whether it is appropriate. Sometimes it is not and we will advise the patient, but in where we believe sclerotherapy will help and it is used patients are delighted with the results,” concluded Dr Gordon.

More information and advice about thread veins is available on the KCC’s website at

Harley Street Medical Skin Clinic, Harley Street, London


20% discount on all treatments
Harley Street Medical Skin Clinic
98 Harley Street
T: + 44 (0)20 7935 0986

About the Harley Street Medical Skin Clinic
The Harley Street Medical Skin Clinic, offers the best advice and treatments to protect, repair and cosmetically enhance the appearance and texture of your skin, all from our conveniently located clinic, in the heart of London. Dr Aamer Khan is one of the most experienced medical professionals in the UK in the field of injectables and beauty aesthetics, including fillers and body sculpting such as SmartLipo.

UK government cracks down on cowboy cosmetic clinics

London: The UK government’s watchdog, The Health Commission is to target unregulated cosmetic surgery clinics.

Unregistered clinics may face prosecution or closure because of the danger they pose to the public. The commission receives around 50 complaints each year from patients whose treatments have gone wrong. These include bothed treatments using lasers to remove hair, blemishes and tatooes.

The clinics are to be targeted by undercover inspectors, posing as clients. All clinics and operators offering aesthetics must be registered by the Health Commission and patients are advised to ask to see their registration certificate before embarking or paying for treatment.

Hands are real givaway of age, says new study

New York: Hands reveal a person’s real age, says a study in the June issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

Roxanne Guy, MD, President elect of ASPS says: “A primary motivation to have plastic surgery is to look and feel better, often by seeking a younger looking appearance. However, looking younger after your facelift or eyelid surgery can conflict with aged hands that simply do not match the face.

“After the face, hands are the second most visible, tell-tale sign of one’s age. If your goal is to look more youthful or you are bothered by the appearance of your hands, you may seriously want to consider hand rejuvenation.”

In the study, people examined photographs of female hands and were asked to estimate the women’s ages. In the majority of cases, participants were able to accurately estimate the age of each woman in the photographs.

Participants were also asked to compare digitally altered photographs of female hands – blemishes and hand veins were removed or jewelery and nail polish were added – to unaltered photographs to assess which hands looked younger. The majority of participants felt that the altered photos of women’s hands appeared younger. However, alterations to photos of very elderly hands – characterized by thin skin, age spots, wrinkles, deformity, veins and prominent joints – did not change the participants’ ability to distinguish the person’s age.

Overall, the physical characteristic which most commonly gave away age was prominent hand veins.

In altered images where hand veins were removed, participants significantly felt hands looked younger. Fullness and a lack of wrinkles and veins characterized the youngest looking hands. Nail polish and jewelry were also found to make hands appear younger looking.

“The good news is, although your hands may reveal more about your age than you desire, there are remedies out there,” said Dr. Guy. “A good medical skincare regimen that focuses on the hands can be highly effective in maintaining skin thickness and fullness. Non-surgical procedures like laser treatments and chemical peels can reduce age spots. Fat injections can be used to plump up hands and reduce the visibility of veins and laser ablation of unwanted hand veins can reduce veins.”

American Society of Plastic Surgeons

Tomatoes help fight blood clots, say scientists

Aberdeen: Tomatoes can help fight deep vein thrombosis, according to an investigation by scientists at the Rowett Institute in the UK.

They have discovered that a yellow fluid around the seeds contains an anti-clotting substance which could help sufferers of the potentially fatal condition.

DVT usually occurs when people are inactive such as sitting for ours on planes and it is thought that as many as 12 per cent of long haul passengers may suffer from clots.

Although aspirin can be helpful some people are allergic to it and others may suffer bleeding in the stomach.

Professor Asim Duttaroy who led the research which has been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition said that tomotoes were entirely safe and the fruit can be used to prevent rather than cure clots.

The anti-clotting substances in the tomato include flavonoids, which are known to help prevent heart attacks and cancer. The substances have already been patented under the name Fruitflow and added to the Sirco brand of fruit drinks. Drinking a quarter of a pint of the juice a day – the equvalent of six tomatoes – will give protection against clots, say the scientists. The benefits last for 18 hours.

The research also revealed that blood ‘stickiness’ was reduced by an average of 70 per cent in 220 volunteers who drank juice containing the tomato extract. Tests showed that in 97 per cent of people the substance changed the thickness of the blood so that it was less likely to clump together as a clot.


A treatment for thread or spider veins just below the skin surface. An injection into the veins closes them off and they eventually shrivel. Takes about 30 minutes. There may be some discoloration afterwards but this eventually goes. Small veins can also be treated with electrolysis.