Scripps Tips - February 2008

A Monthly List of Story Ideas for Journalists

February is American Heart Month

Scripps is the San Diego region’s largest provider of cardiac services with experts in all aspects heart disease and heart health.

New Technologies Spark Advances in Heart’s Electrical System
The speed and pattern of our heartbeats can tell us a great deal about our cardiac health. A faster heart rate when you’re climbing a flight of stairs is probably normal; a heartbeat that speeds up or “skips” beats for no apparent reason may be a sign of a serious heart problem. Cardiac electrophysiology, commonly knows as EP, is the study of the heart’s electrical system. Steven Higgins, M.D., Scripps La Jolla cardiologist, will discuss the latest advancements and new life-saving technologies in electrophysiology. This free event will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Schaetzel Center at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. To cover this event or to book Dr. Higgins as an in-studio guest, email Lisa Ohmstede at or call 858-626-7142.

Some Fats Can Actually Help Build Healthy Hearts
For years most of us have heard that fats are bad. We know that saturated fats and trans fats are major contributors to cardiovascular disease and a host of other health problems. What is less commonly known is that some fats are actually good for us and have very promising cardio-protective benefits. These fats, known as omega-3s, have been shown to lower blood pressure and even decrease the risk of heart disease. For more information on which foods contain these healthy fats and how often you should be working them into your diet Danielle Lipparelli, registered dietitian at Scripps Mercy Hospital, is available for an interview. For more information, please contact Kristin Reinhardt at (619) 686-3787 or

Cholesterol Only One of Many Risk Factors for Heart Attacks
More than half of people who have a heart attack have normal cholesterol. And while cholesterol testing remains one of the most important markers for future cardiovascular disease, it doesn’t give the whole picture. Simple blood tests to check for your levels of C-Reactive Protein, Lipoprotein and Homocysteine can help you uncover hidden risk factors for heart disease. Cardiologist, Mimi Guarneri, M.D., Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, is available to speak to these tests and others that can help to diagnose heart disease in the earliest stages and potentially save lives. To arrange an interview with Dr. Guarneri, please contact Anna-Maja Dahlgren at (858) 678-7170, or

Genome Scans Offer Promise to Consumers – But With Limits
Genomics was named “breakthrough of the year” for 2007 by Science magazine, and advances are moving at breakneck speed in 2008. Companies are now offering consumers the opportunity to have their genomes analyzed with little more than a saliva sample and a credit card. This development can empower individuals by providing knowledge about their own DNA, which could lead to sustained, healthier lifestyles. But consumers should realize this new approach is still in its infancy. Most disease-risk genes have not yet been found, and many diseases and conditions have not yet been studied – thus, a negative test result could provide consumers with a false sense of security. And the genes that cancel out risk (know as “modifiers”) are still largely unknown. Dr. Eric Topol, director of Scripps Genomic Medicine, is available to discuss both the promise and limits of personal genome scans, and the potential of individualized medicine to transform health care delivery. To arrange and interview with Dr. Topol, please contact Steve Carpowich at (858) 678-7183, or

Treating Sleep Apnea Helps Heart Failure
Targeting a common sleep disorder with treatment not only helps people with heart failure sleep better, it can make their hearts healthier. Studies show that people who suffer from both congestive heart failure and obstructive sleep apnea can benefit from a nighttime therapy designed to treat the sleep disorder known as continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP. For more information on this topic and to speak with Dr. Bradley Schnierow, a Scripps sleep specialist, contact Lisa Ohmstede at 858-626-7142, or

Red Wine & Dark Chocolate Can Reduce Heart Risks
Dr. Matthew Lucks gives a healthy heart talk March 25 at Scripps La Jolla
Studies exploring the benefits of dark chocolate and red wine continue to show that intake of the two in moderation can reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. These are just a couple of the lifestyle choices that Scripps cardiologist Matthew Lucks, M.D., will address in his upcoming talk on how to maintain a healthy heart. This free event will take place on Tuesday, March 25 at 6 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Schaetzel Center at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. To cover this event or to book Dr. Lucks as an in-studio guest, email Lisa Ohmstede at or call 858-626-7142.

Don’t Worry and Be Heart Happy
It’s well-known fact that elevated stress levels are a risk factor for cardiovascular problems, but cardiologists have begun carefully monitoring the effects of long-term anxiety, fearfulness and worry on the cardiovascular health of men. A recent study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that anxiety may be a marker for future heart disease because, although the behavior is different from that of a stressed individual, it also can result in elevated blood pressure, heart rate and an increased production of stress hormones. Gerrold Glassman, M.D., cardiologist at Scripps Mercy Hospital, is available for an interview on this subject. For more information or to set up an interview please contact Kristin Reinhardt at (619) 686-3787 or

Supplements Offer Potent Ally in Fight Against Heart Disease
Eating right is the best way to get the nutrients you need for a healthy heart. But getting the right nutrients in optimal amounts isn’t easy. Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine’s medical director and cardiologist, Dr. Mimi Guarneri can offer insight on the latest research around supplements like Coenzyme Q10, fish oils, niacin (and other B-vitamins), and magnesium as potent weapons in the fight against heart disease. Find out why many people taking statin drugs should be adding Coenzyme Q10 to their daily vitamins to help combat muscle fatigue and other side effects of these drugs. To arrange an interview with Dr. Guarneri, please contact Anna-Maja Dahlgren at (858) 678-7170, or