Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart.

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Justine Cadet,
News Editor

As 19th Century American columnist George Mathew Adams informs us, our hearts are intertwined with the holiday season. However, this phenomenon could be a dangerous one, as studies have shown that cardiac deaths increase drastically during the holiday season. Whether it is the emotional stress, the excessive eating or the colder weather, the occurrences were pronounced enough for the authors of a 2004 Circulation study to deem it the “Merry Christmas Coronary” and “Happy New Year Heart Attack” Phenomenon. And while that sobering thought doesn’t exactly arouse the holiday spirit, it could serve as a gentle reminder as to why the focus on cardiovascular disease prevention cannot falter.

Other reminders is the ever-developing news, as St. Jude scooped up two medical device companies with their feet in the cardiology realm, and Emageon is demanding that its takeover by Health Systems Solutions be finalized by today.

A criminal case has also popped up against a Louisianan cardiologist, who allegedly billed the U.S. government and private insurers more than $2 million for unnecessary heart procedures from 2001 to 2004. Even though the hospitals where he worked have settled two other multimillion dollar malpractice cases in relation to this physician, the jury had its fourth day of deliberations Monday.

On the regulatory front, prasugrel will likely be approved by the European Commission soon, now that the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use gave it the greenlight this week.

However, stateside, contrast agents continue to take center stage. Two weeks ago, an FDA panel overwhelmingly rejected Acusphere's Imagify heart contrast agent, because “its benefits do not sufficiently justify the risks associated with the product.” Yet, this week, the agency approved Epix Pharmaceuticals’ Vasovist, a blood pool magnetic resonance angiography, to evaluate aortoiliac occlusive disease in peripheral vascular disease patients. Meanwhile, King Pharmaceuticals submitted its NDA for CorVue, its cardiac pharmacologic stress SPECT imaging agent intended for use in patients with or at risk for coronary artery disease.

I hope you all are consumed with a “beating Christmas heart” over the next few weeks, and I wish you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season.

Justine Cadet, News Editor