Heart Attack Warnings

Study says 'hot pepper' nerve receptors on heart may trigger pain and signal trouble

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FRIDAY, Sept. 5, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- The same type of nerve receptors in your mouth that tell you those hot peppers really burn may also be responsible for the chest pain a person feels during a heart attack, says a Penn State College of Medicine study.

"Our study is the first to demonstrate that the 'hot pepper' receptor exists on the heart and may be responsible for triggering heart attack chest pain," researcher Dr. Hui-Lin Pan, a professor of anesthesiology, says in a news release.

""Until now, the capsaicin, or 'hot pepper' receptor, was only known for sensing heat and pain from the skin. Our data suggest that the 'hot pepper' receptors could become a new target for treatment of some types of chronic chest pain, such as angina pectoris, that are resistant to other treatments," Pan says.

The study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Physiology.

Working with rats, Pan's team found evidence that suggests these VR1 receptors trigger the cardiovascular and nerve responses of a heart attack, including chest pain.

Pan now plans to search for a definitive link between the VR1 receptors and the triggering of chest pain. He'll look for the chemicals produced by the heart tissue during a heart attack and examine how they interact with the VR1 receptors.

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SOURCE: Penn State, news release, Sept. 1, 2003

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