26th Jul 2014, 01:20 PM #1301
Re: Health Bulletin
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26th Jul 2014, 01:21 PM #1302
Re: Health Bulletin
Common blood thinner futile for pregnant women: Study
A daily injection of blood thinner for pregnant women at risk of developing blood clots in their veins - a condition called thrombophilia - has been found to be ineffective, a new study showed.
For two decades. women have often been prescribed the anticoagulant low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) to prevent pregnancy complications caused by placental blood clots.
This treatment requires women to give themselves daily injections - a painful process that requires women to poke their abdomen with hundreds of needles over the course of their pregnancy.
Now, a randomised clinical trial led by Marc Rodger, a senior scientist at Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, has provided conclusive evidence that the LMWH anticoagulant has no positive benefits for the mother or child.
"The LMWH treatments could actually cause pregnant women some minor harm by increasing bleeding, increasing their rates of induced labour and reducing their access to anesthesia during childbirth," Rodger and his team claimed.
Rodger's clinical trial took 12 years to complete and involved 292 women at 36 centres in five countries.
As many as one in 10 pregnant women have a tendency to develop blood clots in their veins.
"These results mean that many women around the world can save themselves a lot of unnecessary pain during pregnancy," Rodger added.
"The findings will benefit many women in many countries who will be spared from hundreds of unnecessary and painful injections. They also underscore the importance of conducting rigorous, well-designed clinical trials," said Duncan Stewart, chief executive officer of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.
The study was published online in the journal The Lancet.
26th Jul 2014, 01:29 PM #1303
Re: Health Bulletin
Less than 10% of human DNA is functional: Study
A path breaking study has for the first time found that less than 10% of human DNA is actually functional.
Oxford University researchers have found that only 8.2% of human DNA is likely to be doing something important - is "functional".
The rest of our genome is leftover evolutionary material, parts of the genome that have undergone losses or gains in the DNA code — often called junk DNA.
The finding thrashes what scientists have long believed — that 80% of our genome has some biochemical function.
The scientists' idea was to look at where insertions and deletions of chunks of DNA appeared in the mammals' genomes.
These could be expected to fall approximately randomly in the sequence — except where natural selection was acting to preserve functional DNA, where insertions and deletions would then lie further apart.
The researchers said "We found that 8.2% of our human genome is functional. We cannot tell where every bit of the 8.2% of functional DNA is in our genomes".
Also, not all of the 8.2% is equally important, the researchers explain.
A little over 1% of human DNA accounts for the proteins that carry out almost all of the critical biological processes in the body.
The other 7% is thought to be involved in the switching on and off of genes that encode proteins — at different times, in response to various factors, and in different parts of the body. These are the control and regulation elements.
Many in the field have long argued that the biochemical definition of function was too broad — that just because an activity on DNA occurs, it does not necessarily have a consequence; for functionality you need to demonstrate that an activity matters.
"We tend to have the expectation that all of our DNA must be doing something. In reality, only a small part of it is," Dr Chris Rands from Oxford University said.
To reach their figure, the researchers took advantage of the ability of evolution to discern which activities matter and which do not.
They identified how much of our genome has avoided accumulating changes over 100 million years of mammalian evolution - a clear indication that this DNA matters, it has some important function that needs to be retained.
Professor Chris Pointing of the MRC Functional Genomics Unit at Oxford University said "When sequencing the genomes of patients, if our DNA was largely functional, we'd need to pay attention to every mutation. In contrast, with only 8% being functional, we have to work out the 8% of the mutations detected that might be important. From a medical point of view, this is essential to interpreting the role of human genetic variation in disease".
The researchers used a computational approach to compare the complete DNA sequences of various mammals, from mice, guinea pigs and rabbits to dogs, horses and humans.
Dr Gerton Lunter from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at Oxford University explained "Throughout the evolution of these species from their common ancestors, mutations arise in the DNA and natural selection counteracts these changes to keep useful DNA sequences intact".
26th Jul 2014, 01:34 PM #1304
Re: Health Bulletin
Background TV can be bad for kids: Study
Background television can divert a child's attention from play and learning, according to a new study.
University of Iowa researchers examined the impact of television and parenting on children's social and emotional development.
They found that background television - when the TV is on in a room where a child is doing something other than watching - can divert a child's attention from play and learning.
It also found that non-educational programmes can negatively affect children's cognitive development.
"Kids are going to learn from whatever you put in front of them," said Deborah Linebarger, associate professor in education at the UI and the lead author on the study.
"So what kinds of messages, what kinds of things do you want them to learn? That would be the kinds of media you'd purposefully expose them to," said Linebarger.
The findings come from a national survey of more than 1,150 families with children between 2 and 8 years old.
Linebarger and her team looked at family demographics, parenting styles, media use, and how those factors could impact kids' future success.
The team found a relationship between the content children are exposed to and their executive function, an important facet in learning and development.
This was especially true among children in families she identified as "high risk" - in families living in poverty or families whose parents have little education, for example.
Yet even kids in high-risk families who watched educational television saw increases in executive function, the researchers found.
Regardless of family demographics, parenting can act as a buffer against the impacts of background TV, researchers found.
The study was published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioural Pediatrics.
26th Jul 2014, 07:17 PM #1305
Re: Health Bulletin
Miracle gadget to detect stroke in seconds
A simple device attached to the forehead can now help to detect cerebral strokes and assess the extent of the damage it has caused to the brain. It will also help neurologists identify the specific regions in the brain that have been affected, letting them stimulate the areas and revive them effectively.
The devise is the result of a study carried out by the Institute of Neurosciences Kolkata (INK) in collaboration with Inria, a French research organization. The device, that uses infra-red rays, could help patients regain limb movement after a stroke and is being designed by IIIT-Hyderabad.
Unlike most other parts of the body, the brain can be altered with stimulation, explained researchers at INK. Medicines, exercise and electrical impulses can revive brain functions, said Abhijit Das, neuro-rehabilitation expert at INK who led the research. "The device is a cheap and simple one that can readily point out if a patient has suffered a brain stroke and the areas affected. Once this has been done, treatment and rehabilitation can be done more precisely and fast. This can lead to an almost 100% recovery in some cases," said Das.
Once the affected areas of the brain have been identified, non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) can be used to resuscitate them. "It is done by using trans-cranial direct current stimulation (TDCS). It is a slow, mild electrical impulse which is passed through the brain. It can be used to either stimulate or depress parts of the brain. So, it is a useful technology that can be tailored to repair the brain and take it back to the pre-stroke state as far as possible," said Das. Every year, 35 lakh neurological disabilities happen in India. The majority are triggered by cerebral strokes.
The device is fitted with a Near Infra-red Spectroscopy (NIRS) that can penetrate the skull and the brain. As it goes through the head and comes out, the ray changes depending on the blood flow inside the brain. "It helps us assess the severity of the stroke and pin-point the areas that have been affected. We then use TDCS to repair the damages. Our experiment shows that it can be very effective. Being simple and cheap, the device can be used widely," said Das.
The INK study was carried out on 24 patients at INK in June. It was a pilot study that will soon be followed by a bigger clinical experiment. "The results in the pilot study have been encouraging, so we expect to wrap up the clinical research within the next few months. It promises to be a significant step towards treating stroke-induced disability more effectively," added Das.
While the TDCS technique may help to revive motor functions and prove to be partially effective in some cases of dementia, it may not be effective in treating diseases like multiple scheloris. "Stroke patients with paralysis can benefit immensely. TDCS can be very effective in reviving hand movements," said Das.
27th Jul 2014, 01:09 PM #1306
Re: Health Bulletin
Walking speed may help predict dementia: Study
A recent study has revealed that walking speed and constant forgetfulness of a person can give away the early signs of dementia.
According to the researchers, early diagnosis allows time to identify and possibly treat the underlying causes of the disease, which may delay or even prevent the onset of dementia in some cases.
The new test diagnosis Motoric Cognitive Risk syndrome (MCR) has been developed to measure the gait speed (our manner of walking), it also requires asking a few simple questions about a patient's cognitive abilities, both of which takes just a few seconds.
The scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and Montefiore Medical Center, had put 27,000 older adults on five continents to a simple test measuring their walking speed and cognitive problems and has found that nearly 1 in 10 met the criteria for pre-dementia.
Joe Verghese a professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University explains that in many clinical and community settings, people don't have access to the sophisticated tests-biomarker assays, cognitive tests or neuroimaging studies used to diagnose people at risk for developing dementia, hence their new assessment method could enable many more people to learn if they're at risk of dementia, since it avoids the need for complex testing and doesn't require the test to be administered by a neurologist.
27th Jul 2014, 11:10 PM #1307
Re: Health Bulletin
Books, video games boost happiness: study
Buying books, video games or a guitar can give you the same high as going on a vacation, according to new research. Material items designed to create or enhance an experience, also known as "experiential products," can make shoppers just as happy as life experiences, the research from San Francisco State University found.
Researchers found such products satisfy a different, but equally powerful, psychological need than experiential purchases. While life experiences help consumers feel closer to others, experiential products such as books, sporting goods, video games or musical instruments allow them to utilise and develop new skills and knowledge, resulting in similar levels of happiness.
The study sheds additional light on how consumers can best spend their discretionary income to improve their well-being. "This is sort of good news for materialists," said Ryan Howell, an associate professor of psychology at SF State and co-author of the study. "If your goal is to make yourself happier but you're a person who likes stuff, then you should buy things that are going to engage your senses.
You're going to be just as happy as if you buy a life experience, because in some sense this product is going to give you a life experience," said Howell. Years of research consistently have shown that purchasing life experiences, such as tickets to a play or a vacation, will make shoppers happier than material products such as clothes, jewelry or accessories.
But by focusing on those two extremes, Howell said, psychologists have ignored the middle of the buying spectrum, leaving out a large number of items that are tangible but are nevertheless designed to engage users in some way. He and lead author Darwin Guevarra, then a student at SF State, asked consumers about a recent purchase and how happy that purchase made them.
They were surprised to find that experiential products actually provided the same level of happiness as experiences. To learn why, they next looked at whether the purchases satisfied any of three key psychological needs: identity expression (the purchase reflects the consumer's true values); competence (the purchase allows the consumer to utilise skills and knowledge); and relatedness (the purchase brings the consumer closer to others). The results showed that, while experiential products and life experiences offered similar levels of identity expression, the former were best at providing competence and the latter best at providing relatedness.
"They are essentially two different routes to the same well-being," Howell said.
28th Jul 2014, 01:10 PM #1308
Re: Health Bulletin
Diabetic patients should have low carb diets: Study
A new study has revealed that diet with low carbohydrates is good for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes patients.
Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham offered 12 points of evidence showing that low-carbohydrate diets should be the first line of attack for treatment of Type 2 diabetes, and should be used in conjunction with insulin in those with Type 1 diabetes.
Barbara Gower, Ph.D., professor and vice chair for research in the UAB Department of Nutrition Sciences, stated that diabetes was a disease of carbohydrate intolerance and reducing carbohydrates was the obvious treatment.
He further added that it was the standard approach before insulin was discovered and was, in fact, practiced with good results in many institutions, but the resistance of government and private health agencies has been very hard to understand.
The researchers pointed out that dietary carbohydrate restriction had the greatest effect on decreasing blood glucose levels because the high blood sugar was the most salient feature of diabetes.
Gower said that for many people with Type 2 diabetes, low-carbohydrate diets were a real cure as they no longer needed drugs and had symptoms and also, their blood glucose was normal and they generally lost weight.
The authors cautioned that people with diabetes who were already on drugs for Type 2 diabetes or were on standard amounts of insulin should undertake conversion to a low-carbohydrate diet only with the help of a physician because the diet might have a similar sugar-lowering effect, it is critical that drug doses be tapered off in order to avoid dangerous low blood sugar.
28th Jul 2014, 01:21 PM #1309
Re: Health Bulletin
Mumbai doctors bust myth, say liver grows back in 3 weeks
The marvel of liver is not just its capacity for regeneration but also the swift pace at which it regenerates. A study by a Mumbai hospital has revealed that a transplanted liver in a recipient, and the remnant liver in a donor, grows back to its normal size much faster than has been previously believed.
Doctors at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital (KDAH) have found that liver regeneration is nearly complete by three weeks, and does not take three months as most conventional medical textbooks suggest. The Andheri hospital that runs a living-donor transplant programme busted the myth by tracking the regeneration of liver in 11 recipients and six donors who had undergone transplants between March and November 2013.
Liver is the only organ in the human body that can regrow to a near normal size from as little as 25%. In living-donor liver transplantation, a part of the donor's liver is used to replace the damaged or cancerous liver of the recipient patient. Both the remaining liver of the donor and the part transplanted into the patient grow back to full size.
"Our study found that by the ninth day after the surgery the donor's remnant liver increased to more than 1.5 times its size and by the 12th day almost doubled. Similarly, the liver transplanted into the patient doubled in size 19 days after the transplant," said Dr Vinay Kumaran, consultant and head of the liver transplant programme at KDAH. The regeneration of transplanted liver in the recipient was found to be faster than that of the remnant liver in the donor. "This could probably be explained by the fact that in liver transplants about two-thirds of the donor liver is given to the recipient. So, naturally they reach the standard full volume before the donor," Kumaran added.
Kumaran said the study was an eye-opener: "It surprised each one of us who were told by medical textbooks that it takes liver at least a couple of months to regrow completely." He hailed the revelation, which means faster recovery for patients. "It will instil confidence in patients, particularly donors, that they can resume their normal life quickly." The study, presented recently at the International Liver Transplantation Society in London, has now been published in the Liver Transplantation journal.
The research team, headed by Dr Tushar Pawar, looked at CT scans done on liver donors and liver transplant recipients after the operation and at various time intervals ranging from 1 to 120 days. The team used a special software to capture liver measurements. The findings spelled good news for end-stage liver failure patients, but more so for the donors.
"In any liver transplant, the safety of the donor is of utmost importance," said Dr Chetan Kantharia, head of gastroenterology at KEM Hospital in Parel. "It is known that up to 50% growth of liver happens in the first few weeks. But as per our experience the complete growth easily takes up to six months," he maintained, while acknowledging the scarcity of data on liver regeneration in the country.
28th Jul 2014, 01:30 PM #1310
Re: Health Bulletin
Aspirin 'dangerous' for heart patients
Millions of people across the world taking a daily dose of aspirin to ward off heart attacks are actually increasing their risk.
A path breaking new research has found that almost 1 in 4 adults (23%) carry a gene which, when combined with the painkiller, makes them nearly twice as likely to suffer a heart attack.
Aspirin is the gold standard for antiplatelet therapy and a daily low-dose aspirin is widely prescribed for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Now, the new study suggests that common genetic variation in the gene for catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) may modify the cardiovascular benefit of aspirin, and in some people, may confer harm.
The findings are by investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH).
"This is one of the few cases where you can identify a single genetic polymorphism which has a significant interaction with aspirin such that it affects whether or not it protects against cardiovascular disease," says Kathryn Hall, an investigator at BIDMC.
COMT is a key enzyme in the metabolism of catecholamines, a group of hormones that include epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
"These hormones are implicated in a broad spectrum of disorders, including hypertension," explains Hall, "We were initially interested in finding out if the COMT gene affected people's susceptibility to incident cardiovascular disease such as myocardial infarction or ischemic stroke."
Knowing that aspirin is commonly prescribed for the prevention of incident cardiovascular disease, the investigators also wanted to learn if genetic variation in COMT would influence aspirin's potential benefit. The researchers used data from the Women's Genome Health Study, a cohort of over 23,000 women who were followed for 10 years in a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of low-dose aspirin or vitamin E for the primary prevention of incident cardiovascular disease.
Their analysis focused on val158met, a common variant in the COMT gene: Individuals who are homozygous for the enzyme's high-activity valine form, the "val/vals," have been shown to have lower levels of catecholamines compared to individuals who are homozygous for the enzyme's low-activity methionine form, the "met/mets,".
"When we examined women in the placebo arm of the trial, we found that the 23% of the women who were 'val/vals' were naturally protected against incident cardiovascular disease," explains Daniel I. Chasman, a genetic epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital.