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Health Bulletin


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  1. #1381
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Energy drinks cause heart problems: Study

    Energy drinks, popular in dance clubs and during physical exercise, can cause heart problems, a new research has warned.

    "So-called 'energy drinks' are popular in dance clubs and during physical exercise, with people sometimes consuming a number of drinks one after the other. This situation can lead to a number of adverse conditions including angina, cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and even sudden death," said Professor Milou-Daniel Drici from France who presented the study at European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

    "Around 96% of these drinks contain caffeine, with a typical 0.25 litre can holding 2 espressos worth of caffeine. Caffeine is one of the most potent agonists of the ryanodine receptors and leads to a massive release of calcium within cardiac cells," said Drici.

    "This can cause arrhythmias, but also has effects on the heart's abilities to contract and to use oxygen. In addition, 52% of drinks contain taurine, 33% have glucuronolactone and two-thirds contain vitamins," he added.

    The study analysed adverse events reported to the ANSES, the French agency for food safety, between January 1, 2009 and November 30, 2012.

    The researchers found that consumption of the 103 energy drinks in France increased by 30% between 2009 and 2011 up to over 30 million litres. The leading brand made up 40% of energy drinks consumed.

    During the two year period 257 cases were reported to the agency, of which 212 provided sufficient information for food and drug safety evaluation.

    The experts found that 95 of the reported adverse events had cardiovascular symptoms, 74 psychiatric, and 57 neurological, sometimes overlapping.

    Cardiac arrests and sudden or unexplained deaths occurred at least in 8 cases, while 46 people had heart rhythm disorders, 13 had angina and 3 had hypertension, researchers said.

    "We found that 'caffeine syndrome' was the most common problem, occurring in 60 people. It is characterized by a fast heart rate (called tachycardia), tremor, anxiety and headache.

    "Rare but severe adverse events were also associated with these drinks, such as sudden or unexplained death, arrhythmia and heart attack (myocardial infarction). Our literature search confirmed that these conditions can be related to consumption of energy drinks," Drici said.


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  2. #1382
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Scientists develop batteryless cardiac pacemaker

    Researchers have developed a new batteryless cardiac pacemaker which is based on an automatic wristwatch and is powered by heart motion.

    "Batteries are a limiting factor in today's medical implants. Once they reach a critically low energy level, physicians see themselves forced to replace a correctly functioning medical device in a surgical intervention," said Adrian Zurbuchen from the University of Bern, Switzerland. "This is an unpleasant scenario which increases costs and the risk of complications for patients," Zurbuchen said. He has now come up with a way to power a cardiac pacemaker with an alternative energy source - the heart motion.

    Four years ago Professor Rolf Vogel, a cardiologist and engineer at the University of Bern, had the idea of using an automatic wristwatch mechanism to harvest the energy of heart motion. "The heart seems to be a very promising energy source because its contractions are repetitive and present for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," Zurbuchen said. "Furthermore, the automatic clockwork, invented in 1777, has a good reputation as a reliable technology to scavenge energy from motion."

    The researchers' first prototype is based on a commercially available automatic wristwatch. All unnecessary pa8rts were removed to reduce weight and size. They developed a custom-made ho8using with eyelets that allows suturing the device directly onto the myocardium. The prototype works the same way it would on a person's wrist. When it is exposed to an external acceleration, the eccentric mass of the clockwork starts rotating. This progressively winds a mechanical spring. After the spring is fully charged it unwinds and thereby spins an electrical micro-generator.

    To test the prototype, the researchers developed an electronic circuit to transform and store the signal into a small buffer capacity. They then connected the system to a custom-made cardiac pacemaker. The system worked in three steps. First, the harvesting prototype acquired energy from the heart. Second, the energy was temporarily stored in the buffer capacity. And finally, the buffered energy was used by the pacemaker to apply minute st8imuli to the heart.

    The researchers successfully tested the system in in vivo experiments with domestic pigs. The mechanism allowed them for the first time to perform batteryless overdrive-pacing at 130 beats per minute. "We have shown that it is possible to pace the heart using the power of its own motionThe next step in our prototype is to integrate both the electronic circuit for energy storage and the custom-made pacemaker directly into the harvesting device. This will eliminate the need for leads," Zurbuchen said.

    The research was presented at European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress in Barcelona.


  3. #1383
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    `Beer belly` can increase hypertension risk

    A new study had discovered that people with belly fat face more risk of developing hypertension than the ones who are obese overall.

    Obesity is a known risk factor for hypertension, or high blood pressure, and it has been widely reported that the location of fat on a person's body could lead to increased risk of other health issues like heart disease and cancer. However, the relationship between hypertension and overall obesity versus site-specific fat accumulation has been unclear.

    For the study, 903 patients enrolled in the Dallas Heart Study were followed for an average of seven years to track development of hypertension. Hypertension was classified as a systolic blood pressure of greater or equal to 140, diastolic blood pressure of greater or equal to 90, or initiation of blood pressure medications. Patients also received imaging of visceral fat, or fat located deep in the abdominal cavity between the organs; subcutaneous fat, or visible fat located all over the body; and lower-body fat.

    Senior author Aslan T. Turer, at the University of Texas, said that generally, visceral fat stores correlated with the 'apple shape' as opposed to the 'pear shape,' hence the centrally located fat, when one looked in the mirror, tended to correlate with higher levels of fat inside the abdomen.

    At the end of the study period, 25 percent of patients developed hypertension. While higher BMI was associated with increased incidence of hypertension, when abdominal fat content, overall fat content and lower-body fat content were factored in, only abdominal fat remained independently associated with hypertension. The relationship between abdominal fat and hypertension did not change when factoring in gender, age or race.

    The strongest correlation between abdominal fat and hypertension was observed with retroperitoneal fat, which is a type of visceral fat located behind the abdominal cavity and largely around the kidneys.

    The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.


  4. #1384
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    ‘Smart’ neurons in human skin can crack complex calculations

    Neurons in human skin perform advanced calculations which scientists previously believed that only the brain could carry out, a new study has found.

    Researchers from the Umea University in Sweden found that neurons in skin not only send signals to the brain that something has touched the skin, but also process geometric data about the object touching the skin.

    A fundamental characteristic of neurons that extend into the skin and record touch, so called first-order neurons in the tactile system, is that they branch in the skin so that each neuron reports touch from many highly-sensitive zones on the skin.

    Researchers found that two types of first-order tactile neurons that supply the sensitive skin at our fingertips not only signal information about when and how intensely an object is touched, but also information about the touched object's shape, said Andrew Pruszynski, who is one of the researchers behind the study.

    The study also showed that the sensitivity of individual neurons to the shape of an object depends on the layout of the neuron's highly-sensitive zones in the skin.

    These peripheral neurons, which are engaged when a fingertip examines an object, perform the same type of calculations done by neurons in the cerebral cortex.

    Somewhat simplified, it means that our touch experiences are already processed by neurons that are present in the skin before they reach the brain for further processing, said Pru


  5. #1385
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Japanese researchers develop 30-minute Ebola test

    Japanese researchers said on Tuesday they had developed a new method to detect the presence of the Ebola virus in 30 minutes, with technology that could allow doctors to quickly diagnose infection.

    Professor Jiro Yasuda and his team at Nagasaki University say their process is also cheaper than the system currently in use in west Africa where the virus has already killed more than 1,500 people.

    "The new method is simpler than the current one and can be used in countries where expensive testing equipment is not available," Yasuda told AFP by telephone.

    "We have yet to receive any questions or requests, but we are pleased to offer the system, which is ready to go," he said.

    Yasuda said the team had developed what he called a "primer", which amplifies only those genes specific to the Ebola virus found in a blood sample or other bodily fluid.

    Using existing techniques, ribonucleic acid (RNA), biological molecules used in the coding of genes, is extracted from any viruses present in a blood sample.

    This is then used to synthesise the viral DNA, which can be mixed with the primers and then heated to 60-65 degrees Celsius (140-149 Fahrenheit).

    If Ebola is present, DNA specific to the virus is amplified in 30 minutes due to the action of the primers. The by-products from the process cause the liquid to become cloudy, providing visual confirmation, Yasuda said.

    Currently, a method called polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, is widely used to detect the Ebola virus, which requires doctors to heat and cool samples repeatedly and takes up to two hours.

    "The new method only needs a small, battery-powered warmer and the entire system costs just tens of thousands of yen (hundreds of dollars), which developing countries should be able to afford," he added.

    The outbreak of the Ebola virus, transmitted through contact with infected bodily fluids, has sparked alarm throughout western Africa and further afield.


  6. #1386
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Infections from hospitals on the rise in Chennai


    One can never be too careful when it comes to needles in a hospital. Or a hospital bed. Or just about anything that a patient with an infectious disease may have come in contact with. It is easy to contract infections like hepatitis or HIV if used medical equip-ment is not sterilised properly, medical experts say.

    More than 20 patients awaiting kidney transplants at Stanley Medical College Hospital were recently infected with hepatitis C through contaminated needles while undergoing dialysis, a case of mass hospital-acquired infection (HAI), also called noso-comial infection.

    Hospital acquired infections are a significant problem that can be easily avoided if certain precautions are taken, says infectious disease specialist Dr Subramaniam Swaminathan of Global Health City.

    "It is not just needles," he said. "All kinds of invasive medical equipment like catheters, endoscopes, stents and balloons are potential carriers of infections, especially if they are reused on patients," he said. "It is important to keep all the medical equipment cleaned and sterilized after every use."

    Doctors suggest many ways of reducing nosocomial infections like regular washing of the hands and maintaining hygiene on a hospital premises. However enforcing such behaviour requires long-term effort and investment.

    Former director of public health Dr S Elango says in several cases, a treatment centre becomes a disease transmission zone. "Transmission of infections through blood transfusion or dialysis can be as high as 50%," he says. "To avoid this, hospitals should adhere to strict protocols related to nosocomial infections. All donor blood should be screened well and only disposable syringes should be used on patients. Expen-sive medical equipment that is reused should be sterilised properly," he said.

    Dr Swaminathan says several hospital-acquired infections like hepatitis require expensive drugs and prolonged therapy which may have a lot of side effects. "It should be the priority of hospitals to pre-vent such infections by ensuring that their staff members follow the right procedures and discard medical waste efficiently," Dr Swaminathan said. "While no test is 100% safe, it is the duty of the hospital to make sure every process is as safe as possible."

    Nephrologist Dr Georgy Abraham says most hospitals usually decontaminate ap-paratus after use. "But it is also important for patients to be aware and insist that doc-tors and nurses use only disposable nee-dles," he said.

    Following basic standards of hand hy-giene, displaying risk information in hos-pitals, disinfection materials used by pa-tients, sterile handling of equipment and proper use of antibiotics can go a long way in reducing the risk of hospital-acquired infection.

    "All medical institutions should have a hospital infection control committee that reviews the status of infections once a month," Dr Abraham said


  7. #1387
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Using antibacterial soap not a good idea

    Next time when you buy an antibacterial soap for a germ-free day for your kids, check if the soap contains a widely-used chemical or not.

    Handwashing with antibacterial soap may expose people, especially health workers, to unsafe levels of a chemical that can interfere with hormones to cause developmental problems in foetuses and newborns, says an alarming study.

    Triclosan, a synthetic antibacterial agent, is found in thousands of consumer products, including soaps, cosmetics, acne creams and some brands of toothpaste.

    Exposure to triclosan, currently under review by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), can cause health problems, researchers say.

    "Antimicrobial soaps can carry unknown risks and triclosan is of particular concern. Our study shows that people absorb this chemical at work and at home, depending on the products that they use," said Paul Blanc, a professor of medicine at University of California San Francisco.

    During the study, researchers analysed urine samples from two groups of 38 doctors and nurses - three fourths of them women - at two hospitals.

    The first hospital used an antibacterial soap containing 0.3 percent triclosan while the other used plain soap and water.

    Researchers found that workers at the first hospital had significantly higher levels of triclosan in their urine than workers at hospital.

    The scientists also asked the participants if they used a popular commercial toothpaste containing triclosan.

    While those who did had higher triclosan levels than those who did not, the researchers found that washing with antibacterial soap accounted for even higher triclosan levels than did brushing with the toothpaste.

    "If non-triclosan-containing soaps are available, use them," Blanc suggested, adding that just plain soap and water is a pretty good alternative.

    The study was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.


  8. #1388
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Call up AIIMS to book an appointment with your doctor

    Now, you can book an appointment with your doctor at AIIMS through a phone call.

    India's premier medical institute, which receives nearly 8,000 patients a day, has started tele-booking facility to reduce hassles in seeking appointments and to cut down on corruption. Sources said the project was started on August 15 on pilot basis and is now being expanded.

    Dr M C Misra, AIIMS director, said they are getting about 1,500 calls daily for appointments under the new system already. "All patients visiting AIIMS are given a Unique Health Identification (UHID) number. All they have to do to book an appointment is to dial 09266092660. The call is transferred to the call center which books the date and time under a particular specialty, subject to availability," said Dr Deepak Agarwal, senior neurosurgeon and head of the IT wing. This system is currently available in English and Hindi.



    An appointment list will be given to doctors and be displayed. Dr Agarwal said efforts were also being made to make lab reports available online. Dr Mishra said they are considering three options to streamline laboratory services—augmenting infrastructure, outsourcing or offering only few speicalised services.

    Another service being offered in the emergency department is the Patient Display System (PDS), which displays patient details regarding their consultation, investigation and status. This gets updated real-time by nurses, Agrawal added.

    The services will be inaugurated by Minister of State for Science and Technology, Jitendra Singh today at an international workshop on "Cost effective use of technology in e-h


  9. #1389
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Now, retrain your brain to crave healthy food

    Do you worry you're stuck craving chips even when you know you should be eating healthily? Fear not: new research has shown that it's possible to 'retrain' the brain to be addicted to low-calorie fare instead of junk food.

    "We don't start out in life loving French fries and hating, for example, whole wheat pasta," said Susan B Roberts, co-corresponding author of the study published on Monday in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes.

    "This conditioning happens over time in response to eating - repeatedly! - what is out there in the toxic food environment."

    The study put a group of obese volunteers through a six-month weight loss programme while gauging reactions to different foods, scanning the areas of the brain associated with learning and addiction using magnetic resonance imaging The researchers found that after a strict diet the participants' brains responded more actively to healthier food cues and showed a "decreased sensitivity to the unhealthy higher-calorie foods".

    "The weight loss program is specifically designed to change how people react to different foods, and our study shows those who participated in it had an increased desire for healthier foods along with a decreased preference for unhealthy foods, the combined effects of which are probably critical for sustainable weight control," co-author Sai Krupa said in a press release.

    "To the best of our knowledge this is the first demonstration of this important switch." Details of the weight-loss regime are scarce but the researchers suggest that several factors were key to 'reversing' addiction including not only "high-fiber, low glycemic" foods but also "behaviour change education". Co-author Dr Thilo Deckersbach said: "Although other studies have shown surgical procedures can decrease how much people enjoy food generally, this is not very satisfactory as it takes away food enjoyment rather than making healthier foods more appealing."


  10. #1390
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Diabetes triggering India’s TB burden, says WHO study

    Diabetes has now been found to be fuelling India's tuberculosis burden.

    India has the world's highest diabetes patients and is also referred to as the world's TB capital. Now, a study to be announced by the British medical journal Lancet on Thursday, reveal that India tops the list of countries with the highest estimated number of adult TB cases associated with diabetes.

    New estimates produced reveal that the top 10 countries with the highest estimated number of adult TB cases associated with diabetes are India (302000), China (156000), South Africa (70 000), Indonesia (48000), Pakistan (43000), Bangladesh (36000), Philippines (29000), Russia (23000), Myanmar (21000) and Congo (19000).

    "These findings highlight the growing impact of diabetes on TB control in regions of the world where both diseases are prevalent," says author Dr Knut Lonnroth from the Global TB Programme at WHO in Geneva.

    "TB control is being undermined by the growing number diabetes patients, which is expected to reach an astounding 592 million worldwide by 2035". The study indicates that 15% of adult TB cases worldwide are already attributable to diabetes. These diabetes-associated cases correspond to over 1 million cases a year, with more than 40% occurring in India and China alone. If diabetes continue to rise out of control, the downward trajectory in global TB cases could be offset by 8% or more by 2035, warn the authors.


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