25th Mar 2015, 12:45 PM #1811
Re: Health Bulletin
Too much sleep as bad as too little, claims study
Too much sleep could be as bad for your health as too little, according to a growing body of scientific evidence. While a lack of sleep has been associated with an increased risk of obesity , diabetes and high blood pressure, a study suggests that getting more than forty winks could raise the risk of a stroke.
After observing sleep patterns over nearly ten years, academics at the Cambridge University concluded that sleeping for more than eight hours a day doubled the risk of a stroke in older people.
Of the 10,000 people observed, 346 suffered a stroke. People who slept more than eight hours were 46% likelier to have a stroke. People who slept for less than six hours were 18% more likely to suffer one. "It's apparent both from our own participants and the wealth of data there's a link between sleeping longer and a greater risk of stroke," Yue Leng, a scientist who worked on the research, said.
25th Mar 2015, 12:45 PM #1812
Re: Health Bulletin
Low-calorie rice that can help shed flab developed
Scientists have developed a simple way to cook rice that could cut the number of calories absorbed by the body by more than half, potentially reducing obesity rates.
"Because obesity is a growing health problem, especially in many developing countries, we wanted to find foodbased solutions," said team leader Sudhair A James from the College of Chemical Sciences, Colombo, Sri Lanka. "We discovered that increasing rice resistant starch (RS) concentrations was a novel way to approach the problem," he said.
By using a specific heating and cooking regimen, the team concluded that "if the best rice variety is processed, it might reduce the calories by about 50-60%".
Starch is a component of rice and can be digestible or indigestible. Unlike digestible types of starch, RS is not broken down. Thus, the researchers reasoned that if they could transform digestible starch into RS, then that could lower the number of usable calories of the rice.
26th Mar 2015, 03:16 PM #1813
Re: Health Bulletin
Why diabetes drug makes people fat
Medication used to treat patients with Type II diabetes activates sensors on brain cells that increase hunger, causing people to gain more body fat, new research has found.
The study, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, describes a new way to affect hunger in the brain and helps to explain why people taking a class of drugs for Type II diabetes gain more body fat.
The team found that sensors in the brain that detect free circulating energy and help use sugars are located on brain cells that control eating behaviour.
"This is important because many people with Type II diabetes are taking antidiabetics, known as thiazolidinediones (TZDs), which specifically activate these sensors," said study author Johnny Garretson, doctoral student at the Georgia State University.
"People taking these TZDs are hungrier, and they do gain more weight," Garretson pointed out.
The study found peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor &Upsih (PPAR&Upsih); sensors on hunger-stimulating cells, known as agouti-related protein (AgRP) cells, at the base of the brain in the hypothalamus.
"When they are taking these drugs, it is activating these receptors, which we believe are controlling feeding through the mechanism that we found," Garretson noted.
"We discovered that activating these receptors makes our rodent animal model eat more and store more food for later, while blocking these receptors makes them eat less and store less food for later, even after they have been food deprived and they're at their hungriest," Garretson said.
27th Mar 2015, 02:37 PM #1814
Re: Health Bulletin
'Good' bacteria may help prevent meningitis
Researchers have found that nasal drops of a "good" bacterial strain can help prevent the deadly disease meningitis. The findings could lead to a new approach that could help suppress meningitis outbreaks.
"It is the first time that anyone has taken a bug -- a friendly bacterium -- and has shown that it changes the way that you can become colonised by the meningitis bacterium, Neisseria meningitidis," said study author Robert Read from University of Southampton.
Meningitis can be life threatening and the first symptoms of the disease are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell.
In the study, published online in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, researchers placed drops containing low doses of Neisseria lactamica, a related but harmless bacterial strain, into the noses of 149 healthy university students in Britain.
A control group of 161 students received drops of saline instead. Nose swabs were taken at regular intervals over six months and tested for both types of bacteria.
Among students who received the N lactamica drops and became colonised, the harmless bacteria appeared to prevent N meningitidis from colonising the students' throats.
The "good" bacteria also displaced the worrisome pathogen in those who were already carrying it when the study began.
The effect was seen after just two weeks, when the number of students carrying N. meningitidis in their upper airway dropped by 9.5 percent among those who were also colonised by N lactamica using the drops. The effect lasted for at least four months, the researchers noted.
The findings suggest that N lactamica may one day be used as a bacterial medicine to help suppress meningococcal outbreaks.
30th Mar 2015, 02:14 PM #1815
Re: Health Bulletin
Do You Sleep on Your Stomach? Beware, Say Doctors
People with epilepsy who sleep on their stomach may be at higher risk of sudden unexpected death, scientists have warned.
Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes repeated seizures and affects an estimated 50 million people worldwide.
"Sudden unexpected death is the main cause of death in uncontrolled epilepsy and usually occurs unwitnessed during sleep," said study author James Tao, from the University of Chicago in Illinois.
People with tonic clonic seizures (formerly known as grand mal seizures) that affect the entire brain are more likely to die suddenly than people with partial seizures that affect an area of the brain.
Researchers reviewed 25 studies that included 253 sudden unexpected death cases where body position was recorded.
They found that 73 per cent of the cases died in the stomach sleep position, whereas 27 per cent died in other sleep positions.
Looking at a subgroup of 88 people, researchers found that people younger than 40 were four times more likely to be found on their stomachs at the time of sudden death than people over 40.
A total of 86 per cent of those under 40 were sleeping on their stomachs, compared to 60 per cent for those over the age of 40.
"We're not sure why this was more common in younger people. It may be that they are more likely to be single and not have anyone with them during a seizure while sleeping," Tao said.
He noted that a person sleeping with someone who has a generalised tonic clonic seizure while on their stomach should help them turn over or on the side during or after the seizure.
"Similar to infant SIDS cases, adults often have an impaired ability to wake up after a seizure, especially a general seizure," Tao said.
"Our findings highlight an important strategy for preventing sudden unexpected death in epilepsy - that 'back is best,'" Tao said.
"Using wrist watches and bed alarms designed to detect seizures during sleep may also help prevent these deaths," Tao added.
31st Mar 2015, 01:04 PM #1816
Re: Health Bulletin
High levels of pesticide residues in fruits, vegetables can harm semen quality
Make sure that the food you eat is pesticide free, as new study has claimed that fruits and vegetables containing higher levels of pesticide residues can harm semen quality.
According to a new study by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, men who ate strawberries, spinach, and peppers with high pesticide levels had lower sperm count and a lower percentage of normal sperm than those who ate produce with lower residue levels.
It is the first study to look at the connection between exposure to pesticide residues from fruits and vegetables and semen quality.
The researchers used data from 155 men enrolled in the Environment and Reproductive Health (EARTH) study, an ongoing National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences-funded study at a fertility center in Boston. Data included 338 semen samples provided during 2007-2012 and validated survey information about participants' diets.
The results showed that men who ate greater amounts of fruits and vegetables with higher levels of pesticide residue-more than 1.5 servings per day-had 49 percent lower sperm count and 32 percent lower percentage of normal sperm than men who ate the least amounts (less than 0.5 serving per day). They also had a lower sperm count, lower ejaculate volume, and lower percentage of normal sperm.
The men who ate the most fruits and vegetables with low-to-moderate levels of pesticide residue had a higher percentage of normal sperm compared with those who ate less fruits and vegetables with low-to-moderate levels.
Study's senior author Jorge Chavarro said that the findings should not discourage the consumption of fruit and vegetables in general, as they found that consuming more fruits and vegetables with low pesticide residues was beneficial.
The study is published in the journal Human Reproduction.
31st Mar 2015, 01:04 PM #1817
Re: Health Bulletin
Here's when to take statins or not
A new study has offered clinicians tips to help patients make the right call whether to use cholesterol-lowering statins or not.
While the decision to use the drugs in patients with a history of heart attacks and strokes is mostly clear-cut, that choice can be a far trickier proposition for the tens of millions of Americans with high cholesterol but no overt disease.
Lead author Seth Martin of Johns Hopkins University said that given that heart disease tops mortality charts as the number one-killer of Americans, "to statin or not to statin" is one of the most important questions faced by patients and physicians alike, adding that their report offers concrete tips for physicians on how to conduct this vital discussion and to reduce patient uncertainty and frustration in making this complicated decision.
The ACC/AHA guidelines say doctors should use a complex equation to determine a patient's risk of heart disease. This calculation takes into account cholesterol levels and other aspects of the patient's health. The final number gives the doctor a risk number for that patient. This number is used to determine whether statin therapy should be recommended.
Author Neil J. Stone noted that that decision should be informed by the intersection of scientific evidence, clinical judgment and patient preference, but clinicians need to individualize the advice.
It's a simple concept: making sure they're not treating the disease but the person with the disease, and, in this case, those at elevated risk for it, said Martin. Done the right way, this is precision medicine at its best.
Tips for clinicians on having the statin conversation:
Don't get fixated on a number. Ask patients to use the risk-score calculator prior to their visit and come armed with questions.
Shared decision-making doesn't mean split decision-making.
When there's no time, make the time.
Contextualize risk. One way to provide meaningful perspective is to compare a patient's likelihood of suffering a heart attack or stroke to someone of the same age, gender and race, who has optimal risk factors.
Aim for the highest tolerable dose, unless the patient is predisposed to side effects or taking interacting medications.
Pay attention to news media. Periodically scan major news headlines about statins and heart disease.
The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
1st Apr 2015, 12:59 PM #1818
Re: Health Bulletin
Bengaluru scientists find drug which could cure malaria with one dose
Three scientists from Bengaluru, who led a team of global researchers looking for an antimalarial drug, have found a fast-killing solution. After completing some tests, it'll go in for clinical trials on humans. That this drug has the potential to cure the dreaded disease in one dose makes it more attractive to healthcare providers.
The Bengaluru solution — Triaminopyrimidine (TAP) — comes with many advantages over existing drugs. Vasan Sambandamurthy, one of the senior authors of the research paper, said: "It's a fast-killing and long-acting antimalarial clinical candidate. TAP acts exclusively on the blood stage of Plasmodium falciparum (the stage responsible for clinical symptoms) in a relevant mouse model. This candidate is equally active against causative agent Plasmodium vivax."
He added, "The compound has shown good safety margins in guinea pigs and rats. With a predicted half-life of 36 hours in humans, TAP offers potential for a single dose combination."
The rapid spread of Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite which causes malaria in humans, has left nations battling it with a weakened arsenal and coping with thousands of deaths every year. This parasite has gradually become resistant to available medication.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 3.2 billion people in 97 countries, including India, are at risk of being infected with malaria. In 2013, WHO reported an estimated 198 million cases and the disease was responsible for an estimated 5.84 lakh deaths, including 4.53 lakh children less than five years old.
Every person infected with malaria has to deal with millions of parasites and existing drugs have a limited effect in humans. "The half-life, which isn't more than 2 hours, means it allows parasites to bounce back. Existing drugs are not fast-killing, which means that not only does a human need more doses but each dose is capable of only killing a few parasites," he said.
Besides, a potential side-effect of existing drugs is liver damage. "This doesn't happen all the time, but the possibility does exist. Also, the parasites have become resistant to these drugs. With TAP, there are now known side-effects and the parasites are unable to develop resistance at the same pace as they do for existing drugs," he said.
TAP was discovered by a team at pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. "The main research happened in its R&D centre in Bengaluru between 2011 and 2014, which has since been shut down. It took us three years of rigorous work by teams across the globe. Today, we confidently nominate TAPs as a clinical candidate to treat drug-resistant malaria," Vasan said. Shahul Hameed and Suresh Solapure were the two other team leaders.
The discovery of a malaria drug, yet again, highlights Bengaluru's leadership in scientific research. The promise that the new medicine can kill the virus in a single stroke and act for a long time is good news for malaria patients. While the scientists deserve compliments on working towards a remedy free of side-effects, the companies that will eventually massproduce the drug should look at making it affordable to the aam aadmi. For their part, public health administrators must renew their battle to prevent vector-borne diseases, which cause untold suffering.
1st Apr 2015, 01:11 PM #1819
Re: Health Bulletin
Thane girl gets a pacemaker 20 minutes after birth
When baby Sunita's parents were told that she might need a pacemaker in her heart soon after birth, her Thane-based parents were initially not convinced about the need for the operation so soon.
"In the two years that Jupiter Hospital's pediatric heart unit has been operational, I have found foetal heart abnormality in 10 cases, but only two parents followed it through. The others just dropped out," paediatric cardiologist Dr Srinivas L said.
Twenty minutes after her birth in a Thane hospital on March 5, baby Sunita literally got a refurbished heart.
A permanent pacemaker, weighing 12.8gm, was fitted into her tiny 1.5kg-frame to help her heart beat normally. Sunita was born six weeks prematurely to a Thane couple who were initially not convinced that their child needed an operation right at birth.
"She is the world's smallest baby to receive a permanent heart pacemaker," said pediatric heart surgeon Dr Asutosh Singh who operated on Sunita (not her real name) at Jupiter Hospital in Thane. He added that this case is possibly the second-fastest instance in the world of a neonate getting a pacemaker. In 2012, a Stanford University's doctors fitted a pacemaker in a 1.58kg baby within 15 minutes of her birth.
Sunita's case highlights how better technology and health practices can save lives. Pediatric cardiologist Dr Srinivas L diagnosed the heart anomaly during a fetal scan he performed during her mother's 28th week of pregnancy. "As the heart rate was far below normal, we counselled the parents over the next few months on the possibility that their child would need a pacemaker immediately at birth," he added.
The doctors were not too sure the parents would listen. "In the two years that the Jupiter Hospital's pediatric heart unit has been operational, I have found fetal heart abnormality in 10 cases, but only two parents followed it through. The others just dropped out," said Dr Srinivas.
In Sunita's case, her mother had an autoimmune disease called Sjogren's Syndrome, a condition in which the body produces antibodies that damage tissues. "During pregnancy, these antibodies cross over to the fetal circulation and damage the unborn child's conduction system, causing the heart to beat slower than normal," said the doctors.
At 4.57pm on March 5, Jupiter Hospital's team was in a state of readiness to transport the baby at the slightest hint of distress to the neighbouring operation theatre. "Her heart beat was 55 at birth (against 140-150 which is normal) but within a few minutes it plummeted to 27, indicating that she needed a pacemaker," said Dr Singh.
Sunita's father said, "It was a difficult moment for us. She was tinier than usual and doctors wanted to operate on her, but I also realized that she was in danger."
Dr Swati Gharekar, pediatric cardiologist with Fortis Hospital in Mulund, said it is great that heart problems are being picked up antenatally. "It shows a great team work," she added. Pediatric cardiac surgeon Dr Suresh Rao said, "Pacemaker operations are now routine even in newborn children. The time that it is fitted—whether in the 20th minute after birth, the next day or in the seventh year of life—is a matter of the medical team's clinical judgement."
Dr NO Bansal, who heads the cardiology department of state government-run JJ Hospital in Byculla, said, "This child would have needed a pacemaker some time in life. As it was in distress right at birth, it's good that it got a pacemaker at the right time."
As for Sunita, she was discharged on March 20. "She has been gaining weight and doctors are satisfied with her progress," said her father. Her surgeon Dr Singh said unlike other children who undergo two procedures, one to fix a temporary pacemaker and a permanent one 10 days later, Sunita directly got the latter. "This takes away the parental concern of the child undergoing two operations within a span of 10 days," he added.
1st Apr 2015, 01:11 PM #1820
Re: Health Bulletin