17th Apr 2015, 05:29 PM #1851
Re: Health Bulletin
Brushing teeth regularly can save you from future heart attacks
Researchers have found that people suffering oral infections also often have cardiovascular problems, and have discovered a particularly strong link between periodontitis and strokes, especially among men and younger people.
A high dose of the commonly prescribed medication, atorvastatin, which boosts blood levels of anti-inflammatory fats called lipoxins and resolvins prevents both gum and heart disease in humans, and even reverses it.
The researchers described the discovery as "exciting and promising" because lipoxins and resolvins also have the advantage of naturally controlling inflammation without suppressing the immune system.
Dr Thomas Van Dyke, of the Forsyth Institute in the United States, said unraveling the role of the oral microbiome and inflammation in cardiovascular disease would likely lead to new preventive and treatment approaches.
Significant epidemiological evidence supports an association between oral infections, particularly periodontitis, and stroke, especially among men and younger individuals. Inflammation plays a major role both in gum and cardiovascular disease.
However, over-the-counter non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can produce significant cardiovascular side effects, which means it is crucial alternative therapies are found.
Dr Van Dyke recommends people take better care of their teeth to potentially lower their risk of cardiovascular disease and other health problems.
The findings are published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism.
19th Apr 2015, 02:21 PM #1852
Re: Health Bulletin
Artificial blood vessel created to help test medical devices
Researchers have created an artificial blood vessel that can be used to study both the application and effects of devices used to extract life-threatening blood clots in the brain.
The artificial vessel could have significant implications for future development of endovascular technologies, including reducing the need for animal models to test new devices or approaches.
"This work offers significant promise going forward," said Alexander Khalessi, director of endovascular neurosurgery and surgical director of neurocritical care at the University of California — San Diego Health System.
"The artificial model could represent a practical, scalable and physiological alternative to existing technologies," Khalessi noted.
For example, in treating cerebrovascular disease that covers a group of dysfunctions related to blood supply to the brain, doctors in certain cases must perform endovascular thrombectomies where they mechanically remove the emboli or clots.
The rate of endovascular thrombectomies is rising, but the approach, which typically involves running a catheter to the site of the blockage and using one of several marketed devices to remove the clot, can be improved, Khalessi said.
Current pre-clinical analyses of new therapeutic approaches or devices is limited to either in vitro glass or plastic tubing testing intended to mimic biological counterparts or by using animal models, such as pigs.
"Both of these have significant drawbacks," Khalessi said.
The researchers developed a novel in vitro live-cell platform that allows direct visual characterization of effects and injury patterns to endothelial cells (ECs).
They tested various clot-retrieval devices and examined the post-removal effects.
"We found that the in vitro platform permitted high-resolution quantification and characterization of the pattern and timing of EC injury with various thrombectomy devices and vessel diameters. The devices each displayed different effects," Khalessi noted.
The researchers subsequently validated their in vitro findings with in vivo testing.
The findings were published in the online issue of the journal Stroke.
20th Apr 2015, 12:45 PM #1853
Re: Health Bulletin
'Number of women tobacco users rising'
The number of women consuming tobacco products has doubled over 15 years, according to a report by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI).
While only 10% of women consumed tobacco products during the mid- and late-1990s, the number has increased to 20% in recent years, the report said. Tobacco consumption among men has remained in the range of 45-57% between 1995-96 and 2009-10.
The increase in tobacco consumption among women was largely fueled by the rise in smokeless tobacco use, the PHFI report said. Promotional tactics companies linking linking tobacco consumption to empowerment as another is a significant factor, experts say.
Various surveys and studies show that India is at the second stage of tobacco epidemic where women tend to follow male pattern. "This is an expected rise. India is a developing nation witnessing tremendous socio-economic development coupled with financial independence of women. The tobacco industry sees women as lucrative consumers waiting to be tapped at this point," Monika Arora, director-health promotion division at PHFI, said.
Women, in both urban and as well as rural settings, see tobacco consumption as a sign of empowerment and hence they follow men, Arora added. This has been further enhanced due to Bollywood films containing tobacco imagery, resulting in large level exposure in India, relative to other countries, she said.
Trends in western countries show men are the first ones to start smoking with a gradual increase in the trend. In the second stage, women follow them.
However, in the third phase, males face morbidity and mortality, while the impact of tobacco consumption increases among women. In the last leg, consumption is generally on a decline among both sexes, though morbidity and mortality continue to rise due to rising trends in the previous phases.
The latest National Family Health Survey and Global Adult Tobacco Survey also showed a significant rise in women consuming tobacco. While NFHS pegged the increase at around 11%, GATS study for 2009-10 showed 21% rise in women consuming tobacco.
Government officials as well as public health experts anticipate tobacco use among women is likely to have increased further in the last five years, even as increased taxes and government-run campaigns are expected to have brought down the rate of tobacco consumption among men.
To make an assessment of the impact of the ongoing campaigns as well as gauge the trend among women, health ministry has commissioned another GATS study for 2015-16. The final report is expected by the middle of next year, an official said.
The total economic cost attributable to tobacco use from all diseases in India in 2011 for persons aged 35-69 years amounted to Rs 104,500 crore, of which 16% was direct cost and 84% was indirect. While males contributed 91% of the total economic burden, females accounted for the rest. However, in case of economic burden due to smokeless tobacco, the contribution from females was much higher at 29%.
20th Apr 2015, 12:49 PM #1854
Re: Health Bulletin
Nearly 40% deaths of Mumbai girls in last 5 years due to poor diet: CAG
Nearly 40% of deaths registered among girls (0 to 6 years) in the city between 2010 and 2014 have been due to lack of proper nutrition, revealed a central government report. The corresponding figure for Thane district was 64%.
The findings stated that the Maharashtra government spent Rs 4,500 crore on improving child health in the last five years.
In Mumbai and Thane, the percentages of moderately and severely underweight girls were found much higher than the state's average, the report added.
Under the integrated child development services (ICDS) programme, the state government utilized Rs 4,236 crore of the Rs 4,730 crore provided to tackle malnourishment among girls in last five years. Of the total 12,097 deaths of girls reported in Thane, Nandurbar, Mumbai, Buldhana, Gadchiroli, Beed, Nanded and Solapur, around 8,011 were due to malnourishment. A total of 139 deaths were recorded in Mumbai, while Thane district saw 1,291 fatalities.
The Congress-NCP government ruled the state during the five years and Dharavi MLA Varsha Gaikwad was the women and child development minister.
The ICDS programme is one of the flagship schemes being implemented by the women and child development department to improve the nutrition and health of children in the 0-6 age group. It also aims at reducing mortality, morbidity, malnutrition, and the school drop-out rate. The welfare scheme's objectives were to be achieved by providing supplementary nutrition, immunization and health check-ups. In March 2014, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) found that there were 97,155 anganwadi centres in the state that catered to more than 82 lakh children, including 39.10 lakh girls up to six years.
According to the revised norms of the World Health Organisation, underweight children are segregated in two categories, moderately and severely underweight. The CAG findings indicated that between 2010 and 2014, the number of moderate and severely underweight girls in Mumbai and Thane ranged between 20% and 24%, while the state's average was 16.27%. The number of moderately underweight girls in Mumbai stood at 21.66% and that of severely underweight girls was 2.87%.
In the tribal districts of Nandurbar and Gadchiroli, the number of moderate and severely underweight girls was as 33.98% and 27.02% respectively. "In connection with the significant number of moderately and severely underweight girls and their deaths, the ICDS commissioner has said that a special drive has been undertaken to address the problem," the CAG report mentioned.
20th Apr 2015, 01:01 PM #1855
Re: Health Bulletin
Did you know there are 6 types of obesity?
UK scientists have identified six types of obese people in a new study which could revolutionize how doctors treat the overweight.
The study, by the University of Sheffield, identified the six groups as- young males who were heavy drinkers, middle aged individuals who were unhappy and anxious, older people who despite living with physical health conditions were happy, younger healthy females, older affluent healthy adults and individuals with very poor health.
The study, led by Dr Mark Green from the University's School of Health and Related Research(ScHARR), concluded that those who have a BMI of 30 or over fit into one of the six groups and strategies to successfully tackle weight loss should be tailored according to which group they fall into.
"Policies designed to tackle obesity and encourage healthier lifestyles often target individuals just because they are obese. But a focus on just the group as a whole is not very efficient. We are all different and Different health promotion approaches work for different people," Green said.
"We are all different and different health promotion approaches work for different peopleOur research showed that those in the groups that we identified are likely to need very different services, and will respond very differently to different health promotion policies," he said.
Researchers suggested messages about alcohol reduction could help tackle obesity in young adults while for middle aged individuals who are unhappy and anxious an intervention involving increasing exercise mixed with psycho-social counselling could be beneficial. Young healthy females may not need any intervention, they added.
20th Apr 2015, 01:01 PM #1856
Re: Health Bulletin
It's official: Girls' brains mature faster
Girls' brains integrate and shape themselves two or three years earlier than those of boys, according to a new study.
Researchers used MRI scans to monitor changes in the structure of youngsters' brains from childhood to early adulthood. The study focused on white matter, a key tissue which includes the axons - brain cell elongations that carry signals between different brain areas.
The development of white matter in youth is closely associated with gains in cognitive function - or brain power - prompting the researchers to wonder if there could be differences between males and females.
The team at Pittsburgh University carried out annual brain scans over five years on 128 people, initially aged 8 to 28, to observe what changes took place.Theyfound the white matter in boys' brains began growing earlier but took longer to complete than in girls' brains, The Sunday Times reported. "Males showed continuous white matter growth from childhood through early adulthood, whereas females mainly showed growth during mid-adolescence," researchers said.
"Further, earlier white matter growth in adolescence was associated with faster and more efficient responding and better inhibitory control," they said.TheResearchers suggest the difference is linked to girls experiencing earlier puberty.
20th Apr 2015, 01:02 PM #1857
Re: Health Bulletin
This is what happens when you die, according to people who died
What happens to us when we die? It's a question that has exercised humanity's finest minds since those humans have been around to have them - and has been recently the subject of a number of groundbreaking scientific studies.
Now, a Reddit thread has posed the question specifically to those who have been clinically dead and then revived, and has received hundreds of responses.
Though the veracity of the answers has to be taken with a small pinch of salt, the answers from what essentially amounts to a large survey on the subject can be broken down into three categories.
There are those who felt nothing at all; those who had an experience of light and some interaction with another person/being; and those who felt they could watch what was happening while they were "dead" without being able to do anything.
The first group corresponds closely with the answers of a single Redditor who officially died twice and recently invited questions on the topic from other users.
The latter group, meanwhile, appears to agree with the work of Dr Sam Parnia, who sought out cardiac arrest patients and found that almost 40 per cent described having some form of "awareness" at a time when they were clinically dead.
Here is a taster of some of the Reddit users' responses - which don't seem to have produced a consensus on the topic just yet:
"I was getting an angiogram done, wide awake watching the screen and talking to the doctor. Alarms started to go off and everyone became panicked. My world became soft and foggy and everything faded to black. Next thing I remember was opening my eyes and hearing a Dr say "we got him back". It was really a peaceful feeling more than anything."
"I collapsed during a class presentation one day. All breathing and blood circulation stopped. I felt as if I was plummeting down an endless hole while my peers cried for help. I was revived and still have no memory of the little bit of time before and after my death."
"Overdosed on heroin, EMTs said my heart stopped. Didn't see anything, just like sleeping with no dreams."
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"I collapsed at a work meeting in February 2014 and had no pulse or cardiac rhythm for about five minutes. My last memory was from about an hour prior to the incident, and my next memory was from two days later, when I emerged from a medically-induced coma."
"I flatlined for around 40 seconds. It was like falling asleep without dreaming, no sense of self."
"Pure, perfect, uninterrupted sleep, no dreams."
"I do remember a little bit of the ambulance ride, but not from my own body. It was seriously the strangest thing I have ever experienced. It could have been a dream, but I saw my own unconscious body, completely flatlined, in the ambulance. I remember the EMT who was in the ambulance with me (whom I did not see before I passed out) had mint green hair and I couldn't remember his name, but I asked for him when I regained consciousness about three days later."
"I was standing in front of a giant wall of light. It stretched up, down, left and right as far as I could see. Kind of like putting your eyes 6" from a fluorescent lightbulb. The next memory I have is waking up in the hospital."
"I was standing somewhere. There was a fog all around me, and I saw my best friend (who at the time I'd been fighting with and he'd stopped talking to me) come out of the mist. He told me that I couldn't go yet, that I have to keep trying, and if I promised not to give up, he'd see me back on Earth. I wordlessly agreed, and I was instantly pushed (into?) my body."
"I see a vivid "flashback" of myself in the ambulance being taken to the hospital and I am stood in the ambulance looking down on myself / others in the ambulance."
"When I coded, I don't remember a sensation of floating, but I was able to recall things in detail that happened while I was 'dead' on the other side of the room. No white lights, no dead relatives, nobody telling me to go back, but I was definitely able to see things that were in no way visible from where my body was. I remember speaking and being angry because nobody would answer me. My mother told me 'you didn't say anything, you were dead'."
"I saw nothingness. Black, long empty, but I had a feeling like everything was great and nothing was wrong at all. Imagine how preexistence felt, much the same as post existence."
21st Apr 2015, 12:53 PM #1858
Re: Health Bulletin
'Liquid biopsy' using blood test is latest weapon against cancer
In the usual cancer biopsy, a surgeon cuts out a piece of the patient's tumor, but researchers in labs in the US are testing a potentially transformative innovation. They call it the liquid biopsy, and it is a blood test that has only recently become feasible with the latest exquisitely sensitive techniques. It is showing promise in finding tiny snippets of cancer DNA in a patient's blood.
The hope is that a simple blood draw — far less onerous for patients than a biopsy or a CT scan — will enable oncologists to quickly figure out whether a treatment is working and, if it is, to continue monitoring in case the cancer develops resistance. Failing treatments could be abandoned quickly. "This could change forever the way we follow up response to treatments but also the emergence of resistance for really early diagnosis," said Dr. Jose Baselga of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Researchers caution that more evaluations of the test's accuracy and reliability are needed. So far, there have been only small studies in particular cancers, including lung, colon and blood cancer. But early results are encouraging. A National Cancer Institute study published this month in The Lancet Oncology, involving 126 patients with the most common form of lymphoma, found the test predicted recurrences more than three months before they were noticeable on CT scans. The liquid biopsies also identified patients unlikely to respond to therapy.
Oncologists who are not using the new test say they are looking on with fascination. "Our lab doesn't do it, but we are very interested," said Dr. Levi Garraway of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "It's exciting," he added. "It's a top priority."
Researchers are finding out things about individuals' cancers that astonish them. Mary Susan Sabini, a fifth-grade teacher from Gardiner, NY, has lung cancer that resisted two attempts at chemotherapy and a round of radiation. Her doctors at Sloan Kettering saw cancer DNA in her blood when she began taking an experimental drug in October that was her last hope.
Four days later, the cancer DNA shards had vanished, a sign, the doctors hoped, that the treatment was working. But they dared not tell her the good tidings. The blood test itself was so new they were afraid to rely on it.
Within weeks, Sabini began to breathe easier. Months later, she had a CT scan, an X-ray test that uses a computer to assemble detailed images of slices of tumor tissue. It confirmed her tumors were shrinking.
"Every cancer has a mutation that can be followed with this method," said Dr. David Hyman, the oncologist at Sloan Kettering who is leading the study of the experimental drug Ms. Sabini takes. "It is like bar coding the cancer in the blood."
The idea for the test grew out of a discovery made years ago about fetuses: They shed little pieces of DNA into the bloodstreams of mothers-to-be. It turned out that all growing cells, including tumors, shed tiny DNA fragments.
But finding those minuscule bits of DNA, floating in a sea of other molecules, is not easy. They remain in circulation for just a couple of hours before they are metabolized. And the detection method became useful only when cancer researchers, using advanced methods for DNA sequencing, found hundreds of mutations that could serve as bar codes for cancers and developed the technology for finding a snippet of DNA.
The standard methods of assessing a treatment's effectiveness have serious drawbacks. Doctors routinely monitor patients for symptoms like pain or shortness of breath, but some people do not have any. In those who do, it can take time for such symptoms to wane — the tumor can die, but the body has to heal.
Patients often have scans to determine if tumors are shrinking, but it can take weeks or months before a tumor looks smaller on a scan, in part because a scan shows not just the cancer but also connective tissue, immune system cells and scars at the site. Doctors can be fooled into thinking a tumor is present when, in fact, it is gone.
"When you are treating a patient — and we see this many times — your treatment is quite effective but there is some residual lesion on a scan," Dr Hyman said. "You take the patient to surgery for a biopsy, and all you see is scar tissue. There is no visible cancer there."
The blood tests also allow frequent monitoring of tumors as they spread and mutate or develop resistance to treatment. The only other way to know is with biopsies.
"I cannot do a weekly liver biopsy and see how things are going," Dr Baselga said. "But I can do a blood test every week."
Another possible application — early diagnosis of cancer — is trickier. If a blood test showed cancer DNA, what would that mean? Where is the tumor, and would it help to find and treat it early? Some cancers stop growing or go away on their own. With others, the outcome is just as good if the cancer is found later.
One early use for DNA blood tests may be helping doctors decide which patients with Stage 2 colon cancer need chemotherapy. Eighty percent of patients with these large tumors that have not spread outside the colon are cured by surgery alone; the rest have recurrences. Six months of intense chemotherapy reduces the risk the cancer will return, but there is no way to predict who needs the treatment.
Two Australian scientists, working with Dr. Bert Vogelstein of Johns Hopkins, wondered if a cancer DNA blood test might be predictive. They began with a study of 250 patients, looking for cancer DNA in blood after surgery. The tumors recurred in 80 percent of those with cancer DNA in their blood but only 6 to 8 percent of those whose blood did not have detectable cancer DNA.
Now the Australian researchers, Dr Jeanne Tie and Dr Peter Gibbs of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, are starting a study of 450 patients randomly assigned to have the blood test or not. Those who have it will get chemotherapy if the test finds cancer DNA. Those who do not have the blood test will get usual care, whatever their physician prescribes.
The patients will be told their blood test results, although the investigators worry how some will react.
"If you find DNA and tell the patient there is a very high risk of recurrence, that creates a lot of anxiety," Dr Gibbs said. "And we are not sure chemotherapy will be helpful."
The blood test, they hope, will answer that question.
"This will be the first real test of whether circulating tumor DNA can be clinically useful," Dr Vogelstein said.
21st Apr 2015, 01:02 PM #1859
Re: Health Bulletin
‘Depression gripping kids as young as six’
Stress, anxiety and depression have always been associated with adults. However, more and more children are being found to suffer from these problems. These problems rarely get identified or treated among them, leading to a lot of behavioral problems. However, alert parents and teachers can intervene at the right time to help such children.
Behavioral problems in children and the reasons leading to them were among the focal issues discussed at the recently concluded annual conference of Vidarbha Psychiatric Association (VPA). Dr Henal Shah and Dr Alka Subramanyam from Nair Hospital, Mumbai focused on related topics. Other faculty for the conference included psychiatrists Dr Sudhir Bhave, Dr Dushyant Deshpande from Akola, Dr Ankur Jain and radiologist Dr Parimal Fuke.
"It is generally believed that children can't be depressed. However, we are seeing children as young as six suffering from depression. These problems get manifested in various forms ranging from academic performance to suicidal thoughts," informed Dr Shah. She said a major factor for children suffering from these problems was seeing people around being depressed, especially their mothers. She maintained that, like any other ailment, parents and teachers could help identify and avail of treatment for emotional ailments, too.
VPA president Dr Pawan Adatia believes at least 10% kids are suffering from depression. "Stress that has been synonymous with modern lifestyle is percolating among younger ones with the changes in familial and societal setup. This happens because the parenting style doesn't match with a child's temperament, and it gets compounded due to several external factors," he said.
"Lifestyle and family equations have changed dramatically. From joint families, we reached nuclear families and now we have families where both parents are working. At school, with teachers wary of punishing, not much is being done to discipline children, which can be done through innovative means," said Dr Subramanyam adding that children today were facing newer threats and challenges. While increased exposure to the world, through internet and smart phones might result in higher IQ levels, it was also making kids grow up much faster with even 10-year-olds facing adolescent issues, she said.
Among the many signs of emotional problems that kids have is sleep deprivation and insomnia. "Research shows anywhere between 10-40% kids have insufficient sleep. It is more common among Asian countries where children sleep with their parents rather than being made to form a habit of sleeping on their own. Episodes of waking up during nights, bedtime resistance and associated problems like mood swings, irritability, emotional distress in such children start affecting parents and their marital situation, too," he said. The good thing was the problem could be solved through behaviour therapy rather than medicines, he added.
22nd Apr 2015, 01:38 PM #1860
Re: Health Bulletin
Babies feel pain just like adults: Study
The brains of babies "light up" in a similar way to adults when exposed to a painful stimulus, suggesting they feel pain much like adults do, a first of its kind study using MRI on infant pain has found.
The study by Oxford University researchers looked at 10 healthy infants aged between one and six days old and 10 healthy adults aged 23-36 years.
During the research, babies, accompanied by parents and clinical staff, were placed in a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner where they usually fell asleep.
MRI scans were then taken of the babies' brains as they were 'poked' on the bottom of their feet with a special retracting rod creating a sensation 'like being poked with a pencil' - mild enough that it did not wake them up.
These scans were then compared with brain scans of adults exposed to the same pain stimulus.
The researchers found that 18 of the 20 brain regions active in adults experiencing pain were active in babies.
Scans also showed that babies' brains had the same response to a weak 'poke' as adults did to a stimulus four times as strong.
The findings suggest that not only do babies experience pain much like adults but that they also have a much lower pain threshold.
The researchers said that it is now possible to see pain 'happening' inside the infant brain and it looks a lot like pain in adults.
"Our study suggests that not only do babies experience pain but they may be more sensitive to it than adults," said Dr Rebeccah Slater of Oxford University's Department of Paediatrics, lead author of the report.
"We have to think that if we would provide pain relief for an older child undergoing a procedure then we should look at giving pain relief to an infant undergoing a similar procedure," said Slater.
"Recent studies in adults have shown that it is possible to detect a neurological signature of pain using MRI," Slater said.
"In the future we hope to develop similar systems to detect the 'pain signature' in babies' brains: this could enable us to test different pain relief treatments and see what would be most effective for this vulnerable population who can't speak for themselves," Slater added.
The research was published in the journal eLife.