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Health Bulletin


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  1. #371
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Ultrasound through bandage-like patch may become reality

    Ultrasound could soon be delivered through a Band-Aid-like skin patch.

    Researchers have successfully tested a skin-patch ultrasound that heals venous ulcers, significantly accelerates tissue repair and reduces costs for chronic wound management.

    The team from Drexel University, Philadelphia, administered a new method for treating chronic wounds using a novel ultrasound applicator that can be worn like a sticking plaster. The applicator delivers low-frequency, low-intensity ultrasound directly to wounds, and was found to significantly accelerate healing in five patients with venous ulcers.

    The ultrasound patch weighs just 100gm and is connected to two lithium ion batteries which are fully rechargeable.

    Venous ulcers are caused when valves in the veins malfunction, causing blood to pool in the leg instead of returning to the heart. This pooling, called venous stasis, can cause proteins and cells in the vein to leak into the surrounding tissue, leading to inflammation and formation of an ulcer.

    The technology was developed by the researchers with funding from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, part of the National Institutes of Health, itself an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

    Standard treatment for venous ulcers involves controlling swelling, taking care of the wound by keeping it moist, preventing infection, and compression therapy — a technique in which patients wear elastic socks that squeeze the leg to prevent blood from flowing backwards. Despite these measures, wounds often take months and occasionally years to heal.

    "Right now, we rely mostly on passive treatments," said Michael Weingarten, chief of vascular surgery at Drexel Medicine. "With the exception of expensive skin grafting surgeries, there are very few technologies that actively stimulate healing of these ulcers".

    A trial to test the patch involving 20 patients is currently under way.


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  2. #372
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Ultrasound through bandage-like patch may become reality

    Ultrasound could soon be delivered through a Band-Aid-like skin patch.

    Researchers have successfully tested a skin-patch ultrasound that heals venous ulcers, significantly accelerates tissue repair and reduces costs for chronic wound management.

    The team from Drexel University, Philadelphia, administered a new method for treating chronic wounds using a novel ultrasound applicator that can be worn like a sticking plaster. The applicator delivers low-frequency, low-intensity ultrasound directly to wounds, and was found to significantly accelerate healing in five patients with venous ulcers.

    The ultrasound patch weighs just 100gm and is connected to two lithium ion batteries which are fully rechargeable.

    Venous ulcers are caused when valves in the veins malfunction, causing blood to pool in the leg instead of returning to the heart. This pooling, called venous stasis, can cause proteins and cells in the vein to leak into the surrounding tissue, leading to inflammation and formation of an ulcer.

    The technology was developed by the researchers with funding from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, part of the National Institutes of Health, itself an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

    Standard treatment for venous ulcers involves controlling swelling, taking care of the wound by keeping it moist, preventing infection, and compression therapy a technique in which patients wear elastic socks that squeeze the leg to prevent blood from flowing backwards. Despite these measures, wounds often take months and occasionally years to heal.

    "Right now, we rely mostly on passive treatments," said Michael Weingarten, chief of vascular surgery at Drexel Medicine. "With the exception of expensive skin grafting surgeries, there are very few technologies that actively stimulate healing of these ulcers".

    A trial to test the patch involving 20 patients is currently under way.


  3. #373
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Decoded: Why shopaholics overspend

    Wondering why you can't resist buying those shiny stilettos even when hard pressed for money? Poor credit management and a belief that new purchases will create a happier life fuel compulsive buying, a new study suggests.

    Researchers from the San Francisco State University have identified specific behaviours that lead to such compulsive buying.

    "Compulsive shoppers tend to be people who bury their head in the sand and ignore the credit card bill," said Ryan Howell, associate professor of psychology at SF State.

    "We also found that these individuals keep on buying because they are looking for that 'buy high' , hoping their purchases will lift their mood and transform them as a person," said Howell. "A lot of research has shown that shopaholics tend to have materialistic values. Our results explain why materialistic people shop compulsively," Howell said. Howell and colleagues surveyed more than 1,600 participants who answered questions about their money management, shopping habits and how much they value material possessions.


  4. #374
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Now, angioplasty can remove even 100% heart block

    There is no need to go under the knife even if there is a 100% block in a coronary artery and the block can be removed through angioplasty, say a section of doctors. Japanese doctors who specialise in this method of treatment vouch for its success. More than 100 doctors from across the country learned the technique at a workshop organised by Apollo Hospitals, Ayanambakkam on Friday.

    Japanese cardiologist Dr Masahisa Yamane showcased various techniques using which doctors can remove a completely blocked artery through angioplasty. He performed three live demonstrations through which he explained treatment methods like retrograde angioplasty and cart technique.

    Traditionally, patients diagnosed with chronic total occlusion, which is 100% block in an artery, are asked to undergo open heart bypass surgeries. In this method, a surgeon operates on the patient's chest and stops the heart until the bypass is done. A blood vessel from another part of the patient's body is taken and grafted as an alternative path for blood flow.

    However, with new methods emerging, doctors say such blocks can be now removed using angioplasty. "In Japan people believe that if one's chest is opened, the soul departs. So we had to come up with alternative methods to remove heart blocks. It is a matter of skill and practice," said Dr Yamane.

    Several intervention cardiologists who attended the workshop said this procedure ensured faster recovery. "The procedure requires sophisticated equipment that are available only in Japan. With the stents and balloons we have in India we could achieve 90% success. But now with the new techniques that we have learned, we can achieve 95%," said Dr Anand Gnanaraj, senior intervention cardiologist, Apollo Hospitals, Ayanambakkam.


  5. #375
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Seeds of disease are sown in the womb: Study

    Exposure to stress in the womb due to maternal smoking or diet may affect genes increasing your risk of disease later, a new Harvard study has found.

    Researchers from the university have found that epigenetic disruptions, which are associated with chronic disease later in life, are already common at birth.

    Possibly, these aberrations result from stressors in the intrauterine environment (e.g. maternal smoking, maternal diet, or high levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals), researchers said.

    This finding supports the belief that seeds of disease are sown before birth, increasing the importance of optimal prenatal care.

    "This study may help us understand whether epigenetic mechanisms contribute to chronic disease susceptibility already prior to birth," said Karin Michels, study author from Harvard Medical School in Boston.

    "We are currently exploring which stressors during prenatal life may contribute to these epigenetic disruptions," said Michels.

    To make this discovery, Michels and colleagues examined the expression pattern of imprinted genes important for growth and development.

    Researchers analysed the parental expression pattern in the cord blood and placenta of more than 100 infants and followed up this analysis with methylation and expression studies.

    The results lent credence to the emerging theme that susceptibility to disease may indeed originate in utero.

    Additionally, this research showed that a high degree of disruption occurred during the imprinting of a gene called IGF2, which was expressed from both alleles in the cord blood of 22 per cent of study subjects.

    Loss of imprinting of IGF2 has been associated with several cancers, including Wilms Tumour, colorectal and breast cancer and childhood disorders such as Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome, researchers said.


  6. #376
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Epidemic of Vitamin D shortage puts Indians at high blood pressure risk

    Runny noses and stomach flu aren't the only ills associated with overcast skies. The absence of sunlight hits production of Vitamin D in the body, adversely affecting blood pressure. A recent study in London by an Indian-born researcher has proved beyond doubt that the lower the vitamin level, the higher the BP.

    Vitamin D is synthesized when the sun's ultraviolet rays fall on the skin. But the high melanin pigment in the Indian skin deters it. So, even a hot and sunny India has high levels of deficiency. Some studies say every second Indian is affected, others peg it higher at eight out of every 10 Indians. The deficiency is worrying as it's linked to a range of diseases — from bone problems to cancer.

    Researcher Vimal Karani's work from University College London only conclusively proves that low Vitamin D levels can send blood pressure soaring. Karani looked at 35 studies, covering 1.5 lakh people across Europe and North America, and found people with high concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) had lower blood pressure and, therefore, a reduced risk of hypertension. A prehormone, 25-hydroxyvitamin D or calcidiol, is produced in the liver when Vitamin D3 is synthesized (a blood test to determine its levels is also an indicator of Vit D levels).

    The study found that for every 10% increase in 25(OH)D concentrations, the risk of developing hypertension decreased by 8.1%.

    In India, where every fifth grown-up has hypertension, the study has severe implications. Dr Siddharth N Shah, editor-in-chief of JAPI (Journal of the Association of the Physicians of India), said, "The association of lower levels of Vitamin D and high blood pressure can, in part, be associated with increasing number of hypertensives in India." Delhi-based endocrinologist Dr Anoop Misra, though, pointed out that hypertension has a strong hereditary component. "We know that salt, smoking, obesity and heredity are the causes for hypertension. We can at best consider Vitamin D deficiency as a fifth contributor," he said.

    The theories about Vitamin D deficiency and its various implications have gained importance in the past decade. One reason could be easy availability of diagnostic tests. "When we started offering the test about 15 years back, we would get 5 to 10 cases a month," said Dr Vipla Puri from Hinduja Hospital, Mahim. Now her laboratory performs 1,500 tests a month.

    Why the sudden focus on Vitamin D? Endocrinologist Dr Shashank Joshi from Lilavati Hospital, who has done several studies on both hypertension and Vitamin D deficiency, said, "There are over 200 Vitamin D receptors in the body. Previously, we thought that Vitamin D only affected skeletal aspects of the body." It is only now that the world is learning that it is connected to the body's entire metabolism. "Vitamin D has a link with metabolism of glucose, maintenance of blood pressure as well as acceleration of heart diseases," Joshi said.

    Vitamin D levels dictate outcomes of ICUs as well. A study done by Dr HemantThacker in Jaslok Hospital, Peddar Road, showed that patients with lower levels of Vitamin D were more susceptible to infections than patients who had better levels.

    Dr Thacker blames the smog-filled environment in cities for poor Vitamin D levels. "It is true we don't get adequate exposure to sunlight because we travel in cars and buses and don't come out even during weekends. Children these days watch TV instead of playing football in the grounds, but Vitamin D deficiency isn't only about paucity of sunlight." The quality of sunlight plays an important role too.

    "A part of the ultraviolet radiation that is needed by the body to make Vitamin D, is filtered out by the smog. This is a leading cause for deficiency," Dr Thacker said.

    Experts say a way of tackling this widespread deficiency would be to chart out a public health policy. "The government should look at solutions like fortifying milk with vitamin D as is done in the US and Europe," said Dr Joshi.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Removing fallopian tubes could reduce ovarian cancer risk

    A doctor in UK has urged women at high risk of ovarian cancer that they have their fallopian tubes removed as a precautionary step.

    However, Cancer Research UK said that there was no evidence how effective it would be.

    Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy to reduce her chances of getting breast cancer after finding out she had a faulty BRCA gene.

    The same mutation can also cause ovarian cancer. Prof Sean Kehoe said removing fallopian tubes might help, the BBC reported.

    Some people with the mutation do have their ovaries and the connecting fallopian tubes removed to prevent ovarian cancer.

    Professor Kehoe, of the charity Wellbeing of Women and the University of Birmingham, argues that just removing the tubes could help many women.

    He said that the main advantage of this approach would be hopefully giving some protection but avoiding earlier menopause, as normally the ovaries would be removed.

    Recent studies suggest that the fallopian tubes may be the source of up to 50 per cent of so-called ovarian cancers, though research is ongoing, he said.


  8. #378
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Incense smoke hits lungs, can trigger asthma

    Incense smoke, common in Indian homes, has been found to be harmful to human lungs. Burning incense generates indoor air pollutants that cause inflammation in human lung cells, researchers from the University of North Carolina say. The researchers analyzed particulate concentrations and levels of gases such as carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and formaldehyde.

    Human lung cells were placed in a chamber to expose them to the smoke, then incubated for 24 hours to allow particulates to settle and the cells to respond. The resulting inflammatory response , a hallmark of asthma and other respiratory problems, was similar to that of lung cells exposed to cigarette smoke.

    Incense is burned weekly in about 94% of households in the UAE and in majority of houses in India for worship as well as to remove cooking odours. Since people there spend more than 90% of their time indoors, researchers said, indoor air pollution has become a source of rising concern.

    Researchers found that most types of incense emitted significant amounts of particles, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and oxides of nitrogen, resulting in the inflammatory response. Indoor air pollution (IAP) is already claiming 500,000 lives in India every year, most of whom are women and children. According to the World Health Organisation, India accounts for 80% of the 600,000 premature deaths that occur in south-east Asia annually due to exposure to IAP.

    The study, by the Gillings School of Global Public Health, involved testing over three hours in an indoor chamber with a high concentration of smoke.


  9. #379
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Alcoholism linked to hyper-active brain in people

    Alcoholics release abnormally high levels of the reward chemical dopamine in their brains when they drink, a new study suggests.


    The brains of people who are vulnerable to alcoholism react very differently to alcohol than the brains of people who are not vulnerable, according to a new study by Professor Marco Leyton from McGill University.

    Compared to people at low risk for alcohol-use problems, those at high risk showed a greater dopamine response in a brain pathway that increases desire for rewards.

    These findings could help shed light on why some people are more at risk of suffering from alcoholism and could mark an important step toward the development of treatment options.

    "There is accumulating evidence that there are multiple pathways to alcoholism, each associated with a distinct set of personality traits and neurobiological features," said Leyton.

    "These individual differences likely influence a wide range of behaviours, both positive and problematic. Our study suggests that a tendency to experience a large dopamine response when drinking alcohol might contribute to one (or more) of these pathways," leyton said.

    Researchers recruited 26 healthy social drinkers (18 men, 8 women), 18 to 30 years of age, from the Montreal area. The higher-risk subjects were then identified based on personality traits and having a lower intoxication response to alcohol.

    Finally, each participant underwent two positron emission tomography (PET) brain scan exams after drinking either juice or alcohol (about 3 drinks in 15 minutes).

    "We found that people vulnerable to developing alcoholism experienced an unusually large brain dopamine response when they took a drink," said Leyton.

    "This large response might energise reward-seeking behaviours and counteract the sedative effects of alcohol. Conversely, people who experience minimal dopamine release when they drink might find the sedative effects of alcohol especially pronounced," said Leyton.

    "Although preliminary, the results are compelling," said Leyton.

    "A much larger body of research has identified a role for dopamine in reward-seeking behaviours in general. For example, in both laboratory animals and people, increased dopamine transmission seems to enhance the attractiveness of reward-related stimuli.

    "This effect likely contributes to why having one drink increases the probability of getting a second one - the alcohol-induced dopamine response makes the second drink look all the more desirable. If some people are experiencing unusually large dopamine responses to alcohol, this might put them at risk," said Leyton.

    The study was published in the journal Alcoholism:


  10. #380
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Identified: Chemical that helps us focus

    Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have revealed that the chemical dopamine in our brain helps us remain focused on long-term goals.

    Previous studies have linked dopamine to rewards and have shown that dopamine neurons show brief bursts of activity when animals receive an unexpected reward.

    These dopamine signals are believed to be important for reinforcement learning - the process by which an animal learns to perform actions that lead to reward.

    The MIT team, led by Professor Ann Graybiel from the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, decided to study how dopamine changes during a task that would entail delayed gratification. The researchers trained rats to navigate a maze to reach a reward.

    During each trial a rat would hear a tone instructing it to turn either right or left at an intersection to find a chocolate milk reward.

    Rather than simply measuring the activity of dopamine-containing neurons, the MIT researchers wanted to measure how much dopamine was released in the striatum, a brain structure known to be important in reinforcement learning.

    They teamed up with Paul Phillips of the University of Washington, who has developed a technology called Fast-Scan Cyclic Voltammetry (FSCV) in which tiny, implanted carbon-fiber electrodes allow continuous measurements of dopamine concentration based on its electrochemical fingerprint.

    Primary author Mark Howe from Northwestern University said, "We adapted the FSCV method so that we could measure dopamine at up to four different sites in the brain simultaneously, as animals moved freely through the maze. Each probe measures the concentration of extracellular dopamine within a tiny volume of brain tissue and probably reflects the activity of thousands of nerve terminals".

    From previous work, the researchers expected that they might see pulses of dopamine released at different times in the trial, "but in fact we found something much more surprising," Graybiel said.

    The level of dopamine increased steadily throughout each trial, peaking as the animal approached its goal — as if in anticipation of a reward. The rats' behaviour varied from trial to trial — some runs were faster than others, and sometimes the animals would stop briefly — but the dopamine signal did not vary with running speed or trial duration. Nor did it depend on the probability of getting a reward, something that had been suggested by previous studies.

    "Instead, the dopamine signal seems to reflect how far away the rat is from its goal," Graybiel said. "The closer it gets, the stronger the signal becomes."

    The researchers also found that the size of the signal was related to the size of the expected reward: When rats were trained to anticipate a larger gulp of chocolate milk, the dopamine signal rose more steeply to a higher final concentration.

    Scientists also said that they are certain dopamine levels could be used to help the animal make choices on the way to the goal and to estimate the distance to the goal.

    "I'd be shocked if something similar were not happening in our own brains," Graybiel said.

    Parkinson's patients often have dopamine signalling impaired and appear to be apathetic with difficulty in sustaining motivation for a long task.

    "Maybe that's because they can't produce this slow ramping dopamine signal," Graybiel says.


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