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  1. #571
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    How depression hampers parenting skills

    In an important study, researchers have identified a link between depression and poor parenting skills which could help in devising ways of preventing the trait from being passed on to posterity.

    An article by researchers at the University of Exeter has identified those symptoms of depression that are likely to cause difficulties in parenting.

    The article, published in the journal Psychological Medicine, indicates that parents who experience depression might be emotionally unavailable and as a consequence feel shame and guilt towards their parenting role.

    The work also indicates that problems with memory, which is a symptom of depression, may affect a parent's ability to set goals for their child at the appropriate developmental stage.

    The findings could lead to more effective interventions to prevent depression and other psychological disorders from being passed on from parent to child, reports Science Daily.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Why heart rate decreases with age

    Researchers have tried to look into the age-old question as to why maximum heart rate (maxHR) decreases with age.

    According to researchers at the University of Colorado, this decrease in maxHR not only limits the performance of aging athletes but it is also a leading cause for nursing home admittance for otherwise-healthy elderly individuals who no longer have the physical capacity required for independent living.

    We say we're just getting old and slowing down, but exactly what is it that is slowing down?

    Everybody knows that aerobic capacity decreases with age. You know that chart in your gym that shows your target heart rate decreasing as you get older?

    Well, that's not a senior discount to let the elderly get off easy on their treadmill workouts. It's because older hearts simply can't beat as fast as younger hearts.

    So the older person who's doing 120 beats per minute is probably working harder - at a higher percentage of maximum heart rate - than the younger person who is at 150 beats per minute.

    A new study by a group led by Catherine Proenza, PhD and Roger Bannister, PhD from the University of Colorado School of Medicine reports that one of the reasons for the age-dependent reduction in maximum heart rate is that aging depresses the spontaneous electrical activity of the heart's natural pacemaker, the sinoatrial node.

    Like most initial discoveries in basic science, this study opens many more questions and avenues for further research. But the significance of the study is that it raises the possibility that sinoatrial ion channels and the signaling molecules that regulate them could be novel targets for drugs to slow the loss of aerobic capacity with age.

    Proenza notes that "although maximum heart rate goes down for everybody equally, regardless of physical conditioning, people can improve and maintain their aerobic capacity at all ages by exercising."

    This study is set to be published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.


  3. #573
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    3 Indians suffer a stroke every minute, don’t know it

    Three adults suffer from a stroke every minute in India and around 5 million people are disabled globally due to the brain attack each year. Yet, half the residents of metros in India are unaware of strokes and their link to the brain.

    A survey carried out across six metros in the country has revealed that awareness of a stroke is abysmally low. More shocking is the fact that increasingly younger people are becoming vulnerable to strokes, reasons for which vary from lifestyle to ignorance about the problem itself. "Most people think that stroke is related to the heart," Dr Shirish M Hastak, neurologist and former president of the Indian Stroke Association, said.

    A stroke occurs when a blood vessel taking blood and oxygen to the brain gets blocked or ruptured. When this happens, brain cells don't get the blood required.

    Deprived of oxygen, nerve cells stop working and die within minutes, so the part of the body they control can't function either. "It is extremely difficult for a person to seek immediate medical help if one does not even know about a problem," Dr Hastak said.

    The survey covered 1,507 people aged between 25 and 50 years in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, and Chennai. It mainly captured the respondents' awareness and understanding of the term stroke, its symptoms, perceived causes, the prevailing knowledge about treatment options, and their experiences with stroke sufferers.



    Worldwide, 20 million people suffer from stroke each year, five million die and another five million are disabled. It is estimated that one in six people will suffer a stroke in their lifetime. In India, 1.5 million suffer from stroke every year and 3,000 to 4,000 are affected each day. According to the survey, 48% of people did not even know what stroke meant.

    "Bangalore scored fairly well with 68% being aware of what a brain stroke is. Mumbai's performance was average with 58% aware that stroke is associated with the brain. The two cities were followed by Kolkata. Delhi and Hyderabad had the lowest levels of awareness, with 36% and 27% respectively," said Dr Hastak.

    A trend evident in the survey was that the younger population is becoming vulnerable to strokes. Doctors maintained that a lot had to do with their lifestyle, work culture and eating habits. "First, we need to look at what bracket of age we can define as young. I've observed an increase of about 15-20% in the age group of 25-40 reporting a stroke or at least unmistakable symptoms of it," said Dr P P Ashok, head of neurology, Hinduja Hospital.


  4. #574
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Air pollution causes cancer: Scientific study

    What many commuters choking on smog have long suspected has finally been scientifically validated: air pollution causes lung cancer.


    The International Agency for Research on Cancer declared on Thursday that air pollution is a carcinogen, alongside known dangers such as asbestos, tobacco and ultraviolet radiation. The decision came after a consultation by an expert panel organized by IARC, the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, which is based in Lyon, France.

    "We consider this to be the most important environmental carcinogen, more so than passive smoking," said Kurt Straif, head of the IARC department that evaluates cancer-causing substances.

    IARC had previously deemed some of the components in air pollution such as diesel fumes to be carcinogens, but this is the first time it has classified air pollution in its entirety as cancer causing.

    The risk to the individual is low, but Straif said the main sources of pollution are widespread, including transportation, power plants, and industrial and agricultural emissions.

    Air pollution is a complex mixture that includes gases and particulate matter, and IARC said one of its primary risks is the fine particles that can be deposited deep in the lungs of people.

    "These are difficult things for the individual to avoid," he said, observing the worrying dark clouds from nearby factories that he could see from his office window in Lyon. "When I walk on a street where there's heavy pollution from diesel exhaust, I try to go a bit further away," he said. "So that's something you can do."

    The fact that nearly everyone on the planet is exposed to outdoor pollution could prompt governments and other agencies to adopt stricter controls on spewing fumes. Straif noted that WHO and the European Commission are reviewing their recommended limits on air pollution.

    Previously, pollution had been found to boost the chances of heart and respiratory diseases.

    The expert panel's classification was made after scientists analyzed more than 1,000 studies worldwide and concluded there was enough evidence that exposure to outdoor air pollution causes lung cancer.

    In 2010, IARC said there were more than 220,000 lung cancer deaths worldwide connected to air pollution. The agency also noted a link with a slightly higher risk of bladder cancer.

    Straif said there were dramatic differences in air quality between cities around the world and that the most polluted metropolises were in China and India, where people frequently don masks on streets to protect themselves. China recently announced new efforts to curb pollution after experts found the country's thick smog hurts tourism. Beijing only began publicly releasing data about its air quality last year.

    "I assume the masks could result in a reduction to particulate matter, so they could be helpful to reduce personal exposure," Straif said. But he said collective international action by governments was necessary to improve air quality. "People can certainly contribute by doing things like not driving a big diesel car, but this needs much wider policies by national and international authorities.''

    Other experts emphasized the cancer risk from pollution for the average person was very low — but virtually unavoidable.

    "You can choose not to drink or not to smoke, but you can't control whether or not you're exposed to air pollution," said Francesca Dominici, a professor of biostatics at Harvard University's School of Public Health. "You can't just decide not to breathe," she said. Dominici was not connected to the IARC expert panel.

    A person's risk for cancer depends on numerous variables, including genetics, exposure to dangerous substances and lifestyle choices regarding issues such as drinking alcohol, smoking and exercising.

    Dominici said scientists are still trying to figure out which bits of pollution are the most lethal and called for a more targeted approach.

    "The level of ambient pollution in the US is much, much lower than it used to be, but we still find evidence of cancer and birth defects," she said. "The question is: How are we going to clean the air even further?"


  5. #575
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Air pollution causes cancer: Scientific study

    What many commuters choking on smog have long suspected has finally been scientifically validated: air pollution causes lung cancer.


    The International Agency for Research on Cancer declared on Thursday that air pollution is a carcinogen, alongside known dangers such as asbestos, tobacco and ultraviolet radiation. The decision came after a consultation by an expert panel organized by IARC, the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, which is based in Lyon, France.

    "We consider this to be the most important environmental carcinogen, more so than passive smoking," said Kurt Straif, head of the IARC department that evaluates cancer-causing substances.

    IARC had previously deemed some of the components in air pollution such as diesel fumes to be carcinogens, but this is the first time it has classified air pollution in its entirety as cancer causing.

    The risk to the individual is low, but Straif said the main sources of pollution are widespread, including transportation, power plants, and industrial and agricultural emissions.

    Air pollution is a complex mixture that includes gases and particulate matter, and IARC said one of its primary risks is the fine particles that can be deposited deep in the lungs of people.

    "These are difficult things for the individual to avoid," he said, observing the worrying dark clouds from nearby factories that he could see from his office window in Lyon. "When I walk on a street where there's heavy pollution from diesel exhaust, I try to go a bit further away," he said. "So that's something you can do."

    The fact that nearly everyone on the planet is exposed to outdoor pollution could prompt governments and other agencies to adopt stricter controls on spewing fumes. Straif noted that WHO and the European Commission are reviewing their recommended limits on air pollution.

    Previously, pollution had been found to boost the chances of heart and respiratory diseases.

    The expert panel's classification was made after scientists analyzed more than 1,000 studies worldwide and concluded there was enough evidence that exposure to outdoor air pollution causes lung cancer.

    In 2010, IARC said there were more than 220,000 lung cancer deaths worldwide connected to air pollution. The agency also noted a link with a slightly higher risk of bladder cancer.

    Straif said there were dramatic differences in air quality between cities around the world and that the most polluted metropolises were in China and India, where people frequently don masks on streets to protect themselves. China recently announced new efforts to curb pollution after experts found the country's thick smog hurts tourism. Beijing only began publicly releasing data about its air quality last year.

    "I assume the masks could result in a reduction to particulate matter, so they could be helpful to reduce personal exposure," Straif said. But he said collective international action by governments was necessary to improve air quality. "People can certainly contribute by doing things like not driving a big diesel car, but this needs much wider policies by national and international authorities.''

    Other experts emphasized the cancer risk from pollution for the average person was very low but virtually unavoidable.

    "You can choose not to drink or not to smoke, but you can't control whether or not you're exposed to air pollution," said Francesca Dominici, a professor of biostatics at Harvard University's School of Public Health. "You can't just decide not to breathe," she said. Dominici was not connected to the IARC expert panel.

    A person's risk for cancer depends on numerous variables, including genetics, exposure to dangerous substances and lifestyle choices regarding issues such as drinking alcohol, smoking and exercising.

    Dominici said scientists are still trying to figure out which bits of pollution are the most lethal and called for a more targeted approach.

    "The level of ambient pollution in the US is much, much lower than it used to be, but we still find evidence of cancer and birth defects," she said. "The question is: How are we going to clean the air even further?"


  6. #576
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Bacteria-eating virus to replace antibiotics?

    British scientists have identified a virus which "eats" the bacteria that causes the hospital superbug Clostridium difficile (C.diff), in a breakthrough that could have major implications for the fight against antibiotic resistance. The technique represents a viable alternative to antibiotics for the treatment of bacterial infection, using naturally occurring viruses called bacteriophages — "eaters of bacteria", or phages for short.

    Researchers at the University of Leicester have isolated phages that specifically target C.diff, an infection of the gut that killed 1,646 in the UK last year. In lab tests the viruses were 90% effective against the most dangerous strains of the bug. The danger posed by growing resistance to antibiotics is one of the gravest health risks facing the world. Martha Clokie, who led the research, said that phages could have a major role to play in coming decades.

    "The future impact of antibiotics is dwindling at a pace that no one anticipated, with more and more bacteria out-smarting and 'out-evolving' these miracle drugs. This has reenergized the search for new treatments," she said.

    Unlike antibiotics, phages generally only infect one strain of bacteria. This could make them particularly effective as a treatment for C.diff infections, which become dangerous when antibiotic treatments interfere with the balance of "good" bacteria in the gut. They work by infecting bacteria cells, and replicating their DNA inside the cell. This leads to the cell bursting open and dying, with the new phages released from the dead cell and spreading to kill off other bacteria cells.


  7. #577
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Bacteria-eating virus to replace antibiotics?

    British scientists have identified a virus which "eats" the bacteria that causes the hospital superbug Clostridium difficile (C.diff), in a breakthrough that could have major implications for the fight against antibiotic resistance. The technique represents a viable alternative to antibiotics for the treatment of bacterial infection, using naturally occurring viruses called bacteriophages "eaters of bacteria", or phages for short.

    Researchers at the University of Leicester have isolated phages that specifically target C.diff, an infection of the gut that killed 1,646 in the UK last year. In lab tests the viruses were 90% effective against the most dangerous strains of the bug. The danger posed by growing resistance to antibiotics is one of the gravest health risks facing the world. Martha Clokie, who led the research, said that phages could have a major role to play in coming decades.

    "The future impact of antibiotics is dwindling at a pace that no one anticipated, with more and more bacteria out-smarting and 'out-evolving' these miracle drugs. This has reenergized the search for new treatments," she said.

    Unlike antibiotics, phages generally only infect one strain of bacteria. This could make them particularly effective as a treatment for C.diff infections, which become dangerous when antibiotic treatments interfere with the balance of "good" bacteria in the gut. They work by infecting bacteria cells, and replicating their DNA inside the cell. This leads to the cell bursting open and dying, with the new phages released from the dead cell and spreading to kill off other bacteria cells.


  8. #578
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    AIIMS study finds 4% of Delhi kids have high BP

    If your child is overweight, avoids fruits and vegetables, and prefers computer games to the real ones, be concerned. A new AIIMS study on 10,000 Delhi schoolchildren has found that 3-4% of them suffered from hypertension, the most common cause of heart-related deaths. Among these were children as young as five years old.

    The study, conducted on children from low and middle income groups, found incidence of hypertension — which means having high blood pressure — increased with age and body mass index (BMI), which is a determinant of obesity.

    "Almost 70% of kids with childhood hypertension are likely to grow into hypertensive adults if corrective steps such as diet control and physical activity are not undertaken," said Dr Umesh Kapil, lead author of the study, published in the latest issue of Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

    Given people's sedentary lifestyles, Dr Kapil said screening of children for hypertension should be make part of the school health programme.

    The study was undertaken in municipal-run schools and Kendriya Vidyalayas and BP readings were noted as per recommendations of the American Heart Association.

    Hypertension is the most common cause of non-communicable diseases in India — chiefly heart disease, brain stroke and kidney disease.

    "It is estimated that 16% of ischaemic heart disease, 21% of peripheral vascular disease, 24% of acute myocardial infarctions and 29% of strokes are attributable to hypertension, underlining the huge impact effective hypertension prevention and control can have on reducing the rising burden of cardiovascular disease," said Dr Kapil, who heads the human nutrition unit at AIIMS.

    He said cutting down on junk food, which is high in salt, and promoting physical activity can help ward-off hypertension in children.

    "Prevalence of hypertension in schoolchildren belonging to the low income group, as has been shown in this study, is alarming. Awareness about risk factors for childhood obesity and correct nutrition in this income group is largely absent. Since many of these children belong to government schools, government should strengthen nutrition-related knowledge and increase physical activity in these schools," said Dr Anoop Misra from Fortis.

    "High blood pressure doesn't often cause symptoms. It is important to have periodical screening for blood pressure to detect the condition, more importantly in obese children who are double at risk," said Dr Anupam Sibal, group medical director of Apollo hospitals.

    He said doctors are getting cases of children as young as eight years old who are obese and suffer from hypertension. "In rare cases, children may experience headaches and blurred vision due to high blood pressure. They have to be put on medication for BP control and strict lifestyle changes," he added.


  9. #579
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    AIIMS study finds 4% of Delhi kids have high BP

    If your child is overweight, avoids fruits and vegetables, and prefers computer games to the real ones, be concerned. A new AIIMS study on 10,000 Delhi schoolchildren has found that 3-4% of them suffered from hypertension, the most common cause of heart-related deaths. Among these were children as young as five years old.

    The study, conducted on children from low and middle income groups, found incidence of hypertension which means having high blood pressure increased with age and body mass index (BMI), which is a determinant of obesity.

    "Almost 70% of kids with childhood hypertension are likely to grow into hypertensive adults if corrective steps such as diet control and physical activity are not undertaken," said Dr Umesh Kapil, lead author of the study, published in the latest issue of Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

    Given people's sedentary lifestyles, Dr Kapil said screening of children for hypertension should be make part of the school health programme.

    The study was undertaken in municipal-run schools and Kendriya Vidyalayas and BP readings were noted as per recommendations of the American Heart Association.

    Hypertension is the most common cause of non-communicable diseases in India chiefly heart disease, brain stroke and kidney disease.

    "It is estimated that 16% of ischaemic heart disease, 21% of peripheral vascular disease, 24% of acute myocardial infarctions and 29% of strokes are attributable to hypertension, underlining the huge impact effective hypertension prevention and control can have on reducing the rising burden of cardiovascular disease," said Dr Kapil, who heads the human nutrition unit at AIIMS.

    He said cutting down on junk food, which is high in salt, and promoting physical activity can help ward-off hypertension in children.

    "Prevalence of hypertension in schoolchildren belonging to the low income group, as has been shown in this study, is alarming. Awareness about risk factors for childhood obesity and correct nutrition in this income group is largely absent. Since many of these children belong to government schools, government should strengthen nutrition-related knowledge and increase physical activity in these schools," said Dr Anoop Misra from Fortis.

    "High blood pressure doesn't often cause symptoms. It is important to have periodical screening for blood pressure to detect the condition, more importantly in obese children who are double at risk," said Dr Anupam Sibal, group medical director of Apollo hospitals.

    He said doctors are getting cases of children as young as eight years old who are obese and suffer from hypertension. "In rare cases, children may experience headaches and blurred vision due to high blood pressure. They have to be put on medication for BP control and strict lifestyle changes," he added.


  10. #580
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    MRI-compatible pacemaker offers hope for patients with risk of heart failure

    With the burden of non-communicable diseases increasing day by day, cardiologists say one in every 1,000 people above the age of 60 years are in need of a pacemaker in India.

    Young people who have suffered a heart attack are also at a greater risk of developing heart failure within a few years. So the number of people requiring a pacemaker is gradually going up.

    All these years cardiologists faced a big dilemma in advising a patient with heart problems about getting a pacemaker if they had other morbidities that required magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, as the high magnetic field of the MRI machine can interfere with the heart device and cause problems for the patient ranging from generating excess heat to fatality.

    The number of MRI scans performed worldwide has increased dramatically over the past few years and statistics show that more than 30 million scans are done per year. Similarly, more than 650,000 new pacemakers are implanted every year globally. The need for MRI scans increases with age just like that for pacemaker goes up. As a solution to this problem, medical equipment manufacturing companies have been working towards developing a pacemaker which is MRI compatible.

    The first MRI compatible pacemaker was launched two years ago. Recently, a German company has come out with one of the world's smallest pacemakers called Iforia series which is also MRI compatible.

    Electrophysiologist Dr Ulhas Pandurangi of Madras Medical Mission said that an MRI compatible pacemaker could go a long way in better treatment of heart failures and also mortality prevention in heart patients. "MRI is the gold standard for soft tissue imaging and is widely used in treatment of a wide range of conditions such as cancer, musculoskeletal system, and neurological disorders. But the safety of MRI in patients with implanted pacemakers (PPM) has been debated for years. An MRI compatible pacemaker would ensure that we do not have to compromise on patient safety in case they have other disorders," he said.

    The device which promises longevity of more than seven years has a longer battery life and the Iforia series would help the patients monitor their health status from their own homes. It comes with a cardio messenger which picks up messages from the pacemaker and sends it to the physician as a mail through satellite. This helps a heart patient to be in constant touch with his doctor who can assess the situation periodically.

    Dr Manoj, cardiologist at Bharathiraja Hospitals, said with advancement in nanotechnology, several heart devices were shrinking in size and ensuring better comfort for the patients. "Devices like the MRI compatible pacemakers and heartware ventricular assist device (HVAD) were much bigger in terms of size and weight when they were launched a few years ago. But over the years, better research and technology has paved way for smaller devices," he said.


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