Monthly Archives: April 2015

New method spots heart attack in one hour

A new method to spot heart attacks in suspected patients within an hour has been found effective in three out of four cases in a clinical trial involving over 1,000 participants, reports a study.

The new technique to measure cardiac troponin T levels in the blood, a preferred biomarker for the diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (MI), commonly known as heart attack, was previously tested in a small pilot study.

A new strategy called high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T 1-hour algorithm could help physicians treat patients with suspected heart attack faster and help save many lives as early diagnosis is critical for treatment and survival of such patients.

“Introducing the high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T 1-hour algorithm into clinical practice would represent a profound change and it is therefore important to determine if it works in a large patient group,” said Tobias Reichlin from University Hospital Basel in Switzerland.

The team of researchers from Switzerland and Spain enrolled 1,320 patients who visited the emergency department with suspected acute MI and applied the high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T 1-hour algorithm to blood samples.

With the algorithm, the researchers were able to determine that 786 (60 percent) of patients did not have an acute MI (“rule-out”), 216 (16 percent) were “rule-in” and 318 (24 percent) were to be observed because results were not conclusive.

“This rapid strategy incorporating high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T baseline values and absolute changes after the first hour substantially accelerates the management of patients with suspected acute MI by allowing safe rule-out as well as accurate rule-in of acute MI in three out of four patients,” the authors said.

The findings were detailed in CMAJ – Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/new-method-spots-heart-attack-in-one-hour/

Dogs trained to detect prostate cancer with 90% accuracy

Trained dogs can sniff out prostate cancer from urine samples with over 90% accuracy, scientists have found.

The findings from an Italy-based team of researchers raise the possibility of canines’ sense of smell helping doctors identify a number of human cancers and infectious diseases.

In the study published in the Journal of Urology, two female German shepherd dogs sniffed urine samples from 900 men, 360 with prostate cancer and 540 without.

Both animals were right in well over 90% of cases, ‘The Guardian’ reported.

The researchers, from the Humanitas Clinical and Research Centre in Milan and other institutes, admitted further work is needed to determine how valuable the dogs’ skill might be in identifying, in daily practice, the signs of prostate cancer.

Currently, prostate cancer is detected by a blood test known as the PSA test, by physical examination and by biopsy.

The PSA test is not routinely offered because it is not considered reliable enough for screening.

The study results were welcomed by the Buckinghamshire-based charity Medical Detection Dogs which has been training dogs to sniff out diseases. It has carried out similar research which showed dogs can achieve 93 per cent accuracy.

Co-founder Claire Guest of Medical Detection Dogs said the results offer further proof that dogs have the ability to detect human cancer.

“It is particularly exciting that we have such a high success rate in the detection of prostate cancer, for which the existing tests are woefully inadequate,” she said.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/dogs-trained-to-detect-prostate-cancer-with-90-accuracy/

Love to eat out often? It may lead to high blood pressure

 

Love to eat out often — Take care because this may not go down well with your blood pressure, says a new study.

Eating meals away from home has been shown to be associated with higher caloric intake, higher saturated fat intake and higher salt intake.

These eating patterns are thought to cause high blood pressure.

The new study shows that even eating one extra meal out raised the odds of pre-hypertension by six percent.

Globally, high blood pressure, or hypertension, is the leading risk factor for death associated with cardiovascular disease.

“Our research highlights lifestyle factors associated with pre-hypertension and hypertension that are potentially modifiable, and would be applicable to young adults globally, especially those of Asian descent,” said lead researcher professor Tazeen Jafar from Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore.

The team surveyed 501 university-going young adults aged 18 to 40 years in Singapore.

Data on blood pressure, body mass index and lifestyle, including meals eaten away from home and physical activity levels, were collected. Their association with hypertension was then determined.

Using statistical analysis, the team found that pre-hypertension was found in 27.4 percent of the total population, and 38 percent ate more than 12 meals away from home per week.

Those who had pre-hypertension or hypertension were more likely to eat more meals away from home per week, have a higher mean body mass index, have lower mean physical activity levels, and be current smokers.

The gender breakdown showed that pre-hypertension was more prevalent in men (49 percent) than in women (9 percent).

The novel finding in this study is the link that Jafar’s team was able to show between pre-hypertension and hypertension with meals eaten away from home.

The study was published online in the American Journal of Hypertension.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/love-to-eat-out-often-it-may-lead-to-high-blood-pressure/

How to avoid infections during hospital visits

Infectious diseases experts have announced fresh guidance for healthcare facilities looking to establish precautions for visitors of patients with infectious diseases.

The guidance seeks to reduce the potential for healthcare visitors in spreading dangerous bacteria within the healthcare facility and community.

“Visitors have initiated or been involved in healthcare-associated infection outbreaks, but it is unknown to what extent this occurs in the transmission of bacteria in healthcare facilities,” said L. Silvia Munoz-Price, lead author of the guidance.

“The guidance is intended to strike a balance between visitor and patient safety, the potential for pathogen spread in hospitals, the psychosocial implications of isolation and the feasibility of enforcement,” Price pointed out.

The SHEA (Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America) Guidelines Committee developed the recommendations. Some of these recommendations include:

Since not all pathogens present the same risk of transmission to and via visitors, the guidance reflects the protections that should be taken for distinct pathogens.

In areas where they are endemic, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) do not require contact isolation precautions for visitors given their prevalence in the community.

Visitors of patients with gram-negative organisms, such as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) and Klebsiella pnemoniae carbapenemase (KPC), should follow contact precautions to help prevent transference of pathogens to guests.

Visitors to rooms with droplet (i.e., pertussis) or airborne precautions (i.e., tuberculosis) should use surgical masks.

The authors recommend further research on the role of visitors in the transmission of healthcare-associated infections to better define the risk and preventive measures necessary.

The recommendations are published online in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/how-to-avoid-infections-during-hospital-visits/

Middle-age obesity could protect against dementia

In a surprising finding, a large study shows that middle-aged obese people have a significant — nearly 30 percent — lower risk of developing dementia than people of a healthy weight.

The findings based on medical records of nearly two million people contradicts results from some previous research, which suggested that obesity leads to an increased risk of getting diagnosed with the disorder.

“Our results also open up an intriguing new avenue in the search for protective factors for dementia,” said professor Stuart Pocock from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

“If we can understand why people with a high BMI(body mass index)have a reduced risk of dementia, it’s possible that further down the line, researchers might be able to use these insights to develop new treatments for dementia,” Pocock pointed out.

For the study, the researchers analysed the medical records of nearly two million (1,958,191) people with an average (median) age of 55 years at the start of the study period, and an average (median) BMI of 26.5 kg/m2 (kilograms/square metre) — just within the range usually classed as overweight.

During an average (median) of nine years follow-up, nearly fifty thousand (45,507) people were diagnosed with dementia.

People who were underweight in middle age were a third (34 percent) more likely to be diagnosed with dementia than those of a healthy weight, and this increased risk of dementia persisted even 15 years after the underweight was recorded.

As participants’ BMI at middle age increased, the risk of dementia reduced, with very obese people (BMI greater than 40 kg/m2) 29 percent less likely to get dementia than people in the normal weight range, the researchers noted.

“The reasons why a high BMI might be associated with a reduced risk of dementia are not clear, and further work is needed to understand why this might be the case,” the study’s lead author Nawab Qizilbash from OXON Epidemiology, a London/Madrid-based clinical research organisation, noted.

“If increased weight in mid-life is protective against dementia, the reasons for this inverse association are unclear at present. Many different issues related to diet, exercise, frailty, genetic factors, and weight change could play a part,” Qizilbash said.

The research was published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/middle-age-obesity-could-protect-against-dementia/

Even diet soft drinks can expand your waistline

If you drink diet soda thinking it will help you shed unwanted belly fat, nothing could be further from the truth, says a new study.

For the study, researchers gathered data on health status and lifestyles of 749 men and women aged 65 and older, and then tracked the health outcomes in 466 survivors for more than nine years.

The number of sodas they consumed — and whether they were diet or regular — was recorded at the beginning of the study and at each of three follow-up visits.

“Among participants, who reported that they did not consume any diet sodas, waist circumference increased less than one inch on average over the total follow-up period,” said lead author Sharon Fowler from University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Among participants who reported occasional use — drinking less than one diet soda a day — waist circumference increased almost two inches.

And among those who consumed diet sodas every day, or more often than once a day, waist circumference increased over three inches.

These findings raise a red flag for seniors because fat around the waist — the proverbial tire around the middle — has been linked with increased inflammation and risk of metabolic disease, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer and mortality.

When waistlines expand in older age, visceral fat increases disproportionately, and risk rises, the researchers noted.

The study appeared in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/even-diet-soft-drinks-can-expand-your-waistline/

World Health Day: All about four lifestyle diseases that are making you sick

They are deadly but they kill silently. Our sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise and intake of fattening food lead to many lifestyle ailments. What can we do about it? How do we know if we are suffering from diabtes, obesity, depression or hypertension? How can we prevent against these ailments? On World Health Day (April 7), here’s all you wanted to know about the four deadly lifestyle diseases.

1. Hypertension: Hypertension, also known as high or raised blood pressure, is a condition in which the blood vessels have persistently raised pressure. The higher the pressure in blood vessels the harder the heart has to work in order to pump blood. If left uncontrolled, hypertension can lead to a heart attack, an enlargement of the heart and eventually heart failure. The pressure in the blood vessels can also cause blood to leak out into the brain. This can cause a stroke. Hypertension can also lead to kidney failure, blindness, rupture of blood vessels and cognitive impairment. (Read More)

hypertension-main

2. Depression: Depression is a serious condition. It’s also unfortunately, a common one. The World Health Organization characterizes depression as one of the most disabling disorders in the world, affecting roughly one in five women and one in ten men at some point in their lifetime. (Read more)

depression

3. Obesity: Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. Body mass index is a rough guide to measure obesity. It is defined as a person’s weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of his or her height (in metres). A person with a BMI of 30 or more is generally considered obese and a person with a BMI equal to or more than 25 is considered overweight. (Read More)

obesity Big-box retailers like Walmart along with full-service and fast-food restaurants are key contributors to the obesity epidemic in the US.

4. Diabetes: According to WHO, Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to increased blood sugar or hyperglycaemia. Over the time, it can cause serious damage to many of the body’s systems. (Read more)

diabetes

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/world-health-day-all-about-four-lifestyle-diseases-that-are-making-you-sick/

World Health Day: Quit smoking as it won’t make you shed fat

Even as the idea that smoking helps control weight is baseless, women smokers who believe so are less likely to try quitting in response to anti-smoking policies than other female smokers, research has found.

Conventional anti-smoking policies such as bumps in cigarette prices, smoke-free laws or anti-tobacco messaging have hardly any effect on smokers who are concerned about their weight, the findings showed.

“We found that concerns about weight are a significant barrier to quitting,” said lead author Ce Shang from University of Illinois at Chicago.

The study findings suggest that women may need support that addresses concerns about weight gain, Shang pointed out.

“Policymakers should take weight concerns into account to enhance the effectiveness of existing policies that promote quitting smoking,” she said.

The researchers looked at survey data from about 10,000 smokers in the US, Canada, Britain and Australia as part of the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project.

Respondents completed three surveys between 2002 and 2007 that asked questions on whether they agreed with the statement that smoking helps control weight; on their attempts to quit smoking; and on their exposure to tobacco policies such as price, anti-smoking messaging, and smoking bans at work or in public.

For female smokers who did not believe that smoking helps control weight, a 10 percent increase in cigarettes price was associated with a six percent rise in attempts to quit, while women who thought smoking does help control weight did not significantly increase their attempts to quit in response to a price increase.

Additionally, while a 10 percent increase in exposure to anti-smoking messaging was associated with a 12 percent increase in quit attempts among those who did not hold the weight-control belief, no increase in quit attempts was reported by smokers who did believe so.

The study was published online in the journal Tobacco Control.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/world-health-day-quit-smoking-as-it-wont-make-you-shed-fat/

Hypertension: All you needed to know about blood pressure

What is blood pressure?

Blood is carried from the heart to all parts of the body in blood vessels. Each time the heart beats, it pumps blood into the vessels. Blood pressure is created by the force of blood pushing against the walls of blood vessels (arteries) as it is pumped by the heart.

What is hypertension?
Hypertension, also known as high or raised blood pressure, is a condition in which the blood vessels have persistently raised pressure. The higher the pressure in blood vessels the harder the heart has to work in order to pump blood. If left uncontrolled, hypertension can lead to a heart attack, an enlargement of the heart and eventually heart failure. The pressure in the blood vessels can also cause blood to leak out into the brain. This can cause a stroke. Hypertension can also lead to kidney failure, blindness, rupture of blood vessels and cognitive impairment.

How is blood pressure defined
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mm Hg) and is recorded as two numbers usually written one above the other. The upper number is the systolic blood pressure -the highest pressure in blood vessels and happens when the heart contracts, or beats. The lower number is the diastolic blood pressure -the lowest pressure in blood vessels in between heartbeats when the heart muscle relaxes. Normal adult blood pressure is defined as a systolic blood pressure of 120 mm Hg and a diastolic blood pressure of 80 mm Hg.

Causes of blood pressure
Consumption of food containing too much salt and fat, and not eating enough fruit and vegetables, harmful levels of alcohol use, physical inactivity and lack of exercise, poor stress management.

Symptoms of blood pressure
Most hypertensive people have no symptoms at all. Sometimes hypertension causes symptoms such as headache, shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, palpitations of the heart and nose bleeds. Hypertension is a serious warning sign that significant lifestyle changes are required.

Detection and treatment
Early detection of hypertension can minimise the risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke and kidney failure. Digital blood pressure measurement machines enable this to be done outside clinic settings. For some people, lifestyle changes are not sufficient for controlling blood pressure and prescription medication is needed.

(With inputs from World Health Organisation)

(This is the fourth of our series on World Health Day – April 7 about major health concerns that are bogging us down)

Sweet poison: All you wanted to know about Diabetes

Silent Killer: All you need to know about Obesity

Don’t wait, get help: All you need to know about Depression

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/hypertension-all-you-needed-to-know-about-blood-pressure/

This is how dehydration makes your body weak

Sweat, as I have mentioned in my last article, is life saving. Heat produced during strenuous physical work as well as heat transferred from hot environs into our body, increase our core body temperature. This rise is dangerous as it leads to heat-stress and in extreme conditions people die of fatal heat-stroke. Sweat cools down our body by evaporating from our skin, taking the heat away and reducing the risk of heat-stress.

Sweat is a substance produced by about quarter million sweat glands present in our skin. They use our body-water as the main raw material along with minerals like sodium and potassium to produce sweat. In hot (more than forty degree Celsius) and humid (more than eighty percent humidity in the air) conditions sportspersons and people who work outdoors can lose up to a litre of body-water by sweating in just an hour. In another couple of hours, it can be several litres. The loss is humongous and is lethal if water is not replaced quickly enough.

Sixty per cent of our body-weight is water (about forty-four litres in a person weighing seventy kilograms) and sixty-five percent (about twenty eight litres) of this water is in our cells. In other words, our cells are the biggest reservoir of our internal water. To make sweat, the water is drawn out from the cells.

Why we must think about our body-cells? Let’s understand this from the point of view of a body-cell.

This is what a human cell would think:

I am just one of the trillions of cells in your body, and we are the basic structures that form your tissues, organs and organ systems. We are tiny, pretty small indeed, and have a membrane that holds our contents together – we contain water and we float in water (tissue fluid).

Although there are different types of us, most of us have the same components. We consist of a nucleus and cytoplasm (fluid part) that is contained within the cell membrane. The membrane regulates what passes in and out. We hold many secrets in our nucleus that contains chromosomes. (Chromosomes are your genetic material packed with information about your ancestors), and a nucleolus, which produces ribosomes. Ribosomes produce proteins, which are enclosed by a packaging apparatus called the Golgi bodies so that they can cross our membrane and go out to build your body. Some of us produce hormones and enzymes that support your life. The cytoplasm consists of a fluid material and organelles, which could be considered as our organs.

Let me give you a simple example of mitochondria – our important organs that generate energy for our activities that keep you alive. Most important factor for our function is our water and mineral content. Agreed we are the biggest reservoir of water for you. In crisis, when your body loses too much water, to compensate the loss, the water is taken away from continued…

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/this-is-how-dehydration-makes-your-body-weak/