Doctor

Jogging OK, but running marathons is bad for heart

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Jogging may be okay, but going for extreme endurance events like marathons could take a toll on your heart, says a new study.
It’s said that putting the heart under heavy strain for long periods causes scarring of the heart muscle, known as fibrosis. This damage is normally reversed within a week of an event, the repairal process serving to make the heart fitter.
However, researchers who followed 40 elite Australian athletes have found evidence of “more permanent damage” in five of them, the ‘European Heart Journal’ reported.
According to them, fibrosis can impair how well the heart performs when a person is exercising intensively. It can also lead to irregular heartbeats, called arrhythmias. And serious arrhythmias can be life-threatening.
Lead researchers Dr Andre La Gerche at the University Hospitals Leuven in Belgium said: “It is likely to affect only a minority of athletes, particularly those in whom more intense training fails to result in improvement.”

Change lifestyle, beat cancer

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Want to stay off cancer? Just a few simple lifestyle changes would do, a research has claimed. In fact, the research, published in the ‘British Journal of Cancer’, found smoking is the biggest lifestyle contributor to one’s risk of developing cancer. Apart from lung cancer, it has also been linked to causing bladder, kidney, pancreatic and cervical cancer.
One in 25 cancers is linked to a person’s job, such as being exposed to chemicals or asbestos, while one in 33 is linked to infections, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes most cases of cervical cancer. However, the study showed that overall, 34% of cancers in 2010 (106,845) in Britain were linked to smoking, diet, drinking alcohol and excess weight.
In men, 6.1% (9,600) of cancer cases were linked to a lack of fruit and vegetables, 4.9% (7,800) to occupation, 4.6% (7,300) to alcohol, 4.1% (6,500) to overweight and obesity and 3.5% (5,500) to excessive sun exposure and sunbeds.
In women, 6.9% (10,800) were linked to overweight and obesity, 3.7% (5,800) to infections such as HPV, 3.6% (5,600) to excessive sun exposure and sunbeds, 3.4% (5,300) to lack of fruit and vegetables and 3.3% (5,100) to alcohol, the ‘Daily Express’ reported.
The full list of 14 risk factors are – tobacco, lack of fruit and vegetables, being overweight or obese, alcohol, excessive sun exposure and sunbeds, occupation, infections, radiation, lack of physical exercise, lack of breast feeding, hormones, red meat, lack of fibre and too much salt.
Drinking alcohol is linked to a range of cancers, including breast cancer, liver cancer and cancer of the oesophagus. Nine per cent of lung cancers were also linked to a lack of fruit consumption, the study showed.
Professor Max Parkin, a Cancer Research UK epidemiologist based at University of London, and study author, said: “Many people believe cancer is down to fate or ‘in the genes’ and that it is the luck of the draw whether they get it. Looking at all the evidence, it’s clear that around 40% of all cancers are caused by things we mostly have the power to change.”

Eat mediterranean diet for a healthy heart

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Eating a Mediterranean-style diet can shield people from heart disease but it can also help heart patients stay healthy, according to research from Greece. A diet including lots of fruits vegetable oils, low-fat dairy products, legumes, whole grains, and fish, has been shown to help shield people from heart disease and may also ward off certain cancers.
But Dr. Christina Chrysohoou of the University of Athens and her colleagues said less information was available on whether the Mediterranean diet might be helpful for people who already have heart disease.
To investigate, Chrysohoou and her team looked at 1,000 patients who had suffered heart attacks or severe chest pain while at rest or with only light exertion. They rated each patient on a scale of 0 to 55 based on how closely their eating matched the Mediterranean ideal.
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found nearly half of the patients experienced a second heart-related event within two years after their original hospital discharge. But patients with the most Mediterranean-style diets were at 31 percent lower risk of suffering another heart attack or experiencing chest pain during the first month after they were discharged from the hospital.
They were only half as likely as those with the least Mediterranean eating habits to have another heart-related event within a year, and nearly 40 percent less likely to experience repeat heart problems within two years.
For every additional point on the 55-point Mediterranean Diet Score, a person’s risk of having another heart-related event over the next two years fell by 12 per cent, the researchers found.
Patients with the most Mediterranean diets were also the least likely to experience reductions in the ability of the heart’s main pumping chamber to work at full capacity, as well as harmful structural changes to the heart known as cardiac remodeling.
When the researchers looked at different components of the Mediterranean diet separately, they found that vegetables and salad and nuts were the only foods that cut risk.
People who ate vegetables and salad or nuts daily or weekly were at 20 percent lower risk of repeat heart problems within two years of their initial hospitalization compared to people who ate these foods monthly or less often.
Based on the findings, Chrysohoou and her team concluded that strategies to reduce mortality and illness due to heart disease should include a “diet that contains the favorable characteristics of the Mediterranean diet.”

AIDS treatment is cheapest in India

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The cost of antiretroviral therapy (ART) used to treat HIV is the cheapest in India, with first-line treatment costing the government Rs 5,000/person/year, and second-line therapy – for people with immunity against the first-line drugs – priced at Rs 29,000/person/year. About 26,000 lakh people get free ART under the national programme in 324 centres across India.
Everyone who needs treatment is being treated free under the government programme, there is no waiting,” said Dr BB Rewari, national programme officer, the National AIDS Control Organisation, India (NACO).
Estimates for people living with HIV were halved in India, from a peak of 5.7 million in 2006 to the current 2.39 million at the end of 2009, the latest year for which data is available.
The UN credits the downward trend to both improved data collection methods and an actual fall in new infections.
“With HIV data staying under 2.5 million for over 5 years in India, complacency should not set in, as it did in North America, where infection has shot up among vulnerable groups, such as injecting drug users and men who have sex with men,” says Dr Charles Gilks, UNAIDS Country Coordinator for India.
Investments in ART programmes benefits economic activity and labour-force productivity, with gains expected to reach up to $34 billion and 18.5 million life years in low- and middle-income countries by 2020, said the UNAIDS Report on Global HIV/AIDS Response 2011, which was released on Wednesday. This more than offsets the costs of free ART programmes.
Following the global financial crisis, international funding for HIV programmes fell in 2010. Current annual funding is estimated to be $16 billion, well below the $22-24 billion needed annually by 2015.

Cancer, diabetes screening for all in five years: Azad

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Every Indian will be screened for cancer, heart disease, and stroke over the next five years, union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told Rajya Sabha.
“India will be the first country in the world to screen the entire population in the next five years,” he said.
Pilot projects have already been launched in 100 districts and in the slums of 30 cities with populations of more than 10 lakh, 20,000 sub – centers will screen 17-198 crore people.
The scheme will be implemented in the remaining period of the 11th five – year plan and in 12th plan, the remaining parts of the country will taken up.
The scheme was stated with diabetes and blood pressure screening in Delhi in November 2010. It later travelled to Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore.
The Centre provides the test kits and equipment while the states provide the logistic.
In India, 64 million people are projected to have heart disease in 2015 – 60% of cases in the world. With over 50 million cases, India is already the world, s diabetes capital.
Under the Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi, the Centre gives funds to states to provide up to Rs. 1.5 lakh financial assistance to all BPL patients suffering from cancer. In 2011-12, 2,202 cancer patients have received financial help of which 241 were recommended by MPs.

Fast walkers for long keep safe distance from death

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Men aged 70 years and above who walk at speeds of at least five km an hour can hope to keep death behind and live longer, according to an Australian study.
Researchers at Concord Hospital in Sydney analysed the walking patterns of 1,705 men aged 70 and over who were participating in the Concord Health and Ageing in Men Project (CHAMP).
The men were recruited from January 2005 to June 2007.
Half the number of participants in the CHAMP study were born in Australia while 20 per cent were born in Italy. The other countries of birth were Britain, Greece and China, according to a Concord statement.
A total of 266 deaths were observed during the follow-up. The results show that their average walking speed was 0.88 meters per second (mps). No men with walking speeds of 1.36 mps (five kmph) or above died.
The authors concluded that the results support their theory “that faster speeds are protective against mortality because fast walkers can maintain a safe distance from the Grim Reaper.”

The bitter truth about diabetes

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Did you know that by the time a person starts showing symptoms of diabetes such as frequent urination, excessive thirst, tiredness, hunger pangs and weight loss, he or she already has had high blood sugar levels for at least two to three years?
Experts say it is not uncommon to have diabetes and yet have no symptoms. When symptoms do appear, they often vary.
“Anyone with a family history of diabetes or having other risk factors such as obesity, sedentary lifestyle and related factors should go in for early diagnosis,” says Mohan Badgandi, Consultant for Diabetes and Endocrinology at Manipal Hospital.
In this background, the theme for this year’s World Diabetes Day observed on November 14 — ‘Act on Diabetes. Now.’ — is apt, he says.
HYPERTENSION TOO
A recent study, Screening India’s Twin Epidemic, says 17 per cent of the 1,979 people surveyed from Karnataka had both diabetes and hypertension.
The study was conducted across six States covering 16,000 people aged over 18.
The 1,979 participants were from among those who visited general physicians in Bangalore, Mangalore and Mysore.
The study by the Sanofi Group was coordinated by Dr. Badgandi along with a team of 100 doctors in Karnataka.
According to it, while 35 per cent of the patients surveyed were diabetic, 32 per cent were hypertensive. “During the survey, 101 new diabetic cases and 188 new hypertensive cases were revealed. Obesity is one of the major attributing factors for diabetes and hypertension,” says Dr. Badgandi.
In another study conducted by the State-run Karnataka Institute of Diabetology (KID) of 4,500 youngsters aged between 10 and 20, 138 were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. “We were shocked to find that 11 of the 138 were 10-year-olds,” says institute Director K.R. Narasimha Shetty.
LIFESTYLE FACTORS
Pointing to factors such as improper diet, obesity, lack of exercise and other lifestyle issues, the doctors say their condition can be improved by lifestyle modifications.
Type 1 diabetes, which is insulin dependent, is the most common form of the condition (90 to 95 per cent) and occurs both in children and adults.
“Regular exercise and a balanced diet are essential to keep diabetes away,” Dr. Shetty says.

How our brain helps us remain focussed

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Scientists have discovered mechanisms that facilitate our brain to focus, by successfully directing only pertinent information to perceptual brain regions, a new study has suggested. The study by researchers at RIKEN Brain Science Institute (BSI) provide valuable insights on how our brains achieve such focus and on how this focus can be disrupted, suggesting new ways of presenting information that augment the brain’s natural focal capabilities. Our brain achieves the ability to focus attention basically due to two distinct processes, referred to as ‘sensitivity enhancement’ and ‘efficient selection’ Sensitivity enhancement corresponds to improvements in how neurons in the cortex represent sensory information like sounds and lights, similar to the volume control or reception control on a television set. Efficient selection is more like a filter, routing important sensory information to higher-order perceptual areas of the brain while suppressing disruptions from irrelevant information. With their research, Justin Gardner and colleagues set out to put these hypotheses to the test and determine which of them plays a dominant role in perception. To do so, they measured brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) while human subjects either focused their attention on a single visual location, or distributed their attention across multiple locations. To evaluate results, they used computational models about how brain signals should change based on how well subjects were able to focus their attention.
What they found was that the computational model that best captured the brain activity in the human subjects was the one in which sensory signals were efficiently selected. The model also made a prediction about what kind of stimuli are particularly disruptive to our ability to focus, suggesting that signals which evoke high neural activity are preferentially passed on to perceptual areas of the brain: stimuli with high contrast that evoke large sensory responses, such as flashing lights or loud noises, can thus disrupt our ability to focus. While shedding light on the origins of perception, the results also hint at new ways of presenting information that capitalize on increasing neural activity to help our brains focus, promising applications in the development of critical information display technologies. The findings also offer insights into the causes of common attention-related disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The study has been published in Neuron.

Heart Cells Made From Stem Cells Speed Up Research On Rare Disease

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That’s because patients are generally reluctant to part with their brain or heart cells, diseased or not, while they’re still using them. Dead cells are easier to procure, but they tend to be less interesting than their living counterparts.
A way around the problem is something called an induced pluripotent stem cell, or iPS. These are ordinary skin cells — something patients are willing to donate — that are transformed into cells that can do two wonderful things: they can grow indefinitely in the lab, and they can be coaxed into becoming any type of cell in the body.

Now scientists at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel have succeeded in using iPS cells to grow a collection of heart cells. What’s particularly special about these cells is that they came from a patient with one of the inherited forms of long QT syndrome. And they can be used to test new treatments for the disease.
Long QT syndrome speeds up heartbeats, and can cause fainting. It gets its name from the abnormal electrical signals the heart gives off — signals that be seen in a patient’s EKG.
For unknown reasons, people with long QT syndrome can go without symptoms for years, and then suddenly drop dead from cardiac arrest. The Food and Drug Administration has warned that some heart medications may exacerbate it.
As researchers report in the journal Nature, the new iPS-derived heart cells developed in the lab show the same electrical irregularities of QT syndrome as the intact heart does, which means they can be good models for new drugs.
The next step will be to see if scientists can find drugs that will correct the irregularities in the cells before trying the drugs out on humans suffering from it. The scientists hope their stem cell technique will also be useful for testing drugs for individual patients with other diseases in the future.

Urban life is a killer

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Living in a city takes a toll on your health by making your obese, infertile, depressed, and more likely to get infections and life- threatening diseases such as heart disease and some cancers, such as the lung breast and prostate. The risks begin in the womb largely because city mums have higher blood levels of chemical pollutants called xenoestrogens, found in countless manmade pollutants like petrol fumes.