By jeremyc | July 15, 2014
Vitamin B has been considered a high-potential drug by some medical community members for reducing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) risk. However, a recent UK study has found no such link between vitamin B and AD prevention.
The study was led by Robert Clarke, MD, of the Clinical Trial Service Unit and Epidemiological Studies Unit at the University of Oxford in the UK. It aimed to analyze the relation between the disease and the ‘homocysteine hypothesis’.
AD patients have been associated high levels of the compound homocysteine in their blood, and the compound has also been linked to a greater risk of AD. Folic acid and vitamin B-12 has been known to reduce levels of homocysteine, suggesting that vitamin B medicines may reduce the risk of AD.
For this study, the researchers performed a meta-analysis on 11 clinical trials involving around 22,000 participants. On analysis, the researchers found that B vitamins did reduce homocysteine levels but had no significant impact on brain function. When compared to a placebo group, they found similar memory, brain function and other parameters.
Clarke said about the results, “Our study draws a line under the debate: B vitamins don’t reduce cognitive decline as we age.” He added, “Taking folic acid and vitamin B-12 is sadly not going to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. About 25 percent of the adult population take multi-vitamins, often with the idea that they are also good for the heart or the brain, but the evidence just isn’t there. Much better is to eat more fruit and vegetables, avoid too much red meat and too many calories, and have a balanced diet.”
By jeremyc | July 13, 2014
In order to increase awareness of hepatitis, World Hepatitis Day will be recognized on 28 July 2014. According to health officials, hundreds of millions of people worldwide suffer from the condition, but many of them are not even aware of it.
World Hepatitis Day is being organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and others. For 2014, the theme is ‘Hepatitis: Think Again’. WHO has taken certain steps recently as part of its awareness-raising efforts to urge people to consider different hepatitis treatment approaches. It issued revised hepatitis C treatment recommendations in April 2014, which is estimated to affect 150 million people worldwide.
The new treatment recommendations include guidelines for governments worldwide to expand hepatitis C patient services and develop better infection screening and patient care programs. Baylor University Medical Center (Dallas) Liver Transplantation Medical Director James Trotter said, “The recommendations are to screen those born between 1945 and 1965 once as well as patients with the recognized risk factors for [hepatitis C virus] acquisition, primarily blood transfusion before 1992, spouse with [hepatitis C], history of IV drug use, elevated liver tests, organ transplant recipient before 1992, and clotting factor concentrate before 1987.”
In June 2014, as part of this ‘Think Again’ campaign, 194 WHO World Health Assembly countries passed a resolution for creating a worldwide response to all hepatitis types. WHO stated, “The resolution calls for enhanced action to improve equitable access to hepatitis prevention, diagnosis, and treatment and asks countries to develop comprehensive national hepatitis strategies.”
By jeremyc | July 10, 2014
Occasional stress is manageable and somewhat motivating, but constant stress can seriously impact health. A recent study has found that high levels of stress and symptoms of depression and hostility in people significantly increase the risk of a stroke. However, high anger levels were not linked to a greater stroke risk.
The study was done by Susan Everson-Rose, PhD, MPH, of the Department of Medicine at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. The researchers associated with this study noted that past studies have linked negative emotions and stress to the risk of heart disease. However, little is known about the impact both have to stroke risk in particular.
Data on 6,749 adults aged 45-84 years was analyzed to assess the link between stroke and negative emotions. None of the patients had heart disease initially. After an average follow-up period of 8.5 years, it was found that 48 TIAs and 147 strokes were reported. On analysis, the researchers found that the participants who responded to chronic stress, depressive symptoms and frequent hostile feelings.
The researchers discovered that the participants were more likely to have a stroke or TIA if they reported depressive symptoms, chronic stress and frequent feelings of hostility. Participants who had more depressive symptoms among other participants had an 86% lower stroke and TIA risk. Also, those who experienced severe chronic stress the most had a 59% greater chance of having stroke and TIA than those people who did not experience much stress.
By jeremyc | July 8, 2014
Heavy drinking has been linked to overall bad health in several studies, and moderate alcohol consumption has been linked to heart benefits in the past. However, a recent study has found that any reduction in alcohol consumption can improve heart health, even for light-moderate drinkers.
The study was led by Juan P. Casas, PhD, professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Data on 262,000 people from 50 studies on drinking and cardiovascular health was reviewed for this study. Out of the total analyzed population, over 10,000 had stroke events and 20,259 had coronary heart disease.
On analysis, the researchers found that those people with the alcohol dehydrogenase 1B genetic variant, which is linked to lower alcohol consumption, had a generally better cardiovascular profile than those lacking the variant. They had a 10% lower risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, and lower body mass index.
The researchers’ analysis suggested that even light-moderate drinkers may be able to boost their heart health by reducing their alcohol consumption. Casas said, “While the damaging effects of heavy alcohol consumption on the heart are well-established, for the last few decades we’ve often heard reports of the potential health benefits of light-to-moderate drinking.” He added, “In our study, we saw a link between a reduced consumption of alcohol and improved cardiovascular health, regardless of whether the individual was a light, moderate or heavy drinker. Assuming the association is causal, it appears that even if you’re a light drinker, reducing your alcohol consumption could be beneficial for your heart.”
By jeremyc | July 4, 2014
Peripheral artery disease or PAD patients find it difficult and painful to walk because the condition reduces blood flow to their limbs. A recent study suggests that PAD patients may be able to walk for a longer time and distance after they eat dark chocolate.
The study was led by Lorenzo Loffredo, MD, of I Clinica Medica in Rome, Italy. The researchers associated with this study also found that over 20% of adults over 70 years of age in the West had PAD. A total of 20 PAD patients were part of this study, and ten of them were given 40 gms of milk chocolate, while the other ten were given 40 gms of dark chocolate. Blood samples were collected after two hours an d the tests were repeated.
On analysis, the researcher found that dark chocolate increase the maximum walking distance of patients by 11 percent and walking time by 15 percent. Also, dark chocolate-eating patients had 57 percent more blood concentration of nitric oxide, which is linked to greater blood flow. There were no changes in walking factors found in the patients who ate milk chocolate. Thus, the researchers concluded that short-term dark chocolate consumption may improve the walking abilities of PAD patients.
The researchers also suggests that the improvement in walking ability may be linked to a substance in cocoa called polyphenols.
By jeremyc | July 2, 2014
Testosterone use has often been linked to increasing the risk of heart attack, but one new study suggests otherwise. This study was led by Jacques Baillargeon, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, Texas.
The study suggests found no link between testosterone therapy, which is used to prevent some health problems, and a higher heart attack risk. In fact, it found that men with a high heart attack risk actually had a lower risk with testosterone therapy.
The large-scale study was done in the face of conflicting research on this issue. Testosterone therapy is often prescribed for men with lower testosterone production levels. For this study, the researchers used a 5 percent Medicare insurance claim data sample and assessed medical data on 6,335 patients that underwent testosterone therapy in 1997-2005.
This data was compared to that on 19,065 Medicare patients who did not undergo testosterone therapy. The UTMB found that testosterone users had a greater chance of dying from another disease, but they found no association between the therapy and a higher heart attack risk.
“Our investigation was motivated by a growing concern, in the US and internationally, that testosterone therapy increases men’s risk for cardiovascular disease, specifically heart attack and stroke,” said Dr. Baillargeon. He added, “This concern has increased in the last few years based on the results of a clinical trial and two observational studies.” HE said, “It is important to note, however, that there is a large body of evidence that is consistent with our finding of no increased risk of heart attack associated with testosterone use.”
By jeremyc | June 30, 2014
A new study has found that metastases removal surgery may add months to the life of patients whose melanoma has spread to certain limited parts of their liver.
The study was led by Mark Faries, MD, of the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, California. Data on 1,078 patients that were treated for metastatic melanoma (a form of skin cancer) that had spread to their liver from 1991 to 2010 was analyzed. Out of this group, 58 patients had their liver partially removed surgically removed or underwent ablation to destroy the tumor without removal.
Four patients underwent surgery to improve their comfort but not to cure the cancer, and 1,016 had medication but not surgery. On analysis, it was found that the mid-range survival time for the patients who underwent surgery was 24.8 months and the equal survival time for non-surgery patients was eight months. The five-year survival rate for surgery patients was 30 percent but it was 6.6 percent for the non-surgery patients.
The authors of this study, however, noted that not every melanoma patient with the cancer in their liver is suitable for surgery. Surgery is recommended in general to patients with localized cancer. Ablation can be recommended depending on the extent to which it has spread and the other chronic illnesses of the patient.
Faries noted, “What we have seen in previous studies is that many patients who are able to undergo resection of their metastatic disease from melanoma can have good long-term outcomes, which is important to remember even in an era of more effective medications.”
By jeremyc | June 28, 2014
A new study has indicated that the clinical diagnosis of early Parkinson’s disease (PD) may have a low accuracy, with around three-quarters of suspected PD patients eventually being diagnosed with other conditions.
The study was led by Charles Adler (Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA), who said, “This inaccuracy was present despite that all cases were examined by a small group of movement disorder specialists as opposed to many neurologists and geriatricians who examined the cases in other studies.”
A total of 89 patients were part of this study, and they all had at least two of three cardinal PD signs- cogwheel rigidity, bradykinesia and resting tremor. Out of this group,34 patients were classified as possible PD patients because they were untreated for too short a team or left untreated. However, only nine of these potential PD patients were ultimately confirmed to have had the disease on autopsy.
The researchers wrote, “This is a critical finding given the number of studies attempting to find biomarkers or disease-modifying treatments in very early PD cases.” They noted that this low proportion of accurately diagnosed patients “has the potential of severely compromising the likelihood of observing an adequate effect size in a trial.”
Another 97 patients were classified as potential PD patients because of their response to dopaminergic medicines. The PPV was 53 percent among those who had a disease duration less than 5 years and 88 percent among those with a longer duration. The team noted, “[T]his finding supports the clinical and pathologic finding that subjects with other forms of parkinsonism may respond to dopaminergic medications early in the disease course.”
By jeremyc | June 27, 2014
A recent study has suggested that a simple, no-frills walking regimen may benefit patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The study found that people diagnosed with mild/moderate Parkinson’s disease improve their mental and physical health to various degrees through regular walking.
The improvements noted in the study included improved mood, fitness, energy level, stamina and physical coordination. The study was led by Ergun Y. Uc, MD, of the University of Iowa and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center of Iowa City. A total of 60 Parkinson’s patients were enrolled from spring 2009 and the study lasted three years. The participants walked three times a week for six months without a cane, walker or another helper. Their physical coordination, reasoning and thinking skills and mental and emotional health were measured.
The walking sessions were 15 minutes for the first six weeks and eventually increased to 45 minutes. Out of the 60 participants, 50 completed the study. On analysis of the results, the researchers found that walking regimens improve the participants’ motor function by 15 percent, attention span and mental stimulation response by 14 percent, and endurance and walking speed by 7 percent. Their level of exhaustion fell 11 percent.
The researchers wrote, “People with mild-[to]-moderate Parkinson’s who do not have dementia and are able to walk independently, without a cane or walker, can safely follow the recommended exercise guidelines for healthy adults, which includes 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic activity, and experience benefits.”
By jeremyc | June 25, 2014
A new study has suggested that the risk of psoriasis (a skin condition) in women suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure is greater if they have had hypertension for over six years.
Psoriasis is a condition that is considered to be linked to the immune system and is characterized by skin becoming chronically flaky, itchy and red. This particular study was led by Shaowei Wu, MD, PhD, of the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. The authors said that high blood pressure in women has been linked to increased psoriasis in previous studies as well.
For this study, the researchers wanted to explore this link further and whether beta-blockers, a certain type of hypertension medication, were associated. Heath information on 77,728 female nurses in the US from the 1996-2008 Nurses’ Health Study was used for this study.
Among the study participants, 29,831 hypertension cases and 843 psoriasis cases were identified. On analysis, it was found that women who had hypertension for six years or greater had 1.27 times greater risk of psoriasis than those women without high blood pressure. The risk was higher irrespective of whether the hypertensive patients were on medication.
The researchers also found a 1.39 times greater risk of psoriasis among hypertensive women who were regularly using beta-blockers for six or more years. They wrote, “These findings provide novel insights into the association among hypertension, antihypertensive medications and psoriasis. However, further work is necessary to confirm our findings and clarify the biological mechanisms that underlie these associations.”