Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Health & Wellness

Depression Increases Death Risk Of People With Heart Failure

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A recent study links depression to a higher likelihood of death in patients diagnosed with heart failure. The study, presented at the Heart Failure 2015 Conference by the Heart Failure Association (HFA) of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), looked into several factors that lead heart failure patients to be readmitted to the hospital.

The research team, headed by Prof. John Cleland of Imperial College London and the University of Hull in the UK, used the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS-D) to assess the level of depression in 154 patients, the data of which were cross-referenced with the Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) to evaluate comorbidity. Results showed that patients with moderate to severe depression were exposed to a higher mortality risk of up to five times those who were not depressed.

The researchers attribute this to the chain of biological events caused by depression. “Depression is often related to loss of motivation, loss of interest in everyday activities, lower quality of life, loss of confidence, sleep disturbances and change in appetite with corresponding weight change. This could explain the association we found between depression and mortality,” according to Cleland in a news item.

The results of the study, however, do not indicate the urgency to prescribe antidepressant medication to patients with heart failure. “More research is needed to find out what clinicians and patients themselves can do to manage depression. Better treatments for heart failure, comorbidities as well as depression itself may be required,” Cleland added.

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Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories

New Research Says Marijuana May Stunt Boys’ Growth

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Researchers in Pakistan have found that marijuana use in pre-pubescent boys may impede their height growth and may bring on an early onset to puberty.

The research team, including Dr. Syed Shakeel Raza Rizvi of the Pir Mehr Ali Shah Agriculture University Rawalpindi in Pakistan, assessed levels of puberty- and growth-related hormones in blood samples collected from 217 boys who used marijuana and compared them to 220 boys who did not use the drug.

Compared with nonusers, boys who used marijuana had higher levels of puberty-related hormones, including testosterone and luteinizing hormone. However, the team also identified reduced levels of growth hormones among boys who used marijuana, compared with nonusers.

From analyzing the height and weight of all the boys, the team found that those who did not use marijuana were an average of 4.6 kg heavier and 4 inches taller by the age of 20 than those who used marijuana.

As part of their research, the team also analyzed levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol 0 – as determined through saliva samples- among 10 adult marijuana users. Compared with nonusers, those who used marijuana had much higher cortisol concentrations.

Based on this finding, Dr. Rizvi and colleagues hypothesize that marijuana use triggers stress responses that suppress growth and trigger early puberty.

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Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards Pregnancy & Fertility

New Research Says Alcohol May Affect Fetuses Even Before Women Know They’re Pregnant

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New research has found that there may be a risk to fetuses by mothers who drink prior to learning they are pregnant.

The research has found that in mice, drinking alcohol within even the first three weeks of pregnancy may create changes in the genes of the embryo that can result in permanent damage.

Although the research only pertains to mice thus far, it could have implications for humans, as well. The researchers suggest that women consider cutting out alcohol from their lives as soon as they make a decision to try and get pregnant or if they remotely suspect they are pregnant.

“Our findings suggest that alcohol can harm fetus in early pregnancy, a time period when women are often not aware of their pregnancy,” Dr. Nina Kaminen-Ahola, a biologist at the University of Helsinki and the study’s lead author, said. “Therefore, it would be good to decrease the alcohol consumption as soon as one plans to have a baby.”

At this point, it’s still too early to say how much alcohol consumption it would take to harm a human fetus during early pregnancy, and more research is needed in order to provide specific guidelines.

In the study, the researchers fed alcohol to female mice who were at a stage of pregnancy that is equivalent to three to four weeks of human pregnancy. They found that the mice pups exhibited symptoms similar to human fetal alcohol syndrome, including hyperactivity, decreased growth rate and structural changes to the face and skull.

The damage occurred because early exposure to alcohol created changes in the embryo’s epigenome — the set of chemical compounds that regulate the genome — which led to alterations in the expression of genes in the brains of the infant mice. These changes were observed in the hippocampus, a brain region associated with learning, memory and emotion that is known to be heavily affected by alcohol. Researchers also found changes in the bone marrow of the infant mice, and in some tissue within the mouse’s snout that plays a role in the sense of smell.

Because early pregnancy is a critical time for cell division and differentiation, the embryo is vulnerable to external influences at this stage, and any changes can become widespread because the cells are rapidly dividing.

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Health & Wellness

Unable To Stick To Your Cardio Workout? Try Playing Music!

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It’s a common sighting in fitness gyms to see people running on the treadmill while listening to music through their earphones. A new study discovered that this music strategy may lead people to stick to their workout routines better.

A study by Dr. David Alter of the University Health Network’s Toronto Rehab shows that people who listen to “personalized music playlists” tend to adhere to their cardiac rehabilitation program by 70 percent more than those who don’t use music. “The music tempo-pace synchronization helps cue the person to take their next step or stride and helps regulate, maintain and reinforce their prescribed exercise pace,” said Alter in a news item.

The study investigated 34 cardiac rehab patients of Toronto Rehab who were monitored for their adherence to their prescribed exercise programs. Two thirds of the test group were provided audio devices equipped with personalized playlists, with half of them receiving rhythmic auditory stimulation (RAS) technology to enhance their synchronization to the tempo of the workout.

Results showed that those with RAS synchronization increased their hours of exercise by up to 70 percent in a week compared to patients who did not listen to music. Dr. Alter said that the rise in exercise hours could yield benefits to the patient’s health. “If this average increase of exercise was sustained for an average 65-year-old male patient, it would correlate with a projected life-expectancy increase of two and a half years,” Alter added.

Details of the study were published in the journal Sports Medicine-Open.

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Health & Wellness

CDC Infographic Shows ‘Distinctive Causes of Death’ in Each U.S. State

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map of distinctive causes of death from CDC WONDER

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been running the Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (WONDER) website to provide public health data of citizens across all U.S. states. With the WONDER system as basis, the agency recently released an insightful infographic that depicts the distinctive causes of deaths in each state.

The infographic, which was released through the CDC journal Preventing Chronic Disease, revealed identifiable causes of death that were significantly distinct in each state from 2001 to 2010. Michigan leads all states with the highest number of fatalities at 37,292 for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Other disease-related deaths significantly defined in other states include about 15,000 in Florida due to HIV, as well as 679 fatalities in Texas as a result of tuberculosis.

distinctive causes of death from CDC WONDER

The researchers, which include Francis Boscoe of the New York State Cancer Registry and Eva Pradhan of the New York State Department of Health, said that while the infographic sheds light on the health situation of various states, results of their findings do not necessarily represent the leading cause of death for each state. “These limitations are characteristic of maps generally and are why these maps are best regarded as snapshots and not comprehensive statistical summaries,” the research team said in a news item.

The health map has become a much-needed spark to focus on other underlying causes of fatalities in the U.S. “Although chronic disease prevention efforts should continue to emphasize the most common conditions, an outlier map such as this one should also be of interest to public health professionals, particularly insofar as it highlights nonstandard cause-of-death certification practices within and between states that can potentially be addressed through education and training,” the researchers added.

[ Image source: CDC ]

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Proof That E-Cigarettes Help People Quit Smoking Still Inconclusive, Study Says

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Electronic cigarette manufacturers claim that their products are effective alternatives to help smokers kick the habit, but a recent study reveals that there is little evidence to back that up.

Researchers from the University of Toronto led by Riyad al-Lehebi, MBBS released findings of their research during the 2015 American Thoracic Society International Conference, in relation to using e-cigarettes to promote smoking cessation. “While e-cigarettes have been shown to significantly improve abstinence at 1 month compared with placebo, no such evidence is available supporting their effectiveness for longer periods,” al-Lehebi said in a news release.

More than 2,000 patients were analyzed for their use of electronic cigarettes, changes in their smoking habits as a result of using e-cigarettes, and harmful effects on their health. Although smoking cessation was successful in the first month of using electronic variants, no significant change was observed in follow-ups after 3 and 6 months. “Although e-cigarettes are widely promoted and used as a smoking cessation tool, we found no data supporting their long-term efficacy and safety,” the study lead author explained.

In light of their findings on the lack of effectiveness of e-cigarettes to help smokers quit, the research team recommends that smokers use other more effective means to help them get rid of the addictive behavior. “Until such data are available, there are a number of other smoking cessation aids available that have a more robust evidence base supporting their efficacy and safety… Individuals seeking help with smoking cessation should consider other more well-established options until more research is performed,” al-Lehebi added.

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Health & Wellness

Obesity in Young Adults Linked To Higher Risk of Stroke, Study Says

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A recent study confirms what many people already know: obesity may lead to stroke.

This was revealed by a team of researchers from the Baltimore Veterans Affairs Hospital after analyzing health data of roughly 2,300 adults in the area of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. Dr. Steven Kittner, lead author of the study, said that this discovery should be a wake up call for people to be aware of the dangers of obesity. “This is yet another reason to dedicate resources to reversing the obesity epidemic among children and young adults,” Kittner said in a news release.

Obese male adults were found with the greatest risk for stroke at 73 percent, compared to women who were 46 percent likely to suffer a stroke. The scope of the study involved adults who suffered their first stroke between the age of 15 and 49.

Although the researchers identified smoking, diabetes, and high blood pressure as aggravating factors to stroke, they emphasized that obesity should be seriously considered. “Prevention of obesity is important since there is convincing evidence that obesity contributes to risk of diabetes and elevated blood pressure,” Kittner added.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that more than a third of adults in the U.S. — amounting to roughly 78 million individuals — are obese.

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Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Angioplasty Patients Experience Less Chest Pain Upon Quitting Smoking

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It’s hardly a novel discovery for healthy individuals, but this recent study confirms the benefits of kicking the habit.

A new study conducted by a team of researchers at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute revealed that quitting smoking after angioplasty leads to a lower likelihood of patients experiencing chest pains. More than 2,700 adults who underwent angioplasty — a non-surgical treatment to address obstructed veins or arteries as a result of atherosclerosis — were asked about their smoking habits during and after the procedure.

Results showed a lower rate of chest pains in patients who stopped smoking after angioplasty compared to those who continued to use cigarettes. “It’s a no-brainer. Stopping smoking seems like a relatively easy way to increase your chances of getting the best outcomes from angioplasty,” study senior author Dr. John Spertus said in a news report.

Roughly 1 million U.S. adults undergo angioplasty, and so findings of the study could benefit thousands of patients from fewer chest pains. “It’s not just important that we do a good job treating the blockage… Cardiologists have to work with patients to help them stop smoking, whether it means nicotine replacement, a smoking cessation program or some other intervention,” Spertus added.

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Health & Wellness

B.B. King Dies In His Sleep At Age 89

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More than a month after being sent to the hospital for diabetes-related dehydration, legendary blues musician B.B. King died in his Las Vegas home on Thursday, May 14.

An AP report said that the King of Blues died in his sleep at 9:40 PM PDT, according to King’s attorney Brent Bryson. His death was confirmed by John Fudenberg, coroner at Clark County. Shirley King, the musician’s daughter, expressed her frustration over not being able to see her father before his peaceful passing.

King’s health has been on a decline over the years, and was diagnosed with diabetes. Aside from his dehydration bout in April, King was also reported to have collapsed during his Chicago concert in October 2014. Despite having an active career well into his prime, he has been taken under medical care in his home.

No confirmation regarding funeral arrangements have been finalized as of this writing.

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Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories

FDA Schedules Meeting About Female Libido Enhancer

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After rejecting it twice, the US Food and Drug Administration has scheduled a meeting for early June to discuss further a female libido enhancer that could effectively do for women what Viagra does for men.

The pill, flibanserin, is backed by Sprout Pharmaceuticals, which has enlisted the help of various women’s groups and other advocates to lobby the FDA to approve the pill, saying that women’s sexual issues often get ignored by the federal government even though men’s sexual issues get much attention.

The FDA said it plans to convene a meeting of its reproductive drugs and drug safety panels on June 4. The agency is not required to follow the advice of these panels, but it often does.

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