Salt, not high blood pressure, may be to blame for that headache
|This is the season to be, well, gluttonous. But with increasing intakes of fat and sugar also comes increased salt consumption. Now, a new study published in the journal BMJ Open suggests diets high in salt are implicated in pesky headaches, and this link may be independent of the “well-established link” between salt intake and high blood pressure, which is a common cause of headaches.|
The study authors – led by Dr. Lawrence Appel, director of the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, MD – note that headache is a common medical problem around the world and is one of the most frequently reported nervous system disorders.
Worldwide, they note that 46% of adults have a reported active headache disorder, causing many to have a poor quality of life and higher number of days absent from work.
Dr. Appel and his colleagues say that current data support a link between blood pressure and headache; however, evidence on the link between headaches and sodium intake or other dietary factors is sparse, with most research focusing on the role of monosodium glutamate (MSG) consumption.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), most people in the US consume about 3,400 mg of sodium a day, which is more than twice the 1,500 mg suggested by the organization.
In order to further investigate the effects of diet on headache occurrence, the researchers randomized 390 study participants to either the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet – which is rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products with reduced saturated and total fat – or to a control diet that was a typical Western diet.
‘Process independent of blood pressure’ may be to blame for headache
During the study, which consisted of three 30-day periods, each participant ate food with high sodium during one period, intermediate sodium during another and low sodium during another period. Then, at the end of each feeding period, the participants completed questionnaires on occurrence and severity of headache.
Results showed that people who ate foods high in sodium – around 8 g per day – had one third more headaches than those who ate foods low in sodium – around 4 g per day. Additionally, the researchers observed that this difference remained whether the volunteers ate the standard Western diet or the DASH diet.
The researchers say their results depart from the popular belief that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and potassium and low in saturated fat can ease or prevent headaches.
What is more, the team says adults in the US are already consuming sodium “in excess of their physiological need,” and for many individuals, this intake is higher than the highest level tested in their research.
Though the study benefits from its randomized design, there were some limitations, including lack of information on prevalence of headaches in study participants at baseline. Additionally, the data collected on headache occurrence and severity was self-reported, which could be another limitation.
Still, Dr. Appel says their findings suggest that by reducing salt consumption, people might be able to avoid some headaches. He and his colleagues note that “additional studies are needed to replicate these findings and to explore mechanisms that mediate the association between sodium intake and headache.”
Medical News Today recently reported on a study that suggested added sugars may contribute to high blood pressure more than salt.
Source : http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/286997.php
Severe air pollution spikes during yearly pilgrimage to Mecca
|Dangerously high levels of air pollutants are being released in Mecca during the hajj, the annual holy pilgrimage in which millions of Muslims on foot and in vehicles converge on the Saudi Arabian city, according to findings reported at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.”Hajj is like nothing else on the planet. You have 3 to 4 million people – a whole good-sized city – coming into an already existing city,” said Isobel Simpson, a UC Irvine research chemist in the Nobel Prize-winning Rowland-Blake atmospheric chemistry laboratory. “The problem is that this intensifies the pollution that already exists. We measured among the highest concentrations our group has ever measured in urban areas – and we’ve studied 75 cities around the world in the past two decades.”|
Scientists from UCI, King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia, the University of Karachi in Pakistan, the New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center, and the University at Albany in New York captured and analyzed air samples during the 2012 and 2013 hajjes on roadsides; near massive, air-conditioned tents; and in narrow tunnels that funnel people to the Grand Mosque, the world’s largest, in the heart of Mecca.
The worst spot was inside the Al-Masjid Al-Haram tunnel, where pilgrims on foot, hotel workers and security personnel are exposed to fumes from idling vehicles, often for hours. The highest carbon monoxide level – 57,000 parts per billion – was recorded in this tunnel during October 2012. That’s more than 300 times regional background levels.
Heart attacks are a major concern linked to such exposure: The risk of heart failure hospitalization or death rises sharply as the amount of carbon monoxide in the air escalates, the researchers note in a paper published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Headaches, dizziness and nausea have also been associated with inhaling carbon monoxide.
“There’s carbon monoxide that increases the risk of heart failure. There’s benzene that causes narcosis and leukemia,” Simpson said. “But the other way to look at it is that people are not just breathing in benzene or CO, they’re breathing in hundreds of components of smog and soot.”
The scientists detected a stew of unhealthy chemicals, many connected to serious illnesses by the World Health Organization and others.
“Air pollution is the cause of one in eight deaths and has now become the single biggest environmental health risk globally,” said Haider Khwaja of the University at Albany. “There were 4.3 million deaths in 2012 due to indoor air pollution and 3.7 million deaths because of outdoor air pollution, according to WHO. And more than 90 percent of those deaths and lost life years occur in developing countries.”
Khwaja experienced sooty air pollution firsthand as a child in Karachi, Pakistan, and saw his elderly father return from the hajj with a wracking cough that took weeks to clear. He and fellow researchers braved the tunnels and roads to take air samples and install continuous monitors in Mecca.
“Suffocating,” he said of the air quality.
In addition to the high smog-forming measurements, the team in follow-up work found alarming levels of black carbon and fine particulates that sink deep into lungs. Once the hajj was over, concentrations of all contaminants fell but were still comparable to those in other large cities with poor air quality. Just as unhealthy “bad air” days once plagued Greater Los Angeles, research is now showing degraded air in the oil-rich, sunny Arabian Peninsula and elsewhere in the Middle East. Because the number of pilgrims and permanent residents is increasing, the scientists recommend reducing emissions by targeting fossil fuel sources.
Besides vehicle exhaust, other likely culprits include gasoline high in benzene, a lack of vapor locks around gas station fuel nozzles, and older cars with disintegrating brake liners and other parts. Coolants used for air-conditioned tents sleeping up to 40 people also contribute to greenhouse gas buildup. And the dearth of regulations exacerbates these problems.
The researchers said that Saudi officials are aware of the issues and taking steps to address them, such as working to reduce benzene in area gasoline supplies. Directing Mecca pedestrians and vehicles to separate tunnels would be optimal. In addition, clearing the region’s air with time-tested technologies used elsewhere in the world could sharply reduce pollution and save lives.
“This is a major public health problem, and the positive news is that some of the answers are very much within reach, like putting rubber seals on nozzles at gas stations to reduce leaks,” Simpson said. “It’s a simple, doable solution.”
Source : http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/287062.php
|A YEAR IN MEDICINE – Review of 2014|
|Looking back on 2014, perhaps two medical stories stick most in the memory – one because of its popularity in social media, the other because of its newsworthiness. Both stories have involved charitable action against devastating illness, but each has had very different connotations.We refer, of course, to the year of the Ice Bucket Challenge, a summer craze that broke out in support of a medical research charity and went viral across social media. And it has also been the year of Ebola, which produced its largest epidemic in history, creating a public health disaster in West Africa and threatening to cross further international borders.Earlier this week, Google released their Year in Search 2014 results, revealing that both Ebola and the Ice Bucket Challenge were among the top five most searched topics.|
Medical News Today’s Knowledge Center has an information page for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – updated to include coverage of the Ice Bucket Challenge and how the campaign swelled funds for what was a relatively small medical charity helping the search for a curative treatment.
On Ebola, selected developments from MNT’s Ebola news category are summarized below, and we offer aninformation page about this highly infectious hemorrhagic fever, including a month-by-month overview of the 2014 epidemic.
Major medical developments in 2014 share some of the themes that formed our 2013 review, and developments with stem cells again represent the biggest breakthroughs, coincidentally including one that helps the Ice Bucket cause.
We hope you enjoy this summary of the past year, which comes with all our best wishes for the holidays and the new year ahead.
Highlights from 2014 covered by topic in this article include:
Breakthroughs in medicine – stem cells
Breakthroughs in medicine – stem cells
All but one of this year’s major breakthroughs involved stem cells. The exception was a pioneering success against female infertility: World first – baby born after womb transplantation.
A flurry of developments in 2014 involved stem cells.
In stem cell research, this past year has added another flurry of breakthroughs. Developments have been accelerated in recent years after the problem of using embryos to harvest stem cells was partially overcome by the discovery, late in the last decade, that adult cells could be returned to an almost embryo-equivalent state.
Adult cells can now be turned, in scientific terms, into an “undifferentiated, pluripotent stem cell state,” meaning that researchers have been able to use stem cells that possess the potential to grow into a number of different cell types. This has offered the hope in the field of regenerative medicine of creating new tissues or even whole organs.
However, that major development – to produce induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells – has been limited in the breadth of cell types that iPS cells can become.
In January of 2014, though, a researcher claimed that a new finding could mean a full embryonic equivalent may be possible that would not be limited in this way. “It may not be necessary to create an embryo to acquire embryonic stem cells,” the researcher said. Read more on this news that scientists may be able to create embryonic stem cells without embryos.
In other breakthroughs involving stem cells, the origin of Lou Gehrig’s disease may have been discovered. Also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), this disease received wider recognition in the summer of 2014 – thanks to the Ice Bucket Challenge. Earlier in the year, iPS cells had been used to grow a model of ALS nerve cells, leading to potential clues about how the condition originates.
Two further remarkable developments in 2014 were also owing to stem cell research:
That is not the end of this spotlight on stem cells – they also make an appearance in this next section about developments against cognitive decline, as well as in the sections on heart health and paralysis.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
Current dementia tests
When does cognitive decline result in a dementia diagnosis? Scoring six or under against a 10-question quiz is one part of typical testing, with questions such as:
Find out the other questions and criteria that are needed before doctors can make a diagnosis of dementia.
The huge burden of the disease among populations continues to make it a priority, and 2014 produced two developments that could result in improved, earlier detection:
Notable findings were also made in early-stage research to find treatments for Alzheimer’s disease – two relating to brain cell regeneration, and a third focusing on the protein plaques in the brain that mark the condition:
First, the good news – going by the latest findings this year, the sort of diet that could be particularly good for us;
It may come as no surprise that fruits and vegetables are still hailed for their health benefits, but a new study suggested we should eat seven – not five – portions a day.
Now, the bad news – for fans of burgers and barbecues, at least:
As introduced at the beginning of this article, one of the biggest medical news stories of the year has been the Ebola crisis in West Africa, but it has not been all bad news:
As the following three stories show, there have been high fears of the virus becoming a greater threat in the US:
Against the backdrop of US cities banning vaping in public, and the failure of a full scientific understanding of the risks and benefits to keep pace with the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, their controversy has featured widely in the news this year. Read MNT’s overview on the e-cigarette boom.
The topic of e-cigarettes was a controversial one in 2014.
The studies behind the following two news stories question whether e-cigarettes are effective at reducing tobacco smoking, and even whether they are encouraging it:
On the other hand, a survey of thousands of smokers in the UK suggested that the electronic alternatives could be helping to reduce tobacco use: ‘E-cigarettes help smokers quit,’ new study says. But while there may be benefit, the question of regulation has also been important:
Exposure to chemicals
Of course, as well as the chemicals in tobacco smoke or those in nicotine vapor, lots of others are potential toxins, as these five stories reported:
From drugs that were once totally illicit but have been legalized, through illegal party drugs that potentially have beneficial use, to pharmaceutical products that are being misused, here is a selection of headlines:
Cardiovascular risk is still one of the biggest threats to health, so developments against heart disease continue to be pursued. Notable this year was a range of ways to stand in for (or replicate in research) damaged cardiac or vascular tissue using lab-grown, animal-grown or mechanical options:
The beating heart
The tiny heart developed by stem cell scientists produced 30 beats a minute. But what exactly is heart rate, and what is a typical beat per minute in humans?
HIV returned to the US news agenda in 2014, which tracked the Mississippi baby. First reported in 2013, this had been the first case of a “functional cure” for a baby born with HIV – antiretroviral drugs given within 30 hours of birth had succeeded in removing all trace of the virus, taking away the need for further therapy. Until, that is, the child’s story took a twist this year:
In other 2014 developments about HIV, there was promise for an HIV vaccine, as researchers found a way to make “neutralizing” HIV antibodies. And scientists took a new approach that they believed identified the original source of the HIV pandemic.
Innovative medical technologies
Google Glass is the best known example of spectacle-mounted camera tech for consumers, but a similar approach is tackling partial blindness.
An area of growth in technology generally is 3D printing, and it is producing developments in medicine, too:
Other recent technological advances have been crossing from different fields into medicine, including the ‘smart glasses’ for the near-blind, which started trials in public spaces.
Developed specifically for medicine, but no less innovative, was new technology in renal dialysis: Success for world’s first newborn kidney dialysis machine.
In breast cancer, meanwhile, hope for powerful early-detection technology comes in the shape of an imaging development, a thin-film tactile device: ‘Electronic skin’ could revolutionize breast cancer detection.
Stem cells have made the broadest contribution to medical developments in 2014, and scientists in the field have brought cell regeneration findings to the potential benefit of paralyzed patients: Paralyzed man walks again after nose cells repair his spinal cord.
The estimated 6 million people living in the US with paralysis would be interested in these other two news stories from the year:
The following video shows how participants in the first of those two studies enjoyed the remarkable effects of their stimulator devices in regaining limb control:
Personal health tracking and monitoring
Last year’s review saw wearable and smartphone-enabled tech really come of age as a powerful means of tracking health and managing chronic dise
The market continued to develop in 2014, along with concerns about the real value and benefit, including:Health apps: do they do more harm than good?
“Wearable” may become “integrated” if developments continue along the lines of the following two stories, where monitoring technology is brought even closer to the body:
Advances are not confined to personal self-monitoring for adults – applications are also aiming to improve the care of babies and children:
As a final note for this medical news review of 2014, here is a nod to the leading researchers who received the year’s highest honor for scientific contributions to medicine:
Written by Markus MacGill
Copyright: Medical News Today
|Study : Traces of MERS-CoV dound in air of camel barn|
Saudi Arabian researchers say they found pieces of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) in an air sample from a camel barn linked to camel and human infections, raising the possibility of airborne transmission of the virus.
But they acknowledge that the finding doesn’t necessarily mean that airborne transmission occurred. And another expert called the results preliminary, saying the amount of viral material found in the air sample doesn’t seem consistent with the idea that the virus came from the infected camel.
The findings were published today in mBio by a team from King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah.
Several studies have shown that MERS-CoV is fairly common in camels in the Middle East, and the animals are considered a likely source of human infections. But exactly how the virus spreads from camels to humans—through the air, via milk, by direct contact, or some other route—remains unknown.
Tests on Jeddah farm samples
The Saudi team previously reported that a 44-year-old Jeddah man who died of MERS-CoV last November owned camels that were found to be infected. The man had applied a topical medication to the nose of one camel a week before he got sick.
In June the authors reported that MERS-CoV isolates from the patient and from some of his camels were identical, and on the basis of that and related findings, they suggested that he contracted the virus from the camels. In March another research team had reported similar findings on the same patient and his camels.
To find out if air might play a role in transmission, the authors of the new study took air samples in the patient’s camel barn on three consecutive days in November. A sample collected on Nov 7—the same day one of nine camels in the barn tested positive for MERS-CoV—tested positive for a piece of the viral genome bypolymerase chain reaction (PCR).
Further PCR tests found two other portions of the genome in the sample. The authors then sequenced several fragments of the viral material and found that they were 100% identical to the corresponding regions in the isolates collected earlier from the patient and his infected camel, the report says.
However, the authors were unable to culture MERS-CoV from the air sample, which they said may mean that the virus had lost its infectivity.
“These data confirm our previous report and show evidence for the presence of the airborne MERS-CoV genome in the same barn that was owned by the patient and housed the infected camels,” the report says. It adds that the findings suggest that the viral RNA found in the sample came from the camels.
The authors caution, however, that further studies are needed to assess the viability of MERS-CoV in different environmental conditions. They also acknowledge that routes of transmission other than airborne, such as direct contact or contaminated objects, might have caused the human case.
Expert voices caution
A virologist who was not involved in the study, Marion Koopmans, DVM, PhD, voiced a cautious view of the findings. She is head of the Viroscience Department at Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
“While potentially interesting, I find this data rather preliminary as this whole paper leans on the single finding of one positive air sample,” she told CIDRAP New. “I have a hard time combining that with the animal data: The viral loads in the nose of the one positive camel in the herd sampled at the same time were lower than that of the air sample.
“From our own experience, I can say that you lose significant amounts of virus when doing air sample testing, so to me the data does not add up if you want to explain the air results from the animal presence. The owner at the time of sampling already was hospitalized, so he is not the source. So to me, this is rather preliminary.”
Azhar EI, Hashem AM, El-Kafrawy SA, et al. Detection of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus genome in an air sample originating from a camel barn owned by an infected patient.
|The Name Game: Knowing the Difference Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia|
|All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. Think of dementia as a rectangle, and Alzheimer’s as a square. There are many different causes and types of dementia; Alzheimer’s is just the most common. There is a general misconception that these two words, “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s,” are one and the same—but does that matter? Here’s what you should know:|
Home Care Assistance has developed the Cognitive Therapeutics Method™ to address the growing number of seniors dealing with neurocognitive disorders today. The program is appropriate for clients at all levels of cognitive function, and is designed to be stimulating and fun. CTM activities target cognitive domains such as memory, executive functioning, attention, language and visual spatial perception. If you believe that you or a loved one could benefit from Cognitive Therapeutics Method™, contact your local Home Care Assistance today.
The Challenge of Caring for an Elderly Adult
|An increasing life expectancy should be celebrated, but with it come all the challenges of the increased likelihood of multiple health conditions which require special attention and care.There are a number of normal age related changes that occur in all major systems of the body with advanced age. These may be found at different times for different people. It is very important to be able to differentiate between normal and abnormal changes in elderly people and to educate patients and families about these differences.|
Normal changes of aging: Decreased visual acuity, hearing loss and progressive decrease in smell and taste occur in the normal aging process.1. Family members and caregivers can help an older adult with decreased visual acuity through these actions:
• Make sure the objects are in the patient’s visual field, allow the patient more time to focus and adjust in the environment.
• Use night lights to help with dark adaptation problems, use the colors red and yellow to stimulate vision, mark the edges of the stairs and curbs to help with depth perception problems.2. Proper actions to help an older adult with hearing loss:
• Face the person directly while speaking, so the patient can lip – read, speak slowly and clearly into person’s ” good ear “, allow the person more time to answer your questions, evaluate the patient’s ears regularly, touch the person to get his or her attention before speaking.
• DO NOT SHOUT. Shouting increases the tone of the voice and elderly people are unable to hear high tones.3. In order to help an older adult with progressive decrease in smell and taste:
• At mealtime name food items and give the person time to think of the smell/taste of the food.
• Suggest use of stronger spices and flavors to stimulate smell and taste, vary the texture of foods, serve food attractively and separate different types of food, encourage and help to maintain a good oral hygiene.4. With age, the receptors in joints and muscles which tell us where we are lose their ability to function properly, so there is a change in the balance and complaint of dizziness. Understanding these changes will help an older adult with impaired kinesthetic sense:
• Position items within reach, give the person more time to move.5. Cardiovascular changes: With age the valves of the heart become thick and rigid as a result of sclerosis and fibrosis, compounding any cardiac disease already present. Elevated BP is a result of thick and rigid blood vessels, there is a slower response to stress, persistent tachycardia following stress, a decline in maximum oxygen consumption. In order to prevent the complications of this conditions:
• Perform and encourage regular BP evaluation, encourage longer cool-down period after exercise or stress, help to maintain a BP readings chart on daily basis.6. Pulmonary changes: With age appears a weakening of the intercostal respiratory muscles and the elastic recoil of the chest wall diminishes, there is no change in total lung capacity, there is a decrease in the mucus transport system which leads to decreased clearance of mucus and
foreign bodies including bacteria. These actions are oriented to prevent pulmonary infections:
• Wash hands frequently, teach and help to practice deep breathing exercises, ventilate the room properly.
7. Immunologic changes related to older age are: The function of T-cell lymphocytes declines with age due to involution and atrophy of the thymus gland will lead to more frequent infections and increased incidence of many types of cancer.
8. Neurological changes: There is a gradual loss in the number of neurons with age, but without change in neurotransmitter levels, some brain tissue atrophy is normal, decreased muscle tone, motor speed and nerve conduction velocity.
9. Muskuloskeletal changes: Declining muscle mass and endurance with age, decreased bone density, decreased thickness and resilience of the cartilage which leads to increased joint stiffness, joint pain and an increased risk of fractures.
10. Endocrine changes: Decreased secretion of trophyc hormones from the pituitary gland, elevated anti-diuretic hormone, blunted growth hormone release during stress, normal insulin secretion at rest with age-related decrease in secretion in response to a glucose load. The family and caregivers should:
11. Reproductive changes: In women, menopause leads to decrease in sizes of ovaries and hormone production, uterine involution, vaginal atrophy and loss of breast mass. In men, testosterone levels decrease with age, increasing risk for prostate cancer.
12. Renal changes: Increased body fat and decreased lean muscle mass, even when weight remains stable, decreased renal function or creatinine clearance.
13. Skin changes: Thinning of all three layers of skin, greater fragility and decreased ability of the skin to act as a barrier to external factors, drier skin due to decreased number of sebaceous and sweat glands, decreased elasticity, reduced sensory input and impaired immune response of the skin.
14. Hematopoietic changes: Bone marrow cell content is decreased by 33% during adult life, declining marrow activity in response to stress, such as blood loss or infection.
Our aim is to provide a high quality, cultural sensitive and cost-effective Health Services and Home Nursing Care in order to achieve and maintain the well-being and satisfaction of patients and families. Professional Home Nursing will minimize the cost and time of extended hospitalization, the patient will be more comfortable to be cared at his/her own home.
|Cardiovascular / Cardiology News|
|New trial suggests cheaper drugs for common heart attack procedure could improve outcomes and save health budgets millions|
A new study published in The Lancet compares outcomes for two drugs used to prevent blood clot formation during emergency heart attack treatment.
|How doctor is paid can affect diabetes care|
From 2006 to 2008, nearly 75 per cent of Ontarians with diabetes did not receive all of the tests recommended to properly monitor their disease.
|Colorectal Cancer News|
|A new way discovered to control genetic material altered in cancer|
When we talk about genetic material, we are usually referring to the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) that we inherit from our parents.
|Eczema / Psoriasis News|
|Psoriasis symptoms may be improved by stimulating a protein in skin cells|
Psoriasis is a common, long-lasting disease that causes itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales.
|Periodic fasting ‘may protect against diabetes in at-risk groups’|
During fasting, our bodies scavenge energy from fat cells. New research suggests this may be an effective way to lower ‘bad’ cholesterol and prevent prediabetic insulin resistance.
|Alcohol / Addiction / Illegal Drugs News|
|Real time gauging of local illicit drug use helps police fight abuse|
The war on drugs could get a boost with a new method that analyzes sewage to track levels of illicit drug use in local communities in real time. The new study, a first-of-its-kind in the U.S.