Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Post-menopause therapy and stroke risk

Post-menopausal hormone therapy increases stroke risk

WASHINGTON - Post-menopausal women taking hormone therapy are at an increased risk of stroke regardless of the age at which they start the treatment, according to the results of a new study.

Women taking the female sex hormone estrogen have a 39 percent higher risk of stroke than those who have never taken it, said the study published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

It also found a "strong relationship" between the levels of estrogen taken and higher risk, with larger doses increasing the risk.

For women taking a combination of estrogen with progestin, a synthetic form of progesterone, the increased risk was 27 percent, the researchers said.

"This increased risk was observed for women initiating hormone therapy at young ages or near menopause and at older ages or more than 10 years after menopause," wrote Francine Grodstein and colleagues at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

However, the researchers noted that younger women are generally at lower risk of stroke than older women, and said the risk might be further minimized by using lower doses and shorter treatment periods.

The researchers found no clear increased risk in women who took hormone therapy for less than five years at younger ages, which could be due to the smaller number of cases involved.

The study involved 121,700 women aged 30 to 55 who took part in the Nurses' Health Study from 1976 to 2004. There were 360 cases of stroke among the women who had never used hormones and 414 among those currently using them.

The study comes amid an ongoing debate about the risks and benefits of hormone therapy for post-menopausal women, but was the first to look at women who began treatment several years before the menopause, the researchers said. - AFP/sh

From; source article is below:Post-menopausal hormone therapy increases stroke risk

Dark chocolates and pregnancy

I heard that to get this item it actually requires a prescription...

Study shows dark chocolate is good for pregnant women

A box of dark chocolate
WASHINGTON : A daily snack of quality dark chocolate is healthy for pregnant women and protects them from possible high blood pressure problems, a medical study said Monday.

By biting into rich, dark chocolate, there is a 69 percent less chance of contracting preeclampsia, a major pregnancy complication with cardiovascular manifestations such as hypertension that affects up to eight percent of pregnancies, said Dr Elizabeth Triche.

The associate director at the Yale Center for Perinatal, Pediatric & Environmental Epidemiology, at Yale University, co-authored the 1996-2000 study of 2,291 women published in the May issue of Epidemiology.

The study method measured the density of theobromine a chemical in chocolate in the arterial cord blood extracted from the umbilical cord at delivery.

The primary effects of theobromine include diuresis, myocardial stimulation and vasodilatation. Other chemicals in chocolate include magnesium, which lowers hypertension, and flavanoids, which are potent antioxidants, the study said.

"Quantifying self-reported chocolate and cocoa consumption is extremely difficult due to considerable variation in the cocoa content of chocolate products," Triche said.

"The darker (the chocolate) is, the better it is. The more highly processed, the more fat and sweet it is, the less it contains theobromine," she said, adding that theobromine concentrations in chocolate vary from 0.15 percent to 0.46 percent.

"In this prospective cohort of pregnant women, we observed that chocolate consumption, as measured by cord serum levels of the biomarker theobromine, was associated with lower risk of preeclampsia," the study concluded.

"It's like eating a good quality chocolate bar every day," said Triche. - AFP/ar

From; source article is below:Study shows dark chocolate is good for pregnant women

Common symptoms as good as lab trials to detect AIDS

I wouldn't be surprised by this discovery: our body would be simply reacting in the same way as it would for diseases - generally...

Clinical symptoms just as good as lab trials for AIDS patients

A young AIDS sufferer
GENEVA - AIDS sufferers whose treatments are assessed by simple clinical signs are almost on a par with those whose therapies are based on advanced laboratory analysis, the World Health Organisation said Friday.

A new study published in the British medical journal The Lancet reported that monitoring simple physical signs of deteriorating health, such as weight loss or fever, allows doctors to provide therapies almost as effective as those relying on laboratory tests.

"The results of this study should reassure clinicians in Africa and Asia, who are treating literally millions of people without these laboratory tests, that they are not compromising patient safety," said Charles Gilks, a co-author of the study and the coordinator of antiretroviral treatment and HIV care at the WHO.

"In fact, the outcome of their treatment is almost as good as those patients in the USA and Europe where laboratory-guided treatment is the norm," he said.

The five-year survival rate for patients who only had clinical monitoring was 82 percent, against 83 percent for those using laboratory tests.

The WHO recommends that in areas with limited resources, AIDS treatments should be determined by monitoring clinical signs alone. - AFP/fa

From; source article is below:Clinical symptoms just as good as lab trials for AIDS patients

Mobile phones and our hearts

This is now technology to the rescue...

Mobiles to the rescue of heart patients

Clue Heart monitor
A new mobile device originally developed for Mars-bound cosmonauts has now found a more down-to-earth use.

The Clue medical device which has been released in South East Asia, will allow medical specialists to remotely monitor the heart conditions of their patients.

The 8x8cm portable device originally designed and developed in Germany and Austria to monitor the heart rates of cosmonauts on their proposed 2035 mission to Mars, uses sensors to measure the heart and its function.

Being light, weighing just 56 grams, users simply place the device over their heart for two minutes and then click a button to transmit the data collected via the PC or even mobile phones to a remote server to be retrieved by doctors or emergency services.

Decisive Technology president Ernst-Guenter Jung says that the device "allows the doctor to remain in contact with a patient even after they leave the hospital or clinic."

The online information can be used to perform a diagnosis which can be useful for those who need constant follow-up checks or who live in remote areas.

"This allows a patient to check by themselves on their condition and also enables the doctor to observe the stress levels of a patient in their normal life and just not in the clinical environment" says Jung.

Telovital of Austria which developed the product says the technology shows how "mobile telephony and portable sensor technology can be harnessed to potentially save lives".

Yet another reason to always have your mobile by your side. - CNA/sf

From; source article is below:Mobiles to the rescue of heart patients

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Secondhand Smoke and Mental Health

I came across two articles in the web that tells about the effect of secondhand smoke to one's mental health. I am reposting one, and keeping the other as an alternate article. To find out what could be in store, read on...

Secondhand Smoke a Mental Health Hazard?

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) — Long linked to physical ailments such as asthma, heart disease and lung cancer, secondhand smoke may now be tied to an increase in mental woes, new research suggests.

Prolonged exposure to another’s noxious tobacco fumes could up the odds for psychological distress, depression, schizophrenia and delirium, British researchers say.

“In the U.S., an estimated 60 percent of non-smokers have biological evidence of exposure to passive smoke. Thus, in order to improve mental and physical health, people should be made aware of these harmful effects,” said lead researcher, Mark Hamer, from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London.

“Exposure to passive smoke was associated with higher levels of psychological distress and greater risk of future psychiatric illness,” he said.

The report is published in the June 7 online edition of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

For the study, Hamer’s team collected data on over 5,500 non-smokers and nearly 2,600 smokers. None of these people had any history of mental illness at the start of the study, the researchers noted. In addition, the researchers measured levels of cotinine in saliva, which indicates an individual’s level of exposure to tobacco smoke.

Over six years of follow-up, 14.5 percent of the individuals were found to be suffering from psychological distress. People who did not smoke, but who were exposed to high levels of secondhand smoke, were almost 50 percent more likely to suffer from psychological distress than those not exposed, the researchers found.

In addition, during the six-year follow-up period, 41 of the participants were admitted to psychiatric hospitals for problems such as depression, schizophrenia, delirium or other psychiatric problems. Those with high exposure to secondhand smoke were nearly three times as likely to be admitted versus people unexposed to the fumes, the study authors found.

Stanton A. Glantz, a professor of medicine and director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, commented that “this is an important and well-done study that shows that secondhand smoke is even more dangerous than we previous thought.”

Dr. Norman H. Edelman, a scientific consultant for the American Lung Association, agreed that “this is a very well done, potentially important study.”

Edelman said, “It’s not just that people with psychiatric symptoms tend to smoke more or be around those who smoke more, it may be that the exposure to smoke adds to their symptoms.”

However, another expert questions the validity of the findings. While smoke may make one more susceptible to mental problems, people predisposed to mental health woes may find themselves in smoky environments more often.

Dr. Ted Schettler, the science director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, reasoned that, perhaps “nicotine is associated with an increased likelihood of psychological problems.”

But, he added, “On the other hand, you can easily imagine that people who are in stressful life circumstances are also finding themselves in more smoke-filled environments. I don’t know that you can separate it out.”

More information

For more information on secondhand smoke, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Mark Hamer, Ph.D., department of epidemiology and public health, University College London; Stanton A. Glantz, Ph.D., professor, medicine, and director, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco; Norman H. Edelman, M.D., scientific consultant, American Lung Association; Ted Schettler, M.D., science director, Science and Environmental Health Network; June 7, 2010, Archives of General Psychiatry, online

Last Updated: June 07, 2010

From; source article is below:
Secondhand Smoke a Mental Health Hazard?

The other article is here:
Secondhand Smoke and Mental Health