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Muscle in Middle Age Might Help Men’s Hearts Later

MONDAY, Nov. 18, 2019 — Middle-aged men who maintain their muscle mass may lower their risk of heart disease as they get older, a new study suggests.

Beginning in the mid-30s, muscle begins to decline by about 3% each decade. Previous studies found that muscle mass is associated with heart attack/stroke risk, but those studies focused on people with heart disease.

In this new study, the researchers wanted to examine if muscle mass in middle age might be associated with long-term heart health in people without heart disease.

The study included more than 1,000 men and women, aged 45 and older, who were followed for 10 years. During that time, 272 participants developed heart disease, including stroke and minor stroke.

People with the most muscle were 81% less likely to develop heart disease than the least muscular. Those with the most muscle had the lowest rates of risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, the investigators found.

Further analysis showed that muscle mass was significantly linked to lower heart disease risk among men, but not women.

Possible reasons for this gender disparity include age-related hormonal differences and the fact that the men had more muscle to start with, according to the study authors. Their findings were published online Nov. 11 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Because this was an observational study, it can’t establish cause and effect. Even so, the findings “point to the importance of [skeletal muscle mass] preservation in relation to [cardiovascular disease] risk,” the authors wrote in the report.

Regular physical activity, including resistance training, and a diet rich in protein may help preserve lean muscle mass as people get older, the researchers suggested.

Demosthenes Panagiotakos, a professor in the School of Health Science and Education at Harokopio University in Athens, Greece, led the study.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about exercise.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Gene Test Might Someday Gauge Your Cardiac Arrest Risk

MONDAY, Nov. 18, 2019 — Sudden cardiac death is terrifying because it’s exactly that — one minute you’re fine and the next you’re facing death, with no warning and no prior symptoms.

Now, new research shows the secret to who’s at risk for cardiac arrest and who isn’t could lie in people’s genes. And a gene test might someday help predict who’s most endangered, according to a study presented this weekend at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting in Philadelphia.

Researchers said they have identified a group of 14 gene variants that appear to be linked to sudden cardiac death.

People carrying any of these variants had a more than triple the risk of dying from cardiac arrest, said lead researcher Dr. Amit Khera. He’s associate director of the Precision Medicine Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Genomic Medicine.

“This really lays the groundwork to say these are important mutations, and what’s exciting is if we can identify them, we have treatments for the conditions to which they are tied,” Khera explained. “My goal now is to use genetic variation as a tool to empower people to overcome whatever risk they might have been born with.”

Sudden cardiac arrest is responsible for 325,000 adult deaths in the United States each year — about half of all heart disease deaths, the Cleveland Clinic says. It strikes most often in adults in their mid-30s to mid-40s, and affects men twice as often as women.

There are four major reasons a person might fall prey to sudden cardiac death, Khera said: a weakened heart muscle, a heart attack, an abnormal heart rhythm, or a dilation or tear in the aorta (the main artery leading out from the heart).

“We know each of these diseases tends to run in families and there are genetic variants that cause each of these conditions,” Khera said.

To find out more, his team pulled together data on 600 people who’d been felled by sudden cardiac death and matched them against 600 “controls” who hadn’t.

They then performed genetic sequencing on the entire pool of 1,200 people to look for genes previously linked to heart or blood vessel disease, with no knowledge of which were victims of sudden cardiac death.

The researchers found 15 people who carried at least one of 14 different genetic mutations tied to heart health. After that, they took a step back to see which of the people had died of sudden cardiac death and which were controls.

“All 15 of these people had actually dropped dead [of cardiac arrest],” Khera said. “Zero of them were in the controls.”

As a next step, the researchers tracked a group of more than 4,500 healthy people for a median 14 years, to see whether those who carried one of these genetic variants would fall from sudden cardiac death.

The team identified 41 people — about 1% — as carrying one of these disease-causing genetic variants.

“We were able to show that from 2002 to 2017, they were at more than triple the risk for dying from sudden cardiac arrest,” Khera said.

Khera’s hope is that one day doctors will use these genes to screen for folks with hidden heart risk, and then treat them to lower the risk using therapies and drugs.

He’s already started this work, digging through Massachusetts General Hospital’s biobank of 100,000 patients to look for people carrying one of the 14 variants.

“We’ve already started calling them back, saying you have these variants, do you want to learn about it?” Khera said.

Still, Khera thinks it’s 5 to 10 years from the point where people could receive such genetic screening in their doctors office.

Dr. Kim Eagle, a cardiologist with the University of Michigan Medicine, said such a test could be even further off.

“I think you have to view this as preliminary,” he said of the new study. “Clearly, we’re still grappling with the challenge of taking the human genome and what we know about it and applying it to day-to-day practice in a cost-effective method.”

There’s still so much unknown about genetic variants that they are easy to find but hard to judge, Eagle said.

“If you talk about screening the general population for rare but potentially important genetic defects, you’re going to find a lot of people that have a variant but you don’t know how important it is,” he said.

A test could result in a lot of false-positive results that scare patients to no good purpose, Eagle believes.

He shared the story of a male patient who’d frequently asked him for a genetic screen to find his potential risk factors. When Eagle demurred, the patient took the initiative to get a genetic screening from one of the new companies that have sprung up to provide this service.

He came back to Eagle very upset, pointing out that they found a couple of genes with important variants that could really affect his health.

“I said, ‘You know what’s really interesting? Both of these genes identify diseases that only happen in women,'” Eagle said. “Here’s an example of the result of a false-positive — a guy who doesn’t understand, who’s scared to death that he’s got a rare genetic disorder, and it only happens in women.”

The study was also published Nov. 16 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

For more information:

The Cleveland Clinic has more about sudden cardiac death.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

High-Tech Pacifier Might Monitor Baby’s Blood Sugar

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Nov. 1, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Parents of babies with type 1 diabetes have to prick their child’s skin multiple times a day to check their blood sugar. But researchers may have developed a much easier way to check — a sugar-sensing pacifier.

While baby sucks on the pacifier, it collects saliva, tests the sugar (glucose) levels and wirelessly sends results to a receiver that a parent/caregiver can see.

In a proof-of-concept study, researchers had adults with type 1 diabetes use the pacifier before and after a meal. Initial tests showed that the device can, in fact, measure changes in saliva sugar levels that corresponded to changes in blood sugar levels.

“We modified the pacifier as little as possible so that the baby could not tell the difference from a common one and reject it,” said study co-author Juliane Sempionatto, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, San Diego.

The researchers also designed the pacifier with as few small parts as possible, and positioned the sugar-sensing technology on the outside to keep it as far away from the baby’s mouth as possible. As the baby sucks on the pacifier, saliva is pumped into a collecting channel.

The technology is similar to standard blood sugar meters.

“The device gave us good correlation with the blood glucose when tested in adults. We were able to tell when their blood glucose was high with great accuracy,” Sempionatto said.

Current blood sugar levels are one of the factors that helps decide how much insulin a diabetic needs.

Insulin is a hormone that helps usher the sugar from foods into the body’s cells to be used as fuel. Without enough insulin, the sugar stays in the blood, where it can cause short- and long-term damage. Getting the right amount of insulin is crucial — too much or too little can cause problems.

Despite encouraging trial results, challenges remain in bringing the patented pacifier device to market.

One is concern about the small parts that make up the device. Sempionatto said these all have to be contained into a single piece to ensure that the device isn’t a choking hazard.

Continued

Another concern is that babies may have food residue in their mouths. That’s one of the main reasons why the device was tested in adults.

“We could ask the adult volunteers to brush their teeth and then collect some amount of saliva in the sensor. With babies, it’s completely different,” Sempionatto said, adding that babies often spit up, and milk residue in their mouths could interfere with the way the device works.

In spite of those challenges, however, researchers are hopeful about this type of device. Besides helping check sugar levels in babies with diabetes, the device might also be helpful in detecting low sugar levels in children with other conditions. Sempionatto said the technology might also be used one day for detecting infections.

Sanjoy Dutta, vice president of research at JDRF (formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), said the new research was “very innovative.”

Dutta said, “We’re keen on alternative technologies, and on people having choices for managing their diabetes,” adding that JDRF had funded a number of alternative blood sugar testing technologies. He said he’s seen testing through tears, breath, saliva and even a tattoo, but so far nothing has proved as accurate as blood sugar monitoring.

And, Dutta said, continuous glucose monitoring — tiny sensors inserted underneath the skin that provide blood sugar readings every few minutes — “has set the bar higher.”

Sempionatto acknowledged that continuous glucose monitors are “desirable” for people with type 1 diabetes. But the idea of the pacifier is to have a “truly non-invasive option” for measuring babies’ sugar, she said.

“Even the smallest sensor, needle or device is too big for a newborn, and anything can hurt them,” Sempionatto said. “The pacifier has the advantage that it does not need to be placed on the baby’s body.”

The findings were recently published in Analytical Chemistry, a journal of the American Chemistry Society.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Juliane Sempionatto, Ph.D. candidate, department of nanoengineering, University of California, San Diego; Sanjoy Dutta, Ph.D., vice president of research, JDRF, New York City; Oct. 23, 2019,Analytical Chemistry

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Too Much Salt Might Make You Gain Weight

MONDAY, Oct. 28, 2019 — Too much salt has long been linked to high blood pressure. In fact, one way to help control blood pressure is to reduce your salt intake. Research done at Vanderbilt University and published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation shows that salt may also be involved in weight gain.

Traditional thinking has been that salty foods make people drink more water, but the scientists found that it actually reduces thirst and makes people more prone to overeating, weight gain and even metabolic syndrome, which can lead to diabetes and other serious conditions.

Packaged Foods With High Salt Content

  • Smoked and cured meats, like frankfurters
  • Frozen dinners
  • Canned meals
  • Salted nuts and seeds
  • Processed cheeses
  • Crackers and croutons

Since most Americans eat 50% more salt than recommended on a daily basis, it’s more important than ever to find ways to cut back. The National Kidney Foundation suggests limiting prepared foods with a high salt content.

In addition to packaged and deli meats, some canned and frozen foods, from beans to vegetables, can have very high salt levels, so always read labels. Foods you may not associate with being salty could still have sodium in the ingredients. Look for no-salt-added brands. When that’s not possible, rinse the food under cold running water to remove as much salt as possible.

When cooking and seasoning foods, replace salt — including garlic salt and onion salt — with herbs and spices. Pure granulated garlic and freeze-dried onions should be acceptable alternatives.

At restaurants, ask the chef to limit the salt in your food and reach for the pepper, not the salt shaker, if a dish needs more seasoning.

Give yourself up to eight weeks to undo a salt habit. Once you lose your taste for it, you’ll also find it a lot easier to taste when foods have too much salt in them.

More information

The National Kidney Foundation has more ways to reduce salt in your diet.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Most Popular BP Drugs Might Not Be the Best

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 25, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Millions of Americans take an ACE inhibitor to help curb their high blood pressure — in fact, these drugs are the most widely used antihypertensives in America.

However, a new international study of nearly 5 million patients is casting doubt on the notion that the drugs are as effective as another class of blood pressure medicines.

Common ACE inhibitors include drugs such as benazepril, captopril, enalapril, fosinopril and lisinopril, among others.

The new study should “help guide physicians in their clinical decision-making,” said study author Dr. George Hripcsak. He’s chair of biomedical informatics at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, in New York City.

American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association guidelines recommend starting blood pressure treatment with any drug from five different classes of medications. Those classes include: thiazide diuretics; ACE inhibitors; angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs); dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers and non-dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers.

To find out how often these medicines are prescribed, Hripcsak’s team tracked data on nearly 5 million patients across four countries — Germany, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

All of the patients began treatment for high blood pressure by using a single drug.

In nearly half (48% ) of cases, ACE inhibitors were the first drug prescribed, compared with 17% of patients who were first prescribed thiazide diuretics, the team found.

But the study suggests that ACE inhibitors might not always be the best choice.

Patients who were prescribed thiazide diuretics ended up having 15% fewer heart attacks, strokes and hospitalizations for heart failure, as well as lower rates of 19 side effects, compared to those who had been prescribed ACE inhibitors.

Crunching the numbers, the Columbia team calculated that about 3,100 major cardiovascular events among the patients who first took ACE inhibitors could have been prevented if they’d first been treated with a thiazide diuretic.

They reported their findings Oct. 24 in The Lancet journal.

The researchers also found that another class of blood pressure meds, non-dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers, were less effective than all of the other first-line classes of blood pressure drugs.

Continued

Right now, there’s a real lack of research aimed at helping doctors choose which drug class a patient should start on, Hripcsak believes.

He noted that the current literature has data from randomized, controlled clinical trials that included a total of just 31,000 patients, and none of those patients were just beginning treatment for high blood pressure.

“Randomized clinical trials demonstrate a drug’s effectiveness and safety in a highly defined patient population,” Hripcsak explained in a university news release. “But they’re not good at making comparisons among multiple drug classes in a diverse group of patients that you would encounter in the real world.”

With the new study, Hripcsak believes that “we have found a way to fill in the gaps left by randomized, controlled trials.

Two cardiologists who weren’t involved in the new study took different stances on the results — suggesting that debate on this topic is far from over.

Dr. Satjit Bhusri said the study “is statistically very powerful and can have profound changes in medical practice.” But he added that decisions around which anti-hypertensive drug to choose should still be made on a case-by-case basis.

“I would suggest that the choice of first-line blood pressure therapy be specific to the patient, especially in those with heart disease or at an elevated risk of heart disease.,” Bhusri advised. But, for patients “treated for high blood pressure without an elevated cardiac risk, thiazide medication should be the first-line [choice],” he said.

However, cardiologist Dr. Benjamin Hirsh took issue with the Columbia study’s methodology.

The researchers’ conclusion that “use of thiazide diuretics over ACE inhibitors causes ‘15% fewer cardiovascular effects’ is a conclusion that is highly subject to bias,” he noted.

“ACE Inhibitors are used to treat patients with higher cardiovascular risk, such as those with advanced heart failure and kidney disease,” Hirsh explained.”So, these patients are at higher risk for heart disease in general.”

According to Hirsh, it stands to reason that patients on ACE inhibitors would have worse outcomes than those on thiazide diuretics, because they were sicker to begin with.

And he noted that “thiazide diuretics also must be used carefully with other drugs.” Those include newer diabetes medications such as Jardiance, because the concurrent use of a thiazide diuretic might trigger too-low blood pressure, Hirsh explained.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Satjit Bhusri, M.D., cardiologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Benjamin Hirsh, M.D., director, preventive cardiology, Northwell Health Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital, Manhasset; NY; Columbia University, news release, Oct. 24, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Standard Memory Tests for Seniors Might Differ by Gender

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 9, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Are some tests designed to measure memory declines missing signs of trouble in women?

New research suggests that might be the case.

More women than men were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) when sex-specific scores were used on memory tests, researchers report.

They explained that women generally score higher on verbal memory tests than men, even when they have the same levels of brain changes. Therefore, memory scores based on gender, rather than averages for both men and women, may be more revealing for women with possible brain issues.

People with MCI have problems with memory and thinking skills, and the condition is a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

“If women are inaccurately identified as having no problems with memory and thinking skills when they actually have mild cognitive impairment, then treatments are not being started and they and their families are not planning ahead for their care or their financial or legal situations,” said study author Erin Sundermann, from the University of California, San Diego.

“And for men who are inaccurately diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, they can be exposed to unneeded medications, along with undue stress for them and their families,” Sundermann explained.

In this study, researchers analyzed memory test scores from hundreds of U.S. women and men and found that 10% more women were diagnosed with MCI and 10% fewer men were diagnosed with the condition when sex-specific scores were used.

The researchers also found that early Alzheimer’s disease-related brain changes such as amyloid plaque deposits were more advanced among women whose diagnosis changed from normal to MCI when the sex-specific scores were used.

In men whose diagnosis changed from MCI to normal when the sex-specific scores were used, their brain changes closely resembled healthy older adults.

These findings suggest that the use of sex-specific scores on memory tests for MCI and Alzheimer’s disease improves the accuracy of diagnoses, according to the study published online Oct. 9 in the journal Neurology.

“If these results are confirmed, they have vital implications,” Sundermann said in a journal news release.

The findings may also benefit research into treatments.

“When the typical average cutoff scores are used for diagnosis, women might respond less to treatments in a clinical trial than men because they are at a more advanced stage of the disease, while men might not respond because some of them do not actually have MCI,” Sundermann said.

“These combined factors would result in research that reduces the estimate of how well treatments work for both men and women,” she explained.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCE:Neurology, news release, Oct. 9, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Gum Disease Might Raise Your Blood Pressure

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 27, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Here’s a compelling reason to keep those dreaded appointments with your dentist: New research suggests that red, tender or bleeding gums could trigger high blood pressure.

In a review of 81 studies that included more than 250,000 people, U.K. scientists found that those who had moderate to severe gum disease (periodontitis) had a 22% increased risk for high blood pressure, and those with severe gum disease had a 49% higher risk.

Oral health is closely linked to general health,” explained researcher Dr. Francesco D’Aiuto, head of the periodontology unit at University College London’s Eastman Dental Institute.

“Looking after your teeth and gums is often neglected, but [it] should be as important as managing other general health risks,” he added.

Among people with periodontitis, systolic pressure (top number) was 4.5 mm Hg higher and diastolic pressure (bottom number) was 2 mm Hg higher, on average, than people without gum disease, the researchers found.

In five of the studies analyzed, researchers found that blood pressure dropped when periodontitis was treated. Blood pressure also dropped in patients treated for gum disease who didn’t have hypertension, they added.

But whether treating periodontitis really is the cause of a drop in blood pressure isn’t certain, D’Aiuto said, since the study did not prove a cause-and-effect link.

“Bad brushing and bacteria accumulation around teeth causes gum bleeding and disease, but also could raise body inflammation and cause blood vessel damage,” D’Aiuto said.

When the gums are infected, the disease can spread to other parts of the body causing systemic inflammation, which can harm blood, the researchers noted.

Some people may have a genetic susceptibility that might also play a part, along with other risk factors such as smoking and obesity, they added.

“Every dentist should inform their patients of the potential link and the risk of developing high blood pressure,” D’Aiuto said.

In addition to giving advice on good dental hygiene and treatment, dentists should advise patients to keep tabs on their blood pressure with their primary care doctor, he said.

Continued

“Future research should look at the effects of treating gum disease on blood pressure,” D’Aiuto said. “If the association is proven true, then patients could benefit from managing gum disease beyond the mouth.”

A growing body of evidence shows an association between periodontitis and hypertension, along with hardening of the arteries, said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

More than 50 studies have shown that periodontitis is associated with increased risk for heart disease and an association between tooth loss and stroke, cardiovascular death and death from any cause, he said.

“However, it remains unclear whether gum disease is a marker or mediator,” Fonarow said.

“If causal, these associations would be of great importance because of the potential that preventing or treating periodontal disease could reduce blood pressure levels, as well as reduce the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events,” he said.

More studies are needed to see if improving oral health can influence heart and vascular health, Fonarow added.

The report was published Sept. 24 in the journal Cardiovascular Research.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Francesco D’Aiuto, D.M.D., Ph.D., professor, head, periodontology unit, Eastman Dental Institute, University College London, England; Gregg Fonarow, M.D., professor, cardiology, University of California, Los Angeles; Sept. 24, 2019,Cardiovascular Research

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Evidence Shows Optimism Might Lengthen Your Life

By Alan Mozes        
       HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 27, 2019 (HealthDay News) — A sunny outlook on life may do more than make you smile: New research suggests it could also guard against heart attacks, strokes and early death.

In the review of 15 studies that collectively involved almost 230,000 men and women, the findings were remarkably consistent, the study authors added.

“We found that optimists had a 35% lower risk for the most serious complications due to heart disease, compared to pessimists,” said lead author Dr. Alan Rozanski, a professor of cardiology at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City.

That mind-body connection held up across all age groups, said investigators, ranging from teenagers to those in their 90s. That “suggests that optimism may be an asset, regardless of age,” Rozanski noted.

The studies also found the more positive one’s outlook, the less one’s risk for heart trouble or death.

Ten of the studies specifically looked at positivity’s impact on heart health, while nine looked at how a person’s outlook affected their risk of dying from a wide range of illnesses.

Many of the investigations asked basic questions touching on expectations of the future. In response, some participants indicated that they generally felt upbeat despite the uncertainty of what’s to come. Others said they never assume that things will pan out well down the road.

Over time, those who held more positive viewpoints were more likely to remain heart-healthy.

Yet, despite suggesting that “the magnitude of this association is substantial,” Rozanski and his colleagues stressed that the review can’t prove that optimism directly protects against heart disease and premature death.

Still, the team pointed to a whole host of potential reasons why positivity — directly or indirectly — may help stave off illness.

Some of the studies in the review indicated that optimistic people are more adept at problem-solving, better at developing coping mechanisms, and more apt to realize goals. And those are the kind of skills that could drive someone to take a more active interest in monitoring and maintaining their health, the researchers said.

Continued

“Consistent study has shown that optimists have better health habits,” Rozanski noted. “They are more likely to have good diets and exercise,” and they may be less likely to smoke.

“Increasing data also suggests that optimism may have direct biological benefits, whereas pessimism may be health-damaging,” he added. “This biological connection has already been shown for some other psychological risk factors, such as depression.”

Positivity may also work its magic by lowering inflammation and improving metabolism, the authors suggested.

This is not the first study to find such a link. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in August found an upbeat view of life boosted the odds of living to a ripe old age.

Looking ahead, Rozanski’s team pointed to the potential for developing new mind-body treatments, likely in the realm of behavioral therapy, designed to cut down on pessimism and boost optimism.

“However, further research will need to assess whether optimism that is enhanced or induced through directed prevention or intervention strategies has similar health benefits versus optimism that is naturally occurring,” the report cautioned.

The findings were published Sept. 27 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Dr. Jeff Huffman, director of cardiac psychiatry research at Massachusetts General Hospital, cowrote an editorial that accompanied the study.

The review provides “yet more evidence that optimism seems to be an independent predictor of superior cardiac health,” he said.

As to why that is, Huffman agreed that optimism is “associated with more physical activity, healthier diet, and a range of other healthy lifestyle behaviors, and it is likely this association that explains a lot of the benefit.”

But optimism also impacts biological processes, he added. And ultimately, “the mechanism by which optimism leads to better health is likely a combination of biology and behavior.”

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Alan Rozanski, M.D., professor, cardiology, department of cardiology, Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital, New York City; Jeff Huffman, M.D., director, cardiac psychiatry research, Massachusetts General Hospital, and associate professor, psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Sept. 27, 2019,JAMA Network Open

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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A Drink a Day Might Be Good for Diabetics’ Health, Study Suggests

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 17, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Chinese researchers may deserve a toast for their new findings that suggest light to moderate drinking may be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes.

The review found that people who had a bit of alcohol daily had lower levels of a type of blood fat called triglycerides. But alcohol didn’t seem to lower blood sugar levels in people who already had type 2 diabetes, the review found.

The research did show lower levels of insulin and improved insulin resistance in people who drank light to moderate amounts of alcohol, study lead author Yuling Chen said. Chen is a medical student at Southeast University in Nanjing, China.

That finding suggests that “light to moderate alcohol consumption might protect against type 2 diabetes,” Chen said.

But Chen cautioned that you can have too much of a good thing: “High alcohol consumption is reported to be a risk factor for diabetes.”

The authors said light to moderate drinking is about 20 grams of alcohol daily. That’s about 1.5 cans of beer, a large glass of wine (almost 7 ounces), or a generous shot (1.7 ounces) of distilled spirits.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that people who drink alcohol do so in moderation — no more than one drink per day for adult women and no more than two drinks per day for adult men.

Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, said those are the levels he recommends to his patients with type 2 diabetes.

“A little alcohol can be good for you, and that’s no different in patients with type 2 diabetes,” he said.

One caveat, Zonszein said, is that people with type 1 diabetes and anyone with type 2 who is taking insulin or other medications that can cause low blood sugar levels must be more cautious with alcohol. It can sometimes lead to dangerously low levels of blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

But not all type 2 diabetes medications are a concern with alcohol. For example, he said, it’s OK to have a drink if you’re taking a commonly used type 2 diabetes drug called metformin.

Continued

Zonszein shared Chen’s concern about too much alcohol.

“Excessive drinking is a problem,” he said, noting that too much alcohol can raise triglycerides and lead to serious health concerns, such as pancreatitis.

For the new research, Chen and colleagues reviewed 10 previous randomized controlled trials on people with type 2 diabetes. Those studies had a total of 575 volunteers.

A number of factors related to diabetes and health were measured, including blood sugar control, insulin levels, insulin resistance, cholesterol and triglycerides.

Across the studies, researchers found a drop of nearly 9 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) in average triglyceride levels. A normal triglyceride level is less than 150 mg/dL, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. A high level of triglycerides is associated with a higher risk of heart disease.

Researchers also saw decreases in insulin levels and in a measure called HOMA-IR that assesses insulin resistance. Chen said these findings suggest “relieved insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes patients.”

The authors are scheduled to present the findings Tuesday at a meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, in Barcelona, Spain. Findings presented at meetings are typically viewed as preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Yuling Chen, medical student, Southeast University, Nanjing, China; Joel Zonszein, M.D., director, Clinical Diabetes Center, Montefiore Medical Center, New York City; Sept. 17, 2019, presentation, European Association for the Study of Diabetes, Barcelona, Spain

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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C-Section Delivery Might Alter Newborn’s ‘Microbiome’

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 18, 2019 — New research reveals that the bacterial composition of a newborn’s gut may be dependent on how the baby is delivered.

Gut bacteria found in children delivered by cesarean section largely reflected the bacterial surroundings of the hospital in which the baby was born, British investigators report.

That wasn’t the case among children born vaginally. Their gut mostly mimicked the bacterial environment of their mother.

“This is the largest genomic investigation of newborn babies’ microbiomes to date,” said senior study author Trevor Lawley, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, a nonprofit British genetics research organization. “We discovered that the mode of delivery had a great impact on the gut bacteria of newborn babies, with transmission of bacteria from mother to baby occurring during vaginal birth.”

But the researchers stressed that by age 1, all children, regardless of delivery method, end up having pretty similar gut microbiomes.

It also remains unclear whether the differences seen at birth actually have any long-term health implications. And the finding, experts said, should not deter patients from undergoing a C-section when warranted.

“The first weeks of life are a critical window of development of the baby’s immune system, but we know very little about it,” said principal study author Dr. Peter Brocklehurst, a professor of women’s health from the University of Birmingham.

“We urgently need to follow up this study, looking at these babies as they grow to see if early differences in the microbiome lead to any health issues,” he added in a Wellcome news release. “Further studies will help us understand the role of gut bacteria in early life and could help us develop therapeutics to create a healthy microbiome.”

Meanwhile, senior author Nigel Field, from University College London, emphasized the study shows “that as the babies grow and take in bacteria when they feed and from everything around them, their gut microbiomes become more similar to each other.

“After they have been weaned, the microbiome differences between babies born via caesarean and delivered vaginally have mainly evened out,” Field said in the release.

The study was published Sept. 18 in the journal Nature.

Despite the findings, “in many cases, a cesarean is a lifesaving procedure, and can be the right choice for a woman and her baby,” said Dr. Alison Wright, vice president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London.

More information

There’s more on the gut microbiome from the University of Washington.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2019

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Staying Optimistic Might Lengthen Your Life

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 26, 2019 (HealthDay News) — An upbeat view of life may increase your odds for living to a ripe old age, new research suggests.

The finding stems from a look at optimism and longevity among nearly 70,000 women and 1,400 men. It builds on earlier research linking higher levels of optimism to lower risks of chronic illness and premature death.

“This study took us further by suggesting that optimistic people are more likely to achieve ‘exceptional longevity,’ which we defined as living to age 85 or older,” said study lead author Lewina Lee, a clinical research psychologist with the U.S. National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System.

Compared to their least optimistic counterparts, the most optimistic men and women studied were 50% to 70% more likely to reach that advanced milestone, Lee said.

They were also 11% to 15% more likely to live longer overall, the study found.

The findings held up even after accounting for other influences, such as educational background, marital status, friendships, chronic health problems, and depression, Lee said.

Optimism was also powerful predictor of longevity regardless of a person’s habits when it came to tobacco and alcohol use, exercise, eating well or getting routine medical care.

“Most studies have focused on deficits or problems that increase the risk of dying,” Lee noted. “Our study is novel is that we considered the benefits of a psychological asset — optimism — in promoting longevity.”

The study team suggested that the findings could point the way towards new interventions that might foster optimism and thereby extend life, such as meditation and certain psychotherapy programs.

Lee and her colleagues discuss their findings in the Aug. 26 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

They concluded that optimism matters after analyzing data from the Nurses’ Health Study, which focused on women, and the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study, which focused on men.

The women were 58 to 86 years old (average age: 70) when their health habits, overall health and optimistic outlook were first assessed. They were followed for 10 years.

Continued

The men were 41 to 90 years old (average age: 62) when they had a similar assessment and a physical exam in 1986. They were followed for 30 years.

At the end of the tracking periods, researchers found that results for women and men were roughly the same: The more optimistic the individual, the greater the chances for living longer — and the greater the chances for reaching an “exceptional” age.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Debbie Downers are doomed to shorter lives, Lee said. Her team only found an association and not a cause-and-effect link.

“The association between optimism and exceptional longevity was independent of depression,” Lee said. “This suggests that the presence of optimism is more than just the absence of depression,” so that even among those who struggle with depression a little optimism might still work longevity wonders.

Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, said there are many reasons why optimism breeds longevity.

“Optimists experience less stress, because they don’t tend to dwell on negatives and feel more empowered to overcome hurdles,” said Yarrow, who wasn’t involved with the study. “They are less likely to give up, and they bounce back more quickly from problems and setbacks. Stress is a killer and wreaks havoc on our bodies.”

Optimists also are less likely to experience depression, feelings of hopelessness and negativity — factors often linked to poorer health and higher rates of disease, she added.

On top of that, Yarrow said, optimists tend to take better care of themselves and have an easier time making and keeping friends, “a well-documented source of health and longevity.”

She acknowledged that access to money, good food and education and, of course, genetics can also have a big impact on longevity.

But unlike good genes, Yarrow said, “optimism and her powerful sister, gratitude, can be learned.”

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Lewina Lee, Ph.D., clinical research psychologist, U.S. National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, and assistant professor, psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine; Kit Yarrow, Ph.D., professor emerita, Golden Gate University, San Francisco;Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Aug. 26, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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A Fatty Meal Might Affect How You Absorb CBD

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 16, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Having a cheeseburger with that CBD-infused product? A new study suggests that fatty foods might boost the body’s absorption of cannabidiol (CBD).

In 2018, CBD capsules received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for use in patients with seizures, but how food affects absorption of the drug has been unclear.

In this study, University of Minnesota researchers examined the effects of fatty foods and fasting on CBD absorption.

The investigators compared CBD concentrations in epilepsy patients who were taking 99% pure CBD capsules after they fasted and after they had a high-fat breakfast (such as a breakfast burrito).

Compared with fasting, the amount of CBD in the body was four times higher after the high-fat meal and the maximum amount in the blood was 14 times higher, the findings showed.

There were no differences in mental functioning when the patients took CBD after eating or fasting, according to the study in the August issue of the journal Epilepsia.

“The type of food can make a large difference in the amount of CBD that gets absorbed into the body. Although fatty foods can increase the absorption of CBD, it can also increase the variability, as not all meals contain the same amount of fat,” study co-author Angela Birnbaum said in a university news release.

Study co-author Ilo Leppik said increased absorption of CBD can lead to lower medication costs.

Both Birnbaum and Leppik are professors in the department of experimental and clinical pharmacology.

“For epilepsy patients, a goal is to maintain consistent blood concentrations of drug,” Birnbaum said. “This study shows that CBD concentrations could vary significantly if patients take it differently, sometimes with or without food. Variations in blood concentrations could leave a patient more susceptible to seizures.”

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCE: University of Minnesota, news release, Aug. 13, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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WebMD Health

Lots of Gluten During Toddler Years Might Raise Odds for Celiac Disease

TUESDAY, Aug. 13, 2019 — Too much white bread and pasta fed to at-risk kids under age 5 could increase their odds of developing celiac disease, a new international study has concluded.

Every extra daily gram of gluten a young child eats increases their risk of celiac disease, if they are genetically predisposed to it, researchers found.

For example, eating an extra half-slice of white bread every day at age 2 can increase a kid’s risk of celiac disease at age 3 by 7%, according to findings published Aug. 13 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“The kids who went on to celiac disease were consuming more gluten in their diet in early childhood,” said study co-author Jill Norris, head of epidemiology at the University of Colorado’s School of Public Health.

However, Norris’ team warned it’s too soon to recommend eliminating gluten from the diets of young children, even those with a genetic risk for celiac disease.

“The worry is you would cut out healthy foods high in fiber and other nutrients simply to cut out gluten,” Norris said. “There are ways to remove gluten from the diet and maintain a healthy diet, but it’s actually quite difficult.”

Who’s at risk?

Celiac disease is an immune reaction in the small intestine to gluten, a protein found in some grains. It often causes diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, bloating, abdominal pain and anemia, and can lead to serious complications.

A person with a parent, child or sibling who has celiac disease carries a 1-in-10 chance of developing the disorder, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.

It often develops in early childhood, but it hasn’t been clear why some kids at risk for celiac disease wind up with it while others don’t, Norris said.

“Virtually everybody is exposed to gluten during their lifetime, and there are a number of people who we consider genetically at increased risk but they never get the disease,” Norris said. “We’re trying to figure out what’s different about the people who do end up getting the disease.”

For this study, researchers followed more than 6,600 children from birth through age 15 at six clinical research centers in Finland, Germany, Sweden and the United States. All had an inherited risk for celiac disease.

Their diets and gluten intake were tracked based on three-day food diaries taken at regular intervals throughout their lives.

About 18% of the kids developed autoimmune responses related to celiac disease and 7% developed full-blown celiac disease, with the onset of both conditions peaking at 2 to 3 years of age, researchers found.

Every 1-gram increase in daily gluten intake — about a half-slice of white bread — at age 2 was associated with an increased chance of celiac disease by age 3, they concluded.

“We can now confirm that besides certain genes, high intake of gluten also is an important risk factor for celiac disease,” said senior researcher Dr. Daniel Agardh, a pediatrician with the Diabetes and Celiac Disease Unit at Lund University in Sweden.

Tough to ‘micromanage’ diet

Still, more research is needed before doctors can offer parents solid advice about their young child’s diet, experts said.

Other possible factors in celiac disease still need to be considered, such as early childhood infections, changes in gut bacteria, and antibiotic exposure, noted Dr. Jacqueline Jossen. She’s a pediatric gastroenterologist at the Susan and Leonard Feinstein Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinical Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

“There’s a lot that was not specifically analyzed in this study, and there is previous literature to suggest those things may have a role as well,” said Jossen, who had no part in the research.

At this point, she wouldn’t recommend any dietary changes based off these findings.

“It’s such a small amount of gluten they’re talking about here. Even half a slice of bread can make a difference? Even on a practical level, it’s hard to micromanage something like that,” Jossen said.

Jossen speaks from experience. She has celiac disease and has a 3-year-old daughter with a genetic predisposition toward the condition.

“Even for me on a personal level, I wouldn’t change her diet based on this yet,” Jossen said of her daughter.

Is testing worth it?

And how do you even know for sure that you or your child is at risk?

Genetic tests for celiac disease risk are available, but often are not covered by insurance, said Dr. Maureen Leonard, clinical director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston.

“Online commercially available tests do not always assess all compatible genes for celiac disease,” said Leonard, who wrote an editorial published with the study. “Therefore, I would suggest parents speak with their physician about whether a genetic test may be appropriate for their child.”

Agardh doesn’t think genetic testing would be of much help, “since these genes are common in the general population.”

“In fact, the majority of individuals carrying these risk genes eating gluten will not develop celiac disease,” he said.

A second study this week in JAMA Pediatrics found that gluten also can boost children’s risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

Among children with a genetic susceptibility for type 1 diabetes, a high intake of gluten was associated with an increased risk of an immune response that can damage or destroy the body’s ability to produce insulin over time.

“Given that these cereals are eaten by most children daily and are important sources of many essential nutrients, further studies are warranted to confirm or rule out the findings,” said the authors led by Leena Hakola from Tampere University in Finland.

More information

The Celiac Disease Foundation has more about celiac disease.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: August 2019

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‘Selfies’ Might Someday Track Your Blood Pressure

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 6, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Taking your blood pressure may become as easy as taking a video selfie if a new smartphone app proves itself.

High blood pressure can be a warning sign of a heart attack or stroke, but half of those with hypertension don’t know it. Developing an easy at-home blood pressure screen could potentially save lives.

A new technology called transdermal optical imaging gives a picture of the blood flow in your face, which reveals your blood pressure, researchers say.

“We found, using a smartphone, we can accurately measure blood pressure within 30 seconds,” said lead researcher Kang Lee.

Lee is research chair of developmental neuroscience at the University of Toronto.

“We want to use this technology to help us to make people aware of their blood pressure and monitor it,” he said.

Lee doesn’t intend this technology to replace standard “cuff” blood pressure measuring, but rather to make blood pressure easy to take at home.

So how does it work?

The technology uses light to penetrate the skin and optical sensors in smartphones to create an image of blood flow patterns. These patterns are then used to predict blood pressure, Lee explained.

“Once you know how blood concentration changes in different parts of your face, then we can learn a lot of things about your physiology, such as your heart rate, your stress and your blood pressure,” he said.

Lee discovered the relationship between facial blood flow and blood pressure by accident. He was using transdermal optical imaging to try to develop a way of telling when kids were lying by correlating blood flow to areas of the face with fibbing.

To test the technology’s blood pressure predictions, Lee and his colleagues tried it out on more than 1,300 Canadian and Chinese adults with normal blood pressure. Each participant had a two-minute video recorded using an iPhone with transdermal optical imaging software.

Lee’s team compared the results of the videos with blood pressure readings taken the standard way.

They found that the video prediction of systolic blood pressure (the upper number) was almost 95% accurate. The prediction of diastolic pressure (the bottom number) was nearly 96% accurate.

Continued

The report was published Aug. 6 in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging.

But several problems need to be solved before this technique is ready for primetime, Lee said. For one, the recordings made in the study were in highly controlled environments.

The researchers hope to make the system work with normal home lighting and to shorten the time needed for the recording to 30 seconds.

They also need to test the technology on people with high and low blood pressure and a variety of skin tones.

“Smartphones are really smart,” Lee said. “We cannot only use it for social networking, it can actually help you become aware of your physiological state.”

But one specialist is skeptical that this system could ever be widely used.

“It would be cool to just look at your phone and then you know your blood pressure,” said Ramakrishna Mukkamala, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan State University.

Mukkamala said, however, that it’s doubtful that facial video can yield specific information about blood pressure.

“There’s no physics theory behind it,” said Mukkamala, a cardiovascular researcher who wrote an accompanying editorial.

If it were to work, “a lot of technical challenges have to be overcome,” he said. “These include different skin shades, different room temperatures and different lighting. Also, different angles of the face. And those aren’t easy problems.”

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Kang Lee, Ph.D., professor and research chair, developmental neuroscience, University of Toronto; Ramakrishna Mukkamala, Ph.D., professor, electrical and computer engineering, Michigan State University, East Lansing; Aug. 6, 2019,Circulation:Cardiovascular Imaging

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

‘); } else { // If we match both our test Topic Ids and Buisness Ref we want to place the ad in the middle of page 1 if($ .inArray(window.s_topic, moveAdTopicIds) > -1 && $ .inArray(window.s_business_reference, moveAdBuisRef) > -1){ // The logic below reads count all nodes in page 1. Exclude the footer,ol,ul and table elements. Use the varible // moveAdAfter to know which node to place the Ad container after. window.placeAd = function(pn) { var nodeTags = [‘p’, ‘h3′,’aside’, ‘ul’], nodes, target; nodes = $ (‘.article-page:nth-child(‘ + pn + ‘)’).find(nodeTags.join()).not(‘p:empty’).not(‘footer *’).not(‘ol *, ul *, table *’); //target = nodes.eq(Math.floor(nodes.length / 2)); target = nodes.eq(moveAdAfter); $ (”).insertAfter(target); } // Currently passing in 1 to move the Ad in to page 1 window.placeAd(1); } else { // This is the default location on the bottom of page 1 $ (‘.article-page:nth-child(1)’).append(”); } } })(); $ (function(){ // Create a new conatiner where we will make our lazy load Ad call if the reach the footer section of the article $ (‘.main-container-3’).prepend(”); });

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‘Selfies’ Might Someday Track Your Blood Pressure

TUESDAY, Aug. 6, 2019 — Taking your blood pressure may become as easy as taking a video selfie if a new smartphone app proves itself.

High blood pressure can be a warning sign of a heart attack or stroke, but half of those with hypertension don’t know it. Developing an easy at-home blood pressure screen could potentially save lives.

A new technology called transdermal optical imaging gives a picture of the blood flow in your face, which reveals your blood pressure, researchers say.

“We found, using a smartphone, we can accurately measure blood pressure within 30 seconds,” said lead researcher Kang Lee.

Lee is research chair of developmental neuroscience at the University of Toronto.

“We want to use this technology to help us to make people aware of their blood pressure and monitor it,” he said.

Lee doesn’t intend this technology to replace standard “cuff” blood pressure measuring, but rather to make blood pressure easy to take at home.

So how does it work?

The technology uses light to penetrate the skin and optical sensors in smartphones to create an image of blood flow patterns. These patterns are then used to predict blood pressure, Lee explained.

“Once you know how blood concentration changes in different parts of your face, then we can learn a lot of things about your physiology, such as your heart rate, your stress and your blood pressure,” he said.

Lee discovered the relationship between facial blood flow and blood pressure by accident. He was using transdermal optical imaging to try to develop a way of telling when kids were lying by correlating blood flow to areas of the face with fibbing.

To test the technology’s blood pressure predictions, Lee and his colleagues tried it out on more than 1,300 Canadian and Chinese adults with normal blood pressure. Each participant had a two-minute video recorded using an iPhone with transdermal optical imaging software.

Lee’s team compared the results of the videos with blood pressure readings taken the standard way.

They found that the video prediction of systolic blood pressure (the upper number) was almost 95% accurate. The prediction of diastolic pressure (the bottom number) was nearly 96% accurate.

The report was published Aug. 6 in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging.

But several problems need to be solved before this technique is ready for primetime, Lee said. For one, the recordings made in the study were in highly controlled environments.

The researchers hope to make the system work with normal home lighting and to shorten the time needed for the recording to 30 seconds.

They also need to test the technology on people with high and low blood pressure and a variety of skin tones.

“Smartphones are really smart,” Lee said. “We cannot only use it for social networking, it can actually help you become aware of your physiological state.”

But one specialist is skeptical that this system could ever be widely used.

“It would be cool to just look at your phone and then you know your blood pressure,” said Ramakrishna Mukkamala, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan State University.

Mukkamala said, however, that it’s doubtful that facial video can yield specific information about blood pressure.

“There’s no physics theory behind it,” said Mukkamala, a cardiovascular researcher who wrote an accompanying editorial.

If it were to work, “a lot of technical challenges have to be overcome,” he said. “These include different skin shades, different room temperatures and different lighting. Also, different angles of the face. And those aren’t easy problems.”

More information

For more on high blood pressure, head to the American Heart Association.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: August 2019

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