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Aug 29
Heart failure among the aged may triple by 2060
Heart failure among people who are aged above 60 is set to triple by 2060, a new study has found.

"Heart failure is a common condition worldwide and increases with age. Various disorders can cause heart failure, such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, obesity and diabetes. As these are more prevalent with age,. the consequence is an increased population of elderly who may develop heart failure," said Ragnar Danielsan, Cardiologist at Landspitali University Hospital, in Iceland.

According to the study published in the journal European Society of Cardiology, the researchers randomly selected 5,706 elderly participants and analysed data on the current size, sex and age distribution.

Combining these data, the study assessed the prevalence of heart failure in the elderly population and sought to predict the number of elderly people likely to have heart failure in the future.

The participants' age ranged from 66 to 98 years, the average age being 77 years where 58 per cent were men.

The prevalence of heart failure was 3.7 per cent in the sexes combined, but it was higher in men (4.8 per cent), compared to women (2.8 per cent). The prevalence of heart failure increased with age, from 1.9 per cent in those 69 years of age or younger, to 6 per cent in those 80 years of age and older.

The number of elderly people was estimated for the coming decades in both men and women, until 2060. The largest increases will be in the age groups 70 to 79 years and 80 years and older and predominantly in women.

The study demonstrated that patients with heart failure will have increased 2.3 fold by the year 2040 and 2.9 times by the year 2060.

"This study predicts that heart failure in the elderly will more than double by 2040 and triple by 2060. In the coming decades the majority of heart failure patients will be elderly individuals and this will have major health-economical consequences," added Danielsen.

Aug 16
Positive approach towards exercise brings better benefit
Exercising is undoubtedly good for health. However, positive mindset about exercise brings better benefit, not just physically but psychologically and neurophysiologically too, a new study has revealed.

The researchers in the study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine provided evidence that individuals can be positively or negatively influenced before engaging in exercise.

The researchers invited 76 men and women aged between 18 and 32 years where they had to exercise for 30 minutes on a bicycle ergometer and were separated into different groups. The participants were shown short films that either praised or trashed the effects of cycling on health.

The researchers asked the participants whether they had already believed in the positive effects of physical activity before beginning the test. The participants were asked to fill questionnaires about their well-being and their mood before and after the exercise and measured the participants' brain activity with an electroencephalogram (EEG).

The results provided evidence for a placebo effect during exercise -- participants who already believed that the physical activity would have positive effects before participating in the study enjoyed the exercise more, improved their mood more, and reduced their anxiety more than less optimistic test subjects.

"The results demonstrate that our belief in how much we will benefit from physical activity has a considerable effect on our well-being in the manner of a self-fulfilling prophecy," said Hendrik Mothes, researcher at the University of Freiburg in Germany.

In addition, the study revealed neurophysiological differences that participants with greater expectations before the beginning of the study and those who had seen a film about the health benefits of cycling beforehand were more relaxed on a neuronal level.

"Beliefs and expectations could possibly have long-term consequences, for instance on our motivation to engage in sports. They can be a determining factor on whether we can rouse ourselves to go jogging again next time or decide instead to stay at home on the couch," added Mothes.

Aug 13
Excess 'good cholesterol' may shorten your life
Too much of a good thing may not always be better for your health. Researchers have shown that high levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol - commonly touted as "good cholesterol" for helping to reduce risk of stroke and heart attack - may increase a person's risk of premature death as much as its low levels.

The research suggests that intermediate levels of HDL cholesterol may increase longevity.

"The findings surprised us," said the study's senior author Ziyad Al-Aly, Assistant Professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.

"Previously it was thought that raised levels of the good cholesterol were beneficial. The relationship between increased levels of HDL cholesterol and early death is unexpected," Al-Aly said.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in blood that can narrow and block heart vessels, causing cardiovascular disease and stroke.

For years, HDL cholesterol has been credited with helping to remove plaque-building "bad cholesterol" from arteries.

For this study, researchers studied kidney function and HDL cholesterol levels in more than 1.7 million male veterans from October 2003 through September 2004.

Researchers then followed participants until September 2013.

In the study, published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, the researchers showed that both high and low HDL cholesterol levels were associated with an increased risk of dying among study participants with all levels of kidney function.

"Too low and too high are both associated with higher risk of death," Al-Aly said.

Whether maintaining intermediate HDL cholesterol levels may increase longevity will need to be explored in future studies, Al-Aly said.

Aug 12
Cutting down on alcohol content in beer can save lives
Beer is the world's most widely consumed alcoholic beverage, however, its negative effects on health is something we're sure everyone's aware of.

Obesity, heart disease risks and high blood pressure are some of the problems that drinkers and/or beer lovers might face if they over-indulge in the alcoholic beverage, since the alcohol content is high. Long term effects can also prove fatal.

Now, a new study has found that reducing the alcohol content in beer as well as other alcoholic beverages to an extent can decrease its harmful effects.

As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), alcohol accounts for significant death and disability worldwide. Among those aged 20-39, nearly one-quarter of deaths can be attributed to alcohol.

"The idea is that a small reduction in alcohol -- such as beer with four per cent ethanol content versus six per cent -- would reduce alcohol intake per drinker even if the same overall amount of beverage is consumed," said lead author Jurgen Rehm from Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Canada.

A decrease in ethanol, the most harmful ingredient in alcoholic beverages, would be expected to lead to lower blood alcohol levels in drinkers. And this could reduce immediate harms such as injuries or accidents, as well as alcohol-related chronic diseases that develop over time, such as liver cirrhosis or cancer.

A key concern, however, is that drinkers would notice the difference in alcohol content, and consume more to compensate or switch to other beverages with more alcohol.

So the researchers searched for studies and reviews on all of these points.

The researchers found that such concerns around drinkers' behaviours were not warranted.

"We know from experiments that consumers can't distinguish between beers of different strengths," Rehm said.

The review was published in the journal Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology.

Aug 11
Cesarean mum breast feeding may pass stress to babies
Mothers who give birth through a Cesarean section could pass on stress to babies through hormones in breast milk, says a New Zealand study by an Indian-origin researcher.

The study, unveiled on Wednesday, said researchers at the University of Auckland's Liggins Institute analysed breast milk samples from 650 mothers when their babies were three-to-four months old, Xinhua news agency reported.

The findings revealed levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which were higher in the milk of mothers who got their babies delivered by Cesarean section (C-section) or who had no partner at home.

As well as a major regulator of the body's stress response, cortisol was an important influencer of mood and growth, researcher Shikha Pundir said in a statement.

While a certain amount of stress hormones were needed to stimulate healthy development, evidence from animal studies suggested that higher cortisol in milk affected the baby's temperament.

Breast milk was recognised for its nutritional and immunity-boosting powers, but it was still unclear exactly how stress hormones affected babies' growth and development, the researchers said.

The findings underlined the importance of supporting all mothers in order to avoid the transmission of stress to babies, which could potentially have a long-term adverse impact on a baby's health.

Aug 10
Seasonal allergies may cause changes in the brain
Seasonal allergies like hay fever reduce the presence of brain immune cells as well as increase the growth of nervous tissue, which may lead to changes in the brain, says a study.

Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is caused by an allergic response to outdoor or indoor allergens such as pollen, dust mites and leads to cold-like runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion, sneezing and sinus pressure.

According to a report by the World Health Oragnisation (WHO), 10 to 30 per cent of the population worldwide suffers from hay fever.

The findings showed that brains of mice when exposed to a model of grass pollen allergy actually produced more neurons than when they were under normal conditions.

During an allergic reaction, an increase in the numbers of new neurons in the hippocampus -- the part of the brain responsible for forming new memories, and the site where neurons continue to be formed throughout life -- was found.

This raised the question that what could be the consequences of allergies on memory, the researchers said.

In addition, the allergy also reduced the presence of microglia -- brain immune cells that perform immune system functions in the central nervous system - activity. The microglia in the brain of mice were found deactivated.

"It was highly unexpected to see the deactivation of microglia in the hippocampus. Partly because other studies have shown the reverse effect on microglia following bacterial infection," said Barbara Klein, University of Salzburg in Austria.

"We know that the response of immune system in the body is different in case of an allergic reaction versus a bacterial infection. What this tells us is that the effect on the brain depends on type of immune reaction in the body," Klein added.

The allergic reaction also caused an increase in neurogenesis -- the growth and development of nervous tissue, which is known to decline with age, said the paper published in the journal Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience.

Aug 09
Removing appendix does not affect chances of conceiving
A recent research says that women, who need to remove their appendix, should not worry as it will not reduce their chances of falling pregnant.

A new 15-year British study has surprisingly found that women, who had their tonsils or appendix removed when they were young are more likely to get pregnant, reports News.com.au.

Though the reasons behind the link are not fully understood, the findings go against previous theories in medicine which stated that these surgeries reduce a woman's fertility due to scar tissue forming around the fallopian tubes.

Researchers at the University of Dundee analysed the medical records of more than 5,30,000 women across the UK and found pregnancy rates to be higher among women, who had their tonsils and appendix removed.

According to the research, the rate of pregnancy among women who had an appendectomy or tonsillectomy was 54 percent and 53 percent respectively.

The rate was even higher for women who had both procedures at 59.7 percent.

This is significantly higher than the pregnancy rate among women who still had their tonsils and appendix, which was 43.7 percent.

It now can be hoped that the findings will reassure women who need these surgeries.

"This scientifically challenges the myth of the effect of appendectomy on fertility. What we have to establish now is exactly why that is the case," said Sami Shimi, who led the study.

Although a biological cause is possible, the researchers believe that the cause is more likely to be behavioral, with further studies now being conducted to find an explanation.

Shimi said that the findings should, however, not be taken as a sign that women should seek an appendectomy or tonsillectomy thinking it would increase their chances of becoming pregnant.

"This research does not mean that removing a normal appendix directly increases fertility," he said.

"It does however mean that young women who need to have their appendix removed can do so without fear of the risk on future fertility," added Shimi.

Aug 08
Sleep apnea may give rise to liver disease progression in adults
Are you a victim of sleep disorder like Obstructive sleep apnea? If your answer is yes than it's important for you to realise that sleep apnea is not only affecting your moods, thoughts and body functions but may also trigger the progression of liver disease.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and low night-time oxygen are associated with the progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in adults, a new study conducted by an Indian-origin researcher has suggested.

According to the study, published in the Journal of Hepatology, obstructive sleep apnea and low night-time oxygen may also be important triggers in the progression of paediatric NAFLD to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) - a type of fatty liver disease, characterised by inflammation of the liver with concurrent fat accumulation in the liver.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the accumulation of extra fat in liver cells in people who drink little or no alcohol. Although isolated hepatic steatosis is considered a less aggressive form of NAFLD, patients with NASH can eventually progress to severe fibrosis and cirrhosis, with development of hepatocellular carcinoma in adults.

"There is emerging evidence that obesity-related obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and intermittent nocturnal hypoxia are associated with NAFLD progression. Paediatric NAFLD patients with OSA/hypoxia have more advanced liver disease and fibrosis, supporting a role for OSA/hypoxia in the development of NASH," said Shikha Sundaram,

Researcher at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, in the US, in the study. Investigators studied 36 adolescents with NAFLD, along with 14 lean controls, to assess if oxidative stress induced by obstructive sleep apnea and low night-time oxygen promoted the progression of paediatric NAFLD. NAFLD patients had significantly raised aminotransferases (a marker of hepatocellular injury), inflammatory markers, and evidence of metabolic syndrome, compared to lean controls.

Patients underwent a standard multi-channel sleep study (polysomnogram). Investigators found that patients with the most severe NAFLD experienced more severe sleep-disordered breathing and significantly higher apnea/hypopnea index scores compared to those with less severe NAFLD.

Patients with OSA/hypoxia also had more severe fibrosis or scar tissue in their livers than those without OSA/hypoxia. They also found a clear correlation between severity of the indexes of oxidative stress both systemically and in the liver and the severity of the indexes used to evaluate OSA.

"These data show that sleep-disordered breathing is an important trigger of oxidative stress that promotes progression of paediatric NAFLD to NASH. We showed that obese adolescents with NAFLD who have OSA and low nighttime oxygen have significant scar tissue in their livers," added Sundaram.

Aug 02
Activation of brain receptors may motivate for physical activity
Activation of brain receptors in its pleasure centre may serve as a future treatment to improve motivation for physical activity in postmenopausal women, a new study has revealed.

The brain's pleasure centre is a hotspot in the brain that processes and reinforces messages related to reward, pleasure, activity and motivation for physical exercise.

'Postmenopausal women are more susceptible to weight gain and health issues. This is especially frustrating for women who already are dealing with significant changes to their bodies. We found that the decrease in physical activity that leads to weight gain may be caused by changes in brain activity," said Victoria Vieira-Potter, Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri in a statement.

The researchers compared the physical activity of rats that were highly fit to rats which had lower fitness levels. They studied the rats' use of running wheels set up in the cages before and after the rats had their ovaries removed.

They also examined gene expression changes of dopamine receptors within the brain's pleasure centre.

The high-fit rat group had more activity in the brain's pleasure centre, which correlated with greater wheel running before and after the loss of ovarian hormones.

However, the high-fit rats still saw a significant reduction in wheel running after their ovaries were removed.

This reduction in wheel running also correlated significantly with a reduction in their dopamine signaling levels, indicating that the brain's pleasure centre could be involved, suggested the research.

'We found that in both groups of rats, the hormonal changes from menopause led to changes in the brain that translated to less physical activity. The findings confirm previous evidence in humans and rodents that weight gain that occurs after menopause is likely due to decreased overall physical activity rather than increased energy intake from diet,' added Vieira-Potter.

Aug 01
Here`s why some fat risks your health, while others don't
If you are trying to shed those extra kilos, you may want to steer clear of lard, butter and fried foods, suggests a recent study.

According to the University of Naples Federico II study, a diet high in saturated fat affects a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which helps regulate hunger, making it struggle to control what you eat.

In other words, people struggle to control how much they eat, when to stop and what type of food to eat - symptoms seen in obesity.

The study found, through tests in rats, that a meal rich in saturated fat, reduces a person's cognitive function that make it more difficult to control eating habits.

"These days, great attention is dedicated to the influence of the diet on people's wellbeing. Although the effects of high fat diet on metabolism have been widely studied, little is known about the effects on the brain;" explained researchers Marianna Crispino and Maria Pina Mollica.

A diet rich in fat can take different forms and in fact, there are different types of fats. Saturated fats are found in lard, butter or fried food. Unsaturated fats are rich in food such as fish, avocado or olive oil.

Consuming fish oil instead of lard makes a significant difference. The research shows that brain function remains normal and manages to restrain from eating more than necessary.

"The difference was very clear and we were amazed to establish the impact of a fatty diet onto the brain. Our results suggest that being more aware about the type of fat consumed with the diet may reduce the risk of obesity and prevent several metabolic diseases," concluded Crispino.

The study appears in journal Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience.