Inflammation may be the reason high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels

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Inflammation may be the reason high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels, raising the possibility that anti-inflammatory medications might someday be used to lower the risk of blood vessel disease in people with diabetes, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure Research Scientific Sessions 2014.

“These findings may explain why good blood sugar control is not sufficient to avoid the development of diabetes-induced cardiovascular diseases,” said Carlos F. Sánchez-Ferrer, M.D., Ph.D., study author and professor of pharmacology at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain. “We need to find new medications focused on reducing inflammation.”

Using cultured smooth muscle cells from the main human artery (aorta), researchers found:

  • In the absence of inflammation, excess glucose in the culture fluid didn’t enter the cells.
  • When extra glucose was forced into the cells, no harm was done in the absence of inflammation.
  • When the inflammation-stimulating protein interleukin-1 (IL-1) was introduced, more glucose entered the cells.
  • With IL-1, the glucose entering the cells was metabolized via chemical pathways that spur escalating inflammation, overwhelming the cells’ ability to counteract it.
  • In the presence of the anti-inflammatory drug anakinra, which blocks the activity of IL-1, the deleterious changes didn’t occur.

“We need to reduce the inflammatory environment associated with diabetes,” Sánchez-Ferrer said. “Changes in life-style, such as physical exercise and weight reduction, are important not only because they reduce blood sugar but because they reduce inflammation.”

The researchers plan to test whether the effect is similar in cultured cells from the lining of blood vessels and explore the blood sugar/inflammation connection in animals.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/282447.php

 

Keeping fit aids bone and joint health whilst aging

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Being physically active may significantly improve musculoskeletal and overall health, and minimize or delay the effects of aging, according to a review of the latest research on senior athletes (ages 65 and up) appearing in the September issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS).

It long has been assumed that aging causes an inevitable deterioration of the body and its ability to function, as well as increased rates of related injuries such as sprains, strains and fractures; diseases, such as obesityand diabetes; and osteoarthritis and other bone and joint conditions. However, recent research on senior, elite athletes suggests usage of comprehensive fitness and nutrition routines helps minimize bone and joint health decline and maintain overall physical health.

“An increasing amount of evidence demonstrates that we can modulate age-related decline in the musculoskeletal system,” said lead study author and orthopaedic surgeon Bryan G. Vopat, MD. “A lot of the deterioration we see with aging can be attributed to a more sedentary lifestyle instead of aging itself.”

The positive effects of physical activity on maintaining bone density, muscle mass, ligament and tendon function, and cartilage volume are keys to optimal physical function and health. In addition, the literature recommends a combined physical activity regimen for all adults encompassing resistance, endurance, flexibility and balance training, “as safely allowable for a given person.” Among the recommendations:

Resistance training. Prolonged, intense resistance training can increase muscle strength, lean muscle and bone mass more consistently than aerobic exercise alone. Moderately intense resistance regimens also decrease fat mass. Sustained lower and upper body resistance training bolsters bone density and reduces the risk of strains, sprains and acute fractures.

Endurance training. Sustained and at least moderately intensive aerobic training promotes heart health, increases oxygen consumption, and has been linked to other musculoskeletal benefits, including less accumulation of fat mass, maintenance of muscle strength and cartilage volumes. A minimum of 150 to 300 minutes a week of endurance training, in 10 to 30 minute episodes, for elite senior athletes is recommended. Less vigorous and/or short-duration aerobic regimens may provide limited benefit.

Flexibility and balance. Flexibility exercises are strongly recommended for active older adults to maintain range of motion, optimize performance and limit injury. Two days a week or more of flexibility training – sustained stretches and static/non-ballistic (non-resistant) movements – are recommended for senior athletes. Progressively difficult postures (depending on tolerance and ability) are recommended for improving and maintaining balance.

The study also recommends “proper” nutrition for older, active adults to optimize performance. For senior athletes, a daily protein intake of 1.0 to 1.5 g/kg is recommended, as well as carbohydrate consumption of 6 to 8 g/kg (more than 8 g/kg in the days leading up to an endurance event).

“Regimens must be individualized for older adults according to their baseline level of conditioning and disability, and be instituted gradually and safely, particularly for elderly and poorly conditioned adults,” said Dr. Vopat. According to study authors, to improve fitness levels and minimize bone and joint health decline, when safely allowable, patients should be encouraged to continually exceed the minimum exercise recommendations.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/281660.php

 

 

Risks of long-term aspirin use ‘outweighed by cancer benefits’

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Past research has linked long-term aspirin use to adverse side effects, such as internal bleeding. But according to a new study, the benefits of longstanding aspirin therapy outweigh such risks; it can significantly reduce the risk of major cancers of the digestive tract, including stomach, bowel and esophageal cancers.

 

The research team, led by Prof. Jack Cuzick, head of the Centre for Cancer Prevention at the Queen Mary University of London in the UK, recently published their findings in the journal Annals of Oncology.

Aspirin, also known as acetlylsalicylic acid (ASA), is a salicylate drug commonly used to reduce minor aches and pains, inflammation and fever. In long-term low doses, the drug is also used as an antiplatelet for patients at high risk of heart attackand stroke.

There has been much debate surrounding the benefits of long-term aspirin therapy. Previous studies have suggested it can reduce risk of ovarian cancer and improve colon cancer survival, while others claim it can cause harm, with one study suggesting it increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration.

In this latest research, Prof. Cuzick and his team set out to determine whether the health benefits of continued aspirin use outweigh the risks.

Taking daily aspirin ‘important for reducing cancer risk’

To reach their findings, the team conducted an analysis of all available evidence from an array of studies looking at the beneficial and harmful effects of aspirin use.

The researchers estimated that if individuals aged 50-65 took a daily 75-100 mg dose of aspirin for 5-10 years, the number of bowel cancer cases could be reduced by 35% and deaths by 40%, while rates of stomach and esophageal cancers could be cut by 30% and deaths by 35-50%.

Overall, they estimate that daily aspirin use for 5-10 years could provide a 9% reduction in the number of cancers, strokes and heart attacks in men, and a 7% reduction in women. Over a 20-year period, they estimate the number of deaths from all causes could be reduced by 4%. No benefits were found until individuals used aspirin for a minimum of 3 years.

But the researchers note that continued aspirin use does increase the risk of bleeding in the digestive tract. They found that individuals aged 60 who took aspirin daily for 10 years increased their risk of gastrointestinal bleeding by 1.4%, from 2.2% to 3.6%. However, they note that this is only likely to be life-threatening in around 5% of people.

“The risk of bleeding depends on a number of known factors which people need to be aware of before starting regular aspirin, and it would be advisable to consult with a doctor before embarking on daily medication,” notes Prof. Cuzick.

In addition, they found that continuing aspirin use increased the risk of peptic ulcer by 30-60%.

But despite these side effects, Prof. Cuzick believes that long-term aspirin therapy could be vital to cancer prevention:

“It has long been known that aspirin – one of the cheapest and most common drugs on the market – can protect against certain types of cancer. But until our study, where we analyzed all the available evidence, it was unclear whether the pros of taking aspirin outweighed the cons.

Whilst there are some serious side effects that can’t be ignored, taking aspirin daily looks to be the most important thing we can do to reduce cancer after stopping smoking and reducing obesity, and will probably be much easier to implement.”

The team notes that further research is warranted to better pinpoint those who are most likely to benefit from long-term aspirin use and who is at highest risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.

Earlier this year, Medical News Today reported on a consumer update from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), stating that while daily low-dose aspirin use can prevent heart attack or stroke for those who have already had one, there is insufficient evidence to support its use for prevention of first-time heart attack or stroke.

Written by Honor Whiteman

 

Improved survival with earlier intervention for common form of heart attack

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Changes in the treatment of the most common form of heart attack over the past decade have been associated with higher survival rates for men and women regardless of age, race and ethnicity, according to a UCLA-led analysis.

But the study also suggests that there is room for improvement in how current treatment guidelines are applied among specific patient groups.

The researchers reviewed records for 6.5 million people who were treated for heart attacks between 2002 and 2011. The analysis was among the first and largest national studies to assess the impact of the trend toward more aggressive care for patients who experience the type of heart attack known as non-ST elevation myocardial infarction, or NSTEMI.

Their findings are reported in the current online edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Heart Association.

“The substantial reductions in in-hospital mortality observed for NSTEMI patients nationwide over the last decade reflect greater adherence to evidence-based, guideline-directed therapies,” said Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, the study’s senior author and UCLA’s Eliot Corday Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Science.

“Nevertheless, there may be further opportunities to improve care and outcomes for patients with NSTEMI, who represent the greater proportion of patients presenting with myocardial infarction,” said Fonarow, who also is director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Heart attacks are broadly classified into two types. The more severe form, ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), involves complete blockage of an artery supplying blood to the heart muscle. The less severe type, NSTEMI, involves partial or temporary blockage of the artery. Studies in the U.S. and Europe have found that although the incidence of STEMI heart attacks is declining, the number of NSTEMI heart attacks increased in the past decade.

Guidelines issued in 2012 by the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association recommended initiating cardiac catheterization in high-risk NSTEMI patients within 12 to 24 hours after the patient arrives at the hospital. This strategy had been evolving since 2009 following publication of the Timing of Intervention in Acute Coronary Syndromes trial. Previously, the recommendation was to begin catheterization in high-risk NSTEMI patients within 48 hours.

Fonarow and his colleagues examined trends in the use of cardiac catheterization for people who had been hospitalized after suffering an NSTEMI, within 24 hours and within 48 hours of presentation, seeking to determine whether changes in their care may have resulted in better outcomes.

The researchers analyzed publicly available records from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, the largest U.S. database of hospitalized individuals. Of the 6.5 million patients whose records they examined, 3.98 million were admitted to hospitals with NSTEMI diagnoses.

The study tracked the proportion of those patients who underwent cardiac catheterization each year, and their outcomes – how many died in the hospital, the average length of their hospital stays, and the cost of hospitalization. They found that as the trend toward earlier intervention in NSTEMI patients took hold – with doctors beginning treatment within 24 hours after patients arrived at the hospital, rather than within 48 hours – the rate of in-hospital death declined from 5.5 percent in 2002 to 3.9 percent in 2011. Improvements were found for men and women, older and younger patients, and across all races and ethnic groups.

In addition, the average length of patients’ hospital stays decreased during the decade-long study, from 5.7 days to 4.8 days. NSTEMI patients who underwent cardiac catheterization within the first 24 hours had the shortest average stays.

Although more NSTEMI patients in all demographic groups received early cardiac catheterization as the study progressed, there were still significant differences across age, gender, and racial and ethnic groups in how frequently early intervention was used. Men, for example, were more likely to receive earlier catheterization than women.

“Despite the improvement, there are significant differences in the age-, gender-, and ethnicity-specific trends in the use of invasive management of NSTEMI, and these findings may help guide further improvements in care and outcomes for male and female patients of all ages, races and ethnicities,” said New York Medical College’s Dr. Sahil Khera, the study’s first author. “Further efforts are needed to enhance the quality of care for patients with NSTEMI and to develop strategies to ensure more equitable care for patients with this type of heart attack.”

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/280651.php

 

 

Lack of rehab programs leaves cardiac patients underserved globally

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Rehabilitation programs must become an integral part of cardiac care to significantly reduce the burden of living with heart disease, one of the most common chronic diseases and causes of death globally, according to York University Professor Sherry Grace.

“Cardiac rehabilitation is a cost-effective program offering heart patients exercise, education and risk reduction,” says Grace, noting that participation results in 25 per cent less death, lower re-hospitalization rates and better quality of life.

Despite these benefits, cardiac rehabilitation is vastly underused, particularly compared with costly revascularization and medical therapy, according to the review Grace conducted with Karam Turk-Adawi in the Cardiovascular Rehabilitation & Prevention Unit, University Health Network (UHN), and Dr. Nizal Sarrafzadegan, director of Isfahan Cardiovascular Research Center at Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Iran.

“Cardiac rehabilitation services are insufficiently implemented, with only 39 per cent of countries providing any,” says Grace.

Heart disease has become an epidemic in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs), and cardiac rehab can reduce the socio-economic impact of the disease by promoting return to work and reducing premature mortality, notes to Grace, who is also the director of research at the GoodLife Fitness Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Unit at the UHN.

“If supportive health policies, funding, physician referral strategies and alternative delivery modes are implemented, we could reduce the ratio from one cardiac rehab program per 6.4 million inhabitants in a middle income country like Paraguay, to the one program per 102,000 available in the US, a high income country,” adds Grace.

Low-income countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Kenya have one rehab program each for their entire population.

The article, Global availability of cardiac rehabilitation, published online at Nature Reviews Cardiology, indicates that while 68 per cent of high-income countries have cardiac rehabilitation, only 23 per cent of LMICs do, despite the fact that 80 per cent of deaths from heart disease occur in these countries.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/279686.php

Picture courtesy to www.docstoc.com

 

 

 

Study links high cholesterol to increased risk of breast cancer

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A new study recently presented at the Frontiers in Cardiovascular Biology meeting in Barcelona, Spain, suggests that women who have high cholesterol may be at higher risk of developing breast cancer.

The research team, led by Dr. Rahul Potluri of the Algorithm for Comorbidities, Associations, Length of Stay and Mortality (ACALM) Study Unit at Aston University School of Medicine in the UK, says their findings indicate that statins – drugs used to reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein, or “bad”cholesterol, in the blood – could be used to prevent breast cancer.

Past research has indicated a link between obesity – which can cause high cholesterol – and increased risk of breast cancer. A 2013 study reported by Medical News Today found that the obesity status of a woman may influence the rate of breast cancer cell growth and tumor size.

The researchers note that a more recent study suggested that cholesterol levels are what feeds this association. But the team wanted to investigate the link further.

Women with high cholesterol ‘1.64 times more likely to develop breast cancer’

To reach their findings, the investigators analyzed information from the ACALM clinical database between 2000 and 2013, which included more than 1 million patients.

Of the 664,159 women in the database, 22,938 had hyperlipidemia, or high cholesterol, and 9,312 had breast cancer. The team found that 530 of the women who had high cholesterol developed breast cancer.

Using a statistical model, the researchers estimated that women with high cholesterol were 1.64 times more likely to develop breast cancer than women with normal cholesterol levels.

The researchers say although their findings are purely observational at this point, they could have important long-term implications for women with high cholesterol.

Dr. Potluri says:

“We found a significant association between having high cholesterol and developing breast cancer that needs to be explored in more depth.

Caution is needed when interpreting our results because while we had a large study population, our analysis was retrospective and observational with inherent limitations. That said, the findings are exciting and further research in this field may have a big impact on patients several years down the line.”

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women in the US. This year alone, approximately 232,670 American women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.

The researchers point out that if their findings are validated through further research, they would like to see whether reducing cholesterol with statins could also lower the risk of breast cancer.

“Statins are cheap, widely available and relatively safe,” says Dr. Potluri. “We are potentially heading towards a clinical trial in 10-15 years to test the effect of statins on the incidence of breast cancer. If such a trial is successful, statins may have a role in the prevention of breast cancer especially in high risk groups, such as women with high cholesterol.”

Medical News Today recently reported on a study by researchers from University College London in the UK, which revealed the development of a simple blood test that could predict how likely a woman is to develop breast cancer.

 

 

One in five people with heart conditions stop having sex, UK survey

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Sex is impossible for a fifth of people with heart conditions, according to new statistics released by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

The BHF’s Heart Matters magazine polled over 1,500 people with heart conditions (1) and found 32 per cent had sex less often, and 19 per cent have stopped having sex completely as a result of their heart condition. One in five respondents said they were worried about having a heart attack or cardiac arrest during sex.

Over 7 million people in the UK suffer from heart and circulatory conditions (2). Based on the survey results, the BHF estimates that issues with sex could mar the lives of over one million people.

It isn’t just the physical effects that are blighting peoples’ sex lives – 14 per cent said they had lost interest in sex because of the emotional impact of their heart condition, and 5 per cent said scarring from an operation made them feel sexually unattractive.

36 year old Martin Tailford, who on Christmas day 2011 had a heart attack and has since had difficulty having sex with his wife Louise, said:

“After my heart attack sex wasn’t natural, it required a lot more planning. I couldn’t spontaneously have sex. I needed to think what to wear to cover up the scars and bruises.

“Sex isn’t what you base a relationship on, but it is really important. My heart attack had put a strain on Louise, and not being able to be physically close to her really took its toll on our relationship. I would advise people in my position to get help as soon as they can, and not be disappointed if things don’t go well at first. It takes time.”

But the BHF’s survey revealed people aren’t getting this help. 30 per cent of people have not discussed the issue with anyone, including their doctor. Eight per cent would have liked to access professional help but couldn’t get any.

The BHF is urging heart patients and GPs to talk openly about issues around sex, so treatment and support can be provided.

Doireen Maddock, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the BHF, said:

“Sex is a hugely important part of life, but isn’t getting the attention it deserves in the consultation room. We’re hearing loud and clear from Heart Matters readers that they need better support and information on how to deal with issues affecting their sex lives.

“Problems like erectile dysfunction can often be tackled and rectified, but the first hurdle is identifying people who need that help. We’d like patients to feel comfortable and empowered to raise these issues, and for the NHS to proactively offer support in this area to everyone who needs it.”

For information and support visit bhf.org.uk/sex

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/278654.php