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December 20, 2007, 8:51 PM CT

Cardiovascular disease death rates decline

Cardiovascular disease death rates decline
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) death rates are declining, but CVD is still the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, and risk factor control remains a challenge for a number of, as per the most recent data from the American Heart Associations Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2008 Update. The Update will be available in the Dec. 17 online issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association at http://www.americanheart.org/statistics.

The Update provides statistics about cardiovascular diseases, risk factors, therapys, quality of care and costs. The American Heart Association does not generate the data, but synthesizes it from a number of sources and provides it online without charge for government policymakers, physicians, researchers, educators and the public, making the Update a unique national and even international resource.

Cardiovascular diseases include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, heart failure and several other conditions including arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation, cardiomyopathy and peripheral arterial disease. CVD has been the leading cause of death in the United States every year since 1900 except during the 1918 flu epidemic. In 2004, the most recent year for which final statistics were available for this report, the age-adjusted CVD death rate per 100,000 persons was 288.0, in comparison to 307.7 in 2003. CVD (the No. 1 overall cause of death) was listed as the underlying cause of death in 869,724 deaths, in comparison to 911,163 deaths in 2003. Cancer was the second-leading cause of death, responsible for 553,888 lives lost. Stroke, when considered separately from other cardiovascular diseases, was the nations third-leading killer (150,074 deaths), followed by accidents (112,012). Coronary heart disease, even when considered separately from other cardiovascular diseases, was still by far the nations single leading cause of death (451,326).........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 20, 2007, 5:35 AM CT

Walking and moderate exercise help prevent dementia

Walking and moderate exercise help prevent dementia
People age 65 and older who regularly walk and get other forms of moderate exercise appear to significantly lower their risk of developing vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimers disease, as per a research studyreported in the December 19, 2007, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The four-year study involved 749 men and women in Italy who were over age 65 and did not have memory problems at the beginning of the study. Scientists measured the amount of energy exerted in the participants weekly physical activities, including walking, climbing stairs, and moderate activities, such as house and yard work, gardening, and light carpentry. By the end of the study, 54 people developed Alzheimers disease and 27 developed vascular dementia.

The study found the top one-third of participants who exerted the most energy walking were 27 percent less likely to develop vascular dementia than those people in the bottom one-third of the group.

Participants who scored in the top one-third for the most energy exerted in moderate activities lowered their risk of vascular dementia by 29 percent and people who scored in the top one-third for total physical activity lowered their risk by 24 percent in comparison to those in the bottom one-third.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 20, 2007, 5:32 AM CT

Premenstrual symptoms getting on your nerves?

Premenstrual symptoms getting on your nerves?
For some women premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a minor monthly annoyance, but for others, more severe symptoms seriously disrupt their lives. However despite the number of women affected, science has yet to offer a full explanation or universal therapy. Now intriguing new findings reported in the online open access journal BioPsychoSocial Medicine suggest not only that PMS is tied to decreased nerve activity each month, but also that those with extreme symptoms may have a permanently depressed nervous system.

A team of Japanese scientists led by Tamaki Matsumoto from the International Buddhist University in Osaka investigated whether the activity of the autonomic nervous system, which plays a vital role in equilibrium within the human body, changed during the menstrual cycle. The team measured heart rate variability and hormone levels and used questionnaires to evaluate physical, emotional and behavioural symptoms accompanying 62 womens menstrual cycles.

For the parameters Matsumotos team was testing, the control group with little or no menstrual symptoms did not vary during the month. However women suffering from PMS saw results reflecting autonomic and parasympathetic nerve activity decrease significantly in the late luteal phase, which precedes menstruation. Those with the most marked symptoms (known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder) had lower rates of nerve activity than the other groups during the entire menstrual cycle.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


December 20, 2007, 5:28 AM CT

Parents show bias in sibling rivalry

Parents show bias in sibling rivalry
The parent beetle feeding a young grub.

Credit: Allen Moore
Most parents would hotly deny favouring one child over another but new research suggests they may have little choice in the matter.

Biologists studying a unique species of beetle that raises and cares for its young have observed that parents instinctively favour the oldest offspring.

The University of Manchester research published in Ecology this month supports the findings of studies carried out on human families but is significant in that it suggests a wholly natural tendency towards older siblings.

The burying beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides has a similar family structure to that of a human family unit in that there are two parents, many offspring and interactions between parents and their young, said Dr Per Smiseth, who led the research in the Universitys Faculty of Life Sciences.

Of course human families are more complex and parent-child relationships are much more sophisticated. However, studying this beetle can help us understand the basic biological principles of how family relationships work.

Our study looked at how the parent beetles mediate competition between different aged offspring in comparison to what happens when the young were left to fend for themselves and indicates that parental decisions are important in determining the outcome of competition between offspring.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 20, 2007, 5:25 AM CT

Domestic violence as stressor associated with smoking

Domestic violence as stressor associated with smoking
Using a large population survey in India, a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) scientists has found an association between domestic violence and adult smoking. The study appears in the December 11, 2007 issue of the journal Tobacco Control.

Smoking and chewing tobacco contribute to some 800,000 deaths in India every year. The smoking rate for Indian men is around 29%, for women, approximately 3%. The rate of tobacco chewing is around 29% for men, 12% for women. Eventhough rates of tobacco use are low among women, early indications are that these levels are on the rise. While the harmful effects of tobacco use are well-documented, there has been little research looking at the stressors linked to tobacco use among Indians.

One of those stressors, or risk factors, is domestic violence, a serious problem in India. Some 40% of Indian women report being slapped, kicked, hit or beaten during their marriages. Smaller studies in the U.S. have also found an association between domestic violence and smoking. Scientists hypothesize that smoking may act as a stress reliever in households that experience domestic violence. In fact, Indians who smoke or chew tobacco cite stress relief as one of the reasons they begin using and continue to use tobacco.

To see if there was a link between domestic violence and tobacco use in India, the researchers, led by lead author Leland Ackerson, a research fellow, and senior author S. V. Subramanian, associate professor in the Department of Society, Human Development and Health, used data from the National Family Health Survey, a representative cross-sectional survey administered in India during 1998-1999. The samples included 89,092 women and 278,977 family members aged 15 and older.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 20, 2007, 5:17 AM CT

Insurance status linked to cancer outcomes

Insurance status linked to cancer outcomes
A new report from the American Cancer Society finds substantial evidence that lack of adequate health insurance coverage is linked to less access to care and poorer outcomes for cancer patients. The report finds the uninsured are less likely to receive recommended cancer screening tests, are more likely to be diagnosed with later stage disease, and have lower survival rates than those with private insurance for several cancers. The new findings on stage at diagnosis and survival by insurance status use data from the National Cancer Database (NCDB), a hospital-based registry sponsored by the American College of Surgeons and the American Cancer Society, the only national registry that collects information on patient insurance status. The report appears in the January/recent issue of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, a peer-evaluated journal of the American Cancer Society.In 2007, the American Cancer Society launched a nationwide campaign to highlight the role of access to quality care for all Americans. While advances in the prevention, early detection, and therapy of cancer have resulted in an almost 14 percent drop in the death rates from all cancers combined from 1991 to 2004 in the U.S., with remarkable declines in mortality for the top three causes of cancer death in men (lung, colorectal, and prostate cancer) and two of the top three cancers in women, (breast and colorectal cancer), not all segments of the population have benefited equally from this progress. Evidence suggests that some of these differences are correlation to lack of access to health care. In particular, the lack of health insurance, or inadequate health insurance, appears to be a critical barrier to receipt of appropriate health care services. The report provides an overview of systems of health insurance in the United States and presents data on the association between health insurance status and screening, stage at diagnosis, and survival for breast and colorectal cancer based on analyses of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the NCDB. Among the reports findings:

December 20, 2007, 5:15 AM CT

Breakthrough in rapid malaria detection

Breakthrough in rapid malaria detection
A research team led by Dr. Paul Wiseman of the Departments of Physics and Chemistry at McGill University has developed a radically new technique that uses lasers and non-linear optical effects to detect malaria infection in human blood, as per a research studyreported in the Biophysical Journal. The scientists say the new technique holds the promise of simpler, faster and far less labour-intensive detection of the malaria parasite in blood samples.

Malaria is a vector-borne infectious disease spread by parasites of the genus Plasmodium. Most common in tropical and subtropical regions, it is a global scourge with 350 to 500 million new cases and one to three million fatalities reported annually. Most of the fatalities are concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, where the resources and trained personnel currently mandatory to accurately diagnose the disease are spread the thinnest.

Current detection techniques require trained technicians to stain slides, look for the parasites DNA signature under the microscope, and then manually count all the visible infected cells, a labourious process dependent on the skill and availability of trained analysts. By contrast, the proposed new technique relies on a known optical effect called third harmonic generation (THG), which causes hemozoin a crystalline substance secreted by the parasite to glow blue when irradiated by an infrared laser.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


December 18, 2007, 10:14 PM CT

Providing chronic fatigue syndrome answers

Providing chronic fatigue syndrome answers
One of the most difficult things for people suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is that a number of believe the condition to be a psychological, not physical affliction.

New research by the Faculty of Kinesiology hopes to measure one of the syndromes most obvious symptoms information that could help doctors in the diagnosis CFS.

Diagnosis of the syndrome, generally follows eliminating every other possible cause, which leads some to speculate that the condition isnt real, says Dr. Brian MacIntosh. One thing we know is that CFS sufferers feel profound fatigue and worsening of other symptoms following even moderate physical activity. Using our expertise in the field of exercise physiology we believe we can measure this post exertion malaise and say with certainty if an individual has recovered from exercise or if that activity is making them even more fatigued.

MacIntosh, who is the Faculty of Kinesiologys Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, is an expert in the area of muscle fatigue. Much of his research has centered on high-performance athletes in peak physical condition, however he says that this research fits in well with his overall area of interest.

The tools we have developed in high performance sport are perfectly suited to track muscle fatigue in this application so without question we will be able to get some concrete answers, he says.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 18, 2007, 9:59 PM CT

More Accurate Radiation Therapy for Expecting Mothers

More Accurate Radiation Therapy for Expecting Mothers
Instead of employing the conventional constructive solid geometry (CSG) tools to construct the computer model, Xu and his team turned to boundary representations (BREP) tools.
Photo Credit: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Developing fetuses are extremely sensitive to radiation, which poses an impossible dilemma for expecting mothers in need of screening or therapy for cancer. Now scientists from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a new set of modeling tools that could enable safer, more accurate, and more effective radiation treatment and nuclear medicine imaging procedures for pregnant women.

Radiation is a doubled-edged sword: It holds the power to cure cancer, but if used improperly it can also cause serious damage to the human body. The situation is even more critical with pregnant females, as any errant radiation could severely harm and impede the growth of the fetus.

"The human body is a particular challenge to model because of its wide variety of organs, each with a complex and unique shape," said X. George Xu, professor of nuclear and biomedical engineering at Rensselaer, who is leading the project. "Pregnant females are even more difficult to model using current methods, so we took an completely new approach".

Physicians use advanced computer simulations to determine the correct dose of radiation to administer to patients. These computer simulations are based on sophisticated virtual models of the human body. About 30 of these models, sometimes called "phantoms," have been developed worldwide.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


December 18, 2007, 9:52 PM CT

Maternal grandparents are more involved

Maternal grandparents are more involved
As families gather round for the winter holidays, some faces may be more familiar than others.

A recent study shows that the amount of social interaction between extended family members depends on whether people are related through their mother or father.

Thomas Pollet and his colleagues at Newcastle University and the University of Antwerp, Belgium, investigated how far maternal grandparents and paternal grandparents will go to maintain face-to-face contact with their grandchildren. They observed that maternal grandparents were willing to travel further in order to sustain frequent (daily or a few times a week) contact with their grandchildren than paternal grandparents.

Mr Pollet says, As the festive period approaches, we can still see that family get-togethers are integral to the celebrations. A number of people will be going the extra mile to ensure they meet up and weve observed thats especially important if family members are related through mothers.

Even in families where there has been divorce, we found consistent differences grandparents on your mother's side make the extra effort. We believe there are psychological mechanisms at play because throughout history, women are always related by maternity whereas men can never be wholly certain they are the biological father to their children.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Studies in monkeys and women suggest that unlike traditional estrogen therapy, a diet high in the natural plant estrogens found in soy does not increase the risk of uterine cancer in postmenopausal women, according to Mark Cline, D.V.M., Ph.D., an associate professor of comparative medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

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