Air pol­lu­tion joins fatty food and sec­ond-hand smoke as a heart risk

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health -

AIR pol­lu­tion could be just as dam­ag­ing to the heart as fatty foods and sec­ond-hand smoke. A study pub­lished on­line this week in Cir­cu­la­tionRe­search shows that ve­hi­cle ex­haust can trig­ger plaque build-up in the ar­ter­ies that can lead to heart at­tack and stroke. The study found that it’s the tini­est pol­lu­tant par­ti­cles, known as nanopar­ti­cles, that are the most toxic. Nanopar­ti­cles are about one-thou­sandth the width of a hu­man hair, and are also the most abun­dant par­ti­cles found in city air. Over a five-week pe­riod, sci­en­tists ex­posed mice with high choles­terol to one of two sizes of air pol­lu­tant par­ti­cles from Los An­ge­les free­way emis­sions. They were then com­pared to mice that re­ceived fil­tered air con­tain­ing very few par­ti­cles. Mice ex­posed to nanopar­ti­cles had 55 per cent more plaque de­vel­op­ment in their ar­ter­ies than those breath­ing fil­tered air, and 25 per cent more plaque de­vel­op­ment than mice ex­posed to slightly larger fine-sized par­ti­cles. Air qual­ity reg­u­la­tions need to be more strict, say the au­thors, to bet­ter con­trol nanopar­ti­cle lev­els. Cir­cRes 2008;doi:10.1161/cir­cre­saha.107.164970 (Araujo JA, et al) CAN­CER treat­ments are be­com­ing more ef­fec­tive at bat­tling the dis­ease, but they can still have a num­ber of side ef­fects, in­clud­ing se­vere tired­ness. Now new re­search has found that drugs com­monly used to treat anaemia and at­ten­tion deficit dis­or­der can help can­cer pa­tients to over­come fa­tigue. In the latest is­sue of the Cochrane Data­base of Sys­tem­atic Re­views, re­searchers re­port that two drugs used to in­crease the num­ber of red blood cells in the body — ery­thro­poi­etin and dar­be­poi­etin — are also ef­fec­tive in re­liev­ing fa­tigue in can­cer pa­tients with anaemia. They also found that the stim­u­lant called methylphenidate (Ri­talin) can im­prove can­cer-re­lated fa­tigue. The con­clu­sions are based on 27 sep­a­rate stud­ies in which a to­tal of 6746 par­tic­i­pants were ran­domly as­signed to take one of the drugs or a placebo. De­spite the ef­fec­tive­ness of drug treat­ments for fa­tigue, the au­thors claim that ex­er­cise and coun­selling may also help. Cochrane Data­base Syst Rev 2008;1 (Minton O, et al) AL­TER­ING the im­mune sys­tem of pa­tients with heart fail­ure re­duces their risk of hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion and death, con­cludes a new study in The Lancet . Sci­en­tists used a new method called ‘‘ im­mune mod­u­la­tion ther­apy’’ (IMT), in which a small sam­ple of blood is taken from a pa­tient, in­ten­tion­ally dam­aged by ex­po­sure to oxy­gen, ozone and ul­tra­vi­o­let light, and then in­jected back into the same pa­tient. The dam­aged blood tricks the im­mune sys­tem into pro­duc­ing large num­bers of an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory cells, which help to heal the heart. The trial in­volved 2246 pa­tients with heart fail­ure. Half were given IMT once a month for six months, and the other half had blood taken, but were given back a salt so­lu­tion in­stead of their dam­aged blood. In pa­tients with no his­tory of heart at­tack, IMT re­duced the risk of re­hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion and death by 26 per cent. In those with the most se­vere heart fail­ure, those risks were re­duced by 39 per cent. Lancet 2008;371:228-236 (Torre-Amione G, et al) MUS­CU­LAR dys­tro­phy — an in­her­ited dis­ease that causes pro­gres­sive mus­cle weak­ness — could one day be treated us­ing stem cells gen­er­ated from a pa­tient’s skin. In the cur­rent is­sue of Na­ture Medicine , sci­en­tists have shown that trans­plan­ta­tion of mouse stem cells di­rectly into the mus­cles of mice with mus­cu­lar dys­tro­phy can lead to the growth of new, healthy mus­cle cells. The tech­nique, which iden­ti­fies and uses only those stem cells that are des­tined to be­come mus­cle cells, was found to im­prove over­all mus­cle strength and co-or­di­na­tion in treated mice. Care­fully se­lected stem cells were in­jected into the leg mus­cles of mice lack­ing the dys­trophin pro­tein — the same pro­tein miss­ing in pa­tients with Duchenne mus­cu­lar dys­tro­phy. Three months later, treated mice had stronger mus­cles and bet­ter co-or­di­na­tion than un­treated mice, al­though they were not quite as strong or co­or­di­nated as nor­mal mice. NatMed 2008;doi:10.1038/nm1705 (Darabi R, et al) PEO­PLE with chronic fa­tigue syn­drome (CFS) suf­fer from ex­treme phys­i­cal and men­tal ex­haus­tion, but the cause of the dis­ease is un­known and there is no cure. Now a new study in the Jour­nalofClin­i­calEn­docrinol­ogy and Me­tab­o­lism has found that low morn­ing lev­els of a hor­mone called cor­ti­sol may be linked to CFS in women. The find­ings sug­gest that in­creas­ing cor­ti­sol lev­els may be a po­ten­tial treat­ment for CFS. Re­searchers screened 19,381 res­i­dents of the US state of Ge­or­gia by tele­phone in­ter­view and iden­ti­fied 292 peo­ple with CFS and 163 healthy con­trols. Of th­ese, 75 peo­ple with CFS and 110 con­trols col­lected their own saliva on one nor­mal work­day, im­me­di­ately upon wak­ing and 30 min­utes and 60 min­utes af­ter wak­ing. Com­pared to healthy women, women with CFS had sig­nif­i­cantly lower cor­ti­sol lev­els. There was no dif­fer­ence in cor­ti­sol lev­els be­tween men with CFS and healthy men. JClinEn­docrinolMetab 2008;doi:10.1210/jc.2007-1747 (Nater UM, et al) SEE­ING a chi­ro­prac­tor doesn’t in­crease the risk of stroke, con­cludes a study in the latest is­sue of Spine . In fact, the risk is the same whether you visit a chi­ro­prac­tor or the fam­ily GP, and that risk is very low. Pre­vi­ous stud­ies have sug­gested that the neck ma­nip­u­la­tion done by chi­ro­prac­tors can in­crease the risk of suf­fer­ing a ver­te­brobasi­lar artery (VBA) stroke. In this type of stroke, an artery sup­ply­ing blood to the brain is torn, and a clot dis­lodges and trav­els to the brain, block­ing cir­cu­la­tion. Re­searchers ex­am­ined med­i­cal records from hos­pi­tals in On­tario, Canada, over a nine-year pe­riod. Only 818 peo­ple suf­fered a VBA stroke dur­ing this time. While th­ese peo­ple were more likely to have vis­ited a chi­ro­prac­tor than those who did not go on to have as stroke, they were also more likely to have vis­ited the fam­ily doc­tor. Re­searchers say the as­so­ci­a­tion is due to pa­tients seek­ing help for neck pain — an early sign of stroke — rather than th­ese ser­vices caus­ing the stroke. Spine 2008;33:S176-S183 (Cas­sidy JD, et al) Want to know more? Items are ref­er­enced where pos­si­ble. A ref­er­ence such as ‘‘ 2007;35:18-25’’ means the source ar­ti­cle was pub­lished on pages 18-25 in vol­ume num­ber 35 of the pub­li­ca­tion, in 2007. A doi num­ber or web­site ad­dress is used for re­search pub­lished on a jour­nal’s web­site.

Ve­hi­cle emis­sions: Clog the ar­ter­ies

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