Tunes a top score when it comes to helping stroke patients remember
MUSIC affects our emotions, making us feel relaxed, energised, or even amorous, so it’s not surprising that it can also improve our health. New research in the journal Brain has found that listening to music in the early stages after a stroke can improve recovery, and should be added to the range of therapies offered to stroke sufferers. Shortly after being admitted to hospital, 54 patients were randomly assigned to either a music listening group, a language group or a control group. Over the next two months, the music group listened daily to music of their choice, the language group listened to audio books and the control group had no listening material. All three groups received standard medical care and rehabilitation. Three months after the stroke, verbal memory had improved by 60 per cent in music listeners, by 29 per cent in the control group and by 18 per cent in the audio book listeners. Music listeners felt less depressed and confused than the control group. Brain 2008;doi:10.1093/brain/awn013 (Sarkamo T, et al)
Kidney protection sometimes needed ANTIDEPRESSANT drugs are effective in treating obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), concludes a new study in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. The study found patients with OCD— an anxiety disorder that causes obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour — are twice as likely to improve while taking antidepressants than while taking a placebo. Researchers combined results of 17 separate studies involving 3097 participants. Treatment periods ranged from six to 13 weeks. Overall, the antidepressants known as SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors), including Prozac and Zoloft, were more effective than a placebo in reducing OCD symptoms. Side-effects of the SSRIs included nausea, headache and insomnia. Psychiatric therapy is the most common treatment for OCD, but antidepressants could help patients who refuse therapy or receive no benefit from it, say the authors. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2008; doi:10.1002/ 14651858.CD001765.pub3 (Soomro GM, et al) SOME patients undergoing a medical scan should take a drug called N-acetylcysteine to best protect their kidneys, according to research in the latest issue of the Annalsof InternalMedicine . Medical imaging methods such as CT (computed tomography) scanning and angiograms can involve injecting an iodine-containing dye. There have been 41 studies looking at how well different drugs are able to protect the kidneys from the toxic effects of iodine. Researchers examined all of these studies, and found that taking an N-acetylcysteine tablet before the iodine injection protects patients better than other drugs used for the same purpose. Older people and those with diabetes or heart failure may already have kidney damage, and may benefit the most from taking the pre-scan drug. AnnInternMed 2008;148:284-294 (Kelly AM, et al) HERPES viruses may increase the risk of pregnancy complications, finds a new Australian study in the BritishJournalof ObstetricsandGynaecology . The study, led by doctor Catherine Gibson from the University of Adelaide, links the baby’s exposure to viruses with high blood pressure in the mother. Maternal high blood pressure occurs in around 10 per cent of pregnancies in Australia, and can lead to premature birth and a potentially lifethreatening condition known as pre-eclampsia. When a baby is born, a heel-prick blood sample is placed on a card and tested for genetic diseases. The research team tested 1326 of these newborn screening cards for viral DNA — a sign that the baby had been exposed to a virus from its mother. There were 717 babies that had suffered complications during pregnancy, and 609 healthy controls. Compared to those with no viral DNA, babies with any herpes virus DNA were nearly six times more likely to have a mother with pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. The risk of some pregnancy complications could be reduced, say the authors, by vaccinating women against herpes viruses. BJOG 2008; 115:492-500 (Gibson CS, et al) TICK saliva could be a new source of drugs to tackle HIV— the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS. In Biochemicaland BiophysicalResearchCommunications this week, scientists report that the saliva of deer ticks contains a protein called Salp15, which can prevent HIV from attacking the body’s immune system. It does this by stopping the virus from attaching to the surface of white blood cells called T-cells. In laboratory studies, Salp15 was able to reduce the attachment of HIV to T-cells by almost 70 per cent at the highest concentration tested. Binding to T-cells is the first step in HIV infection, so a drug containing Salp15 could be used to stop infection before it begins, say the authors. BiochemBiophysResCommun 2008;367:41-46 (Juncadella IJ, et al) GROUP education can change the attitude and behaviour of newly-diagnosed diabetics and significantly improve their health, finds a study published online in the BritishMedical Journal this week. Without good management, type 2 diabetes can lead to serious complications such as blindness, kidney failure, limb amputation and premature death. The study involved 824 patients with newlydiagnosed type 2 diabetes, with an average age of 59.5 years. Half received a six-hour group education program and the other half received standard care. One year later, those in the education group had lost an average of 1.1 kilograms (compared to no weight loss in the control group), and a greater proportion had given up smoking compared to the control group. In follow-up surveys, those in the education group showed a greater understanding of their illness and its seriousness, and lower rates of depression than those receiving standard care. BMJ 2008; doi:10.1136/bmj.39474.922025.BE (Davies MJ, 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.