Tunes a top score when it comes to help­ing stroke pa­tients re­mem­ber

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health - Com­piled by Dr Chris­tine White

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.

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