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Health Archives – Page 21 of 25 – Mirror Daily

A recent study published in the JAMA Dermatology journal shows that a significant percentage of patients following treatment for acne tend not to abide by them, especially if prescribed two or more different medications.

The study was done on 143 individuals that had various levels of medication prescribed for acne by dermatologists, with more than a quarter of them overall failing to acquire the prescribed medicine in full.

If those that had only one medication prescribed mostly acquired and took it as they were told, with only 9 percent failing to do so, the problem appeared in more serious cases where two or more different medications were prescribed. About 40 percent of those that were recommended two did not respect the dermatologist’s prescription, while in the case of those with three or more different medicines the treatment was not respected by 31 percent of acne sufferers.

“Non-adherence is a pervasive problem in all of medicine, particularly when treating chronic conditions such as acne. A previous study reported a 10 percent primary non-adherence rate for acne patients, so we were surprised that what we found was more than twice that” commented lead study author Dr. Steven Feldman, professor of dermatology at North Carolina’s Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

The study also showed that patients that were recommended pill based prescriptions were more likely to adhere to it than those recommended other types of treatment, such as lotions or creams. The causes for non-adherence in those that were prescribed multiple medications are mostly backed by financial reasons, with some of the products not being covered by health insurance, as most companies consider it a cosmetic issue rather than a medical condition.

According to, about 60 million American citizens suffer from active acne, with rates being 85 percent in case of teenagers and 20 percent of adults. About a third all acne sufferers in the U.S. present more severe cases that threaten to leave them with longtime scars. Despite this, only few over ten percent of all of them seek help from dermatologists, with most either not doing anything or buying over-the-counter medication on their own from drug stores.

Image Source: Master Herald

In a study whose results were presented at the 64th Annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology, researchers compared a new, less invasive heart-valve technique called TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement) to traditional heart surgery methods. The study was conducted over two years and it showed that patients with aortic stenosis (a clinical condition manifested in the narrowing of the aortic valve opening) who underwent TAVR had a continued survival advantage over patients who underwent normal surgery.

The TAVR procedure is particularly useful in cases of older or physically weaker patients, whose health profiles would not easily allow a traditional surgical valve replacement. Until now, the standard operation was performed on aortic stenosis patients, because the risks of leaving them with a dysfunctional valve were too great (the smaller blood-flow forces the heart to work harder for the same results, which can lead to heart failure in time).

Within the experiment (called CoreValve US Pivotal High Risk Trial), patients whose heart surgery death risks were high were required to undergo either TAVR or the standard surgical procedure, according to a randomized distribution system. In the first year, death rates were considerably lower for the 390 patients who had TAVR than for the 357 patients who underwent open-heart surgery.

Medical Doctor and Cardiovascular Research Professor at Huston Methodist Hospital Michael J. Reardon, the study’s lead author, concluded that “survival is statistically better with TAVR”, deaths of any cause being 4.8% fewer among the TAVR batch of patients in the first year, and 6.4% fewer than the deaths of standard surgery patients in the second year. Other indicators also proved TAVR to be more efficient than the standard procedure: the rate of strokes was 10.9% (compared to 16.6% for surgery patients), while the rate of major adverse cardiovascular or cerebrovascular events was 29.7% in TAVR patients and 38.6% among surgery patients. Professor Reardon mentioned that another concern for cardiologists is usually the durability of replacement valves, but TAVR also fared better on this test – “effective valve orifice and mean pressure gradients (…) were statistically superior with TAVR”, the researcher said, which means that there are no indications of valve deterioration.

The only test where the standard procedure still surpasses TAVR in results is paravalvular leakage. Although severe paravalvular leakage was only 6% with TAVR in the two-year test, and it did not correlate with increased mortality, the lead-author of the study says that TAVR is recommended especially as an alternative to surgery, in the case of aortic stenosis patients who are at a high risk of not resisting heart surgery. Since the CoreValve High Risk Trial is a five year study, these are only early results and need to be confirmed.

image source: American Heart Association

During her fourth appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres show on Thursday night, Mrs. Obama announced that on April 6, for the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House, she and the All Stars from “So You Think You Can Dance” will organize a dance session and teach everyone to perform the “GimmeFive” dance. This event is part of the celebration of the fifth anniversary of Michelle Obama’s anti-childhood-obesity campaign called “Let’s Move”.

To promote the campaign, Mrs. Obama told Ellen DeGeneres, she has launched an initiative known on social media as “#GimmeFive”, asking both celebrities and ordinary people to state five things they are doing to improve their physical condition and work towards a healthy lifestyle. From Beyonce, Ryan Seacrest, or Nick Jonas to the astronauts on the International Space Station, a lot of celebrities joined the campaign. Michelle Obama helped schoolchildren plant beetroots and other healthy vegetables, an event which was also included in the #GimmeFive initiative. She also participated in sport competitions with high-school girls. Five ways to stay healthy can include workout routines or eating habits, but also styles of relaxation or ways of practicing ecological agriculture.

The full video of Ellen DeGeneres’s show will be broadcasted on Monday, but the producers have already released a fragment of that video yesterday, showing Michelle Obama and Ellen DeGeneres, along with a troupe of backup dancers, perform the “GimmeFive” dance, to the tune of “Uptown Funk”, a hit song played by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars.

Although it’s hard not to joke when you’re around Ellen DeGeneres – and Michelle Obama did display a strong sense of humor – the First Lady seemed to take her exercise routine very seriously. She and Ellen DeGeneres spoke of a push-up competition – of which pictures were shown during the filming – and the dance too was staged as a sort of I-dare-you-to-do-this contest between the two famous women. When asked how intensely she has been working out, Michelle Obama jestingly warned Ellen DeGeneres not to make her take off her jacket.

The First Lady’s trip to Burbank, California, where the Ellen DeGeneres show is filmed, was a surprise one. Her office had not previously announced it. Although President Barack Obama also travelled to California on the same day, to appear on the Jimmy Kimmel Live talk-show, their schedules didn’t overlap and they flew separately. Michelle Obama was back in Washington on Friday, according to White House spokesman Eric Schultz.

image source: twitter

Even when patients with AIDS do not have the herpes virus, taking Valacyclovir (a drug that is prescribed normally for genital herpes) can improve their condition, by reducing the levels of HIV viruses in their cells.

The lead author of the study, Leonid Margolis (head of the Section of Intercellular Interactions at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the US), pointed out that the results are highly encouraging and the test should be repeated with larger groups of patients. If new tests confirm the findings so far, Valacyclovir could be included in the drug combination used to neutralize the HIV virus, especially in cases where the virus has become resistant to other kinds of drugs – Leonid Margolis declared on Friday.

The results of this study were published by Margolis and his team in the British journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases. Experts from four centers (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Washington, Case Western Reserve University, Emory University, and the Civic Association for Health and Education in Peru) were involved in the research.

Previous studies had already shown that Valacyclovir is efficient in decreasing HIV levels in patients who suffered from both AIDS (caused by the HIV virus) and genital herpes (caused by the herpes simplex virus 2 – HSV-2). But it was believed that the lower HIV levels were due to the smaller numbers of immune cells which could carry HIV, which in its turn was explained by Valacyclovir’s action against HSV-2. Now, the researchers tested the hypothesis that reduced HIV levels in patients treated with Valacyclovir are due directly to the medication’s effect against HIV’s reproductive mechanism.

To verify that this is the case, the specialists studied 18 patients in whose cells the HIV virus was present, but the HSV-2 virus was not. 9 patients took the drug twice every day in the course of three months, while the other 9 were administered a placebo. The two groups were switched after half a month, and the placebo group was given Valacyclovir, while the first group received a placebo. The HIV virus levels in the patients’ blood increased and decreased considerably according to whether they were on placebo or on Valacyclovir – the patients who took the drug in the interval when they were tested had less HIV viruses than the patients who were on placebo. This indicates that Valacyclovir has a direct impact on HIV levels, regardless of the presence of HSV-2. Scholars hope that further study will confirm the discovery, in order to improve the lives of the 35 million people currently living with AIDS.

image source: wikipedia

A recent study published in the Hippocampus journal concludes that those who used cannabis frequently in their youth have a higher chance of suffering from poor memory than non-pot smokers.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Northwestern University of Chicago and confirms a previous 2008 Australian study that linked heavy-marijuana use to development of an abnormal brain structure.

The study was done on 97 participants, both with or without mental illnesses and a heavy pot-smoking history. The marijuana users were selected on the basis of not having consumed other drugs and had used the substance daily in age periods between 16 and 20. Participants were also selected from those that had reported not using the drug in the past two years.

They were required to take a “narrative memory” test, where they were asked to recall as many details as possible from short stories they were told 20 to 30 minutes prior.

Former pot users scored on average 18% worse than their marijuana-free counterparts, with participants diagnosed with schizophrenia having scored 26% worse if they used to be heavy pot smokers. The research also confirmed past study that indicated heavy marijuana users display an abnormally structured hippocampus, a part of the brain which is very important for the ability to remember specific events. This might suggest the neuron and axons inside that part being damaged by heavy pot use.

The degrees of abnormality in hippocampus shape were higher for those who admitted to the longest term of frequent marijuana use.

However, the study is inconclusive as it stands, as while various degrees of marijuana use seem to match corresponding degrees of abnormal brain structure, the relation between the two can only be implied. A study done on a longer time period would be the only one capable of proving the link between pot smoking and poorer memory.

Marijuana use is increasing in the United States and several states have already legalized it for private use. The latest debate concerning the legalization of THC based smoking substances has the country capital’s District of Columbia stand-off with the Republican-led Congress, with an overwhelming popular support being gathered by legalize campaigns.

Image Source: USA Today

The Indian National Institute of Virology has released a statement Thursday afternoon in which it denies claims brought by a recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study, which states that the swine flu virus has acquired deadlier mutations in the Asian country.

The MIT study initially published on Wednesday suggests that the virus has mutated to become more virulent and immune to known vaccines since its worldwide outbreak in 2009. The study was done by analyzing genetic sequences of two Indian swine flu strains form 2014 accessible through a public database.

But the Indian government agency has responded Thursday night to this by declaring the results of the MIT study, done by two researchers of Indian origin, to be incorrect. They said the current form of the virus in India bears no difference when compared with the one that started a global pandemic five years ago, claiming more than 280.000 lives.

This hardly explains why the number of H1N1 related deaths in India during 2015’s first two and a half months are higher than in the past four years combined. Indian government officials have admitted towards the end of February that the current 21 laboratories country-wide that could analyze swine flu strains are too few to keep up with the pace of the rapidly spreading virus, while also promising efforts are underway to supply this number.

Over 1,500 Indian citizens have succumbed in 2015 to the H1N1 virus, which already represents six times the total number of deaths related to swine flu in 2014. This has also caused concern in several experts from neighboring Pakistan, who fear that the epidemic will cross the Indian-Pakistani border.

One of the paper’s authors, Dr. Ram Sasisekharan, responded to claims that his research was incorrect in an e-mail to Indian newspaper The Indian Express, by stating that the two virus strains analyzed were the only ones publicly available. He also asked Indian authorities to make available more information about the disease, including samples of the current strain affecting the country.

Whether the sharp increase in deaths is caused by poor prevention strategies and lack of vaccines to some areas or it can actually be attributed to the virus mutating into a deadlier form, Indian authorities still seem to keep the façade that everything is under control, even in the conditions of a death toll rising by the day in the nation.

Image Source: Indian Express

A new study has revealed that heavy pot use in adolescence is linked to weaker memories. It appears that teens who smoke a lot of pot have poorer memories and also some brain abnormalities than those who smoke less or no marijuana at all. While the study cannot safely say which one came first, the brain abnormalities or the pot use, it is safe to say that heavy pot use does have long-terms effects. The results of the study were published in the journal Hippocampus.

The study was performed by a team of researchers from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The team followed 97 teenagers with and without mental illness. The teens who smoked weed, said that they had started using the drug at 16 or 17 and that they have been using pot and just pot daily.

After careful examination it was revealed that marijuana users had some brain abnormalities, such as an abnormally-shaped hippocampus, which is the area of the brain used for storing long-term memory. They also performed 18% worse on long-term memory tasks.

Doctor John Csernansky, one of the authors of the study, said that the memory processes that appear to be affected by marijuana are the ones that people use every single day to sustain relationships with family and friends and to solve common issues.

The Northwestern University researchers admit that the abnormalities in the brain could reveal a pre-existing vulnerability to pot abuse, but there is evidence that sustains the fact that the longer participants were abusing the drug, the greater the differences in hippocampus shape, which means that marijuana may very well be the cause.

The effect of heavy pot use in teens lasted into the early 20s, even after the volunteers stopped smoking pot.

It was also found that patients with schizophrenia who were heavy pot smokers did about 26% worse on memory tests than the schizophrenia patients who did not smoke pot.

While marijuana has been found to help with glaucoma, nausea and cancer pain, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly opposes non-medical use of marijuana for children and teens.

Past studies have also found that marijuana is the safest substance to abuse. Pot was found to be far less likely to kill than alcohol, hard drugs such as heroin and even tobacco.

Image Source: Telegraph

That the experience of time depends on people’s state of mind (a feeling of anticipation can make it appear to go by slowly, while fear or stress can make it seem to pass faster) is already common knowledge to psychologists. However, we had not had data so far regarding the way people with mental disorders perceive the passage of time. Recently, a new analysis of 16 individual studies, collected and compared in a meta-study conducted by psychologists Dr. Sven Thönes and Dr. Daniel Oberfeld-Twistel from the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, revealed that patients suffering from depression perceive time as passing more slowly.

The 16 studies upon which the meta-study was based included 433 patients with depression and 485 control subjects. The earliest of the studies dates back to 1977, although interest in the topic stemmed as early as the 1940s. Dr. Oberfeld-Twistel said that many doctors, nurses, and psychologists had noticed depressed people’s complaints that time hardly seems to pass, which is why they conducted the study. Their results confirmed that the subjective perception of time is altered by depression, meaning that people affected by the illness feel that time nearly ceases to advance.

However, depressed persons did not differ significantly from healthy subjects when it came to objective time-approximation. Subjects with depression were able to estimate how many minutes a movie lasts, to press a button for a number of seconds, or to discriminate which of two sounds lasted longer just as precisely as subjects without this mental condition. No significant statistical difference was recorded between the two groups, which means that depressive people’s subjective perception of time-passage does not alter their evaluation of actual time intervals. This proves that there is more than one area in the brain responsible for time estimation. Depression only affects part of these areas.

The studies that Thönes and Oberfeld-Twistel analyzed in their meta-study did not include relevant information about the effects of antidepressants and psychotherapy. Neither were the cases of bipolar disorder included, as far as time-perception is concerned. The authors suggest that future studies are required to establish the difference between subjective time-perception and time-estimation capacities. The findings of the Mainz-based scholars were published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

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A new study has found that both physical and mental exercises may protect against age-related dementia. The results of the study were published in the journal The Lancet.

The study conducted by researchers from Finland and Sweden was meant to examine if a healthy, active lifestyle that included brain training, correct management of vascular and metabolic risk factors and exercise had any impact on age-related dementia.

For the study, 1,260 Finnish participants with ages between 60 and 77 were recruited. There were given standardized tests and it was concluded that all the patients were considered to be at risk of dementia. Then, the group was split in two: the control group and the intervention group.

The people in the intervention group had regular meetings over the course of 2 years with health professionals. They were given comprehensive advice on how to maintain a healthy diet, they were told how to train their muscles and hearts, they were taught how to perform mental exercises and how to use blood tests to manage vascular and metabolic risk factors.

The control group did not receive any training or advice of any kind.

At the end of the 2-year study period, the participants were given the standardized Neuropsychological Test Battery to have their mental function assessed. It was found that the intervention group scored 25% higher (which translated into better mental functioning) than the control group.

The researchers also found that the intervention group also scored 83% higher that the control on the ability to regulate and organize thought processes and a whopping 150% higher on processing speed.

In order to establish whether the reduction in cognitive decline is also followed by a reduction in diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, the participants will be followed for at least 7 more years.

Lead author of the study, Professor Miia Kivipelto, from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden declared that much of the research done previous to theirs has shown that there are links between age-related cognitive decline and factors such as fitness, diet and heart health. She concluded:

However, our study is the first large randomized controlled trial to show that an intensive program aimed at addressing these risk factors might be able to prevent cognitive decline in elderly people who are at risk of dementia.

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A study published in the Molecular Psychiatry journal shows that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is caused by genes that are also associated with the immune system.

The study was done by analyzing blood samples pertaining to 188 Marines both before and after they activated in conflict zones. Those that ended up developing PTSD showed a change in the relation and dynamics between multiple genes, which are also responsible for regulating and signaling disorders of the human body’s immune system.

It has been thought for a long time that PTSD is somehow linked to genetic factors, but previous studies focused on different gene expressions between sufferers and non-sufferers alike. This study instead compared whole transcriptome RNA sequences, and it found genetic differences in sufferers both before and after being afflicted with the condition.

Michael S. Breen, professor at the UK’s University of Southampton and one of the study’s top researchers, considers that the key to understanding the affliction’s pathology consists in analyzing the complex relations between different genes, as PTSD itself is regarded as a complicated disorder.

Posttraumatic stress disorder is a mental health issue that appears after suffering through a traumatic event – be it witnessing death, sexual or violent assault or near-death experiences – and manifests itself in the form of nightmares, flashbacks of the event or feelings of being estranged.

The condition is most common amongst those that have participated or seen military action and conflict zones; about 11 to 20 percent of soldiers that served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Force have shown symptom of posttraumatic disease during service or after discharge.

This doesn’t mean it isn’t irregular for normal people, as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 7 to 8 percent of the population will develop PTSD during their life. Women that witness traumatic events also seem to be more liable to develop PTSD than men in similar conditions.

The research might prove to be important not only military-wise, in providing a better means of identifying combatants that are more likely to develop posttraumatic conditions, but it can also help the development of better treatment for it.

PTSD is currently treated through therapy mostly, with medicine being prescribed for its secondary effects – such as depression or anxiety – but the cases in which the individual does not fully recover are not uncommon. Discovery of its specific genetic nature might help the development of drugs that can be used to combat it directly.

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