Hospitalizations for heart problems are associated with weather and air pollution.

A study published in the June 2023 issue of JACC Advances suggests that a model that accounts for air pollution and meteorological conditions may be able to predict future cardiac issues.

In order to develop the model, scientists examined climatic and meteorological data along with hospital admissions for heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure across a ten-year period. They examined information on almost 24 million Canadians, who were split up into five age groups that went from 18 to 70 years old. A higher risk of hospitalization for one of the major cardiovascular illnesses has been associated with lower temperatures, higher wind speeds, atmospheric pressure, higher levels of precipitation, and higher pollution levels, especially in the elderly population.

The scientists suggest that one day, the environmental characteristics they found may be utilized to estimate the prevalence of cardiovascular issues, allowing for more effective planning during times of high risk. Additionally, during periods of bad weather and low air quality, people should be reminded to stay indoors and exercise particular caution.

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Exposure to noise may increase the risk of cardiovascular issues.

According to a recent study, long-term exposure to the noise produced by cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The Harvard-led examination of three decades' worth of data from 114,116 women involved in the Nurses' Health Study was published online by Environmental Health Perspectives on December 4, 2023. Researchers evaluated the relationship between noise levels where participants lived and their incidence of cardiovascular disease using a geospatial noise model developed by the National Park Service. This model estimates noise levels in different locations using data gathered from monitoring sites across the United States.

Researchers discovered that participants' long-term risk of cardiovascular illness increased with the amount of transportation noise they were exposed to. There was a 4% rise in cardiovascular issues such coronary artery disease and stroke for every four dB increase in noise above a baseline level. The authors of the study noted that prior research has similarly connected noise exposure to transient alterations in circulation, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and blood vessel narrowing.

This research it still being watched.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio
One of the most prevalent and crippling signs of Parkinson's disease, which is a neurological condition that affects over 9 million individuals globally, is freezing. A person with Parkinson's disease freezes; their feet frequently stop moving in mid-stride, causing them to staccato stutter and take shorter and shorter steps until they stop completely. These falls are one of the main causes of falls in Parkinson's disease patients.

Currently, a variety of pharmaceutical, surgical, and behavioral interventions are used to treat freezing, but none of them are very successful.

What if there was a method to completely avoid freezing?

To assist people with Parkinson's disease in walking without freezing, researchers from Boston University Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences and Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) used a soft, wearable robot that is placed around the tightened hips to gently press the hips when the leg swings.

The patient may walk with a longer stride thanks to the robotic garment, which is placed around the thighs and hips and gently presses the hips when the leg swings, helping the patient to achieve a longer stride.
The wearer was able to walk faster and farther than they could have without the assistance of the garment because the technology totally removed their freezing while they were indoors.

Conor Walsh, the Paul A. Maeder Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at SEAS and co-corresponding author of thestudy,y stated that it was found that the small amount of mechanical assistance from the wearable robot made an intermediate effect and consistently helped improve walking across a range of conditions for the individual.

The research showed the potential of soft robotics used to treat the dangrous symptoms of Parkinson disease, giving people the ability to regain both their mobility and independence.

Robotic exosuit helps Parkinson’s patient with mobility

The research is published in Nature Medicine.

Walsh's Biodesign Lab at SEAS has been developing technologies to improve life.

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering supported some of those technologies, including an exosuit for post-stroke gait retraining, and Harvard's Office of Technology Development arranged a license arrangement with ReWalk Robotics to commercialize the technology.

SEAS and Sargent College received a grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to support the development and translation of next-generation robotics and wearable technologies in 2022. The Move Lab's goal is to support advancements in human performance and enhance them by providing the R&D infrastructure, funding, collaborative space, and experience needed to transform promising research into mature technologies that can be translated through industry partnerships, which serves as the focal point for the research.

Three months were spent by the team working with a 73-year-old man who had Parkinson’s disease and had significant and incapacitating freezing episodes more than ten times a day. Despite using both surgical and pharmaceutical treatments, he still had frequent falls, making him rely on a scooter to move around and prevent him from walking around his community.

In previous research, Walsh and his team made use of human-in-the-loop optimization to demonstrate that a soft, wearable device can be used to augment hip flexion and assist in swinging the leg forward to provide an efficient approach to reducing energy expenditure during walking in healthy individuals.

The researchers addressed freezing using the same approach. It is worn around the waist and thighs, and it is powered by actuators and sensors. With the motion data collected by the sensor, algorithms determine the phase of gait and produce assistive forces in sync with the muscle contraction.

The result was immediate. The patient was able to walk without freezing indoors and with just sporadic episodes outdoors without the need for any extra training. Without the gadget, he was also able to walk and talk without freezing, which was unusual.

The team was quite thrilled to observe how the technology affected the subjects' gait," stated Jinsoo Kim, a co-lead author of the study and a former Ph.D. candidate at SEAS.

Ellis went on to say, "We don't really know why this approach works so well because we don't really understand freezing." This study, however, points out the potential benefits of approaching gait freezing from the "bottom-up" rather than the "top-down" perspective. The recovery to nearly normal biomechanics alters the peripheral gait dynamics and may influence the processing of central gait control.
Andrew Chin, Teresa Baker, Nicholas Wendel, Hee Doo Yang, Jinsoo Kim, and Franchino Porciuncula were co-authors of the study. Ada Huang, Asa Eckert-Erdheim, and Dorothy Orzel also contributed to the technology's design, and Sarah Sullivan oversaw the clinical research.

It was supported by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative's Collaborative Research and Development Matching Grant, the National Institutes of Health's NIH U01 TR002775, and the National Science Foundation's CMMI-1925085.

An increased body mass index (BMI) is a significant risk factor for osteoarthritis development. However, a recent study indicates that being overweight increases the risk of developing inflammatory joint diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

The study included around 362,000 people who were members of the UK Biobank, a sizable biological database, and was published online by the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology on May 23, 2023. In order to determine a participant's risk of developing any of five joint conditions—rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, gout, and inflammatory spondylitis, a form of spinal arthritis—researchers looked at the relationship between the participant's BMI and these conditions. Apart from osteoarthritis, inflammation is the primary cause of most other joint illnesses. 

Compared to those in the normal BMI range, participants with higher BMIs (substantially greater than the "normal" BMI range of 18.5 to 24.9) had higher incidences of psoriatic arthritis (80%), gout (73%), inflammatory spondylitis (34%), and rheumatoid arthritis (52%). The authors of the study found that maintaining a healthy weight can help lower the chance of acquiring a joint illness.

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Socializing has been linked to a lower chance of dying young, among other health benefits. However, how much socialization might prolong one's life? On March 6, 2023, the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health published a sizable Chinese study online that suggests—possibly not at all. Researchers assessed the well-being, way of life, and self-reported social engagement of almost 28,000 individuals (average age: 89) whose survival was monitored for a mean of five years or until they passed away. People lived longer during the first five years of life, the more socialized they were. The people who socialized daily, weekly, monthly, or infrequently all lived longer than the previous group.

Recent research has reignited the discussion on the impact of alcohol on health. The question remains: is moderate drinking beneficial for your heart, or should you abstain as you get older?

The answer is not straightforward. "There's solid evidence that moderate drinkers who have one to two drinks per day tend to live longer," says Eric Rimm, a professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. However, it's still unclear whether this longevity is directly linked to alcohol, other lifestyle factors, or a combination of both.

Moderate alcohol intake is believed to raise levels of "good" HDL cholesterol, which is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. It may also help prevent the formation of small blood clots that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

A new study suggests that women who suffer from migraine headaches prior to becoming pregnant may be at greater risk for pregnancy complications that could endanger their health or that of their unborn child.

The Harvard-led research, which was published online by Neurology on January 19, 2023, analysed 20 years' worth of data from Nurses Health Research II, which included 30,555 pregnancies among 19,694 nurses in the United States. The number of women who reported being diagnosed with migraine, as well as the form of migraine, were evaluated by the researchers. In addition, participants reported whether they had experienced medical complications during pregnancy.

The Impact of Junk Food on Deep Sleep: How Your Diet Affects Restful Nights

Are you looking to improve the quality of your sleep? It might be time to reconsider your junk food habits. Recent research has revealed that consuming an unhealthy diet high in processed foods can have a detrimental effect on deep sleep, also known as slow-wave sleep. This particular stage of sleep plays a crucial role in the release of growth hormone, which aids in the repair and development of muscles, bones, and other tissues. Additionally, deep sleep contributes to enhanced cognitive function and memory.

A study, published online on May 28, 2023, in the prestigious journal Obesity, examined the sleep patterns of 15 healthy men with regular sleep routines, averaging seven to nine hours per night. These participants were divided into two groups: one consumed a healthy diet, while the other followed an unhealthy diet for a week. Although both diets provided the same number of calories tailored to each individual's daily needs, the unhealthy diet contained higher levels of sugar and saturated fat, along with a significant portion of processed foods.

New research suggests that individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The study, conducted in Sweden, examined the medical records of over 5.4 million people without pre-existing cardiovascular conditions. The findings revealed that 38% of those with ADHD were diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, compared to 24% of individuals without ADHD. The increased risk remained even after accounting for other factors that contribute to heart problems, such as obesity, sleep issues, and heavy smoking. Surprisingly, the study also found that the use of medication for ADHD did not impact the elevated risk. The authors of the study recommend that individuals with ADHD be closely monitored for signs of heart disease. The findings were published in the October 2022 edition of World Psychiatry.

New research suggests that consuming more foods rich in magnesium could improve brain health, particularly in women. The study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, involved over 6,000 adults aged 40 to 73 in the UK. Participants completed an online survey multiple times over 16 months, which allowed researchers to calculate their average daily magnesium intake based on their consumption of various magnesium-rich foods such as leafy greens, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole grains. MRI imaging was used to measure participants' brain volumes. The findings revealed that individuals who consumed more than 550 milligrams of magnesium per day had larger brain volumes, equivalent to a brain age approximately one year younger by the age of 55, compared to those who consumed about 350 milligrams of magnesium daily. These effects were more pronounced in women compared to men. The researchers noted that less age-related brain shrinkage is associated with better brain function and a reduced risk of dementia in the future

Similar brain changes are observed in individuals with obesity and those with Alzheimer's disease, according to a recent analysis. The study, published on January 31, 2023, in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, involved a review of brain scans from over 1,300 participants. Among them were 341 individuals with Alzheimer's, 341 individuals with obesity, and 682 individuals without either condition. The scans revealed comparable thinning in brain regions associated with learning, memory, and judgment in both the Alzheimer's and obesity groups. While cognitive tests taken by obese participants, defined as having a body mass index of 30 or higher, did not show evident mental deficits, the researchers acknowledged that these tests might not capture subtle changes in thinking abilities related to brain alterations.

According to a new study, military veterans who participated in home-based cardiac rehabilitation were 36% less likely to pass away within four years than those who chose not to participate. Cardiac rehab is a specialized program of education and exercise that can be carried out at home or in a medical facility to assist patients in recovering from heart-related conditions.

It's "buyer beware" when it comes to direct-to-consumer (DTC) men's health clinics because many of them provide pricey treatments that aren't backed by research and don't have the necessary medical oversight, according to a research study that was published online on February 1, 2023, by Urology.

Researchers found 233 DTC men's health clinics. These clinics provided erectile dysfunction treatments such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, penile shock wave therapy, testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), and penile shock wave therapy. The criteria for utilizing TRT, however, are still up for debate, and the majority of clinics did not adhere to established testing and diagnosis procedures for low testosterone levels, according to the study. Penile shock wave therapy and PRP should only be used in clinical trial settings, they warned, as their efficacy is still being investigated.
Can a multivitamin improve your memory?

We are flooded with commercials for vitamins and supplements that claim to provide a variety of health advantages, including enhanced memory. According to a May 2023 study of senior citizens, taking a daily multivitamin can do exactly that—improve your memory to the point where it performs as if you are three years younger.

What does this mean for your daily multivitamin
Let's examine the study in more detail.

Who participated in this trial on multivitamins?
This study is a component of a large study on the impact of multivitamins and/or cocoa, the primary component of chocolate, on outcomes related to cancer and cardiovascular disease. A previous substudy discovered that taking a daily multivitamin improved thinking and memory, at least when measured through phone-based cognitive tests.

3,562 individuals in this study were willing and able to complete various tests of reasoning and memory on a home computer. The other half received a placebo, while the first half received a multivitamin.

The results might not be generalizable because the individuals identified as 93% white, 2.5% African American, and 1.4% Hispanic. Additionally, they possessed a good education; more than half had graduated from college. The average age in both groups was 71.

How did researchers test memory?
At baseline, one, two, and three years later, the researchers assessed the subjects' thinking and memory.

Participants in the memory test had to memorise 20 words that were displayed on a computer screen in order. They had to immediately put in as many words as they could recall after seeing these words (this was the main test of memory). They also filled in all the words they remembered fifteen minutes later (a secondary test of memory).

Other supplemental measures comprise:

a test for distinguishing novel objects (is this thing the same as or different from the one just shown?)
a test of executive control (is the middle arrow red or blue in a row of nine arrows?)
One, two, and three years later, the subjects took all of the exams again.

What conclusions did this study reach?
In the first year, the two groups had different immediate recalls:

When given a placebo, participants' average instantaneous recall of 7.21 words at baseline increased to 7.65 words (a change of 0.43 words).
Those who took a daily multivitamin increased their word count from 7.10 at baseline to 7.81 words (a 0.70 word increase).
Statistics showed that this outcome was significant. These minor impacts also persisted in years two and three. By the third year, the multivitamin group had an average of 8.28 words that they could recall right away, compared to 8.17 for the placebo group.

On measures of executive function and secondary memory, there were no differences between the two groups.
This research is still on the watch

A new study reveals that the risk of arterial blockage in the heart and neck increases in proportion to one's salt intake. Heart attacks and strokes can occur when plaque builds up in the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis.

There were 10,788 patients between the ages of 50 and 64 included in the study that was published in the European Heart Journal Open in March 2023. Researchers calculated participants' salt intake by analysing 24-hour urine samples for sodium levels (sodium is the major component of salt). All of the study participants had cardiac ultrasounds and other imaging procedures to check for atherosclerosis.

Have two minutes to work out? Then you have sufficient time to reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and potentially premature death, according to a study published online by the European Heart Journal on October 27, 2022.

Researchers examined over 72,000 adults, with an average age of 62, who lacked cardiovascular disease or cancer. The participants wore a wrist-worn activity monitor for one week. The device measured their total activity, vigorous activity, and the frequency of at least two minutes of vigorous activity. (During vigorous exertion, it is typically impossible to speak in complete sentences.)

There isn't a drug on the market right now that can reduce your chance of dementia by 50%. But according to a study that was published online on September 6, 2022, by JAMA Neurology, doing roughly 10,000 steps each day might help. More than 78,000 healthy individuals (aged 40 to 79) who wore fitness trackers continuously for at least three days and were subsequently monitored for seven years were subjected to an analysis of their health and activity data. People who walked roughly 9,800 steps per day (about five miles) were 51% less likely to acquire dementia than those who did not walk at all. The risk of dementia decreased by roughly 25% in people who walked just 3,800 steps per day, or about two miles. Since the study was observational, it is impossible to say with certainty that walking alone created the difference. However, adding a few extra steps to your regular routine wouldn't hurt. Your health will benefit from taking more steps, including your heart, brain, and ability to ward off cancer.
According to new research, bariatric surgery may result in long-lasting improvements in pain and physical abilities.

The proven benefits of weight loss surgery include lowering blood pressure, improving blood sugar levels, and reducing cardiovascular risk. Now, data from a large multicenter study of bariatric surgery in the United States indicates that permanent improvements in pain and physical function may be added to this list.

iStock photos

What was the focus of the study?
This study followed approximately 1,500 individuals for up to seven years after they underwent Roux-en-Y gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy, the two most common bariatric surgery procedures. The majority of participants were white (82%) and female (80%), while Hispanic (4%) and black (11% of participants) were underrepresented. They ranged in age from 38 to 55, and all were diagnosed with severe obesity (a body mass index of 35 or greater).

Participants completed questionnaires regarding their physical abilities, pain, health, and quality of life prior to surgery. Many were also evaluated for physical function and mobility, such as their ability to walk 400 meters in less than seven minutes. Some reported severe or even incapacitating knee or hip pain, an osteoarthritis symptom. Annual assessments were conducted for up to seven years.

What were the results?
41% to 64% of participants reported improvements in body pain, physical function, and objectively measured walking ability at the conclusion of the study. In addition, between 65 and 72 percent of those with osteoarthritis reported less knee and hip pain. In addition, 41% of those who were unable to walk 400 meters in less than seven minutes prior to surgery could now do so.

Not every measure got better. For example, the number of back pain pills taken before and after weight loss surgery stayed the same. Not everyone experienced improvements in pain and physical function, which is also noteworthy. It's also difficult to say whether the positive changes were brought on by surgery and whether one type of surgery was superior to the other because there was no control group that did not undergo weight loss surgery.
We're keeping tabs on this research.

A review article that appeared on September 1, 2022 in the International Journal of Cardiology suggested that psychological problems like anger, worry, sadness, and work stress may increase the risk of having the heart rhythm disease known as atrial fibrillation (afib).

The researchers analysed 13 studies with a combined participant population of more than 5.3 million participants. They discovered that the two most prevalent mental illnesses, anxiety and depression, were linked to an increased risk of afib by 25% and 10%, respectively. Anger was associated with a 15% increase in risk of Afib and significant work stress with an 18% increase in risk.

While studies occasionally reach incorrect conclusions, researchers can assist in correcting the record.

Photo by Pietro Jeng

When it comes to clinical research, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials are the most effective sort of study.
But even a well-designed experiment can provide questionable results. A recent follow-up on a 2019 cardiovascular study termed REDUCE-IT is an excellent illustration of a lesson that can be learned. While novel medicines are the focus of many clinical trials such as this one, the selection of the placebo is equally crucial.
What made this study so compelling?
In this type of study, people are randomly put into one of two groups: the treatment being tested (like a new medicine) or a fake treatment (called a "placebo").
Neither study participants nor researchers are aware of who is receiving the active medication versus the placebo. In other words, they are both blind to group assignment, hence the term "double-blind. The treatment assignment is coded and kept secret until the end of the trial, or it is decoded at set times to check on the effectiveness or safety of the treatment.
This decreases the likelihood that researcher or participant expectations may influence study outcomes. This implies that any changes in health or side effects can be traced to the treatment—or lack thereof.

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