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

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