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Saturday, 19 November 2011

NIN sanatorium to admit men as well

With naturopathy and yoga therapy showing positive results in HIV-positive patients, the National Institute of Naturopathy’s (NIN) sanatorium in Panchgani plans to extend the facility — available only to women patients now — to male patients as well.
The institute has convened a meeting with NGOs and Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres here on November 19. Director Dr Babu Joseph said in a release that this would be the second panel meeting on the naturopathy sanatorium for HIV-positive patients.
Project coordinator Dr Dhananjay Arankalle said interventions like therapeutic juices, organic food and yoga techniques had helped HIV-positive patients live a better and healthier life. He said there had been positive results among these patients at the sanatorium, which was started a year ago as a pre-Anti Retroviral Treatment (ART) centre.
Source:Indian Express

Natural Medicine MD Claims Medication Errors Raise Questions About Thyroid

The enormousness of this family medicine issue is magnified by the fact that many of our country's so-called depressed or bipolar patients actually have simple low thyroid as their actual diagnosis. That's right, the mental symptoms of easily-treated sluggish metabolism are all too often misdiagnosed as depression or bi-polar illness, according to practicing thyroid expert and author, Richard L. Shames, M.D. In his latest book, Thyroid Mind Power (Rodale, 2011), Dr. Shames summarizes hundreds of research articles on this surprising topic.
On August 22, 2011 the FDA began notifying health professionals and the general public of an alarming number of anti-depressant medication errors resulting in sudden hospitalization. Patients who were given the drug risperidone (brand name Risperdal) instead of ropinirole (brand name Requip), and vice versa, in some cases had very serious adverse reactions. In addition to the obvious similarity of drug and chemical names, there is also similarity of container label, carton packaging, drug strength, dosage forms, and dosing intervals. The effects on the body, however are worrisomely different.
Risperidone is used in certain depressive disorders, while ropinorole is used for Parkinson's. It is chemically not a good idea to get these two drugs mixed up. Doctor's notoriously illegible hand writing on prescription pads was also cited by the FDA as part of this growing problem that encompasses other drug similarities.

The scope of this issue is huge. Multiple studies confirm the surprising news that thyroid problems are extremely common, but often hidden. 1 of 10 Americans has some degree of thyroid imbalance, and half of them do not even know it. They continue to suffer with symptoms frequently misdiagnosed as other conditions, such as depression.
"Much safer and vastly less expensive [thyroid medicines could often replace current antidepressant prescriptions, if people and their doctors could just be more aware of the extremely common, but frequently overlooked thyroid connection to mental health," said Shames.
A 2010 publication in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics by researchers at Johns Hopkins Department of Pediatrics entitled "Pediatric antidepressant medication errors in a national error reporting database" cited that of the 451 error reports identified, 95% reached the patient, 6.4% reached the patient and necessitated increased monitoring and/or treatment, and 77% involved medications being used off label. The researchers concluded that, "Pediatric antidepressant errors often reach patients, frequently involve off-label use of medications, and occur with varying severity and type depending on location and type of medication prescribed." (J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2010 Feb-Mar;31(2):129-36.)
"Is it depression or low thyroid?"
In the last 25 years a great many good research studies have shown that up to 40% of what psychiatrists diagnose as depression, is actually thyroid imbalance. Many depressions, as well as instances of bipolar, that are refractory to standard psychiatric medicines are actually much better and more successfully treated with thyroid hormone. Dr. Shames further explained that, "Treatment with thyroid hormone is much less expensive and carries much less in the way of risks and side effects than the more standard treatment with Prozac or Zoloft, especially when mental sluggishness of low thyroid is mis-diagnosed as clinical depression."
Better ways of making a more accurate distinction between thyroid problems and depression now exist. Improved diagnostic technology is currently available via quality home test kits ordered by doctors or patients themselves through the internet. ( Dr. Shames applauds this innovation, since regular thyroid blood tests are so distressingly unreliable. According to this thyroid doctor, "The medical climate is ripe for change."
Richard Shames, MD is a practicing physician, teacher and author. He graduated Harvard and University of Pennsylvania, did research at the National Institutes of Health with Nobel Prize winner Marshall Nirenberg, and has been in private practice for twenty five years. In addition to his medical office work, he has been a member of the Clinical Faculty of the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco, a founding member of the American Holistic Medical Association, a participant in the Carl Menninger Foundation, and a member of Who's Who in California as well as nationally. He has served as Adjunct Faculty at Florida Atlantic University.
Dr. Shames has published a number of health-related books. In addition, he is a popular speaker and local media personality, and has created his own audio and video tape series. The author is well known for his prominence and pioneering work in the holistic field. His newest book is Thyroid Mind Power.
By:San Rafael, CA (PR Web Release)

Scientists line up to attack Prince Charles' 'fixation' with alternative medicines

Prince Charles will not accept alternative medicine is of little benefit to patients because he is 'ideologically fixated', it was claimed today.
Homeopathy, acupuncture and chiropractic therapy are ineffective in most cases, said science author Simon Singh.
Hundreds of studies had concluded that alternative medicine mostly does not work, but Prince Charles still backs these treatments because of his commitment to the natural world, he claimed.
Speaking at the Hay Festival in Kerala, India, Mr Singh said: '‘He [Charles] only wants scientific evidence if it backs up his view of the natural treatment of health conditions.
‘It’s a shame, because he’s so influential.’
In Trick or Treatment, a book he co-authored in 2008, Mr Singh examined more than 30 alternative medicine treatments and their effectiveness.
It was dedicated to the Prince after the heir to the throne publicly demanded more research to decide whether natural therapies worked.
The book – which he sent to Clarence House - claimed the outcome of alternative therapies when compared to conventional medicines was ‘dismal’.
But the Prince would not budge from his beliefs, Mr Singh told the festival, which is sponsored by the Daily Telegraph.
Mr Singh claimed Charles believed in climate change but did not understand it.
He said that whatever the evidence the Prince would be in favour of combating climate change, but if there wasn’t evidence he would not change his mind
He added: 'I’m sure he doesn’t understand the science behind it.’
The Prince, whose profitable Duchy of Cornwall farms grow organic food, has also spoken out against the development of genetically modified crops.
Mr Singh blames the growing alternative medicine industry partially on celebrity endorsements, including the Prince.
He revealed his doubts about acupuncture by taking a handful of homeopathic insomnia pills on stage.
‘You’ll fall asleep before I do,’ he said to the audience and accused alternative medicine practitioners of effectively hoodwinking patients by giving them 'sugar pills'.
Mr Singh won a court battle with the British Chiropractic Association last year when they sued after he accused them of misleading patients over the range of conditions they could treat.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Assocham, IHP collaborate to address issues of affordable healthcare accessibility

In collaboration with India Health Progress (IHP) recently organised a conference on 'access to healthcare' in New Delhi, to address the burgeoning concern about the need to ensure healthcare access in India. The event brought together health experts and industry leaders to elicit their views on aspects such as affordability and outreach, healthcare innovations and health insurance.
During this event industry stakeholders come together to deliberate accessibility issues as well as debate whether pricing actually hinders access to healthcare.
In the event Kewal Handa, chairman, Assocham drug and pharma council, and managing director of Pfizer stressed that Indian medicines are the lowest priced in the world and the Indian healthcare market is the most competitive for pharma companies, thus availability of medicines, facilities at the right time and provision of an umbrella of insurance coverage are imperative.
The event was supported by India Health Progress, an independent initiative of institutions and individuals aligned towards ensuring universal access to healthcare in India. Aman Gupta, principal advisor, India Health Progress, said: “India’s diverse and multicultural society, characterised by overpopulation and rapid but unequal economic growth, often faces underutilisation of effective healthcare. Many factors contribute to this burden and thus it is imperative for healthcare authorities to take a series of steps to address all issues that can impede access, not pricing alone.”
India’s healthcare industry is poised to reach US$ 55 billion by 2020. However, many healthcare challenges still remain unaddressed. Dr Bibek Debroy, renowned economist, professor, Centre for policy research and author of the White Paper titled ‘The Indian Health Sector – providing choice, competition, efficiency and finance’ shared his views on the topic of providing choice and competition to drive efficiency.
He stated, “Although choice and competition drive efficiency, in the 1960s the emphasis shifted to public funding and public provisioning. As a result, an ambience of inefficiency and stagnation pervaded the health sector. Although choice and competition once again came to the fore with liberalisation in July 1991, the public sector still lacks efficiency, functioning in a perfunctory manner. Moreover, with pricing of drugs being mistakenly linked with lack of healthcare access, price control measures were implemented but these failed to improve access.”
He added that to engineer favourable outcomes that help India meet its healthcare goals, focus should lie on improving delivery and infrastructure issues, skills up-gradation, addressing the disease burden and developing efficient Public-Private Partnership models.
There was a common consensus on the point that the Government should shift their focus to other alternatives that actually benefit the poor by improving distribution channels to ensure easy availability, provide training to FMCG distributors to dispense basic essential medicines in rural areas etc. It was also suggested that a universal health insurance cover like the RSBY to cover medicinal costs and OPD should be devised so that it would reduce the out of pocket burden faced by the poor.
The recommendations include collaborating efforts to bridge the rural and urban divide, developing innovative products and models of service and delivery, increasing health insurance cover and incentivising healthcare personnel, and learning from successful global health practices.

HC seeks explanation from Union Health Ministry on procurement in HP

he Himachal Pradesh High court has sought an explanation from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare why there were restriction on procurement of Ayurvedic medicines from public sector undertakings, especially when quality Ayurvedic medicines were reportedly available in the state at far reduced rate. The court directed the Union Secretary (Health) and Director, Ayush department, to file an affidavit in this regard within one month. The court passed the order on a petition filed by the H.P. Ayurvedic Manufacturing Association in which it was alleged that Ayurvedic medicines were purchased by the Director, Ayurveda, in violation of rules. The issue raised in the petition pertains to procurement of Ayurvedic medicines by the state government under the centrally-sponsored scheme. The petitioner alleged that when quality medicines are available in the state and when many of the medicines supplied through PSUs are manufactured by the private sector in the state itself, it will not be in the interest of the state to procure such medicines either from PSUs or any other agency. However, the state contended before the court that when it started procurement of Ayurvedic medicines from the private sector, it was objected to by the central government which insisted that the medicines be procured from the PSUs. The courted listed the matter for further hearing on December 27.

Ayurvedic medicines adulterated with steroids and heavy metals are a threat for human life.

Several so-called Ayurvedic medicines readily available are found to contain steroids and heavy metal, both harmful to the human body if taken in excess
Ayurvedic medicines given by the vaidyas – be it in the form of bhasma or churan-, which people swallow in with great faith, could contain steroid and toxic metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic. According to experts, such medicines sold under the ‘Ayurvedic’ preparations often contain steroids and metals, and if used beyond permissible limit could lead to nervousness, indigestion, chest pain, seizures and even coma.
This information was revealed in a Right to Information (RTI) application. Mumbai-based consumer activist Dr AR Shenoy, who has experience in testing adulteration in food and medicine industry, filed an application under the RTI Act. He sought information on analysis of Ayurvedic Drug samples for presence of steroids and toxic metals above permissible limit by the Ayurveda Research Centre of KEM Hospital, Mumbai.
In the reply, the Research Centre revealed that out of the 244 Ayurvedic samples that were analyzed for steroid 96 samples were tested positive. About 18 samples had more than one steroid and it detected steroids like Betamethasone, Dexamethasone, Hydrocortisone, and Prednisolone in these samples.
It also stated that out of the 80 Ayurvedic samples that were analyzed for heavy metal such as mercury, lead and arsenal above permissible limit, 42 were tested positive or contain metals above the limit.
“If the statistics provided by KEM regarding steroid spiked Ayurvedic formulations are taken as an indicator of the state of Ayurvedic malpractice in Mumbai, then every four out of 10 patients undergoing Ayurvedic treatment are probably in danger of steroid toxicity,” says Dr Shenoy.
The Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH), has kept the permissible limits of lead, mercury or arsenal less than or equal to 0.5 parts per million (ppm).
Dr Shenoy points out that a study, conducted in 2008 for over 230 products (reported in the August issue of USA Today) found that around 20% of remedies (and 40% of rasa shastra medicines) purchased over the Internet from both US and Indian suppliers contained lead, mercury or arsenic.
“Seriously, this issue needs to be tackled in India considering the fact that according to WHO (World Health Organization), up to 80% of people in India use either Ayurveda or other traditional medicines. Due diligence and care is taken or permissible limits followed for Ayurvedic medicines that are exported abroad. However at the domestic level it is absent,” added Dr Shenoy.
Safety concerns have been raised about Ayurveda, with two US studies finding about 20% of Ayurvedic treatments tested contained toxic levels of heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic. Other concerns include the use of herbs that contain toxic compounds and the lack of quality control in Ayurvedic facilities.
Experts say that such level of toxic metals is hazardous for human body. For instance, lead interferes with body’s metabolism and is toxic to many organs and tissues including heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, and reproductive system. It hinders development of nervous systems and in severe cases could lead to seizure, coma. Like the element mercury, another heavy metal, lead is a neurotoxin that accumulates both in soft tissues and in the bones. Lead poisoning has been documented from ancient Rome, ancient Greece, and ancient China. Long terms exposure to heavy mercury vapour can result in brain damage and even death.
Due to these concerns, the Government of India ruled that Ayurvedic products must specify their metallic content directly on the labels of the product, but, writing on the subject for Current Science, a publication of the Indian Academy of Sciences, MS Valiathan noted that "the absence of post-market surveillance and the paucity of test laboratory facilities in India make the quality control of Ayurvedic medicines exceedingly difficult at this time.
Source:Money Life

Loss of Productivity is Higher When Employees Report to Work During Illness

While employees may believe that they are helping their companies by reporting to work even when they are sick, a new study by Canadian researchers has found that the loss of productivity may be double than what it would have been had the employees taken a sick leave.
Researchers from the Concordia University polled more than 440 people and asked questions regarding their job requirements, work experience as well as the number of days they were present or absent at the job when they were sick.
The researchers found that the participants had an average of three presenteeism days and an average of 1.8 absenteeism days. Those who thought absenteeism as legitimate were absent or called in sick more often. However those who were insecure about their jobs reported to work even when they were sick.
“Presentees felt a compulsion to attend despite illness. Secure employees don’t fear retribution for an occasional absence because of sickness. Often a person might feel socially obligated to attend work despite illness, while other employees feel organizational pressure to attend work despite medical discomfort”, lead researcher Gary Johns said.

Sea Salt, Rock Salt, Common Salt- Equally Unhealthy

Sea salt is not better than common salt, according to Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH). Sea salt is 19-times more expensive than common salt, but does no good for health, despite claims that it is ‘natural’ and contains ‘minerals’.
Both types of salt contain sodium chloride as its main ingredient (100%). Excessive amount of sodium chloride is harmful in any form, whether it is sea salt or common salt. It should be used minimally as it raises the blood pressure. This in turn increases the risk of heart diseases and is also linked to osteoporosis, stomach cancer and kidney disease.
Experts suggest skipping salt altogether as we are consuming much more salt than the daily dietary requirement. Almost 75% is hidden in the food we eat. They recommend using more complex salts at the end of the cooking process rather than adding it in the middle.
Source- Medindia

Sexual Harassment Faced by Half of US Students, Survey Reveals

An alarming forty-eight percent of US middle and high school students had been subjected to sexual harassment, both in person and online according to a national survey revealed on Monday
And 87 percent of those students said the experience had a negative impact on them, according to the survey of 1,965 students in grades seven through 12 conducted by the Association of American University Women (AAUW).
"Sexual harassment is part of everyday life in middle and high schools," said the 76-page report, which follows the Washington-based charity's previous investigation of bullying in schools.
"Sexually harassed students who took part in the AAUW survey reported having trouble studying, not wanting to go to school, and feeling sick to their stomach," it said.
Some students stayed home from school. Others skipped classes, dropped after-school activities, took different routes to and from school, or changed schools altogether.
Yet only nine percent ever reported incidents to their teachers or guidance counselors, said the report, which called upon educators to be more proactive in addressing the issue.
"For some students, understanding that sexual harassment can indeed be a big deal for other students is a necessary first step," the report said.
Girls were more likely to be sexually harassed than boys by a wide margin of 56 percent versus 40 percent, both in person and through emails, social media or text messaging.
Thirty-three percent of all respondents said they had been the targets of sexual comments, jokes or gestures, and 13 percent of girls -- and three percent of boys -- reported being touched in an unwelcome sexual way.

Editorial: No Double Standards for Natural Health Products

An editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) says that natural health products and medicinal foods should be subject to the same regulations as pharmaceutical drugs to ensure safety and efficacy.While pharmaceutical drugs are subject to rigorous evaluation and must provide significant evidence of their therapeutic effects and that the benefits outweigh risks, natural health products in Canada are not. Many contain active pharmacological substances that can have potent effects and interactions which should have warnings.
"The multibillion-dollar natural health products industry sells the perception that because its products are "natural," they must also be safe, such that comprehensive testing like that required for pharmaceuticals is not required," write guest author Dr. Stuart MacLeod with CMAJ editor Dr. Matthew Stanbrook and colleagues. "However, it is a near-universal truth that any substance that exerts a beneficial effect on a biological system will also have the potential for adverse effects."
Health Canada created the Natural Health Products Directorate 10 years ago, but the regulatory framework that governs it does not protect the consumer.
"All health claims for any product should be subject to a common set of regulations, starting with consistent and easily understood standards of evidence proportional to health risks and benefits," conclude the authors.
"Uniform regulations are the best way to protect consumers while still allowing choice."

Meditation May Help Students To Beat Stress

Practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique can significantly help school students to lower psychological distress, according to a new study.

The finding suggests a simple stress-reducing meditation technique could be a viable solution to increasing stress among students.The study, conducted with at-risk minority secondary school students, showed a 36 percent reduction in overall psychological distress. Significant decreases were also found in trait anxiety and depressive symptoms.

A total of 106 secondary school students took part in the study. Results showed that over a four-month period, students practicing Transcendental Meditation as part of their schools' Quiet Time program exhibited significant reductions in psychological distress factors compared to controls.
"It is vital that we start addressing the high levels of emotional stress being reported by high school and college students. Decreased stress can have a positive impact on mental health, and can also reduce the risk for hypertension, obesity, and diabetes-major risk factors for heart disease," said Dr. Charles Elder, MD, lead author of the TM study, and investigator at Kaiser Permanente Centre for Health Research
Educational research has also linked student stress to negative school behaviour and poor academic performance.
"These new findings on reduced stress, along with the recent research on academic achievement gains, hold tremendous promise for public education," said Sanford Nidich, EdD, principal investigator, and professor of education at Maharishi University of Management.
"There is a growing body of evidence showing Transcendental Meditation to be an easy to implement, value-added educational program that promotes emotional health and increases academic achievement in at-risk students," added Dr. Nidich.
The study has been published in the Journal of Instructional Psychology.

Green Tea Lowers LDL

Green tea in the form of drink or capsule helps to cut down the 'bad cholesterol' (LDL cholesterol) by 5-6 points from total cholesterol, according to a US study. Green tea as a drink is more effective than capsules containing the green tea compound- catechins. Catechins reduce the cholesterol absorption in the gut.
The study suggests that mild to moderate consumption of green tea along with cholesterol lowering medication can yield a better outcome of the cholesterol levels.
The findings have been published in the 'Journal of the American Dietetic Association'.

Egg Whites on Toast Help Us Stay Awake at Work

Choose egg whites on toast, rather than jam on toast, say scientists who have identified that protein not sugar activates the cells that keep us awake and burn calories.
The finding has implications for understanding obesity and sleep disorders.Wakefulness and energy expenditure rely on "orexin cells", which secrete a stimulant called orexin/hypocretin in the brain.
Reduced activity in these unique cells results in narcolepsy and has been linked to weight gain.
Scientists at the University of Cambridge compared actions of different nutrients on orexin cells. They found that amino acids - nutrients found in proteins such as egg whites - stimulate orexin neurons much more than other nutrients.
Previous work by the group found that glucose blocks orexin cells (which was cited as a reason for after-meal sleepiness), and so the researchers also looked at interactions between sugar and protein.
They found that amino acids stop glucose from blocking orexin cells (in other words, protein negated the effects of sugar on the cells).
These findings may shed light on previously unexplained observations showing that protein meals can make people feel less calm and more alert than carbohydrate meals.
"To combat obesity and insomnia in today's society, we need more information on how diet affects sleep and appetite cells," said lead researcher Dr Denis Burdakov of the Department of Pharmacology and Institute of Metabolic Science.
"For now, research suggests that if you have a choice between jam on toast, or egg whites on toast, go for the latter! Even though the two may contain the same number of calories, having a bit of protein will tell the body to burn more calories out of those consumed," he added.
The study has been published in the 17 November issue of the scientific journal Neuron.

Homeopathy meet to be held in Delhi next month

More than 2,500 doctors from 70 countries would come together here next month to discuss the latest developments in homeopathy and also chalk out plans to popularise the alternative medicine therapy.
The 66th World Homeopathy Congress of LIGA Medicorum Homoeopathica Internationalis (LMHI) will be held in India for the fourth time Dec 1-4 with special sessions on homeopathic education, government policies, clinical research and pharmaceutical industry demands.
According to R.K. Manchanda, organising secretary, LIGA Congress 2011, the conference would promote interaction between homeopathy doctors from around the world and also the students.
“We are also aiming at bringing in uniformity in homeopathic education and practising policies through the world. More importantly, we want homeopathy to be a part of public health setting to deal with infections and lifestyle diseases,” said Manchanda.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

New understanding of Medicine:NARESH TREHAN

THE ORIGIN of the thought – to marry modern day medicine with ayurveda – came to me when I realised that if America cannot afford the kind of medicine that we are trying to practice here, then there is no hope that 4 billion people around this world could afford that medicine. This means that it will always be for the elite. The people who can afford it make up 5 per cent to 10 per cent of India but for the rest of the country there will never be hope. These are the traps of modern medicine. However, there are a few great virtues of modern medicine where – through the process of scientific validation – it has come to a point that with a degree of predictability we can treat people of most of their maladies. Not all of them but most of them.
This would leave a few gaps. We know only three things – that we need to either poison the body, to kill the bacteria we are going to poison the body; or if there is a tumour growing, we cut it out; or we shoot it through x-ray beams. These are the three things we do. All of them are very effective, very invasive and very expensive. This much modern medicine knows. With that back ground, how does India position itself for its people? I think we need to look for our own solutions, a new paradigm, and one of those things we had lost was ayurveda with all its knowledge of herbal medicine, which has got sidelined because of the lack of scientific validation.
So if we know the scientific validation and we apply it to ayurveda and herbal medicines, then in the coming years we should be able to take the gems out of that form of medicine and bring them into the mainstream. The mainstream also shows there are many things that perhaps ayurveda alone can treat, many things it can contribute similar to modern medicine like you see in arthritis, liver disorder and skin disorders and kidney disorders, which modern medicine has no treatment for. But there is hope because there are remedies in the herbal system, in the ayurveda system, maybe even in traditional Chinese medicine. To be able to combine the power of the two – that’s what we are trying to do.
We have started the process for the validations now – and we have started with Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. These are people who have huge amounts of disability – it is a mobility disorder – and as an early success we are seeing good results in Parkinson’s already. So much so that there is a German professor who has started a counter research project in Germany. We are collaborating to bring the results as fast as possible. There are many areas where a lot of work has already been done. For instance, in understanding the pharmacology of herbal stuff, there are lots of directories now available.
We have already picked up two molecules for cancer from a government institute in Jammu and we were ready to embrace each other. Because we are looking for the ayurveda and they are looking for the clinicians. But the reasons why clinicians were hesitant was they felt threatened as they felt there were alternatives. I’m not even saying they are alternatives –they are synergistic. So we should now explore the synergies between the different forms of medicines and try and come up with a new era of medicine, which will fully emerge out of India in the coming years.
It will have three purposes: It will be as effective as or more effective than modern medicine today. It will be less invasive to the human body. And hopefully, it will come at half the price. So that is what the dream is – I don’t know whether it would happen. With that thought I created Medanta. Medanta is what you can say, for want of a better comparison, the Cleveland clinic or the Harvard of the east.
What these institutions serve is not only the highest end of care but they are also fountains of new knowledge. India didn’t have that so we are creating that paradigm where we will continue to give the highest end of modern medicine across all specialties. At the same time, the faculty that we have selected would have a mindset that allows them to explore the possibilities beyond themselves. There is something out there that we can incorporate and make this malady less. Because there is not enough money in this whole world to treat every Indian who has a heart problem, right? So that’s the spirit behind it.
Heart disease can be divided into three broad categories. The first is where a person is born with a heart disease – the congenital heart disease. About 1 per cent of children will be born with it no matter where they are in the world. There may be more in countries with malnutrition and so they will need treatment. This treatment has been by and large established and there are newer technologies that will serve this small group.
The next form is the rheumatic heart disease, which comes from rheumatic fever. As the economy moves forward there will be less and less of this form of heart disease. But there is still an overhang of millions of people who need treatment because rheumatic fever licks the joints and bites the heart. So it actually affects the valves of the heart and creates obstruction in the flow of blood. That also has by and large been solved and it is not as rampant because it is on the decline.
As coronary heart diseases go, India has the highest percentage of coronary heart patients. So, whether it is genetic, lifestyle, or dietary habits, all of them put together have led us to become the capital of heart diseases in the world. In addition to that, we are also the capital of diabetes in the world. When combined, they create a huge burden of disease, especially heart disease as a consequence of diabetes.
BOTH ARE now controllable. From the beginning one may try to maintain the sugar level so that one does not become a diabetic. If either parents – or both – are diabetic there is an additional 25 per cent chance that one will have the disease. But, even the mere education of it can keep it under control. Heart disease, similarly, has its origins in genetics. If your parents have it, then there is a 50 per cent more chance that you will get it. So there is a genetic imprint. Second, if the fat content in your blood – lipid – is high then it pre-disposes you. So if you do not exercise regularly or maintain a healthy lifestyle, these facts can add up.So if you eat properly, that is, low-cholesterol food or reasonable cholesterol food, you exercise regularly and you destress yourself, it should be better. The best ways to destress are usually yoga and vipassana. If you do that, you could mitigate heart disease by a long way. Then the point is how to make people aware of the early signs. If you do not know till you get a heart attack, then the horse is out of the barn already. Diabetics are especially prone to it because they don’t get warning signs and they don’t get chest pain. So you need to make people aware about the traps of heart disease.
THE GENE POOL An important step has happened in genetics. It took 25 years to sequence the first 20 per cent of genomics but with the advent of the IT and other facilities, within 5 years the whole gene pool was worked out. Now we understand there are a few diseases with a genetic background – where if you have a particular gene, you will be prone to that disease, especially breast cancer and things like that. So how do we treat them? We may not be able to manipulate the gene but we can be more cautious. The moment women develop a lump they should get it removed rather than wait before you need full-blown mastectomy.
Genetic mapping is one thing, genetically manipulating is another. It is a realm where we have to be extremely cautious because the abuse in India has already started. Say, you are into in vitro fertilisation where you can actually look at the ovum and see whether it is male or female – you start gender selection right there. And like I said, what are the social consequences of it when we go further? Today, there are states where this ratio has fallen to 740 women to 1,000 men. This is going to be a disaster. The psychosocial effect of the shortage of women in the community is going to lead to all sorts of law and order problems.
Then we say we are fine with cloning. Now, cloning has good and bad sides. Can you imagine everybody wanting to look like Aishwarya Rai? Where will the differential be? So, it’s crazy to think about it in those terms – that you are so brainy or so good looking that you want to clone yourself. This is something dangerous in the sense that you can also clone the worst of criminals. In any case, we don’t need factories of human beings – we already have 7 billion people. It would be a disaster for the planet, which we are already worrying about. The population could touch 8.5 billion in 10 years. How do we support all of them?
So we need to rewind a bit and talk sense to each other. Science is great. We need to look at it with a magnifying glass and say, yes, this is good or bad. This should be allowed to move forward, this has collateral damage or this would be too much for society to take, and so on. We must make regulations accordingly.
Many doctors do gender identification when they are not supposed to. So what do we do to them? We don’t have the means to implement the laws. These are the kind of things that we need to try and get rid of and stop people from destroying society for personal gains. There will be far-reaching effects of all the little things that we do. So, genetics by itself is a good thing but what we do with it is the more responsible part. As a nation, we should look at it more carefully and recognise the possible ramifications of the decisions we take today.
By:NARESH TREHAN (Chair and managing director Medanta based in New Delhi)

World's Largest Yoga Class Held in Mexico City

The largest yoga class in history took place in Mexico City on Sunday, Nov. 13th. More than 12,000 people were led by founder of Naam Yoga, Dr. Joseph Michael Levry, in Plaza de la Constitución (Zócalo Square), one of the largest public squares in the world, for the biggest yoga class on record.The Prayer of Love, Peace and Light, a signature prayer of all Naam Yoga classes, was recited in unison bringing its Universal message of healing to the world through the combined voices and hearts of each student in attendance. It was a moving and unprecedented event. This poetic oration was constructed by Dr. Levry and has been used by many all over the world.
While yoga has enjoyed massive mainstream popularity in the US, Mexico can now claim to hold the record of hosting the largest yoga class in recorded history. Rebeca Torres, founder and president of Naam Mexico, had this to say about this unparalleled event not only for Naam Yoga but also for Mexico, "This truly was an explosion of joy and happiness in Mexico City and many of us were touched and transformed. Vibrating Naam in Love, Peace and Light can change the destiny of our Country. We are grateful to Dr. Levry, founder of Naam Yoga, for bringing love and light to so many hearts in Mexico and thank you to Mexico's government for opening to us, the doors for this transformational event to happen."
Source:Mexico City, Mexico (PRWEB)
Jane Mirshak, Executive Director of Naam Yoga LA Healing and Research Center, international headquarters of Naam Yoga, commented on yesterday's historical event by saying, "We are grateful and we thank our beloved founder, Dr. Levry, and the citizens of Mexico City for spreading this Light to all the world. What happened yesterday is rippling throughout our planet and there is no stopping it! People were moved and deeply touched at the end of the class. We are all blessed to be a part of this historical time."
Dr. Joseph Michael Levry, founder of NAAM YOGA, Naam Yoga LA Healing and Research Center in Santa Monica and its international franchises, teaches and consults millions of students and professionals worldwide. When asked of Dr. Levry, what makes this form of yoga so popular? He replied, "This prescriptive form of yoga contains tools to directly benefit every biological system while being mentally and spiritually uplifting." Naam Yoga LA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is not only to offer a wide variety of yoga styles and healing modalities but also to directly apply Naam Yoga to specific health challenges and to offer those therapeutic classes to the community free of charge. It will also facilitate scientific research projects that apply Naam Yoga Therapies to particular conditions.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Air fresheners and scented candles linked to allergies

If you suffer from allergies, itchy eyes, or a runny nose, scented candles and air fresheners may be to blame rather than dust and pollen.
Allergists at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) announced this week that people with allergies may be more sensitive to these scents than they realize.
Air fresheners and candles can "trigger allergy symptoms, aggravate existing allergies and worsen asthma," Stanley Fineman, M.D., president-elect of the ACAAI, said in a statement.
While they may smell "fresh," Fineman warned that many products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, limonene, esters and alcohols, which have been linked to increased risk of asthma in children. Plus VOCs can trigger eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, and even memory impairment according to the statement.
"All-natural" or unscented products can still emit hazardous chemicals, he added. "The safest option is to avoid exposure to pollutants that air fresheners emit." That means opening a window rather than using products labeled even "green" or "organic," he adds.
The worst offenders? A study of plug-in deodorizers found that they contained more than 20 different VOCs with more than one third of those classified as toxic or hazardous.

Women more likely to have 'broken heart syndrome'

A woman's heart breaks more easily than a man's.
Females are seven to nine times more likely to suffer "broken heart syndrome," when sudden or prolonged stress like an emotional breakup or death causes overwhelming heart failure or heart attack-like symptoms, the first nationwide study of this finds. Usually patients recover with no lasting damage.
The classic case is "a woman who has just lost her husband," said Dr. Mariell Jessup, a University of Pennsylvania heart failure specialist who has treated many such cases.
Cyndy Bizon feared that was happening when her husband, Joel, suffered a massive heart attack in 2005. "May God work through your hands," the Maine woman told the surgeon as her husband was wheeled past her into the operating room. She later collapsed at a nurse's station from "broken heart syndrome" and wound up in coronary care with him. Both survived.
Japanese doctors first recognized this syndrome around 1990 and named it Takotsubo cardiomyopathy; tako tsubo are octopus traps that resemble the unusual pot-like shape of the stricken heart.
It happens when a big shock, even a good one like winning the lottery, triggers a rush of adrenaline and other stress hormones that cause the heart's main pumping chamber to balloon suddenly and not work right. Tests show dramatic changes in rhythm and blood substances typical of a heart attack, but no artery blockages that typically cause one. Most victims recover within weeks, but in rare cases it proves fatal.
Dr. Abhishek Deshmukh of the University of Arkansas had treated some of these cases.
"I was very curious why only women were having this," he said, so he did the first large study of the problem and reported results Wednesday at an American Heart Association conference in Florida.
Using a federal database with about 1,000 hospitals, Deshmukh found 6,229 cases in 2007. Only 671 involved men. After adjusting for high blood pressure, smoking and other factors that can affect heart problems, women seemed 7.5 times more likely to suffer the syndrome than men.
It was three times more common in women over 55 than in younger women. And women younger than 55 were 9.5 times more likely to suffer it than men of that age.
No one knows why, said Dr. Abhiram Prasad, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist who presented other research on this syndrome at the conference.
"It's the only cardiac condition where there's such a female preponderance," he said.
One theory is that hormones play a role. Another is that men have more adrenaline receptors on cells in their hearts than women do, "so maybe men are able to handle stress better" and the chemical surge it releases, Deshmukh said.
Bizon was 57 when her attack occurred; she's now 63. She and her husband are pharmacists and live in Scarborough, Maine.
"I remember grabbing the counter and a black curtain coming down before my eyes," she said in a telephone interview. Her attack was so severe that she went into full cardiac arrest and had to have her heart shocked back into a normal rhythm. Although most such attacks resolve without permanent damage, she later needed to have a defibrillator implanted.
About 1 percent of such cases prove fatal, the new study shows.
"In the old days, we'd say someone was scared to death," said Prasad.
About 10 percent of victims will have a second episode sometime in their lives. And although heart attacks happen more in winter, broken heart syndrome is more common in summer.

Study finds niacin does not reduce heart attack, stroke risk

“The more relevant observation is that, in this modern era of statin therapy, we’ve made profound progress in controlling LDL.”
William E. Boden
Professor of Medicine

In patients whose bad cholesterol is very well-controlled by statins for a long period of time, the addition of high-dose, extended-release niacin did not reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, including heart attack and stroke.
That’s the finding that was reported on Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association by William E. Boden, UB professor of medicine, the study’s co-principal investigator. The results also were published as the lead article in Tuesday’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Co-principal investigator on the study with Boden was Jeffrey Probstfield, professor of cardiology and medicine at the University of Washington. Both researchers led the Atherothrombosis Intervention in Metabolic Syndrome with Low HDL/High Triglycerides: Impact on Global Health (AIM-HIGH) study.
The purpose of the trial was to find out if, in the setting of well-treated LDL (“bad” cholesterol levels) and low HDL (“good” cholesterol levels)/elevated triglycerides, there was an incremental benefit of adding extended-release niacin.
Unexpectedly, Boden explains, most patients enrolled in the trial met existing guideline recommendations for LDL and non-HDL levels, and therefore would not have been considered candidates for further lipid-modifying therapy.
Many patients with stable heart and vascular disease are still at high risk for cardiac death, heart attack or stroke even after their LDL cholesterol has reached ideal levels—between 40 and 80 mg/dL on statin therapy. It is believed that this increased residual risk occurs because they have too little HDL cholesterol along with high levels of triglycerides.
In the AIM-HIGH study, 1,718 patients received a high-dose (1,500 to 2,000 mg per day) of extended-release niacin, while 1,696 patients received a placebo.
After two years, HDL and triglyceride levels improved in the niacin group, with a 25 percent increase in good cholesterol, a 29 percent drop in triglycerides and a further decrease in bad cholesterol of approximately 12 percent. By contrast, in the placebo group, there was minimal change, with a 10 percent increase in good cholesterol and an 8 percent drop in triglycerides.
The trial found that adding high-dose, extended-release niacin to statin treatment in these well-controlled patients with heart and cardiovascular disease who had low HDL did not further reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and stroke.
This lack of benefit led the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, upon the recommendation of its Data Safety Monitoring Committee, to decide to stop the trial 18 months before its planned completion.
“If you are a patient with stable cardiovascular disease who has achieved and maintained very low levels of LDL cholesterol on a statin for a long time period, these research findings indicate the addition of high-dose niacin does not improve your risk for future events, and is not needed,” explains Boden.
He cautions, however, that these results do not apply to the majority of patients seen in routine clinical settings, where more than 80 percent are unable to lower their cholesterol levels to the degree seen in AIM-HIGH.
“The AIM-HIGH trial was designed to study extended-release niacin or Niaspan, in a specific, narrowly defined patient population,” says Boden. “That is why the results of AIM-HIGH cannot be extrapolated to apply to a broader patient population, especially higher-risk patients admitted for heart attack or acute coronary syndrome, for example, or those whose LDL, or non-HDL levels, are not as well-controlled as those in AIM-HIGH, where prior studies have shown benefit.
“The more relevant observation is that, in this modern era of statin therapy, we’ve made profound progress in controlling LDL,” Boden continues. “However, based on these results, physicians should not assume that boosting HDL levels with Niaspan is without merit.”
In addition to Boden and Probstfield, members of the writing group that authored the NEJM paper are Todd Anderson, University of Calgary and Libin Cardiovascular Institute; Bernard R. Chaitman, St. Louis University; Patrice Desvignes-Nickens, National Institutes of Health; Kent Koprowicz and Ruth McBride, Axio Research; Koon Teo, McMaster University; and William Weintraub, Christiana Care Health Services.

PC to push for 'observer status' for India in European Pharmacopoeia Commission

The Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission (IPC) is planning to take a high level delegation to France to meet with the representatives of European Pharmacopoeia Commission in April next year. During this meet, IPC is planning to push for pharma industry's long standing demand of India to be recognised and given an 'observer status' at the European Commission.
Once India is granted with the observer status by the European Pharmacopoeia Commission it will enable more credibility to the drugs that are being manufactured in India and exported to European Union (EU). Most importantly it will enable India to participate and collaborate in the scientific work of the Commission for improving quality standards.
According to Dr G N Singh, secretary cum scientific director of IPC, “With a view to benefit the Indian pharma industry, especially the exporters, we are very keen to develop our working relation with the European Pharmacopoeia Commission and will take pro active steps to further it by advocating the cause.”
He further added that having strong collaboration with them and obtaining an observer status will benefit the industry by gaining better credibility for 'made in India' drugs at the international market. “It will also provide us with a platform to engage in discussions that will encourage exchange of ideas with European counterparts so that both of us can mutually benefit from such a collaborations, to gain access to work on the quality control of medicines and the methods of analysis used,” Dr Singh informed.
The European Pharmacopoeia Commission which comes under the EDQM has this unique provision of observer status which enables the countries with this status to have the right to speak though they may not, however, make proposals unless these are put forward by one of the delegations referred. Moreover, the Commission may also, by a unanimous vote of the delegations casting a vote and a majority of the delegations entitled to sit on the Commission, admit to some of its sessions technically qualified observers.
This will be the first time that the members from the IPC will be visiting the European Pharmacopoeia Commission's office in France, though the later have been visiting India on and off. “There have been positive response from the European Pharmacopoeia Commission to develop strong relation with India thus, we want to take this opportunity and strengthen it for the benefits of our industry,” said Dr Singh.
As of now there are only about eight countries, including China who have been granted with the observer status from the European Pharmacopoeia Commission. If India obtains this status it will be a huge boost to the Indian pharma exporters who have a large market share in the European Union.

SuperBrain Yoga can help ADD and Alzheimer's patients

There is an increasing number of children and adults who are being diagnosed with attention deficit disorder( ADD). Some may describe this increase as an epidemic.
People diagnosed with ADD often have difficulty with concentrating, doing school work, maintaining relationships, and keeping control over their emotions and impulses. This type of condition is not only stressful for the individual, but also for the caretakers. The typical method of treating people with ADD is the use of medication, but there may be hope through the use of a simple exercise. This easy 3-5 minute exercise is called SuperBrain Yoga and it has been shown through research to improve the academic and behavioral performance of students.
Dr. Eugenius Ang, JR at the Yale University School of Medicine practices this technique himself, and states, "Super Brain Yoga stimulates neuropathways in the brain by activating acupuncture points on the ear lobes. After doing the squatting sequences, the EEG scan shows the right and left hemisphere of the brain are synchronized.”
Dr. Eric B. Robins, MD, is a board-certified urologist and surgeon who has extensive training in alternative healing therapies and is also a proponent of SurperBrain Yoga. According to Dr. Robins, "SuperBrain Yoga is a fast, simple drug free method of increasing mental energy.”
As stated in a CBS SuperBrain Yoga news report Alzheimer’s patients, senior citizens looking to stave off memory loss, and kids in classrooms are among those who say that doing SuperBrain Yoga is making them smarter.
To learn more about SuperBrain Yoga and how to do this easy 3-5 minute exercise, you can watch the CBS SuperBrain Yoga news report website at
BY :AURA D’AMATO (She is a Certified Reflexologist, teacher and speaker whose practice is located at the Garden State Medical Arts Center at 721 North Beers Street Suite 2E in Holmdel, NJ.)

World Citizen Number 7 Billion More Likely To Die Of Diabetes

World's 7 billionth citizen is less likely to die from infectious diseases like measles or even AIDS, but more at risk of contracting diabetes or other non-communicable diseases (NCDs), as they are now the leading causes of deaths globally.The pathological picture changes, as more than half the world's 7 billion people live in urban areas.
"Our new world citizen number 7 billion is more likely to grow up in an urban setting, which increases his or her risk of getting diabetes, as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer and heart disease," said Siri Tellier, from the Copenhagen School of Global Health at the University of Copenhagen.
World citizen number 7 billion, who was estimated to be born on 31 October, will face very different diseases than that of children born only a few decades ago.
As the population of urban areas keeps growing, it rapidly changes the global health challenges.
"Until 2008, the majority of the world population lived in rural areas, but since then the majority has become urban, and most future population growth will happen in urban areas of developing countries. And one third of them, a little more than one billion, live in urban slums," stated Siri Tellier.
In the cities of the world, the health challenge is twofold: Firstly, living conditions in slum areas are poor, both with respect to water and sanitation, and access to health care almost non existent.
In addition, life in urban areas often entails a shift toward 'modern' life styles, with inadequate nutrition, especially more fatty, salty foods, smoking, alcohol and lack of exercise - all primers for NCDs.
Young adults in the big cities of the world are more likely to eat fattier, salty foods, smoke and drink alcohol than their parents left behind in rural areas.
Secondly, when the young newcomers become parents, their own poor health will have influenced the unborn child's predisposition for NCDs.
"Our new world citizen no. 7 billion will probably grow up in an urban setting, and will face factors that increase his or her risk of diabetes, as well as COPD, cancer and heart disease," Tellier added.

Decoding the Aging Process To Extend Health Span

Recent advances in research may lead to treatments that can slow or even reverse degeneration and disease as scientists begin to decode the complex biology of aging."We are seeing a major change, very important developments and real therapeutic efforts to try to treat age-related illnesses," said Norman Sharpless, professor of medicine and genetics at the University of North Carolina.
"It's a very exciting time in aging research," said Sharpless, of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in the university's school of medicine, citing recent studies in France and the United States.
The French research, led by Jean-Marc Lemaitre at the Functional Genomics Institute, published in October, shows cells from elderly donors can be rejuvenated as stem cells, erasing the ravages of age and proving that aging is reversible.
"It's a major advance," Sharpless said, noting that if many age-related diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular problems or Alzheimer's are to be defeated, regenerative medicine will be required.
But he stressed that "cellular therapy is very difficult to develop," and expectations must be kept in check.
"The way trials work, it is going to be a couple of years before that research is translated into human aging research because of the risk of cancer frankly," Sharpless warned.
"The worry is while those cells are great, there are some risks for the recipients."
At the end of 2010 an American study in Boston showed that aging could be reversed in mice that were treated with telomerase, a naturally occurring enzyme in the body that protects DNA sequences (telomeres) at the end of chromosomes and which shorten cellular aging.
A second US study conducted on genetically-modified mice, published in early November in the British journal Nature, showed that the removal of senescent cells, which cease to renew themselves and increase with age -- they represent 10-15 percent of an elderly person's cells -- would prevent or defer aging.
"By attacking these cells and what they produce, one day we may be able to break the link between aging mechanisms and predisposition to diseases like heart disease, stroke, cancers and dementia," said James Kirkland, head of the Mayo Clinic's Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging.
"There is potential for a fundamental change in the way we provide treatment for chronic diseases in older people," he said.
The mice were treated with a substance that caused their senescent cells to self-destruct, causing a major improvement in their health which saw them not suffering the usual ills of aging such as a decrease in muscle mass or reductions in a layer of fat that can prompt the onset of wrinkles.
Judith Campisi, of the Buck Institute for Age Research at the University of California at Berkeley, said the recent research carried out in France and the United States bodes well for the future.
"Of course we are not there yet, there is still a long way to go," she said, noting the French study showed "aging is not as irreversible as we thought," but the Nature paper highlighted that "we also know that there is something about the aging organisms that will make stem cells not behave very well."
Dan Perry, president of the Alliance For Aging Research in Washington, said there was a lot of excitement within the scientific community at how research may lead to the development of therapies to combat aging and major diseases.
"But it will take more money and effort to bring these across the line into treatment," he noted.
"The hope here is not to extend life span but to extend the health span... in order to reduce the impact of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer," allowing people in their 70s and 80s to enjoy better final years.
"The demographic moment of truth is upon us," he concluded.

Blood Transfusion Delay Kills New Mother

A series of mistakes in Darlington Memorial Hospital's maternity unit led to the death of a mother days after she delivered twin sons, an inquest has heard. Significant post partum hemorrhage (PPH) followed by kidney and liver failure due to lack of medical and midwifery communication contributed to complications which ultimately led to her death.
38-year old Joanne Hatton lost 2-liters blood during the caesarean section. Dr. Ahmed Ali had called for an urgent blood transfusion. But the hospital staff's failure to give the transfusion triggered a series of errors condition worsened.
County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust have admitted liability.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

IMTD Exhibition And Conference

The India Medical Tourism Destination (IMTD) exhibition and conference, which aims at promoting India as a global healthcare destination, is to take place on the 2nd and 3rd of November, 2011 at the Hall No 7, Kuwait International Fair Grounds in Mishref, Kuwait.
The two-day mega medical tourism exhibition and conference is being organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Trident Exhibitions in collaboration with the Embassy of India, Kuwait and the Indian Doctors Forum, Kuwait. The exhibition will bring together top-notch medical professionals and leading healthcare and medical service providers from India, to showcase the international quality and great advancements made by the Indian Healthcare industry.
The exhibition will feature several multi-specialty hospitals as well as centers for alternative healthcare like Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani and Siddha. Along with conferences and seminars conducted by leading academics and industry professionals, business to business meetings and tie-ups with leading hospitals and healthcare centers in India will also be promoted during the IMTD exhibition.
Source:Arab Times

Give Patients Free Medicine and Many Still Won't Take it, Study Says

Some patients won't take their medicine, even if you give it to them at no cost.
Doctors were stunned to see that happen in a major study involving heart attack survivors. The patients were offered well-established drugs to prevent a recurrence of heart trouble, including cholesterol-lowering statins and medicines that slow the heart and help it pump more effectively.
"My God, we gave these people the medicines for free and only half took it," said one of the study's authors, Dr. Elliott Antman of Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
In fact, the researchers couldn't even give the stuff away: They had trouble just signing up patients to take part in the study.
Nevertheless, Aetna, the insurance company that footed the bill, thinks this approach will save money in the long run and plans to start offering certain heart drugs free to some patients. In the study, patients offered medicines at no cost suffered fewer heart problems and saved $500 on average over roughly a year.
It is no secret many Americans don't follow their doctors' instructions. In one survey, one-third said they didn't fill a prescription or used less medicine than they should because of cost. The researchers in this study wanted to see what would happen if they took cost out of the equation.
The results were disheartening.
"Adherence in America is miserable," lamented Dr. Eric Peterson of Duke University, who had no role in the study. He noted that only 10 percent of the patients were taking all the medicines they should one year after a heart attack.
The study was led by Dr. Niteesh Choudhry of Brigham and Women's, who presented the findings Monday at an American Heart Association conference in Florida. They also were published online by The New England Journal of Medicine.
The study did not examine why people didn't take their medications. But doctors know that some forget. Most of these drugs mean three pills a day or more, for the rest of a patient's life. Also, some of these medicines carry side effects such as fatigue, lightheadedness, muscle pains, cough, even sexual difficulties for men.
Still, heart attack survivors like Joan Ferraro, 53, of Freehold, N.J., said they can't imagine not taking prescribed medicines, though she sometimes forgets her pills over a weekend.
"Why would you want to go through something like that again? It was the most horrific experience of my life. I would never want another one," she said.
The study enrolled 5,855 Aetna members who had a drug plan as part of their benefits and were going home from the hospital after a heart attack. They were 53 years old on average, and three-fourths were men.
The researchers had hoped to recruit 7,500 patients but scaled back when so few signed on.
Preventive medicines were offered free to 2,845 patients and prescribed with the usual copayments for the rest. Copays for these drugs run around $50 a month.
Roughly a year later, the share of patients who filled their prescriptions ranged from 36 percent to 49 percent in the copay group, depending on the drug, and was only 4 to 6 percentage points higher in the group that had no copays.
Providing these medicines for free had a "distressingly modest" effect on patients' willingness to take them, Dr. Lee Goldman of Columbia University and Dr. Arnold Epstein of the Harvard School of Public Health wrote in an editorial in the medical journal.
The Commonwealth Fund, a foundation devoted to improving the health care system, helped pay for the study, and some of authors consult for insurance companies.
In the study, the total number of heart attacks, strokes, cases of chest pain or heart failure and other such problems was significantly lower in the group offered free medicine.
That meant that an additional 2 of every 100 people were spared such problems because they were offered free medicines. Doctors suspect the difference between the groups would have been greater if more people had actually filled their prescriptions.
Costs dropped 26 percent for patients in the free drug group compared with the others, partly because of fewer doctor visits, lab tests and hospitalizations.
After about a year, total medical costs for the insurer, including follow-ups, hospitalizations and doctor's appointments, averaged $69,997 for those with the usual coverage and $64,726 for those offered free medicines. That was not considered a significant difference statistically, but insurers looking at the bottom line would still view it as worthwhile.
Dr. Lonny Reisman, an author of the study and chief medical officer for Aetna, said the company plans to offer some of these drugs free or with a reduced copay to some heart attack survivors and is considering doing do so for other chronic conditions such as diabetes and chronic lung disease.
The study may persuade other insurers to do the same, Goldman and Epstein said.
Source:Associated Press

How Mainstream Medicine Is Opening Up To Integrative Health

When students elect to spend a month learning about integrative medicine at the University of Maryland, they study by working with the toughest, most frazzled patients: themselves.
In their fourth year of medical school, many of the students are exhausted and fighting to get good grades. They're tired; they experience headaches and back pain; and they don't feel as sharp as they'd like.
But these students aren't focusing on what drugs to prescribe. Instead, they're looking at integrative therapies in search of better health.
Under the direction of Dr. Delia Chiaramonte, University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine's director of professional education, the students make a values list, which Chiaramonte says helps them consider whether they might suffer from undue stress because they're not focusing on what's truly important to them. They also learn to consider how daily stresses and triggers are affecting their lives, and they practice yoga and tai-chi.
"By the end of the month, they almost always feel better themselves," said Chiaramonte. "They really learn viscerally for themselves that this stuff works."
The Maryland students aren't the only ones looking past the pill in search of better health. A growing number of Americans have embraced complementary or integrative medicine, which combines conventional, allopathic medicine with alternative therapies.
According to the most recent data from the National Institute of Health's National Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, some 38 percent of Americans used some form of alternative medicine in 2007 -- up from 36 percent in 2002. Experts say such figures explain why a growing number of medical schools have embraced what critics deride as "woo-medicine," but proponents of the techniques say integrative medicine represents the future of health care.
"More and more students are interested in integrative medicine -- that's clear," said Dr. Mary P. Guerrera, a professor of family medicine and director of integrative medicine at the University of Connecticut. "There is greater awareness in the world-at-large. With that, students are coming to medical school already aware of what it is."
In the last decade, the National Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, which was formed to promote and support integrative medicine in medical schools, has ballooned from eight member institutions to 51. That list includes top academic names, like Harvard University, Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic.
Last month, University of California-Los Angeles hosted the first-ever National Student Conference on Integrative Medicine, an event created by students looking to build upon the traditional medical school curriculum by exploring topics from what they dubbed an "integrative perspective." It drew more than 100 attendees, including some who don't have access to training in integrative medicine at their home institutions.

"I met a resident who wanted to incorporate some of these practices and who said it was so helpful to have physicians who he could talk to. ... It gave him hope that he can go out there and learn this," Guerrera said. "He felt very isolated in his training program, because there was no one he was able to identify to help him."
Among the institutions that do provide training in integrative medicine, that education takes many forms. Some medical schools offer month-long immersive electives, others simply offer several-hour-long lectures introducing medical students to areas they may not have considered before.
The University of Arizona has been at the forefront of incorporating integrative medicine into its programs: They've partnered up with like-minded residency programs and recently created a distinct program for medical students that lets them supplement their traditional training with a focus in integrative medicine over their four years.
"It's a really big step that the College Of Medicine was willing to say 'This is important. This is no longer fad, and we will recognize it,' " said Dr. Victoria Maizes, executive director at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.
But some medical schools still lack a formal environment to learn integrative medicine, experts say, and not all institutions have faculty that's supportive of the techniques. That may in part stem from limited evidence testifying to the efficacy of alternative therapies. Even the National Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine acknowledges many complementary and alternative medicines lack the backing of trustworthy clinical trials.
But Maizes argued that many tenets of complementary medicine have already been independently verified. She noted, for instance, that there is significant scientific evidence supporting the role of good nutrition -- which is a major focus of integrative medicine -- in health, as well as the connection between the mind and body. What is lacking, she said, are clinical trials comparing integrative therapies to traditional medicine.
Which is why supporters believe incorporating integrative medicine in medical schools is important, so that students who apply integrative therapies and ideas are well-grounded in conventional training.
"We're not cutting anything out from traditional medicine," Chiaramonte said. "We're adding to the toolbox."
Source:Huff Post

Wonder Drug Pushes Cancer Cells to 'Commit Suicide', Soon

Alleged radical new drug can make cancer cells "commit suicide" and could prove highly effectively eradicate some of the deadliest forms of the disease, claim scientists.
The wonder drug will bring fresh hopes to patients with aggressive and deadly tumours and could also prove highly effective against other, less virulent, types of cancer.
The added bonuses of the treatment, which would be delivered in pill form, is that it has very few side effects and tumorous cells are unlikely to become resistant, as is the case with current therapies.
According to Professor David Cheresh and his team from the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, the drug "blocks the function of proliferation" and the malignant cells commit suicide when they can't multiply.
The KG5 drug, which has proved effective tests against pancreatic, breast and kidney cancers, works by stopping tumorous cells from multiplying and they then shut themselves down.
According to the research, KG5 works in a totally different way as compared to traditional therapies by altering the structure of a cancer growth protein, an enzyme known as RAF.
Existing treatments block RAF's activity, but KG5 changes the entire shape of the protein, which neutralises it without leading to unwanted side-effects.
"Before this drug was designed, we had no idea RAF could promote tumour cell cycle progression," the Daily Express quoted Cheresh as saying.
"This may be only one example of how, by designing drugs that avoid the active site of an enzyme, we can identify new and unexpected ways to disrupt the growth of tumours.
"In essence, we are attacking an important enzyme in a whole new way and thereby discovering new things this enzyme was intended for," he said.
The study has been recently published online in the Nature Medicine journal.

Study: Link Between Birth Control Pills and Prostate Cancer?

Increased use of birth control pills by women may be linked to the rising prostate cancer in men, according to a study published today in the British Medical Journal Open.
The study found that countries with the highest number of women on the pill were more likely to have a higher number of men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer. The finding suggests for the first time a potential link between the pill and prostate cancer, the researchers said.
It’s unclear what exactly could tie the pill to prostate cancer, but researcher said estrogen hormones released in urine that recycle through the water supply could account for one possible explanation.
“There’s reason to suggest there’s an environmental component [to prostate cancer] and not solely genetic,” said Dr. Neil Fleshner, head of urology at the University Health Network in Ontario and co-author of the study.
Previous studies suggest that certain chemicals like pesticides and medication contaminated water are to blame for a rise in endocrine related diseases including certain types of cancer and early onset of puberty.
Fleshner agreed their findings produce more questions instead of answers, and their hypothesis is based on speculation.
Men living in continents like North America and Europe are at higher risk for prostate cancer, and countries within those nations also have a higher use of oral contraceptives, they found.
Fleshner and his colleague looked at the use of other types of birth control such as intrauterine device, condoms, and vaginal barriers, but found no association to prostate cancer compared to areas where use of the pill was prevalent.
“This is just a hypothesis generating idea,” said Fleshner. “Women should not be throwing away the pill because of this.”
Source:abc News

UAS indicative data on stevia feed-study shows positive impact on diabetic, hypertensive patients

University of Agricultural Sciences’ Department of Crop Physiology has conducted a human study on 27 patients to assess the effects of stevia on non insulin dependent diabetic mellitus (NIDDM) patients and hypertensive cases. The clinical trial was a feeding study of products prepared using stevia.
The human study on 12 NIDDM and 15 hypertensive patients who underwent the clinical trial was carried out for a month. While the NIDDM cases were fed with bun made of stevia. The hypertensive patients were fed with a ground nut sweet (chikki) made of stevia. The two products were selected after feasibility study. Care was taken to ensure that the products are consumed every day by daily visits. The subjects were counselled to adhere to the modified diet as advised by the physicians and were asked to consume these products as snacks in substitution to their daily snacks, Dr AG Shankar, professor, department of crop physiology, University of Agricultural Sciences told Pharmabiz.
An indicative data suggested positive impact on diabetic and hypertensive patients. To conduct the intervention study, diabetic and hypertensive patients in the age group of 35 to 54 years who were the staff of the Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Bangalore agreed for the feed study under the supervision of a doctor. The study, which was part of a post graduate thesis in Foods and Nutrition of Savita Manganavar, was embarked on to investigate the possibility of use of stevia in substitution to sugar in various sweet products of local interest at different levels, he added.
The glycemic index of the product selected for the feed study for diabetes and its control were determined in three normal and 3 non insulin dependent diabetic mellitus subjects. Same subjects were served for reference meal, control bun and experimental bun with an interval of 6-7 days.
The cost of developed products was calculated per 100 grams taking the present cost of all the ingredients from the local market and the cost of fuel used.
The results were analysed statistically using Anova, Regression co-efficient tests among others to determine whether there is any significant change in the parameters of the subjects before and after the study.
The results of sweetness of equivalence of stevia in comparison to sugar is around 300 to 400 times, stated Dr Shankar.
Around 58 per cent of the patients perceived one gram of stevia as equivalent to 20 grams of sucrose followed by 14 per cent subjects each perceived it be 15, 10 and 25 grams of sucrose. 50 per cent of the subjects perceived the stimulus of stevia for more than 40 seconds as compared to only 20 per cent in the case of sucrose.
The University went on the develop ten commonly consumed products like jam, fruit custard, biscuit, grape juice milk shake, tea, white ladu and besan ladu for substitution of sugar with stevia. Oven dried stevia leaved were incorporated into the products at 50, 60, 75 and 100 per cent levels. These products were developed at acceptable levels of substitution for further sensory evaluation.
“After 30 days the study showed that the glycemic index of stevia bun was found to be appreciably reduced in the diabetic and in the hypertensive patients. There is ample proof with us to prove stevia could be used as recognized as a non calorie sweetener and replace sugar,” stated Dr Shankar.

Higher IQ Linked to Illegal Drug Use

Children with a high IQ are more likely to indulge in illegal drug use during adolescence and adulthood, according to researchers at Cardiff University and University College London. Following the analysis of almost 8,000 people it was concluded that men with a high IQ at 5-years of age were around 50% more likely to have taken drugs like amphetamines or ecstasy 25-years later, than those with low IQ scores at the same age. This effect was more stronger among women. High-IQ women were more than twice as likely as low-IQ women to have used cannabis and cocaine.
These findings could be attributed to previous research which shows that highly intelligent people are open to experiments and keen on novelty and stimulation. Also, intelligent people are more likely to get bored or suffer at the hands of their peers for being different, either of which could lead them to use drugs as an avoidant coping strategy.
The study is published in the 'Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health'.

India to be Among Top 3 Life Insurance Markets by 2020

The insurance industry will continue to outpace the rapid economic growth to reach $350-400 billion in premium income by 2020, making India amongst the top 3 life insurance markets and top 15 non-life insurance markets by the year, a study said.It stated that the total penetration of insurance (premium as percentage of GDP) has increased from 2.3% in 2001 to 5.2% in 2011. In addition, there has been a vast increase in the coverage of insurance. The number of life policies in force has increased nearly 12 fold over the past decade and health insurance, nearly 25 fold.
This progress has been aided by the dramatic shift in the availability of products, for example: better term, ULIPs, whole life, maximum NAV guarantee, auto assistance, auto pay per km insurance, disease management and wellness.
The report estimates the total insurance premium at approximately Rs. 17 lakh crore to Rs. 22 lakh crore in 2020 (with life being Rs. 15 lakh crore to Rs. 20 lakh crore). This massive growth will have a significant impact on India’s ranking in the global insurance industry and is based on strong fundamentals. While the industry has come a long way over the past decade, the big challenge with the industry is profitability.
The report highlights the importance of insurance in India’s economy, the progress made in the last decade, key challenges associated with the sector and an action agenda for insurance companies and the government.
Progress has been made on the channel front with the emergence of 5 distinct channels — bancassurance, broking, corporate agency, direct and auto dealers to complement the existing third-party agency and in-house salaried sales force.
Along with the emergence of multiple channels, the distribution reach has increased manifold, nearly 6-fold for life, and 1.5 times for non-life. During the same time, the Indian market has evolved from a monopoly to a truly competitive market, the study said.

Is yoga the magic bullet?

Poorly managed stress plays a key role in the development of lifestyle diseases, including major depression, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. Lifestyle diseases are seeing a steep rising curve in both urban and rural India.India’s largest clinic-based survey, Screening India’s Twin Epidemic (SITE) , launched by Sanofi-Aventis Group and led by Shashank Joshi, consultant endocrinologist, Lilavati Hospital, Mumbai, came out with its findings in Mumbai on 7 November. The study found that over 60% of the adult population surveyed across India either had diabetes (35%) or hypertension (46%) or both (21%). The survey covered 16,000 people in eight states and areas—Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, New Delhi-National Capital Region, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. According to Prasanna Paranjape, a vedic physician at the Sanjeevan Ayurved centre in Pune, yoga can be used easily to manage stress and improve quality of life.
The question is, can yoga help prevent lifestyle diseases and reduce the symptoms of these diseases?
The research
Modern medicine is slowly unravelling the truths of this ancient science. C.S.M. Chong and colleagues at the department of rehabilitation sciences, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, reviewed all the medical research published on yoga and stress management and published their findings in the Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine in January. They found that though there were few studies, an analysis of these showed yoga did help manage stress. Paranjape agrees with Chong’s findings, saying: “Though today’s practice of yoga emphasizes the physical aspect of yogic science and ignores the spiritual, the physical practice of yoga can increase our stress threshold and therefore aid in preventing and managing lifestyle diseases. Also, the yoga postures that are performed do not need to be elaborate or complex to be beneficial. Even simple postures are beneficial as long as they are practised and performed correctly.”

J.G. Anderson and A.G. Taylor from the University of Virginia—School of Nursing reviewed the medical literature on mind-body therapies like yoga and their benefits in treating the metabolic syndrome, a medical condition that is the precursor to diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Their findings were published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism in May. They found that yoga can improve the physiological markers of the metabolic syndrome like lipid profiles, blood sugar levels, obesity and hypertension. However, Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis C-DOC, Centre for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology, New Delhi, cautions that yoga cannot replace aerobic exercise or vice-versa. He says that though he has found yoga to be beneficial in reducing hypertension in patients, those with the metabolic syndrome, or those with diabetes or heart disease, should practise both yoga and aerobic exercise.
S.B. Khalsa and colleagues at the Harvard Medical School conducted a study to see if adolescents could benefit from the mood-elevating effects of yoga. The study was published in the Journal of Behavioural Health Services Research in June. Students were assigned to regular physical education classes or a yoga class for 11 weeks during a semester. They completed a questionnaire regarding anger, fatigue, anxiety and perceived stress before and after the 11 weeks. The study found that children who completed 11 weeks of yoga were better off at controlling anger and reported less fatigue than those who underwent physical education but no yoga.
Another mood-related study performed by K. Yoshihara and colleagues at Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan, examined the effects of long-term practice of yoga on mood. The study results were published in the journal Psychosocial Medicine in June. Thirty-seven healthy women who had been doing yoga regularly for two years were compared with 37 age-matched, healthy women who had not done yoga. Both groups were made to fill out questionnaires regarding mood, anger, anxiety and fatigue levels. The study found the women who had done yoga regularly for two years reported better overall mood, less anger, less anxiety and less fatigue.
Anjali Chhabria of Mind Temple, a counselling centre in Mumbai, believes that these findings are consistent with what she sees in her practice. Yoga, she says, is an excellent lifestyle change that can help in mood elevation and in the prevention of major depression. She finds that it also aids in treatment of depression when patient recovery is at about 60%, because it’s hard for patients to do any work on their own until they feel a little better. She cautions, however, that yoga does not work as a stand-alone therapy; it must be used in conjunction with psychiatric therapy to be effective. Arpita Anand, a clinical psychologist based in Goa, also finds that yoga can help in mood elevation but for that the patient should “buy-in” to the philosophy of yoga and not feel coerced to do it.
The backbone of the argument
Spinal cord health is key to our overall health and the practice of yoga asanas helps maintain this, says Paranjape.
Sujata Vaidya, a holistic health practitioner at Sharp Health Care, Pune, says that since the spine is conditioned with yoga, and is the communication channel for the brain with the rest of the organs and limbs, the practice of yoga allows for improved communication between the brain and the rest of the body. Regular practice of yoga has a positive impact on cellular functioning within organs by allowing the cells to detoxify and obtain the nutrition that they need since the blood and lymph is flowing around them more efficiently. This effect of yoga at the minute level of the cell allows the body as a whole to function more efficiently and smoothly. Even practising yoga for a couple of days every week is beneficial for your body and mind, she says.
However, yoga should be taught one-on-one; incorrect yogic postures are fairly common in a yoga class where the teacher cannot simultaneously correct the posture of each student. To counteract any negative effects of yoga done incorrectly, Paranjape counsels that a series of three Surya Namaskars should be done at the end of every yoga class.

By:Sujata Kelkar Shetty PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US.

Key Cellular Defence Mechanism Identified

Recent study identifies how our body's own proteins stop the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) in its tracks.The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Manchester and the Medical Research Council's National Institute for Medical Research and published in Nature, provides a blueprint for the design of new drugs to treat HIV infection, say the researchers.
Scientists in the United States and France recently discovered that a protein named SAMHD1 was able to prevent HIV replicating in a group of white blood cells called myeloid cells.
Now, crucially, the teams from Manchester and the MRC have shown how SAMHD1 prevents the virus from replicating itself within these cells, opening up the possibility of creating drugs that imitate this biological process to prevent HIV replicating in the sentinel cells of the immune system.
"HIV is one of the most common chronic infectious diseases on the planet, so understanding its biology is critical to the development of novel antiviral compounds," said Dr Michelle Webb, who led the study in Manchester's School of Biomedicine.
"SAMHD1 has been shown to prevent the HIV virus replicating in certain cells but precisely how it does this wasn't known. Our research has found that SAMHD1 is able to degrade deoxynucleotides, which are the building blocks required for replication of the virus.
"If we can stop the virus from replicating within these cells we can prevent it from spreading to other cells and halt the progress of the infection."
Co-author Dr Ian Taylor, from the MRC's National Institute for Medical Research, added: "We now wish to define more precisely, at a molecular level, how SAMHD1 functions. This will pave the way for new therapeutic approaches to HIV-1 and even vaccine development."

Monday, 14 November 2011

Next 10 Years, India will Need About 15 Lakh Doctors, 25 Lakh Nurses and One Crore Paramedical Staff"

In India about one lakh more hospital beds are created in the next 10 years, India will need about 15 lakh doctors, 25 lakh nurses and one crore paramedical staff. To meet this requirement, India will need 600 new medical colleges and 1500 new nursing and paramedical colleges. All this will need huge resources and financial allocation on the part of State and Central Governments. The health industry will also have to contribute towards this gigantic task.
According to a report by expert group on Universal Health Coverage, there is an immediate need to establish public health training institutions. It also recommends establishment of health science universities.India is emerging as a major healthcare destination. Hospitals in India provide low cost, high quality medical care with proven clinical outcomes. The success rate of medical treatment in India is very high.
According to an ASSOCHAM study the market size of medical tourism sector will increase from Rs 4500 crore at present to Rs 10,800 crore by 2015. The inflow of medical tourists will also increase to approximately 32 lakh by 2015.
In addition to healthcare facilities like cardiology, orthopaedic surgery and urology, India is also offering services like yoga, meditation and ayurveda which is becoming increasingly popular for various ailments among foreign patients from all over the world.

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