Monthly Archives: May 2013

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Blood pressure increase due to bad weather

2017-04-21T11:13:32+00:00 May 23rd, 2013|Blood Pressure|

'Bad weather could raise your blood pressure and even kill you,' is the unnecessarily alarmist headline in the Daily Mail. It reports on a large, complex study that looked for any association between changes in weather and blood pressure rates. The research focused on patients at a blood pressure clinic in Glasgow and looked at two consecutive visits the patients made within a 12-month period. The researchers combined these findings with Met Office weather data from the time of these visits to assess whether changes in patients' blood pressure were related to changes in the weather. They found that decreases in temperature and sunshine, or increases in rainfall and frost, were associated with a slight increase in blood pressure. In the longer term, individuals whose blood pressure seemed sensitive to decreases in temperature and sunshine had slight increases in blood pressure. They also seemed to have overall shorter survival than people insensitive to weather changes. We know that our bodies respond to temperature changes, so it is plausible that temperature could influence blood pressure. But factors other than the weather may have had a role to play in the blood pressure results seen. It is also important to point out that the minor increases in blood pressure detected by the study could in many cases be compensated for by taking more exercise or improving your diet. Where did the story come from? The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Glasgow. One of the study authors was supported by a Wellcome Trust Capacity Strengthening Strategic Award to the Public Health Foundation of India and a consortium of UK universities. It was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Heart Association. The quality of the Daily Mail's reporting of this study is mixed. On the negative side, [...]

Could vitamin D treat severe asthma?

2017-04-21T11:13:32+00:00 May 21st, 2013|Lifestyle|

”Sunshine vitamin 'may treat asthma'”, BBC News informs us, as a new lab-based study suggests vitamin D could help control symptoms of severe asthma. Asthma is caused by inflammation of the airways, related to malfunctioning of the body’s immune system. In theory, the immune system mistakes harmless substances, such as dust mites, as a threat and triggers inflammation of the lungs and airways (which causes the symptoms of asthma). The study in question looked at IL-17A, which is one of the molecules thought to be associated with the malfunctioning immune response seen in asthma. Researchers examined whether vitamin D had an effect on the levels of the molecule produced by white blood cells in a laboratory experiment. Researchers found that vitamin D reduced the levels of IL-17A produced by cells from people with asthma. This included cells from people who had previously failed to respond to the treatment of choice for severe asthma – oral corticosteroids – often referred to as steroids. While this study suggests that vitamin D can have an effect on IL-17A levels in the laboratory, it is certainly too early to hail vitamin D as a potential “cure” for asthma. A positive effect on cells in the lab does not guarantee vitamin D supplements will improve symptoms for people with asthma. Clinical trials in people with asthma are ongoing to test whether this will be the case. Where did the story come from? The study was carried out by researchers from King’s College London; Queen Mary, University of London, and the Homerton University NHS Foundation Trust. It was funded by Asthma UK and the National Institute for Health Research, and some researchers received Medical Research Council Funding. The study was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. This study was reported by the [...]

Swansea measles, epidemic cases rise to 1,039

2017-04-21T11:13:32+00:00 May 2nd, 2013|Vaccinations|

The number of cases in the Swansea measles epidemic has risen to 1,039, an increase of 28 in the past two days. Public Health Wales (PHW) said across Wales the total has reached 1,170, and 85 people have been hospitalised. It said that 33,000 non-routine MMR vaccinations have been given around the country during the outbreak. But it said that too few 10-18-year-olds were receiving the jab, and they were the hardest hit by the epidemic. Large numbers of children in that age group were never given the MMR vaccine, the result of a scare that caused panic among parents. It followed research by Dr Andrew Wakefield in the late 1990s which linked the vaccine with autism and bowel disease. His report, which was published in The Lancet medical journal, was later discredited, with health officials insisting the vaccine was completely safe. But PHW said it was concerned that many of those children were still unvaccinated and urged their parents to ensure they now received the jab. Of the 33,000 non-routine vaccinations given across Wales during the outbreak, only about 8,000 of those were in the 10-18 age group. This still leaves almost 43,000 unvaccinated. Wales measles map - April 2013 This series of maps shows how suspected measles cases have increased between November 2012 and April 2013. Each case represents a doctor's diagnosis and is not laboratory confirmed. Dr Marion Lyons, director of health protection for PHW, said: "The efforts to vaccinate susceptible young people children across Wales have been excellent, with non-routine vaccinations being given in their thousands by GPs, in schools and in emergency drop-in clinics. "This undoubtedly will have reduced the length and severity of the outbreak, but the number of unvaccinated people in the hardest hit age group remains a cause for concern." She added: [...]