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Stem cells used in stroke treatment - BBC News

Stem cells used in stroke treatment - BBC News | First Aid Training | Scoop.it
A great-grandfather has become one of the first people in the UK to be treated for a stroke, using stem cells.

Leonard McCourt, 77, is one of just 21 patients taking part in the world's first fully-regulated pioneering stem cell trial, which involves injecting the stem cells directly into the brain.
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iPhone device detects heart rhythm problem that can cause stroke

A special iPhone case and app can be used to quickly and cheaply detect heart rhythm problems and prevent strokes, according to University of Sydney research presented at the Australia and New Zealand Cardiac Society conference today on the Gold Coast.

The research found the AliveCor Heart Monitor for iPhone (iECG) was a highly-effective, accurate and cost-effective way to screen patients to identify previously undiagnosed atrial fibrillation (AF) and hence help prevent strokes.

What's more, the test is able to be used in local pharmacies and general practitioner surgeries with a single-lead ECG taken on an iPhone with a special case.

Senior author, Professor Ben Freedman, said that the device was an exciting breakthrough and would greatly assist in the challenge to improve early identification of atrial fibrillation and prevention of stroke.

"Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm problem and is responsible for almost one third of all strokes," he said.

"AF increases with age, affecting more than 15 percent of people aged 85 years and over. And people with atrial fibrillation face up to a five-fold increased risk of stroke, and tend to have more severe and life-threatening strokes.

"In addition, our research showed that about 1.4 percent of people aged over 65 (50,000 Australians) have atrial fibrillation, but do not know it. There are currently a large number of people with unknown AF who are at high risk of stroke, but who are not on any medication.

"The good news is that stroke is highly preventable with anticoagulant medication, such as warfarin, or the new oral anticoagulants, which can reduce the risk by 66 percent.

"The iECG allows us to screen patients for atrial fibrillation in minutes, and treat people early. This is a huge boost in the fight to reduce the amount of strokes, particularly in people over the age of 65," Professor Freedman said.

For patients in the study with a history of known atrial fibrillation, the researchers also identified both a treatment gap and a knowledge gap. The treatment gap they identified was that only 66 percent of those eligible for stroke prevention medication were being prescribed this medication.

Lead author Nicole Lowres also said the knowledge gap of patients with AF was surprising and alarming.

"Over half of those with known atrial fibrillation in AF at the time of screening were unaware of their diagnosis even though many of them were prescribed and taking warfarin to treat their condition," she said.

"The iECG can be viewed on the phone screen and also used as an educational tool to teach people about their heart rhythm." Ms Lowres said.

Ms Lowres also noted how cost effective screening with the iECG could be.

"Our economic analysis has shown the iECG is highly cost effective and in fact this is the first mass screening program fir AF likely to be cost effective, unlike traditional 12 lead ECGs recorded by a practice nurse," she said.

"In addition, the iECG is extremely portable, which gives great flexibility for screening, and is simple to administer.

"In a new development, we are now getting receptionists in general practice to record an iECG before patients see their doctor," Ms Lowres said.

About the iECG: When taking a reading, the iECG can be seen on the iPhone screen in real time. In addition, the iECG is transmitted to a secure server (cloud) where a specialist can review the iECGs remotely. The website can automatically analyse the reading to make a diagnosis of AF. The researchers tested the website's automatic prediction in the SEARCH-AF study and found it correctly diagnoses atrial fibrillation 97 percent of the time.

The researchers are currently trialling iECG screening in GP surgeries in Sydney.

The University of Sydney research was funded by a number of investigator-initiated research grants from BMS/Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Bayer. The National Heart Foundation provided a scholarship for lead researcher, Nicole Lowres.

"The development of the iPhone ECG device just shows how important research and fundraising is in the fight against heart disease and stroke," Dr Robert Grenfell, the Heart Foundation's National Director of Cardiovascular Health, said.

"Last year, the Heart Foundation directed $13.5 million in funding to support 195 researchers. This year through the Heart Foundation Big Heart Appeal, we hope to raise $5 million to continue funding this kind of world-class research."

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A Midday Nap Could Reduce Your Blood Pressure

A Midday Nap Could Reduce Your Blood Pressure | First Aid Training | Scoop.it
Here's some news that nap enthusiasts definitely won't get tired of. It turns out that a daily snooze is associated with reduced blood pressure and, even more significantly, may decrease the risk of a heart attack or other cardiovascular events.

The results were presented at the European Society of Cardiology annual conference in London. The observational study examined nearly 400 middle-aged men and women with hypertension, a condition where blood pressure is constantly abnormally high.

The study showed that midday sleepers had a 5% lower average 24-hour ambulatory systolic blood pressure compared to patients who did not nap at midday. Even though this might seem like a minor difference, the lead researcher Dr Manolis Kallistratos said at the conference that even this small decrease "can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events by up to 10%." So a tiny drop is still of great significance.

Even better for the siesta snoozers, the study showed that a longer sleep was associated with a higher drop in blood pressure. One hour was found to be the time needed for the best results.

Kallistratos noted that there were a few limitations in the study that would be worth addressing for future research in the field. For starters, the study was only observational. It has to be assumed that it is the midday nap that is producing the positive effects in the patients, and not some other uncontrolled variable. Kallistratos is confident that this is the case since the blood pressure drop pattern seen at midday is similar to the drop people experience when they sleep at night.

The second is that the hypertension symptoms in the study participants were very well controlled, but that might not be the case for everyone. So in future it could be worthwhile including participants whose hypertension was not so well-controlled, as Kallistratos thinks they could experience an even more significant blood pressure drop with a daytime doze.

It must also be noted that a nap is superior to just resting. Kallistratos commented that the biggest drop in blood pressure kicked in just before the REM phase, which suggests actual sleep is required to lower blood pressure to the levels observed.

“Μidday sleep is a habit that nowadays is almost a privilege due to a nine to five working culture and intense daily routine,” said Kallistratos. However, given the potential benefits, making time for a midday nap might be an idea to sleep on.
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