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September 14th, 2007

Children as young as 15 months should be screened for high cholesterol in an attempt to cut the number of Britons suffering from heart disease, doctors say today.

A national screening programme, which would involve a blood test for babies, possibly at the same time as routine vaccinations such as MMR, could help to slash the number of people in the UK with heart disease caused by hereditary high cholesterol, according to the doctors, who publish their work online in the British Medical Journal.

About two in every 1,000 people are affected by familial hypercholesterolaemia, which carries a high risk of a build-up of cholesterol in the blood and premature death from heart disease. But it is difficult to ascertain who in the population has the genetic disorder.

David Wald, a consultant cardiologist and senior lecturer at the Wolfson institute of preventive medicine at the University of London, and colleagues carried out a study to find out the best way to screen for the disorder. They reviewed 13 studies involving a total of 1,907 people with hereditary high cholesterol and 16,221 without.

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Diesel fumes trigger heart attacks and strokes, researchers find

September 13th, 2007

Scientists have discovered how air pollution triggers heart attacks, which cause thousands of deaths each year.

Diesel exhaust fumes increase the stress on the heart during exercise and may account for the rise in heart deaths on days when pollution from traffic fumes is high, they say.

The World Health Organisation estimates that air pollution causes 800,000 premature deaths worldwide and a recent US study suggested long-term exposure to traffic fumes increases the risk of death from heart disease and stroke by 76 per cent.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh found that inhaling diesel fumes caused a threefold increase in stress on the heart by altering its electrical activity. The risk of blood clots was also increased.

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Eating dark chocolate can prevent heart disease

September 12th, 2007

Recent research showing that chocolate is good for our health may have triggered many a guiltfree binge.

Unfortunately, it appears that an ounce a day is all we can justify on medical grounds.

After reviewing previous studies into chocolate and heart disease, one expert has calculated the optimum daily dose.

Professor Roger Corder says that an ounce, or 25g - around two or three squares - is best.

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Insulin pill hope for diabetics

September 11th, 2007

Diabetes patients could soon be able to take a pill to control their condition instead of repeated injections, researchers have claimed.

Experts at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen have found insulin can be covered by a coating which means it could eventually be taken orally.

Currently, the drug has to be injected so it is not broken down before it reaches the bloodstream.
The development offers hope to patients with a phobia of needles.

The research, presented at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester, shows that the coating means that insulin is protected from enzyme breakdown.

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Scots smoke ban ‘improved health’

September 10th, 2007

The Scottish smoking ban has led to a significant advance in public health, the most detailed scientific study of the measure so far has suggested.

Comparisons at nine hospitals revealed that there was a 17% year-on-year drop in heart attack admissions since the ban was introduced in March 2006.

It said the quality of air in pubs is now equivalent to that found outdoors.

Exposure to second-hand smoke north of the border is down by 40% among adults and children, the study added.

The findings will be presented to an international conference in Edinburgh on the ban organised by the Scottish Government.

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Cutting down on sleep ‘a recipe for heart disease’

September 8th, 2007

People who deprive themselves of sleep may be more likely to die of heart disease, researchers have found.

A new study has identified a link between lack of sleep, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

An analysis of more than 6,500 people also found that women getting less than five hours’ sleep were twice as likely to have hypertension as men.

Hypertension - chronically high blood pressure - is a risk factor for heart disease, Britain’s biggest killer.

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40% of heart attacks could be prevented by routine family screening, study finds

September 7th, 2007

Four out of 10 early heart attacks could be prevented if the partners and relatives of people with heart disease were routinely screened, according to a study in the British Medical Journal today.Living with or being related to somebody with heart disease is a significant risk factor for heart attack, according to a study. Siblings are twice as likely as most to suffer, but husbands, wives and partners are also in danger.

Blood relatives may have the same genetic triggers for heart disease, but those who share a home probably also share a lifestyle. Smoking, drinking, over-eating and a tendency to watch television rather than go for a jog - all of which may contribute to heart problems - are traits that are likely to run through families.

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New link between E-numbers and hyperactivity

September 6th, 2007

Certain artificial food colorings and other additives can worsen hyperactive behaviors in children aged 3 to 9, British researchers reported on Wednesday.

Tests on more than 300 children showed significant differences in their behavior when they drank fruit drinks spiked with a mixture of food colorings and preservatives, Jim Stevenson and colleagues at the University of Southampton said.

“These findings show that adverse effects are not just seen in children with extreme hyperactivity (such as ADHD) but can also be seen in the general population and across the range of severities of hyperactivity,” the researchers wrote in their study, published in the Lancet medical journal.

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Gene ‘controls body fat levels’

September 5th, 2007

A single gene can keep in check the tendency to pile on fat, scientists have shown.
The University of Texas team manipulated the gene, called adipose, to alter the amount of fat tissue laid down by fruit flies, worms and mice.

If the same effect could be achieved in humans, which also carry the gene, it is hoped it could lead to new ways to fight obesity and diabetes.

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Unclaimed bikes boost fitness for commuters

September 3rd, 2007

A SCHEME allowing commuters to pedal to work using unclaimed bicycles found by the police is being launched to improve fitness.

It is hoped the project in Inverness - the first of its kind in the UK - will be adopted in other towns and cities across Scotland.
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Commuters will be encouraged to ride to their offices after picking up the bikes at a city centre car park. The scheme is being launched on September 12 to coincide with the EU’s In Town Without My Car day.

One of the backers of the plan is the Inverness and Nairn Transport Forum, and a spokesman for the group said it was part of its attempt to get commuters to use alternative methods of travel.

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