Coronavirus may cause long term brain injury suggests study

One of the impacts of the virus says, doctors, is long-term injury to the brain; this is according to a large US study, the results of which were published earlier this week.

The results of the year-long study were published in the Nature Medicine and assessed the brain health and the impact of 44 different disorders in millions of US veterans.

The study showed that neurological disorders occurred in more than seven percent of those who had been infected with COVID-19 in comparison to those who had never been infected.

Senior author of the study Dr Ziyad Al-Aly said: “The results show the devastating long-term effects of COVID-19.”

Dr Al-Aly and his team compare the records of US veterans during two time periods, one before the pandemic began and the other during. Overall, they assessed 154,000 veterans who tested positive for Covid between the 1st of March 2020 and the 15th January 2021.

The most common symptoms experienced by the veterans were those that affected the mind such as brain fog; those veterans who tested positive were 77 percent more likely to develop the disorder than those who had not had Covid.

Meanwhile, those with the virus were 50 percent more likely to experience an ischemic stroke, defined as one caused by blood clots.

Furthermore, other data suggested those with Covid were:• 80 percent more likely to have seizures• 43 percent more likely to have anxiety or depression• 35 percent more likely to have headaches• 42 percent more likely to suffer from movement disorders.

As a result of their findings, the authors said health services needed to be prepared for a post-pandemic world.

Dr Al-Aly said: “Given the colossal scale of the pandemic, meeting these challenges requires urgent and coordinated – but, so far, absent – global, national and regional response strategies.”

However, an increased risk of a seizure or anxiety is not the only risk faced by those who test positive for COVID-19. Another study, conducted by Case Western Reserve University, has found that young people could face an increased risk of type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys cells that produce insulin; according to the study published in the JAMA Network Open journal, the rise is significant.

The authors estimate the risk of type 1 diabetes rises by around 72 percent, an estimate reached after analysis of more than 571,000 patients.

Professor Pamela Davis said of the research: “Type 1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease. It occurs mostly because the body’s immune defences attack the cells that produce insulin, thereby stopping insulin production and causing the disease. COVID has been suggested to increase autoimmune responses, and our present finding reinforces that suggestion.

Davis added: “We may see a substantial increase in this disease in the coming months to years. Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong challenge for those who have it, and increased incidence represents substantial numbers of children afflicted.”

While the scientists say it is unclear whether COVID-19 increases the risk of type 1 diabetes, it nevertheless adds to research suggesting the impact of the virus is far reaching.

Study co-author Professor Rong Xu added: “We are also investigating possible changes in development of type 2 diabetes in children following SARS-CoV2 infection.”

In the UK diabetes is becoming an increasingly common condition, at the moment around five million people live with a form of diabetes.

Of those affected, 90 percent of patients live with type 2 while the other 10 percent live with type 1.

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  • 3 часа, 8 минут назад 04.10.2022Health Care
    Heart disease: Avoiding sitting down for too long ‘just as important’ as exercise – expert

    Heart and circulatory diseases are among the biggest killers in the UK, accounting for around a quarter of all deaths every year. And of these, coronary heart disease is the most common type, which occurs when arteries become narrowed by a build-up of fatty substances along their walls. If left untreated, this can have a devastating impact on the body.

    Like many medical conditions, exercise can play a part in reducing your risk of heart disease.

    While it is widely accepted that the more exercise you do the better it is for your body, less consideration is given to the amount of time we are sedentary.

    Nutritionist Daisy Whitbread, speaking on behalf of pycnogenol.com, shared the best ways to look after your heart.

    “Doing 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise four or five times a week is recommended for keeping the cardiovascular system healthy,” she said.

    “And as well as doing structured, organised exercise, whether it’s walking, the gym, or sports, we’ve got to think about what we’re doing for the other 23 hours of the day as well.

    “There’s no point in just going to the gym for an hour if you’re going to be sitting down for the other 23 hours of the day.”

    She added: “Avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, where you are sitting down too much, is just as important as doing your organised hour, or half-an-hour of exercise.

    “So, if you’re somebody that has a sedentary job, thinking about ways to manage that, and avoid long periods of sitting down is beneficial.

    “Having breaks where you get up and walk around and setting a reminder on your phone can be helpful to get into the habit of doing this.”

    Ms Whitbread also stressed the importance of diet.

    “The type of fat that we eat is also very important for heart health,” she said.

    “We should be limiting saturated fat, found in animal products; so, fatty meat, and high fat dairy, like full-fat cheese, butter, and cream.

    “Instead, focus on healthy unsaturated fats such as oily fish, avocado, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.

    “The third group of fats, which are the most damaging and we should be completely avoiding ideally, are the trans fats that are found in processed and deep-fried foods.”

    The main symptoms of coronary heart disease are:

    Other factors that can increase the risk of heart disease include high cholesterol levels (linked to diet), high blood pressure, stress, alcohol and smoking.

    Ms Whitbread warned: “Avoiding things like smoking and managing our stress levels is also important.

    “Stress is very much linked to heart attacks and high blood pressure.

    “Men are at a higher risk of heart attacks, possibly partly because of the way they process stress.”

  • 3 часа, 8 минут назад 04.10.2022Health Care
    Statins warning: Hair loss could be a side effect of the cholesterol lowering drugs

    Statins are used to help lower cholesterol. Taken correctly this means they can ultimately reduce your risk of serious complications such as heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. But like all medicines there are side effects to be wary of.

    According to the Mayo Clinic, hair loss is a “less common” side effect of the drugs.

    “Most people who take statin drugs tolerate them very well. But some people have side effects,” it says.

    Other less common side effects are:

    More common side effects can include muscle aches, tenderness, or weakness, abdominal cramping or pain, and headaches.

    You might also experience:

    There are a number of serious side effects, for which you should seek medical attention.

    One of these is myositis – inflammation of the muscles.

    “The risk of muscle injury increases when certain other medications are taken with statins,” the clinic explains.

    “For example, if you take a combination of a statin and a fibrate — another cholesterol-reducing drug — the risk of muscle damage increases greatly compared to someone who takes a statin alone.”

    Statins could also raise levels of creatine kinase – a muscle enzyme that can result in “muscle pain, mild inflammation, and muscle weakness”.

    It says: “This condition, though uncommon, can take a long time to resolve.”

    In the most severe cases someone might experience rhabdomyolysis – “extreme” muscle inflammation and damage.

    “With this condition, muscles all over the body become painful and weak,” the Mayo Clinic says.

    “The severely damaged muscles release proteins into the blood that collect in the kidneys.

    “The kidneys can become damaged trying to eliminate a large amount of muscle breakdown caused by statin use.

    “This can ultimately lead to kidney failure or even death.”

    But this is extremely rare and occurs in less than one in 10,000 people taking statins.

    Other ways to reduce cholesterol include:

  • 3 часа, 8 минут назад 04.10.2022Health Care
    Fatty liver disease: Breath with a ‘sweet odour’ could be sign – may ‘occur suddenly’

    The liver breaks down toxic substances in the body. When the organ becomes damaged by liver disease, many different problems can ensue as these chemicals build up in the blood.

    According to the health body Mount Sinai, liver disease can affect the “function of the nervous system” in this way.

    Liver disease refers to many conditions that stop the liver from functioning. Fatty liver disease is one of the most common forms. It is characterised by fat build-up in the liver.

    Roughly one in five Britons suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which can be caused by high levels of fat in the blood and diabetes.

    But according to the British Liver Trust alcohol-related liver disease accounts for 60 percent of cases.

    The changes in the brain that can come from liver disease are known as hepatic encephalopathy.

    HE may be noticeable day-to-day. Forgetfulness, mild confusion and personality changes are some of the early symptoms that can occur.

    But Mount Sinai also explains that “breath with a musty or sweet odour” can be an early symptom.

    The health body added that these problems can “occur suddenly” if you develop acute liver failure or can be part of chronic liver disease.

    More severe symptoms that can ensue include the following:

    Fortunately, if you are diagnosed with HE, it can be treated. The severity of the condition will decide what treatment you receive.

    If you visit healthcare specialists with symptoms of HE, they will attempt to figure out what caused the condition.

    Your doctor may prescribe you medicines to help reduce the number of toxins absorbed by your body, explains The British Liver Trust.

    The toxin Ammonia is often associated with the development of HE.

    Doctors may aim to reduce Ammonia levels in your body by prescribing lactulose.

    Lactulose is a sugar that “changes the acidity of your stools to help prevent the growth of bacteria that produce ammonia in the bowel,” the charity added.

    Liver cancer is another possible consequence of liver disease. The NHS explains that “over the past few decades, rates of liver cancer in the UK have risen sharply due to increased levels of alcohol misuse”.

    Liver damage can also lower your immune response to infection.

    Urinary infections and respiratory infections are common for people with liver disease.

  • 3 часа, 8 минут назад 04.10.2022Health Care
    How to live longer: Doctor’s seven ‘simple’ tips for longevity

    While the age we ultimately reach can be completely beyond our control, there are a number of things we can do to improve our longevity. Many of these revolve around lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise. But the way we manage our mental health is also key.

    Doctor Noel Young, clinical innovation associate at digital health company Thriva, said: “While our life expectancy may be increasing, our health span – our time spent in good health – still remains much lower than expected.

    “Chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes, which are driven in the majority of cases by lifestyle, are very common and are associated with faster ageing.

    “These conditions are linked to shorter telomeres – the protective caps at the ends of our DNA – which cause cells to stop dividing or die once they get too short, which is increasingly what happens when you age.

    “The good news is, adopting certain lifestyle changes can help prevent chronic diseases and the faster ageing that accompanies them.”

    He explained: “Studies have shown that adopting four simple behaviours can help prevent almost 80 percent of chronic diseases – having a fibre-rich diet, maintaining a healthy weight, never smoking and being active for 30 minutes a day.

    “A similar study found combining healthy behaviours could add 14 years to your life.”

    In addition to this, Dr Young recommended other ways to prevent early ageing are

    We are becoming increasingly sedentary, and as we age it’s harder to build muscle. We lose around one percent of our muscle mass every year from around the age of 35. This puts us at risk of osteoporosis, frailty, falls with injuries like hip fractures as we age. So keep active in your day to day.

    Fibre-rich foods like vegetables, beans, grains and fruits are linked with longer telomeres and improved lifespan. These foods are packed with nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene as well as other antioxidants.

    The fibre they contain in itself is also an important nutrient that helps regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol levels and maintain a healthy gut biome. Including sources of healthy fats like fish, avocado and nuts is also important.

    Some foods are linked to worse health outcomes and shorter telomeres. These include foods like red and processed meat, sugary drinks like soda, and alcohol. It’s best to limit these as much as possible.

    Stress in the short term is helpful as it primes your body for action (the fight or flight response) by leading to increased activity in your nervous system and the release of hormones like adrenaline. If continued in the long run however, it can have a detrimental effect and is associated with shorter telomeres.

    It’s a good idea to be mindful of your blood sugar levels. High blood sugar can damage blood vessels and nerves and increases the risk of diabetes as well as other chronic diseases in the long run.

    Blood sugar levels rise naturally after eating food so you can reduce this by cutting back on sugary food and drinks and refined carbohydrates (white bread, potatoes and pasta).

    Some animal studies have shown that eating less often, like restricting your food intake by narrowing the time during which you eat, can help combat the effects of ageing.

    It’s thought that this puts the body in a state of mild stress, which leads to genes being switched which activate cells. It’s important not to engage in this if you have an eating disorder or are underweight however, and if you have any medical conditions speak to your doctor first.

    Some promising studies have come from supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids. These can be found in fish oil, but vegan versions derived from algae exist too. Some trials suggest that supplementing with these anti-inflammatory compounds may increase telomere length, and they have other beneficial effects like helping to manage blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels which is beneficial for your heart health.

    Another important nutrient is vitamin D. Low levels are tied to shorter lifespans, and it’s recommended to supplement in the UK during the winter months as it’s quite hard to obtain through food sources.

    Shorter telomeres are associated with not getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation also increases the chance of unhealthy behaviours like not exercising and eating sugary and fatty food, which increases your disease risk.

    It’s important to get seven to nine hours of good quality sleep per day.

  • 3 часа, 8 минут назад 04.10.2022Health Care
    Expert warns top Covid symptom no longer loss of smell or fever as new wave hits UK

    The latest jump in cases has spurred concern among experts that the UK could be entering a new wave of infections fuelled by immune-evading strains. Recent data from the Office for National Statistics suggest the number of people testing positive for coronavirus in private households is approximately at around 1.1 million people, and two-thirds of these cases are now reporting having a sore throat.

    Professor Tim Spector, the co-founder of the Covid ZOE app, said that sore throat has now taken over as the new dominant Covid symptom.

    People using the app have previously reported having a sore throat that feels similar to what a person might expect during a cold or laryngitis.

    The health body explains: “Covid-related sore throats tend to be relatively mild and last no more than five days.

    “A very painful sore throat that lasts more than five days may be something else such as bacterial infections, so don’t be afraid to contact your GP if the problem persists.

    “It’s important to remember that sore throats are common and caused by lots of respiratory illnesses such as colds.”

    According to the health body, a sore throat will typically emerge within the first week of illness and improve quickly.

    Professor Spector said: “Many people are still using the Government guideline about symptoms which are wrong.

    “Fever and loss of smell are really rare now – so many old people may not think they’ve got Covid. They’d say it’s a cold and not be tested.”

    He added: “It looks like we’re in the start of the next wave and this time it’s affected older people slightly earlier than the last wave.”

    It comes as figures suggest cases have started to climb and hospitalisations are increasing in the oldest age groups.

    According to recent data, the latest sub-variants of Omicron appear to evade immune defences, making it difficult to control numbers as winter approaches.

    Professor Young, a virologist at the University of Warwick, said: “What’s interesting about these variants is that although they’re slightly different in how they’ve come about they’ve come up with the same changes to get around the body’s immune system.

    “What we’re finding is the virus is evolving around the immunity that’s been built up through vaccines and countless infections people have had.

    “The biggest concern we’re seeing is that in early data these variants are starting to cause a slight increase in infections.

    “In a way, this was to be expected but it does demonstrate that we’re not out of the woods yet at all with this virus, sadly.”

    Variations of the virus have been predicted to weaken its hold, but it’s the diffusion of Covid vaccines that have helped curb the spread of Covid during previous waves.

  • 3 часа, 8 минут назад 04.10.2022Health Care
    Cancer: Disruptions to the body clock could increase ‘tumour burden’ by almost 70% – study

    Sleep is critical to good health yet it evades millions of Britons daily. The body’s biological clock controls thousands of functions in the body, so it comes as no surprise that interferences to this system cause disease. In fact, a new study suggests disruptions to the body clock could increase the cancer burden by nearly 70 percent.

    Night shift work has previously been linked to a higher incidence of cancer and other chronic diseases like diabetes and metabolic disorders.

    This has been put down to disruptions to the natural 24-hour rhythms in the activity of certain cancer-related genes.

    These disruptions are thought to make night shift workers more vulnerable to DNA damage and cause delays in the body’s DNA repair mechanisms.

    The senior author of a recent body of research, Katja Lamia, associate professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine, at Scripps Research Institute, probed this connection with her team.

    She noted: “There has always been a lot of evidence that shift workers and others with disrupted sleep schedules have higher rates of cancer, and our mission for this study was to figure out why.”

    Results showed that mice exposed to irregular shifting light patterns had an increased tumour burden of 68 percent.

    The findings published in Science Advances suggest that chronic circadian disruptions significantly increase lung cancer growth in animals.

    These results aligned with the team’s initial theory, but what they didn’t expect, however, was to discover that a collection in the HSF1 family of proteins was the main culprit.

    Lamia said: “This is not the mechanism we were expecting to find here. HSF1 has been shown to increase rates of tumour formation in several different models of cancer, but it has never been linked to circadian disruption before.”

    The findings shed light on the curious link between sleep patterns and disease and point to potential targets for treatment.

    HSF1 proteins are responsible for ensuring all proteins are still made correctly when put in extremely stressful conditions, such as changes in temperature.

    The scientists theorised that HSF1 activity is increased in this instance in response to circadian disruptions because changes in sleep cycles disturbed the daily rhythms of our bodies’ temperature.

    Lamia added: “Normally our body temperature changes by one or two degrees while we’re sleeping.

    “If shift workers don’t experience that normal drop it could interfere with how the HSF1 pathway normally operates and ultimately lead to more dysregulation in the body.”

    The research suspects cancer cells may exploit HSF1 proteins and create mutant, misfolded proteins – but this needs to be confirmed with more research.

    Lamia added: “Now that we know there’s a molecular link between HSF1, circadian disruption and tumour growth, it’s our job to determine how they’re all connected.”

    The Sleep Foundation explains: “Our circadian rhythm approximates homeostasis in coordination with environmental cues like sunlight.

    “Because of our circadian rhythm, our alertness level dips and rises throughout each 24-hour period, impacting the amount of sleepiness and wakefulness we experience during the day.”

    According to the health body, changing a circadian rhythm is difficult but it can be achieved by following regular sleep and wake times and allowing the body seven or more hours of sleep each night.

    If sleep issues persist after making these lifestyle changes, it may be wise to consult a doctor, according to the Sleep Foundation.

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Health Care Coronavirus may cause long term brain injury suggests study