Yoga and meditation in early life cut health care cost

Strengthening your resilience with mindful meditation or yoga can help keep the doctors away, thereby reducing your health care cost, says a new study.

Resilience can be enhanced with practice, starting with the relaxation response — a physiologic state of deep rest induced by practices such as rhythmic breathing, mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi or prayer, the study said.


The researchers found that people who graduated from a resiliency-boosting programme used considerably less health care services in the year following the course compared with the year before.

“We have shown in the past that it works in the laboratory and on the level of individual physiology, and now we can see that when you make people well, they do not want to use health care so much,” said study leader James Stahl from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Centre in New Hampshire, US.

For the study, the researchers tested the efficacy of eight-week course developed by the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

To measure the effect of this programme called Relaxation Response Resiliency Programme (3RP) on health care utilisation, the study compared health care used by more than 4,400 3RP graduates to that of 13,150 patients who did not take the 3RP course.

In the year after training, use of health care services by the resiliency programme graduates dropped by 43 percent.

The researchers noted that it is possible to build resilience without any formal training.

Resilience comes in part from making meaningful connections with other people, such as through volunteer work, care-taking for aging relatives, and other service work.

In addition, positive psychology research shows that having an optimistic outlook and a sense of connectedness, meaning, and purpose in your life contributes to resilience.

This includes learning how to identify and challenge day-to-day negative attitudes that can undermine health.

“Just like fluorinating your water or vaccinating yourself, these are ways of keeping you healthy with, from a public health perspective, minimal investment,” Stahl said.

The study was published in the journal PLOS One.

Source Zee News

Guinea Rushes to Curb Measles Outbreak

Health authorities in Guinea are scrambling to contain a measles outbreak that has killed one child, infected 37 others and spread to half of the country’s 33 districts.

More than 400 suspected cases, nearly all of them in children under 10 years old, have been registered. A vaccination campaign targeting over 1.6 million children is to be launched in the coming weeks.

“We have moved from three affected districts in Conakry before the end of last year to the whole city now being affected. Five more districts out of Conakry are also affected. It means that it could spread throughout the country,” said Felix Ackebo, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) deputy representative for Guinea.

“One of the causes is the nature of the disease. The other is the social/political instability. Many bilateral donors stopped support, awaiting the holding of legislative elections. The whole health system has been weakened. The government was restricted on what it could purchase, and this affected [availability of] vaccines and other important drugs. Many of the basic social services have suffered from this pause in investment,” Ackebo told IRIN. “In the past, we have been obliged to buy measles vaccines and others because the government could not.”

Only 37 percent of Guinean children are fully vaccinated, according to the 2012 Demographic Health Survey. The country’s last measles epidemic, in 2009, infected 4,755 people and killed 10.

Keita Sakoba, head of disease prevention at the Ministry of Health, said that the current stock of measles vaccine, meant for routine immunization, was insufficient for the vaccination drive. He explained that the outbreak was likely due to the accumulation of unvaccinated children.

“We will launch a vaccination campaign in the 15 affected districts and carry out targeted immunizations in districts neighbouring the affected ones,” Sakoba said.

Source: All Africa

Paracetamol poisoning could be better treated: Study

Patients with paracetamol poisoning could be helped by a new way of delivering an antidote more quickly and with fewer side-effects, researchers say.

Treating patients with the common antidote remedy acetylcysteine over a shorter time period than currently applies leads to fewer side-effects, a trial study found.

Patients are normally given the drug by intravenous drip over a 21-hour period, with a large part of the dose given very quickly.

In a study, patients who received the same dose of acetylcysteine more gradually over a 12-hour period experienced less vomiting and fewer associated reactions.

Their treatment was also less interrupted than those receiving conventional treatment with a 21-hour drip.

Treatment with acetylcysteine often causes vomiting, a drop in blood pressure and other side-effects such as flushing, rashes and difficulty breathing.

Paracetamol is the most common cause of overdose in the UK and every year around 45,000 people are hospitalized for paracetamol poisoning.

The pilot, led by University of Edinburgh scientists, treated more than 200 patients and is the largest trial of its kind for paracetamol poisoning.

The treatment for poisoning was first used and developed by University of Edinburgh doctors in the 1970s.

“Our finding offers a major advance in treating paracetamol poisoning, both in terms of fewer unpleasant side-effects for patients and a shorter hospital stay,” said Nick Bateman, Professor at the University of Edinburgh’s BHF Centre for Cardiovascular Science.

“We need to do more work on a larger population group to find out whether treatment over a shorter time frame is as safe as the current standard,” Bateman said.

The study, published in Lancet, was carried out with the Universities of Newcastle and Aberdeen and funded by the chief scientist office of the Scottish government.

Source: Times of India

‘One-stop shop’ for tracking diseases in the US

Tracking a nation’s health can be a painstaking business. But now, a team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh have brought together and digitized all the weekly surveillance reports of diseases in the US since 1888 into one database.

The researchers collated all weekly modifiable disease surveillance tables published between 1888 and 2013 – approximately 6,500 tables. Because of their age, many of these tables were available only in paper format or as PDF scans in online repositories that could not be read by computers and had to be hand-entered.
With an estimated 200 million keystrokes, the data – including death counts, reporting locations, time periods and diseases – were digitized. A total of 56 diseases were reported for at least some period of time during the 125-year time span, with no single disease reported continuously.
Tracing the path of epidemics
Named Project Tycho after Tycho Brahe, a 16th century nobleman whose detailed astronomical observations helped Johannes Kepler derive the laws of planetary motion, the database is free to use and is publicly available.
Dean of the Graduate School of Public Health Dr. Donald Burke explains the

significance of the choice:

“Tycho Brahe’s data were essential to Kepler’s discovery of the laws of planetary motion. Similarly, we hope that our Project Tycho disease database will help spur new, life-saving research on patterns of epidemic infectious disease and the effects of vaccines. Open access to disease surveillance records should be standard practice, and we are working to establish this as the norm worldwide.”
The database enables researchers to track the spread of diseases and also chronicle the impact that vaccines have had in controlling communicable diseases.
The researchers focused on eight vaccine-preventable contagious diseases: smallpox, polio, measles, rubella, mumps, hepatitis A, diphtheria and pertussis.
By overlaying the reported outbreaks with the year of vaccine licensure, the researchers are able to give a clear, visual representation of the effect that vaccines have in controlling communicable diseases.
The results showed that despite a pertussis vaccine being available since the 1920s, the largest outbreak since 1959 was recorded in the US last year. Recurrences of measles, mumps and rubella have also been noticeable since the 1980s.
Lead author Dr. Willem G. van Panhuis, assistant professor of epidemiology at the university, notes:
“Using this database, we estimate that more than 100 million cases of serious childhood contagious diseases have been prevented, thanks to the introduction of vaccines. But we also are able to see a resurgence of some of these diseases in the past several decades as people forget how devastating they can be and start refusing vaccines.”
Steven Buchsbaum, deputy director of Discovery and Translational Sciences for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which partly funded the research, concludes:
“We anticipate this will not only prove to be an invaluable tool permitting researchers around the globe to develop, test and validate epidemiological models, but also has the potential to serve as a model for how other organizations could make similar sets of critical public health data more broadly, publicly available.”

Source: Medical News Today