Saturday, February 28, 2009

Angry people have more heartbeat irregularity

It has been known for years that hostility (chronic anger) is weakly associated with a higher incidence of coronary heart disease but I suppose that the wheel needs continual re-invention

Anger really can kill, doctors have warned. Feelings of rage can trigger potentially deadly irregular heart rhythms, research shows. The finding, from a study of patients with cardiac problems, could explain other studies which have linked the anger sparked by world events - from the loss of a World Cup match to a war - with heart attacks. 'When you put a whole population under a stress factor, sudden death will increase,' said researcher Dr Rachel Lampert. 'Our study starts to look at how does this really affect the electrical system of the heart.'

Dr Lampert, of Yale University in the U.S., studied 62 adults being treated for an irregular heartbeat - a common condition which raises the risk of heart attack. She said: 'We found in the lab setting that yes, anger did increase this electrical instability in these patients.'

Patients in the study took part in an exercise in which they recounted a recent angry episode while Dr Lampert's team did a test called T-Wave Alternans that measures electrical instability in the heart. The men and women, who all had defibrillators implanted in their chests to monitor their heartbeat and shock it back into rhythm when necessary, were then tracked for three years. Those who were rated as the angriest were more than ten times more likely to need a shock from the device, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reports.

However, Dr Lampert cautioned against applying the results to people with healthy hearts. She is now studying whether anger management classes can help those with the conditions studied - ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation.

Sudden cardiac death accounts for more than 400,000 deaths each year in the United States, according to the American College of Cardiology.


Cure for peanut allergy closer

This again shows that exposure to peanuts has a major role in preventing peanut allergy

A group of children with severe peanut allergies have had their conditions successfully treated, allowing them to eat nuts without suffering any reaction for the first time. The success of the preliminary clinical trial, conducted by Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, eastern England, shows the possibilty of modifying an allergy by desensitising the sufferer. Scientists say that the development brings them one step closer to curing nut allergies.

Researchers gave small daily doses of peanut flour to children with severe peanut allergy to help them to build tolerance to the nuts over a six-month period. By the end of the trial, the children could eat up to 12 nuts a day without suffering a life-threatening reaction in the form of anaphylaxis.

Peanut allergy is increasingly common, affecting an estimated 2 per cent of British schoolchildren. Reactions can range from itching, rashes and swelling to breathing difficulties caused by a narrowing of the airways, and severe asthma. It is the most common serious allergic reaction but, unlike other childhood food allergies, it rarely recedes over time.

Pamela Ewan, a consultant allergist and lead researcher, said that the trial offered hope for sufferers. "Until now there has been no treatment that has modified the disease," she told The Times. "There has only been effective management of the problems. "We do not like to talk of cures, but that is what we are aiming for. If you can switch off the allergy, you can claim you have cured the person." Andrew Clark, a consultant in paediatric allergy who worked on the trial, said that further studies were planned into different types of nuts, as well as other foods, including kiwi fruit.

In the study, published in the journal Allergy, four children were given daily doses of peanut flour, starting with 5mg mixed into yoghurt. Over six months the dose was increased every two weeks until the children could tolerate 800mg of the protein. This was 160 times the starting dose and equivalent to five peanuts. A larger study by Addenbrooke's, involving 20 children aged 7 to 17, is showing similar results. A total of 12 patients have completed treatment and none has shown signs of reaction to peanuts. Some of them were showing tolerance reaching 12 peanuts a day. The original four children are keeping up their tolerance with a "maintenance" dose of five peanuts a day.

Mr Clark said: "If they were to stop there is some evidence that tolerance would be lost and they may have a reaction." He said that the children's tolerance levels would be monitored and future studies would assess whether the dose could be given as a daily pill. After three or four years, the body may have adjusted and there could be a more "permanent cure" to the allergy, he said. "Every time people with a peanut allergy eat something, they're frightened that it might kill them. Our motivation was to find a treatment that would change that and give them the confidence to eat what they like. "All of these children say it has improved their quality of life and they've lost that fear of having an acute reaction if they accidentally eat a peanut."

Mr Clark warned families not to try to replicate the study at home. Previous trials in the 1990s, which used injections rather than oral doses, produced serious side-effects. The Addenbrooke's study was sponsored by the Evelyn Trust, a Cambridge charity supporting medical research.


1 comment:

John A said...

allergy -

"Mr Clark warned families not to try to replicate the study at home."

Good advice, should have been in the first two paragraphs.

Is peanut flour commercially available? Must make for great peanut butter cookies! Alas, a search turned up almond flour, but not peanut flour. Hmm, a marketing opportunity!