Tag Archives: Harvard Medical School

Studies: Chronic Sleep Deprivation Causes Toxic Changes In Gut Health, Increased Early Mortality

From Harvard Medical School (June 4, 2020):

“We took an unbiased approach and searched throughout the body for indicators of damage from sleep deprivation. We were surprised to find it was the gut that plays a key role in causing death,” said senior study author Dragana Rogulja, assistant professor of neurobiology in the Blavatnik Institute at HMS.

Harvard Medical SchoolThe first signs of insufficient sleep are universally familiar. There’s tiredness and fatigue, difficulty concentrating, perhaps irritability or even tired giggles. Far fewer people have experienced the effects of prolonged sleep deprivation, including disorientation, paranoia, and hallucinations.

Total, prolonged sleep deprivation, however, can be fatal. While it has been reported in humans only anecdotally, a widely cited study in rats conducted by Chicago-based researchers in 1989 showed that a total lack of sleep inevitably leads to death. Yet, despite decades of study, a central question has remained unsolved: Why do animals die when they don’t sleep?

Now, Harvard Medical School (HMS) neuroscientists have identified an unexpected, causal link between sleep deprivation and premature death.

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Nutrition Infographic: Harvard Unveils A “Healthy Eating Plate” As Guide For Balanced Meals

Harvard Healthy Eating Plate Infographic February 2020

 

Aim for color and variety, and remember that potatoes don’t count as vegetables on the Healthy Eating Plate because of their negative impact on blood sugar.

Whole and intact grains—whole wheat, barley, wheat berries, quinoaoatsbrown rice, and foods made with them, such as whole wheat pasta—have a milder effect on blood sugar and insulin than white bread, white rice, and other refined grains.

Fish, poultry, beans, and nuts are all healthy, versatile protein sources—they can be mixed into salads, and pair well with vegetables on a plate. Limit red meat, and avoid processed meats such as bacon and sausage.

Choose healthy vegetable oils like olive, canola, soy, corn, sunflower, peanut, and others, and avoid partially hydrogenated oils, which contain unhealthy trans fats. Remember that low-fat does not mean “healthy.”

Skip sugary drinks, limit milk and dairy products to one to two servings per day, and limit juice to a small glass per day.

The red figure running across the Healthy Eating Plate’s placemat is a reminder that staying active is also important in weight control.

The main message of the Healthy Eating Plate is to focus on diet quality.

  • The type of carbohydrate in the diet is more important than the amount of carbohydrate in the diet, because some sources of carbohydrate—like vegetables (other than potatoes), fruits, whole grains, and beans—are healthier than others.
  • The Healthy Eating Plate also advises consumers to avoid sugary beverages, a major source of calories—usually with little nutritional value—in the American diet.
  • The Healthy Eating Plate encourages consumers to use healthy oils, and it does not set a maximum on the percentage of calories people should get each day from healthy sources of fat. In this way, the Healthy Eating Plate recommends the opposite of the low-fat message promoted for decades by the USDA.

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Health Studies: NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) Increase Heart Failure Risk For Arthritis Patients

From a Harvard Medical School release:

Harvard Medical SchoolResearchers matched 7,743 people with osteoarthritis with 23,229 healthy people who rarely or never took NSAIDs. People with osteoarthritis had a 42% higher risk of heart failure and a 17% higher risk of coronary artery disease compared with healthy people. After controlling for a range of factors that contribute to heart disease (including high body mass index, high blood pressure, and diabetes), they concluded that 41% of the increased risk of heart disease related to osteoarthritis was due to the use of NSAIDs.

To manage the painful joint disease known as osteoarthritis, people often take ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox). But these and related drugs — known as NSAIDs — may account for the higher rates of heart disease seen in people with osteoarthritis, a new study suggests.

To read more: https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/pain-relievers-a-cause-of-higher-heart-risk-among-people-with-arthritis

Health Studies: Chronic Inflammation Reduced By Exercise, Lowering Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease

From a Harvard news online release:

Massachusetts General Hospital“This study identifies a new molecular connection between exercise and inflammation that takes place in the bone marrow and highlights a previously unappreciated role of leptin in exercise-mediated cardiovascular protection,” said Michelle Olive, program officer at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Division of Cardiovascular Sciences. “This work adds a new piece to the puzzle of how sedentary lifestyles affect cardiovascular health and underscores the importance of following physical-activity guidelines.”

Scientists at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have identified a previously unknown biological pathway that promotes chronic inflammation and may help explain why sedentary people have an increased risk for heart disease and strokes.

In a study to be published in the November issue of Nature Medicine, MGH scientists and colleagues at several other institutions found that regular exercise blocks this pathway. This discovery could aid the development of new therapies to prevent cardiovascular disease.

To read more: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2019/11/exercise-found-to-block-chronic-inflammation-in-mice/

Medical Research: Single Gene Therapy Treatment For Multiple Age-Related Diseases Seen (Harvard)

From a Harvard news online release:

Harvard Medical School“The results we saw were stunning and suggest that holistically addressing aging via gene therapy could be more effective than the piecemeal approach that currently exists,” said first author Noah Davidsohn, a former research scientist at the Wyss Institute and HMS who is now chief technology officer of Rejuvenate Bio. “Everyone wants to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible, and this study is a first step toward reducing the suffering caused by debilitating diseases.”

New research from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and Harvard Medical School (HMS) suggests that it may be possible someday to tend to multiple ailments with one treatment.

The study was conducted in the lab of Wyss core faculty member George Church as part of Davidsohn’s postdoctoral research into the genetics of aging. Davidsohn, Church, and their co-authors homed in on three genes that had been shown to confer increased health and lifespan benefits in mice that were genetically engineered to overexpress them: FGF21, sTGFβR2, and αKlotho. They hypothesized that providing extra copies of those genes to nonengineered mice via gene therapy would similarly combat age-related diseases and bring health benefits.

To read more: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2019/11/researchers-able-to-improve-reverse-age-related-diseases-in-mice/?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Gazette%2020191105%20(1)

Boomers Health Tips: C-Reactive Protein (CRP) Blood Tests Can Help Predict Heart Disease

From a Harvard Medical School “Harvard Heart Letter”:

Understanding Inflamation Harvard HealthChronic inflammation often begins with a similar cellular response but morphs into a lingering state that persists far longer. Toxins such as cigarette smoke or an excess of fat cells (especially around the belly area) can also trigger inflammation. So can the fatty plaque inside arteries, which causes inflammatory cells to cover and wall off the plaque from the flowing blood. But the plaque may rupture, mingle with blood, and form a clot. These clots are responsible for the majority of heart attacks and most strokes.

A buildup of cholesterol-rich plaque inside arteries — known as atherosclerosis — is the root cause of most heart attacks and strokes. Researchers have long recognized that chronic inflammation sparks this artery-damaging process (see “Understanding inflammation”). Now, they’re zeroing in on better ways to tackle that aspect of the problem.

Addressing inflammation is vital. Even when people take steps to lower their risks for heart disease, such as reducing their cholesterol and blood pressure, they may still face life-threatening cardiovascular events.

Click on following link to read more: https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/new-insights-about-inflammation

Boomers Health Tip: Costochondritis Chest Pain Can Feel Very Similar To Onset Of Heart Attack (Harvard Medical School)

From a Harvard Medical School article:

Harvard Medical SchoolCostochondritis is caused by inflammation of the cartilage between the ribs and the breastbone, called the costosternal joints (see illustration). This uncommon condition can trigger a stabbing, aching pain that’s often mistaken for a heart attack.

The main symptom of costochondritis is chest pain, which may be sharp or dull and gnawing. It tends to get worse when a person takes a deep breath or coughs, and the chest may feel tender and possibly swollen when pressed. In contrast, people in the throes of a heart attack often say they feel chest discomfort rather than chest tenderness, and they describe sensations such as squeezing, tightness, pressure, or feeling like an elephant is sitting on my chest.

https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/chest-pain-thats-not-a-heart-attack

Boomers Health: Five Ways To Reduce Crippling Hand Pain (Harvard Medical)

From Harvard Medical School Health Letter:

Harvard Medical SchoolHand pain is more than just annoying. The stiffness and swelling that go along with hand pain can sap strength and diminish the ability to carry out routine functions, like buttoning clothes.

One common cause of hand pain is osteoarthritis—when the shock-absorbing cartilage between bones in the finger joints and at the base of the thumb becomes worn or damaged. Hand pain can also result from nerve conditions, like the pain and tingling you feel when there is pressure on the median nerve in the wrist or the ulnar nerve near the elbow. Sometimes hand pain results from tendinitis, an inflammation of the tissue that attaches muscles to the bones. Here are five methods to help manage hand pain, retain hand function, and avoid surgery.

 

  • Splinting

A splint stabilizes the position of your fingers, thumb, or wrist. “Wear a splint for a few weeks if arthritis flares, so the inflammation can settle down,” says Dr. Philip Blazar, an orthopedic surgeon and associate professor at Harvard Medical School.

  • Injections

An injection of a corticosteroid into a joint can reduce inflammation. “The relief it provides can last up to a year,” says Dr. Blazar. For some people the amount of relief diminishes with subsequent injections.

  • NSAIDs

A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) helps relieve hand pain by blocking enzymes that produce pain and swelling, but Dr. Blazar says it’s not effective for carpal tunnel syndrome. Long-term use of oral NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) are linked to ulcers, stomach bleeding, liver damage, and increased risk of heart attacks. Topical NSAIDs, such as diclofenac (Voltaren), may pose less risk.

  • Heat and cold

Heat can loosen hand stiffness. Dr. Blazar says a hot shower will do the job. Cold is effective for hand pain that results from activity, such as playing golf. “Apply it in the form of flexible gel pads you keep in the freezer, or even bags of frozen peas or corn, which conform well to the three-dimensional complexities of the hand,” says Dr. Blazar.

  • Exercises and stretches

These focus on your hand’s tendons and muscles. A physical therapist or occupational therapist can guide you through exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles, which can help absorb the stress on joints in the hand and reduce pain.