Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Press release] More diseases from air pollution uncovered by improved data material

From the 22 January 2014 EurkAlert

More diseases from air pollution uncovered by improved data material

Good health and personal registers in combination with model calculations of air pollution down to an individual address has helped Danish researchers to become among the very best in the world to detect harmful diseases deriving from polluted air

 IMAGE: This is professor Ole Hertel of Aarhus University. Good health and personal registers in combination with model calculations of air pollution down to an individual address has helped Danish researchers…Click here for more information.

At rest, we breathe approx. 12-15 times per minute, and for each inhalation we change approx. one litre of air. Depending on the activity level, this makes up a daily quantity in the order of twenty cubic metres of air that – with its content of pollution in the form of particles and different gases – can make us ill depending on how polluted the air is.

Asthma attacks, wheezing, cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer are some of the more glaring examples of diseases we – in worst case – can get from the domestic air. The list of injuries due to air pollution in Denmark is long. This appears from a brand new article that professor Ole Hertel from Aarhus University, has written with a number of Danish colleagues at University of Copenhagen, the Danish Cancer Society and Aarhus University. “So the list of diseases detected in Denmark is long, but it does not mean that we have the world’s most polluted air. This is to be found in Asia, Africa and South America. Here, you typically find a yearly mean value of the particle pollution (PM10) of 50-200 micrograms per cubic metres of air, while the content in Copenhagen and other Western European Megacities typically is at a lower level – about 20-50 micrograms per cubic metre. But even in a “moderately polluted” air as we call it in Danish towns and cities, we find many serious injuries which come from the air that we breathe every day,” explains Ole Hertel.

Danish studies

In the article “Utilizing Monitoring Data and Spatial Analysis Tools for Exposure Assessment of Atmospheric Pollutants in Denmark”, Ole Hertel and his colleagues review the Danish experiences in combining measurements and models. By combining measurements on relatively few but well-chosen places with advanced models for spreading of air pollution, the researchers can calculate the air pollution down to the individual addresses.

Hertel and Co. review a number of Danish studies of the coherence between air pollution and injuries to health. A total of nine short-term studies have been published in Denmark, where researchers have demonstrated respiratory and cardiovascular diseases after episodes with increased air pollution, etc. Similarly, eleven studies demonstrate long-term injuries due to air pollution, e.g. lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and mortality.

 IMAGE: Ole Hertel and his colleagues at Aarhus University can calculate the air pollution down to address accuracy with the AIRGIS model which combines information about emissions of air pollution and…Click here for more information.

Improved information

The scientists’ ability to detect a wide range if different types of damages of the Danes’ health is due to the fact that Danish researchers represent some of the very best to demonstrate illnesses caused by air pollution on human health. This is obvious when we look at the model for spreading of air pollution, OSPM, which was developed by Danes and is now used in approx. twenty countries. This is also why Ole Hertel was invited to give an overview of the diseases detected to be a consequence of the air pollution in Denmark, first on a major international conference and afterwards in book form:

“We have some very unique health registers in Denmark and that is quite different from other countries. We are able to connect addresses and health registers with air-polluted areas. In Denmark, we have many cohort investigations where the same persons are followed during a long period of time. Here, we can link to other sorts of information and thus separate effects related to e.g. lifestyle from effects related to air pollution. For instance, the Danish Cancer Society makes a study of people’s diet and exercise habits in a so-called Diet, Cancer, Health study, and in addition you have the whole birth cohort where the same children have been followed from around the turn of the century until now,” explains Ole Hertel.

But not only do we have some of the world’s best health registers in Denmark;

“We also have some outstanding good pieces of information on traffic, buildings and infrastructure. This information we have concluded in the so-called

AirGis Model which uses digital road maps and building and road registers to determine the parameters we need for air quality calculations on address level. Therefore, we can come up with conclusions that are more precise than in other countries.” Ole Hertel emphasises that there are strong constrains around handling of personal information.

Surprising results

Ole Hertel points out one of the Danish results as particularly notable:

“It came as a surprise to me that the studies showed a connection between air pollution and diabetes. It is rather new information that air pollution can cause diabetes, and we are working on finding a biological explanation for this correlation. This is an example of the fact that our very detailed way of working in Denmark leads to precise results.”

It takes fifty litres of air to read this article

Dear reader, if you represent an average reader, you have just spent three minutes and 58 seconds to read this article – probably inclusive of pauses for thoughts (thank you for that!). During this time you have inhaled approx. fifty litres of air through your lungs, depending on your gender and size.

Long term exposure to air pollution linked to coronary events (EurkAlert)

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January 23, 2014 Posted by | environmental health | , | Leave a comment

[News article] Heart attacks hit poor hardest

Heart attacks hit poor hardest.

From the 8 January 2014 ScienceDaily article

As people get older, their bodies wear down and become less resilient. In old age, it’s common for people to become “clinically frail,” and this “frailty syndrome” is emerging in the field of public health as a powerful predictor of healthcare use and death.

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 6.50.02 AM

p. 50 of The 2012 National Healthcare Disparities Report
http://www.ahrq.gov/research/findings/nhqrdr/nhdr12/2012nhdr.pdf

Now researchers Vicki Myers and Prof. Yariv Gerber of the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine at the School of Public Health at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and colleagues have found that poor people are more than twice as likely as the wealthy to become frail after a heart attack. The findings, published in the International Journal of Cardiology, could help doctors and policymakers improve post-heart-attack care for the poor.

“By defining frailty, which combines many areas of medicine, we can predict which people are at the highest risk after a heart attack,” said Ms. Myers. “And we found a strong connection between frailty and socioeconomic status.”

Read entire article here

Related Resource

National Healthcare Disparities Report (NHDR)

  • 2012 Web Version | PDF Version [ PDF file – .8.74 MB] | State Snapshots
     

    For the tenth year in a row, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has produced the National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR) and theNational Healthcare Disparities Report (NHDR). These reports measure trends in effectiveness of care, patient safety, timeliness of care, patient centeredness, and efficiency of care.
    New this year are chapters on care coordination, and health system infrastructure. The reports present, in chart form, the latest available findings on quality of and access to health care.
    The National Healthcare Quality Report tracks the health care system through quality measures, such as the percentage of heart attack patients who received recommended care when they reached the hospital or the percentage of children who received recommended vaccinations.
    The National Healthcare Disparities Report summarizes health care quality and access among various racial, ethnic, and income groups and other priority populations, such as residents of rural areas and people with disabilities.

     

 

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January 22, 2014 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The microbiome and disease: Gut bacteria influence the severity of heart attacks in rats

The microbiome and disease: Gut bacteria influence the severity of heart attacks in rats

Excerpt from the 12 January 2012 news article

New research published online in the FASEB Journal suggests that the types and levels of bacteria in the intestines may be used to predict a person’s likelihood of having a heart attack, and that manipulating these organisms may help reduce heart attack risk. This discovery may lead to new diagnostic tests and therapies that physicians use to prevent and treat heart attacks. In addition, this research suggests that probiotics may be able to protect the heart in patients undergoing heart surgery and angioplasty….

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January 27, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

Beware whenever you hear a story about a simple blood test

From KevinMD.com,  Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:00 , by Gary Schwitzer

Beware whenever you hear a story about a simple blood test

After seeing the NBC Nightly News last night, a physician urged me to write about what he saw: a story about a “simple blood test that could save women’s lives.”

Readers – and maybe especially TV viewers – beware whenever you hear a story about “a simple blood test.”

And this is a good case in point.
Read the rest of Beware whenever you hear a story about a simple blood test on KevinMD.com.


August 22, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

   

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