Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tai chi improves symptoms of Parkinson's disease

Tai chi comes up tops in a recent research on Parkinson's Disease.

Parkinson's disease is a nervous system disorder which commonly develops in humans of age 50 and above, however, many people, such as Hollywood actor Michael J. Fox have been diagnosed with this affliction much earlier in life. Parkinson's carries certain specific symptoms such as constant blinking, lack of facial expressions, shaking, loss of balance and coordination, and other irregular bodily reactions, and is caused primarily by the destruction of the nerve cells in the brain which makes dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for the transfer of pleasure and reward feelings in the center of the brain.

Medications may help control some things, like tremors, but many drugs are not as good at helping the so-called axial symptoms of Parkinson's disease, which include problems with balance and walking. It is for this reason that a recent study was completed at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore which showed significant improvements to these symptoms which have plagued Parkinson's patients for decades.

From reports, Researchers recently looked at the effect of tai chi on balance, gait, and daily function in patients with mild to moderate Parkinson's disease. The results suggest that tai chi is an effective intervention for patients with PD.

The study involved 195 patients, aged 40 to 85, with mild to moderate Parkinson's disease. The participants were randomized into three groups. One group was taught stretching, one resistance training that targeted muscles involved in balance and posture, and one a tai chi program tailored to Parkinson's symptoms.

The groups each exercised for one hour, twice a week, for six months. Each subject's posture and gait, ability to move accurately, and any falls were assessed at the start of the study and again at three months, six months, and three months after the completion of the exercise protocol.

Tai Chi Comes Out Tops

In standardized measures of balance, coordination, and gait, the tai chi group excelled. The study reported that "the tai chi group performed consistently better than the resistance-training and stretching groups in terms of maximum excursion [distance] and directional control ... [and] outperformed the resistance training group in stride length and functional reach." Tai chi was also more helpful than stretching, but not resistance training, in reducing the incidence of falls.

After six months, people who had been taking tai chi were able to lean farther forward or backward without stumbling or falling compared to those who had been doing resistance training or stretching. They were also better able to smoothly direct their movements. And they were able to take longer strides than people in the other two groups.

Like resistance training, tai chi helped people walk more swiftly, get up from a chair more quickly, and increased leg strength.

Perhaps the most impressive benefit of tai chi, however, was related to falls. Falls are common in people with Parkinson's, and they can cause serious injuries, including fractures and concussions. Studies show falls are the main cause of hospitalizations in Parkinson's patients. People in the tai chi group reported half the number of falls compared to those who were taking resistance training and two-thirds fewer falls than people who were doing light stretching exercises.

When patients were evaluated three months after the end of the exercise period, the positive effects of the tai chi training were still evident. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found no serious negative effects.

"The results from this study are quite impressive," says Ray Dorsey, MD, MBA, a neurologist and associate professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.

"It's always difficult to compare results across studies, but the magnitude of the impact that they had is larger, in some cases, than what is seen with medications in Parkinson's," says Dorsey, who also directs the Movement Disorders Center and Neurology Telemedicine at Johns Hopkins. He was not involved in the research.

Mind-Body Connection

"This is a very encouraging study," says Chenchen Wang, MD, Msc, a rheumatologist and associate professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.

Wang has studied the benefits of tai chi for osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, but she was not involved in the current research.

"Most of our previous studies have measured pain, depression, and anxiety, which are subjective measures. These results are very impressive because they used objective measurements," Wang tells WebMD.

It's not clear exactly why tai chi may offer an edge over more conventional kinds of exercise like resistance training, but researchers say they believe it probably has something to do with the mind-body connection that's encouraged throughout the poses.

"It's intentional movement. So every step you take, you are aware of it. We put quite a bit of emphasis on the self-awareness of the movement," says Fuzhong Li, PhD, senior scientist at the Oregon Research Institute, a nonprofit center for the study of human behavior in Eugene, Ore.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fabrice Muamba's sudden death - cardiologists weigh in with scary information about Young People and Cardiac Arrest

Heart attack can happen to anyone -even the young and physically fit.  We reported the story in our blog just days ago.

According to the Telegraph reports the sudden cardiac arrest suffered by Fabrice Muamba was "an accident waiting to happen", according to a leading UK cardiologist with extensive knowledge of heart disorders in professional athletes. Muamba, 23, remains ill in intensive care after he had a sudden heart attack during an FA cup match last Saturday. 

"One of them is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy [HCM]," the cardiologist said. "This is a condition which can have a genetic basis, which may run in families or as an isolated case. It's where the left ventricle has totally disorganised and thickened. Severe cases can present as sudden death during exercise. It's an unusual but serious rhythm disorder. The heart shivers and shakes and stops beating properly."

According to the Mail online

But his case is not unique, according to the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).  Every week in the UK, 12 apparently fit and healthy young people, under the age of 35, die from undiagnosed cardiac conditions. 

Dr Steve Cox, Cardiac Risk in the Young Dr Steve Cox, director of screening at CRY, said Mr Muamba's case highlighted the need for regular screening.

'CRY wants all young people to be aware of the importance of cardiac screening and to have the opportunity to be tested,' he said.

'We already provide screening services for a number of professional sporting bodies, including the English Institute of Sport, the RFU, RFL, LTA and a number of FA teams including Manchester City.

'One in every 300 of the young people that CRY tests will be identified with a potentially life-threatening condition.'

The most common inherited heart condition is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. It is not yet know what condition has affected Fabric Muamba

Muamba was 'lucky' in the sense the paramedics and the team doctor Jonathan Tobin was just seconds away  fully trained and immediately came to give CPR. Tobin gave Muamba mouth to mouth in an effort to restore his respiratory function, a procedure he administered in front of almost 40,000 football fans, reported the Telegraph.

"Fabrice was in a type of cardiac arrest where the heart is showing lots of electrical activity but no muscular activity. It's something that often responds to drugs and shocks.

"Fabrice had, in total, 15 shocks. He had a further 12 shocks in the ambulance [after three at the ground]."

The latest news today is that Fabrice is conscious and has spoken to family and friends.  It is still early days on his road to recovery.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dr. Dwight Lundell - Heart Surgeon Spills the beans on What Really Causes Heart Disease

In his article earlier this month, Dr. Dwight Lundell a heart surgeon spills the beans and says "I freely admit to being wrong. As a heart surgeon with 25 years experience, having performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries, today is my day to right the wrong with medical and scientific fact. "

The long-established dietary recommendations have created epidemics of obesity and diabetes

With some even very young, and extremely fit international footballer collapsing during a game, the problem of heart disease and heart attack needs to be understood better.

The old doctrines and old drugs for cholesterol for example are just off target.

"Despite the fact that 25% of the population takes expensive statin medications and despite the fact we have reduced the fat content of our diets, more Americans will die this year of heart disease than ever before."

Inflammation is the root cause of heart disease, and when we "have simply followed the recommended mainstream diet that is low in fat and high in polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates, not knowing we were causing repeated injury to our blood vessels. This repeated injury creates chronic inflammation leading to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity. "

"Several times a day, every day, the foods we eat create small injuries compounding into more injuries, causing the body to respond continuously and appropriately with inflammation."

"While you may not be able to see it, rest assured it is there. I saw it in over 5,000 surgical patients spanning 25 years who all shared one common denominator -- inflammation in their arteries."

The good news is that animal fat (saturated fat) is not what it is thought to be, "The science that saturated fat alone causes heart disease is non-existent. The science that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol is also very weak. Since we now know that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, the concern about saturated fat is even more absurd today."

In that case what fat is "bad"?

"The cholesterol theory led to the no-fat, low-fat recommendations that in turn created the very foods now causing an epidemic of inflammation. Mainstream medicine made a terrible mistake when it advised people to avoid saturated fat in favor of foods high in omega-6 fats. We now have an epidemic of arterial inflammation leading to heart disease and other silent killers."

More shocking revelations in Dr Lundell's book "The Great Cholesterol Lie".