Tag Archives: Positron emission tomography

When ‘Baby Fat’ is Good for Health

Want to shed your baby fat? Wait, don’t do it just yet, for a new study has revealed that such a fat is good – as long as it is calorie-burning -”Brown Fat”.

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Brown fat burns off calories and generates heat in babies and small mammals.

Most of the body fat is white fat, which also provides insulation but stores calories. It becomes “bad” fat when an individual have too much. The “good” fat-brown fat-was considered essentially nonexistent in human adults.

The new study has found that adults have much more of this type of fat than previously believed.

“We now know that it is present and functional in adults,” said the study’s lead author, Dr Aaron Cypess, MMSc, of the Joslin Diabetes Centre in Boston.

“Three ounces of brown fat can burn several hundred calories a day,” he added.

In the new study involving 1,970 study participants, researchers measured the patches of brown adipose tissue-brown fat-in people with the help of high-tech imaging method that combines positron emission tomography and computed tomography, called PET/CT.

By evaluating biopsy tissue of what appeared to be brown fat, the authors confirmed that they were, indeed, looking at stores of brown fat.

The researchers found that brown fat was located in an area extending from the front of the neck to the chest.

Of the subjects who had detectable brown fat, about 6 percent had 3 ounces or more of the fat.

“We believe that this percentage greatly underestimates the number of adults in the population who have a large amount of brown fat,” said Cypess.

They also discovered that brown fat is most abundant in young women and least frequent in older, overweight men. In fact, women were more than twice as likely as men to have substantial amounts of brown fat.

“One theory for this is that women may have less muscle mass overall, so they need more brown fat to generate heat and keep warm,” Cypess said.

Source: The study appears in New England Journal of Medicine.

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Loose Weight in Cold Foot-Bath

Everyone knows that too much fat makes us fat. But it seems more of the right kind could make you thinner – and that fat is brown fat.

This is one of the two types of fat found in the body. There is the more familiar white stuff, which sits under the skin on your tummy and thighs and is the result of eating too much.
Then there is brown fat – and its job is to generate heat. It does this by boosting your metabolism, so you then start to use up the ‘bad’ white fat.

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It’s long been known that babies have brown fat around their shoulder blades to help them maintain their body temperature after birth. But until recently it was thought this good fat disappeared in infancy because it was no longer needed.

Now it’s been shown that brown fat persists into adulthood. Not only that, some people – generally lean types – have more brown fat than others. This could help explain why they remain a healthy weight without much effort, while others struggle to lose weight.

In fact, scientists think boosting brown fat stores could be a new approach to dealing with excess weight.
‘We calculate that if you had three ounces of brown fat that was maximally stimulated, it could help you burn an extra 400 to 500 calories a day,’ says Dr Aaron Cypress of the Joslin Diabetes Centre in Boston.
He led one of three studies on brown fat recently published in the influential New England Journal of Medicine.

This research has also suggested that brown fat plays a role in diseases such as diabetes that are linked to obesity.

In some studies, stimulating the production of brown fat in mice stopped them gaining weight, or developing Type 2 diabetes, even when they were fed a high-calorie diet.

The good news is that many of us have brown fat. Around half of all people have deposits of it in their neck, where it is most easily detected, says Dr Cypress.

And women have more brown fat than men. It becomes activated and starts to burn fat naturally only when people are cold and on the verge of shivering.

In evolutionary terms, brown fat developed to protect newborn babies from lifethreatening cold temperatures. It is thought that, in a throwback to our ancestors, chilly conditions trigger brown fat to become activated in adults.

To demonstrate this, Sven Enerback, a researcher at the University of Goteborg in Sweden, kept five volunteers in a cool room for two hours before giving them a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan, which lights up any part of the body that is using glucose stores for energy, and not fat.

Enerback asked the subjects to place a foot intermittently in a bucket of icy water to chill their body, in the belief that it would trigger any brown fat to be revealed by the scan.
Brown fat deposits showed up each time their body temperature dropped. In another study, in Holland, a group of 24 men sat in a room cooled to 61F for two hours.

When they had PET scans, 23 displayed activated brown fat deposits; only the heaviest man had none.
The men were retested when they’d warmed up again; no brown fat was active. Scientists are investigating whether it is possible to reproduce this effect using drugs.
Professor Mike Cawthorne, director of metabolic research at the University of Buckingham, who has researched the effects of brown fat, says a drug to mimic the weight-loss benefits ‘is definitely on the cards’.
Another possibility is that a sample of a person’s brown fat could be removed from the body; this sample could then be increased in the laboratory and then re-injected.
There is another possible option for the half of the population who don’t have brown fat. Scientists have discovered a way to reproduce the energy-burning fat by manipulating mouse and human cells to produce it.
In a study published in Nature journal last month, Professor Bruce Spiegelman of Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute injected mice – which have lots of brown fat cells – with extra ‘good’ fat. He found it boosted their metabolism and burnt calories at a faster rate.
Injecting 50g to 100g of brown fat cells into a person could help them to burn off more than 10lb of ‘bad’ fat a year, say scientists.
But could there be a simpler solution? According to Professor Cawthorne, the brown fat levels of our hunter-gatherer ancestors would almost certainly have been more highly activated than our own.
Warmer temperatures, abundant food and too little activity have effectively switched off its usefulness in the modern world.
‘Even 30 years ago, it was more difficult to stay warm than it is now,’ says Professor Cawthorne. ‘Today, our homes, cars, offices, shops and almost everywhere we go are warm.’
Just turning off the central heating could help spur brown fat into action. ‘If we were to expose ourselves to cooler temperatures more often, then a lot of people would probably lose weight,’ he says.
‘Either that or have a daily sauna and plunge into icy water afterwards. Don’t have the heating on in the car and spend more time outdoors, especially in winter. We need to activate brown fat and there are simple ways to do it that may have some benefit.’

Source: Mail Online. Aug 18 2009

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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm(AAA)

Definition:
The aorta is the largest artery in your body, and it carries oxygen-rich blood pumped out of, or away from, your heart. Your aorta runs through your chest, where it is called the thoracic aorta. When it reaches your abdomen, it is called the abdominal aorta. The abdominal aorta supplies blood to the lower part of the body. In the abdomen, just below the navel, the aorta splits into two branches, called the iliac arteries, which carry blood into each leg.

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When a weak area of the abdominal aorta expands or bulges, it is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). The pressure from blood flowing through your abdominal aorta can cause a weakened part of the aorta to bulge, much like a balloon. A normal aorta is about 1 inch (or about 2 centimeters) in diameter. However, an AAA can stretch the aorta beyond its safety margin as it expands. Aneurysms are a health risk because they can burst or rupture. A ruptured aneurysm can cause severe internal bleeding, which can lead to shock or even death.

Less commonly, AAA can cause another serious health problem called embolization. Clots or debris can form inside the aneurysm and travel to blood vessels leading to other organs in your body. If one of these blood vessels becomes blocked, it can cause severe pain or even more serious problems, such as limb loss.

Each year, physicians diagnose approximately 200,000 people in the United States with AAA. Of those 200,000, nearly 15,000 may have AAA threatening enough to cause death from its rupture if not treated.

Fortunately, especially when diagnosed early before it causes symptoms, an AAA can be treated, or even cured, with highly effective and safe treatments.

Symptoms:
Although you may initially not feel any symptoms with AAA, if you develop symptoms, you may experience one or more of the following:

*A pulsing feeling in your abdomen, similar to a heartbeat

*Severe, sudden pain in your abdomen or lower back. If this is the case, your aneurysm may be about to burst.

*On rare occasions, your feet may develop pain, discoloration, or sores on the toes or feet because of material shed from the aneurysm

*If your aneurysm bursts, you may suddenly feel intense weakness, dizziness, or pain, and you may eventually lose consciousness. This is a life-threatening situation and you should seek medical attention immediately.

Causes:
Physicians and researchers are not quite sure what actually causes an AAA to form in some people. The leading thought is that the aneurysm may be caused by inflammation in the aorta, which may cause its wall to weaken or break down. Some researchers believe that this inflammation can be associated with atherosclerosis (also called hardening of the arteries) or risk factors that contribute to atherosclerosis, such as high blood pressure (hypertension) and smoking. In atherosclerosis fatty deposits, called plaque, build up in an artery. Over time, this buildup causes the artery to narrow, stiffen and possibly weaken. Besides atherosclerosis, other factors that can increase your risk of AAA include:

*Being a man older than 60 years

*Having an immediate relative, such as a mother or brother, who has had AAA

*Having high blood pressure

*Smoking

Your risk of developing AAA increases as you age. AAA is more common in men than in women.

Tests and Diagnosis:
Most abdominal aortic aneurysms are found during an examination for another reason. For example, during a routine exam, your doctor may feel a pulsating bulge in your abdomen, though it’s unlikely your doctor will be able to hear signs of an aneurysm through a stethoscope. Aortic aneurysms are often found during routine medical tests, such as a chest X-ray or ultrasound of the heart or abdomen, sometimes ordered for a different reason.

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Abdominal aortic aneurysms that are not causing symptoms are most often found when a physician is performing an imaging test, such as an ultrasound or CT scan, for another condition. Sometimes your physician may feel a large pulsing mass in your abdomen on a routine physical examination.  If your physician suspects that you may have AAA, he or she may recommend one of the following tests to confirm the suspicion:

*Abdominal ultrasound

*Computed tomography (CT) scan

*Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Modern Treatment:
Watchful waiting
If your AAA is small, your physician may recommend “watchful waiting,” which means that you will be monitored every 6-12 months for signs of changes in the aneurysm size. Your physician may schedule you for regular CT scans or ultrasounds to watch the aneurysm. This method is usually used for aneurysms that are smaller than about 2 inches (roughly 5.0 to 5.5 centimeters) in diameter. If you also have high blood pressure, your physician may prescribe blood pressure medication to lower the pressure on the weakened area of the aneurysm. If you smoke, you should obtain help to stop smoking. An aneurysm will not “go away” by itself. It is extremely important to continue to follow up with your physician as directed because the aneurysm may enlarge to a dangerous size over time. It could eventually burst if this is not detected and treated.
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Open Surgical aneurysm repair…….click & see
A vascular surgeon may recommend that you have a surgical procedure called open aneurysm repair if your aneurysm is causing symptoms, or is larger than about 2 inches (roughly 5.0 to 5.5 centimeters), or is enlarging under observation. During an open aneurysm repair, also known as surgical aneurysm repair, your surgeon makes an incision in your abdomen and replaces the weakened part of your aorta with a tube-like replacement called an aortic graft. This graft is made of a strong, durable, man-made plastic material, such as Dacron®, in the size and shape of the healthy aorta. The strong tube takes the place of the weakened section in your aorta and allows your blood to pass easily through it. Following the surgery, you may stay in the hospital for 4 to 7 days. Depending upon your circumstances, you may also require 6 weeks to 3 months for a complete recovery. More than 90 percent of open aneurysm repairs are successful for the long term.

Endovascular stent graft…….....click & see
Instead of open aneurysm repair, your vascular surgeon may consider a newer procedure called an endovascular stent graft. Endovascular means that the treatment is performed inside your artery using long, thin tubes called catheters that are threaded through your blood vessels. This procedure is less invasive, meaning that your surgeon will usually need to make only small incisions in your groin area through which to thread the catheters. During the procedure, your surgeon will use live x-ray pictures viewed on a video screen to guide a fabric and metal tube, called an endovascular stent graft  (or endograft), to the site of the aneurysm. Like the graft in open surgery, the endovascular stent graft also strengthens the aorta. Your recovery time for endovascular stent grafting is usually shorter than for the open surgery, and your hospital stay may be reduced to 2 to 3 days. However, this procedure requires more frequent follow-up visits with imaging procedures, usually CT scans, after endograft placement to be sure the graft continues to function properly.  Also, the endograft is more likely to require periodic maintenance procedures than does the open procedure. In addition, your aneurysm may not have the shape that is suitable for this procedure, since not all patients are candidates for endovascular repair because of the extent of the aneurysm, or its relationship to the renal (kidney) arteries, or other issues. While the endovascular stent graft may be a good option for some patients who have suitable aneurysms and who have medical conditions increasing their risk, in some other cases, open aneurysm repair may still be the best way to cure AAA. Your vascular surgeon will help you decide what is the best method of treatment for your particular situation.

Endovascular treatment of AAA……...click & see
In the recent years, the endoluminal treatment of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms has emerged as a minimally invasive alternative to open surgery repair. The first endoluminal exclusion of an aneurysm took place in Argentina by Dr. Parodi and his colleagues in 1991. The endovascular treatment of aortic aneurysms involves the placement of an endo-vascular stent via a percutaneous technique (usually through the femoral arteries) into the diseased portion of the aorta. This technique has been reported to have a lower mortality rate compared to open surgical repair, and is now being widely used in individuals with co-morbid conditions that make them high risk patients for open surgery. Some centers also report very promising results for the specific method in patients that do not constitute a high surgical risk group.

There have also been many reports concerning the endovascular treatment of ruptured Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms, which are usually treated with an open surgery repair due to the patient’s impaired overall condition. Mid-term results have been quite promising.[citation needed] However, according to the latest studies, the EVAR procedure doesn’t carry any overall survival benefit.

Endovascular treatment of other aortic aneurysms
The endoluminal exclusion of aortic aneurysms has seen a real revolution in the very recent years. It is now possible to treat thoracic aortic aneurysms, abdominal aortic aneurysms and other aneurysms in most of the body’s major arteries (such as the iliac and the femoral arteries) using endovascular stents and avoiding big incisions. Still, in most cases the technique is applied in patients at high risk for surgery as more trials are required in order to fully accept this method as the gold standard for the treatment of aneurysms.

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Prevention
Attention to patient’s general blood pressure, smoking and cholesterol risks helps reduce the risk on an individual basis. There have been proposals to introduce ultrasound scans as a screening tool for those most at risk: men over the age of 65. The tetracycline antibiotic, Doxycycline is currently being investigated for use as a potential drug in the prevention of aortic aneurysm due to its metalloproteinase inhibitor and collagen stabilising properties.

Research
Stanford University is conducting research to gather information on AAA risk factors, and to evaluate the effectiveness of an exercise program at preventing the growth of small AAAs in older individuals.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

 

Resources:
http://www.vascularweb.org/patients/NorthPoint/Abdominal_Aortic_Aneurysm.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aortic_aneurysm
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/aortic-aneurysm/ds00017/dsection=tests-and-diagnosis

 

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Why Mammography is NOT an Effective Breast Cancer Screen

breast cancer, cancer, mammography, cancer screen, thermography, breast thermography

The most devastating loss of life from breast cancer occurs between the ages of 30 to 50. Fortunately, you have more options available to you today to help detect breast cancer than in the past decades.

Unfortunately, education and awareness of these options and their effectiveness in detecting breast cancer at different stages in life are woefully deficient.

Beyond Mammography

In the first part of the in-depth article linked below, Beyond Mammography, Dr. Len Saputo explores the latest findings on the effectiveness and shortcomings of various detection methods used by the mainstream medical community, including mammography, clinical breast exams, ultrasound, and to a lesser extent, magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) and PET scans.

The second part goes beyond mammography, exploring a highly advanced but much maligned detection tool for breast cancer — breast thermography.

Breast thermography, which involves using a heat-sensing scanner to detect variations in the temperature of breast tissue, has been around since the 1960s. However, early infrared scanners were not very sensitive, and were insufficiently tested before being put into clinical practice, resulting in misdiagnosed cases.

Modern-day breast thermography boasts vastly improved technology and more extensive scientific clinical research.

In fact, the article references data from major peer review journals and research on more than 300,000 women who have been tested using the technology. Combined with the successes in detecting breast cancer with greater accuracy than other methods, the technology is slowly gaining ground among more progressive practitioners.

About the Author

Dr. Len Saputo, MD, is a graduate of Duke University Medical School, and is the Founder and Director of the Health Medicine Forum, which has hosted and moderated over 350 events. He’s also the Co-founder and Medical Director of the Health Medicine Institute and Health Medicine Center, and runs a private practice in Internal Medicine and Health Medicine.

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Child Epilepsy

Definition:
Epilepsy is a nervous system condition that causes electrical signals in the brain to misfire. These disruptions cause temporary communication problems between nerve cells, leading to seizures. One seizure is not considered epilepsy — kids with epilepsy have multiple seizures over a period of time.

Epilepsy affects people in all nations and of all races. The onset of epilepsy is most common during childhood and after age 65, but the condition can occur at any age. Epilepsy is a condition of the nervous system that affects 2.5 million Americans. More than 180,000 people are diagnosed with epilepsy every year. In epilepsy, the normal pattern of neuronal activity becomes disturbed, causing strange sensations, emotions, and behavior or sometimes convulsions, muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness. These physical changes are called epileptic seizures Seizures occur when there’s a sudden change in the normal way your brain cells communicate through electrical signals. Seizures can be triggered in anyone under certain conditions, such as life-threatening dehydration or high temperature. Other types of seizures not classified as epilepsy include those caused by an imbalance of body fluids or chemicals or by alcohol or drug withdrawal. A single seizure does not mean that the person has epilepsy. EEGs and brain scans are common diagnostic test for epilepsy.

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Epilepsy:

* is not the only cause of childhood seizures
* is not a mental illness
* does not usually affect intelligence
* is not contagious
* does not typically worsen over time

Causes of Epilepsy

In about half the cases of epilepsy, there is an identifiable cause.The common Causes are:-

*Injury to baby during delivery

*Hydrocephalus-excessive fluid in the brain

*Delay in delivery with decreased oxygen supply to brain.

* infectious illness (such as meningitis or encephalitis)
* brain malformation during pregnancy
* trauma to the brain (including lack of oxygen) during birth or an accident
* underlying metabolic disorders

* brain tumors,tuberculosis, parasites in the brain

*Drugs e.g. pencillin chloroquine, medicines for depression, angina.

* blood vessel malformation
* strokes
* chromosome disorders

The other half of epilepsy cases are idiopathic (the cause is unknown). In some of these, there may be a family history of epilepsy — a child who has a parent or other close family member with the condition is more likely to have it too. Researchers are working to determine what specific genetic factors are responsible.

Symptoms :

Some Symptoms of Epilepsy :

* Seizures

*Fainting.

*Memory loss.

*Changes in mood or energy level.

*Dizziness.

*Headache.

*Confusion.
Understanding Seizures
Seizures vary in severity, frequency, and duration (they typically last from a few seconds to several minutes). There are many different kinds of seizures, and what occurs during one depends on where in the brain the electrical signals are disrupted.

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The two main categories of seizures are generalized seizures, which involve the whole brain, and partial seizures, which involve only part of the brain. Some people with epilepsy experience both kinds.

Seizures can be scary — a child may lose consciousness or jerk or thrash violently. Milder seizures may leave a child confused or unaware of his or her surroundings. Some seizures are so small that only an experienced eye could detect them — a child may simply blink or stare into space for a moment before resuming normal activity.

During a seizure, it’s very important to stay calm and keep your child safe. Be sure to:

*Lay your child down away from furniture, stairs, or radiators.
*Put something soft under his or her head.
*Turn your child on his or her side so fluid in the mouth can come out.
*Never stick anything in your child’s mouth or try to restrain him or her.

Do your best to note how often the seizures take place, what happens during them, and how long they last and report this to your doctor. Once a seizure is over, watch your child for signs of confusion. He or she may want to sleep and you should allow that. Do not give extra medication unless the doctor has prescribed it.

Children who suffer from partial seizures may be frightened or confused by what has happened. Offer plenty of comfort and reassure your child that you’re there and everything is OK.

Most seizures are not life-threatening, but if one lasts longer than 5 minutes or your child seems to have trouble breathing afterward, call 999 for immediate medical attention.

Diagnosis
Talk to your doctor if your child has seizures, staring spells, confusion spells, shaking spells, or unexplained deterioration of school performance. The doctor can refer you to a paediatric neurologist, who will take a patient medical history and examine your child, looking for findings that suggest problems with the brain and the rest of the neurologic system.

If the doctor suspects epilepsy, tests will be ordered, which may include:

1) electroencephalography (EEG), which measures electrical activity in the brain via sensors secured to the scalp while the child lays on a bed. It is a painless test, which takes about 1 hour.
2) a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test
3) a computerised tomography (CT) scan, both of which look at images of the brain

Treating Epilepsy
Your doctor will use the test and exam results to determine the best form of treatment. Medication to prevent seizures is usually the first type of treatment prescribed for epilepsy management. Many children can be successfully treated with one medication — and if the first doesn’t work, the doctor will usually try a second or even a third before resorting to combinations of medications.

Although medications often work, if your child is unresponsive after the second or third attempts, it’s less likely that subsequent medications will be effective. In this case, surgery to remove the affected part of the brain may be necessary. Epilepsy surgery is done in less than 10% of seizure patients, and only after an extensive screening and evaluation process.

Additional treatments can be used for epilepsy that is unresponsive to medications. The doctor may implant a vagus nerve stimulator in the neck, or recommend a ketogenic diet, a high-protein, high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that can be very successful in helping to manage seizures.

Even people who respond successfully to medication sometimes have seizures (called “breakthrough seizures”). These don’t mean your child’s medication needs to be changed, although you should let the doctor know when they occur.

Click to see Suppliment recomendations for Epilepsy

Living With Epilepsy
To help prevent seizures, make sure your child:

* takes medication(s) as prescribed
* avoids triggers (such as fever and overtiredness)
* sees the neurologist as recommended — about two to four times a year — even if responding well to medication

Keeping your child well-fed, well-rested, and non-stressed are all key factors that can help manage epilepsy. You should also take common-sense precautions based on how well-controlled the epilepsy is. For example:

* Younger children should have only supervised baths.
* Swimming or bike-riding alone are not good ideas for kids with epilepsy. A helmet is required for cycling, as for all kids.

With some simple safety precautions, your child should be able to play, participate in sports or other activities, and generally do what other children like to do. Teenagers with epilepsy will probably be able to drive with some restrictions, as long as the seizures are controlled.

It’s important to make sure that other adults who care for your child — family members, babysitters, teachers, coaches, etc. — know that your child has epilepsy, understand the condition, and know what to do in the event of a seizure.

Offer your child plenty of support, discuss epilepsy openly, and answer questions honestly. Children with epilepsy may be embarrassed about the seizures, or worry about having one at school or with friends.

Epilepsy (children) – newer drugs

Epilepsy – a parent’s guide

Seizures and Epilepsy

Helping Your Child Cope With Epilepsy

Fears over child epilepsy drugs

Parents to deal with Epilectic Chield

Resources:
http://www.charliebrewersworld.com/page4.htm
http://www-epilepsy.com/

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