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Health & Fitness

Keep Firm Muscle Tone with the Age

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Scientists have found and manipulated body chemistry linked to the aging of muscles, and were able to restore the ability of old human muscle to repair and rebuild itself.
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Importantly, the research also found evidence that aging muscles need to be kept in shape, because long periods of atrophy are more challenging to overcome. Older muscles do not respond as well to sudden bouts of exercise. And rather than building muscle, older people can instead generate scar tissue if they exercise after long periods of inactivity.

Previous studies have shown that adult muscle stem cells have a receptor called Notch, which triggers growth when activated. An enzyme called mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) regulates Notch activity.

In the lab, the researchers cultured old human muscle and forced the activation of MAPK. The regenerative ability of the old muscle was significantly enhanced.

Resources:
Live Science September 30, 2009
EMBO Molecular Medicine September 30, 2009 [Epub ahead of Print]

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Anger Alert for Heart

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Episodes of anger may lead to potentially lethal abnormal heart rhythms in patients with heart disease and those who are survivors of heart attacks, a medical study has suggested.

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The study by researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine in the US is the first to show how emotion triggers a distinct pattern of electrical activity that contributes to arrhythmias — abnormal heart rhythms.

The researchers who monitored a group of 62 patients found that those with high levels of anger-induced electrical cardiac activity called T-wave alternans were more likely to experience arrhythmias than patients with low levels of this electrical activity.

Anger appeared to increase the risk of arrythmias by up to 10 times. The findings will appear shortly in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“Our study identified individuals vulnerable to increased electrical instability due to emotion,” said Rachel Lampert, associate professor of medicine at Yale who has been exploring how mental stress can disturb heart rhythms.

The researchers studied patients with heart problems who had implantable cardioverter-defibrillators — small, battery-powered devices in the chest from where they constantly monitor the heart rate and rhythm.

When the device detects abnormal heart rhythms, it delivers an electrical shock to the heart muscle to stop the arrhythmia and return the heart to its normal rhythm.

The study examined incidence of arrhythmias over three years and found that patients with arrhythmias had higher T-wave alternans induced by anger than patients who had not experienced arrhythmias.

Arrhythmias of concern are rare in healthy people. “The implications of our findings are for the increasing number of people who have survived a heart attack or are living with heart failure,” Lampert told The Telegraph.

Cardiologists believe it is important to identify patients who are at risk of developing life-threatening arrhythmias. The results suggest that therapy to help patients deal with anger and other negative emotions may reduce arrhythmias, said Lampert.

Sources:
The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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