Friday 5 April 2024

This diabetes drug can slow down worsening of Parkinson's disease


Diabetes drug lixisenatide could slow down progression of Parkinson's disease, a development that's considered a significance step in the disease's management.

In what could be termed as a significant step towards management of Parkinson's disease, a new study done by French researchers has found out that diabetes drug lixisenatide can slow down progression of symptoms of the degenerative brain condition.

Studies have shown connection between diabetes and Parkinson's disease. People who have both the disorders, register rapid deterioration in symptoms compared to those who just suffer from Parkinson's. (Freepik)

The study published in The New England Journal of Medicine picked 156 people for the investigation with mild to moderate Parkinson's disease symptoms and those who were on Parkinson's drugs. While half of this group were given the said GLP-1 drug for a year, the other half received a placebo. After a year, those who did not receive the diabetes drug showed deterioration in their symptoms by three points on the severity scale of the degenerative disease, while the other group showed no progression in symptoms. However, researchers also noted side effects of lixisenatide. Around 46% of the people who received this drug experienced nausea, while around 13% had symptoms of vomiting.

Lixisenatide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus. GLP-1 encourages release of insulin from the pancreas, increasing the volume of cells in the pancreas that produce insulin and reduces the release of glucagon.

Studies have shown connection between diabetes and Parkinson's disease. People who have both the disorders, register rapid deterioration in symptoms compared to those who just suffer from Parkinson's. A progressive neurodegenerative disorder, Parkinson's affect central nervous system and the telltale signs include tremor in one hand, slow movements, stiffness in body parts and issues with balance and coordination. In the more advanced stages, legs can stiffen to the point which can make walking and maintaining balance while standing impossible, necessitating the use of wheelchairs.

“For 30 years, we have been trying to understand how to slow the decline associated with Parkinson’s disease over time. In this context, the positive results of the Lixipark phase 2 trial showing less progression of motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease over a year constitute a significant step forward in the future management of the disease. We look forward to confirming these encouraging results in the future, in order to translate such findings into clinical practice," Professors Wassilios Meissner and Olivier Rascol, principal investigators of the study were quoted by The Guardian as saying.

“We’re all cautious. There’s a long history of trying different things in Parkinson’s that ultimately didn’t work,” he says. A difference of three points in the rating score is a small change — one that many people with Parkinson’s would struggle to notice, he says. “What happens at 5 years? Is it 15 points then, or is it still 3? If it’s still 3, then this is not worth it," David Standaert, a neurologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who was not involved in the trial, was quoted by Nature as saying.


Thursday 14 March 2024

5 breathing techniques that promote calmness and peace from within


Breathing techniques that will help calm down and relax

It can be difficult to find times of serenity and calm in today’s world where everything is so quick and stressful. Still, everyone should and can promote inner peace significantly by adding a few basic breathing exercises to their daily routine. Here are 5 powerful breathing exercises that can promote inner peace.

4-2-8-2 breathing technique

The 4-2-8-2 breathing technique offers a structured approach to building inner calmness. By inhaling deeply for 4 counts, holding the breath for 2 counts, exhaling slowly for 8 counts, and pausing again for 2 counts, this rhythmic pattern regulates the breath and soothes the nervous system. To practice, find a comfortable position, close your eyes, and focus on the rhythm of your breath. Through regular practice, the 4-2-8-2 breathing technique can become a powerful tool for reducing stress, enhancing focus, and promoting overall well-being.

Box breathing

Box breathing, also known as square breathing, is a simple yet powerful technique used to calm the mind and reduce stress. To practice box breathing, begin by inhaling deeply through your nose for a count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 4, then exhale slowly for a count of 4. After exhaling completely, pause for another count of 4 before starting the cycle again. Visualise tracing the shape of a square with each breath, inhaling for one side, holding for another, exhaling for the third, and pausing for the fourth.

Anulom Vilom

Anulom Vilom, also known as alternate nostril breathing, is a traditional yogic technique that helps balance the body's energy and calm the mind. To practice Anulom Vilom, sit comfortably with your spine straight. Close your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale deeply through your left nostril. Then, close your left nostril with your ring finger and exhale slowly through your right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril, then switch and exhale through the left nostril. Continue alternating nostrils for several rounds, focusing on the flow of breath and maintaining a steady rhythm.

Resonant breathing

Resonant breathing, also known as coherent breathing, involves breathing at a specific rate to synchronise your breath with your heart rate variability. This technique helps induce a state of calmness and relaxation by harmonising the body's natural rhythms. To practice resonant breathing, breathe in and out slowly and deeply through your nose, aiming for a rate of 5 to 6 breaths per minute. Focus on making each inhale and exhale smooth and even, allowing your breath to become a natural, effortless rhythm.

​4-7-8 breathing

The 4-7-8 breathing technique, popularised by Dr Andrew Weil, is a simple but effective method for promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety. To practice 4-7-8 breathing, sit or lie down in a comfortable position and place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, just behind your front teeth. Inhale quietly through your nose for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7, then exhale forcefully through your mouth, making a whooshing sound, for a count of 8. Repeat this cycle several times, allowing yourself to fully relax with each exhalation.


Saturday 2 March 2024

What is the best time to go to sleep? Find out how to dodge diabetes, obesity and heart diseases with sleep


Humans spend a good chunk of their lives sleeping and as per doctors, sleep is more than just a way to reset and recharge for the next day. According to studies, 7-8 hours of sleep in a day is crucial for physical and mental health – it can also be instrumental in keeping chronic and acute diseases at bay, such as heart diseases and diabetes. While we have all grown up listening to ‘early to bed, early to rise, makes you healthy, wealthy and wise’, there are few who manage to live up to it. But the one thing that never remains constant is the sleep time of all – but a sleep calculator has ascertained the best time for one to go to bed.

What is the best time to go to bed?

According to research, not sleeping enough consistently can affect one in several ways. In the short term, lack of sleep can leave one feeling scatterbrained all day, susceptible to low energy levels, stress, irritability, and anxiety. In the long term, being sleep deprived can take a negative toll on several systems of the body, says the Sleep Foundation.

Studies show that it can lead to weight gain, may weaken the immune system, and also lead to insulin resistance and diabetes. it can also aggravate hypertension. But what is the best time to go to bed? According to a new Sleep Calculator by Make My Blinds, one must try to figure out the best time to go to sleep. The calculator asks on the age, gender, and what time one usually goes to sleep.

After getting the information, they suggest that the time to sleep should allow one to complete four to six sleep cycles. It can also add 15 minutes off to account for the time one takes to fall asleep. As per the calculator, experts recommend women sleep 20 minutes more than men.

How to improve sleep quality?

The calculator can also give one some personalised tips on improved sleep based on diet, comorbidities, and daily habits. Firstly, the calculator asks if one is vegan, vegetarian, or eats meat what time one eats the biggest meal and what is the preferred time for workouts. Next, the calculator asks the temperature of the room at night and the frequency of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco use, followed by what one does before sleeping and what it takes to wake one up. The calculator also asks for the preferred sleep position and how one can control light levels in the bedroom.

How to improve sleep quality?

The following tips can help one get better quality sleep:

  1. Stick to a constant bedtime routine, even on weekends
  2. Put all devices away before going to sleep
  3. Keep the room dark and cool
  4. Avoid smoking coffee one hour before sleeping
  5. Avoid working out atleast 90 minutes before

Wednesday 21 February 2024

Is skipping breakfast or lunch good for your body? Expert weighs in


Breakfast is perceived as healthiest meal of the day as compared to other meals. But in today’s busy and hectic life schedule people tend to skip their breakfast in a rush to reach office on time. This also happens with lunch meals, due to lot of pressure at work, we often forget, miss or skip our lunch. But determining the consequences of this is extremely essential.

On the other hand, some people also believe that skipping breakfast or lunch meal may help them lose weight or they may achieve it sooner but in reality what is the truth?

According to a report, it is claimed that skipping breakfast meals may increase the risk of obesity.

In conversation with News9, Vedika Premnani, Clinical Dietician, Sir H.N. Reliance Foundation Hospital, Mumbai said, “Breakfast” is the breaking of your nightly fast, so, in theory, this break can happen any time of day. The way your body responds to organised eating timings can vary widely depending on your sleep patterns, hunger pangs and how high your energy demands are early in the day. If consumed correctly, it provides you with sufficient fuel to get through the day, focus and mood. Many studies suggest that frequent starvation may lead to dizziness, low blood pressure, weakness, dehydration and lethargy.”

Starting your day with a hearty breakfast and making dinner plans tend to be on most people’s daily to-do lists. But most people tend to skip lunch due to a clash with peak working hours.

Consequences of skipping lunch include

 Your mid-day productivity levels can drop: While lunch often is downplayed by the idea that it needs to be quick, rushed, and jammed into our day, fuel eaten at lunchtime is very crucial for setting us up for a fruitful afternoon. It is important to note that the foods consumed for lunch should be fibre and protein such as whole grain cereals, dals, and salad to maintain satiety levels and prevent post-meal crashes and lethargy.

• There would be a high chance of over-indulging later in the day: If we do not eat the right quantity and quality of food throughout the day, we tend to make up for it later in the day by overdoing it during the evenings. The reason is, that when your body is fasting, the brain releases neurotransmitters which are linked to increased cravings.

 You might lose out on essential nutrients as a result of consuming a lesser number of meals. It is important to provide your body with sufficient calories, carbohydrates, proteins, fibre, vitamins, minerals and water. Eating lunch on time can also reduce the chances of craving sweet, starchy, high-fat, and salty foods.


Friday 16 February 2024

Lung cancer treatment: UK researchers develop a drug that can kill a tumour when combined with chemotherapy


Scientists in the UK have recently developed a drug which can work wonders to treat an aggressive form of cancer. As per The Guardian, researchers at the Queen Mary University London said that the treatment can quadruple three-year survival rate and also increase average survival rate by 1.6 months. Experts further said that the new drug, which works by cutting off food supply to the tumour is a first of its type for mesothelioma – a type of lung cancer – in 20 years. Results of the study were published in JAMA Oncology journal.

What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that forms in the lungs and is often caused by exposure to asbestos at work. The deadly, aggressive form of tumour has one of the worst cancer survival rates in the world. Thousands of people are diagnosed with the disease every year. Experts at Queen Mary University of London carried out an international trial for the same across five countries – Italy, Taiwan, Australia and the UK. The team of researchers saw patients receive chemotherapy every three weeks till up to six cycles. Half of the participants were give ADI-PEG20 (pegargiminase), and other were offered placebo for two years.

The final analysis included 249 people with pleural mesothelioma, a disease that takes a toll on the lining of the lung – average age of 70 years. ATOMIC-meso trial was performed from 2017 till 2021 and patients involved in it were followed up for a year. Those who were given pegargiminase and chemotherapy survived for an average of 9.3 months as opposed to 7.7 years for people who were given chemotherapy and placebo. The average progression-free survival rate was 6.2 months with pegargiminase-chemotherapy.

In this trial, researchers noted that pegargiminase-based chemotherapy was well-tolerated with no new safety signal. This significantly increased the median overall survival rate by 1.6 months and quadrupled over 36 months. Researchers also said that this is the first successful combination of chemotherapy with a drug which targets cancer growth over a period of 20 years. The new drug worked by depleting arginine levels in the blood as tumour cells cannot manufacture the same on its own, thereby inhibiting cancer growth.

Researchers were also impressed to see how arginine starvation of cancer cells can work to stop the disease. The discovery was made in the early stages itself, and the same drug is now improving quality of life in mesothelioma patients.


Saturday 3 February 2024

Change one habit: Cardiologist shares how you can reduce heart disease risk


Eating meals after 8pm can increase the risk of suffering from a stroke by 28 percent as opposed to eating before 8pm.

 Heart diseases take the blame for highest number of deaths globally every year. Be it silent heart disease or those that have prominent symptoms, this group of conditions are potentially fatal but their prevention, management and treatment are largely centred on dietary and lifestyle choices. From heart failure to coronary heart disease to stroke, several factors contribute to the risk of heart conditions -from family history to workouts to smoking to even excessive intake of saturated and trans fats. But according to a cardiologist, there is just one simple dietary change which can make all the difference.

How to time meals for a healthier heart?

According to research, not just changing the types of food one eats but being mindful of the timing of meals can make a difference. As per a cardiologist, eating meals early in a day could mitigate heart disease risk. Doctors say that diet has a gamechanging role to play in prevention, progression and development of cardiovascular conditions.

In a French study from December 2023, scientists anaylsed the data of over 100,000 people. It was discovered that eating later in the day, the first meal, is strongly associated with a high risk of heart diseases. The findings were specific to suggest that even an hourly delay can add to the odds of suffering from cardiovascular crisis and that too by 6 per cent. This means that people who had breakfast at 9am were 6 per cent more likely to suffer from a heart condition as opposed to people who ate at 8am.

How does fasting reduce heart disease risk?

Doctors say that the same is also true for the last meal of the day. As per experts, eating the last meal of the day later at night is associated with a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Eating meals after 8pm can increase the risk of suffering from a stroke by 28 per cent as opposed to eating before 8pm.

Experts also say that taking longer breaks between eating can help. The longer one fasts between the last and the first meal of the next day, the better it is. It helps reduce stroke risk further. This means that a long fasting duration at night can do the trick to fight cardiovascular conditions. Therefore, one must get meals as early as possible in a day and stop eating timely as well for best heart health in a long run.

Friday 26 January 2024

Padma Awards in 2024-Medicine

 Padma Bhushan award to 3 doctors and Padma Shri to 10 doctors in Medicine


The Padma Awards 2024 have been announced on the eve of Republic day. While the country applauds the contribution of all awardees, here we have a list of winners who made a significant impact on the healthcare sector. These awardees won in the field of Medicine.

The government has presented three Padma Bhushan and 10 Padma Shri awards in the field of Medicine.

Padma Bhushan

The three Padma Bhushan awardees are Dr Ashwin B Mehta, Tejas Madhusudan Patel and Chandreshwar Prasad Thakur.

1. Dr Ashwin B Mehta

He is a consultant in the department of Cardiology at Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre. He has received a total of 19 gold medals in various subjects in MBBS and MD examinations.  He specialises in Coronary Interventions, Rotablation, Balloon Valvotomy and Transcatheter Aortic valve replacement. He is the pioneer in starting Cardiac Catheterization and Angiography in newborn babies and in starting Bundle Electrography in 1973 in India.

His pioneering work also includes first systematic trial on primary angioplasty in acute myocardial infarction.

2. Tejas Madhusudan Patel

He is known for his pioneering work of coronary angiography and interventions with transradial technique which has made coronary interventions safe, accurate and has significantly decreased patient morbidity, mortality as well as duration of hospital stay from 3-5 days in the past to 24-36 hours.

3. Chandreshwar Prasad Thakur

His suggestions on Kala Azar treatment have been accepted by World Heath Organization (WHO) and other international organisations.

Padma Shri

There are 10 Padma Shri awardees in the field of Medicine, namely Prema Dhanraj, Radha Krishan Dhiman, Manohar Krishana Dole, Yazdi Maneksha Italia, Hemchand Manjhi, Chandrashekhar Mahadeorao Meshram, G Nachiyar, Radhe Shyam Pareek, Dayal Mavjibhai Parmar, and Chandrashekar Channapatna Rajannachar.