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Air pollution aggravates heart problems

Scientists have shown exactly how air pollution can aggravate heart problems.
They are untangling how the tiniest pollution particles — which we take in with every breath we breathe — affect our health, making people more vulnerable to cardiovascular and respiratory problems.

Scientists showed that in people with diabetes, breathing ultrafine particles can activate platelets, cells in the blood that normally reduce bleeding from a wound, but can contribute to cardiovascular disease.

In the study, Stewart and corresponding author Mark Frampton, tried to tease out some of the details about how air pollution makes bad things happen in the body.
The team studied 19 people with diabetes, measuring how their bodies adjusted to breathing in either highly purified air or air that included ultrafine particles.

Scientists found that after exposure to the particles, participants had higher levels of two well known markers of cardiovascular risk, activated platelets and von Willebrand factor. Both play a major role in the series of events that lead to heart attacks.

Lifestyle intervention helps women cut pregnancy flab

A lifestyle intervention can help women control their weight gain during and after pregnancy, according to a new study. It will also help normal-weight, obese and overweight women return to pre-pregnancy weight after delivery.

“This study suggests that a lifestyle intervention can help women manage their weight during pregnancy, prevent health problems during pregnancy, and reduce weight retention after having a baby,” said lead author Suzanne Phelan, Brown University.

The researchers found that women whose weight was in a normal range before pregnancy were more likely to stay at a healthy weight if they received the intervention during pregnancy compared to women who received standard care. The intervention also increased the chance of returning to their pre-pregnancy weight six months after delivery.

However, it did not help women who were obese or overweight before becoming pregnant to stay within the recommended weight gain goals during pregnancy, but it did help them return to their pre-pregnancy weight after delivery.

‘Fear’ area doesn’t increase anxiety but counters it

In a surprising find, a study from Stanford discovered that an area in the brain linked to fear doesn’t increase anxiety but counters it.

The study could help lead to new treatments for anxiety disorders.

Current anti-anxiety medications work by suppressing activity in the brain circuitry that generates anxiety or increases anxiety levels. But these medications are either not effective or have side effects.

“The discovery of a novel circuit whose action is to reduce anxiety, rather than increase it, could point to an entire strategy of anti-anxiety treatment,” said Karl Deisseroth.

The anti-anxiety circuit is nestled within a brain structure, the amygdala, long known to be associated with fear. The study appears in ‘Nature’.

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