what's the buzZ

what's the buzZ

Airplane window seats hike thrombosis risk

While you may enjoy the view, sitting in a window seat on a long-haul flight can put you at higher risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), experts warn. The warning is part of comprehensive advice, published Tuesday in the journal Chest, about the many risk factors for DVT, or blood clot, due to air travel.

Dubbed the “economy class syndrome,” DVT is a serious, potentially fatal condition that can cause pain and swelling in the leg and even lead to a pulmonary embolism.
Yet in the report, the American College of Chest Physicians say there is no conclusive evidence that lower-priced, more cramped seats boost your risk, nor does an in-flight alcoholic beverage, as previously thought.

Lack of physical movement is known to be a factor behind DVT, and the experts noted that the highest risk was among passengers who sat still during flights of more than eight hours.

“Travelling in economy class does not increase your risk for developing a blood clot, even during long-distance travel; however, remaining immobile for long periods of time will,” said Dr. Mark Crowther of Master University, Ontario, Canada, who coauthored the guidelines.

“Long-distance travellers sitting in a window seat tend to have limited mobility, which increases their risk for DVT,” he continued. “This risk increases as other factors are present.”

Other risk factors include a previous history of DVT, old age, being pregnant, taking the birth control pill, obesity, or recent surgery, among others.

In the UK, the NHS warned previously that dehydration can also boost your risk, but the panel found no evidence that this is the case.

The experts advise anyone at risk of DVT taking a flight of six hours or more to opt for an aisle seat, walk about the cabin as often as possible, stretch their calf muscles, and consider wearing below-the-knee compression stockings.

How brain differentiates between left and right

A study conducted by an Indian origin researcher and his colleagues, has revealed a lot about how the brain sorts out confusing perceptions, like distinguishing between right and left hand.

The study challenges the long-held consensus about how we solve this problem.
“For decades, the theory was that you use your motor imagination,” Shivakumar Viswanathan, who conducted the study with University of California Santa Barbara colleagues Courtney Fritz and Scott T Grafton said.

Participants in the study couldn’t see their own hands, which were held palm down. They saw hand shapes tilted at different angles, with a coloured dot on them indicating a palm-up or down posture.

One group of participants saw the shape first and then the dot; and the other, the dot first. Participants in both groups put the shape and dot together mentally and indicated which hand it was by pushing a button with that hand.

However, when the shape and dot were shown simultaneously, participants in the first group felt movements of their right hands when seeing a left hand and vice versa; the other group always felt a movement of the correct hand.

This behavioural difference (which experimenters gleaned from response time) was due to differences in participants’ perception of the seen hand -establishing that an earlier sensory process made the decision. The study found that the brain is adept at decoding a left or right hand without these mental gymnastics.

Judging laterality is “a low-level sensory problem that uses processes that bring different senses into register”- a process called binding, Viswanathan said. Seeing a hand of unknown laterality leads the brain to bind the seen hand to the correct felt hand. If they are still out of register because of their conflicting positions, an illusory movement arises from the brain’s attempt to bring the seen and felt hand into the same position.

But “this feeling of moving only comes after you already know which hand it is.”

Scientists find three-pronged method for healthy aging

In what’s being described as the largest study of its kind in Europe, a team of Swiss researchers has embarked on a project that expects to prove that healthy aging can be achieved through a holy trinity of three interventions: vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and a simple exercise program.

The three-year project dubbed “DO-Health” is being led by scientists from the University of Zurich and will start recruiting 2,000 seniors aged 70 and older from five European countries this May. The team of Swiss scientists hypothesizes that the risk of developing age-related illnesses like osteoporosis, arthritis, cognitive decline, and heart and lung disease can be reduced if people follow a preventative regime based on three simple measures that include vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and exercise.
For example, previous studies have shown that a combination of vitamin D and a simple exercise program can improve mobility and reduce the risk of fall and fractures by up to 30 percent, researchers say.

Omega-3 has also been shown in various studies to help with cognitive function and to help damaged nerves regenerate.