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Energy drinks raise blood pressure

Consumption of energy drinks might impact cardiac health by increasing blood pressure and disturbing heart rhythm, researchers have claimed. They analysed data from seven previously published observational and interventional studies to determine how consuming energy drinks might impact heart health.

In the first part of the pooled analysis, they examined the QT interval –describes a segment of the heart’s rhythm on an electrocardiogram; when prolonged, it can cause serious irregular heartbeats or sudden cardiac death - of 93 people who had just consumed one to three cans of energy drinks. They found that the QT interval was 10 milliseconds longer for those who had consumed the energy drinks.

“Doctors are generally concerned if patients experience an additional 30 milliseconds in their QT interval from baseline,” Sachin A. Shah, Pharm.D., lead researcher and assistant professor at University of the Pacific in Stockton, California said. They also found that the systolic blood pressure, the top number in a blood pressure reading, increased an average of 3.5 points in a pool of 132 participants.

“Patients with high blood pressures or long QT syndrome should use caution and judgment before consuming an energy drink,” Shah said.

“Since energy drinks also contain caffeine, people who do not normally drink much caffeine might have an exaggerated increase in blood pressure.”

Altering mosquito genome could help control dengue

Researchers at Virginia Tech have successfully used a gene disruption technique to change the eye color of a mosquito — a critical step toward new genetic strategies aimed at disrupting the transmission of diseases such as dengue fever.

Zach Adelman and Kevin Myles, both associate professors of entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and affiliated researchers with the Fralin Life Science Institute, study the transmission of vector-borne diseases and develop novel methods of control, based on genetics.  In a groundbreaking study the scientists used a pair of engineered proteins to cut DNA in a site-specific manner to disrupt a targeted gene in the mosquito genome.  Science magazine heralded these transcription activator-like effector nuclease proteins, known as TALENS, as a major scientific breakthrough in 2012, nicknaming them “genomic cruise missiles” for their ability to allow researchers to target specific locations with great efficiency.

While TALENS have been previously used to edit the genomes of animal and human cell cultures, applying them to the mosquito genome is a new approach, according to Adelman.

“With the development of this technology, our understanding of the genetic basis of many critical behaviors such as blood-feeding, host-seeking and pathogen transmission should be greatly accelerated,” he said.

Excess salt led to 2.3 million heart-related deaths last year

Excessive salt consumption contributed to 2.3 million deaths from heart attacks, strokes and other heart-related diseases throughout the world in 2010, researchers have claimed.  The fatality represents 15 percent of all deaths due to these causes.  The researchers analysed 247 surveys of adult sodium intake, stratified by age, gender, region and country between 1990 and 2010 as part of the 2010 Global Burden of Diseases Study.

Nearly 1 million of the deaths – 40 per cent of the total -- were premature, occurring in people 69 years of age and younger. Sixty per cent of the deaths occurred in men and 40 percent were in women.  Heart attacks caused 42 per cent of the deaths and strokes 41 per cent. The remainder resulted from other types of cardiovascular disease.  Eighty-four per cent of these deaths due to eating too much sodium were in low and middle-income countries, rather than high-income countries.

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