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Flu shots prove to be effective

Though strains going around during flu season often don't match a particular vaccine, new research has found that the shot still does a good job of preventing the onset of the flu.

 "It's quite common for people to say they are not going to get the flu shot this year because they've heard it does not match the strain of flu going around," said Dr. Andrea Tricco, the lead author of the paper and a scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael's Hospital.

 "However, we've found that individuals will be protected regardless of whether the flu strain is a match or not."

 The review of the literature analyzed more than 40 years of data, from 1971 to 2011, and included 47 influenza seasons and almost 95,000 healthy people.

 Dr. Tricco and colleagues were particularly interested in flu seasons when the flu vaccines were not matched well to circulating strains. They wanted to understand whether the flu vaccines would still be effective when the strains were not a match.
 Vaccines work by giving the body an inactive, or non-infective, form of the flu virus so that the body can produce antibodies. When an individual comes into contact with the virus in the future, the body can use the natural antibodies it has created to fight it off.

 The study looked at the two most popular vaccine formulations in Canada – Trivalent inactive vaccine for adults and live-attenuated influenza vaccine for children. They found that both vaccines provided significant protection against matched (ranging from 65 per cent to 83 per cent effectiveness) and mismatched (ranging from 52 per cent to 54 per cent effectiveness) flu strains.

 "Looking at matches and mismatches can be a difficult process because it's not a yes or no variable," Dr. Tricco said. "Often we're looking at the degree of match between a flu strain and what's included in a vaccine because strains drift from year to year."

Dr. Tricco said that the study's results are mainly applicable to the seasonal flu in otherwise healthy children and adults.

New theory of emotions revealed

Emotions are not just special cases of perception or thought but a separate kind of mental state which arises through the integration of feelings of bodily processes and cognitive contents, according to a new theory.

 Around the turn of the 20th Century, the psychologists William James and Karl Lange proposed that emotions are nothing other than perceptions of bodily states.
 According to the James-Lange theory, we do not tremble because we are scared, but rather we are scared because we tremble.

 “This theory does not, however, consider the cognitive content of many emotions”, Prof. Dr. Albert Newen of the Institute of Philosophy II at the Ruhr-Universitat Bochum said.

 If a student is anxious about an exam, then he is experiencing this anxiety because he thinks, for example, that the exam is important and that he will have a blackout.
 The so-called “cognitive theory of emotions” therefore says that emotions are essentially an assessment of the situation based on reason: this dog is dangerous because he is baring his teeth.

 Newen said that this theory is also unsatisfactory because it forgets the feelings as a central component of the emotion.

 A person can realistically judge that a dog is dangerous and at the same time have no fear because he is an expert in handling dangerous dogs. So the cognitive assessment does not necessarily determine the emotion.  Bochum’s philosophers call their new model the “integrative embodiment theory of emotions.”

 The emotional level is – as postulated by William James – the central starting point.
 An emotion only comes into existence, however, when the perception of bodily states is integrated with other aspects.  The brain has to combine at least two components here: the perception of our own bodily states in a given situation, for example trembling, and the intentional object, such as the dog, which triggers the fear.

Too much of cola or honey can cause fainting

Drinking excessive amounts of cola and eating honey made from the pollen of Rhododendrons can cause unusual syncope (fainting) and symptoms of arrhythmia, a new study has found.

 The findings were reported in two case studies presented as abstracts at the EHRA EUROPACE 2013 meeting, in Athens 23 to 26 June.

 “Both these studies underline the importance of clinicians taking detailed medical histories for patients with unexplained arrhythmias and including questions about their dietary intakes,” Professor Andreas Goette, the EHRA Scientific Programme Committee chairperson, said.

 In the first abstract Dr. Naima Zarqane and Prof. Nadir Saoudi, from the Princess Grace Hospital Centre, Monaco, reported how excessive consumption of cola drinks can result in marked potassium loss (hypokalemia), QT prolongation on ECGs and potentially life threatening arrhythmias.  In the abstract the team describe the case of a 31 year old woman admitted to hospital for traumatic syncope. Tests revealed the patient had blood potassium levels of 2.4 mmol/L, and a QTc (The QT interval on the ECG corrected for heart rate) of 610 ms.  Normal blood potassium levels range between 3.5 to 5.1 mmol/L; while the normal QTc for women is less than or equal to 450 ms.

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