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Facial colour change clue to heart ailments

Researchers have revealed about the technology that is developed for detecting atrial fibrillation, a treatable but potentially dangerous heart condition, by observing a person’s face with the help of a web camera and software algorithms. Jean-Philippe Couderc from University of Rochester said that the technology held the potential to identify and diagnosis cardiac disease using contact-less video monitoring, which could enable more people with atrial fibrillation to get the care they needed.The research demonstrated that subtle changes in skin colour could be used to detect the uneven blood flow caused by atrial fibrillation.  The technology described in the study employed a software algorithm developed by Xerox, which scans the face and can detect changes in skin colour that are imperceptible to the naked eye, and  sensors in digital cameras, which are designed to record three colours: red, green, and blue. 

The study found that the video monitoring technique, which researchers have dubbed videoplethymography, had an error rate of 20 percent, comparable to the 17 to 29 percent error rate associated with automated ECG measurements. This study s published in the journal Heart Rhythm.   Asthmatics at more risk from damp and mould in homes

A new study by the University of Exeter Medical School has revealed that damp and mould in homes could pose a significant health risk to people with asthma.

According to the study by researchers, the presence of several types of mould can lead to breathing problems in asthma sufferers, as well as increasing the likelihood of developing the condition.

One of the study’s lead authors, Richard Sharpe, said that moulds are abundant in our outdoor and indoor environments, with around 10 varieties living in a typical home. They have found the strongest evidence yet of their potentially harmful effects, with higher levels of some of these moulds presenting a breathing hazard to people suffering from asthma, worsening their symptoms significantly. 

It also looks as though mould may help to trigger the development of asthma – although research in this area is still in its infancy. 

The team identified links between a number of different types of fungi and breathing problems in asthma sufferers, among them Aspergillus and the antibiotic-producing Penicillium, and also highlighted other factors that can contribute to the risk of asthma, including house dust mites, pets and chemicals. 

The study was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Second hand e-cig smoke has high levels of toxic metal 

 Scientists have demonstrated that a second-hand smoke of e-cigarette has increased levels of certain toxic metals even if they were less harmful as compared to the regular cigarettes. 

The study conducted by USC discovered an overall 10-fold decrease in exposure to harmful particles, with close-to-zero exposure to organic carcinogens.

According to the study, e-cigarette smoke contained the toxic element chromium, absent from traditional cigarettes, as well as nickel at levels four times higher than normal cigarettes despite the lack of harmful organic material and a decrease in the majority of toxic metals emissions. 

Constantinos Sioutas, professor at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, said that their results showed that overall electronic cigarettes seem to be less harmful than regular cigarettes, but their elevated content of toxic metals such as nickel and chromium did raise concerns. 

Arian Saffari, a PhD student at USC Viterbi and lead author of the paper, asserted that the metal particles likely come from the cartridge of the e-cigarette devices themselves – which opens up the possibility that better manufacturing standards for the devices could reduce the quantity of metals in the smoke. 

The study was published in the Journal of Environmental Science, Processes and Impacts. 

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