Using just a single drop of blood, a team of Univ. of Wisconsin Madison researchers has developed a faster, cheaper and more accurate tool for diagnosing even mild cases of asthma.
This handheld technology — which takes advantage of a previously unknown correlation between asthmatic patients and the most abundant type of white blood cells in the body — means doctors could diagnose asthma even if their patients are not experiencing symptoms during their visit to the clinic.
Winter Viruses May Cause Sleep-Disordered Breathing Spike A good night’s sleep is important to our children’s development. But with the first day of school just passed, many children are at increased risk for sleep breathing disorders that can impair their mental and physical development and hurt their academic performance.
A study conducted in North America in 2011 showed that the frequency of sleep-disordered breathing increases in the winter and spring. Until now, researchers believed asthma, allergies and viral respiratory infections like the flu contributed to disorders that affect children’s breathing during sleep.
Investigators at Washington Univ. School of Medicine in St. Louis have described another link in the chain of events that connect acute viral infections to the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Their discovery points to a new therapeutic target for COPD, an extremely common disease of the lower airways that is seen in chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
COPD affects about 12 million people in the U.S., where it is the third leading cause of death. Worldwide, it is the fifth leading cause of death. It is characterized by inflammation of the lower airways and destruction of lung tissue that limit airflow and pulmonary function. No effective treatments exist to specifically address a major cause of disease advancement and death from COPD – excess inflammatory mucus that blocks airways and prevents normal breathing.
Cutting Back on Sleep Harms Blood Vessels, Breathing
With work and entertainment operating around the clock in our modern society, sleep is often a casualty. A bevy of research has shown a link between sleep deprivation and cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders and obesity. However, it’s been unclear why sleep loss might lead to these effects. Several studies have tested the effects of total sleep deprivation, but this model isn’t a good fit for the way most people lose sleep, with a few hours here and there. In a new study by Keith Pugh, Shahrad Taheri and George Balanos, all of the Univ. of Birmingham, researchers tested the effects of partial sleep deprivation on blood vessels and breathing control. They found that reducing sleep length over two consecutive nights leads to less healthy vascular function and impaired breathing control.
A new approach to lung scanning could improve the diagnosis and treatment of a lung disease that affects approximately 24 million Americans and is the country’s third-highest cause of death.
In a new paper published online in Nature Medicine, a team from the Univ. of Michigan Medical School reports on a technique called parametric response mapping, or PRM. They used PRM to analyze computed tomography, or CT, scans of the lungs of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, known as COPD, who took part in the national COPDGene study funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
The first real-world, head-to-head comparison of “improved cookstoves” (ICs) and traditional mud stoves has found that some ICs may at times emit more of the worrisome “black carbon,” or soot, particles that are linked to serious health and environmental concerns than traditional mud stoves or open-cook fires. The report, which raises concerns about the leading hope as a clean cooking technology in the developing world, appears in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Sleep-Disordered Breathing Linked to Behavior in Kids
A study of more than 11,000 children followed for over six years has found that young children with sleep-disordered breathing are prone to developing behavioral difficulties such as hyperactivity and aggressiveness, as well as emotional symptoms and difficulty with peer relationships, according to researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva Univ. Their study, the largest and most comprehensive of its kind, published online today in the journal Pediatrics.
Forty-nine percent of children and adults with persistent asthma are not using controller medications according to results of a first of its kind survey of 1,000 asthma sufferers. Results are published in the March 2012 issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
“According to survey results, 79 percent of these patients had persistent asthma and should have been on controllers,” says lead author Gene Colice, of George Washington Univ. School of Medicine. “Of the 51 percent on controllers, 86 percent were inadequately treated as their asthma was not well or very poorly controlled.”
Using marijuana carries legal risks, but the consequences of occasionally lighting up do not include long-term loss of lung function, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
According to scientists, carbon monoxide (CO), a tasteless, colorless and odorless gas, is not only a danger to the environment but also highly toxic to human beings. Found in the exhaust of vehicles and generators, CO has been dubbed the “silent killer” because excessive inhalation is lethal, poisoning the nervous system and heart. Now, in a surprising twist, Prof. Itzhak Schnell of Tel Aviv Univ.’s Department of Geography and the Human Environment has discovered that low levels of the poisonous gas can have a narcotic effect that helps citydwellers cope with other harmful environmental factors of an urban environment, such as off-the-chart noise levels. This finding indicates that CO, in small doses, is a boon to the well-being of urbanites, better equipping them to deal with environmental stress.