Monday May 21, 2018

Even a placebo with no medical value can ease pain: Study

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Washington: Even a placebo with no medical value can ease pain in research participants, finds a study.

“We’re still learning a lot about the critical ingredients of placebo effects. What we think now is that they require both belief in the power of the treatment and experiences that are consistent with those beliefs,” said senior author Scott Schafer from the University of Colorado Boulder.

The brain plays a key role in subjects for whom the placebo gel worked, and that more research is warranted.

“Those experiences make the brain learn to respond to the treatment as a real event. After the learning has occurred, your brain can still respond to the placebo even if you no longer believe in it,” Schafer pointed out in The Journal of Pain.

For the study, the team applied a ceramic heating element to research subjects’ forearms.

The team then applied what the subject thought was an analgesic gel on the affected skin that turned down the temperature.

In fact, the treatment was vaseline with blue food colouring in an official looking pharmaceutical container.

“They believed the treatment was effective in relieving pain,” Schafer explained.

“After this process, they had acquired the placebo effect. We tested them with and without the treatment on medium intensity. They reported less pain with the placebo,” Schafer said.

The findings may open doors to new ways to treat drug addiction or aid in pain management for children or adults who have undergone surgery and are taking strong and potentially addictive painkillers.

“We know placebos induce the release of pain-relieving substances in the brain, but we don’t yet know whether this expectation-independent placebo effect is using the same or different systems,” Schafer concluded.

(IANS)

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Good Heart Health Prevents Frailty in Old Age

Want to prevent frailty when you grow old? If so, then start maintaining good heart health. A new study indicates that low heart disease risks among older people may help them to prevent frailty.

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Want to prevent frailty when you grow old? If so, then start maintaining good heart health. A new study indicates that low heart disease risks among older people may help them to prevent frailty.

Frailty is a condition associated with decreased physiological reserve and increased vulnerability to adverse health outcomes. The outcomes include falls, fractures, disability, hospitalisation and institutionalization.

The findings, published in the Journal of Gerontology, found that severe frailty was 85 per cent less likely in those with near ideal cardiovascular risk factors.

The study also found that even small reductions in risk factors helped to reduce frailty as well as dementia, chronic pain and other disabling conditions of old age.

“This study indicates that frailty and other age-related diseases could be prevented and significantly reduced in older adults. Getting our heart risk factors under control could lead to much healthier old ages,” said co-author Joao Delgado from the University of Exeter in Britain.

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For the study, the researchers analysed data from more than 421,000 people aged between 60-69. The participants were followed up over 10 years.

The researchers analysed six factors that could impact on heart health. They looked at uncontrolled high blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, plus being overweight, doing little physical activity and being a current smoker.

Also Read: Eating Fish Twice a Week Reduces the Risk of Heart Failure

“Individuals with untreated cardiovascular disease or other common chronic diseases appear to age faster and with more frailty,” the researchers said.

“Now our growing body of scientific evidence on ageing shows what we have previously considered as inevitable might be prevented or delayed through earlier and better recognition and treatment of cardiac disease,” they noted. (IANS)

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Ebola Outbreaks in Congo

Congo has contained several past Ebola outbreaks but the spread of the hemorrhagic fever to an urban area poses a major challenge. The city of Mbandaka, which has one confirmed Ebola case, is an hour's flight from the capital, Kinshasa, and is located on the Congo River, a busy travel corridor.

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