Sunday December 16, 2018

Severity Of A Stroke Reduces With Light Exercise: Study

Regular exercise helps the brain to maintain healthy arteries that have more complex networks.

A stroke patient holds a flower in the therapeutic garden of the Acute Neurological Rehabilitation Unit at Lausanne University Hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland. VOA

People who regularly engage in light to moderate physical activity — like walking four hours a week or swimming two hours weekly — might have less severe strokes than individuals who aren’t as active, a Swedish study suggests.

Researchers examined data on 925 patients who were treated for strokes at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, between 2014 and 2016. Overall, four in five of these patients had mild strokes.

Slightly more than half of the patients were inactive before their strokes. Compared with this inactive group, people who got at least some exercise before their strokes were twice as likely to have mild strokes, researchers reported in Neurology.

“We knew from earlier research that physical activity could reduce stroke incidence,” lead study author Malin Reinholdsson of the University of Gothenburg said by email. “However, whether or not pre-stroke physical activity could also influence stroke severity was not clear.”

Being physically active can also help prevent risk factors for stroke, like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure Pixabay

Patients in the study were 73 years old on average and most of them had what’s known as an ischemic stroke, the most common kind, which occurs when a clot blocks an artery carrying blood to the brain. About 6 percent of patients had hemorrhagic strokes, a less common type that is caused by a ruptured blood vessel in the brain.

Surveyed about exercise

To assess pre-stroke activity levels, researchers surveyed participants about the duration and intensity of any exercise they got before they were hospitalized.

Researchers defined “light” activity as walking at a leisurely pace for at least four hours a week, and classified exercise as “moderate” intensity when people did things like swimming, running or walking briskly for two to three hours weekly.

Among 481 people who were inactive, 354, or 74 percent, had mild strokes.
For those who managed light physical activity, 330, or 86 percent, had mild strokes. And among the 59 participants who got moderate intensity exercise, 53, or 90 percent, had mild strokes.

Yoga is also a good physical exercise. Wikimedia

Age also mattered, with higher odds of a mild stroke for younger people in the study.

The study wasn’t designed to prove whether or how the amount or intensity of exercise might influence stroke severity.

Another limitation is that researchers relied on stroke survivors to accurately recall their previous exercise habits, and memory is often compromised after a stroke.

Even so, the results add to evidence suggesting that an active lifestyle can both lower the risk of stroke and reduce the chances that a stroke will be severe, said Nicole Spartano, co-author of an accompanying editorial and a researcher at Boston University School of Medicine.

“Regular exercise helps the brain to maintain healthy arteries that have more complex networks,” Spartano said by email. “So when a blockage [stroke] happens in one area, there may be another route to provide oxygen to the affected area.”

Also Read: A Majority of Children Die Due to Lack of Basic Healthcare Facilities: UN

Being physically active can also help prevent risk factors for stroke, like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, Spartano noted.

“This study is exciting because it suggests that you might not have to do a lot of intense exercise to see an effect,” Spartano said. (VOA)

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The Young Miracle: Baby In Congo Suffering From Ebola Recovers

The latest WHO assessment, released Thursday, simply calls the circumstances "unforgiving."

Ebola, baby
- In this photograph taken Dec. 3, 2018, and released by UNICEF, an Ebola survivor cares for one-week-old Benedicte who was infected at birth with the Ebola virus by her mother, at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, Democratic Republic of the Congo. VOA

They call her the “young miracle.” A baby who was admitted to an Ebola treatment center just six days after birth has now recovered from the virus.

Congo’s health ministry calls the baby the youngest survivor in what is now the world’s second-deadliest Ebola outbreak.

The ministry late Thursday tweeted a photo of the infant, swaddled and with her tiny mouth open in yawn or squall, surrounded by caregivers who watched over her 24 hours a day for weeks.

The baby’s mother, who had Ebola, died in childbirth, the ministry said.

The infant was discharged Wednesday from the treatment center in Beni. “She went home in the arms of her father and her aunt,” the ministry said.


Ebola, baby
Health workers treat an unconfirmed Ebola patient, inside a MSF (Doctors Without Borders) supported Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC) in Butembo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nov. 3, 2018. VOA


Experts have reported high numbers of children with Ebola in this outbreak, which Congo’s health ministry says has 515 cases, 467 of them confirmed, including 255 confirmed deaths.


The tiny survivor is named Benedicte. In video footage shared by UNICEF, she is shown in an isolated treatment area, cradled in the arms of health workers in protective gear or cuddled by Ebola survivors, called “nounous,” who can go without certain gear such as masks. The survivors are crucial with their reassuring presence, the health ministry said.

“This is my first child,” her father, Thomas, said. “I truly don’t want to lose her. She is my hope.” He gazed at his baby daughter through the clear protective plastic.

Infected children

Children now account for more than one-third of all cases in this outbreak, UNICEF said earlier this week. One in 10 Ebola cases is in a child under 5 years old, it said, and children who contract the hemorrhagic fever are at greater risk of dying than adults.

Ebola, Baby
A health care worker carries a cross next to a coffin with a baby suspected of dying of Ebola in Beni, North Kivu Province of Democratic Republic of Congo, Dec. 13, 2018. VOA

While Ebola typically infects adults, as they are most likely to be exposed to the lethal virus, children have been known in some instances to catch the disease when they act as caregivers.

Few cases of Ebola in babies have historically been reported, but experts suspect transmission might happen via breast milk or close contact with infected parents. Ebola is typically spread by infected bodily fluids.

The World Health Organization also has noted that health centers have been identified as a source of Ebola transmission in this outbreak, with injections of medications “a notable cause.”

Dangerous conditions

So far, more than 400 children have been left orphaned or unaccompanied in this outbreak as patients can spend weeks in treatment centers, UNICEF said. A kindergarten has opened next to one treatment center in Beni “to assist the youngest children whose parents are isolated” there, it said.

Congo, Ebola, Women, Baby
Marie-Roseline Darnycka Belizaire, World Health Organization (WHO) Epidemiology Team Lead, talks to women as part of Ebola contact tracing, in Mangina, Democratic Republic of Congo. VOA

Health experts have said this Ebola outbreak, the 10th in Congo, is like no other as they face the threat of attack from armed groups and resistance from a wary population in a region that had never faced an Ebola outbreak before. Tracking suspected contacts of Ebola victims remains a challenge in areas controlled by rebels.

Also Read: Women Hit Especially Hard In Congo’s Worst Ebola Outbreak

The latest WHO assessment, released Thursday, simply calls the circumstances “unforgiving.”

And now, Congo is set to hold a presidential election Dec. 23, with unrest already brewing. (VOA)