EIC Social Media Team
(0 comments, 156 posts)
This user hasn't shared any profile information
Posts by EIC Social Media Team
Did you know approximately 5.7 million Americans suffer from heart failure every year? This is a staggering number. If you are a patient dealing with this condition, you might want to also monitor your sleep. Sleep apnea can harshly affect your heart. However, there is positive news. A new study suggests that treatment of sleep apnea may help improve progress in patients with heart failure.
Treating Both Sleep Apnea and Heart Failure
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart grows weaker. When this happens, the heart cannot pump enough blood that the body needs in order to function properly. This may cause fatigue, shortness of breath and fluid build-up in several parts of the body.
Most patients with heart failure are constantly in and out of hospitals. According to research recently published in the American Journal of Cardiology, treatment of sleep apnea may help patients with the condition.
Researchers tested 70 patients with both sleep apnea and heart failure. Of those 70 patients, 37 actively used a treatment that helps breathing, called Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) Therapy. The other 34 patients where non-compliant—and did not use the PAP ventilation machine.
A common problem with patients who undergo PAP therapy is that they don’t commit. Many find the mask required for the treatment to be uncomfortable, leading them to discontinue further treatment. However, those who did continue using PAP therapy experienced positive results.
“Our research showed that early recognition and treatment of patients hospitalized with decompensated congestive heart failure is associated with a reduction in readmissions, for patients who use their positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy on a regular basis,” said first author Sunil Sharma, M.D., FAASM, Associate Professor of Pulmonary Medicine in the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University.
These results heavily indicate that sleep apnea and heart failure may be connected. “Physicians should be on the lookout for sleep apnea in patients with heart failure with the goal of diagnosing and treating early, which might help prevent readmissions and emergency room visits,” Dr. Sharma said. While more research needs to be done to validate these findings, this research puts patients and doctors on alert.
If you are at risk for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), your doctor is usually the first person to tell you. However, what if this information came from an unlikely source? Like your dentist. A new study shows that the size of your tongue and tonsils could be affecting how much you sleep.
The Research into Oversized Tongue and Tonsils
OSA is the most common form of sleep apnea. The disorder usually causes difficulty breathing, excessive snoring, and unexplained daytime sleepiness. Most people are not even aware that they are suffering from the condition. As with many OSA cases, a complete or partial obstruction of the upper airways causes the disorder.
Thikriat Al-Jewari, an orthodontic researcher at the University at Buffalo, New York, led a new study that suggests your dentist might have an opportunity to identify signs of OSA. The study finds that abnormally large tongue indentations and tonsils are frequent indicators of the condition.
Researchers analyzed and tested over 200 patients at the dental clinics at the University of Dammam’s College of Dentistry in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for OSA. Testing for common signs of OSA, and using the Berlin Questionnaire—one of the most validated tests for OSA—they discovered 23 percent of their patients were at risk for OSA. Of those at risk, the most common symptoms were large tongue and tonsils.
Many people who suffer from the condition go undiagnosed and untreated. Unfortunately, patients who remain untreated can endure a worse fate. OSA has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression and more. Al-Jewari’s findings are a crucial step in getting people with OSA the help they need.
“Dentists see into their patient’s mouths more than physicians do and the signs are easy to identify,” says Al-Jewair. He goes on to suggest that if dentists are properly trained to identify signs of an oversized tongue and tonsils, they can point patients in the right direction. Dentists are by no means qualified to give a diagnosis on the matter. However, having these professional look out for the signs of the disorder can significantly help solve the problem of patients who go undiagnosed and continue to live with OSA.
People have an initial fear that nothing will sound the same if they lose their hearing. However, there may be hope. Scientists are looking to re-engineer cochlear implants to make music sound more appealing to the ears.
The Problem with Music
Most cochlear implants are designed to process speech. However, they have trouble when it comes to music. Many people with the implant report improvements in understanding, hearing and speech, but listening to music becomes less enjoyable.
“I’ve had the implant for 15 years now and it has done so much for me. Before I got the implant, I was working but I could not use a phone, I needed somebody to take notes for me at meetings, and I couldn’t have conversations with more than one person. I can now use a phone, I recognize people’s voices, I go to films, but music is awful,” says Prudence Garcia-Renart, a musician who gave up playing the piano a few years ago.
Auditory neurons that transmit signals to the brain are lost with severe hearing loss. Speech is a simple auditory signal, making it easier for implants to process. The same can’t be said for music. Implants are not able to compensate for the loss of auditory neurons.
Upgrades to Cochlear Implants
Scientists are hoping to help people like Prudence find a solution for enjoying music. Instead of engineering a cochlear implant to make up for lost auditory neurons, scientists are trying to re-engineer music. “You don’t necessarily need the entire piece to enjoy the music,” says Anil Lalwani, MD, director of the Columbia Cochlear Implant Program. “Even though a song may have very complex layers, you can sometimes just enjoy the vocals, or you can just enjoy the instruments.”
Currently, Dr. Lalwani and his team are trying to learn which parts of music are the most important for enjoyment. They believe that software will be able to convert music for listeners. “Our eventual goal, though, is to compose music for people with cochlear implants based on what we’ve learned,” Dr. Lalwani says. “Original pieces of music that will possibly have less rhythmic instruments, less reverb, possibly more vocals—something that is actually designed for them.”
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and type 2 diabetes have been linked together for a long time. Research into the link indicates that OSA may cause or worsen type 2 diabetes. This relationship has led many scientists to believe that treatment of OSA might improve the symptoms of patients with both disorders. However, this idea is an on-going debate. One treatment of OSA, known as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), has had conflicting reports.
What are CPAP Treatments?
Continuous positive airway pressure, otherwise known as CPAP, is a ventilator typically used by people who have problems breathing during their sleep time. The machine applies mild air pressure on a continuous basis in order to always keep airways open. CPAP treatments are most effective on patients who have obstructive sleep apnea.
The Two Studies
In a recent study conducted by the Autonama University of Madrid, CPAP treatments appeared to have had a positive effect on glycemic control in patients with OSA and type 2 diabetes. The study tested 50 people who have OSA, and whose type 2 diabetes was not well controlled. They found that after 6 months, there seemed to be an improvement in glycemic control.
Conversely, results from another study suggest that CPAP use may not have any effect on type 2 diabetes. Researchers randomly assigned a group of 298 patients who have OSA and well-controlled type 2 diabetes, to either receive CPAP or regular care. Their results showed that glycated hemoglobin levels in patients using CPAP did not show any more change than those using regular care.
Both studies were published in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Atul Malhotra, MD, President of the American Thoracic Society and a sleep expert, was not a part of either study.
Dr. Malhotra suggest that the “Differences in race and ethnicity and changes in diet, exercise and metabolism that may occur with CPAP, may have also contributed to the different findings.” She also noted that the “differences in glucose control at baseline and the relatively small size of the studies” may have contributed to the difference results as well. In the end, Dr. Malhotra believes more research is needed.
Sometimes, hearing loss can occur because of a variety of reasons: buildup of earwax, an ear infection, or even exposure to loud noises. Many people believe having a little trouble hearing every now and then is a minor inconvenience, and that the condition is only temporary. However, a new study suggests the sound deprivation can lead to irreversible hearing loss.
How Is Sound Deprivation Affecting Hearing?
When sound’s ability to travel between the ear canal and the inner ear is damaged, conductive hearing loss occurs. Sounds and voices will seem faint or muffled to anyone suffering with the disorder. In the study, performed by the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, scientists wanted to be able to determine what happens to people with a recurring case of hearing loss.
By testing mice dealing with chronic conductive hearing loss in one ear, they were able to determine that sound deprivation causes irreversible damage to the inner ear.
“After a year of sound deprivation, we observed dramatic changes in the inner ear – notably, a significant loss of the synaptic connections through which the sensory cells send their electrical signals to the brain,” says Stephane F. Maison, Ph.D., lead researcher, investigator in the Eaton-Peabody Laboratories at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and assistant professor of otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School.
What About Your Good Ear?
Even with the damage from sound deprivation, some individuals feel that not being able to hear from one ear is not a situation worth fixing.
“Although these conditions are routinely treated in industrial societies, a number of patients choose not to receive treatment, particularly when their medical condition affects only one ear,” Dr. Maison said. “For instance, patients with unilateral atresia, a condition in which the ear canal is closed or absent, see limited benefits of undergoing surgery when they can simply use their good ear.”
However, choosing not to deal with hearing loss is not a wise decision. Other studies have shown how a lack of hearing can affect memory and speech. The same is true for those with children dealing with hearing loss or ear infections, as it can be the causes of dizziness and balance problems. With the research in this study, Dr. Maison advises that “audiologists and physicians should advocate for early intervention and treat these middle ear conditions.”
If you suffer from a case of moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and have been feeling a bit off, there might be a reason why. A new study has shown that sleep apnea may be taking a toll on how your brain functions; thus affecting your brain’s chemicals.
Affected Brain Chemicals
The new research, from the UCLA School of Nursing, showed significant changes in the levels of two essential brain chemicals. These neurotransmitters, glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is also known as GABA, are found in the region of the brain called the insula. This part of the brain regulates emotion, thinking, and physical functions such as blood pressure and perspiration.
Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that acts as accelerator. When its levels are high, they induce a state of stress within the brain. As you can imagine, the brain doesn’t function well when under stress.
GABA acts as an inhibitor in the brain. These brain chemicals basically act as the opposite of glutamate, relieving stress and keeping people calm.
The research determined that people suffering from sleep apnea showed high levels of glutamate and low levels of GABA.
What Does This Mean?
This research explains a significant number of problems experienced by people suffering with sleep apnea. More often than not, people with sleep apnea will report problems such as poor concentration, memory issues, having a hard time making decisions, depression, and stress.
Paul Macey, the lead researcher on the study and an associate professor at the UCLA School of Nursing, states, “It is rare to have this size of difference in biological measures…. We expected an increase in the glutamate, because it is a chemical that causes damage in high doses and we have already seen brain damage from sleep apnea. What we were surprised to see was the drop in GABA. That made us realize that there must be a reorganization of how the brain is working.”
Scientists find that their research is enlightening news for treatment against sleep apnea. With the findings from their research, Dr. Macey now knows that “Stress, concentration, memory loss – these are the things people want fixed.” They determined that when it comes to helping patients, they need to be aware of these symptoms.
A continuous pressure device (CPAP) is a machine that helps individuals sleep easier, and according to Dr. Macey, “is the gold standard treatment for sleep disturbance.” In the future, scientists hope to test whether or not people with altered brain chemicals will return to normal levels after using a CPAP machine.
New research, led by investigators at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), found that dizziness and balance problems are common among U.S children. Dizziness and balance issues could be symptoms of greater underlying issues. If your child is suffering from any of these symptoms, the findings in this research might benefit you.
What makes this research different from previous studies on the subject is that this is the first large-scale survey that has national representation. The study analyzed data from 11,000 children, ages 3 to 17. The data was based on parents’ responses to the survey, which asked if their child suffered from indicators such as vertigo, poor balance problems when standing up, clumsiness/poor coordination, frequent falls, and fainting or light-headedness.
Researchers found that more than 1 in 20 (nearly 3.3 million) children have dizziness and balance problems. When it comes to which children display higher incidences of dizziness and balance problems, girls tend to have more problems (5.7 percent) compared to boys (5.0 percent), and non-Hispanic white children have more problems (6.1 percent) than non-Hispanic black children (4.3 percent).
James F. Battey, Jr., M.D., Ph.D, director of the NIDCD and a pediatrician states, “These findings suggest that dizziness and balance problems are fairly common among children, and parents and providers should be aware of the impact these problems can have on our children.” This is important news for parents because Dr. Battey goes on to say, “Parents who notice dizziness and balance problems in their children should consult a health care provider to rule out a serious underlying condition.”
Underlying Causes of Dizziness and Balance Problems
Some of the underlying causes of dizziness and balance problems in children include:
- Neurological problems,
- Ear infections,
- Head or neck injuries or concussions
- Developmental motor coordination disorder,
- Genetic causes,
- Metabolic problems such as hypoglycemia,
- Prescription medication or drugs,
- Severe headaches or migraines,
- Malformation of the ear, and
- Vision problems.
Parents should check up on their children’s condition, especially if they have hearing problems. Children with hearing problems are twice as likely to suffer from dizziness or balance issues. Even worse, dizziness and balance problems are related to impairments that limit a child’s ability to crawl, walk, run or play; cause frequent headaches or migraines; and lead to developmental delays. The child might also have a history of seizures in the last 12 months.
As a plea that more research needs to be done on the subject, Howard J. Hoffman, M.A., co-author of the study and director of epidemiology and statistics at the NIDCD states, “Dizziness and balance problems in children continue to be an understudied area, and we hope that this analysis leads to a better understanding of the scope and risk factors associated with these issues.”
Even though it is not as common as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), central sleep apnea (CSA) is still a problem for many people. New research shows that scientists are one step closer to solving the problem of CSA and sleep-disordered breathing.
What is Central Sleep Apnea?
Central sleep apnea (CSA) is a sleep-related disorder that affects an individual’s breathing. The disorder occurs when the brain fails to send signals to the body—signals that tell the vital muscles used in breathing to work during sleep.
Some of the signs and symptoms of CSA include:
- Diminished or absence of breathing during sleep, for short bursts of time (10 to 30 seconds),
- Inability to voluntarily operate diaphragm or thoracic muscles while waking up,
- Urgent need to breathe upon awakening,
- High blood pressure,
- Poor memory, and
- Daytime lapses that turn into sleep.
The new study, performed by the University of Edinburgh’s Centre of Integrative Physiology, found key information about the signals that regulate breathing during sleep. These signals are important, especially during times where oxygen levels are low.
In order to find a solution to treating central sleep apnea, scientist looked into an enzyme called AMPK. The AMPK enzyme helps people breathe faster when their availability of oxygen is low. Using genetically modified mice that were not treated with the AMPK enzyme, the study was able to determine that the mice showed similar symptoms to people with central sleep apnea.
Scientists are hopeful that their findings can lead to new treatment for central sleep apnea. Professor Mark Evans, of the University’s Centre for Integrative Physiology, says, “Our findings identify exciting new avenues for the treatment of sleep disordered breathing, because drugs that mimic AMPK activation could restore normal breathing patterns in people suffering from this disease. Mice with AMPK deficiencies could also prove useful for helping us to identify such therapies.”
We’ve talked before about how brain function tends to decline at a faster rate in those who suffer from hearing impairment. However, there might be a solution for protecting people with hearing issues from suffering anymore. A new study shows that the brain functions – particularly memory and speech – can be improved by wearing hearing aids.
Hearing Loss and Cognitive Functionality
Untreated hearing loss can make brain functionality worsen over time. The reason: those with a hearing impairment who don’t wear hearing aids have to work twice as hard to understand what others are saying.
“You may actually be using the majority of your cognitive resources – your brain power – in order to figure out that message,” says Jamie Desjardins, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the speech-language pathology program at The University of Texas at El Paso.
Dr. Desjardins, who led the new study, explains that hearing loss affects more than 9 million Americans over the age of 65 and 10 million Americans ages 45 to 64. However, only about 20 percent of people who actually need hearing aids wear them.
How Do Hearing Aids Help Improve Memory and Speech?
Dr. Desjardins’ study is a comparative one, focusing on Hispanics in their 50s and 60s with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss who had previously never worn hearing aids. The study tested the participants’ cognitive abilities, before and after they started using hearing aids.
The study’s findings are of great importance to those suffering from hearing impairments. After two weeks of using hearing aids, the tests showed that all of the affected cognitive abilities improved, including recalling words in working memory, selective attention, and processing speed abilities. Attention and ability to process things with some speed.
Why is an improvement in these abilities significant?
“Think about somebody who is still working and they’re not wearing hearing aids and they are spending so much of their brainpower just trying to focus on listening. They may not be able to perform their job as well. Or if they can, they’re exhausted because they are working so much harder. They are more tired at the end of the day and it’s a lot more taxing. It affects their quality of life” Desjardins explained.
A new study recently published in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology recommends that parents look into whether or not their children are displaying systems consistent with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Those symptoms may be the cause of behavioral problems in children. Even if your child has a high IQ, you may still want to examine how well he or she is sleeping.
Research into Behavioral Problems in Children
In the initial study, the researchers examined 147 children, ages 3 to 12, who were scheduled for adenotonsillectomy, a procedure that removes both the tonsils and the adenoids. This procedure is common for those who suffer from OSA, as the condition tends to enlarge the tonsils and adenoids. This stops children from breathing, often several times during the night.
A previous study found that after receiving an adenotonsillectomy, behavioral problems in children—who were struggling in school or at home—decreased. The difference between this study and others is the fact that it focused on children who were doing well from the start.
Regardless of whether or not the children were from low- or high-IQ groups, researchers saw that the children improved at a similar level when their sleep and behavior were evaluated six months after the adenotonsillectomy procedure.
What Behavioral Problems Should You Look into?
The data from these studies is great news for parents with struggling children. They can nail down whether or not their child may have OSA.
Hyperactivity is a prevalent symptom. According to Seockhoon Chung, M.D., Ph.D., and Associate Professor at Asan Medical Center in South Korea, “Children with obstructive sleep apnea are fidgeting and not able to stay on task, because they’re doing anything they can to stay awake.”
This problem is harder to determine in children with a high IQ, because hyperactivity is less apparent. Dr. Chung suggests that, “Even when those behavioral problems are minimal, improvement is still possible.”
Parents may also want to monitor whether or not their children are snoring loudly, or if their breathing is sporadic throughout the night. Children with a high IQ will still benefit from having their OSA treated; improving both their behavior during the day and their brain activity.