German researchers looked At a group of 10 patients seeking to determine why exercise aids the ability of blood to supply the heart muscles. The patients did not have classic heart disease, but each had a problem in the function of the endothelium, the layer of cells lining the heart cavity and blood vessels, that is similar to problems often associated with atherosclerosis. The endothelium is important in regulating the edilation of the vessels that provide blood to the heart.

Ten of the patients were hospitalized for four weeks and put on an exercise regimen. That therapy consisted of working out on an exercise bike six times a day for 10 minutes, in addition to a five-minute warm-up and five-minute cool down. The other nine patients served as a control group, were not hospitalized and remained under the care of their private doctors. The researchers found that in the patients who exercised, the endothelial tissue performed better and more blood reached the heart.

Exercises has long been accepted as lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, but researchers do not understand the mechanism. This was an effort to look at the physiological changes in the lining of the heart and coronary vessels.

The study was extremely small and included only men. Also because the control group was not hospitalized, there may have been differences in diet and compliances in medications. An editorial that accompanies the study points out that the exercise regimen was unconventional and “may not lend itself to application in most cardiac - rehabilitation programs.”

This study tells researchers, long interested in the role of endothelial tissue on heart-disease prevention, that exercise improves the quality of the tissue. It suggests exercise may have additional benefits beyond those already documented.

The Feb. 17 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine; and abstract is a available at http://www.nejm.or-g/content /index.asp.


YOU WOULD think that the best way to treat a life-threatening malformation, blister or clot in the brain would be through surgery. You’re right, but revolutionary advances in science and medicine have made it possible for doctors to treat such malformations through your groin. Most unlikely of places to conduct a treatment for brain no doubt, but this new, exciting and painless procedure ensures complete recovery of the patient with no morbid after effects.

Leading international and national neurosurgeons swear by it and at long last patients looking to the West for treatment can now avail themselves of this super speciality treatment here at home. For leading hospitals around the country including Apollo Indraprastha in Delhi offer this treatment albeit at a price.

A recently concluded conference on ‘Interventional Neuroradiology’ brought the internationally renowned pioneer of endovascular treatment of aneurysms (blisters in the arteries supplying blood to the brain), Prof. Jacques Moret to the Capital. The professor teaches neuro-radiology in the University of Paris and is the chief of interventional neuroradiology at the Foundation Opthalmique Adolphe de Rothschilde at Paris. He has the world’s largest experience in treating aneurysms and is nothing short of a magician as he displayed his prowess with breathtaking ease to his wide-eyed audience of some of the country’s best neurosurgeous, neuroscientists and specialists.

As he describes his highly technical and sophisticated procedure it is “simply you insert a catheter in the groin, navigate it gently till you reach the blister, position the catheter in the affected sac or blister and deliver the tiny coils of special platinum wire. These coils prevent enlargement of the blister as well as treat it and have succesfully treated even the untreatable ones. The patients can go home after 48 hours with no ill effects. A life-threatening condition like this can be easily treated by this new technique and it is very popular in the US and Europe. It is available in India now and is definitely the better option as it is painless, requires no surgery and leaves the patient without morbidity,” says Prof. Moret.

At present about five endocascular procedures are being performed in speciality hospitals in the country to treat numerous kinds of brain malformation, haematomas and blisters. The most popular are Apollo (Delhi) KEM Hospital (Mumbai), NIMHANS (Bangalore), AIIMS (Delhi), Jaslok (Mumbai), says Dr. Anil P Karapurkar, senior consultant in neuro surgery and interventional neuroradiology at Apollo Indraprastha.


Genetics appears to play a major role in how susceptible a child is to getting infections in the middle ear, a new study finds.

Otitis media, or middle ear infection, is the No. 1 reason children are prescribe antibiotics or have surgery. Untreated, the infections, which most often afflict infants and children under age 10, can lead to hearing loss and learning delays. While environmental causes such as exposure to smokers or other infected children are known to contribute to otitis media, it has been suspected that the predisposition to the infection is inherited.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine designed a study that separated environmental factors from genetic ones. In the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 135 pairs of same-sex twins and five sets of same-sex triplets were followed from the age of 2 months to 2 years old. Fifty-four percent were identical twins, meaning they have the same genes, and 46 percent were nonidentical.

The researchers found that identical siblings were more likely to spend the same amount of time with fluid in the middle ear - one of the symptoms and results of middle ear infections - compared with nonidentical twins or triplets: Heredity accounted for 73 per cent of the amount of time a child had middle ear effusion, or fluid, the researchers found. Moreover, nonidentical twins or triplets were far more likely to have acute bouts of otitis media at different times than their twin or triplet siblings, compared to identical twins or triplets. Being aware of a possible family susceptibility to otitis media may help parents and pediatricians, said the chief researcher, Dr. Margaretha Casselbrant. Breast feeding infants, not putting a young child in day care and not exposing them to secondhand smoke may help decrease a high-risk child’s susceptibility to the infections, she said.


Forty years ago they were regarded as quacks, their patients considered gullible and their remedies dismissed as useless concoctions or wacky therapies. How times have changed.

Complementary and alternative therapies and the people who administer them are becoming increasingly popular and accepted, even by a once sceptical medical establishment. Be it aromatherapy or reflexology, acupuncture and Shiatsu or homeopathy and cranial osteopathy, alhomeopathy and cranial osteopathy, alternative remedies popularized by royalty and film stars have mushroomed into a billion dollar industry.

Even the esteemed British Medical Journal, one of the leading medical journals, has featured a series on alternative therapies because of demand from doctors for more information. “Our readers wanted it,” said editor Richard Smith. “They wanted it because their patients are interested in it and because they are wondering whether to refer people. They want to know that works and what doesn’t.”

Such is the popularity of complementary medicine that doctors on both sides of the Atlantic have urged their governments to provide more funding for research into alternative therapies, ranging from plant remedies for depression such as St. John’s Wort (hypericum perforatum) to acupuncture and reflexology.

The Hale Clinic, favoured by the late Princess Diana and other celebrities, offers more than 40 therapies, a dispensary and book shop at its elegant Regents Part addressing north London. Prince Charles, a supporter of alternative medicine, officially opened the private clinic in 1988. Founder Theresa Hale has not looked back since. The former Yoga teacher identified a growing demand for natural therapies and a need to provide a variety of treatments for patients. Her foresight led to the establishment of Britain’s leading complementary medicine clinic. The clinic now treat 5,000 people a month and is planning to expand abroad in the US and Germany. Hale credits a desire for a more natural approach, soaring health costs and a proactive population with the boom in complementary medicine.

“The whole process is designed to reactivate the body’s immune response. When we are fit and healthy, it means out bodies are working properly and keeping the germs and bugs at bay. It is only because the immune system falls down that we get ill,” said Michael Endecott, research director of the Institute for Complimentary Medicine in London.

The charitable foundation, which was established in 1982, has set up a registry of complementary practitioners which has 2,000 members so far. It covers about 100 different therapies.

Endecott is convinced the upsurge in the industry is a result of what he called it’s “success ratio” and an increasing desire of people to treat health problems in a natural way. Arthritis, rheumatism and allergies are just a few of the illnesses that can be treated so successfully that all symptoms disappear. The most high profile therapies, in his estimation, are osteopathy and acupuncture but massage, aromatherapy and hypnotherapy are also high on the list. There is little scientific data to prove the worth of many treatments. Endecott and others are trying to conduct scientific research on these therapies but funding is hard to come by. Another problem is virtually anyone can hang up a sign and start practicing many of the therapies.


American scientists have said they can stimulate sweet, sour or salty tastes by manipulating the temperature of the tongue.

By warming or cooling certain areas of the tongue researchers at Yale University in the US can produce “thermal taste” similar to tastes caused by sugars, acids and other chemicals,. “We’ve discovered that specific tastes can be produced by temperature stimulation, just as certain chemicals can evoke only certain taste qualities, "“Barry Green said in a statement Wednesday.

He and his colleague Alberto Cruz showed that nerves on the tongue that respond to chemicals in food are also vulnerable to temperature. But the nerves sensitive to temperature are only found in certain areas of the tongue. Sweetness is usually on the tip of the tongue while a sour taste is on the side and bitterness is in the back, they said in a letter to the science journal Nature.

“Cruz and Green show for the first time that changing the temperature of a small area of the tongue can create the sensation of taste in humans,” Robert frank, of the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, said in a commentary on the research. Tongue temperature was altered by using a device called a thermal stimulator. Not everyone has thermal taste and some people are more sensitive to some tastes than others. Saltiness is the least common thermal taste. “Thermal taste probably does not affect the taste of most foods and beverages because the temperature conditions that produce it are rarely encountered during eating or drinking, and when they are, the chemical tastes of foods and beverages tend to mask thermal tastes,” Green added.