How to Reset the Heart’s Electrical Activity in Seconds

Suffering with a dangerous, irregular heartbeat could soon be a thing of the past thanks to a grape-sized balloon that resets the organ’s electrical activity in seconds. The operation is set to be introduced in heart clinics across the country following widespread approval by NHS health chiefs, with specialists describing it as the ‘next frontier’ of heart treatment.

Roughly 1.4 million Britons suffer with an irregular heartbeat – or atrial fibrillation, as it is medically known – which happens when the nerves in the heart misfire. Over time it can lead to blood pooling and clotting inside the heart, which can trigger a life-threatening stroke, or cause debilitating palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath and tiredness.

During the new treatment, called radiofrequency balloon ablation, a balloon fitted with ten electrodes is inserted through an artery in the groin and threaded up to the pulmonary veins – which carry oxygenated blood to the heart and where damaged nerves are usually found.

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/

Ultrasound Waves Eliminate Prostate Tumours 2 Times Out Of 3

Blasting prostate cancer with sound waves eliminates tumours in nearly two thirds of patients, a study suggests. Researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles, who tested the technology on 115 men with prostate cancer, saw tumours destroyed in 80 per cent of men they treated.

And 65 per cent of patients were still clear of cancer a year later. Some 47,000 men each year develop prostate cancer in the UK. Despite rapid advances in other cancer types, which have resulted in falling death rates, the number of men who die from prostate cancer is still going up, with 11,800 men in Britain lost each year to the disease. And of those who do survive, many are left with severe side effects as a result of surgery, including incontinence and impotence. The new treatment, called MRI-guided transurethral ultrasound ablation – or TULSA – comes with few of those side effects, the researchers said.  TULSA works by delivering precise doses of sound waves to diseased prostate tissue while sparing surrounding healthy nerve tissue.

It works using on a rod-shaped device, inserted into the urethra, which sends out sound waves from 10 ultrasound-generating elements. The elements are controlled automatically by a software algorithm that can adjust the shape, direction and strength of the therapeutic ultrasound beam. The procedure takes place in an MRI scanner so that doctors can closely monitor treatment and assess the degree and location of heating.

The technique – which uses precise pulses of ultrasound to attack tumours in a session lasting less than an hour – could mean many men avoid surgery

Unlike with other ultrasound systems on the market, you can monitor the ultrasound ablation process in real time and get immediate MRI feedback of the thermal dose and efficacy“, said Research leader Professor Steven Raman. ‘It’s an outpatient procedure with minimal recovery time.’

The treatment, which took an average of 51 minutes, saw prostate volume decreased on average from 39 cubic centimeters 3.8 cubic centimeters a year after treatment. Blood levels of ‘prostate-specific antigen’, or PSA, a marker of prostate cancer, fell by an average of 95 per cent. There were low rates of severe toxicity and no bowel complications.

We saw very good results in the patients, with a dramatic reduction of over 90 per cent in prostate volume and low rates of impotence with almost no incontinence,’ Professor Raman said.

The device, which is already approved for clinical use in Europe, is an advance on another technique that has been used on the NHS for several years called ‘HIFU‘, or high-intensity focused ultrasound. TULSA could also be used to treat men with non-cancerous enlarged prostate – a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH – which affects half of all men over the age of 50, and 60 per cent of those over 60.

There are two very unique things about this system,’ Professor Raman said. ‘First, you can control with much more finesse where you’re going to treat, preserving continence and sexual function. ‘Second, you can do this for both diffuse and localised prostate cancer and benign diseases, including benign hyperplasia.’

TULSA also has the benefit of allowing further treatment if needed, he said. If it fails, then the procedure can be repeated, and more aggressive invasive approaches like surgery and radiotherapy can still be used.

Simon Grieveson, head of research funding at Prostate Cancer UK, said: ‘Over 47,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year in the UK and many face a difficult decision about what treatment they should have. Current treatments for localised disease, such as surgery or radiotherapy, can be very effective, but they are not without a risk of side effects. ‘In addition, many men with low-risk prostate cancer may be able to avoid radical treatments like this altogether, and instead have their cancer monitored under active surveillance. ‘Whilst novel treatments like this one could potentially cause fewer side effects, we cannot tell from these results alone whether this could be as effective as the treatment options that are currently available and if so, which men could benefit the most.

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/

Air Pollution Triggers 500,000 Premature Deaths In Europe Every Year

A team at King’s College London looked at data from London, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford and Southampton. They calculated days with above average pollution levels would see an extra 124 cardiac arrests over the yearNHS England boss Simon Stevens said it was evidence of “a health emergency“. The figure is based on ambulance call data and does not count heart attacks suffered by patients already in hospital. It points to significant short-term health risks caused by air pollution, on top of contributing to almost 500,000 premature deaths in Europe every year.

On days with high pollution levels, across the nine cities in total, they calculated that there would be a total of 231 additional hospital admissions for stroke, with an extra 193 children and adults taken to hospital for asthma treatment. Dr Heather Walton, of King’s College London’s Environmental Research Group, said air pollution reduction policies concentrated in the main on effects connected to life expectancy. “However, health studies show clear links with a much wider range of health effects,” she added.

In London, high-pollution days would see an extra 87 cardiac arrests per year, an extra 144 strokes, and 74 children and 33 adults ending up in hospital with asthma-related issues. In Birmingham the figure would be 12 more out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, 27 additional admissions for stroke and 26 more for asthma. Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford and Southampton would see between two and six more out-of-hospital heart attacks and up to 14 extra hospital admissions for both stroke and asthma. Only in Derby would there be no apparent increase.

Among the long-term risks associated with high pollution levels are stunted lung growth and low birth weight. The King’s College research also suggests cutting air pollution by a fifth would decrease incidents of lung cancer by between 5% and 7% across the nine cities surveyed. Mr Stevens said: “It’s clear that the climate emergency is in fact also a health emergency. “Since these avoidable deaths are happening now – not in 2025 or 2050 – together we need to act now.”

The figures were published ahead of Wednesday’s International Clean Air Summit hosted by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the UK100 network of local government leaders.

Source: https://www.bbc.com/