The Global Death Toll From Working Too Much on the Rise

Take it easy. Stop working so hard. You’re going to give yourself a heart attack. I’m really worried about you.” At one point in your career, you may have heard this from a loved one.

You probably met this concern with excuses and rationalizations saying things like, “The company is depending on me. I’m close to getting a raise and promotion if I keep this up!” You don’t think of the toll taken on your emotional, mental and physical health. It’s all about building and growing your career, in an attempt to climb the corporate ladder.

It’s easy to believe that you can keep putting in the long hours and endure the unrelenting stress without repercussions. There is a feeling of invincibility. “Bad things happen to other people,” you tell yourself. “I’m relatively young and healthy,” you believe. “These are my prime earning years and I have to hustle.

The problem is, according to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), “Long working hours led to 745,000 deaths from stroke and ischemic heart disease in 2016, a 29% increase since 2000.” The substantial number of strokes and heart disease resulted from workingat least 55 hours a week.” The study by the WHO and ILO concludes that working 55 or more hours per week is associated with a higher risk of a stroke and dying from ischemic heart disease, compared to working 35 to 40 hours a week. There is heightened concern that people are working increasingly longer hours, which puts more people at risk of an “early death.” They are literally working themselves to death.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/

AI Predicts Heart Attacks

In a study published Feb. 14 in Circulation, researchers in the U.K. and the U.S. report that an AI program can reliably predict heart attacks and strokes. Kristopher Knott, a research fellow at the British Heart Foundation, and his team conducted the largest study yet involving cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) and AI. CMR is a scan that measures blood flow to the heart by detecting how much of a special contrast agent heart muscle picks up; the stronger the blood flow, the less likely there will be blockages in the heart vessels. Reading the scans, however, is time consuming and laborious; and it’s also more qualitative than quantitative, says Knott, subject to the vagaries of the human eyes and brain. To try to develop a more qualitative tool, Knott and his colleagues trained an AI model to read scans and learn to detect signs of compromised blood flow.

When they tested the technology on the scans of more than 1,000 people who needed CMR because they either at risk of developing heart disease or had already been diagnosed, they found the AI model worked pretty well at selecting out which people were more likely to go on to have a heart attack or stroke, or die from one. The study compared the AI-based analyses to health outcomes from the patients, who were followed for about 20 months on average. The researchers discovered that for every 1 ml/g/min decrease in blood flow to the heart, the risk of dying from a heart event nearly doubled, and the risk of having a heart attack, stroke or other event more than doubled.

Rather than a qualitative view of blood flow to the heart muscle, we get a quantitative number,” he says. “And from that number, we’ve shown that we can predict which people are at higher risk of adverse events.”

The study confirmed that CMR is a strong marker for risk of heart problems, but did not prove that the scans could actually be used to guide doctors’ decisions about which people are at higher risk. For that, more studies need to be done that document whether treating poor blood flow—with available medication or procedures—in people with decreased flow as predicted by the AI model, can reduce or eliminate heart attacks and strokes.

Source: https://time.com/

Nanotherapy Reduces Plaque Buildup

A drug-coated nanoparticle reduces plaque buildup in mouse arteries without causing harmful side effects, researchers have found.

Atherosclerosis, the accumulation of plaque inside artery walls, can lead to heart attacks and strokes. It’s the world’s No. 1 killer. Available therapies treat risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol but fail to address the accumulation of diseased cells and inflammation within artery walls.

This is precision medicine,” said Nicholas Leeper, MD, professor of vascular surgery and cardiovascular medicine. “We used the nanotubes to deliver a payload like a Trojan horse.”

Leeper, who sees patients at Stanford Health Care’s vascular and endovascular care clinic, is a senior author of a paper about the research that was published Jan. 27 in Nature Nanotechnology. The other senior author is Bryan Smith, PhD, a former visiting associate professor at the School of Medicine. He is now an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Michigan State University.

Source: http://med.stanford.edu/

Red-Blood-Cell “Hitchhikers” Transport Drugs to Specific Targets

A new drug-delivery technology which uses red blood cells (RBCs) to shuttle nano-scale drug carriers, called RBC-hitchhiking (RH), has been found in animal models to dramatically increase the concentration of drugs ferried precisely to selected organs, according to a study published in Nature Communications this month by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. This proof-of-principle study points to ways to improve drug delivery for some of the nation’s biggest killers, such as acute lung disease, stroke, and heart attack.

The vast majority of drugs fail because they spread throughout the body, landing in nearby organs where they can cause intolerable side effects, as opposed to directly targeting the areas that are really in need,” said first author Jake Brenner, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Pulmonary Medicine and Critical Care and of Pharmacology. “By massively increasing the drug concentrations that are hitting specific tissues, the RBC hitchhikers should decrease potential side effects and improve the efficacy of drugs delivered to target organs.”

The team showed that RH can safely transport nano-scale carriers of drugs to chosen organs by targeted placement of intravascular catheters, in mice, pigs, and in ex vivo human lungs, without causing RBC or organ toxicities.

Red blood cells are a particularly attractive carrier due to their biocompatibility and known safety in transfusions,” said senior author Vladimir Muzykantov, MD, PhD, a professor of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics. “In just a few short years since we began this work, we are now on the brink of mapping out ways to test it in clinical trials.”

The researchers found that RH drug carriers injected intravenously increased drug uptake by about 40-fold in the lungs compared to absorption of freely circulating drug carriers in blood. In addition, injecting the RH drug carriers into the carotid artery (a major blood vessel in the neck that delivers blood to the brain, neck, and face) delivers 10 percent of the injected dose to the brain, which is about 10 times higher than what is achieved through older methods such using antibodies to guide drugs to their intended targets. Such impressive drug delivery to the brain could be used to treat acute strokes, the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.

Development of RH technology has also revealed a potentially fundamental process that hold enormous clinical promise. “The body’s largest surface area of cell-to-cell interaction is observed between red blood cells and blood vessel linings, so it is intriguing to think that our RH technology has uncovered a phenomenon in which RBCs naturally transport cargo on their surfaces,” said Muzykantov.

Source: https://www.pennmedicine.org/