Diet to Reduce Blood Pressure May Help Combat Depression

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Medication. Therapy. These are some of ways people can treat depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But there’s one a surprising one that may help reduce the symptoms: going on a diet.

And not just any diet. The DASH diet.

Let’s backtrack a second. Scientists have known for a long time that food — the kinds we eat, how we digest it  can affect our moods. People who are obese are more likely to have depression, studies have shown; neurotransmitters that alter our moods, such as serotonin and dopamine, are in fact produced by the microbes that live in the gut. There have been so many studies linking diet and depression that Psychiatry Research published a meta-analysis of 21 such studies in April 2017. That analysis concluded what you might expect: a healthy dietary pattern may decrease the risk of depression.

But the relationship is, in many ways, still a correlation. That is, scientists may know that these thing are related, but they haven’t figured out a specific intervention or treatment that would use this knowledge to help patients.

Now, however, it seems they may have stumbled upon a diet that could do just that. It’s called the DASH diet — the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute developed the diet in the 1990s to treat (you guessed it) hypertension, aka high blood pressure.

The diet takes a pretty common sense approach to healthy eating. Fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat dairy? Good. Foods high in salt and sugar? Bad.

Laurel J. Cherian, an assistant professor of vascular neurology at Rush University Medical Center, performed a study to firm up the relationship between the DASH diet and lower rates of depression. Cherian will present her research at the meeting of the American Academy of Neurology this month.

“There is evidence linking healthy lifestyle changes to lower rates of depression and this study sought to examine the role that diet plays in preventing depression,” Cherian said in a press release.

For more than six years, Cherian screened 964 participants over the age of 60 for signs of depression every year. She also asked them to complete a 144-item questionnaire focused on the foods they ate. Cherian then divided the participants into three groups based on how closely their diets mirrored the DASH diet.

Even after controlling for variables known to affect depression, such as age and education level, Cherian found that the group that most closely adhered to the DASH diet was less likely to experience depression. And conversely, those that strayed the most from the diet were the most likely to show symptoms of depression.

But don’t throw out your antidepressants just yet.

“I think we need to view food as medicine,” Cherian told The Atlantic. “Medications to treat depression are wonderful, but for many people, it’s going to be a combination of things.”

Hear that? Combination is key. A new diet might not totally clear up symptoms of depression. But, then again, it might not hurt.

Admittedly, we’re not there yet. According to Felice Jacka, a professor of nutritional psychiatry at Australia’s Deakin University, now that we are more certain there’s a link between diet and depression, we need to figure out how to exploit it to help people.

“Given how many observational studies there are already published, the field does not really need more of these,” Jacka told The Atlantic. “What it needs now are interventions that show that if you improve diet, you also improve depression.” (Jacka performed a similar study of her own, published in January 2017, concluding that “people who improved their diets showed significantly happier moods than those who received social support,” according to the Wall Street Journal.)

There are lots of benefits to improving your diet, including weight loss and better management of existing health conditions. Improved mood may very well come along with it (that’s what the science suggests), but then again it might not since it’s not a proven treatment yet.

It’s worth trying, at least. But it’s also a good idea to stick to whatever treatments you’re already using for depression.

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The best blood pressure monitor for home use

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By Stacey Higginbotham This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here. After spend…
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iPhone needs a blood pressure monitor like Galaxy S9’s

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Samsung’s new Galaxy S9 packs a heart-rate monitor that can also check blood pressure. It’s high time Apple added these features to the next iPhone. Previously, Samsung’s phones could only gauge heart rate, which isn’t actually useful enough to justify adding the sensor. That’s changed now that the new one can also test blood pressure. […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

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Health IoT: KardiaBand sensor could replace invasive blood tests

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Research appears to show that AliveCor's KardiaBand is capable of detecting hyperkalemia through a simple EKG, a feat that would previously have required an invasive blood test. 

Research appears to show that AliveCor’s KardiaBand technology is capable of detecting hyperkalemia – excess potassium in the blood – through a simple ECG, a feat that would previously have required an invasive blood test.

KardiaBand is a smart watch strap that provides electrocardiographic monitoring (measures electrical activity in the heart). Algorithms can then be applied to assess heart rate, stress levels, fatigue, heart age, and other health warning signs.

Read more: Health IoT: App helps sports stars predict and manage injuries

KardiaBand includes a sensor that’s compatible with the Apple Watch. Last year the company received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to carry out electrocardiograms using the sensor.

The test is simple: users simply place their thumb on the KardiaBand and are treated to a medical-grade ECG in 30 seconds. The band is able to detect atrial fibrillation (AF) and normal sinus rhythm.

Potential beyond ECG

However, in a presentation at the American College of Cardiology conference in Florida, AliveCor CEO Vic Gundotra unveiled new research carried out with the Mayo Clinic. The results appear to show that the same technology has potential that goes far beyond simple heart rate monitoring.

According to the research, the KardiaBand is capable of predicting dangerous levels of potassium in the blood with 90 to 94 percent accuracy. The condition, hyperkalemia, interferes with the electrical activity of cells, including those of the heart. It’s that irregular activity that the KardiaBand can pick up.

According to the research, a specific ECG pattern indicates the presence of too much potassium in the blood. Working alongside the Mayo Clinic, AliveCor used the KardiaBand to develop an algorithm that analyses users’ ECG data to spot this characteristic pattern.

Hyperkalemia doesn’t tend to cause obvious symptoms, but left untreated it can lead to kidney and heart failure. Previously, the only way to confirm its presence would have been an invasive blood test.

Read more: Flexible wearables: a game-changer for connected healthcare

Six million data-point training

To create an algorithm capable of spotting what the human eye cannot, the AI was trained using more than 23 years’ worth of medical data: two million ECGs linked to four million potassium values.

AliveCor’s FDA-cleared personal ECG technology was largely responsible for the company being named the number one Most Innovative Company in Artificial Intelligence by Fast Company last month.

“This recognition of AliveCor as the leader in artificial intelligence validates our leadership in the collection and analysis of patient-generated data, to help patients and providers assess and manage heart conditions, more conveniently, more quickly and less expensively than ever before,” said CEO Vic Gundotra.

Internet of Business says

Although not yet approved for this usage by the FDA, the KardiaBand’s ability to spot high potassium levels looks set to offer yet another compelling use case at the intersection of healthcare and consumer technology.

As a result, wearable and connected devices are increasingly able to provide both a graphical representation and data analysis point for whatever is going on inside the human body. This means that early detection, health management, and disease prevention are increasingly under the user’s control, via a variety of smart apps, which can also improve health and diet, and encourage exercise.

En masse and anonymised, this kind of data can also help societies design better, smarter, and more cost effective healthcare, if systems can be put in place to manage privacy and consent, and give something back to the data subject beyond simple advertising noise.

The development comes in a year that has already seen wearables become able to detect a variety of different medical conditions, and the development of e-skin and flexible sensor technologies.

Read more: Fitbit and Apple Watch can help predict diabetes, says report

Read more: Self-healing electronic skin brings cyborgs closer to reality

The post Health IoT: KardiaBand sensor could replace invasive blood tests appeared first on Internet of Business.

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AppleWatch wristband sensor claims to detect potassium in your blood — without needles

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The AliveCor KardiaBand, a sensor compatible with the Apple Watch, can detect dangerous levels of potassium in blood with 94 percent accuracy. Though the US Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved KardiaBand for this purpose, it’s an interesting step forward considering that, right now, the condition is usually caught using invasive blood tests that use needles.

The KardiaBand by AliveCor is a sensor that snaps into a slot on the watchband. The user touches the sensor, which then takes a reading of the electrical activity of the heart, called an electrocardiogram (EKG). This reading can reveal abnormal heart rhythm and atrial fibrillation (AFib), and the sensor sends the information to an app. Yesterday, at the American…

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New Sensor Lets You Monitor Blood Pressure With Your Smartphone

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It’s a Tongue Twister

Ever heard of a sphygmomanometer? Probably not by name, but if you’ve ever visited your doctor’s office or an emergency room, you probably had your blood pressure checked by one.

It’s important for doctors to keep tabs on patients’ blood pressure, or the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls, because having blood pressure that’s too high or too low can put people at risk for a number of health conditions.

The traditional arm cuff that produces a numerical readout of your blood pressure is called a sphygmomanometer… say that three times fast. While you’ll find a sphygmomanometer in any healthcare setting, you’re less likely to have one on hand at home — and if you have high blood pressure, which increases your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke, you may want to be able to monitor it without having to make a doctor’s appointment.

Even if you think your blood pressure is fine, consider this: according to the CDC, one in three adults in America have high blood pressure, called hypertension — but many don’t even know they have it.

In a paper published this week in Science Translational Medicine, a team of researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Maryland debuted a new tool to help make it easier to self-monitor blood pressure at home. They developed a sensor that turns a smartphone into a device capable of checking a person’s blood pressure.

A name like “sphygmomanometer” might make it sound like the technology required to determine a person’s blood pressure is complicated, but it’s actually quite straightforward. The researchers simply needed a way to measure changes in a person’s blood volume (they used an optical tool that’s not very expensive) and a transducer that could detect changes in pressure and convert those changes into an electrical signal. The team was then able to 3D print the sensor, which works with a smartphone.

When a smartphone user applies their finger to the sensor, these components physically detect their blood pressure, which can then be interpreted by an algorithm to provide a readout. If that all sounds familiar, it’s probably because many fitness trackers use the same optical tool that the team used, called photoplethysmography.

The team’s sensor, and the smartphone app that accompanies it, could certainly help patients keep an eye on their blood pressure between appointments. But it’s important to remember that using the app isn’t the same as having your blood pressure taken (and interpreted) by a medical professional.

So, for now, it seems we’re not quite ready to bid farewell to the tongue-twisting sphygmomanometer.

The post New Sensor Lets You Monitor Blood Pressure With Your Smartphone appeared first on Futurism.

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The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ can measure your blood pressure

When we read Samsung’s patent about measuring blood pressure with an optical sensor, we imagined it will be used on smartwatches in the future. So imagine our surprise to find out that the Galaxy S9 and S9+ have just such a sensor. Besides blood pressure, the phone can measure your stress levels as well. Samsung also plans to expand Bixbi’s skills to allow it to judge the calories of a meal just by looking at it through the camera. This tech was co-developed with the University of California San Francisco in a collaboration dubbed My BP Lab. Users can opt into a three-week UCFS…

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Study Explains “Fountain of Youth” Effect of Young Blood on Old Mice

The Fountain of Youth

Four years ago (in experiments that definitely did not happen in Transylvania) scientists infused the blood of young mice — and teenaged humans — into old mice. The hope was that the transfusion of young blood would rejuvenate connections in the hippocampus of the brains of the middle-aged mice. In turn, it was hoped that those bolstered neural connections would improve the critters’ learning and memory — which it did. Though, researchers weren’t sure why it worked.

new study, published in the journal Cell Reports, has identified the enzyme responsible for the surprising anti-aging results. While it has yet to be identified in humans, if and when it is, the enzyme could open up the potential for anti-aging therapies. 

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These “fountain of youth” experiments use a technique called parabiosis, in which two mice of different ages are connected via their circulatory systems. In the recent study, after the researchers connected the pair of mice, they measured levels of an enzyme called Tet2 in their brains. Tet2 (ten eleven translocation methylcytosine dioxygenase 2) is known regulator of gene activity and has been linked to several age-related diseases — which is why the researchers went looking for it.

Tet2

The results were so clear, it actually came as quite a shock to the scientists. “At first I didn’t believe it,” said Geraldine Gontier of the University of California, San Francisco, who was the study’s lead author. “I did the experiment, again and again, to make sure that it was right. But it became clear that some circulating factor in the blood is able to change the level of Tet2 in the brain.”

Tet2 mutations tend to increase and accumulate with age, and those mutations have been linked to everything from cancer to stroke and cardiovascular disease. Researchers also suspect the enzyme plays a role in the regeneration of brain cells, which could explain the connection to cognitive ability the UCSF researchers explored in their study.

In order to test their theory, the team also manipulated the degree of Tet2 activity in order to demonstrate that changing the levels would have a significant effect on the cognitive function of the mice. How these findings could translate to humans, remains to be seen, but if recent clinical trials are any indication, those tempted to take a sip from the fountain of youth may have a little longer left to wait.

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