April 27, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has uncovered data suggesting that cholesterol-lowering drugs, known as statins, may help clot-busting drugs treat strokes.

Already, statins are well-known for lowering cholesterol, however they have also been recognized for producing other beneficial effects, such as maintaining the health of cells that line our blood vessel walls and increasing our production of nitric oxide, which dilates our blood vessels.

Researchers studied 31 patients that suffered an ischemic stroke, in which a clot blocks blood flow to part of the brain. It was observed that 12 of the 31 subjects already prescribed statins to control cholesterol, experienced more rapid and complete return of blood flow to the blocked areas of the brain.
"We've known that patients on statins have better stroke outcomes, but the data in this study suggest a new reason why: Statins may help improve blood flow to brain regions at risk of dying during ischemic stroke," says senior author Jin-Moo Lee, MD, PhD, director of the cerebrovascular disease section in the Department of Neurology. "If that turns out to be the case, we may want to consider adding statins to the clot-busting drugs we normally give to acute stroke patients."
To study this possibility, patients experiencing an ischemic stroke were treated with a clot-busting drug and followed up with an MRI. This scan was performed during treatment and again three hours later to assess the effectiveness of the clot-busting drug to restore blood flow to the blocked areas.
"To our knowledge, this is the first time someone has looked at the effects of statins on restoration of blood flow using brain tissue-based measurements instead of looking at the opening of blood vessels," says lead author Andria Ford, MD, assistant professor of neurology. "It's harder to do, but we feel it gives us more accurate measurements."
In only a short 3 hour window, twelve of the patients that were already being treated with statins averaged about 50% restored blood flow to affected areas of the brain, whereas the remaining 19 patients that were not already being treated with statins only averaged roughly 13% restored blood flow.

In addition, physicians tested these patients using the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale, which evaluates speech, movement, attention and sensation, upon arrival at the hospital and at one month following their stroke. These results also demonstrated that patients treated with statins showed more improvement in their scores when assessed a month after their stroke occurred.

Although results appear promising, researchers have not yet determined whether regular doses of statins or merely treatment of stroke with statins produces such results. Further investigation may prove to have a positive impact on society’s number one disabler.

Cholesterol Drugs May Improve Blood Flow After Stroke

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April 13, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011
“The halo effect is a cognitive bias whereby the perception of one trait (i.e. a characteristic of a person or object) is influenced by the perception of another trait (or several traits) of that person or object. An example would be judging a good-looking person as more intelligent.”
Research conducted by Jenny Wan-chen Lee, a graduate student in Cornell University's Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, has studied the fact that a positive characteristic attributed to certain foods can radiate a "halo" around it so that we may misperceive all other characteristics associated with those foods as positive. The halo effect can not only influence what we eat, but how much we eat.
“For instance, research has shown that people tend to consume more calories at fast-food restaurants claiming to serve "healthier" foods, compared to the amount they eat at a typical burger-and-fry joint. The reasoning is that when people perceive a food to be more nutritious, they tend to let their guard down when it comes to being careful about counting calories -- ultimately leading them to overeat or feel entitled to indulge.“
Furthermore, this theory also applies to many types of foods that are said to be healthy. Quite often, people will assume that an organic product is healthier merely for the simple fact that it carries the “organic” label.

To test this hypothesis, Lee asked 144 subjects at a local mall to compare what they thought were conventionally and organically produced chocolate sandwich cookies, plain yogurt, and potato chips. Lee ensured that all products were identical, however labeled some items as organic and others as regular. Each participant was asked to rate, on a scale of 1-9, ten different attributes of each food item, such as overall taste, perception of fat content etc. Participants were also asked to estimate the number of calories and the price they would be willing to pay for each item.

Results showed that subjects mostly preferred the taste of the organically-labeled foods and reported that these same foods were lower in calories, lower in fat, higher in fiber and worth a higher price. Even organically labeled chips and cookies were considered more nutritious.

The bottom line is that many people are deceived by fancy labels, such as “organic”, and truly believe that they are eating healthy when in reality; they may be just as unhealthy as the rest.

Halo effect
Health Halo Effect: Don't Judge a Food by Its Organic Label

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