Degenerative Brain Disease Found In 87% of Former Football Players: Study

The link between football and traumatic brain injury continues to strengthen. Now, one of the largest studies on the subject to date finds that 110 out of 111 deceased NFL players had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disorder associated with repetitive head trauma.

Several studies have linked CTE to suicidal behavior, dementia and declines in memory, executive function and mood. Professional athletes may be at higher risk for CTE because of their high likelihood for concussions and other traumatic brain injuries; up to 3.8 million sports-related concussions occur in the United States each year. In 2016, a health official with the NFL acknowledged the link between football and CTE for the first time.

In the new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers looked at the brains of 202 deceased people who had played football at various levels, from high school to the NFL. (The brains had been donated to a brain bank at Boston University for further study.) The researchers analyzed the brains for signs of CTE and also spoke to family members about the players’ histories.

They diagnosed CTE in 87% of the players. Among the 111 NFL players, 99% had CTE.

“This study more than doubles the number of cases reported in the literature of CTE,” says study author Dr. Jesse Mez, an assistant professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine. “It suggests, with a lot of caveats, that this is probably not a rare disease—at least among those who are exposed to a lot of football.”

The severity of CTE symptoms appeared to progress the more a person played the sport. High school players included in the study tended to have mild disease, and most college, semi-professional and professional players had severe symptoms. The study authors also found that mood, behavior and cognition problems were common among the players with mild to severe CTE.

Among players with severe CTE, 85% had signs of dementia, and 89% had behavioral or mood symptoms, or both. They were also likely to have issues in brain regions associated with depressive symptoms, impulsivity and anxiety. 95% had cognitive symptoms, like issues with memory, executive function and attention.

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The study has key limitations. Researchers studied a limited and possibly skewed sample of brains; news about repetitive head trauma and CTE has become increasingly prevalent, and families of players with symptoms of brain injury may have felt more motivated to participate in the brain bank study. It’s also still difficult to say how common CTE is among all football players.

“The numbers are not meant to represent the prevalence of CTE in football players,” says Mez. “But it does begin to suggest a relationship between football and this disease, and that’s an important step for research that will look at this in the future.”

Mez says the brain bank, which is ongoing, receives between 50 to 100 donations every year. Having access to brain tissue allows the researchers to study possible mechanisms for CTE, and why some players develop it while others do not. “We are really early in understanding this disease,” says Mez.

Poor diet is a factor in one in five deaths, global disease study reveals

Poor diet is a factor in one in five deaths around the world, according to the most comprehensive study ever carried out on the subject.

Millions of people are eating the wrong sorts of food for good health. Eating a diet that is low in whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds and fish oils and high in salt raises the risk of an early death, according to the huge and ongoing study Global Burden of Disease.

The study, based at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, compiles data from every country in the world and makes informed estimates where there are gaps. Five papers on life expectancy and the causes and risk factors of death and ill health have been published by the Lancet medical journal.

It finds that people are living longer. Life expectancy in 2016 worldwide was 75.3 years for women and 69.8 for men. Japan has the highest life expectancy at 84 years and the Central African Republic has the lowest at just over 50. In the UK, life expectancy for a man born in 2016 is 79, and for a woman 82.9.

Diet is the second highest risk factor for early death after smoking. Other high risks are high blood glucose which can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, high body mass index (BMI) which is a measure of obesity, and high total cholesterol. All of these can be related to eating the wrong foods, although there are also other causes.

“This is really large,” Dr Christopher Murray, IHME’s director, told the Guardian. “It is amongst the really big problems in the world. It is a cluster that is getting worse.” While obesity gets attention, he was not sure policymakers were as focused on the area of diet and health as they needed to be. “That constellation is a really, really big challenge for health and health systems,” he said.

The problem is often seen as the spread of western diets, taking over from traditional foods in the developing world. But it is not that simple, says Murray. “Take fruit. It has lots of health benefits but only very wealthy people eat a lot of fruit, with some exceptions.”

Sugary drinks are harmful to health but eating a lot of red meat, the study finds, is not as big a risk to health as failing to eat whole grains. “We need to look really carefully at what are the healthy compounds in diets that provide protection,” he said.

Prof John Newton, director of health improvement at Public Health England, said the studies show how quickly diet and obesity-related disease is spreading around the world. “I don’t think people realise how quickly the focus is shifting towards non-communicable disease [such as cancer, heart disease and stroke] and diseases that come with development, in particular related to poor diet. The numbers are quite shocking in my view,” he said.

The UK tracks childhood obesity through the school measurement programme and has brought in measures to try to tackle it. “But no country in the world has been able to solve the problem and it is a concern that we really need to think about tackling globally,” he said.

Today, 72% of deaths are from non-communicable diseases for which obesity and diet are among the risk factors, with ischaemic heart disease as the leading cause worldwide of early deaths, including in the UK. Lung cancer, stroke, lung disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder) and Alzheimer’s are the other main causes in the UK.

The success story is children under five. In 2016, for the first time in modern history, fewer than 5 million children under five died in one year – a significant fall compared with 1990, when 11 million died. Increased education for women, less poverty, having fewer children, vaccinations, anti-malaria bed-nets, improved water and sanitation are among the changes in low-income countries that have brought the death rate down, thanks to development aid.

People are living longer but spending more years in ill health. Obesity is one of the major reasons. More than a billion people worldwide are living with mental health and substance misuse disorders. Depression features in the top 10 causes of ill health in all but four countries.

“Our findings indicate people are living longer and, over the past decade, we identified substantial progress in driving down death rates from some of the world’s most pernicious diseases and conditions, such as under age-five mortality and malaria,” said Murray “Yet, despite this progress, we are facing a triad of trouble holding back many nations and communities – obesity, conflict, and mental illness, including substance use disorders.”

In the UK, the concern is particularly about the increase in ill-health that prevents people from working or having a fulfilling life, said Newton. A man in the UK born in 2016 can expect only 69 years in good health and a woman 71 years.

“This is yet another reminder that while we’re living longer, much of that extra time is spent in ill-health. It underlines the importance of preventing the conditions that keep people out of work and put their long term health in jeopardy, like musculoskeletal problems, poor hearing and mental ill health. Our priority is to help people, including during the crucial early years of life and in middle age, to give them the best chance of a long and healthy later life,” he said.

Pills prescribed for alcoholism might not work, study finds

There is no magic pill to cure alcoholism, according to a scientific review of the evidence of five drugs being prescribed by doctors.

None of the five drugs has a body of reliable evidence behind it, say the scientists, even though one of the drugs, nalmefene, has been approved for use in the NHS by Nice, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Another, baclofen, has generated huge excitement, especially in France, but has been linked to deaths.

The pills have been developed for people who have not stopped drinking completely and are intended to help them cut down, with a view to reducing the harm they are doing to their bodies.

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But at best, says the study in the journal Addiction, the pills had a low- or medium-level effect on the amount people were drinking. The scientists looked at 32 double-blind randomised controlled trials representing 6,036 patients, published between 1994 and 2015. None of them showed any improvement in the health of those taking the pills, because they measured only the reduction in the amount of alcohol drunk each day.

The researchers looked at the trials carried out on nalmefene, naltrexone, acamprosate, baclofen and topimarate against placebos. So many people dropped out of the trials that 26 of the 32 studies – 81% of them – had unclear or incomplete outcome data.

Lead author Dr Clément Palpacuer from Inserm, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, said: “Although our report is based on all available data in the public domain, we did not find clear evidence of benefit of using these drugs to control drinking. That doesn’t mean the drugs aren’t effective; it means we don’t yet know if they are effective. To know that, we need better studies. Researchers urgently need to provide policymakers with evidence as to which of these drugs can be effectively translated into a real harm-reduction strategy.”

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Concerns have already been voiced about the drugs. The first to be licensed in Europe was nalmefene, an opioid antagonist that acts on the urge to consume alcohol. But critics pointed out that the trials had not proved it reduced the harm alcoholics were doing to themselves.

That drug was later endorsed for use in the NHS by Nice, but against protests. In August last year, a review of the trial evidence led by the University of Stirling also in Addiction said that “evidence for the efficacy of nalmefene in reducing alcohol consumption in those with alcohol dependence is, at best, modest, and of uncertain significance to individual patients”. This created a dilemma for GPs and commissioners, it said, “where nalmefene has been heavily promoted”.

Baclofen is even more controversial. The drug has been given a provisional licence in France, pending the results of more trials, because it is being widely used. Yet a Dutch study last year said it may work no better than counselling and there have been reports of deaths.

Baclofen took off in France after the cardiologist Olivier Ameisen wrote a book called The Last Drink, describing how he had treated himself with the drug and cured his addiction. But the drug is given to alcoholics in large doses and there are side-effects which can be severe.

One of the authors of the new study, Florian Naudet of Inserm and the University of Rennes, said there were pointers, though not conclusive evidence, to the dangers. “A recent study raised concerns regarding the safety of baclofen, with more deaths observed in the treated group (7 of 162) compared to the placebo group (3 of 158),” he said in an email. A subsequent study published by France’s medicines safety agency drew attention to the risk.

“In particular, the risk of intoxication, epilepsy and unexplained death [on the death certificate] increases with the dosage of baclofen,” it said.

9 Important Things You Should Do in 2017

There are a few important things you should do to get yourself on track for a wonderful year! Especially now that the holidays are over, January is the best time to refresh, reset and start planning your year. Prioritize what you should do in 2015, make a list of the main things to do in the new year and check it off as you go! Without further ado, here is the list of 9 most important things you should do in 2015.


1. Eat healthy and exercise
Among the most important things you should do in 2015 is to eat healthy and exercise on a regular basis. Make a time to think about what you want to cook and eat in the new year, and make sure you have the most essential kitchen appliances. Stock up on fruits and vegetables and make sure your diet is well balanced. If you already stick to your exercise program, it’s great. If not, think about the fitness routine that you will be able to stick to. Regular workout provides both physical and mental health benefits.

2. See your doctor for regular med check-ups
To stay healthy and to know early warning signs of any illness and disease, see your doctor for regular med check-ups. Even if you don’t have any health problems, make it a rule to see your doctor every 3-6 months. If you have some health concerns, try to see your doctor earlier. You should always take care of yourself, remember it.

3. Create a budget
2015 is here and it’s time to make a budget that will help you manage your money more easily and more efficiently all year round. Don’t forget to set up a savings plan. Try to develop a habit of spending less money this year. If you are not going to wear all those seven shades of lipstick, don’t buy them. Think about things you really need and try to reduce your expenses.

4. Check your credit history
In 2015, it’s crucial to check your credit history every few months. If you’ve never done it before, the new year is the perfect time to start! You can get your credit report via phone or online. If you have any questions, check with your bank. Do it each year and you will begin the year knowing you don’t have any debts!

5. Check your documents
If you have many important documents on your laptop or computer, back them up and clean up your folders and desktop. Store the documents you need and delete the rest. Your working mindset and your computer will thank you. If you are going to travel in the new year, ensure that your passport and your visa are valid.

6. Check your closet
In 2015, you should check your closet every now and then in order to look gorgeous and fashionable. It doesn’t mean that you should spend a lot of money on trendy things, but going through your closet and pulling out all of the things you never wear are a wise way to kick off the new year! Moreover, it’s a good time to start thinking about the ways to store your winter clothes once summer comes. It seems ridiculous, but it will help you to save time and avoid stress.

7. Study
If you are in school or college, make sure you study hard, especially on the subjects in which you’re weak. This year, read more books, ask your teachers for help and you will surely succeed in your studies. It’s better to prepare for the next semester well in advance so that you can have some time for the parties as well.

8. Let go of the past
It’s important to let go of the past and live a happy life, and the new year is the right time to do so! Think about the past year, what you most enjoyed, what you did, realize what’s holding you back and try to change the situation. It can be hard but you should let go of any toxic relationships or toxic friends in 2015. Toxic relationships are extremely harmful to both your physical and mental health. Spend more time with positive people who make you smile and happy.

9. Travel
I think traveling is really important. When we travel, discover new places, we learn about new cultures, meet new people and learn that they actually aren’t so different from us. Traveling is also one of the best ways to make friends. You don’t need lots of money to travel. Although there are many ways to travel when you don’t have money, I prefer to save money or earn some extra cash.

As you see, there are a few important things to do in 2015. If you think 2014 was boring, do your best to make 2015 the best year ever. Even a few little changes can make this year happier and easier. What else are you going to do in the new year? Share your thoughts in the comments section, please.

New Study Links Exercise To Better Self-Control

Research appearing recently in the peer-reviewed journal Behavior Modification shows people engaged in a tailored physical activity intervention demonstrate improved self-control.

“There’s a particular type of task called ‘delay discounting’ that presents individuals with a series of choices between ‘smaller/sooner’ and ‘larger/later’ rewards,” said Michael Sofis, a doctoral student in applied behavioral science at the University of Kansas, who headed the study. “It’s something we all experience in our lives. Do you want a little money now — or wait and get a lot of money later? The degree to which one chooses that smaller/sooner reward is called impulsivity, and that has been linked to obesity problems, gambling and most forms of substance abuse.”

According to Sofis, a change in one’s ability to value future events might keep maladaptive behavior in check and increase the likelihood of making healthy choices. He designed a pilot study, and a subsequent larger study, to see if exercise could trigger changes in delay discounting.

“There’s a lot of neuroscientific evidence that suggests mood-altering effects of physical activity could change how you make decisions,” said Sofis. “There are a variety of proposed biological and neurological mechanisms and different effects for people with different genetic profiles linked to mental health issues. Studies say if I have a genetic profile linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety, I’m more likely to get benefits from physical activity.”

Sofis and KU co-authors Ale Carrillo and David Jarmolowicz recruited participants and instructed them to walk, jog or run laps on a track at “individualized high and low effort levels” and recorded participants’ own perceived effort.

“We wanted to create an individualized, but still standardized approach,” Sofis said. “We had people rate their perceived effort on a scale of six to 20. Six would be just sitting on a couch — and 20 would be maximal exertion. We’d start them at levels of eight and 10, respectively. The idea is that we’d slowly shape them up to higher effort levels. For each person, the amount that they’re exerting is going to relate to amount they’re going to enjoy it.”

Participants’ perceived exertion was established before the study to establish a baseline measure, treatment was tracked for seven to eight weeks, and participants were also asked to self-report maintenance of increased exercise for an additional month. Delay discounting was tested before, during and after treatment, and during maintenance using a standardized 27-item delay discounting task called the Monetary Choice Questionnaire.

The researchers found statistically significant improvements in delay discounting were evident not only during the treatment phase of increased exertion but also that improvements were maintained a month afterward for the group.

“Our study is the first, to our knowledge, that shows maintained changes in delay discounting at follow-up,” Sofis said. “In our study, 13 of 16 participants kept their improved self-control.”

Sofis said the research helps strengthen emerging evidence that delay discounting can be altered. Due to links between discounting and many clinical issues, Sofis suggested that researchers and clinicians alike should attend to discounting as a treatment target.

“This is becoming important as a clinical treatment target,” he said. “If you could measure one outcome and potentially see a change, you should be able to see myriad other changes at once.”

For people showing problems with impulsivity or self-control, Sofis said the takeaway message is simple: Exercise could help.

“I had people of all different ages, BMIs, incomes and mental-health levels, and these studies suggested that nearly every single person at least improved their delayed discounting to some degree,” he said. “If anyone just exercises, it’s likely you will show some improvements. More evidence is needed to draw definitive conclusions, but it’s very encouraging to see people improving. Just show up and give it a go — it seems like people do improve. The encouraging part is we had individuals that were walking the whole time, people in their 50s or 60s, and people in their 20s who were very fit and running, it didn’t seem to matter. Nearly everyone did improve.”

Currently, Sofis is developing a smartphone application, dubbed “Your620,” allowing people to record exercise and delay-discounting changes, and hopes to hear from people interested in the app. He plans to earn his doctoral degree in May from KU, then look for postdoctoral research opportunities where he can perform further research on delay discounting.

Consistency key for weight loss, study says

A new study suggests that slowly but steadily shedding pounds each week can be more beneficial for long-term weight loss than seeing your weight drastically drop, only to rise again.

Developing a stable schedule of healthy eating and exercise can help with keeping your weight management consistent, said Emily Feig, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital. The study was published Monday in the journal Obesity.

“We don’t know yet what it is about weight variability that’s problematic. It could be reflective of trouble following a diet and exercise plan consistently. But it’s also possible that physiologically, some people tend to lose weight more consistently than others, regardless of how closely they are following a diet,” said Feig, who conducted the study as a doctoral student at Drexel University.

“My best recommendation for patients, based on this research, is to try to keep their eating pretty similar day to day,” she said. “Things like planning ahead, prepping food for the week on Sunday and reducing frequency of eating at restaurants can help with this, since they reduce the chance of making impulsive decisions about what to eat. Building a habit of healthy, consistent eating can help patients reduce weight variability and lose weight more consistently, even if it’s at a slow pace.”

The study involved 183 overweight or obese adults, mostly white women, living near Philadelphia. For one year, they participated in a weight-loss program in which they were counseled on their diet and exercise.

From the start of the program, their weight was tracked, measured and analyzed weekly. The adults also attended assessment meetings at six, 12 and 24 months.

The researchers found that weight variability each week among the adults, measured at the first six and 12 weeks of the program, was positively associated with less subsequent weight loss at 12 and 24 months.

In other words, higher weight variability measured early in the program predicted which patients would continue to struggle with controlling their weight by the end of the program and one year later, according to the study findings.

Feig said that more research is needed to determine just how significant the link may be between weight variability and long-term weight control. However, studies have showed that the total amount of weight loss in the first few weeks of a program can predict how people do much later on, she said.

“This study goes even further in supporting the importance of early weight changes by showing that weekly variability in weight, above and beyond how much weight is lost, predicts weight loss maintenance up to two years later,” she said. “So it seems that both success and consistency in weight loss at the beginning of a program is important for long-term success.”

Dr. Zhaoping Li, director at the University of California, Los Angeles’ Center for Human Nutrition, who was not involved in the new study, said the findings are consistent with what has been seen in scientific literature.

“Whatever we do for those people to lose weight, if they can do it consistently, that means that particular plan not only physiologically fits the patient (and) that particular individual’s body but also is feasible (and) practical for … a day-to-day life,” Li said.

“So, if we now know someone is struggling from the beginning, we need to adjust,” she said. “That can be diet; that can be a lifestyle change. Because we know that if we don’t do an adjustment, they’re going to fail. That’s what this study is really showing.”

Dr. John Morton, chief of bariatric and minimally invasive surgery at Stanford Health Care, said there were two findings of interest in the new study.

“They found predictive value as early as six weeks. In the shorthand, it says past performance predicts future performance, but it’s kind of interesting that they’re able to see it that early,” said Morton, who was not involved in the new research.

“The other thing I see here is that weight loss doesn’t occur in a straight line. You lose weight for a while, then it plateaus, and then you lose weight again,” he said. “If you’re responding to diet, that’s generally how it works.”

As for why some people consistently lose weight while others see fluctuations, “I think that that question is still out there” to be answered, Morton said.

Still, the new study came with some limitations. For instance, 81% of the participating adults were women, so more research is needed to determine whether similar results would be found in a nationally representative sample of adults.

Additionally, “the study was correlational, so we cannot conclude that weight variability causes changes in long-term weight control,” Feig said.

Another ongoing area of research explores not only how weight variability might be linked to extra weight gain but how it’s associated with overall health and potential problems, said Michael Lowe, a professor of psychology at Drexel University and co-author of the new study. Feig was his graduate student while conducting the new study.

A separate study that was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions last year suggests that intentional weight variability, known as “yo-yo dieting,” may increase the risk of sudden cardiac death and coronary heart disease mortality in post-menopausal women.

“Those individuals who have a health problem, very often this is a cardiovascular kind of health problem, who also show more variation in their weight overtime, tend to have their health problems worsened,” Lowe said.

Alzheimer’s: Landmark study unravels secrets of how brain cells degenerate

A hallmark of Alzheimer’s is the build up of amyloid beta protein in the brainiStock
A new study has untangled the process by which brain cells in Alzheimer’s patients degenerate, a mystery which scientists have not been able to explain fully till now. The team from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine (UNC) believe the findings will open up new avenues of research into how to treat and prevent the disease.

In the brains of people with the disease, three seemingly separate phenomena can be observed. Firstly, there are abnormal amounts of two different proteins – called amyloid beta and tau. As well as this, the brain’s immune cells –which protect the body against infectious disease and foreign invaders – are usually found in an activated state. But scientists have struggled to understand how these three contributing factors combine to drive the disease.

However, the UNC team have established a link between the three elements by examining lab-grown human cell cultures which were designed to mimic conditions in the brain. They found that the amyloid beta proteins created a striking inflammatory response in the body’s immune cells which in turn can damage neurons – the cells that transmit electrical impulses in the brain.

Following this realisation, they were able to show how this kind of neuron damage led to the formation of abnormal swellings resembling a string of beads. These formations were filled with the tau protein. Bead-like structures such as these are often found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

This ‘beading’ process, as it is known, has been observed in Alzheimer’s patients and has been considered an early sign of brain damage. However, up until now, the link between tau proteins and ‘beading’ was unclear. Scientists were also not certain if ‘beading’ necessarily led to Alzheimer’s disease.

“It’s exciting that we were able to observe tau – the major Alzheimer’s protein – inside these beaded structures,” said Todd Cohen, an assistant professor of neurology. “We think that preventing these structures from forming would leave people with healthier neurons that are more resistant to Alzheimer’s.”

Finally, the researchers identified the important role of two more proteins – called MMP-9 and HDAC6 respectively – which act as a catalyst, creating the perfect conditions for these interconnected processes to occur. They are also found in high concentrations in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

The implications of this are important because now that these two crucial proteins have been identified, they could be targeted by new drugs which could treat or even prevent Alzheimer’s. In fact, drug companies are currently developing and testing HDAC6 inhibitors which work by limiting the effects of this protein. These drugs have performed surprisingly well in early studies but scientists have not fully understood the mechanisms by which they were working.

“Our work might explain why HDAC6 inhibitors have shown such early promise,” Cohen adds.

Furthermore, treatments focused on blocking the effects of MMP-9 and HDAC6 could also prove useful elsewhere. This is because the creation of the bead-like structures seen in the experiment is also seen in various other neurodegenerative conditions, as well as head injuries. This ‘beading’ has even been detected on a small scale in otherwise healthy elderly brains. Indeed, Cohen suggests that it might be one of the processes that contributes to general cognitive decline.

Study or Work? Combine Them Both

Combining study and work can be very hard and exhausting. However, you can do it without ruining your health. Nowadays many people work full-time while studying in their spare time, or study full-time while working in their spare time. Some of them even have families. If you are looking for some useful tips for combining study and work without exhausting yourself, keep reading…

1. Let your professors know about your situation

If you have trouble combining your study and work, you should have a chat with your professors and make them aware of your situation. Tell them you’re trying to combine study with work but have some difficulties. Once they know, they might make things easier for you by offering you some flexibility regarding deadlines.

2. Organize your schedule

Organizing your schedule is one of the most important tips to follow when you combine study and work. Organize your studying according to your spare time as well as submission dates for your assignments. Make sure you avoid distractions like surfing the Internet, invitations out or watching TV. To get your assignments done, you should focus on the most critical tasks you have to accomplish as soon as possible.

More: 9 Ways to Start Your Semester on the Right Note

3. Ask your family to help you

Study, work and numerous household chores are a lot to be coping with. It’s just impossible to cram too many things into your day. That’s why getting your family to help you out is always a good idea. If they cope with many of the chores such as washing, cooking and cleaning, you will have more time to accomplish some important tasks. If you are single, feel free to ask your friends to help you.

4. Get ahead in your studies

Whenever you can, try to get ahead in your studies. Then, when you’ll have a busy period at work and you will have to stay late, you won’t have to rush to accomplish an assignment. This is one of the best ways to combine study and work without exhausting yourself. No more stress!

5. Study at work

If you have some free minutes at work, make sure you take advantage of it. Instead of wasting your time gossiping about your boss and his new girlfriend, focus on your study process. Write some notes or do some reading. You can also make use of your lunch hour and do some important tasks or read something. If you commute by train, it’s also a great opportunity to study.

6. Make some sacrifices for your studies

When you study and work, there is not enough time to fit in your studying, job and your favorite hobbies. So it’s okay to make some sacrifices for your studies. Sure, you need to have some leisure time, but choose the activity that really matters to you. Taking a stroll is a great idea, but partying hard all night long is something you should avoid at all costs.

More: 5 Life Skills That Will Help You Find Your Dream Job

7. Don’t take on too much

If you are studying while you work, don’t take on too much, because you won’t do anything efficiently. Focus your attention on the most important commitments. Less important things can wait a little. If you are one of those who find it difficult to refuse requests, you should learn how to say no. Remember each employee has their own tasks and responsibilities.

Combining study and job is difficult but rewarding. You will feel awesome and proud of yourself when you pass your course. Sure, you may not have enough time to party, watch TV or sleep, but it will be worth it in the end. Do you have any tips for combining study and work? Please share them in the comments. Who knows, maybe you will help someone and not even know it!

Undiagnosed Heart Condition ‘AFib’ May Be Common, Study Suggests

Continuous long-term monitoring led to diagnosis in 1 out of 3 high-risk adults

Many people at risk for atrial fibrillation probably do have the irregular heart rhythm but have not been diagnosed, a new study reports.
Nearly 1 out of 3 patients in the study had undetected atrial fibrillation that was caught only through the use of long-term cardiac monitor implants, researchers say.

Based on these results, it’s likely there’s probably a lot more undetected atrial fibrillation among seniors, said lead researcher Dr. James Reiffel. He’s a cardiologist and professor at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City.

“Continuous monitoring of such patients, as we did, can detect otherwise unsuspected AF, which can lead to treatment before complications arise,” Reiffel said. “When monitored for 18 months, almost one in three patients had AF detected, as did 40 percent by 30 months.”

Atrial fibrillation involves irregular quivering in the upper chambers of the heart, which are called the atria. AFib doubles the risk of heart-related death and increases your risk of stroke fivefold, according to the American Heart Association.

Blood tends to pool and clot in the atria during this irregular heart rhythm, which can lead to a stroke if a clot breaks off and lodges in an artery feeding the brain.

Patients with AFib are often prescribed blood thinners to reduce their stroke risk.

To see whether long-term monitoring can help detect the heart rhythm irregularity, Reiffel and his colleagues recruited 385 people who did not seem to have atrial fibrillation but did have health problems associated with the heart condition.

About 90 percent of the participants had symptoms related to atrial fibrillation, such as fatigue, breathing problems or heart palpitations. Many were 75 or older with other risks, such as heart failure, high blood pressure, diabetes, prior stroke, coronary artery disease, failing kidneys, sleep apnea, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

All were fitted with an insertable cardiac monitor, a tiny device implanted just beneath the skin of the chest. The monitor — about the size of a AAA battery –continuously records heart activity, and regularly uploads its data for review by cardiologists.

“These are so small I don’t like to use the word implanted,” said Dr. Kenneth Ellenbogen, chair of cardiology for the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Pauley Heart Center. “They’re actually injected under the skin.”

The monitors were provided by device maker Medtronic, which sponsored this study.

Patients underwent monitoring for 18 to 30 months. Researchers found the odds of detecting undiagnosed AFib increased the longer people carried around the implants. By 30 months, it had been detected in two out of five patients.

Doctors prescribed blood thinners to 72 patients because of episodes of atrial fibrillation that lasted six or more minutes, which increase stroke risk, researchers noted.

However, only 13 patients had AFib episodes that lasted more than 24 hours. That duration “appears to be associated with a substantial increase in the absolute risk of stroke,” Dr. Jeff Healey wrote in an editorial. He’s a professor of cardiology at McMaster University in Ontario. Both study and editorial were published Aug. 26 in JAMA Cardiology.

Dr. Samuel Asirvatham is a professor of in the division of cardiovascular diseases at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

“Reiffel and colleagues have now reported important information that clearly demonstrates a very high incidence of atrial fibrillation in this high-risk population, and the incidence and prevalence of atrial fibrillation will likely be even higher with longer-term monitoring,” he said.

Asirvatham added the findings suggest a need for a large study to determine if all patients with stroke of unknown origin should receive blood thinners in the way they would if atrial fibrillation had been recognized.

Reiffel said cardiologists should give strong consideration to using these cardiac monitors, which appear to be much more effective than other forms of intermittent heart monitoring.

“Implantation and follow-up with monitoring devices such as the one we are now using has an incredibly low complication rate and high patient acceptance,” Reiffel said.

However, Ellenbogen noted that no studies have yet been conducted to determine what the best course of treatment might be for these patients.

“It would be premature to implant these in patients who have never had a stroke or who never had symptoms of AFib to look for AFib, because we don’t know what to do if we find it,” said Ellenbogen, a heart association expert. “The bottom line is we have to be doing studies to figure out what to do with these patients.”

The Medtronic devices used for the study cost less than $6,000, comparable to other implantable cardiac monitors, company officials said.

The study was also presented at the European Society of Cardiology’s annual meeting, in Barcelona, Spain.

Many People Can’t Spot a Faked Photo, Study Finds

Participants only did slightly better than chance when identifying altered images

July 18, 2017
TUESDAY, July 18, 2017 (HealthDay News) — In an era when the phrase “fake news” is on many lips, a new study suggests that people are terrible at detecting whether photos have been manipulated to misrepresent reality.

“Our findings suggest that people have an extremely limited ability to distinguish between real and fake images,” said study lead author Sophie Nightingale. She’s a graduate student at the University of Warwick in England.

“In fact, people perform close to chance when asked if a photo has been manipulated. This suggests that we can be easily fooled by fraudulent online news,” Nightingale said.

Photo manipulation is hardly new. Photographers and others have faked photos since the early days of photography. For example, fraudulent photos of ghosts and fairies became a fad in the late 19th century.

But computer digital technology has taken photo manipulation to a higher level.

“It’s never been easier to create a fake photo,” Nightingale said. “With the prevalence of manipulated images, computer scientists have worked hard to pioneer the field of digital image forensics, creating numerous computer programs to help detect fakes. But surprisingly, very little is known about people’s ability detect manipulations.”

For the new study, researchers showed 10 separate photos — five real and five manipulated — to more than 700 participants online. The participants were mostly male and their average age was 26.

The manipulated images each were faked in a different way, such as airbrushing, creating shadows that don’t fit with the scene, or creating unlikely objects.

The participants, who never saw the same image more than once, were asked questions about whether the images were faked and, if so, how they thought they were manipulated.

The participants correctly identified faked images an average of 60 percent of the time, not much over chance — 50 percent. But the participants who spotted faked images could only identify the area of the photo where something was wrong an average of 45 percent of the time.

“In other words, they couldn’t necessarily work out where or how the photo had been altered,” Nightingale said.

The researchers didn’t find any evidence that either gender did a better job of spotting faked photos or that it mattered if people were interested in photography.

“We didn’t find any strong evidence to suggest that certain people are better than others at detecting manipulated images,” Nightingale said. “It seems that we are all potentially susceptible to falling for fake images.”

Is it possible that people would be even worse at detecting fake photos if they weren’t thinking about the idea, such as when they’re reading a news story?

“We don’t have data on this but that’s certainly a possibility,” Nightingale said.

Hany Farid, a professor of computer science at Dartmouth College who studies photo manipulation, said evolution may explain why we’re not very good at detecting photo fakery.

“Our visual system evolved to reason about our 3-D surroundings — something that we generally do very well,” he said.

“On an evolutionary time scale, our visual system has had far less experience with, or need to, reason about 2-D images on a printed page or display. As a result, we simply have not learned how to properly reason about the simplest properties in an image such as lighting, shadows, reflections and perspective,” Farid said.

Fake news, of course, doesn’t need to be accompanied by photos to spread. However, “the internet is filled with hoaxes and conspiracies fueled by images and videos,” Farid said.

“Our inability to accurately reason about the validity of digital content certainly adds to the growing problem. This problem is only exaggerated by preconceived notions of wanting to believe stories that reinforce our world view,” he added.

The study appears in the July issue of Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications.