Young Blood Results, Fitness Trackers (Abstract Science: Oct. 30 – Nov. 3)
Is young blood the answer, can your Fitbit prevent a stroke and who is to blame for heart disease?
(Fortune, 10/31/2017, Clifton Leaf)
Researchers from Fitbit presented some data at the Connected Health Conference last week that didn’t get as much attention as itshould have. Fitbit, the San Francisco wearable pioneer, presented data on an algorithm it had developed to detect a certain dangerous heart arrhythmia, called atrial fibrillation, using a technology already built into its wristband trackers: photoplethysmography, or PPG. Fitness trackers have long used PPG devices to monitor pulse rates. The tiny sensors, which consist of infrared light-emitting diodes (LEDs) coupled with a sensitive light detector, measure infinitesimal gradations in light in human tissue, due to changing blood volume in the microvasculature as blood circulates through the body—a process that follows in rhythm with the beating of the heart. And while PPG itself is actually some 80 years old , Fitbit’s team has developed an algorithm that can, if its latest findings hold true, accurately detect persistent atrial fibrillation (AFib) in a person wearing one of its wristband trackers—and, importantly, not over-detect it.
(Medical Xpress, 11/1/2017, University of Connecticut)
Most of us know that being overweight and following a poor diet, often high in saturated fats, will send us down the path toward cardiovascular disease. Yet, in recent years, rising evidence has pointed to additional factors that may unduly influence the development of atherosclerosis. Results from a new study by investigators at the University of Connecticut (UConn), suggests that the fatty molecules clogging your arteries might come not only from what you eat but from the bacteria in your mouth. For decades, doctors and researchers assumed that atherosclerotic lipids came from eating fatty, cholesterol-rich food. But the research hasn't borne this out—some people who consume large amounts of the foods we thought were the sources of the fat, such as eggs, butter, fatty fish, and meat, don't necessarily develop heart disease. The UConn team think they may have discovered the real culprit: greasy bugs called Bacteriodetes that reside in the mouth and GI tract. Under stress, the bacteria shed heavy-weight lipids that the immune system recognizes as foreign, setting off alarm bells.
(Science, 11/1/2017, Jocelyn Kaiser)
The results of a study investigating whether blood plasma taken from young people can reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease are in. Unfortunately, it seems that the technique doesn’t hold as much potential as many had hoped, yet the scientists behind the work are quick to note that the research is still in its nascent stages. Caregivers for 16 people with mild or moderate Alzheimer’s disease reported that their charges performed slightly better at daily tasks after receiving weekly injections of young plasma but the patients did no better on cognitive tests administered by researchers. All the same, the sponsor of the trial—startup company Alkahest in San Carlos, California, is “encouraged” to run more trials, says CEO Karoly Nikolich.
—Compiled by Social Media Specialist Jillian Scola