Tuesday 18 September 2012

Meta-Analysis Finds No CV Benefit of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

September 13, 2012 (Ioannina, Greece) — A new meta-analysis looking at the effects of omega-3 fatty acids in patients at high risk for cardiovascular events has shown that the supplements have no effect on hard clinical outcomes, including all-cause mortality, cardiac death, sudden death, MI, or stroke. There was a trend toward benefit in the prevention of sudden death, but the reduction failed to reach statistical significance, a finding the researchers believe refutes any supposed antiarrhythmic-mediated effect of omega-3 fatty acids.
"The meta-analysis, taking into account the recent and previously published trials, showed that omega-3 fatty acids did not significantly reduce the incidence of cardiovascular events," senior investigator Dr Moses Elisaf (University Hospital of Ioannina, Greece) told heartwire. "However, there was a trend toward benefit in terms of sudden death, about a 13% reduction, and myocardial infarction, about a 10% reduction, but the decrease was not statistically significant. So, we can conclude from this meta-analysis and other recently published trials that the effect of omega-3 fatty-acid supplementation in high-risk patients is rather low. They are without side effects, but without significant efficacy."
The study is published in the September 12, 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association

Acupuncture Superior to Placebo, Usual Care for Chronic Pain

September 10, 2012 — Acupuncture is superior to both sham acupuncture and standard care for the treatment of different types of chronic pain, suggesting that the effects of acupuncture are more than just placebo effect, a new meta-analysis shows.
The analysis found that about 50% of patients who got acupuncture had improvement in pain compared with 30% who didn't get acupuncture and 42.5% who had sham acupuncture.
"In other words, 20% of patients were feeling better because they had acupuncture; about one third of those would only feel better if the right needles were put in the right points to the right depth, and two thirds of them would feel better getting any kind of acupuncture," lead study author Andrew J. Vickers, DPhil, attending research methodologist, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York, told Medscape Medical News.
Dr. Andrew J. Vickers
So in contrast to other interventions, for which the placebo effect is typically about one third of the effect of the treatment, "in acupuncture, it looks like it's two thirds," said Dr. Vickers. "That's quite a large benefit and that's what the patient will actually experience in real clinical practice," where the decision is not whether to have true or sham acupuncture but whether to get a referral for acupuncture or not.
The analysis is published online September 10 in Archives of Internal Medicine.

Saturday 8 September 2012

UK Paraplegic Woman First to Take Robotic Suit Home

By Chris Wickham

LONDON (Reuters) Sep 04 - A British woman paralyzed from the chest down by a horse riding accident has become the first person to take home a robotic exoskeleton that enables her to walk.
The exoskeleton is activated by the wearer tilting their balance to indicate the desire to take a step. It supports the body's weight and also allows the person to go up or down stairs, as well as sit or stand up independently.Although bionic exoskeletons have been used in hospitals and rehabilitation centers, Claire Lomas is the first to take the ReWalk suit home for everyday use.

Lomas earlier this year used the suit to complete the London Marathon in 17 days, raising about 200,000 pounds ($317,900) for research into spinal damage, and she was recently given the job of lighting the Paralympic cauldron in Trafalgar Square.
But she said more routine activities are equally gratifying.
"One of the best experiences was standing at a bar," she said. "To be stood up in this means everything to me."

It costs 45,000 pounds  and although clinical studies are ongoing that could back a case for health authorities to fund purchases of the device, the developers argue that savings on the treatment of ailments related to inactivity could offset the cost.Paralyzed people are prone to pressure sores and a loss of bone density, as well as problems linked to poor posture. Jasinski said estimates on the cost of treating these range from $500,000 to $3 million over a patient's life.

The company estimates that of the SIX million wheelchair users in the U.S. and Europe, around 250,000 could be suitable for using the ReWalk device.

Research into exoskeletons goes back 50 years but advances in software management systems and sensors have only recently made them practical.Argo, which is backed by Israeli venture capitalists SCP Vitalife and Israeli Healthcare Ventures, is working on a similar device for quadriplegics, as well as a brain interface that could allow more intuitive 'thought control' of the exoskeleton.
Although Jasinski says this is still years away, scientists have recently unveiled devices that can be controlled in real time by thought using advanced brain scanning.

Others are working on materials that can interact with human nerves and tissue that could eventually lead to prosthetics that are fused with the body and controlled directly by the nervous system.
In June, a team at Maastricht University in the Netherlands unveiled a device that uses functional magnetic resonance imaging, which monitors blood flow in the brain, to allow people to spell out words simply by thinking of each letter.

Another experiment reported in July saw fMRI used by a man at Bar-Ilan University in Israel to control the movements of a robot thousands of miles away at Beziers Technology Institute in France.
Lomas said that after her accident, she rejected pleas from doctors to give up on the idea of using her legs, saying that as a young, active woman before her 2007 accident, "I didn't want to have a big stomach and spindly legs."

Since the accident she has got married, had a child, and next year plans a London-to-Paris bicycle ride using a so-called Functional Electrical Stimulation bike that artificially stimulates the paralyzed rider's own muscles to propel it along.