Amino acid improves heart function, says new study

Strasbourg: The dietary supplement, L-arginine, has been shown to improve heart health ina new study fromthe Institut de Physiologie in France.

L-arginine, is an amino acid and a precursor of nitric oxide, which supports the arteries. Dysfunction of this pathway reduces blood flow and limits physical activity.

The researchers gave L-arginine to six patients with chronic heart failure for a period of six weeks. The patients were subjected to endurance exercise tests. It was found that those taking the amino acid had a significant decrease in their average heart rate. But their blood pressure and respiratory parameters remained unchanged.

Worldwide increase in kidney disease

London: Chronic kidney disease is rising rapidly worldwide and is becoming a global healthcare problem, warn experts in this week’s British Medical Journal.

In the United Kingdom, the annual incidence of end stage renal disease is around 100 per 1,000,000 population. This figure has doubled over the past decade and is expected to continue to rise by 5-8% annually, but it still remains well below the European average (around 135/1,000,000) and that of the United States (336/1,000,000).

The rise in end stage renal disease worldwide probably reflects the global epidemic of type 2 diabetes and the ageing of the populations in developed countries (the annual incidence in people over 65 in the UK is greater than 350/1,000,000, and in the US it is greater than 1,200/1,000,000).

The number of people with diabetes worldwide, currently around 154 million, is also set to double within the next 20 years, and the increase will be most notable in the developing world, where the number of patients with diabetes is due to reach 286 million by 2025.

The cost of treating end stage renal disease is substantial and poses a great challenge to provision of care. In Europe, less than 0.1% of the population needs renal replacement therapy, which accounts for 2% of the healthcare budget. In the US, the annual cost of treatment for end stage renal disease is expected to reach $29 billion by 2010. Few countries will be able to meet these growing medical and financial demands.

More than 100 developing countries, with a population in excess of 600 million, do not have any provision for renal replacement therapy. Consequently, more than a million people may die every year worldwide from end stage renal disease.

Programmes to detect chronic kidney disease, linked to comprehensive primary and secondary prevention strategies, are needed urgently, say the authors.

Mass population screening for chronic kidney disease is neither practical nor likely to be successful or cost effective. But structured and well resourced programs targeting at risk individuals, such as those suffering from diabetes and hypertension, along with primary prevention programmes based on reducing risk factors across the whole population could make a big difference.

The authors believe that such an approach to risk reduction may slow or even reverse declining renal function.

Too much red meat may cause rheumatoid arthritis, say researchers

London: Eating lots of red meat increases the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, say researchers at Manchester University. And smoking increases the risk of chronic ageing diseases.

Epidermiologists from the university researched 25,000 people aged between 45 and 75. They compared the diets of the 88 diagnosed with rhumatoid arthritis, the condition causes membranes lining the joints to become inflamed, leading to pain and swelling, with those in a control group of 175 others. The findings are published in the Arthritis and Rheumatism journal.

They discoverd that those who ate large mounts of red meat and who smoked were more likely to have inflammatory arthritis.

Only 35 per cent of those who suffered from arthritis had never smoked, compared with 85 per cent of the control group.

The researchers concluded that the eating of red meat would likely only affect those predisposed to the condition.

‘It may be that the high collagen content of meat leads to collagen sensitisation and consequent production of anticollagen antibodies, most likely in a subgroup of susceptible individuals,’ the team said.

‘Meat consumption may be linked to either additives or even infectious agents, but again there is no evidence as to what might be important in relation to rheumatoid arthritis.’

Experts said last night that while people who eat large quantities of red meat should consider cutting down, they should not panic.

A spokesman for the Arthritis Research Campaign, which funded the study, said: ‘This provides further evidence that environmental factors can help to trigger rheumatoid arthritis.

‘In the light of this new evidence, we would suggest that, as part of a healthy lifestyle, people should cut down the amount of red meat they eat.’

But he added: ‘We wouldn’t want people to think that if they eat four burgers a week they are going to develop rheumatoid arthritis the following week, because there are other risk factors that come into play – genetic susceptibility, smoking and low intake of Vitamin C.

‘Red meat in itself is not dangerous to health, but should be eaten in moderation as part of a balanced, healthy diet.’