Sunday, August 24, 2008

Red grapes 'are wonder cure for high blood pressure and cholesterol'

Mail OnlineRed Grapes

Red grapes are more than just the source for the world’s
finest wine - the fruits themselves are a wonder cure against heart
attacks, according to new research.

And while a glass of wine is
a recognised part of a healthy Mediterranean-style diet, it seems the
bits of the grape thrown away to make the tipple could be even

Researchers made a cocktail extracted from the most
fibre-rich parts of the grape such as the skin and seeds which are the
waste byproduct in vineyards.

Tests on human volunteers found the
extract was extremely rich in both fibre and antioxidants which reduce
the risks of cardiovascular disease - the world’s biggest killer.

other superfoods for the heart, like the plant extract psyllium or
healthy oats for instance, are usually good for either fibre or
antioxidants rather than both together.

But the tests at Madrid
University using a concoction called Grape Antioxidant Dietary Fibre
(GADF) was high in both potentially lifesaving ingredients.

a 16 week period, adding the extract to the volunteers’ regular
diet ‘significantly’ reduced their ‘Lipid
Profile’ - the range of tests to determine a patient’s risk
of heart disease.

This included reducing blood pressure by up to
five per cent and cholesterol by up to 14 per cent among the
volunteers, said the research.

A Mediterranean-style diet
including components like red wine, olive oil and tomatoes has long
been considered healthier than other Western diets rich in deep fried
and fast food.

The research suggests the grape extract would make such a diet
up to 50 per cent even more effective in reducing the risks of heart

Cardiovascular disease is the biggest cause of death in
the Western World accounting for up to 50 per cent of all natural

The extract, if turned into a health supplement,
could be particularly useful for those who suffer from high blood
pressure or high cholesterol, said the researchers.

The results
are published in the journal Nutrition today/Wed after 34 non-smoking
adults were tested with the GADF extract over 16 weeks.

that was going on, a further nine students from the university who were
not given the extract were also monitored so they could be compared to
the first group.

Those given GADF saw ‘significantly
reduced total cholesterol’, particularly LDL, the type known as
‘bad cholesterol’ which can lead to heart problems in later

The reduction in both cholesterol and blood pressure was
much bigger than the effects caused by other high fibre products on the
market, they said.

Researcher Jara Perez Jimenez said: ‘GADF showed significant reducing effects in lipid profile and blood pressure.

effects appear to be higher than the ones caused by other dietary
fibres, such as oat fibre or psyllium, probably due to the combined
effect of dietary fibre and antioxidants.’

I limped for 10 years - but a tiny implant cured it in seconds

Mail Online

Thousands of Britons limp as a result of a dropped
foot caused by conditions such as stroke or head injuries. Brandon
Chambers, 38, a painter from Bristol, has benefited from a new implant.

He tells CAROL DAVIS about his experience, and his surgeon explains the procedure.


Brandon Chambers

Making great strides: Brandon Chambers had
difficulty walking after a brain hemorrhage, but a new implant now
allows him to walk properly

A dropped foot doesn't sound very serious, but it's
extremely debilitating - I was only 22 when I developed it in my left
foot, and since then I haven't been able to walk without enormous
effort. I had to stop constantly to rest and would often trip over,
especially when I was tired.

It started when I woke up one
Sunday with an excruciating headache; I tried to sit up but collapsed,
so my flatmate called an ambulance.

I woke up ten days
later in hospital, paralysed down the left side of my body. I was told
a blood vessel in my brain had burst and had damaged the part that
controls movement (luckily my cognitive abilities weren't affected).

months of physiotherapy, I went home - in a wheelchair. It was five
months before I could walk again, and even then, because the muscles in
the ankle were still weak, my left foot dropped so my toes trailed on
the floor.

I had to wear a brace from below the knee to the
tip of my toes to keep my foot in a semi-raised position, so I wouldn't
trip over it.

But I still had to make a real effort to lift
my leg higher than normal to clear my foot, which was very tiring. The
brace was also heavy and caused painful calluses.

At the
time, I'd been a nursing assistant in A&E, but had to give that up.
Over the next decade or so I had regular check ups, then two years ago
my consultant mentioned a new technique, functional electrical

He explained electrodes could be stuck on the
leg just above the calf bone. A sensor pad connected by wires would
also be placed in my shoe under the heel of the foot.

my heel started to rise off the ground, an electrical signal would be
sent to the leg and prompt the muscles to lift the front of the foot
before I put it down again.

The electrodes would be fired from a
control box - the size of a pack of playing cards - kept in my pocket;
the wires ran from here down the inside of my trousers.

was referred to Salisbury District Hospital. Six months later I was
given the two electrode patches. It was extraordinary to see my foot
move again after ten years.

I could feel tingling every
time the electrodes fired, and walking was so much easier. But I
developed eczema where the patches touched my skin, so it was hard to
use them for longer than a few days at a time.

Then my
physio suggested a permanent implant. The Stimustep implant was exactly
the same as the external electrodes, but would be implanted in the leg,
so it wouldn't affect my skin.

I was referred to plastic
surgeon John Hobby, who performed the operation. I had a general
anaesthetic for the one-hour operation.

The implant itself,
which is the size of a £2 coin, consists of a tiny generator
attached to two minuscule electrodes; this was put under my skin, 15cm
below my left knee.

Two weeks later, a control box was strapped to my calf, which sends a signal to fire the electrodes.

Cables linked the control box to a sensor in my shoe, and the electrodes fired when the pressure pad detected my heel lifting.

I can control the intensity the nerves are stimulated: too little and my foot won't lift - too much and I'd have an odd gait.

The control box needs charging every few days, so I plug it into the mains overnight like a mobile phone.

The implant may need replacing in 20 years or so. But I can finally walk normally again and have no problems with eczema.

I've just been on holiday with my partner Selina to Barcelona and I was able to walk for hours. It's changed my life.


Mr John Hobby is consultant plastic surgeon at Salisbury District Hospital.

He says... Around
25,000 people in Britain a year develop a dropped foot. This is because
the area of the brain that sends signals to limbs has been damaged -
through stroke, head injury or other conditions.

patients with dropped foot, the signals to lift their foot when they
take a step are either not being generated or not getting through.

their foot drags and they can trip over it. Patients with some movement
are offered physiotherapy to re-educate the body and teach them to

They can also wear a splint that keeps their foot in
a half-raised position, around 45 degrees, so their toes don't trail
and walking is easier.

As the nerve and muscle systems are
often still intact in the foot, it is still possible to signal to the
foot to lift and turn when the patient takes a step.

treated around 2,500 patients with patches - surface stimulation -
including those who've recently developed a dropped foot, and those who
may have had it for many years.

While the patches work
well, they can be difficult to apply; they have to be stuck in a
specific place - 1cm out and they don't work. They can also send an
unpleasant tingling when the electrodes fire through the skin, causing
skin irritation.

But we can now also implant a stimulator under the skin. It works the same way as the electrodes, without the skin irritation.

place the implant we make a 6cm incision, below the knee. We isolate
the common peroneal nerve, which runs down the leg and has two branches
- a deep branch that transmits the signals to lift the foot, and a
superficial branch, which mainly sends signals to turn it.

we make a small incision in the protective cover of the nerve and
attach two electrodes - one to the deep branch, the other to the
superficial branch - securing them with stitches.

electrodes are then connected, via flexible silicon leads, to the
generator bit of the implant. We check the electrodes are working
properly then close up the incision with deep stitches and dress it.

see the patient two weeks later to check the wound is healing properly.
This is when the patient is given the control box that is strapped
around the calf and connected by cables to a pressure pad in the shoe.

The patient can then adjust the stimulation intensity themselves.

I was delighted to hear that Brandon's implant works well and wish him many years of useful movement.

• The operation costs £6,400 privately, and a similar cost to the NHS.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Adjustable-continence therapy

Mail Online

Balloons placed in the bladder can cure stress incontinence

Two balloons implanted into the bladder in as little as ten minutes may be a new solution for stress incontinence.

shows that seven out of 10 women were helped by the therapy, which is
designed to increase pressure around the bladder neck.

six months, nearly 70 per cent of the women implanted with the
devices - for whom all other treatments had failed
- were dry with no leakages. Read the story online

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP)

Mail Online

'When I kept falling over, my wife said I was drunk': One man's battle with the disease that killed Dudley Moore

On a good day, Ray Nind falls five times. In the past
year, he's been rushed to hospital six times to be treated for the
resulting injuries - usually cuts to the back of his head that need

'When I first began falling, people
thought I was drunk,' says Ray, 56. 'Even my wife thought I had been
drinking. She kept asking if I'd "had a few" on the quiet, but I
honestly hadn't. I didn't know why I kept falling. Now, fortunately,
everyone who knows me is aware I fall because I'm ill.'

recently, Ray, who lives in Ilford, Essex, ran a building business,
employed more than 20 staff and drove a three-litre Jaguar. 'Now I just
watch TV all day,' he says. 'It's all I can do.'

Read his story

Beating heart surgery technique

Mail Online
Traditional heart bypass surgery is often too risky for
elderly patients, but new techniques mean such patients can now have
the life-saving operation.

Christina Hunter, 83, a widowed mother-of-two from Kirkcaldy, Scotland,
tells CHARLOTTE HARDING how this has restored her quality of life, then
her surgeon explains the procedure.