Health Life

Pollution exposure linked to stroke risk in people with common heart rhythm disorder

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People with one of the most common heart disorders who are exposed to greater levels of pollution have a 1.2-fold higher risk of stroke than their peers who live with less pollution, according to a JAMA Network Open study published recently by researchers at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The study is the largest of its kind to include neighborhood-specific pollution data—rather than simply hospitalization data—and further emphasizes the importance of air pollution alerts in advising the activities of people with certain heart conditions.

“We measured at people’s doorsteps by using geocoding and then determined their annual exposure to . This approach and the sample size make our study particularly powerful,” said Jared W. Magnani, M.D., M.Sc., UPMC cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at Pitt. “We can use this information to guide our patients by advising them to limit exposure to pollution. For example, we can notify those with atrial fibrillation to avoid being outside on days with unhealthy air quality, which may reduce their risk of stroke.”

Magnani and his colleagues followed more than 31,000 people living in Allegheny County since 2007 with (AFib), a common heart rhythm disorder affecting at least 2.7 million Americans. Using suitcase-sized air pollution monitors mounted on telephone poles, the team was able to measure the exact levels of fine particulate pollution—soot—that the participants were breathing on a daily basis. The Pittsburgh region is ranked by the American Lung Association as one of the 10 most polluted in the U.S.

The researchers found that stroke risk steadily increased with higher daily exposure to air pollution. People with AFib already are at five times the risk of stroke, so the additional risk posed by fine particulate

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Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Sanitizing: MedlinePlus

Where are germs found?

Germs are a part of everyday life. Some of them are helpful, but others are harmful and cause disease. They can be found everywhere – in our air, soil, and water. They are on our skin and in our bodies. Germs are also on the surfaces and objects that we touch.

Sometimes those germs can spread to you and make you sick. For example, there could be germs on a tv remote. You could get infected with the germs if you touch the remote and then rub your eyes or nose or eat with your hands.

How can I avoid getting germs from surfaces and objects?

To avoid becoming infected by germs from surfaces and objects, it is important to wash your hands often. But you can’t wash your hands every time you touch something. So it’s also important to regularly clean and disinfect surfaces and objects.

What is the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting?

Some people think that disinfecting is same thing as cleaning or sanitizing. But they are actually different:

  • Cleaning removes dirt, dust, crumbs, and germs from surfaces or objects. When you clean, you will likely use soap (or detergent) and water to physically clean off the surfaces and objects. This may not necessarily kill the germs. But since you removed some of them, there are fewer germs that could spread infection to you.
  • Disinfecting uses chemicals (disinfectants) to kill germs on surfaces and objects. Some common disinfectants are bleach and alcohol solutions. You usually need to leave the disinfectant on the surfaces and objects for a certain period of time to kill the germs. Disinfecting does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs.
  • Sanitizing could be done by either cleaning, disinfecting, or both. Sanitizing means that you are lowering
Health Life

Artificial intelligence detects osteoarthritis years before it develops

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Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering have created a machine-learning algorithm that can detect subtle signs of osteoarthritis—too abstract to register in the eye of a trained radiologist—on an MRI scan taken years before symptoms even begin. These results will publish this week in PNAS.

With this predictive approach, patients could one day be treated with preventative drugs rather than undergoing .

“The gold standard for diagnosing arthritis is X-ray. As the cartilage deteriorates, the space between the bones decreases,” said study co-author Kenneth Urish, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at Pitt and associate medical director of the bone and joint center at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital. “The problem is, when you see arthritis on X-rays, the damage has already been done. It’s much easier to prevent cartilage from falling apart than trying to get it to grow again.”

Right now, the primary treatment for osteoarthritis is joint replacement. And the condition is so prevalent that knee replacement is the most common surgery in the U.S. for people over age 45.

For this study, the researchers looked at knee MRIs from the Osteoarthritis Initiative, which followed thousands of people for seven years to see how osteoarthritis of the knee develops. They focused on a subset of patients who had little evidence of cartilage damage at the beginning of the study.

In retrospect, we now know which of these participants went on to develop arthritis and which didn’t, and the computer can use that information to learn subtle patterns on the MRI scans of presymptomatic people that are predictive of their future osteoarthritis risk.

“When doctors look at these images of the cartilage, there isn’t a pattern that jumps out to the