Monthly Archives: November 2010

Diabetes Treatment: How Much Insulin Do You Need?

If you have type 2 diabetes and your doctor thinks it might be a good time to start insulin therapy, there are two important factors to consider: How much insulin do you need to take? When do you need to take it? And both are very personal.

“You can’t paint everyone with type 2 diabetes with the same brush,” says Mark Feinglos, M.D., division chief of endocrinology, metabolism,\ and nutrition at the Duke University School of Medicine, in Durham, N.C. “You need to tailor the regimen to an individual’s needs.”

A person with type 2 diabetes might start off on half a unit of insulin per kilogram of body weight per day, especially if there is not much known about the nature of his or her diabetes. Still, it is not unusual to need more like one unit, says Dr. Feinglos. (One unit per kilogram would be 68 units per day for someone who weighs 150 pounds, which is about 68 kilograms.)

A lot depends on your specific health situation. People with type 2 diabetes suffer from insulin resistance, a situation in which the body loses its ability to use the hormone properly. Early in the course of the disease, the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas respond to insulin resistance by churning out even more of the hormone. Overtime, though, insulin production declines.

Taking insulin can help you overcome the body’s insulin resistance, though many factors can affect your dosage. If your body is still sensitive to insulin but the pancreas is no longer making much insulin, for example, Dr. Feinglos says that you would require less insulin than someone who is really resistant to insulin.

“But the most important issue is not necessarily how much you need to take,” he adds. “Rather, it’s the timing of what you to take. Timing is everything.”

One Shot A Day Or More?
If you wake up with high blood sugar in the morning, it’s very likely that you will need at least a once-a-day injection combined with oral drugs, says Dr. Feinglos. Oral medication can lower your insulin resistance, and a long-acting, once-a-day insulin shot (usually taken at bedtime) can mimic the low level of insulin made by the pancreas. (And the shots may not be how you picture them — painful and complicated. You can use pen-like injectors that have short, thin needles and that allow you to dial the amount of insulin you require, rather than draw it up from a vial using a syringe.)

If your blood sugar tends to spike after meals despite using medication and watching what you eat, you may have to take a dose of rapid-action insulin before every meal.

“There’s controversy over how much better you can really do with additional shots,” says John Buse, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Diabetes Care Center at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, in Chapel Hill. “I don’t see much improvement in overall glucose control in many patients with the rapid-acting insulin taken at meals. And it does promote weight gain and low blood sugar. Is the burden worth the benefit?”

Either way, a once-a-day long-acting formulation is usually the best way to start, according to Dr. Buse. A standard initial dose might be 10 units. The dosage is then increased until blood sugar levels are lowered into the normal range.

“If a person still has substantial insulin secretion left in their pancreas, one shot a day is probably more than enough to top it off,” agrees Robert Rizza, M.D., professor of medicine and executive dean of research at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn. “But if you’re really running out of insulin and can’t store it between meals, then you may need to take both the long and short-acting injections.”

Taking Insulin With Meals
If you do end up taking insulin at meals, the doctors agree that it is particularly important to match food intake with insulin, while also accounting for physical activity. (Exercise naturally lowers blood sugar, so if you’re working out, you may need to take that into account.)

“Some people recommend matching insulin to carbohydrate counts,” says Dr. Buse. “Others suggest eating a set serving of carbohydrates at each meal for a particular dose of insulin.”

Even more crucial, according to Dr. Feinglos, is moderating food intake before insulin is ever initiated. “If you’re not controlling the calories first, and just start giving insulin,” he warns, “then all a patient is going to do is gain weight and get more insulin resistant and end up needing larger doses of insulin.”

It Can Be A Vicious Cycle
“The relationship between food and exercise with medicine is so critical in diabetes,” he adds. “If you just keep pouring medicine into the problem, it doesn’t really solve it.”

Nevertheless, a patient may do everything right — eat well, work out and routinely take his or her medicine — but still require more insulin over time due to the progressive nature of the disease. Adjustments can come through higher doses, increased frequency of injections, or both.

On a positive note, with improved diet and exercise, some patients are actually able to reduce their intake, even to the point of discontinuing insulin injections altogether.

“There are multiple ways to get to the same point,” says Dr. Rizza. “The bottom line is to keep blood sugar normal.”

Thank you


Nestlé India Plans Collaboration To Help Manage Diabetes

Nestlé India has signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation (N-DOC) to develop nutrition initiatives aimed at helping to manage diabetes. The collaboration – which focuses on increasing consumers’ awareness and knowledge of their diets – will see Nestlé work with N-DOC to understand the impact of local diets and changing lifestyles on the increasing incidence of the disease in India.

Gary Tickle, Regional Business Head of Nestlé Nutrition, South Asia, said: “The Nestlé Nutrition Institute promotes science for better nutrition and N- DOC conducts culturally specific, basic and applied research in the areas of diabetes, obesity, and cholesterol disorders with the help of physicians and scientists. We see this as the beginning of a strong partnership.”

To kick off the announcement last week, a conference was organised by the Nestlé Nutrition Institute and N-DOC on ‘Nutrition Empowerment for Prevention and Management of Diabetes’ in Delhi. The conference was chaired by Professor Anoop Misra, Chairman of N-DOC, and Director and Head of the Department of Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases at the Fortis Group of Hospitals. Research presented suggested that lifestyle measures, physical exercise and good nutrition can all play a major role in managing, and in some cases even helping to prevent the disease.

Clinical nutrition with scientifically-formulated diets can help to provide balanced nutrition to people with diabetes while also delaying its possible long-term complications.

In many countries, including India, Nestlé HealthCare Nutrition already offers a range of nutritional solutions designed to help diabetic patients more effectively manage their disease and minimise its common side effects. Managing diabetes means keeping blood glucose levels in the target range, controlling blood lipids, managing weight as per guidelines and monitoring blood pressure to reduce the risk of complications.

Products formulated to assist in the dietary management of diabetes include Resource Diabetic, a complete, high-fibre diet with a flexible caloric density for oral supplementation or enteral feeding of patients with hyperglycaemia; Novasource Diabet, a complete balanced nutritional formula; and Boost Glucose Control, formulated with a unique balance of protein, fat and slow-digesting carbohydrates.

Nestlé has been using its expertise in science-based nutrition and food technology to develop products with a ‘health plus’ for everyday consumption ever since the company was established more than 140 years ago.

Retirement Reduces Fatigue, Depression

Retirement leaves people much less mentally and physically fatigued and to a smaller degree less depressed, reports UPI quoting Swedish researchers.

However, Dr. Hugo Westerlund of Stockholm University in Sweden also finds retirement does not change the risk of chronic illnesses such as respiratory disease, diabetes and heart disease.

Westerlund and colleagues say the study of 11,246 men and 2,858 women in France who were surveyed annually from 1989 to 2007 — seven years prior to retirement and seven years after retirement. Seventy-two percent retired between the ages of 53 and 57, but all retired by the age of 64.

In the year before retirement, 25 percent suffered from depressive symptoms and 7 percent were diagnosed with one or more of respiratory disease, diabetes, heart disease or stroke.

“If work is tiring for many older workers, the decrease in fatigue could simply reflect removal of the source of the problem … furthermore, retirement may allow people more time to engage in stimulating and restorative activities, such as physical exercise,” Westerlund and colleagues say in a statement.

The research results “indicate that fatigue may be an underlying reason for early exit from the labor market and decreased productivity, and redesign of work, healthcare interventions or both may enable a larger proportion of older people to work in full health.”

The findings are published in the British Medical Journal.

3G Wireless Technology Delivers Diabetes Health Care In Innovative Project

An innovative use of wireless technology will help underserved communities improve diabetes care and prevention in Tijuana. Using 3G mobile technologies, the Dulce Wireless Tijuana project helps patients in remote areas both monitor and treat their diabetic condition.

In less than four decades, diabetes has become the U.S.-Mexico border’s most prominent public health problem, affecting over 1.2 million inhabitants. A bi-national and multi-sector alliance thus chose to focus on diabetes care with 3G wireless applications and services. The resultant effort is a pilot project.  Participants will determine if this approach might work as a regional model.

The Dulce Wireless Tijuana system, announced by Qualcomm Incorporated earlier this month, combines mobile applications, web applications, mobile phones, netbooks, laptops, diabetes educational content and health care worker and patient training. Service delivery is available to diabetes patients and their caregivers wirelessly through Qualcomm’s 3G technology network.

Dulce Wireless Tijuana patients now will have access to the system and technology, including primary care diabetes services and disease management programs. The project stands as an example of how wireless technology can improve patient care for marginalized communities — not just in Mexico, but throughout the world.

Delivery of health care through wireless technology assists providers and patients in a variety of ways. It allows promotores (health care workers) the real-time ability to locate and receive confidential access to patient information, to manage patient appointments and to review training curriculum. Patients benefit because they can review diabetes information —such as instructional videos— online, participate in interactive surveys that help their providers learn how they are managing their diabetes and receive notifications from an alert system.

“This project is a significant step forward in increasing patient access to proper diabetes care in Tijuana,” said Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, chairman and chief executive officer of Qualcomm.

“The use of mobile technology has the potential to improve health outcomes, bring down costs and provide more people with access to care.”

An equally significant aspect of the project is the cooperation it engendered among a variety of public, private and nonprofit organizations across two nations. The diverse groups collaborated to empower diabetic patients to take control of their health.

The project operates from IMSS Clinic #27, the largest IMSS (Social Security) clinic in Mexico. But the project’s impact could extend far beyond the bounds of the Mexican border. Should it prove successful, this approach to the public health problem of diabetes could “scientifically prove the positive impact of this innovative solution on the public health problem of diabetes in order to provide this alternative as an effective model of care for all of Mexico and the world,” according to Pablo Contreras Rodriguez, IMSS regional delegate for Baja California.

Bringing health care to marginalized areas entails specific challenges, according to Marcela Merino, director general of Fronteras Unidas PRO SALUD, a nonprofit organization serving Tijuana communities.

“One of the greatest issues that these communities face is that —because of distance, public transportation challenges and lack of time— it is extremely difficult to visit doctors and nurses. With this project, patients are now connected to their health care providers, including promotoras, wirelessly via their mobile devices, which will enable them to obtain care they could not receive in the past and help them to live healthier lives.”

The Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute of San Diego provided background and expertise in training and developing peer educators to deliver a clear and understandable message for diabetes patients. They train peer educators south of the border helping Mexicans implement programs similar to Project Dulce activities in San Diego.

“Diabetes is exceedingly prevalent along the border region so it makes perfect sense for us, if we are going to treat the disease, to treat it in similar ways across both sides of the border,” explained Dr. Athena Philis-Tsimikas, vice president of the SWDI.

The organizations collaborating with Wireless Reach to provide technical assistance, program management, evaluation, in kind and monetary support are:

• the International Community Foundation (ICF) and its sister organization, the Fundación Internacional de la Comunidad

• Iusacell

• the Social Security Institute of Mexico (IMSS)

• the Medical School at the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC)

• the Scripps Whittier Institute (SWDI)

• Fronteras Unidas PRO SALUD

Thank you Billie Greenwood

Diabetes, Depression Can Be Two-Way Street

Diabetes and depression are conditions that can fuel each other, a new study shows.

The research, conducted at Harvard University, found that study subjects who were depressed had a much higher risk of developing diabetes, and those with diabetes had a significantly higher risk of depression, compared to healthy study participants.

“This study indicates that these two conditions can influence each other and thus become a vicious cycle,” said study co-author Dr. Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. “Thus, primary prevention of diabetes is important for prevention of depression, and vice versa.”

In the United States, about 10 percent of the population has diabetes and 6.7 percent of people over the age of 18 experience clinical depression every year, according to the researchers.

Symptoms of clinical depression include anxiety, feelings of hopelessness or guilt, sleeping or eating too much or too little, and loss of interest in life, people and activities.

Diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar and an inability to produce insulin. Symptoms include frequent urination, unusual thirst, blurred vision and numbness in the hands or feet.

About 95 percent of diabetes diagnoses are type 2, and often are precipitated by obesity.

The researchers found that the two can go hand in hand.

The study followed 55,000 female nurses for 10 years, gathering the data through questionnaires. Among the more than 7,400 nurses who became depressed, there was a 17 percent greater risk of developing diabetes. Those who were taking antidepressant medicines were at a 25 percent increased risk.

On the other hand, the more than 2,800 participants who developed diabetes were 29 percent more likely to become depressed, with those taking medications having an even higher risk that increased as treatment became more aggressive.

Tony Z. Tang, adjunct professor in the department of psychology at Northwestern University, said that participants who were taking medications for their conditions fared worse because their illnesses were more severe.

“None of these treatments are cures, unlike antibiotics for infections. So, depressed patients on antidepressants and diabetic patients on insulin still frequently suffer from their main symptoms,” said Tang. “These patients fare worse in the long run because they were much worse than the other patients to start with.”

Tang cautioned against drawing too many conclusions from the study. He noted that the correlations between diabetes and depression declined markedly when excessive weight and inactivity were controlled for in the study.

“This suggests that much of the observed correlation between depression and diabetes comes from confounding variables,” he said. “In layman’s terms, being fat and having an unhealthy lifestyle makes people more likely to be depressed, and [also] more likely to have diabetes.”

But if research establishes a strong connection between the two illnesses it could advance treatment, Tang added.

“If a substantial causal connection is established between the two disorders, it would be rather novel and it could potentially change how we understand and treat both disorders,” Tang said.

Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, said establishing causal relationships is difficult in a study based on questionnaires because self-reports can be inaccurate.

“This is not ideal,” he said. “It’s difficult to say what is causing what, if one is causing the other. This is very difficult to elucidate.”

A large, controlled, randomized study is needed, said Zonszein, who is also a professor of clinical medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in New York City.

But he praised the research, noting that tracking such as large number of subjects “over a long period of time” strengthened the findings.

Hu, also a professor of medicine at Harvard University, said the study conclusions were valid. When two conditions share the same risk factors (obesity and lack of exercise), “we can still say that the conditions are linked and one is both the cause and consequence of the other condition,” he explained.

Depression can affect blood sugar levels and insulin metabolism through increased cortisol, contributing to unhealthy eating habits, weight gain and diabetes, he said.

“On the other hand, management of diabetes can cause chronic stress and strain, which in the long run, may increase risk of depression,” said Hu. The two “are linked not only behaviorally, but biologically.”

Thank you Ellin Hollohan/HealthDay



‘Poverty A Leading Cause of Type 2 Diabetes’

For years, we have heard that obesity, a lack of physical activity and a family history are the top risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes.

But new Canadian research says that, in fact, it is living in poverty that can double or even triple the likelihood of developing the disease.

“What we know about Type 2 diabetes is not only are low-income and poor people more likely to get it, but they’re also the ones that, once they get it, are much more likely to suffer complications,” Prof. Dennis Raphael, one of the researchers, told in a telephone interview.

“And the complications from Type 2 diabetes when they’re bad are really bad, whether it’s amputations, or blindness, or cardiovascular disease.”

Researchers from York University analyzed two sets of data: the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) and the National Population Health Survey (NPHS) for a study published in the journal Health Policy.

The first set of data showed that for men, being in the lowest-income category (earning less than $15,000 per year), doubles the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes compared to being in one of the highest-income brackets (earning more than $80,000 per year). The risk remains the same when other risk factors are taken into account, such as education, body mass index and physical activity levels.

The findings are even more striking for women in the lowest-income category. For them, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is more than triple the risk of women in the highest-income category. When education, body mass index and physical activity levels are taken into account, the risk is still well more than double.

Results from the NPHS analysis are just as striking. Researchers found that living in poverty in the two years prior to diagnosis increased the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 24 per cent, a risk not changed when factoring in weight or physical activity. Living in poverty at any time increased the risk by 26 per cent.

Generally speaking, subjects who lived more often in poverty during the 12-year study period had a 41 per cent greater chance of developing the disease. When obesity and physical activity levels were taken into account, the risk remained very high, at 36 per cent.

The studies are consistent with other findings that link living conditions — what they call the social determinants of health – with Type 2 diabetes, as well as other ailments.

Raphael, a professor of health policy and management at York, said conventional wisdom about Type 2 diabetes would suggest that once obesity, lack of physical activity and other lifestyle risk factors were taken into account, diabetes incidence rates would even out between lower- and higher-income groups.

While weight, a sedentary lifestyle and other health problems are still key risk factors, the findings suggest that health-care workers who specialize in diabetes should be paying closer attention to the socio-economic conditions that can lead to them.

“When you’re in a situation where 15 per cent of kids and their families are living in poverty, and people are worried from day-to-day about their jobs and homelessness, and immigrants are not being provided with what they need to be healthy, and the evidence that suggests these are all things that contribute to the onset of Type 2 diabetes, there has to be more of a balance in how we understand the causes of illness,” Raphael said.

But what is it exactly about living in poverty that contributes to type 2 diabetes?

The studies point to living conditions that put low-income adults and children at risk for myriad diseases, not just diabetes. First of all, there is the chronic stress of low-income living that can adversely affect health. The strain of being short on money and living in inadequate housing, or not having any housing at all, can spike levels of cortisol, a hormone released when the body is under stress. While cortisol helps the body deal with stress, constantly elevated levels can cause a wide range of negative side effects, such as high blood sugar levels or high blood pressure.

Residents of lower-income neighbourhoods also often find it difficult to access fresh, healthy foods and programs that promote physical activity, both of which are key to managing stress, controlling weight and, therefore, preventing disease.

Raphael also points to previous research, which suggests adverse circumstances in early childhood, from low birth weight to deprivation as a youngster, raise a child’s risk of developing a number of conditions, from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases to diabetes.

Indeed, a report released this week from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that children who have ever lived in poverty have significantly poorer health outcomes than children who have never experienced poverty, ranging from developmental delays and psychological problems to higher rates of asthma and more frequent hospitalizations.

“So we’re basically talking about systematic stress over time, lack of control that eventually leads to higher cortisol levels, among other things. Cortisol and other stuff literally messes up the ability of the body to use the insulin that’s available. And it’s not well understood,” Raphael said.

Poor more likely to suffer complications

For another part of their study, the researchers interviewed 60 diabetes patients who reside in low-income Toronto neighbourhoods. What they learned is that the very conditions that contribute to diabetes also make it extremely difficult to manage the disease, meaning low-income patients are suffering from some of the most debilitating side effects.

Raphael and his team found that insufficient income, inadequate or insecure housing and food insecurity were key barriers to managing the disease. According to their interviews, 72 per cent of patients said they lacked the financial resources to follow the kind of diet needed to keep their diabetes in check.

Many said they had to choose between paying rent or feeding their children and managing their disease.

Michelle Westin, a community health worker with the diabetes education program of the Black Creek Community Health Centre, which services a low-income northwest Toronto neighbourhood, says she sees a number of barriers among her clients to successfully managing their diabetes.

Westin cites language as a barrier of particular concern for recent immigrants, who end up having trouble navigating the health-care system, understanding information or directions from their doctors, and communicating their needs.

Other barriers include:

  • High costs of medical equipment, such as blood-sugar test strips. If patients don’t have private health insurance, they are paying for many of these supplies out-of-pocket.
  • Lack of access to healthy foods, and free and safe physical activity programs.
  • Stress and isolation, especially for lower-income seniors, which causes blood-sugar levels to spike.

Westin said experts need to advocate for more affordable food, better access to medications and supplies, and more community services to assist lower-income people prevent and treat diabetes.

Raphael said his team’s findings show that tackling broader issues of poverty — lack of employment or under employment, housing, food security and health coverage — are key to managing diabetes, and other ailments.

“The primary thing is basically for the government, with other sectors of society, to manage the economy in the service of all,” he said.

Thank you Andrea Janus/ News

Sleep Apnea Linked To Diabetes

Sleep — it’s more important than you think. Healthy sleep has numerous benefits, while sleep disorders have been linked to everything from drowsy driving to diabetes.

Research has shown that as many as 80 percent of white males with Type 2 diabetes also have sleep apnea, which can be a serious disorder. Although Type 2 diabetes puts people at higher risk for heart disease and stroke, adding sleep apnea on top of it multiplies that risk even more.

We are just now discovering how crucial sleep is to our health and well-being. Accor ding to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, sleep helps us improve learning, memory and mood, while lack of sleep causes slower thinking, confusion and difficulty focusing.

Lack of sleep also can lead to depression, increased risk-taking, poor decision-making and slower reaction time. In many ways, not getting enough sleep is dangerous.

Sleep is crucial for a healthy heart. Overall during sleep, blood pressure and heart rate decrease by about 10 percent. Poor sleep can prevent this lowering of blood pressure and lead to an increased rate of strokes, chest pain, irregular heartbeat and even heart attacks.

A lack of sleep also increases the release of stress hormones in the body, which raises blood glucose levels and further exacerbates the risk for heart disease.

Sleep involves several phases. Each phase has an important role in the typical functioning of the human body, and poor sleep can cause people to miss parts of or complete phases of sleep.

As we age, the number of hours we spend sleeping gradually decreases. Adults need as much as eight hours of sleep per night. In addition to quantity of sleep, we need good quality sleep.

Several factors can affect quality and quantity of sleep: caffeine, certain pain relievers and decongestants, nicotine, alcohol, large meals or exercise right before bed, sleep environment and certain prescription medications. Some psychological disorders (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder) also can disrupt sleep.

Sleep disorders greatly decrease the quantity and quality of sleep. People who have sleep apnea actually stop breathing for a period of time — again and again — during the night. Risks for sleep apnea include:

■ Throat muscles and tongue that relax more than usual during sleep

■ Enlarged tonsils and adenoids

■ Being overweight or obese

■ Having a smaller airway created by the shape of your head/neck

■ Congestion from allergies

■ Family history

People with mild sleep apnea sometimes can reduce symptoms by sleeping on their side instead of on their back. Avoiding alcohol, smoking, sleeping pills, herbal supplements and any other medications that cause sleepiness also may help. Some individuals can manage sleep apnea with weight loss.

Moderate or severe sleep apnea may be treated with continuous positive airway pressure, which keeps the airway open while you sleep.

The NHLBI lists these common signs of a sleep disorder:

■ It takes you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep at night

■ You awaken frequently at night and have trouble falling back to sleep

■ You awaken too early in the morning

■ You frequently don’t feel well-rested despite sleeping for at least seven or eight hours

■ You feel sleepy during the day and nap easily

■ You snore loudly, snort, gasp, or make choking sounds while you sleep

■ You have tingling, “crawling” feelings in your legs, especially at night when you are trying to fall asleep

■ Your legs or arms jerk often during sleep

■ You need to use stimulants to stay awake during the day

If you think you might have a sleep disorder, contact your health care provider. Keep track of your sleeping habits, levels of energy/fatigue and what others tell you about your snoring or breathing and then share your “sleep journal” with your provider.

You may be referred for a sleep study to find out if you have a sleep disorder. Bill Moore, director of Respiratory Care Services and the Sleep Study Center at Yampa Valley Medical Center, recommends that studies be performed at the same altitude where you live.

Taking steps to diagnose and treat sleep disorders can give you a longer, healthier life. That’s something to dream about.

Thank you Jane K. Dickinson/Steamboat Today


Treating High Blood Pressure With Radio Waves

Researchers at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne will this week publish the results of a world-first trial of a new minimally invasive procedure for the treatment of difficult-to-treat high blood pressure by using radio waves.

In the first international randomized controlled trial of the technology, sympathetic nerves leading into and out of the kidneys were silenced using radio frequency energy emitted by a catheter device inserted into the renal arteries through the groin.

The Symplicity Catheter System – the device used to perform renal denervation – has now received TGA approval in Australia and it is anticipated that it will be available for routine clinical application within the next 12 months.

Known as ‘renal denervation’, this minimally invasive day procedure has been proven to be extremely effective in reducing blood pressure in patients with uncontrolled blood pressure – that is, blood pressure that is not responsive to medication.

Research has shown that each incremental 20/10 mmHg increase of blood pressure above normal levels is associated with a doubling of cardiovascular mortality over a 10 year period and that reducing systolic blood pressure by as little as 5 mmHg can reduce the risk of stroke by almost 30 per cent.

Professor Murray Esler, Associate Director, Cardiovascular Neurosciences at Baker IDI was the Chief Investigator for the international trial which involved 106 randomized patients in Europe and Australia across 24 separate sites.

In a presentation to the American Heart Association this week, Professor Esler will discuss the results of the trial. The key finding, which will be published simultaneously in The Lancet, was that the procedure resulted in an average blood pressure reduction of 33/11mmHg when compared to the control group that did not undergo the procedure.

The procedure is highly effective with 84 per cent of patients who underwent renal denervation experiencing a reduction in systolic blood pressure by more than 10 mmHg. The study also found that the therapy was safe, with no serious device or procedure-related events, no cardiovascular complications and no kidney-related complications.

Hypertension is the biggest killer worldwide with around 7.1 million deaths per year directly attributed to uncontrolled blood pressure. In Australia, between 25 to 30 per cent of the adult population is affected by high blood pressure and about half of those patients’ blood pressure is not controlled to target through medication.

Commenting on the trial, Professor Esler said; “Combined with findings from the earlier Symplicity HTN-1 study, which demonstrated the safety and durability of the therapy out to two years, these results, show that this procedure has the potential to become a truly revolutionary treatment with the scope to significantly impact the standard of care for the large number of patients suffering from uncontrolled blood pressure.”

Principle investigator Professor Markus Schlaich of Baker IDI said; “Hypertension often has no symptoms yet significantly increases a patient’s risk of heart attack, stroke or death.

“We know the renal sympathetic nerves play a crucial role in blood pressure elevation and this study proves they can be specifically targeted with our novel approach. Renal denervation is a safe, quick and minimally invasive procedure that leads to a substantial and sustained blood pressure reduction without major side effects. ”

In addition to hypertension, the therapy may hold promise for treating heart failure, diabetes and chronic kidney disease, conditions also characterised by elevated sympathetic nerve activity.

About the Symplicity Catheter System
The Symplicity Catheter System is used to perform a procedure termed renal denervation (RDN). In a straightforward endovascular procedure, similar to an angioplasty, the physician inserts the small, flexible Symplicity Catheter into the femoral artery in the upper thigh and threads it into the renal artery. Once in place within the renal artery, the device delivers low-power RF energy to deactivate the surrounding renal sympathetic nerves. This, in turn, reduces hyper-activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which is often the cause of chronic hypertension. The one-time procedure aims to permanently reduce blood pressure. RDN may also allow patients to reduce or eliminate the need for lifelong antihypertensive medications.

For more information, visit

SOURCE: Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute

Groundbreaking Pancreas Transplant by Robot to Help Diabetics

The first pancreas transplant using robots has been performed in Italy. A 43-year-old mother-of-two had the three-hour procedure in Pisa Hospital, suffering no complications from the operation, with the new organ being accepted completely. The woman has suffered from type 1 diabetes since she was 24, and already received a kidney transplant . The pioneering procedure used the Da Vinci SHDI robot, which assisted in the removal of the woman’s pancreas and inserted a new one just by making just three small holes and an incision that was only seven centimetres long. The robot, designed in the Robotic Surgery centre in Pisa, is large and has several arms. It is hoped that the transplant will allow new treatments for diabetes patients, as it is a far less invasive approach than traditional surgery . Up until now, transplants of the pancreas have been extremely invasive due to the vascular structure of the organ and the fragile state of diabetes patients, as half of these cases develop post-operative problems. Ugo Boggi, who was lead surgeon for the operation, said the procedure “ends a diatribe that lasted for decades on the advisability of transplanting pancreases because of the hugely invasive nature of traditional techniques and the massive incidence of post-op complications.”

Saxagliptin/Metformin Combo Pill Approved By FDA

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US has given approval for a combination pill featuring saxagliptin and extended-release (XR) metformin HCl to treat glycemic control in adults suffering from type 2 diabetes mellitus.

The combined pill, which is taken once a day, provides an alternative treatment for those nearly half of adult diabetes patients who are unable to control blood sugar levels . The approval was based on findings from two double-blind, 24-week, phase 3 clinical trials of saxagliptin and metformin immediate-release (IR), which were given as separate tablets, and compared with metformin IR alone.

Howard Hutchinson, chief medical officer at AstraZeneca, who developed the treatment, commented “Patients with type 2 diabetes in the United States can be taking four or five medications for various diseases and conditions, which can lead to complicated medication schedules. Kombiglyze XR combines two effective diabetes medications in a simple once-a-day dose for adult patients who need A1c reductions.”

The combination incorporates the complimentary mechanisms of saxagliptin, which is a dipeptidyl peptidase 4 inhibitor, with metformin, a biguanide . The therapy fights against the main defects in type 2 diabetes by increasing insulin secretion in a glucose-dependent manner, suppressing hepatic gluconeogenesis, and also helping insulin sensitivity.

As type 2 diabetes is a chronic, progressive disease with many factors involved in its development, patients often need more than one pill to treat the multiple defects associated with the disease.

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