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Possible Blood Test For MS

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          HEALTH TIPS - Wednesday, February 28, 2007
               "News That Keeps You Healthy"

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Question of the Week



Using funny movies to gauge the effect of emotions on 
cardiovascular health, researchers have found laughter 
can promote blood vessel health. The scientists at the 
University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore 
note laughter appears to cause the tissue that forms the 
inner lining of blood vessels, the endothelium, to dilate 
or expand to increase blood flow. When the same group of 
volunteers was shown a movie that produced mental stress, 
their blood vessel lining developed a potentially 
unhealthy response called vasoconstriction, reducing blood 
flow. That finding confirms previous studies, which sug-
gested a link between mental stress and the narrowing of 
blood vessels. 

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                   SOME BRAIN INJURY FACTS

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, and the Veterans 
Administration notes such injuries affect some 1.5 million 
Americans annually. Each year, 80,000 people die of traumatic 
brain injury. Specialists say any injury to the head, be it 
mild, moderate or severe, can result in a TBI, which can 
disrupt the normal function of the brain. Symptoms include 
headache, dizziness, balance problems, lack of energy, 
nausea, increased sensitivity to lights and/or sounds, 
blurred vision or eyes that tire easily, loss of sense of 
smell or taste, ringing in the ears and sleep disturbance. 
Cognitive symptoms may include short-term memory deficits, 
confusion, poor concentration, difficulty making simple 
decisions and slow thinking, speaking, acting or reading. 
Behavioral symptoms include increased irritability, sad mood, 
lack of motivation and increased anxiety. VA studies show 
anyone with a brain injury can benefit from rehabilitation 
services, researchers say.

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                  POSSIBLE BLOOD TEST FOR MS

The finding of at least three biomarkers for multiple scler-
osis could lead to a simple blood test to diagnose the 
disease, scientists say. The researchers from Wake Forest 
University Baptist Medical Center studied relapsing-remitting 
MS, the most common form, characterized by attacks inter-
spersed with stable periods. Their findings, reported in the 
Journal of Molecular Neuroscience, suggest a future blood 
test might identify the earliest changes that mark MS, says 
lead researcher Dr. Jagannadha Avasarala. Currently, 
diagnosis -- through patient history, physical examination, 
the costly magnetic resonance imaging and laboratory testing, 
such as lumbar puncture -- is difficult to reach conclusively 
in some patients, Avasarala says.

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