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Health Highlights: Nov. 4, 2008

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:

HIV Vaccine May Have Increased Infection Risk: Report

Clinical trials of a seemingly promising HIV vaccine were halted in 2007 because the vaccine may actually have increased the risk of infection, according to a study by researchers at the Montpellier Institute of Molecular Genetics in France.

The problem with Merck & Co.'s HIV-1 vaccine was discovered during second stage trials, Agence France Presse reported. The vaccine used a modified form of the common Adenovirus 5 (Ad5) cold virus to carry elements of HIV, which were meant to trigger the immune system to fight off HIV infection.

However, more of the vaccine recipients who had prior immunity to the Ad5 virus were infected than clinical trial participants who didn't receive the vaccine. It's possible the presence of long-lasting antibodies generated to fight Ad5 when people caught a cold altered the body's response to the HIV-1 vaccine, the French researchers said, AFP reported.

They noted that HIV infection spread through cell cultures three times faster when Ad5 antibodies were present. The study was published online in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.


New Guidelines for Common Inner Ear Problem

New guidelines for treating patients with the common inner ear ailment benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) have been issued by the American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery.

BPPV, which causes feelings of dizziness, vertigo and nausea, can be brought on be abrupt changes in movement. It usually affects people over age 50, but can affect younger people, United Press International reported.

The new guidelines recommend that:

  • Doctors should diagnose posterior semicircular canal BPPV with an office-based diagnostic test.
  • Patients should be tested for a second type of BPPV when initial testing is not conclusive.
  • Doctors should differentiate BPPV from other causes of imbalance, dizziness and vertigo, and should question patients with BPPV for factors that modify management including impaired mobility or balance.

The guidelines appear as a supplement to the November issue of the journal Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery.


Short Bursts of Exercise Seen as Effective as Endurance Activities

Multiple short bursts of exercise may be as beneficial as endurance activities such as jogging or cycling, suggests a study by researchers at the University of Glamorgan in Wales.

"Six 30-second sprints three times a week can have the same health and weight-loss benefits as jogging or cycling for up to 45 minutes several times a week," said study co-author Professor Julien Baker, BBC News reported.

And people may be more likely to exercise using a program that features sprints because it's more practical in terms of time, Baker noted.

"For children who are overweight or obese, it may be better to put them on an intermittent program of high-intensity exercise for a short period," he said, BBC News reported.

"This type of activity may also be used as a defense for cardiovascular disease, and research carried out in the laboratory has shown significant reductions in post-exercise blood pressure," Baker added. "These findings indicate that intermittent exercise may provide similar benefits as prolonged moderate exercise in the treatment for hypertension."


Too Much High-Fat Dairy and Eggs Increase Heart Risk

People who consume plenty of high-fat dairy products and eggs are more likely to suffer heart failure than those who eat a diet high in whole grains, according to a 13-year study by U.S. researchers.

They followed 14,153 white and black adults, ages 45 to 64, in four communities and looked at their intake of seven food categories: whole grains; fruits/vegetables; fish; nuts; red meat; egg; and high-fat dairy, United Press International reported.

During the study period, there were 1,140 hospitalizations for heart failure among the participants. After the researchers adjusted for variables such as lifestyle factors, demographics, existing high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, they concluded that the risk of heart failure was lower among those with greater whole grain intake than those who consumed more eggs and high-fat dairy products.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

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Posted: November 2008