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A summary of the latest clinical research in the news. This issue covers studies on cardiovascular disease, fibromyalgia, depression, and breast cancer.


Hand-Grip Strength as a Predictor of Cardiovascular Disease

A study published in the Lancet has investigated hand-grip strength as a potential prognostic marker for risk of cardiovascular disease. The study population consisted of 139 691 participants from 17 countries with varied income and cultures. Grip strength of participants aged between 35-70 years was assessed using a Jamar dynamometer. The Jamar dynamometer measures the maximum isometric strength of the hand and forearm muscles. After 4 years of follow up the study found that a weaker grip strength was associated with increased risk of death from all causes, death from cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke. These associations were found to occur at similar rates independent of country or income status. The researchers found grip strength to be a better predictor of death than systolic blood pressure. This relatively simple and inexpensive measurement could prove valuable as a prognostic marker for cardiovascular disease.

Leong, DP, Teo, KK, Rangarajan, S, Lopez-Jaramillo, P, Avezum, A, Orlandini, A, Seron, P, Ahmed, SH, Rosengren, A, Kelishadi, R, Rahman, O, Swaminathan, S, Iqbal R, Gupta, R, Lear, SA, Oguz, A, Yusoff, K, Zatonska, K, Chifamba, J, Igumbor, E, Mohan, V, Anjana, RM, Gu, H, Li, W, Yusuf, S on behalf of the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) Study investigators “Prognostic value of grip strength: findings from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study” The Lancet, Published Online: 13 May 2015.


Finding a Fingerprint for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose, as symptoms may be common among several disorders, and fibromyalgia itself is often heterogeneous in nature. Because of this, researchers from Valencia, Spain, have performed genome-wide expression profiling of miRNAs to determine whether a specific pattern is associated with fibromyalgia. The researchers used gene microarrays to assess gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of patients with fibromyalgia. They noted a significant reduction in several miRNAs. They suggest that five specific miRNAs (hsa-miR223-3p, hsa-miR451a, hsa-miR338-3p, hsa-miR143-3p and hsa-miR145-5p) are reduced in fibromyalgia patients, which could potentially be used for future diagnosis of the disease, in addition to fueling future research that will increase the understanding of the mechanisms underlying this condition.

Cerdá-Olmedo G, Mena-Durán AV, Monsalve V, Oltra E. “Identification of a MicroRNA Signature for the Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.” PLoS One. 2015 Mar 24;10(3):e0121903. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0121903. eCollection 2015.


Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy for Depression

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) has been investigated as an alternative to medication for treatment of depression. Researchers have assessed MBCT in comparison with antidepressants in a trial reported in The Lancet. The ‘PREVENT’ trial used MBCT in addition to antidepressant treatment, with support to reduce or discontinue use of antidepressants, in the prevention of depressive relapse or recurrence. Participants were followed up over a period of 2 years. Both time to relapse, and occurrence of adverse events were not different between treatment groups. The study provides evidence for an alternative to maintenance antidepressant medication, which might appeal to some patients.

Willem Kuyken, Rachel Hayes, Barbara Barrett, Richard Byng, Tim Dalgleish, David Kessler, Glyn Lewis, Edward Watkins, Claire Breicha, Jessica Cardy, Aaron Causley, Suzanne Cowderoy, Alison Evans, Felix Gradinger, Surinder Kaur, Paul Lanham, Nicola Morant, Jonathan Richards, Pooja Shah, Harry Sutton, Rachael Vicary, Alice Weaver, Jenny Wilks, Matthew Williams, Rod S Taylor, and Sarah Byford. “Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy compared with maintenance antidepressant treatment in the prevention of depressive relapse or recurrence (PREVENT): a randomised controlled trial” The Lancet, Published Online: 20 April 2015 DOI:


Text-Message Reminders Increase Attendance to Breast-Screening Appointments

A study published this month in the British Journal of Cancer set out to investigate whether sending text-messages to women reminding them of their breast screening examination would be an effective strategy for increasing attendance to breast screening appointments. The study found that sending text-message reminders significantly increased the attendance of women to their breast screening appointments. The women who received the text-message reminders were 20% more likely to keep their appointment, compared with women who were not sent a reminder.

Kerrison RS, Shukla H, Cunningham D, Oyebode O, Friedman E. “Text-message reminders increase uptake of routine breast screening appointments: a randomised controlled trial in a hard-to-reach population.” Br J Cancer. 2015 Mar 17;112:1005-10. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2015.36.





Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD

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