Coffee associated with improved sports performance in men, women

Agencies
October 30, 2019

Washington D.C., Oct 30: A new study found that drinking coffee improves the speed of cycling in both men and women.

The study, which investigated the effect of coffee ingestion in a 5km cycling trial, found that it had a positive effect on the time trial performance of both sexes.

The study's findings suggest that both men and women respond similarly to coffee and that coffee ingestion may be a practical source of caffeine prior to exercise to improve performance. The results of the study were published in the journal 'Nutrients'.
At first, the study was conducted on 38 participants (19 men, 19 women).

Participants restricted coffee consumption for 12 hours before drinking either: coffee providing 3mg.kg-1 of caffeine, a placebo in water or nothing as a control. In a 5km cycling time trial, following coffee ingestion, the performance of both men and women improved by approximately nine seconds and six seconds as compared to those who had either taken the placebo or the control. No differences in performance were observed between the placebo and control.

The study contributes to the growing body of research that highlights the ergogenic benefit of coffee ingestion. Till date, much of the research on this topic has focused only on anhydrous caffeine and on men.

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Agencies
September 25,2020

A standard test that assesses blood cells can identify which patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 could face a high risk of becoming critical and die, say researchers.

"We wanted to help find ways to identify high-risk COVID patients as early and as easily as possible -- who are likely to become severely ill and which hospitalized patients are likely to get worse quickly," said study researcher John M Higgins from the Massachusetts General Hospital in the US.

Higgins noted that early reports from China indicated that the body's inflammatory response was extremely intense in some patients and very mild in others.

His own group's previous work revealed that certain changes in the numbers and types of blood cells during inflammation are associated with poor health outcomes in patients with diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

"We quickly re-focused our computational infrastructure towards the analysis of the Covid-19 patient cohort that was growing rapidly in the Boston area last spring," explained study first author Brody Foy from the Harvard Medical School.

Their analysis, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, included all adults diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection and admitted to one of four hospitals in the Boston area between March 4 and April 28, 2020.

Before looking for complicated changes in circulating blood cells in the 1,641 patients included in the study, the scientists first searched for patterns using currently available blood tests that are routinely performed.

"We were surprised to find that one standard test that quantifies the variation in size of red blood cells -- called red cell distribution width, or RDW -- was highly correlated with patient mortality," the researchers wrote.

The correlation persisted when controlling for other identified risk factors like patient age, some other lab tests, and some pre-existing illnesses," they added.

Patients who had RDW values above the normal range when they were admitted to the hospital had a 2.7-times higher risk of dying, with a mortality rate of 31 per cent compared with 11 per cent in patients with normal RDW values.

Also, a subsequent increase in RDW after admission was associated with an even higher risk of dying, indicating that RDW could be tracked during hospitalization to help determine whether patients are responding to treatment or getting worse.

The investigators are currently seeking to uncover the mechanisms that cause RDW elevations in severe COVID-19 cases.

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Agencies
September 26,2020

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that the global coronavirus death toll could hit two million before an effective vaccine is widely used.

WHO emergencies head Mike Ryan on Friday said the figure could be even higher without concerted international action, the BBC reported.

The number of Covid-19 deaths is fast approaching one million - nine months after the outbreak started in China.

Ryan also urged Europeans to ask themselves whether they had done enough to avoid the need for lockdowns.

He questioned whether all the alternatives had been implemented, like testing and tracing, quarantine, isolation, social distancing, wearing masks and hand-washing.

Earlier, Spain's capital Madrid brought another eight districts under tougher coronavirus restrictions, which now affect a million people in the city.

In France, staff from bars and restaurants in the southern city Marseille protested against the closure of their workplaces which was brought in on Saturday.

And in the UK, tougher restrictions were announced in several regions as new daily infections rise.

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News Network
September 19,2020

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New Delhi, Sept 19: Scientists examined the effectiveness of common household fabrics used in homemade masks in blocking droplets generated by coughing and sneezing, and have found that they are considerably protective even as a single layer.

While earlier studies have focussed on the transfer of tiny, nanoscale aerosol particles through masks, the researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the US said speaking, coughing, and sneezing generates larger droplets -- about one millimeter in diameter -- that can carry virus particles.

They said the larger droplets pose a problem as they can squeeze through the pores of some fabrics if they have sufficient momentum, and break into smaller droplets and become airborne.

In the study, published in the journal Extreme Mechanics Letters, the scientists filled the nozzle of an inhaler with distilled water seeded with easy-to-find ultrasmall fluorescent particles -- which happens to be the size of a novel coronavirus particle.

The inhaler forced the water through the nozzle when puffed, and generated high-momentum droplets that collected on a plastic dish placed in front of the inhaler, the study noted.

The researchers repeated this process with the various materials placed over the collection dishes to test their ability to block the particles.

"We count the number of nanoparticles landing on the dish using a high-resolution confocal microscope. We can then use the ratio of the number collected with and without the fabric to give us a measure of droplet-blocking efficiency," said study co-author Taher Saif.

However, the scientists said for an individual to feel compelled to wear a mask, the material must not only be able to block the droplets, but also be comfortable and breathable.

"A mask made out of a low-breathability fabric is not only uncomfortable, but can also result in leakage as the exhaled air is forced out around contours of a face, defeating the purpose of the mask and providing a false sense of protection," Saif said.

"Our goal is to show that many common fabrics exploit the trade-off between breathability and efficiency of blocking droplets -- large and small," he added.

The scientists tested the breathability and droplet-blocking ability of 11 common household fabrics, including new and used garments, quilted cloths, bedsheets and dishcloth material, using a medical mask as a benchmark.

They then characterised the fabrics in terms of their construction, fiber content, weight, thread count, porosity and water-absorption rate.

Their analyses revealed that droplets leave the inhaler at about 17 metres per second (mps) while those released by speaking, coughing and sneezing have velocities within the range of 10 to 40 (mps).

"We found that all of the fabrics tested are considerably effective at blocking the 100 nanometer particles carried by high-velocity droplets similar to those that may be released by speaking, coughing and sneezing, even as a single layer," Saif said.

"With two or three layers, even the more permeable fabrics, such as T-shirt cloth, achieve droplet-blocking efficiency that is similar to that of a medical mask, while still maintaining comparable or better breathability," he added.

The researchers believe the new experimental platform may offer a way to test fabrics for their blocking efficiency against the small and larger droplets that are released as people breathe, or cough.

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