Eggs for heart health; dissolving body sensors; good grooves

Medical Minutes

Eggs pack important health benefit

Researchers now are reporting that moderate egg consumption can increase the amount of heart-healthy metabolites in the blood, and eating up to one egg per day may help lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Eggs are a rich source of dietary cholesterol, but they also contain a variety of essential nutrients. There is conflicting evidence as to whether egg consumption is beneficial or harmful to heart health. A 2018 study published in the journal Heart, which included approximately half a million adults in China, found that those who ate eggs daily (about one egg per day) had a substantially lower risk of heart disease and stroke than those who ate eggs less frequently.

Now, researchers have carried out a population-based study exploring how egg consumption affects markers of cardiovascular health in the blood.

“Few studies have looked at the role that plasma cholesterol metabolism plays in the association between egg consumption and the risk of cardiovascular diseases, so we wanted to help address this gap,” said first author Lang Pan, with the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, at Peking University, Beijing, China.

Pan and the team selected 4,778 participants from the China Kadoorie Biobank, of whom 3,401 had a cardiovascular disease and 1,377 did not. They used a technique called targeted nuclear magnetic resonance to measure 225 metabolites in plasma samples taken from the participants’ blood. Of these metabolites, they identified 24 that were associated with self-reported levels of egg consumption.

Their analyses showed that individuals who ate a moderate amount of eggs had higher levels of a protein in their blood called apolipoprotein A, which is a building block of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as “good cholesterol”. These individuals especially had more large HDL molecules in their blood, which help clear cholesterol from the blood vessels and thereby protect against blockages that can lead to heart attacks and stroke.

Dissolving pacemaker works as body sensor

It is a new era in diagnosing and preventing diseases. Northwestern University researchers previously introduced the first-ever transient pacemaker. It is a fully implantable, wireless device that harmlessly dissolves in the body after it’s no longer needed. Now, they are unveiling a new, smart version that integrates into a coordinated network of four soft, flexible, wireless, wearable sensors.

The sensors communicate with each other to continuously monitor the body’s various physiological functions, including body temperature, oxygen levels, respiration, muscle tone, physical activity and the heart’s electrical activity. The system uses algorithms to analyze this combined activity in order to detect abnormal cardiac rhythms and decide when to pace the heart and at what rate. All this information is streamed to a smartphone or tablet, so physicians can remotely monitor their patients.

The new transient pacemaker and sensor/control network can be used in patients who need temporary pacing after cardiac surgery or are waiting for a permanent pacemaker. Currently, pacemakers are quite intelligent and respond well to the changing needs of the patients, but the authors report the wearable modules do everything traditional pacemakers do and more.

An individual basically wears a little patch on their chest and gets real-time feedback to control the pacemaker. The pacemaker itself is bioresorbable and controlled by a soft, wearable patch that allows the pacemaker to respond to the usual activities of life without needing implantable sensors.

“This marks the first time we have paired soft, wearable electronics with transient electronic platforms,” said study investigator John A. Rogers with Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois. “This approach could change the way patients receive care providing multimodal, closed-loop control over essential physiological processes through a wireless network of sensors and stimulators that operates in a manner inspired by the complex, biological feedback loops that control behaviors in living organisms.”

For temporary cardiac pacing, the system untethers patients from monitoring and stimulation apparatuses that keep them confined to a hospital setting. Instead, patients can recover in the comfort of their own homes while maintaining the peace of mind that comes with being remotely monitored by their physicians. “This also would reduce the cost of healthcare and free up hospital beds for other patients,” said Rogers.

Grab your dancing shoes and get your groove on

Researchers from Japan now are reporting that dancing doesn’t just feel good, it also enhances brain function. In a study recently published in Scientific Reports, researchers from the University of Tsukuba have found that music with a groove, known as groove music, can significantly increase measures of executive function and associated brain activity in adults who are familiar with the music.

Music that elicits the sensation of groove can elicit feelings of pleasure and enhance behavioral arousal levels. Exercise, which has similar positive effects, is known to enhance executive function. Accordingly, this may also be an effect of listening to groove music. However, no studies have examined the effect of groove music on executive function or brain activity in regions associated with executive function, which the researchers at University of Tsukuba aimed to address.

“We conducted brain imaging to evaluate corresponding changes in executive function, and measured individual psychological responses to groove music,” said lead author of the study Hideaki Soya, who is with Health and Sport Sciences at the University of Tsukuba in Japan.

The researchers performed functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to examine executive function before and after listening to music. They also conducted a survey about the subjective experience of listening to groove music.

“The results were surprising,” said Soya. They found that groove rhythm enhanced executive function and activity in the brain only in participants who reported that the music elicited a strong groove sensation and the sensation of being clear-headed.

John Schieszer is an award-winning national journalist and radio and podcast broadcaster of The Medical Minute. He can be reached at

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John Schieszer is an award-winning national journalist and radio and podcast broadcaster of The Medical Minute.

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