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Heart scan to spot ‘ticking time bomb’, the threat from ‘slim’ cigs and active mums-to-be boost their babies’ brainpower

Much excitement this morning about a new heart scan that can spot when ‘’ticking time bomb’ patients are on the brink of a heart attack’, as the Daily Express puts it. The new PET-CT scan can identify atherosclerotic plaques that are about to rupture, potentially leading to clots.

The University of Edinburgh researchers, who report their findings in The Lancet, said using the scan to show how close someone is to having a heart attack could help doctors to intervene more quickly to prevent it.

Lead researcher Dr Marc Dweck told the BBC: ‘If we can treat and stabilise the plaques then we might be able to prevent heart attacks and stop people dying.’

Unfortunately many youngsters might grow up to need such scans, according to news in The Independent that teenagers think slimline cigarettes are safer than regular fags. Cancer Research UK asked a focus group of 15-year-olds how they rated different types of cigarettes and found they thought thinner cigarettes were weaker, more palatable and less harmful than others – and described them as more stylish to boot.

Professor Gerard Hastings, Cancer Research UK’s social marketing expert at the University of Stirling and one of the study authors, said it was more evidence that both the packaging and product are ‘powerful marketing tools’. He said: ‘It’s time policy makers moved to standardise both.’

Meanwhile there’s more news that healthy mums-to-be give their offspring a head-start in life, as research shows women who exercise in pregnancy boost the brain development of their babies.

Babies’ brains showed more mature patterns of activity that were linked to better mental performance in later life when their mothers took at least three 20-minute sessions of moderate exercise a week, The Guardian explains.

Researcher Elise Labonte-LeMoyne, from the University of Montreal, said:  ‘We know exercise is good for all kinds of things in pregnancy. It makes mothers feel better, gives them more control over their weight gain, and also has an impact on their child’s weight gain in life.

‘We’re saying here’s an added bonus, that exercise gives your child a head-start in brain development.’