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After Heart Attack Most Patients Stop Taking Lifesaving Drugs

HeartNov 05 07

Recovery from heart attacks is best served by continuing to take prescribed medications. Yet more than half of patients who have had a heart attack stop taking these lifesaving medications within three years, according to results from a Mayo Clinic study presented today at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2007 in Orlando, Fla.

The Mayo data also show that in the short term, smokers are more likely to discontinue taking all of their prescribed heart medications, whereas in the long term, data show that patients enrolled in cardiac rehabilitation programs tend to continue their medications at a higher rate than patients who do not enroll.

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Floating effective for stress and pain

Pain • • StressNov 05 07

Relaxation in large, sound- and light-proof tanks with high-salt water­floating­is an effective way to alleviate long-term stress-related pain. This has been shown by Sven-Åke Bood, who recently completed his doctorate in psychology, with a dissertation from Karlstad University in Sweden.

The dissertation confirms what earlier studies have indicated: sleep was improved, patients felt more optimistic, and the content of the vitalizing hormone prolactin increased. Anxiety, stress, depression, and perception of pain declined.

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Cancer children more apt to survive if parents did

Children's Health • • CancerNov 02 07

Children whose parents beat certain types of cancer have a better chance of doing the same if they get the disease themselves, according to a Swedish study suggesting that survival traits are passed on.

The research, published in the November issue of Lancet Oncology, said good survival—defined as living for at least 10 years past the cancer diagnosis—extended to breast, lung, prostate and colorectal cancers.

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Protein may be key to gestational diabetes

DiabetesNov 02 07

A protein in the pancreas of mice may offer insight into the mechanism behind gestational diabetes, a condition that affects about 4 percent of all pregnant women, researchers said on Thursday.

Researchers at Stanford University found the protein menin acts as a natural brake in the pancreas, controlling the production of cells needed to make insulin, which helps the body convert sugar into energy.

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Allergies may protect against brain cancer

Brain • • CancerNov 02 07

A history of allergies may reduce the risk of a particular type of brain tumor called glioma, investigators report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Little is known about what causes glioma, note Dr. Eleni Linos, of Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues. “Atopic (allergic) diseases are on the rise in western populations, with increasing interest in their long-term health consequences,” they point out. “An inverse association between (allergy) and the risk of glioma has been observed.”

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Parents less distressed than non-parents: survey

Public Health • • StressNov 02 07

Parents may complain that their kids “drive them crazy,” but results of a survey suggest that the opposite might actually be true.

The survey of more than 33,400 U.S. adults identified lower levels of anxiety, depression, or other measures of psychological distress among parents than among non-parenting adults of the same age.

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Peripheral arterial disease prevention and prevalence: study

Peripheral arterial disease, whether symptomatic or not, refers to occlusive disease of lower-limb arteries. It is most commonly caused by atherothrombosis, but may reflect other disease, such as arteritis, aneurysm, and embolism. In recent years, it has become evident that PAD is an important predictor of substantial coronary and cerebral vascular risk.

Increased awareness of the prognostic importance of PAD has led to a search for sensitive diagnostic markers. The ankle–brachial pressure index (ABPI) has emerged as a valid and reliable marker of PAD and its attendant vascular risk, particularly in patients without clinical features of PAD.

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Obesity Common in Children with Heart Disease

Children's Health • • Heart • • ObesityNov 01 07

Obesity is common in children with heart disease, a population already at increased risk of a shortened life expectancy.

More than 25 percent of children with congenital and acquired heart disease are overweight or obese, say researchers from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Children’s Hospital Boston in a study released in the current issue of Pediatrics. While this 25 percent prevalence is similar to the rate found in the general population, the researchers stress that health risks from obesity are added to the children’s separate risks from their underlying heart disease.

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Exercise Trumps Vitamins for Heart Disease, Cancer Prevention

Cancer • • HeartNov 01 07

Most experts agree that supplements add little, if anything, to a well-balanced diet. Exercise, however, is proven to achieve the benefits claimed for vitamins, even for people who eat properly, reports the November 2007 issue of Harvard Men’s Health Watch.

One leading reason people take vitamin supplements is to protect against cancer. But sadly, this strategy has been a flop.

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Pet Scan Helps Distinguish Alzheimer’s from Other Dementia

Brain • • NeurologyNov 01 07

A PET scan (positron emission tomography) that measures uptake of sugar in the brain significantly improves the accuracy of diagnosing a type of dementia often mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease, a study led by a University of Utah dementia expert has found.

The scan, FDG-PET, helped six doctors from three national Alzheimer’s disease centers correctly diagnose frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and Alzheimer’s in almost 90 percent of cases in the study—an improvement of as much as 14 percent from usual clinical diagnostic methods. FDG stands for fluorodeoxyglucose, a short-lived radioactive form of sugar injected into people during PET scans to show activity levels in different parts of the brain. In Alzheimer’s low activity is mostly in the back part of the brain; in FTD, low activity is mostly in the front of the brain.

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Link between a sleep-related breathing disorder and increased heart rate variability

Heart • • Sleep AidNov 01 07

A sleep-related breathing disorder, common in heart failure, increases one’s heart rate variability. Further, central sleep apnea (CSA) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) produce different patterns of heart rate variability, which are likely to reflect the different pathophysiological mechanisms involved, according to a study published in the November 1 issue of the journal SLEEP.

Matthew T. Naughton, MD, of Alfred Hospital and Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, evaluated 21 patients with heart failure who were referred for polysomnography for investigation of a sleep-related breathing disorder. For each subject, two conditions were examined: a sleep-related breathing disorder and stable breathing.

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