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Heart patients with diabetes need extra care

Diabetes • • HeartMar 19 08

People hospitalized because of acute heart failure face an increased risk of dying in the hospital and in the longer term if they have diabetes or pre-diabetes, researchers report.

The finding “could help target some patients for more intensive therapy,” write Dr. John J. V. McMurray from the University of Glasgow, UK, and colleagues in the medical journal Heart.

The team studied 454 consecutive patients admitted to one university hospital for heart failure; 110 of them (24 percent) had diabetes, 60 (13 percent) had pre-diabetes indicated by high blood levels of glucose, and 284 had normal blood glucose.

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EU to take another look at GSK breast cancer drug

Cancer • • Breast Cancer • • Drug AbuseMar 19 08

Europe’s drugs regulators will take another look at GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s new breast cancer pill Tyverb after new data showed a small risk of higher liver enzymes during treatment with the drug.

GSK, Europe’s biggest drug maker, said on Tuesday that the European Commission had referred Tyverb, which is on sale in the United States under the name Tykerb, back to the EU’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP).

CHMP recommended conditional approval for Tyverb in December, meaning it could go on sale but that additional data were required.

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Doctors urged to ask heart patients about cocaine

Heart • • Tobacco & MarijuanaMar 19 08

Two standard heart attack treatments can be dangerous for people who have used cocaine, and certain patients with chest pain should be asked if they have used the drug, a leading medical group said on Monday.

Younger patients and those without obvious heart disease risk factors should be asked when they arrive at hospital emergency rooms if they have used cocaine, the American Heart Association said in a statement in its journal Circulation.

Clot-busting drugs and beta-blockers—treatments often given to patients who have suffered a heart attack—can be perilous for cocaine users, the group said.

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Vegan diet may help ease rheumatoid arthritis

Arthritis • • Heart • • StrokeMar 19 08

A gluten-free vegan diet full of nuts, sunflower seeds, fruit and vegetables appears to offer protection against heart attacks and strokes for people with rheumatoid arthritis, Swedish researchers said on Tuesday.

The diet appeared to lower cholesterol and also affect the immune system, easing some symptoms associated with the painful joint condition, they said.

The study suggested diet could play an important role for people with rheumatoid arthritis who are often more prone to heart attacks, strokes and clogged arteries, said the team from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute.

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Frank talk about family breast cancer risk urged

Cancer • • Breast CancerMar 19 08

Women from families who openly talk about their family history of breast cancer are more knowledgeable about genetic counseling and testing, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday. That may make them more likely to get tested, they said.

Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center and George Washington University Hospital undertook the study to understand why black women participate less in genetic counseling and testing for breast cancer genes than do white women.

While they were unable to pinpoint key differences between the two groups, they did find that when a woman knows her family’s breast cancer history, she is better informed about the need for testing.

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HDL-Associated Protein Gene Linked to Heart Disease Risk

Genetics • • HeartMar 19 08

The gene for the HDL-associated protein paraoxonase 1 (PON1) appears to be associated with coronary artery disease and with the risk of developing adverse cardiac events, and variations in both the PON1 gene and its related enzyme activity may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease events, according to a study in the March 19 issue of JAMA, a theme issue on Genetics and Genomics.

Stanley L. Hazen, M.D., Ph.D., of the Cleveland Clinic, presented the findings of the study at a JAMA media briefing at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Despite evidence that PON1 prevents atherosclerosis in animals, a cardio-protective role in humans has not been established. Several studies have suggested that PON1 may have antioxidant and cardio-protective properties, according to background information in the article.

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Geneticist First to Connect a Gene Central to Neuron Formation to Autism

Genetics • • Psychiatry / PsychologyMar 19 08

Eli Hatchwell, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pathology at Stony Brook University Medical Center, and colleagues have found that a disruption of the Contactin 4 gene on chromosome 3 may be linked to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). What causes ASD, a developmental disorder of the central nervous system, is largely unknown. Dr. Hatchwell’s finding suggests that mutations affecting Contactin 4 may be relevant to ASD pathogenesis, and thus a potential biomarker for some individuals with the disorder. Details of the study are reported in the early online edition of the Journal of Medical Genetics.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of ASD in the United States may be as high as 1 in 150 children. The disorder is divided into five subtypes, including autism proper. Pathogenesis of ASD may be environmental and/or biological. Experts suspect that many genes may play a role in the etiology of ASD.

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Treating Depression: What You Should Know

Depression • • Psychiatry / PsychologyMar 18 08

What is depression?
Depression is a serious illness that affects your mood. Most people with depression feel sad or empty. It is probably caused by changes in the chemicals the brain uses to send messages from one nerve cell to another.

Who gets it?
Depression is common. Anyone of any age, sex, or race can get it. As many as 10 to 14 percent of patients who go to see their doctor have depression. Some people get it when stressful life events happen or because of a medical illness. Sometimes depression happens even when things seem to be “going right.” Many people get genes from their parents that make them more likely to become depressed.

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How does P wave dispersion change in patients with Wilson’s disease?

Bowel Problems • • Public HealthMar 18 08

Wilson’s disease is a severe inherited metabolic disorder, which is associated with intracellular copper overload and multiple organ involvement. Main cardiac manifestations in Wilson’s disease include arrhythmias and cardiac failure. Recently, researchers at the Ankara Y¨¹ksek Ihtisas Hospital and in Ankara University Faculty of Medicine investigated P wave dispersion (PWD) as a non-invasive marker of intra-atrial conduction disturbance in patients with Wilson’s disease.

This research, led by Dr. Nurcan Arat is to be published on February 28, 2008 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology.

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Variations of Stress Response Gene Appear To Be Predictive of Risk of PTSD

Depression • • Genetics • • Psychiatry / PsychologyMar 18 08

Adults who experienced child abuse and have variations of a gene related to stress response appear to be at greater risk of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms as adults, according to a study in the March 19 issue of JAMA, a theme issue on Genetics and Genomics.

Rebekah G. Bradley, Ph.D., of the Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, presented the findings of the study at a JAMA media briefing at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

“Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating stress-related psychiatric disorder, with prevalence rates of at least 7 percent to 8 percent in the U.S. population, and with much higher rates among combat veterans and those living in high-violence areas. Initially viewed as a potentially normative response to traumatic exposure, it became clear that not everyone experiencing trauma develops PTSD. Thus, a central question in research on PTSD is why some individuals are more likely than others to develop the disorder in the face of similar levels of trauma exposure,” the authors write. They add that it is becoming clear that there are critical roles for pre-disposing genetic and environmental influences in determining the psychological risk to the traumatized individual, with child abuse appearing to provide significant risk for the development of PTSD.

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Some memory loss common in dementia-free elderly

Psychiatry / PsychologyMar 17 08

In 2002, more than 5 million older Americans had cognitive impairments that did not reach the threshold for dementia, according to research findings published in the Annals of Internal Medicine this week. These impairments include some loss of memory and thinking ability.

The findings also indicate that about 12 percent of individuals progress from cognitive impairment to dementia each year.

“Cognitive impairment both with and without dementia can be a problem in late life, but the number of individuals affected by these conditions in the U.S. is unknown,” Dr. Brenda Plassman, from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, told Reuters Health.

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The obese may fare better after stroke: study

Obesity • • Stroke • • Weight LossMar 17 08

Obese and overweight individuals are less likely to die in the 5 years after suffering a stroke than are their normal-weight peers, a new study shows.

In the study, researchers analyzed data from 21,884 stroke patients in Denmark who had their body mass index (BMI) determined. BMI is an accepted means of determining how fat or thin a person is.

The patients were placed into one of five BMI groups: underweight (BMI < 18.5), normal weight (18.5 to 24.9), overweight (25.0 to 29.9), obese (30.0 to 34.9), and severely obese (35 and greater) and were followed for up to 5 years after their stroke.

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Overweight women have worse breast cancer: study

Cancer • • Breast Cancer • • Obesity • • Weight LossMar 17 08

Breast cancer patients who are overweight have more aggressive disease and are likely to die sooner, U.S. researchers reported on Friday.

A dangerous type of breast cancer, known as inflammatory breast cancer, was seen in 45 percent of obese patients, compared with 30 percent of overweight patients and 15 percent of patients of healthy weight.

“The more obese a patient is, the more aggressive the disease,” said Dr. Massimo Cristofanilli of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, who led the study.

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Sickness costs UK economy 100 billion pounds

Public HealthMar 17 08

Ill-health costs the British economy over 100 billion pounds a year, more than the entire annual budget of the NHS, according to a report.

Dame Carol Black, national director for health and work, said the annual economic cost of sickness absence is equivalent to the entire gross domestic product of Portugal.

Benefit costs, additional health costs and forgone taxes make up the bulk of the bill, at more than 60 billion pounds.

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Neighborhoods play key role in how much people exercise, study says

Public HealthMar 17 08

The neighborhoods people live in can help inspire – or discourage – their residents to exercise and keep physically active, new research suggests.

Residents of neighborhoods with higher levels of poverty, lower education, and more female-headed families are less likely than others to exercise, according to the study.

It’s not simply that poorer people are less likely to exercise, researchers say.  In fact, the study, which was done in Chicago, found that a person’s individual income wasn’t as important as the neighborhood he or she lived in for determining exercise levels.

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