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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > DepressionPregnancyPsychiatry / Psychology


Mechanism for postpartum depression found in mice

Depression • • Pregnancy • • Psychiatry / PsychologyJul 30 08

Researchers have pinpointed a mechanism in the brains of mice that could explain why some human mothers become depressed following childbirth. The discovery could lead to improved treatment for postpartum depression. Supported in part by the National Institute of Mental Health, of the National Institutes of Health, the study used genetically engineered mice lacking a protein critical for adapting to the sex hormone fluctuations of pregnancy and the postpartum period.

“For the first time, we may have a highly useful model of postpartum depression,” said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. “The new research also points to a specific potential new target in the brain for medications to treat this disorder that affects 15 percent of women after they give birth.”

“After giving birth, female mice deficient in the suspect protein showed depression-like behaviors and neglected their newborn pups,” explained Istvan Mody, Ph.D., of the University of California at Los Angeles, who led the research. “Giving a drug that restored the protein’s function improved maternal behavior and reduced pup mortality.”

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High Resolution Heart Images Now Available at Peak Stress

Heart • • StressJul 30 08

While treadmill exercise stress testing is an essential tool in the prevention, detection and treatment of cardiovascular disease, physicians are often challenged to gain clear images of the heart when a patient is at peak stress level.

That is changing at the Ohio State University Medical Center where researchers have designed equipment to provide high resolution images of the heart at a critical stage of testing that have previously been difficult to obtain using standard testing procedures. Superior images of the heart are obtained with a test lasting less than one hour.

“In the past, we were constrained by the time lapse between the completion of exercise and capturing the images,” said Orlando “Lon” Simonetti, PhD, associate professor of internal medicine and radiology.

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New Method Assesses Risks for Heart Failure Patients

HeartJul 30 08

Data from 260 hospitals across the United States has led to the creation of a new method for physicians to more accurately determine the severity of heart failure in patients upon hospital admission, with a goal of reducing in-hospital mortality and more quickly identifying triage methods and treatment decisions. The model is discussed in the July 29 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“Heart failure patients experience high rates of hospital stays and poor outcomes,” said Dr. William Abraham, director of cardiovascular medicine at Ohio State University Medical Center and primary author of the article. “By utilizing this model, we can more quickly identify patients at risk for in-hospital mortality who might benefit from more aggressive monitoring and intervention.”

The model was developed as part of the OPTIMIZE-HF (Organized Program to Initiate Lifesaving Treatment in Hospitalized Patients with Heart Failure) study, which offered recommendations to improve treatment of congestive heart failure based on monitoring more than 48,000 patients.

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Surgical Errors Cost Nearly $1.5 Billion Each Year

Public HealthJul 29 08

Potentially preventable medical errors that occur during or after surgery may cost employers nearly $1.5 billion a year, according to new estimates by HHS’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

In a study published in the July 28 issue of the journal Health Services Research, AHRQ’s William E. Encinosa, Ph.D., and Fred J. Hellinger, P.D., found that insurers paid an additional $28,218 (52 percent more) and an additional $19,480 (48 percent more) for surgery patients who experienced acute respiratory failure or post-operative infections, respectively, compared with patients who did not experience either error.

The authors also found these additional costs for surgery patients who experienced the following medical errors compared with those who did not:

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Highly Acidic Beverages Not a Threat to Gastrointestinal Tracts

Bowel ProblemsJul 29 08

A comprehensive new research review confirms that the upper gastrointestinal tract (GI) is naturally equipped to handle fruit juices, soft drinks, alcohol and other beverages with high acidity.

The research, published in the Journal of Food Science, concludes that drinking liquids that are typically associated with low pH provide little or no harm to natural protective mechanisms of the lining of the upper human GI tract. The author reviewed more than two decades of GI physiology studies focusing on research on the human digestive system from the esophagus to the small intestine.

“The human GI tract is built to withstand the acidity in commonly consumed beverages by having natural neutralizers for acid, cellular repair mechanisms and cells that prevent acid from reaching more sensitive cells.

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Joint Inflammation and Heart Disease Linked

HeartJul 29 08

People coping with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus already have a lot to deal with. Even so, paying attention to heart health may be especially important for this group. The August 2008 issue of the Harvard Heart Letter reports that rheumatoid arthritis doubles a person’s risk of heart attack or cardiac arrest. Heart disease risk is even higher with lupus, and a new study suggests that gout, another common kind of arthritis, is also linked to cardiovascular disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and related autoimmune disorders are caused by a misguided immune system. Certain white blood cells, which ordinarily protect the body from infection, attack its tissues instead. Although no one knows exactly how these conditions are connected to cardiovascular disease, it is possible they all spring from the same source—inflammation.

Inflammation is an essential part of the body’s defenses. In people with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, though, inflammation turns against the body and damages joints and other tissues. In heart disease, inflammation kicks off artery-clogging atherosclerosis, keeps it smoldering, and influences the formation of clots, the ultimate cause of heart attacks and many strokes.

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Hypnosis shown to reduce symptoms of dementia

Brain • • Neurology • • Psychiatry / PsychologyJul 28 08

A scientist at the University of Liverpool has found that hypnosis can slow down the impacts of dementia and improve quality of life for those living with the condition.

Forensic psychologist, Dr Simon Duff, investigated the effects of hypnosis on people living with dementia and compared the treatment to mainstream health-care methods. He also looked at how hypnosis compared to a type of group therapy in which participants were encouraged to discuss news and current affairs.

They found that people living with dementia who had received hypnosis therapy showed an improvement in concentration, memory and socialisation compared to the other two treatment groups. Relaxation, motivation and daily living activities also improved with the use of hypnosis.

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Current Stats Severely Underestimate Costs of Medical Errors

Public HealthJul 28 08

Medical errors drive hospital costs up and while many seek ways to reduce these mistakes, not all fully understand their financial effects.

A new review suggests that current statistics on medical mistakes might not be comprehensive because they do not factor in all inpatient costs or include readmissions and patient care for the 90 days following surgery.

“Many hospitals are struggling to survive financially,” said study co-author William Encinosa, Ph.D. “The point of our paper is that the cost savings from reducing medical errors are much larger than previously thought.”

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Internet, alcohol and sleep tied to girls’ weight

Obesity • • Sleep Aid • • Weight LossJul 24 08

Girls and young women who devote much time to the Internet, get too little sleep or regularly drink alcohol are more likely than their peers to put on excess weight, a new study suggests.

The researchers, who followed more than 5,000 girls between 14 and 21 years old for 1 year, found that the more spare time girls spent on the Internet, the more their body mass index (BMI) increased.

Similar patterns were seen when the researchers looked at alcohol consumption and sleep. In the latter case, lack of sleep was linked to greater gains in BMI—a measure of weight in relation to height.

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Rhinoplasty technique preserves ethnic identity

Cosmetics • • Ear / Nose / Throat • • SurgeryJul 24 08

African Americans who underwent a nose job, also referred to as rhinoplasty, reported a high degree of satisfaction with the results.

Rhinoplasty was conducted using a three-tiered approach that included an adjustment in nasal height and angle with a reshaping of the tip and a reduction in the width of the nose.

Dr. Oleh Slupchynskyj and Marzena Gieniusz analyzed questionnaires completed by 75 African American patients who underwent the procedure at their private practice, the Aesthetic Facial Surgery Center of New York and New Jersey in New York City.

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EU says safety of cloned animal products uncertain

Dieting • • Food & NutritionJul 24 08

The European Union’s top food safety agency said on Thursday cloned animal products may not be safe and further study was needed.

“It is clear there are significant animal health and welfare issues for surrogate mothers and clones that can be more frequent and severe than for conventionally bred animals,” Vittorio Silano, chair of EFSA’s Scientific Committee, told reporters.

“For cattle and pigs, food safety concerns are considered unlikely. But we must acknowledge that the evidence base is still small. We would like to have a broader data base and we need further clarification.”

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Soy-based foods may lower sperm count: study

Food & Nutrition • • Gender: Male • • Sexual HealthJul 24 08

Eating a half serving a day of soy-based foods could be enough to significantly lower a man’s sperm count, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

The study is the largest in humans to look at the relationship between semen quality and a plant form of the female sex hormone estrogen known as phytoestrogen, which is plentiful in soy-rich foods.

“What we found was men that consume the highest amounts of soy foods in this study had a lower sperm concentration compared to those who did not consume soy foods,” said Dr. Jorge Chavarro of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, whose study appears in the journal Human Reproduction.

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Kelsey Grammer nearly died after heart attack

HeartJul 24 08

Television star Kelsey Grammer, best known from “Cheers” and his sitcom “Frasier,” nearly died after suffering a heart attack last month, he told U.S. showbiz news program “Entertainment Tonight.”

Grammer, 53, felt chest pains while paddle-boarding with his wife in Hawaii, where they have a second home, and was taken to hospital, where he was found to have suffered a heart attack.

At the time, about seven weeks ago, his spokesman Stan Rosenfield said it was a mild heart attack but declined to give further details of Grammer’s condition or medical treatment.

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New study of gene evolution could lead to better understanding of neurodegenerative disease

NeurologyJul 24 08

Genetic evolution is strongly shaped by genes’ efforts to prevent or tolerate errors in the production of proteins, scientists at The University of Texas at Austin and Harvard University have found.

Their study also suggests that the cost of errors in protein production may lie in the malformed proteins themselves, rather than in the loss of functional proteins. Misfolded proteins can build up in long-lived cells, like neurons, and cause neurodegenerative diseases.

The work, by Claus Wilke at The University of Texas at Austin and D. Allan Drummond at Harvard, is described in the July 25 issue of the journal Cell.

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Mate or hibernate? That’s the question worm pheromones answer

Endocrinology • • Sexual HealthJul 24 08

If worms could talk, they might tell potential suitors, “I like the way you wriggle,” complete with that telltale come slither look. But worms send their valentines via signals known as pheromones, a complex chemical code researchers are now cracking, according to a study published Wednesday (July 23) in the journal Nature.

Scientists from the University of Florida, Cornell University, the California Institute of Technology and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have discovered the first mating pheromone in one of science’s most well-studied research subjects, the tiny worm Caenorhabditis elegans. But perhaps even more interesting is what the newly discovered pheromone also directs worms to do — hibernate.

At lower levels, the pheromone signals the male C. elegans to mate with its partner. But when the worm population grows and the food supply dwindles, the chemical signal increases and the cue changes from mate to hibernate. This discovery could help researchers find ways to combat more harmful worms that destroy crops and provide clues for scientists studying similar parasite worms, said Arthur Edison, Ph.D., a UF associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the College of Medicine and one of the study’s senior authors.

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