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Gum disease tied to diabetes risk

Dental Health • • DiabetesJul 21 08

People with moderate to severe gum disease may have an elevated risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the results of a new study suggests.

Researchers found that among nearly 9,300 U.S. adults who were followed for 17 years, those who began the study with gum disease were more likely to develop diabetes later on. Men and women with moderate gum disease had twice the risk of diabetes as those with healthy gums, while substantial tooth loss was linked to a 70 percent higher risk.

The findings, published in the journal Diabetes Care, do not prove that gum disease causes diabetes in some people. But the study is the first to show such a temporal association between the two conditions; the relationship between diabetes and gum disease is well-known, but it has traditionally been assumed that gum disease is solely a consequence of diabetes.

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Cultural sensitivity may improve diabetes outcomes

DiabetesJul 21 08

Culturally tailored diabetes education may help ethnic minorities with type 2 diabetes better control their blood sugar.

“There is some evidence suggesting culturally tailored health education can improve some clinical outcomes in the short-term,” co-author Dr. Yolanda Robles of Cardiff University the UK told Reuters Health. However, “further research is needed to assess long-term effects,” Robles said.

Language and cultural barriers may hinder the delivery of quality diabetes health education to ethnic minorities, yet education is a vital aspect of diabetes care, Robles and colleagues report in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews from The Cochrane Collaboration.

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Beijing pollution may trigger heart attacks, strokes

Heart • • StrokeJul 21 08

Olympic athletes aren’t the only ones who need to be concerned about the heavily polluted air in Beijing. The dirty air may trigger serious cardiovascular problems for some spectators.

Two researchers in pulmonary medicine and critical care at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine warn that for people in certain risk groups, breathing high levels of pollution can cause heart attacks and strokes within 24 hours of exposure and increase the possibility of having blood clots in their legs on the plane home.

The people who are vulnerable include those who already have known cardiovascular disease or risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, lung disease, a current smoking habit or a family member diagnosed with heart disease before age 55.

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Study Links Herpes with Widespread Neuropathic Pain

Neurology • • Pain • • Sexual HealthJul 21 08

Reactivation of genital herpes is linked in some cases with the emergence of widespread neuropathic pain, according to a Finnish study reported in The Journal of Pain.

In the clinic at the University of Helsinki, 17 patients were examined who presented widespread chronic pain with no visible lesions in brain magnetic imaging. Because the majority had herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections, the researchers studied a possible association between herpes and neuropathic pain.

They hypothesized that in HSV-positive patients, the active virus may alter pain processing at different levels of the central nervous system (CNS).

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Analysis of Quickly Stopped Rx Orders Provides New Tool for Reducing Medical Errors

Public HealthJul 18 08

By studying medication orders that are withdrawn (“discontinued”) by physicians within 45 minutes of their origination, researchers at The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have demonstrated a systematic and efficient method of identifying prescribing errors. The method, they say, has value to screen for medication errors and as a teaching tool for physicians and physicians-in-training. The report is published in the July/August 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Dr. Ross Koppel and colleagues at Penn’s Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology used a hospital’s computerized physician order entry (CPOE) system to track prescriptions that were discontinued within 45 minutes. They found the rate of errors among the quickly stopped orders was 66%. The Rx problem may have been detected by the ordering physician, another physician, a pharmacist, or a nurse, but the prescribing physician issues the stop order.

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Averting postsurgical infections in kids: Give antibiotics within hour before first incision

Children's Health • • InfectionsJul 18 08

Giving children preventive antibiotics within one hour before they undergo spinal surgery greatly reduces the risk for serious infections after the surgery, suggests a Johns Hopkins study to be published in the August issue of Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal (also available online ahead of print). Children who received antibiotics outside of the golden one-hour window were three and half times more likely to develop serious infections at the surgery site, researchers report, pointing out that something as simple as ensuring that a child gets timely prophylaxis can prevent serious complications and reduce the length of hospital stay.

“When it comes to preventing infections, when a child gets antibiotics appears to be one of the most critical yet most easily modifiable risk factors, and may matter just as much as the type and dosage of the medication ,“says lead researcher Aaron Milstone, M.D., infectious disease specialist at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. “The moral of this is that an ounce of timely prevention is indeed worth a pound of treatment.”

Nearly 780,000 postsurgical infections occur in the United States each year, according to estimates from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. An infection after surgery nearly doubles a patient’s risk of death, doubles a patient’s hospital stay and adds up to $50,000 to treatment costs per patient, researchers say.

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Studies refute common stereotypes about obese workers

ObesityJul 18 08

New research led by a Michigan State University scholar refutes commonly held stereotypes that overweight workers are lazier, more emotionally unstable and harder to get along with than their “normal weight” colleagues.

With the findings, employers are urged to guard against the use of weight-based stereotypes when it comes to hiring, promoting or firing.

Mark Roehling, associate professor of human resource management, and two colleagues studied the relationship between body weight and personality traits for nearly 3,500 adults. Contrary to widely held stereotypes, overweight and obese adults were not found to be significantly less conscientious, less agreeable, less extraverted or less emotionally stable.

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Obsessive compulsive disorder linked to brain activity

Brain • • Psychiatry / PsychologyJul 18 08

Cambridge researchers have discovered that measuring activity in a region of the brain could help to identify people at risk of developing obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

As the current diagnosis of OCD is based on a clinical interview and often does not occur until the disorder has progressed, this could enable earlier more objective detection, and intervention.

The scientists, funded by the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust, have discovered that people with OCD and their close family members show under-activation of brain areas responsible for stopping habitual behaviour. This is the first time that scientists have associated functional changes in the brain with familial risk for the disorder. Their findings are reported in the 18 July edition of Science.

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U.S. drops trial of one AIDS vaccine

AIDS/HIVJul 18 08

U.S. AIDS researchers are dropping plans to test one experimental vaccine in people, saying the high-profile failure of a Merck and Co. vaccine last year shows the need to do quicker, more focused studies.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the government’s National Institutes of Health, said on Thursday it was canceling the HIV vaccine study known as PAVE 100.

“However, NIAID believes the vaccine developed by its Vaccine Research Center (VRC) is scientifically intriguing and sufficiently different from previously tested HIV vaccines to consider testing it in a smaller, more focused clinical study,” the institute said in a statement.

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“Emotional” writing may help ease cancer pain

Cancer • • PainJul 18 08

Some cancer patients may find that putting their emotions down in writing helps improve their pain and general well-being, a study suggests.

Such writing, part of a concept called “narrative” medicine, has been seen as a way to aid communication between seriously ill patients and their doctors.

But the act of writing, itself, may also help patients better understand themselves and their needs, according to the study team, led by Dr. M. Soledad Cepeda of Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston.

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Thousands of Children Die of Strokes Each Year

Children's Health • • StrokeJul 17 08

Sideria Hendricks is only 10 years old, but she already has suffered two strokes.

The first occurred on Christmas Eve a few years ago. Sideria suddenly couldn’t speak, and her left arm and left leg went limp. She eventually recovered, but later suffered a second minor stroke.

Sideria has sickle cell disease, which is among the more than 100 risk factors for strokes in babies, children and young adults, said Dr. Jose Biller, chairman of the department of neurology at Loyola University Health System, who is treating Sideria. Although strokes are among the top ten causes of death in childhood, family members and doctors often are slow to recognize the symptoms.

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Women use acupuncture for “nonsurgical facelift”

Alternative MedicineJul 17 08

Tired of Botox? Can’t stand the thought of another chemical peel? Perhaps acupuncture is the answer.

Facial acupuncture treatment, dubbed the “nonsurgical face-lift” has grown in popularity over the past few years.

“Ten years ago, the alternative was Botox, fillers and all that stuff. Now, 10 years after, people are looking for alternatives to Botox and fillers. This is the only treatment that would be as effective,” said Shali Rassouli, a licensed practitioner of Chinese medicine and a specialist in cosmetic acupuncture.

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Brain region linked to obsessive disorder risk

Psychiatry / PsychologyJul 17 08

Scientists have located an area in the brain that fails to “kick-in” for people with obsessive compulsive disorder and those at risk of developing the condition.

The discovery could allow researchers to diagnose the debilitating disorder much earlier and better track how drug treatments are working, they reported in the journal Science.

“The main finding is that in people with obsessive compulsive disorder and their unaffected relatives, part of their orbitofrontal cortex didn’t kick in on line as it should have,” said Samuel Chamberlain, a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge, who led the study.

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Many teens may experience workplace violence

Children's HealthJul 17 08

As many as one in three teenagers may have been on the receiving end of violence or abuse at work, survey findings suggest.

“Most working teenagers and their parents probably do not think that workplace violence is something they need to be concerned about, but they should,” Dr. Kimberly J. Rauscher told Reuters Health.

In the US, most teens work in the retail sector which involves a great deal of customer contact and cash handling - both known risk factors for workplace violence and criminal activity, said Rauscher, from the Injury Prevention Research Center, University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

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D-cycloserine may improve behavioral therapy treatment for anxiety

Psychiatry / PsychologyJul 16 08

Anxiety is a normal human response to stress, but in some, it can develop into a disabling disorder of excessive and irrational fears, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, or posttraumatic stress disorder. Effective treatments are available and can involve either behavioral therapy or medications. Although “it makes intuitive sense that combining these two treatments would result in even better results,” David Tolin, Ph.D. notes that has unfortunately not yet been the case and the majority of the evidence suggests that combined therapy is no more effective than behavior therapy alone, and in some cases can even be less effective. However, Dr. Tolin is one of the three authors on a meta-analysis scheduled for publication on June 15th in Biological Psychiatry, in which they evaluated a potentially important new treatment paradigm for anxiety.

Dr. Tolin explains the impetus behind their analysis: “Recently, several researchers have tried a radically different approach: instead of just throwing two effective monotherapies at the problem, they have instead looked at medications that specifically target the biological mechanisms that make psychotherapy work in the first place.” John H. Krystal, M.D., Editor of Biological Psychiatry and another of the study’s authors, adds that “there has now been a sufficient amount of research in this area to take a step back to look at the basic research conducted in animals and the initial clinical trials.”

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