Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Middle-Aged Drinkers At Higher Risk of Stroke Than Diabetes

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A new study is suggesting that excessive drinking may lead middle-aged adults to a higher risk of stroke.

Heavy alcohol consumption has long been linked to increased likelihood of developing diabetes, but this recent study from a team of researchers from Czech Republic’s St. Anne’s University Hospital revealed that the risk of getting a stroke is much higher. The study looked into the health profiles of close to 12,000 twins of the same sex registered in the Swedish Twin Registry from 1967 to 1970, and followed them up until 2010 to reevaluate their health.

After the 43-year follow-up, about 30 percent of the respondents experienced a stroke. Of this group, the researchers separated them into three categories according to their level of daily drinking: half a glass of alcoholic beverage (light drinker), up to two glasses (moderate drinker), or more than two (heavy drinker). Results showed that those who drunk alcohol heavily were 34 percent more likely to suffer a stroke than those who drank light. Meanwhile, those who continued to drink above 50 years of age had an increased risk of stroke roughly five years earlier than the people who drank up to half a glass daily.

Study lead author Pavla Kadlecová, who works as statistician for the hospital’s International Clinical Research Center, highlighted the impact of their discovery on the prevention of stroke. “We now have a clearer picture about these risk factors, how they change with age and how the influence of drinking alcohol shifts as we get older. For mid-aged adults, avoiding more than two drinks a day could be a way to prevent stroke in later productive age (about 60s),” Kadlecová said in a news report.

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Health & Wellness

WHO Declares Ebola Epidemic Dead, But Scientists Investigate Possible Virus Mutation

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The World Health Organization (WHO) may have declared the worldwide Ebola virus epidemic good as dead, but many scientists are investigating the potential of the deadly virus to mutate and propagate further.

French medical research firm Institut Pasteur is studying the virus for a possible mutation. “A virus can change itself to less deadly but more contagious, and that’s something we are afraid of,” said Anavaj Sakuntabhai, who works as chief of the organization’s Laboratory for Genetics of Human Response to Infection. “We need to know how the virus [is changing] to keep up with our enemy,” he said in a news release.

National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases head Anthony Fauci found no surprise in the behavior of the Ebola virus to mutate, but said that more studies have yet to be conducted to verify this hypothesis. “I haven’t seen any compelling data yet that the mutations are associated with a change in the function of the virus,” said Fauci.

The nature of the Ebola virus is similar to popular disease-causing viruses such as influenza and HIV, which all fall under the category of RNA virus. This type of virus mutates regularly and fast. In fact, some studies conducted at the height of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa suggest that the virus has indeed mutated but not to an alarming set of new characteristics. In short, the mutations did not affect the virus’ reaction to vaccines or made it airborne.

WHO said in a statement last January 28 that the epidemic is already on its way to death. “The response to the EVD (Ebola virus disease) epidemic has now moved to a second phase, as the focus shifts from slowing transmission to ending the epidemic,” WHO said.

Health & Wellness

Melissa Rivers Sues Doctors For Medical Malpractice That Led To Joan Rivers Death

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Months after the controversial death of comedian and TV host Joan Rivers in a “simple” medical procedure, daughter Melissa Rivers is suing her mother’s doctors for medical malpractice.

joan rivers deathThe younger Rivers filed the lawsuit against Yorkville Endoscopy in Manhattan State Supreme Court, with the motion to seek damages that are yet undetermined. “The level of medical mismanagement, incompetency, disrespect and outrageous behavior is shocking and frankly, almost incomprehensible,” said Melissa Rivers in a news release. The legendary host died of brain damage resulting from obstruction of oxygen supply, as reported by the New York medical examiner.

According to the lawsuit, doctors didn’t handle Rivers’ endoscopy procedure, and conducted an unauthorized laryngoscopy. Doctors who were present during the medical procedures and cited in the suit were gastroenterologist Lawrence Cohen and ENT specialist Gwen Korovin.

Contributory to the lawsuit was the results of the investigation by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which reported that clinic failed in terms of proper conduct during a medical procedure, including incomplete medication records, failure to get consent prior to each procedure, and its decision to take pictures of Rivers during the operation.

The decision to sue the Upper East Side clinic was not easy, said Rivers. “What ultimately guided me was my unwavering belief that no family should ever have to go through what my mother, Cooper and I have been through.”

Health & Wellness

Breast Cancer Dilemma: Patients Oblivious About Their Health Condition

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Understanding an illness or disease can raise the likelihood of treating it. Unfortunately, most women with breast cancer do not have enough knowledge about their condition.
According to a study conducted by a team of researchers led by Harvard Medical School Assistant Professor Rachel Freedman, as high as 80% of breast cancer patients are not aware about the details of their cancer status. This was determined through a survey on 500 females who were diagnosed with breast cancer.

Generic-Article-BannerInformation related to breast cancer — such as the stage of the cancer, its grade and subtype — may prove beneficial to the patients if they knew about them. Survey results showed that 32 to 82 percent of the patients knew information about the tumors growing in them, but the percentage of women who could correctly specify the details of their condition registered as low as 20%.

The research team believes that lack of understanding of a breast cancer patient about her condition may lead her to confusion or uncertainty about the treatments she is receiving. “Improving patients’ understanding about why a particular treatment is important for her individual situation may lead to more informed decisions and better adherence to treatment,” said Freedman in a news release.

Breast cancer continues to be one of the leading causes of fatalities in women at about 3% mortality rate.

Health & Wellness

Breakthrough Invention: Fibers That Inject Drugs Directly To The Brain

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A new technology developed by scientists from MIT involves polymer fibers the width of a hair strand to deliver electrical impulses and drug components to the human brain. This discovery was revealed in a paper published in the Nature Biotechnology journal authored by Polina Anikeeva and fellow scientists.
Using material science concepts uniquely devised in MIT labs, the research team created fibers that can be implanted in the human nervous system for neural stimulation and recording. This invention was spurned from the lack of devices that are compatible with organic human tissue due to their rigidity. Current devices are made of hard materials such as metal and glass, which are “so stiff, so sharp — when you take a step and the brain moves with respect to the device, you end up scrambling the tissue,” said Anikeeva in a news release. “It’s a big problem in neural prosthetics.”

The fibers mimic the characteristics of nerve tissues, thereby making them stick longer in the midst of sensitive tissue fibers in the body. “We’re building neural interfaces that will interact with tissues in a more organic way than devices that have been used previously,” Anikeeva added.

The grand purpose of these fibers, according to researchers, is for neurological studies and drug administration. Functions such as optical signal infusion, introduction of drugs directly to the nervous system, and sending of electrical impulses to the brain can be carried out using the fibers. “You can have a really broad palette of devices,” said Anikeeva.

Health & Wellness

Pizza: New Threat To Kids Health?

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As the popularity of pizza heightens, so does the appetite of kids for this delectable food item. However, a new study warns about the effect of pizza on the health of our kids.
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) investigated the dietary behavior of children who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2003 to 2010. Data showed that while calories obtained by children from pizza followed a decreasing trend, pizza provided more than 20 percent of the daily calorie intake for both children and teenagers. In fact, kids were found to ingest more calories, sodium and saturated fat on days when they ate pizza, in contrast to days when they didn’t eat a slice or two.

What’s more surprising is that when pizza is taken as snack between regular meals, children ingested an excess of 202 calories while teenagers took in 365 calories more. Study lead author Lisa Powell, who works at the UIC School of Public Health’s health policy and administration, said that this aggravates the health risks of eating pizza. “Children and adolescents do not adequately compensate by eating less of other foods on days when they eat pizza,” Powell said in a news item.

Based on the findings of the study, the researchers recommend improvements in nutritional counseling programs for the youth. “Curbing pizza consumption alone isn’t enough to significantly reduce the adverse dietary effects of pizza. It’s a very common and convenient food, so improving the nutritional content of pizza, in addition to reducing the amount of pizza eaten, could help lessen its negative nutritional impact,” Powell added.

Health & Wellness

New Surgically Implanted Weight Management Device Approved By FDA

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maestro rechargeable system obesity device by enteromedica FDA approved

For people who are looking for the ultimate solution to preventing obesity, this new product might give you hope.
A new obesity device called the Maestro Rechargeable System was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration to address the issue of weight management. The device is designed to be surgically implanted into a person’s abdomen, and sends electrical signals to the abdominal vagus nerve so that it can consequently send feedback to the brain that the stomach is already full. Its concept is similar to the effect of gastric bypass surgery in suppressing appetite through signals to the brain.

Minnesota-based company EnteroMedics of St. Paul developed the device, which was given the go signal for commercial use by the FDA’s Gastroenterology and Urology Devices Panel. The approval was based on clinical trials conducted on more than 200 patients who possessed a body mass index (BMI) or at least 35. Results of the human trials showed that more than half of the test patients (52.5%) reduced their excess weight by at least 20 percent. The test group was also found to have lost 8.5 percent more weight that the control group, which did not receive the device.

Although the product has been approved, FDA requires the manufacturer to monitor at least 100 patients within a five-year window to check the effectiveness and safety of the product. Despite the risks of the product discovered in the trials — nausea, heartburn, vomiting, and chest pain, among others — the FDA nevertheless granted approval of the Maestro Rechargeable System.

[ Image courtesy of Enteromedics Inc. ]

Health & Wellness

Study: Mortality of Type 1 Diabetes Patients Not Heightened By Intensive Treatment

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Contrary to the findings of previous researches, a recent study disproves the idea that intensive treatment for Type 1 Diabetes could adversely affect the life expectancy of patients.

blood sugar testing type 1 diabetesAccording to the research team led by Dr. Trevor Orchard, “adoption of 6.5 years of intensive therapy in type 1 diabetes does not incur increased risk of overall mortality.” The findings were based on long-term investigation of patients under the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT), which involved more than 1,400 people. Close to half of the patients were subjected to “intensive therapy”, a comprehensive treatment program with the objective of bringing the blood sugar level of patients down to normal figures. Meanwhile, the rest underwent conventional diabetes treatment methods.

The study involved following up the patients over a span of six and a half years, as reported in a news release. Results showed that 6 percent of the patients under intensive therapy died within the follow-up duration, while 8.8 percent came from those who were treated using conventional methods.

The researchers worked closely with the Joslin Diabetes Center together with Dr. Lori Laffel and Dr. Lori Laffel. The team was quick to share that more studies need to be conducted to confirm this finding. “The search for genetic factors and biomarkers related to risk of diabetes complications generally and risk of diabetic nephropathy specifically needs to accelerate. There continues to be inadequate access to advanced diabetes technologies, education and support from health care professionals, and, at times, even family encouragement, which all need to improve,” the researchers added.

Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

New Study Finds Most Frequent Reason for Calling Poison Centers are Prescription Drugs

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emergency room visits due to synthetic marijuanaPoisonings from prescription drugs are the leading cause of injury death in the United States, according to National Poison Control Center data from 2012.

Also topping the list was poisonings from “bath salts,” synthetic marijuana and laundry detergent pods. The paper was published online in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

“The poison center system can provide real-time advice and collect data regarding a variety of poisonings, including those that may be new or unfamiliar to emergency physicians,” said lead study author Richard Dart, MD, PhD, of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver, CO. “Emergency physicians are continually challenged by the emergence of new types of poisonings, which lately include illicit street drugs as well as laundry detergent pods. The National Poison Data System (NPDS) plays an integral role in helping EMS and emergency departments respond to these dangerous substances.”

In 2012, poison centers nationwide recorded 2.2 million human poison exposures. Eighty-three percent of poisonings that ended in death in 2012 were linked to a pharmaceutical product, most commonly opioid painkillers. The total number of prescription opioid exposures by children more than doubled between 2002 and 2012 from 2,591 to 5,541.

The family of designer drugs such as “bath salts” (a type of amphetamine), “plant food,” synthetic marijuana and others continue to poison users severely enough that they require emergency medical treatment. Although bath salts exposures peaked in 2011, new illicit drugs sold to consumers continue to be monitored by poison control centers.

“Poisoning continues to be a significant cause of injury and death in the United States,” said Dr. Dart. “The near real-time responsiveness of NPDS helps emergency physicians respond to new poisoning threats, while also assisting patients who call for help to know when they need the ER and when they can manage things safely at home.”

Health & Wellness

Estrogen Could be Behind Females’ More Severe Allergies

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allergy seasonCould estrogen be to blame for women tending to have more severe allergic reactions than their male counterparts? That seems to be the case, at least in mice.

A team of scientists working with the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases concluded that estrogen, which consists of a group of hormones involved with sexual reproduction and developments, particularly in women, was to blame for more frequent and severe allergic reactions in mice. More research is needed to conclude if the same goes for humans.

In the study, researchers analyzed the anaphylaxis, or allergic reactions, of female and male mice to foreign allergens. When foreign allergens are released into the body, it responds by releasing immune cells, which in turn release enzymes that cause tissues to swell and cause blood vessels to widen. These reactions can be observed as skin reddening or rash, difficulty breathing, and in the most severe cases, shock or heart attack.

The team found that estrogen increased the levels and activity of endothelial nitric oxide syntheses (eNOS),  a type of enzyme responsible for some of the symptoms of anaphylaxis. To test whether or not estrogen’s influence on eNOS was the cause of female allergic reactions, the team blocked the eNOS activity completely in a group of mice. When this was done, the gender disparity disappeared completely. The researchers also blocked estrogen in female mice and saw this also closed the gender gap and caused a significant reduction in allergic responses.

The scientists plan to extend their testing to humans in the future.