By jeremyc | March 11, 2014
A new report by the CDC suggests that doctors at US hospitals need to change the way they prescribe antibiotic to patients, and patients need to follow these instructions carefully.
Antibiotics are a common prescribed treatment for various conditions and highly effective as well, but overuse of these medicines can cause antibiotics-resistant infections, among other complications. This new CDC report showed that prescribing practices varied significantly from one center to another. Some doctors prescribed three times more antibiotics than doctors in other centers.
The CDC noted, “Decreasing the use of antibiotics that most often lead to C. difficile infection by 30 percent (this is 5 percent of overall antibiotic use) could lead to 26 percent fewer of these deadly diarrheal infections.”
In the light of these report findings, the agency urged ‘antibiotic stewardship’ programs at hospitals to regulate the usage of these medicines through improved reporting and tracking of practices and better education. “Be sure everyone cleans their hands before touching you,” said CDC. “If you have a catheter, ask each day if it is necessary.”
Tom Frieden, MD, MPH and Director of the CDC said, “Improving antibiotic prescribing can save today’s patients from deadly infections and protect lifesaving antibiotics for tomorrow’s patients.” He added, “Health care facilities are an important part of the solution to drug resistance and every hospital in the country should have a strong antibiotic stewardship program.”
By jeremyc | March 10, 2014
ADHD can make it difficult to focus on driving safely, but one new study says that medicated male ADHD patients have a reduced risk of serious car accidents than the regular population. However, the shift in risk was not significant in women drivers.
Zheng Chang, PhD, from the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden led this study that analyzed data on 17,408 ADHD patients in Sweden over 2006-2009. The data was compiled from population health registers. Around 57.5 percent of the men were prescribed medication and 6.5 percent of them reported one or more serious car accidents during the study. Among the general population, around 2.6 percent of men had at least one serious accident during the same period.
On analyzing the data, the researchers found that the accidents rate among men with ADHD taking medication declined 29 percent but the rate did not decline significantly among women. On further analysis, the researchers said that medication decreased the accident rate 58 percent, but only among men.
By jeremyc | March 8, 2014
A new study indicates that although allergy frequencies to specific allergens differed from region to region, the number of people with allergies was surprisingly similar throughout the country. For instance, German cockroach allergies were higher in south-east and south-central US, but the number of people allergic to the cockroach was similar in all states.
A total of 9,400 people aged a year or older underwent blood tests for allergies to different allergens under the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The results of these blood tests showed that people developed 19 main allergen antibodies clustered by their source. Around 45 percent of the participants aged six years and older had antibodies indicating allergies. Around 36 percent of the participants aged between one and five years of age were also found to have allergies.
Allergies to outdoor allergens were found to be more prevalent in the western and southern parts of the country, while the indoor allergy to dust mites was prevalent everywhere. The researchers summarized, “A large portion of the U.S. population is sensitized to indoor, outdoor and food allergens. … Although the overall prevalence of sensitization did not vary across census regions, except in early life, the NHANES 2005-2006 data demonstrated regional differences in the prevalence of sensitization to individual allergens and allergen types.”
By jeremyc | March 7, 2014
A recent study suggests that dark chocolate may be beneficial to blood flow by preventing white blood cells from sticking to the artery walls and allowing the arteries to expand more easily.
Thick artery walls and rigid arteries can lead to stroke and heart attacks. This particular study was led by Professor Diederik Esser from the Top Institute Food and Nutrition in Wageningen in the Netherlands. It looked at the benefits of dark chocolate and whether high flavanol level dark chocolate was better than low flavanol level ones. Flavanols are anti-oxidants and contribute to the bitterness of dark chocolate.
For this study, a total of 41 overweight men between 45 and 70 years of age were asked to eat 70 g of chocolate every day for two four-week periods. For the first period, one group took high-flavanol chocolates and another took low-flavanol ones. For the second period, the roles were reversed.
After analyzing the results of the study, the researchers found a 1 percent increase in blood vessel expansion and a 1 percent augmentation index decrease. Augmentation index is the ratio between blood pressure and artery stiffness and linked to cardiovascular disease risk.
The researchers said that 259 mg of flavanol in dark chocolate may provide the peak vascular effect, although other ingredients present in the chocolate may have proved beneficial as well.
By jeremyc | March 5, 2014
The Salmonella outbreak caused due to raw chicken from the Foster Farms brand that began in 2013 continues cause more problems, even though the outbreak was declared over recently. The outbreak affected several states across the US, and many more people have been discovered after it was declared over.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that proper food safety is paramount when handling raw chicken. It noted that the outbreak consists of various Salmonella strains connected to chicken from Foster Farms.
The outbreaks had subsided in January 2014, but a March 3 update by the CDC said that additional cases were identified in February. It had initially reported that the outbreak was over in January. Since then, 51 more cases in five states have been reported. As of the end of February, a total of 481 infections linked to this outbreak were reported since it began in March 2013.
Of the total infections recorded, 38 percent has resulted in hospitalization, although the death toll due to the outbreak is still zero. A total of 25 states have seen cases, and so has Puerto Rica. However, California has the brunt of these cases at 76 percent.
By jeremyc | March 4, 2014
A recent study suggests that eating more fiber may reduce the risk of getting colorectal adenoma, a benign tumor that could transform to colon cancer. The researchers associated with this study suggested that a high-fiber diet that includes fruit, grain and vegetable sources of fiber can redue the risk of this tumor significantly.
The study was led by Qiwen Ben, from the Department of Gastroenterology in Ruijin Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University. The researchers analyzed data from 20 Asian, European and US studies that involved 10,948 colorectal adenoma patients.
On analyzing the data, the researchers found that colorectal adenoma risk was inversely proportional to dietary fiber intake. A diet with lots of cereal fiber was linked to a 24 percent reduction in adenoma risk as compared to a low cereal fiber diet. A high fruit fiber diet was also linked to a reduced adenoma risk.
By jeremyc | March 3, 2014
A recent US study showed that Alzheimer’s disease is amongst the most common causes of death behind heart disease and cancer. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alzheimer’s is the sixth biggest cause of death in the US based on death certificate data at the moment.
This recent study was led by Bryan James, PhD, from the Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. A total of 2,566 people aged 65 years and older were part of this study. They did not have dementia at baseline, and they were followed up for an average of eight years. They underwent yearly tests for dementia and loss of memory and other daily living functions.
On completing the study and analyzing the information, researchers found that 21.8 percent of the participants were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and 1.2 percent were diagnosed with some other forms of dementia. Among the participants who died during the study, 72 percent developed Alzheimer’s and 34.5 percent of the patients who did not develop the disease died. Of the total participant population, 42.4 percent died during the follow-up period.
Brain autopsies also revealed that 90 percent of the participants diagnosed with dementia did have Alzheimer’s. The researchers said that the study “suggests that [Alzheimer's disease] may be the third leading cause of death after heart disease ad cancer, with nearly as many deaths as chronic lower respiratory diseases, strokes, and accidents … combined.”
By jeremyc | March 2, 2014
Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are considered a smoking cessation aid, but a recent study suggests that the use of these cigarette alternatives may increase the risk of real smoking among adolescents.
This study, led by Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, and Lauren M. Dutra, ScD, from the Center for Tobacco Research and Education, University of California, found a link between regular and electronic cigarette use among teenagers.
The researchers point out that the availability of e-cigarette flavors like chocolate and strawberry, which are illegal in regular cigarettes, appeal to the youth. For this study, they analyzed data from 39,882 high school and middle school student participants of the 2011 and 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey. On analysis, they found that the number of adolescents who tried electronic cigarettes increased from 3.1 percent to 6.5 percent year-on-year in 2012. Moreover, the number of regular e-cigarette users among teens increased from 1.1 percent to 2.6 percent in the same period.
The researchers further stated that regular use or trials of e-cigarettes was associated with an increased experimentation with regular cigarettes. Moreover, e-cigarettes were linked to a lower abstinence from cigarettes.
The researchers concluded that e-cigarettes were associated with lower abstinence rates from regular cigarette smoking and an established smoking habit. Contrary to opinion, they did not actually discourage regular cigarette usage among adolescents.
By jeremyc | March 1, 2014
A new review looking at cardiovascular event risks after angry outbursts revealed that people had a nearly five time greater risk of heart attack in the two hours after an angry outburst.
The review was led by Elizabeth Mostofsky, MPH, ScD, from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School, Boston. It showed that short-term mental stress was linked to an immediate bodily response and possibly associated with stroke, heart attacks and other cardiovascular events.
For this review, the researchers analyzed the results of studies that included related data conducted from January 1966 to June 213. A total of nine studies were identified, and researchers found that the risk of heart attack was 4.74 times greater in the two hours after an angry outburst, as compared to other times. The rate of stroke was also 3.62 times greater in the same period, and the rate of a ruptured brain aneurysm was 6.30 times greater.
Another co-author of this review, Murray Mittleman, MD, DrPH, said, “It’s important to bear in mind that while these results show a significantly higher risk of a cardiovascular event associated with an angry outburst, the overall risk for people without other risk factors like smoking or high blood pressure is relatively small.” He added, “However, we should be concerned about the occurrence of angry outbursts with our higher risk patients and our patients who have frequent outbursts of anger.”
By jeremyc | February 28, 2014
A new medication, Zohydro ER, is a pain reliever that is in the middle of controversy. Some people have raised concern about the medicine’s potential dangers. The medicine has been approved by the FDA for chronic pain treatment in some patients, but some consumer groups have called for reconsidering the FDA’s approval, citing potential addiction and overdose risks.
Zohydro ER is an opiate with hydrocodone bitartrate as the active ingredient. It is an extended-release capsule, and it is set to be launched in March 2014. According to FED UP!, coalition of consumer groups, “In the midst of a severe drug addiction epidemic fueled by overprescribing of opioids, the very last thing the country needs is a new, dangerous, high-dose opioid.”
In their approval, the FDA did note the risk of drug misuse and addiction, and stated that the medicine “should be reserved for use in patients for whom alternative treatment options are ineffective, not tolerated, or would be otherwise inadequate to provide sufficient management of pain.”
Bradley Galer, MD, the CMO and Executive VP of Zogenix, the manufacturer of this drug, said, “As the first and only extended-release hydrocodone without acetaminophen, we expect Zohydro ER to fill a critical need for people suffering from chronic pain who are currently experiencing pain relief with around-the-clock immediate-release hydrocodone-acetaminophen combination products but are at risk for liver toxicity.”