RSV less of a threat to babies than previously suggested

By jeremyc | December 20, 2014

A new study has found that babies have a far lesser threat from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) than previously suggested by research. RSV can still threaten young children and infants, but more babies survive an infection from the virus than previously thought.

The study was led by Carrie Byington, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Byington said about the results of this study, “The news is very good for parents and their babies. Although RSV is one of the most common causes for infant hospitalizations, we can support infants through this infection. Most hospitalizations will be 2-3 days with infants expected to recover fully.”

RSV is a life-threatening disease for young children and infants. Previous studies have indicated that most babies survived this disease, but healthcare professionals expressed concern over the few deaths that do occur. The most recent research on death rates due to this virus, however, was done decades ago.

RSV is indicated by symptoms similar to cold, but the disease quickly progresses, causing swelling in the patient’s airways and pneumonia. Babies younger than six months may need to be hospitalized. This latest study suggests that babies are 100 times more likely to survive the disease than what was suggested by original research. However, premature babies and those with long conditions or heart problems did have a higher risk.

The study focused on children less than two years of age from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Kids’ Inpatient Database (KID).

Topics: General Health News | No Comments »

Men with heart disease, hypertension have lower semen quality

By jeremyc | December 19, 2014

According to a new studies, some health problems may impact the quality of a man’s sperm, even if they are not seemingly related to fertility directly. Men can improve their fertility by improving their overall health.

The study was led by Michael Eisenberg, MD, assistant professor at Stanford University School of Medicine in California. It found that men having defects in semen had a greater likelihood of having heart disease and high blood pressure. The researchers suggested that men may improve their fertility if they lost weight, and that a full physical examination can be important for men undergoing infertility treatment.

Parviz Kavoussi, MD, of Austin Fertility & Reproductive Medicine said, “There is a philosophy which keeps being proven to be true, which is that what is good for a man’s overall health is good for his fertility health.” He added, “There is a strong association with high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and cholesterol issues with obesity. Obesity tends to go hand in hand with these other health issues. It has been repeatedly shown that obesity is bad for a man’s fertility by impacting semen parameters and sperm health. Theories to why include fat cells in the pelvis and in the scrotum elevate testicular temperatures, which is bad for sperm.”

Kavoussi said, “Fat cells are where men convert testosterone into estrogen. If the ratio is off with a low testosterone to high estrogen with the accumulation of more fat cells, this may have a negative impact on semen parameters and fertility. Just like we have seen that smoking and alcohol in excess is bad for sperm and a man’s fertility, the moral of this story is that what is good for a man’s overall health is good for his fertility health.”

Eisenberg said, “About 15 percent of all couples have fertility issues, and in half of those cases the male partner has semen deficiencies. We should be paying more attention to these millions of men. Infertility is a warning: Problems with reproduction may mean problems with overall health.”

Topics: Heart | No Comments »

Migraine headaches not linked to breast cancer

By jeremyc | December 18, 2014

A new study has found that migraine headaches are not as linked to breast cancer. Past research has suggested a possible link between the two conditions. The study also did not find a link between migraine headaches and female sex hormones. Health professionals have suggested in the past that both may be linked to each other.

The study was led by Rulla Tamimi, ScD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. The researchers said, “In summary, results from this large … study do not support an inverse association between migraine and incident breast cancer. In addition, women with migraine do not have different premenopausal … sex hormone levels compared with women without migraine.”

Migraines have been found to be more common in women as compared to men, but their causes are still not very clear. Research has identified some causes but with inconsistent results. Some studies have linked migraines to breast cancer as well as female sex hormones, estrogen in particular.

For this study, the researchers used data on 115,378 women cover a period of 20 years from the ongoing Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII). The women were 25-42 years old at the start of the study, and 17,696 were diagnosed with migraines.

On analysis, the researchers found that 3,924 women had breast cancer and 833 had in situ cancer, while the other 3,091 had invasive cancer. However, migraines did not increase breast cancer risk, although women with migraines did have a 1.54 times greater risk of developing ductal-lobular breast cancer in particular.

Topics: Breast cancer | No Comments »

Alcohol before bed may worsen insomnia and other sleep problems

By jeremyc | December 17, 2014

According to a new study, alcohol may not be as useful for helping people fall asleep as understood. It may help people initially fall asleep, but it may also cause them to wake up early or in the middle of the night, and make it harder for people to get back to sleep.

Alcohol affects the sleep-wake system of the human body, resulting early-morning wakeups. The researchers of this study said that people with sleep problems like insomnia should avoid consuming alcohol and discuss other sleep strategies with their doctor.

The study was led by Mahesh Thakkar, PhD, director of research at the Department of Neurology, School of Medicine at the University of Missouri. Thakkar said, “The prevailing thought was that alcohol promotes sleep by changing a person’s circadian rhythm - the body’s built-in 24-hour clock. However, we discovered that alcohol actually promotes sleep by affecting a person’s sleep homeostasis - the brain’s built-in mechanism that regulates your sleepiness and wakefulness.”

Alcohol is used by around 20 percent of adults in the US, according to the study. According to past research, a single dose of alcohol before bedtime makes patients sleep faster but shortens the duration of sleep.

Thakkar said, “Sleep is an immense area of study. Approximately one-third of our life is spent sleeping. Coupled with statistics that show 20 percent of people drink alcohol to sleep, it’s vital that we understand how the two interact. If you are experiencing difficulty sleeping, don’t use alcohol. Talk to your doctor or a sleep medicine physician to determine what factors are keeping you from sleeping. These factors can then be addressed with individualized treatments.”

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Cinacalcet may lower rates of hip fracture in dialysis patients

By jeremyc | December 16, 2014

According to a new study, a medicine named cinacalcet (brand name Sensipar) may help lower the rates of hip fracture in patients who have to undergo dialysis. People with kidney failure have to undergo dialysis on a regular basis, and this procedure can cause bone-thinning and increase fracture risk.

The study was led by Sharon Moe, MD, of the Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis. The researchers noted, “Given the high mortality, increased hospitalization rates, and costs associated with fractures, our study suggests that a reduction in fractures could have important personal health and societal financial benefits.”

Kidney failure patients often face a condition called hyperparathyroidism, wherein the parathyroid glands affect calcium metabolism and absorption. Secondary hyperparathyroidism is known to cause osteoporosis, a condition where the bones thin out, leading to fractures.

For this study, the researchers looked at data on 3,883 patients followed for 64 months for the Evaluation of Cinacalcet HCl Therapy to Lower Cardiovascular Events (EVOLVE) study. The patients were given a placebo or cinacalcet. On analysis, 255 of the 1,935 placebo patients had hip fractures and 238 of the 1,948 cinacalcet patients had hip fractures.

After adjusting for factors like history of multiple fractures and health conditions, cinacalcet was found to have lowered fracture rates by 16-29 percent. The researchers noted that they received payments and grans from osteoporosis/kidney failure treatment device and medication manufacturers, including Johnson & Johnson, Home Dialysis Plus, Baxter and Abbott.

Topics: Kidneys | No Comments »

FDA approves new lung cancer combination treatment

By jeremyc | December 15, 2014

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently approved a new drug that can be used in a combination treatment for metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

The new medicine is called Cyramza Injection (generic name ramucirumab) by pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli Lilly and Company. It has been approved for use with another drug, docetaxel, for NSCLC patients who experienced a progression of their cancer after or during platinum-based chemotherapy.

The approval from the FDA came as a result of a clinical trial involving over 1,200 patients who underwent treatment for NSCLC. The patients were given a docetaxel-placebo or docetaxel-ramucirumab combination.

On analysis, it was found that the docetaxel-ramucirumab combination group had a one month higher survival rate than the other group. This group also had a greater progression-free survival rate.

The ramucirumab combination’s most common side effects included low neutrophils count (neutropenia), inflammation of lips and mouth (stomatitis), mucosal inflammation and fatigue.

Topics: Cancer | No Comments »

Dementia risk higher in elderly people sleep apnea

By jeremyc | December 14, 2014

According to a new study, elderly people who lack enough deep sleep may have a greater risk of developing dementia. It found that elderly patients who lacked regular deep sleep and had sleep apnea had a greater risk of brain cell damage, which is linked to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia.

The study was led by Rebecca Gelber, MD, DrPH, of the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System and the Pacific Health Research and Education Institute in Honolulu, Hawaii. The researchers suggested that using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines or other treatments for sleep apnea and to get adequate deep sleep may help lower the risk of cognitive problems.

Gelber said, “[Our] findings suggest that low blood oxygen levels and reduced slow wave sleep may contribute to the processes that lead to cognitive decline and dementia.”

For this study, 167 Japanese-American men around the age of 84 years at the start of the study were followed until their deaths, with an average follow-up period of six years. Autopsies were done to assess their brains.

Patients were split into four groups depending on how much oxygen they got during sleep. On analysis, four of 41 men with the most oxygen during sleep had micro infarcts in their brains. The number of 14 for the men with the least oxygen. Micro infarcts are small brain tissue areas that die away because of lack of oxygen.

Those who had most deep sleep were less likely to have brain cell loss. Of the 37 men who had the least deep sleep, 17 had brain cell loss. The number was seven out of 38 for men who had the most amount of deep sleep.

Topics: Alzheimer's/Dementia | No Comments »

People with long commutes, multiple jobs have shorter sleep times

By jeremyc | December 13, 2014

According to a new US study, people with multiple jobs and long commutes have shorter sleep times. Shorter than necessary sleep can be dangerous to health. Sleep deprivation is linked to heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity, apart from a higher risk of car accidents.

The researchers, led by Mathias Basner, MD, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, called for more flexible work hours, especially for later starting times.

Basner said, “The evidence that time spent working was the most prominent sleep thief was overwhelming. Potential intervention strategies to decrease the prevalence of chronic sleep loss in the population include greater flexibility in morning work and class start times, reducing the prevalence of multiple jobs, and shortening morning and evening commute times.”

For this study, the researchers looked at data in 2003-2011 on 124,517 people more than 15 years of age from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS). The participants of this study reported their minute-by-minute daily activities. The researchers looked at variables like age, weekend and weekday time usage, family structure and economic status.

On analysis, the researchers found that short sleepers worked an extra 1.55 hours every workday and 1.86 hours on weekends as compared to normal sleepers. They also spent more time travelling, and most of their travel took place at the typical rush-hour times of around 7am and 5pm. Those who started working at 6am slept an average of six hours every workday, while those started working from 9am-10am slept an average of 7.29 hours.

People with multiple jobs were 61 percent more likely to report six or fewer hours of sleep in the weekdays than people without multiple jobs. Short sleepers were also more likely to be 25-64 year old employed males with a high income.

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US birth rate drops in 2013, says CDC

By jeremyc | December 12, 2014

According to a recent report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of women who gave birth per capital in 2013 reached a record low. Birth rates were especially low for women less than 30 years of age, while fertility rates rose for women of or over 30 years.

OB-GYN Andre F. Hall, MD of the Birth and Women’s Care in North Carolina said, “A healthy pregnancy is a reflection of healthy living. Eating a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep, and exercise in moderation are all key elements. Women should also attend regular prenatal appointments and follow the recommendations of their medical provider.”

The new CDC report found that the number of women who gave birth in 2013 fell 1 percent year-on-year to 3.93 million. Per capita, 62.5 of 1,000 women of childbearing age gave birth in the US in 2013. Since 2007 when 4.3 million births were recorded, the birth rate has been on a decline and 2013 has reached an all-time record low.

The birth rate has been trending downward since 2007, which saw 4.3 million births. Joyce A. Martin, MPH, from the Division of Vital Statistics of the CDC, said, “The US general fertility rate was at an all-time low in 2013.”

Women less than 30 years old had much lower birth rates. For every 1,000 women in their mid-late 20s, 105.5 gave birth, indicating a 1 percent decline. The per capita birth rates were around 80 for 20-24 year old women and 26.5 for teens.  Martin said, “In contrast, birth rates for women aged 30 and over generally rose in 2013.” Close to 1 in 10 women who were in their early 30s gave birth, and 49.3 of 1,000 women aged 35-39 years gave birth.

Topics: Women's Health | No Comments »

Metabolic syndrome patients who complete bariatric surgery have fewer urinary tract problems

By jeremyc | December 11, 2014

Metabolic syndrome is linked to a greater risk of urinary tract symptoms such as greater frequency of urination and bladder leakage. These symptoms may be reduced to an extent through bariatric weight loss surgery, according to a study.

A study found that the number of symptoms of metabolic syndrome in a patient was directly proportional to the likelihood of developing urinary tract problems. Another study found weight loss surgery saw improvements in metabolic syndrome and urinary tract symptoms.

The study relating weight loss surgery to reduced urinary tract problems was done by Andrew Kennedy-Smith, FRACS, of Wellington Hospital in New Zealand. In a press release, he said, “So many problems, including issues related to urinary function, improve so quickly after bariatric surgery, even before great weight loss has occurred.”

The study looked at 72 patients with obesity and urinary tract problems. All the patients underwent bariatric surgery. After a six-week period, the number of urinary tract problems had reduced, even for patients who lost relatively less weight.

The other study was led by François Desgrandchamps, MD, of Saint-Louis Hospital in Paris and involved 4,666 men. On analysis, it was found that 51.5 percent of the patients had metabolic symptoms and 47 percent had urinary tract symptoms.

Topics: Weight Loss | No Comments »

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