By jeremyc | September 17, 2014
According to a new Mayo Clinic study, the rising number of cases of obesity is leading to a rise in number of children suffering from gallstones.
The study was led by Michael Ishitani, MD and looked at the how children coped up with gallstone removal surgery.
Gallstones are often the result of sickle cell disease. They are treated sometimes by removing the gallbladder, a small digestive system organ that stores bile.
Ishitani said, “Rising rates of obesity in the pediatric population have led to an increase of gallstones found in children. It was important for us to review the current clinical practices to ensure that pediatric patients are being treated properly.”
A total of 202 children were part of this study, all of which had gallbladder surgery with no bile duct injuries. As for complications, four children had wound infections, four had retained gallstones and one had an abdominal abscess. All children stayed stayed an average of one day in the hospital.
The researchers noted that the surgery proved safe and resulted in low complication rates for children. However, they called for more research on seeing in which cases gallbladder removal would be most preferred.
By jeremyc | September 16, 2014
A recent study has found that the risk of vascular complications may differ with the age of diagnosis of diabetes and the duration of its presence. The risk of death due to narrowing arteries may be a greater risk for older diabetics than for younger patients.
The study was led by Sophia Zoungas, MD, PhD, of the George Institute for Global Health at the University of Sydney in Australia.
Vascular complications can be classified as macrovascular or microvascular. Macrovascular complications affect the larger blood vessels and narrow them. Microvascular complications affect smaller blood vessels, such as those present in the eye, leading to vision problems.
A total of 11,150 type 2 diabetes patients were part of this study, with an average age of 66 years and an average age of diagnosis of 59 years. All the patients were over 55 years old.
On analysis, the researchers found a 33% increase in macrovascular complications risk and 56% increase in risk of death with every five years increase in age. The risk of macrovascular complications increased 13% and risk of death increased 15% for every five years increase in age of diagnosis.
The researchers said, “Prevention requires vigilance at all stages of the disease and across all age groups. Surveillance for macrovascular complications should be intensified with increasing age.” They added, ” [The diabetes duration effects] are greatest at younger rather than older ages.”
By jeremyc | September 13, 2014
The US FDA’s advisory panel has recommended liraglutide (brand name Contrave) for treating obese patients suffering from weight-related health problems. Liraglutide is a weight-loss drug already approved by the FDA for diabetes treatment, with the brand name Victoza.
Donna Ryan, MD, FACP, of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center and member of the FDA panel also mentioned the necessity of obesity treatment. The panel voted 14-1 in favor of approval. The one panel member who voted against approving the drug cited the possibility of increased cancer risk, which came up in an FDA report that found increased rates of breast tumors in women prescribed with liraglutide. The report did not disprove or prove a cancer risk.
A study on liraglutide found that around 50% of patients who took the medicine lost over 5% of body weight, and 22% lost over 10%. The patients were prescribed a daily dose of 3 mg.
Despite cancer risk concerns and a link between liraglutide and increase gallbladder and heart trouble, the other panel members agreed that the risks were outweighed by the drug’s benefits.
Panel member Dr. William Hiatt, of the University of Colorado School of Medicine said, “Overall, there is a benefit. If you lose weight in this manner, patients can report an improvement in their quality of life and in their physical functioning.”
If it receives approval, liraglutide will be sold under the brand name Saxenda by its manufacturer Novo Nordisk.
By jeremyc | September 12, 2014
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and Cuban government have joined the Ebola response in West Africa as health officials struggle to manage the increasing number of new cases.
The BMGF has donated USD 50 million for various efforts to combat the Ebola outbreak, and the Cuban government has committed 165 health professionals to offer care. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that the number of cases of Ebola infections has rise to such a rate that health officials struggle to manage them.
The Ebola virus is currently responsible for over 2,400 deaths, including over 1,000 in Liberia alone. Sierra Leone and Guinea have also been highly affected by this outbreak, as has the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Talking about the situation in these three countries, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said, ” [...] the number of new cases is moving far faster than the capacity to manage them in the Ebola-specific treatment centers.” She added, “Today, there is not one single bed available for the treatment of an Ebola patient in the entire country of Liberia.”
She further said, “If we are going to go to war with Ebola, we need the resources to fight [...] I am extremely grateful for the generosity of the Cuban government and these health professionals for doing their part to help us contain the worst Ebola outbreak ever known. This will make a significant difference in Sierra Leone.”
Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Gates Foundation, said, “We are working urgently with our partners to identify the most effective ways to help them save lives now and stop transmission of this deadly disease, [...] We also want to accelerate the development of treatments, vaccines and diagnostics that can help end this epidemic and prevent future outbreaks.”
By jeremyc | September 10, 2014
According to new research, multiple sclerosis (MS) patients may be more prone to fatigue and trouble sleeping because of sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
The study was led by Steven Brass, MD, MPH, MBA to assess the prevalence of sleep disorders in MS patients. The researchers focused on obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia and leg syndrome. Brass is the co-medical director of the UC Davis Sleep Medicine Laboratory in Sacramento.
For this study, 2,375 patients with MS were questioned about any sleep problems they had. Brass said, “A large percentage of MS subjects in our study are sleep deprived and screened positive for one or more sleep disorders.” He added, “The vast majority of these sleep disorders are potentially undiagnosed and untreated [...] This work suggests that patients with MS may have sleep disorders requiring independent diagnosis and management.”
On analysis, 37.8% of the patients were found to have sleep apnea, 31.6% had moderate-severe insomnia and 36.8% had restless leg syndrome. However, just 4%, 11% and 12% of the patients had been diagnosed for these respective conditions. Over 60% of the patients had higher fatigue levels than normal and around 30% had excessive daytime fatigue.
By jeremyc | September 9, 2014
The US FDA is reviewing a potential new medication that can reduce flu symptoms. Peramivir is the medication in question, and it is administered through an injection. Every year, around 200,000 people visit the hospital with the flu.
Findings about the peramivir’s efficacy and safety were presented by Rich Whitley, MD at the American Society for Microbiology annual conference of 2014 in Washington, DC. He said that the medication “has shown to be safe and effective as a single-dose therapy for patients with acute, uncomplicated influenza.” Whitley is a professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He talked about data from two studies covering 427 adult patients.
The trials found that the medication treated symptoms of the flu an average 22 hours faster than a placebo and resolved fever 24 hours sooner. The side effects reported were mild to moderate dizziness, diarrhea and nausea. If the FDA gives its approval, peramivir will be the only injection and single-dose treatment yet for treating the flu in the US. South Korea and Japan have already approved the medication.
By jeremyc | September 7, 2014
A new Chinese study has found that eating more fruits leads to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and improved blood pressure. Several studies have identified health benefits of fruits, and the link between fruit consumption and heart health has long been established. This study, however, indicates that the more fruit consumed the better.
Huaidong Du, MD, with the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Population Health in the UK, led this study that looked at the data of 451,681 patients. None of the participants had heart disease or a history of taking blood pressure medicine at the beginning of the study. Around 18% of them ate fruit daily and 6.3% never ate fruit. Regular fruit eaters had an average 1.5 portions every day. After a period of seven years, it was found that 19,300 participants had ischemic heart disease and 19,689 had suffered from hemorrhagic or ischemic strokes.
On analysis, it was found that daily fruit eaters had a 25-40% lower risk of heart disease than non-fruit eaters. Du said, “The more fruit you eat the more your CVD risk goes down. [The study] does suggest that eating more fruit is beneficial compared to less or no fruit.” It was also found that daily fruit consumption was associated with a 3.4 systolic and 4.1 diastolic average drop in blood pressure as compared to non-fruit eaters. Also, regular fruit eaters had a 32% risk of death than non-fruit eaters.
The researchers concluded, “Fruit consumption is an effective way to cut CVD risk and should not only be regarded as ‘might be useful. Policies are needed to promote the availability, affordability and acceptability of fresh fruit through educational and regulatory measures.”
By jeremyc | September 6, 2014
Many believe that bra use is linked to a greater risk of breast cancer, but a new study has debunked this belief. Researchers led by Lu Chen, MPH of Seattle said that bra usage is not linked to breast cancer risk.
Chen said, “Our study found no evidence that wearing a bra increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer. The risk was similar no matter how many hours per day women wore a bra, whether they wore a bra with an underwire, or at what age they first began wearing a bra.”
A total of 1,044 patients with breast cancer participated in this study. Out of these patients, 590 had invasive lobular carcinoma and 454 had invasive ductal carcinoma. They were all 55-74 years old and post-menopausal. The patients were interviewed about their lifetime bra use pattern. On analysis, they did not find any association between breast cancer and wearing a bra. They said, “The findings provided reassurance to women that wearing a bra does not appear to increase the risk for the most common histologic types of postmenopausal breast cancer.”
By jeremyc | September 4, 2014
International aid organizations including Doctors Without Borders, or Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), have called for greater cooperation from nations to address the Ebola outbreak in Africa. The Ebola outbreak has become the largest ever in history, with death estimates having crossed 1,900 and suspected cases exceeding 3,500. MSF and other international aid organizations have been fighting the outbreak in West Africa.
However, MSF President Dr. Joanne Liu called for other nations to fulfil their responsibilities in a speech to the United Nations. Liu said that most of the help so far has been coming from NGOs. She said in a press release, “Six months into the worst Ebola epidemic in history, the world is losing the battle to contain it. Leaders are failing to come to grips with this transnational threat. The WHO announcement on August 8 that epidemic constituted a ‘public health emergency of international concern’ has not led to decisive action, and states have essentially joined a global coalition of inaction.”
The Ebola outbreak has spread across the West African countries of Liberia, Nigeria, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Another strain of the virus has begun spreading in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Officials are trying to control this outbreak, which is of a smaller scale than the largest West African one. Although neither outbreaks directly threaten the US, it is an international health cancer as per WHO, which published a road map for guiding international response. As per the road map, WHO has aimed to stop cases of the virus in 6-9 months with ramped-up global response. However, this goal is not likely without foreign government help, said MSF.
Liu said, “Funding announcements and the deployment of a few experts do not suffice. States with the required capacity have a political and humanitarian responsibility to come forward and offer a desperately needed, concrete response to the disaster unfolding in front of the world’s eyes. Rather than limit their response to the potential arrival of an infected patient in their countries, they should take the unique opportunity to actually save lives where immediately needed, in West Africa.”
By jeremyc | September 3, 2014
The average human’s brain functioning slows down as he or she ages, but middle-aged type 2 diabetes patients may find themselves more at risk of this decline in brain function than non-diabetics.
The American Diabetes Association has stated that diabetes can weaken small blood vessels in the patient’s brain and restrict blood flow. This study, led by Angela Winkler, MA, in the Department of Neurology at University Hospital Essen in Germany, found that type 2 diabetes patients were two times more likely to have mild cognitive impairment (MCI) than non-diabetics.
MCI is usually a precursor to dementia. For this study, the researchers assessed 560 MCI patients and compared them to 1,376 mentally healthy patients. It was found that 239 MCI patients were 50-65 years old and 36 of them had type 2 diabetes. On analysis, diabetics had a two times greater chance of suffering from MCI, but this increase in risk was only found in middle-aged patients, and not older ones. This indicates that middle-aged diabetes patients are more vulnerable to MCI than patients in other age groups.
The researchers also found that middle-aged diabetic women had a greater risk of having amnestic MCI and men had a greater risk of non-amnestic MCI. The study report said, “[The study] underlines the importance of high quality treatment of diabetes especially in middle age, not only because of cardiovascular damage, but also because it might help to prevent or delay cognitive decline.”