Category Archives: Health

Handle the problem of kid migraines

Sugar pills worked as well at preventing kids’ migraines as two commonly used headache medicines, but had fewer side effects, in a study that may lead doctors to rethink how they treat a common ailment in children and teens.

It’s the first rigorous head-to-head test in kids of two generic prescription drugs also used for adults’ migraines: topiramate, an anti-seizure medicine, and amitriptyline, an anti-depressant. The idea was to see if either drug could reduce by half the number of days kids had migraines over a month’s time. Both drugs worked that well — but so did placebo sugar pills.

The results “really challenge what is typical practice today by headache specialists,” said study author Scott Powers, a psychologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s headache center.

The study was released online Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development paid for the research.

“The fact that it shows that two of the most commonly used medications are no more effective than a placebo and have adverse effects makes a very clear statement,” said Dr. Leon Epstein, neurology chief at Ann & Robert Lurie H. Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Epstein said it should lead neurologists to rely on other prevention strategies; he advises lifestyle changes including getting more sleep and reducing stress, which he said can help prevent migraines in teen patients.

Up to 10 percent of U.S. school-aged kids have migraines; the debilitating headaches tend to persist into the teen years and adulthood. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines including ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help reduce symptoms. The only government-approved migraine medication for kids is topiramate, which is known by the brand names Topamax and Qudexy, but it is only approved for those 12 and up.

The two study drugs are inexpensive and used in children and teens in part because of benefits seen with adults, but there’s no strong research showing they are effective in kids, Powers said.

The study included about 300 kids aged 8 to 17, enrolled at 31 centers. They had 11 migraines on average in the month before the study began and were randomly assigned to take either of the drugs or placebo pills daily for six months. Migraine frequency in the study’s last month was compared with what kids experienced before the study. At least half of kids in each group achieved the study goal, reducing migraine frequency by half.

Linked with their mental health

Young men with elevated heart rates and high blood pressure may have an increased risk of developing certain mental health disorders later in life, a new study from Sweden finds.

In the study, researchers looked at data collected between 1969 and 2010 on nearly 1.8 million men. The men’s resting heart rates and blood pressure were recorded during a medical exam they underwent at age 18 when they registered for the Swedish Armed Forces, which was mandatory until 2010. To determine which of these men developed a mental illness at any point after their exam, the researchers looked at Sweden’s National Patient Register, which contains information about all psychiatric inpatient admissions in Sweden since 1973 and both inpatient and outpatient treatments since 2001.

The researchers found that the men who had an elevated resting heart rate at age 18 had an increased risk of later developing anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression and schizophrenia, compared with the men whose resting heart rates were lower. The increases in these risks were relatively small, ranging from a 5 percent to an 18 percent increase in the risk of one of these disorders for every 10-beats-per-minute increase in resting heart rate.

Previous research has shown a link between an increased resting heart rate at age 18 and an increased risk of later developing heart disease, the researchers noted in their study.

“We were surprised to find that the risks associated with high resting heart rate, although relatively modest, were still of similar magnitude as those reported earlier for heart rate and cardiovascular disease and mortality,” Antti Latvala, the lead author of the new study and a medical epidemiology researcher at the Karolinska Institute, told Live Science.

In the new study, the largest association the researchers found was for OCD: The men who had resting heart rates above 82 beats per minute at age 18 had a 69 percent increased risk for developing OCD sometime during the study’s follow up period, compared with the men who had resting heart rates below 62 beats per minute.

However, the men’s risks of later developing a substance abuse disorder, or of having violent crime convictions, were associated with a lower resting heart rate.

The links between the mental health conditions and heart rate were generally also seen with the blood pressure measurements, the researchers said.

But the links found in the study were associations; the study does not prove that a higher heart rate or higher blood pressure causes a mental health problem, the researchers said.

For instance, the researchers noted, OCD and other anxiety disorders may begin during a person’s childhood or early adolescence. Thus, many of the 18-year-old men in the study may have already developed these mental health conditions. Their high heart rates or blood pressure measurements may have been symptoms of their disorders, rather than precursors or risk factors, the researchers said.

Teens Problem of Phone Use

unduhan-4Digital distractions, and a more classical one, talking on the phone, are linked to shorter sleeping time and greater daytime sleepiness for teens, Canadian researchers say.

“Today’s adolescents sleep much less than previous generations, their sleep quality is poorer, and they report more daytime sleepiness, all of which have health and social consequences,” said Jennifer O’Loughlin, an author of the paper in the journal Sleep Health and researcher at the University of Montreal.

At the same time, electronic media are becoming a larger part of teen’s lives and are often used before bed, O’Loughlin told Reuters Health by email.

To explore the link between time spent using electronics like video games, TVs and phones and the amount of sleep teens are getting, the study team analyzed data from a Montreal-based study of high school students.

More than 1,200 students 14 to 16 years old completed questionnaires between 2008 and 2009 reporting on how often they used electronics, including watching television, as well as how often they did other sedentary activities like reading, doing homework or talking on the phone.

Teens also answered questions about what time they usually went to sleep and woke up on weekdays and weekends.

Researchers found that kids who used computers and videogames for more than two hours per day slept 17 and 11 minutes less, respectively, than youth who used screens for less time.

One in three teens used computers for more than two hours per day and they were more than twice as likely as the others to sleep less than eight hours per night.

Teens who talked on the phone for at least two hours daily were also three times more likely than those who didn’t to fall short of eight hours of sleep.

Watching TV had the opposite effect on sleep, and teens who watched two hours or more per day were half as likely to sleep less than eight hours compared to others.

Youth who used the computer or talked on the phone for more than two hours per day also reported more sleepiness during the day than those who spent less time using devices.

Teens who engaged in other sedentary activities that did not involve screens such as reading did not report getting less sleep than their peers.

“Kids need sleep to grow, period,” said Christina Calamaro, a research director who studies teens and sleep loss at Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware.

Calamaro added that missing out on sleep increases young people’s risk for depression, problems with thinking and attention, and weight gain.

Calamaro advised that parents should model healthy sleep behavior and not use electronics in the bedroom. “It is important that they set the standard for healthy sleep routines!” she said in an email.

Face higher risk of suicide

Veterans may be more likely to commit suicide during the first year after they leave the military than after more time passes, a U.S. study suggests.

Compared with people still on active duty in the military, veterans out of the service for up to three months were 2.5 times more likely to commit suicide, the study found. Veterans who had left the service from three to 12 months earlier had almost triple the suicide odds of current members of the military.

“Family members and community can be proactive to reach out to veterans if they recently experienced stressful events – not just limited to the stressful events we can capture in the data such as divorce or separation from the military,” said lead study author Yu-Chu Shen, a researcher at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

“In addition, clinicians should be aware that deployments may increase suicide risk independently of underlying mental disorders, and so asking patients about deployment history is advisable,” Shen said by email.

To assess how different types of experiences during military service and afterwards might influence suicide risk, researchers analyzed data collected on almost 3.8 million current and former service members from 2001 to 2011.

Overall, there were 4,492 suicides in the study population.

The strongest predictors of suicide were current or past diagnoses of self-inflicted injuries, major depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse or other mental health conditions, researchers report in The Lancet Psychiatry.

Compared with service members who were never deployed, those who were currently deployed had a 50 percent lower risk of suicide, the study found.

However, in the first quarter following deployment, service members had a 50 percent higher risk of suicide than their peers who didn’t experience deployment.

The study didn’t examine why the suicide risk was lower during deployment than afterwards. But it’s possible service members benefited from the positive psychological impact of belonging to a group with a shared mission during deployment, Shen said, then had more time to contemplate any negative feelings about their experiences when they were no longer on the mission.

2 cancer drug trials

AstraZeneca’s high hopes for cancer immunotherapy were dented on Thursday as the recruitment of new patients with head and neck cancer into two clinical studies was put on hold, following instances of bleeding.

The drugmaker said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had placed a partial hold on enrolment into the final-stage Phase III trials involving two of its immune system-boosting drugs, although the studies are still continuing with existing patients.

Trials of durvalumab and tremelimumab in different cancer types are also progressing as planned. Durvalumab is being tested on its own and with tremelimumab in various cancers.

Expectations for the combination treatment have been building in particular in lung cancer, where the two-drug cocktail is being tested in a broad range of patients as an alternative to initial chemotherapy.

News of the problems in head and neck cancer first surfaced on the website, run by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which said one of the trials, known as KESTREL, had been “suspended”.

“The trial is not suspended,” an AstraZeneca spokeswoman said. “We have a pause or a partial clinical hold on enrolment of new patients.”

Shares in AstraZeneca fell more than 4 percent in U.S. trading on concerns that the setback might signal wider problems for durvalumab.

AstraZeneca sought to play down concerns, however, stressing that pivotal data in lung cancer were still expected in the first half of 2017.

It also said that bleeding was a known complication in treating head and neck cancer, given the proximity of tumors to major blood vessels and use of prior cancer therapies, which may involve surgery and radiation.

Merck’s rival immunotherapy drug Keytruda is already approved for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, the same condition that AstraZeneca is testing for.

Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson said there was some reference in the medical literature to a decrease in blood platelets, which are needed for clotting, when patients were given so-called CTLA4 drugs like tremelimumab, although cases were rare.

Both Anderson and Deutsche Bank’s Richard Parkes said it was unclear if bleeding constituted a real drug side effect or not.

Life changing operation

A young man with a tennis ball-size tumor in the blood vessels of his tongue struggles to breathe and risks choking daily due to the organ’s inflated size.

Central European News (CEN) reported that doctors tried to operate on 18-year-old Krzysztof Wegrzyn twice when he was a boy, but the procedures were called off because of severe blood loss. Wegrzyn, of Grojec, Poland, was born with the benign tumor haemangioma.

Wegrzyn’s family is trying to raise money so he may travel to Germany for an operation to remove the tumor. Specialists at the Zentrum Klinik fur Vasculare Maltformationen in Eberswalde, Brandenburg have said they can help, CEN reported.

“I saw a boy from Norway who underwent an operation there and he looked great,” Wegrzyn told local reporters, according to CEN. “You could not see that he had ever been ill.”

Local reports indicate Wegrzyn’s family is halfway to their goal of about $58,000 to pay for the operation.

CEN reported that if he is able to undergo the procedure, he plans to finish his studies, pass his driving test and become a chef.

“This is my biggest dream but I do not want to be disappointed,” said Wegrzyn, according to CEN.

The researchers also noted other limitations of their study, including that heart rate and blood pressure are “not optimal” measures of the activity of the autonomic nervous system, which is the part of the nervous system that controls involuntary activities such as heart rate and blood pressure, and is what the researchers were aiming to measure. More detailed measures of the autonomic nervous system’s activity should be looked at in future studies of people’s mental health, they said.

Hot spot for germs

A new study looking at how germs are spread at hospitals has identified a surprising potential culprit: nurses’ scrubs. Specifically, their pockets and sleeves were the most likely spots to be contaminated, reports WebMD.

Another potential hot spot: the bed railings of patients, according to a post about the research at Eureka Alert. The study followed 40 ICU nurses caring for 167 patients at Duke University Hospital.

Samples were collected from the nurses’ uniforms before and after their 12-hour shifts, as well as from the patients and objects in their rooms such as supply carts and beds.

Researchers did not find any instances in which nurses passed along bacteria to patients, but they found that nurses picked them up from patients or the room in multiple instances.

“We know there are bad germs in hospitals, but we’re just beginning to understand how they are spread,” says lead author Deverick Anderson of Duke University.

Of the 22 transmissions they discovered, six were from patient to nurse, six were from the room to the nurse, and 10 were from the patient to the room, reports the CBC.

The researchers looked for five strains particularly vexing to hospitals because of their resistance to antibiotics. They say one takeaway is the need for stricter protocols on hand washing and the use of gloves, even if a nurse doesn’t actually touch a patient while in the room.

Slow signs of aging

Fine lines creeping across your face, and the inevitable aches and pains that come with your advancing years— if you, like most, want to delay the depressing signs of aging, new research suggests a simple answer: Eat your greens.

Evidence suggests it’s more than just an old wives tale, and that by eating more broccoli, cabbage and avocado you can ward off the signs of aging.

A key compound, known as NMN— nicotinamide mononucleotide— lurking in the green fruit and veg helps slow the physical signs of aging, and can rejuvenate the metabolism.

Tests on mice showed it reduces typical signs of ageing including skeletal muscle issues, poor liver function, lower bone density and declining eye function.

As well as worsening insulin sensitivity, immune function, body weight and physical activity levels.

Professor Dr Shin-ichiro Imai at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis said: “We have shown a way to slow the physiologic decline that we see in ageing mice. This means older mice have metabolism and energy levels resembling that of younger mice.”

Tennessee overdose outbreak

Five more people are facing federal drug charges in a fentanyl overdose outbreak that killed two people in Tennessee over 24 hours this summer, U.S. Attorney David Rivera announced Thursday.

The nine-count grand jury indictment in U.S. District Court in Nashville continues a law enforcement push to combat the proliferation of fentanyl. The powerful painkiller can be 40 times more potent than heroin and has caused concentrated spurts of overdoses in several states. The drug is sometimes laced into pills or heroin.

The drug distribution conspiracy charges center on a 24-hour period in July when two people died and more were hospitalized around Murfreesboro from overdosing on fentanyl-laced pills, which were made to resemble Percocet.

“This is clearly an epidemic,” said Christopher Tersigni, Drug Enforcement Agency assistant special agent in charge. “It’s not probably going away any time in the near future. This is something that is going to plague our state. It’ll probably get worse before it gets better. But we all, here, stand committed to tackle this problem.”

Those charged include: Jonathan Barrett, 29, of Murfreesboro; Eric Falkowski, 34, of Kissimmee, Florida; Davi Valles Jr., 25, of Nashville; Johnny Williams, 30, of Murfreesboro; and Jason Moss, 26, of Murfreesboro.

They face 20 years to life in prison if convicted, and up to $1 million in fines for each of the nine counts.

The indictment says Falkowski moved part of his pill producing operation to Tennessee after law enforcement seized equipment from his Florida home.

Two other people were previously charged in the outbreak. One has pleaded guilty. Six of the seven are in custody, while Moss is a fugitive at-large, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

This week in New Hampshire, a federal prosecutor handed down indictments for 25 people on heroin and fentanyl trafficking charges.

There were a dozen overdoses, including one death, in Mount Sterling, Kentucky over two days in August. Two men were indicted on heroin and fentanyl distribution charges in connection to the outbreak.

And an Ohio man was charged with heroin distribution connected to 28 overdoses, including two deaths, in a five-hour span in Huntington, West Virginia in August. Officials believe that batch was also laced with fentanyl.

Over just a few weeks this summer, hundreds of overdoses were reported in the Cincinnati area, with some of the drugs laced with carfentanil, an elephant tranquilizer 100 times stronger than fentanyl.

Soylent powder is better toss

It’s apparently not just Soylent bars making people sick. The company is now warning customers about its signature meal replacement powder, which has been removed from shelves after a “handful” of users reported cases of diarrhea, vomiting, and other stomach issues, just like with its Food Bars.

Though “our tests all came back negative for food pathogens, toxins or outside contamination,” this has “allowed us to shift our focus to whether any one ingredient might be triggering a food intolerance,” the company says in a blog post, per Gizmodo.

Soylent’s products have several ingredients in common, but the company notes its premixed drinks appear to be safe. Soylent says anyone who has consumed version 1.6 of the meal replacement powder without issue can continue, “but if you have had any sensitivities, we suggest discarding whatever is left and letting us know.” The powder ($54 for the equivalent of 28 meals) has found a following among busy Silicon Valley types, and at least some are still willing to stick by the company, per the Los Angeles Times.

In fact, many online are upset that they won’t be able to buy more Soylent products for a while. Soylent, however, is already working on a new powder and bar that it says won’t include suspect ingredients, to be available by early 2017 at the latest.