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Gene Test Might Someday Gauge Your Cardiac Arrest Risk

MONDAY, Nov. 18, 2019 — Sudden cardiac death is terrifying because it’s exactly that — one minute you’re fine and the next you’re facing death, with no warning and no prior symptoms.

Now, new research shows the secret to who’s at risk for cardiac arrest and who isn’t could lie in people’s genes. And a gene test might someday help predict who’s most endangered, according to a study presented this weekend at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting in Philadelphia.

Researchers said they have identified a group of 14 gene variants that appear to be linked to sudden cardiac death.

People carrying any of these variants had a more than triple the risk of dying from cardiac arrest, said lead researcher Dr. Amit Khera. He’s associate director of the Precision Medicine Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Genomic Medicine.

“This really lays the groundwork to say these are important mutations, and what’s exciting is if we can identify them, we have treatments for the conditions to which they are tied,” Khera explained. “My goal now is to use genetic variation as a tool to empower people to overcome whatever risk they might have been born with.”

Sudden cardiac arrest is responsible for 325,000 adult deaths in the United States each year — about half of all heart disease deaths, the Cleveland Clinic says. It strikes most often in adults in their mid-30s to mid-40s, and affects men twice as often as women.

There are four major reasons a person might fall prey to sudden cardiac death, Khera said: a weakened heart muscle, a heart attack, an abnormal heart rhythm, or a dilation or tear in the aorta (the main artery leading out from the heart).

“We know each of these diseases tends to run in families and there are genetic variants that cause each of these conditions,” Khera said.

To find out more, his team pulled together data on 600 people who’d been felled by sudden cardiac death and matched them against 600 “controls” who hadn’t.

They then performed genetic sequencing on the entire pool of 1,200 people to look for genes previously linked to heart or blood vessel disease, with no knowledge of which were victims of sudden cardiac death.

The researchers found 15 people who carried at least one of 14 different genetic mutations tied to heart health. After that, they took a step back to see which of the people had died of sudden cardiac death and which were controls.

“All 15 of these people had actually dropped dead [of cardiac arrest],” Khera said. “Zero of them were in the controls.”

As a next step, the researchers tracked a group of more than 4,500 healthy people for a median 14 years, to see whether those who carried one of these genetic variants would fall from sudden cardiac death.

The team identified 41 people — about 1% — as carrying one of these disease-causing genetic variants.

“We were able to show that from 2002 to 2017, they were at more than triple the risk for dying from sudden cardiac arrest,” Khera said.

Khera’s hope is that one day doctors will use these genes to screen for folks with hidden heart risk, and then treat them to lower the risk using therapies and drugs.

He’s already started this work, digging through Massachusetts General Hospital’s biobank of 100,000 patients to look for people carrying one of the 14 variants.

“We’ve already started calling them back, saying you have these variants, do you want to learn about it?” Khera said.

Still, Khera thinks it’s 5 to 10 years from the point where people could receive such genetic screening in their doctors office.

Dr. Kim Eagle, a cardiologist with the University of Michigan Medicine, said such a test could be even further off.

“I think you have to view this as preliminary,” he said of the new study. “Clearly, we’re still grappling with the challenge of taking the human genome and what we know about it and applying it to day-to-day practice in a cost-effective method.”

There’s still so much unknown about genetic variants that they are easy to find but hard to judge, Eagle said.

“If you talk about screening the general population for rare but potentially important genetic defects, you’re going to find a lot of people that have a variant but you don’t know how important it is,” he said.

A test could result in a lot of false-positive results that scare patients to no good purpose, Eagle believes.

He shared the story of a male patient who’d frequently asked him for a genetic screen to find his potential risk factors. When Eagle demurred, the patient took the initiative to get a genetic screening from one of the new companies that have sprung up to provide this service.

He came back to Eagle very upset, pointing out that they found a couple of genes with important variants that could really affect his health.

“I said, ‘You know what’s really interesting? Both of these genes identify diseases that only happen in women,'” Eagle said. “Here’s an example of the result of a false-positive — a guy who doesn’t understand, who’s scared to death that he’s got a rare genetic disorder, and it only happens in women.”

The study was also published Nov. 16 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

For more information:

The Cleveland Clinic has more about sudden cardiac death.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Smoked Salmon Recalled for Botulism Risk

Nov. 8, 2019 — A company in Maine has recalled packages of smoked salmon sold in 23 states for fears it may be contaminated with botulism, a dangerous and potentially deadly form of food poisoning.

Mill Stream Corp., which does business as Sullivan Harbor Farm of Hancock, ME, recalled the 10 lots of smoked salmon that was marketed as safe to be kept in the refrigerator or freezer. But a review of lab reports showed the fish™s salt content was too low for it to be safely refrigerated, making it susceptible to Clostridiumbotulinum, or botulism.

The salmon was sold between March 6 and Sept. 17 in vacuum-sealed packages as whole salmon side, and in 2-pound, 1-pound, 8-ounce, and 4-ounce packages with lot numbers: 7049, 7050, 7051, 7052, 7054, 7056, 7058, 7060, 7062, and 7066.

The recalled products were sold in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Botulism poisoning may cause general weakness, dizziness, double vision, and trouble speaking or swallowing. Having a hard time breathing, muscle weakness, belly pain, and constipation are also common symptoms. People who have these problems should seek medical help.

No illnesses have been connected to the recalled products.

This is not the first time Mill Stream ran afoul of FDA regulations. The company agreed to shut down its manufacturing in 2016 after the U.S. Justice Department filed a complaint in federal court on behalf of the FDA. The complaint said Mill Stream failed œto plan for and control the presence of bacteria and neurotoxins commonly found in seafood-processing facilities,” according to a Department of Justice news release.

It said Mill Stream™s products were œadulterated in that they have been prepared, packed or held under insanitary conditions whereby the products may have become contaminated with filth or have been rendered injurious to health.”

The company spent the next 3 years working to gain FDA approval to begin selling smoked fish and other products. It reopened in August 2019, according to a blog post on the Sullivan Harbor Farm website.

œWe spent 3 years going through a relicensing ordeal with the FDA, which oversees and licenses all seafood in the US,” the blog post says. œWe stuck to our guns with our artisanal approach to curing and smoking. Going forward our customers can expect the same level of quality and tastes from our products while maintaining high foods safety standards.”


WebMD Health

Staying Slim After Weight-Loss Surgery Could Cut Cancer Risk in Half

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 6, 2019 — The drastic weight loss that occurs with successful bariatric surgery could have an extra benefit — it may slash your risk of cancer.

People with severe obesity who dropped more than 20% of their total body weight following surgery wound up cutting their risk of cancer by more than half, compared with those who didn’t lose as much weight after the procedure, a new study reports.

“Those who lost more weight had a significantly reduced risk of cancer,” said lead researcher Dr. Angela Stroud, an assistant professor with the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine’s division of bariatric surgery.

Previous studies have linked obesity to cancer, so these researchers set out to see exactly how much weight loss might protect a person.

Stroud and her colleagues turned to a long-term study of bariatric surgery, gathering data on more than 2,100 people treated at 10 medical centers across the United States. The type of surgery could either be gastric bypass or gastric banding.

People who underwent the surgery and didn’t lose weight had an overall higher risk of cancer during seven years of follow-up. Those whose body mass index (BMI) dropped under 30, the threshold for obesity, had a 40% reduced risk of cancer compared with those who remained obese.

Further, researchers found that the more weight a person lost, the less likely they were to develop cancer.

About 6.2% of those who lost less than 20% of their body weight received a cancer diagnosis within seven years of their surgery, compared with 3.6% of patients who lost 20% or more, researchers reported.

Those who lost between 20% and 35% of their total weight following bariatric surgery had a 56% reduction in their overall cancer risk, compared with those who lost less than 20% of their initial weight.

The results indicate that people who want to lower their cancer risk should opt for gastric bypass surgery, since the average person who underwent gastric banding did not lose anywhere near as much weight, Stroud said.

This also shows that obese people who are worried about cancer likely need weight-loss surgery to reduce their risk, said Dr. Eric DeMaria, president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Diet and exercise likely can’t lead to the sort of dramatic weight loss that’s required.

“Here we have a study that says you’ve got to be more aggressive with the weight loss to really see the impact, and that really puts it in the terrain of bariatric surgery,” said DeMaria, chief of general and bariatric surgery at the East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine in Greenville, N.C. He wasn’t involved with the study.

Breast cancer was the most common among the patients, followed by thyroid, melanoma, colon, kidney, uterine and lung.

Dramatic weight loss might be reducing cancer risk by lowering rates of type 2 diabetes, Stroud said.

“There’s definitely an association between type 2 diabetes and cancer, so if we’re making diabetes better that might be one of the bigger players in all of this,” she said.

People who lose more weight also might be benefitting from much lower levels of inflammation, as well as healthier gut bacteria, Stroud said.

But researchers also found that metabolic changes directly linked to weight and appetite were associated with lower cancer risk.

For example, for each 20% reduction in leptin — a hormone that decreases hunger — there was a 20% reduction in cancer, researchers said.

Decreases in diabetes-related fasting glucose and insulin also were associated with reduced cancer risk, as were increases in ghrelin, the “hunger hormone.”

Studies like this shine a light on an underappreciated risk associated with obesity, compared with the risk of heart disease or diabetes, DeMaria said.

The link between obesity and cancer “is not widely appreciated among the public, I think,” DeMaria said. “People don’t intuitively say you’re at high risk for cancer if you’re obese. They don’t think that way. It’s not as known. “

The new study was presented Tuesday at the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery’s annual meeting, in Las Vegas. Data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about obesity and cancer.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Exercise Can Lower Older Women’s Fracture Risk

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 25, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Older women who get even light exercise, like a daily walk, may lower their risk of suffering a broken hip, a large study suggests.

A number of studies have linked regular exercise to a lower risk of hip fracture — a potentially disabling or even fatal injury for older adults. Each year, more than 300,000 people in the United States aged 65 or older are hospitalized for a broken hip, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new study, of more than 77,000 older U.S. women, took a deeper look at the types of exercise that are related to the risk of hip fracture and other bone breaks.

The researchers found that, on average, women who regularly exercised at any intensity — from walking, to doing yard work, to jogging — had a lower risk of hip fracture over 14 years, compared to inactive women.

It all suggests that even light activity is enough to curb the risk of these serious injuries, said study leader Michael LaMonte, a research associate professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

“We were happy to see a strong relationship between walking and lower hip fracture risk,” he said. “As we get older, we naturally do less-strenuous physical activity. This suggests that to lower your risk of hip fracture, you don’t need to do anything fancy. It can be as simple as walking.”

The findings “strongly support” longstanding recommendations for people to fit physical activity into their daily routine, according to Dr. Richard Bockman.

“Get out there and walk,” said Bockman, chief of the endocrine service at the Hospital for Special Surgery, in New York City.

Lower-impact activities do not have a big effect on bone density. But Bockman, who was not involved in the study, said that while bone density matters in hip fracture risk, other factors are also involved. They include muscle strength in the lower body, balance and agility, since broken hips are almost always the result of a fall.

Continued

The findings, published online Oct. 25 in JAMA Network Open, come from the Women’s Health Initiative — a study begun in the 1990s at 40 U.S. medical centers. It involved more than 77,000 women who were between the ages of 50 and 79 when they enrolled.

At the outset, the women reported on their usual physical activities, among other lifestyle factors.

Over an average of 14 years, one-third of the women suffered a bone fracture. When it came to hip fractures, women who’d reported higher amounts of physical activity at the study’s start typically had a lower risk.

For example, women who regularly got moderate to vigorous exercise, such as brisk walking or jogging, had a 12% lower risk of hip fracture than those who were less active. But there was also a link between “mild activity” — like slow dancing, bowling or golfing — and lower hip fracture risk. And the more often women walked, at any speed, the lower their risk of a broken hip.

The news wasn’t all good: Women who exercised at moderate to vigorous intensities had a relatively higher risk of a wrist or forearm fracture, compared to less-active women.

It’s not clear why, but LaMonte offered a guess: When women with more “functional ability” do fall, they may be more likely to stretch out an arm to break the fall, which is how wrist and forearm fractures often happen.

One question the study cannot address, LaMonte said, is whether starting exercise at an older age reduces hip fracture risk. Study participants who were physically active may have been active their whole lives.

But, he said, it is clear that “sitting less and moving more” is key in older adults’ overall health, with benefits such as better control of blood pressure and diabetes, and a lower risk of heart disease.

Besides exercise, older adults can take other steps to reduce their hip fracture risk, LaMonte noted. They include getting bone mass measurements as recommended by your doctor, and following a healthy diet with adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Michael LaMonte, Ph.D., M.P.H., research associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health, State University of New York at Buffalo; Richard Bockman, M.D., Ph.D., chief of endocrine service, Hospital for Special Surgery, and professor of medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City; Oct. 25, 2019,JAMA Network Open, online

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Pagination

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FDA: Smokeless Tobacco Can Advertise as “Lower Risk”

Oct. 23, 2019 — The maker of eight smokeless tobacco products known as snus can market them as being lower risk than regular cigarettes for giving users cancer, lung disease, and stroke, the FDA said Tuesday.

The smokeless products from Swedish Match, sold under the General brand, were cleared for sale in the U.S. in 2015 but without the claim of lower risk. The FDA says while they are lower risk, it does not mean the products are safe or FDA approved, the agency says.

“All tobacco products are potentially harmful and addictive, and those who do not use tobacco products should continue to refrain from their use,” the agency says in a news release.

The decision drew strong reaction from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the American Lung Association.

“We are disappointed that the FDA did not put greater priority around protecting kids from these tobacco products, especially allowing flavored products,” says Erika Sward, assistant vice president of national advocacy for the American Lung Association. Among the eight products included as lower risk are mint and wintergreen, flavors thought to appeal to teens.

Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says in a statement that he also wants the FDA to ensure that the “products are not marketed to or used by kids and are marketed only to adult smokers.” He calls for enforcement of the company™s promise to study the impact of its decision as part of its post-marketing research for the FDA. The FDA can also eliminate the modified risk authorization after 5 years if it™s having a negative impact on health.

The FDA says the evidence did not suggest ”significant youth initiation of these products” or that young adults who do not use tobacco currently would start using snus even with the modified risk claim.

Snus is a form of smokeless tobacco. Unlike other smokeless tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco, snuff, and dip, users don’t need to spit when using snus.

Snus uses a traditional Scandinavian tobacco method, says Jim Solyst, vice president of federal regulatory affairs for Swedish Match USA. Users place the small packets or pouches of tobacco under their upper lip.

The FDA decision gives the company the ability to make its claims of lower risk in marketing content but not on the product labels, he says.

While cigarette smoking has declined in recent years, smokeless tobacco has not, the American Lung Association says. Nearly 4% of U.S. adults use smokeless tobacco in some form.

FDA spokesperson Jeremy Kahn says while the agency did not quantify the risk difference between snus and cigarettes, the conclusion was based on long-term evidence from Sweden and Norway finding lower risk.

“These General Snus products are manufactured differently from traditional smokeless products and have a different risk profile,” Kahn says. Even though the cancer risk is expected to be lower from the products compared to other smokeless tobacco products, ”long-term use of these products is not without health risks.”

Sources

News release, FDA.

Jim Solyst, vice president of federal regulatory affairs, Swedish Match USA.

American Lung Association: “Health Effects of Smokeless Tobacco Products.”

Erika Sward, assistant vice president of national advocacy, American Lung Association. 

Jeremy Kahn, FDA spokesperson.

Matt Myers, president, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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WebMD Health

Stress in Pregnancy May Affect Baby’s Sex, Preterm Delivery Risk: Study

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 16, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Physical and mental stress during pregnancy may influence the baby’s sex, and physical stress may increase the risk of preterm birth, a new study suggests.

Researchers assessed 187 healthy pregnant women between 18 and 45 years of age. About 17% were mentally stressed, with high levels of depression, anxiety and perceived stress. Sixteen percent were physically stressed, with higher daily blood pressure and calorie intake than other women in the study.

Women with either physical or psychological stress were more likely to have a girl, the study found. Typically, about 105 males are born for every 100 females. But the male-to-female ratios in this study were 4:9 among women with physical stress and 2:3 among those with mental stress during pregnancy.

“Other researchers have seen this pattern after social upheavals, such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, after which the relative number of male births decreased,” said study leader Catherine Monk, director of Women’s Mental Health at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City.

“This stress in women is likely of long-standing nature; studies have shown that males are more vulnerable to adverse prenatal environments, suggesting that highly stressed women may be less likely to give birth to a male due to the loss of prior male pregnancies, often without even knowing they were pregnant,” Monk explained in a hospital news release.

Women under physical stress also were more likely to give birth prematurely, and their fetuses were more likely to have an indicator of slower central nervous system development.

Meanwhile, mentally stressed mothers had more birth complications, according to the findings.

“We know from animal studies that exposure to high levels of stress can raise levels of stress hormones like cortisol in the uterus, which in turn can affect the fetus,” Monk said.

“Stress can also affect the mother’s immune system, leading to changes that affect neurological and behavioral development in the fetus. What’s clear from our study is that maternal mental health matters, not only for the mother but also for her future child,” she concluded.

The study was published online Oct. 14 in the journal PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCE: Columbia University Irving Medical Center, news release, Oct. 14, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Are Disinfectants Putting Nurses at Risk of COPD?

FRIDAY, Oct. 18, 2019 — Nurses trying to prevent infection of hospital patients could be putting themselves at risk of developing chronic lung disease, a new study warns.

The cleaners and disinfectants used to sterilize medical equipment and wash hospital surfaces appear to increase nurses’ odds of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to findings published online Oct. 18 in JAMA Network Open.

The study shows that nurses’ health could be threatened by workplace exposure to these chemicals, said Dr. Wayne Tsuang, a Cleveland Clinic pulmonologist.

“Equipment needs to be cleaned for good patient care, but at the same time we need to make sure health care workers are protected,” he said, commenting on the findings.

For the new study, researchers tapped into data from an ongoing study of more than 116,000 female registered nurses in 14 states that dates back to 1989.

This new study focused on women who were still nurses and had no lung ailments in 2009. The researchers then tracked their workplace history and lung health from 2009 through 2015, using questionnaires that the nurses filled out every other year.

People with COPD gradually lose their ability to draw a decent breath. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause, but COPD also can be caused by regular workplace exposure to lung irritants, like dust and chemical fumes.

Lead study author Orianne Dumas said, “We found that exposure to several chemicals were associated with increased risk of developing COPD among nurses.” Dumas is a researcher with Inserm, a public scientific institute operated by the French Ministries of Health and Research.

The chemicals included glutaraldehyde and hydrogen peroxide, which are high-level disinfectants mainly used for medical instruments, Dumas said. Nurses also were regularly exposed to fumes from bleach, alcohol and quaternary ammonium compounds, which are mainly used to disinfect surfaces like floors and furniture.

All of these chemicals are known irritants of human airways, and could lead to development of COPD, Dumas said. However, the researchers only found an association, not a cause-and-effect relationship, in this study.

Dr. Abhishek Chakraborti is a pulmonologist at Brookdale Hospital and Medical Center in New York City, who studies COPD. He said, “These types of chemicals have been tied to other illnesses, some having a link to causing lung cancer.”

Nurses were between 25% and 36% more likely to develop COPD based on exposure to these cleaning products, even after accounting for whether they were smokers or suffered from asthma, the researchers found.

Weekly use of disinfectants to clean hospital surfaces appeared to increase COPD risk by 38%, the findings showed, while weekly use of the chemicals to clean medical instruments increased risk by 31%.

More study is needed to figure out how these cleaning products might cause COPD, and whether they increase the risk of lung disease for people in other professions — or even in ordinary households that use products like bleach for cleaning, Dumas said.

In the meantime, hospitals could protect nurses’ health by adopting potentially safer alternatives, she suggested. These include using steam or ultraviolet light to disinfect medical equipment and hospital surfaces, or switching to “green” cleaning products that don’t emit harmful fumes.

According to Tsuang, “It’s probably going to take a team approach to both reduce the exposure of nurses to these chemicals while also ensuring for patients’ safety that medical equipment is adequately clean to reduce the spread of infections at a hospital.”

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about COPD.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

PTSD Linked to Increased Risk of Stroke in Younger Adults

THURSDAY, Oct. 17, 2019 — Young and middle-aged adults with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have an increased risk of stroke, new research suggests.

For the study, researchers analyzed medical data from more than 1 million veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. They ranged in age from 18 to 60 years and two-thirds were white.

Of those, 29% had been diagnosed with PTSD. None had previously suffered a stroke or mini-stroke (also known as a transient ischemic attack, or “TIA”).

During 13 years of follow-up, 766 vets had a TIA and 1,877 had an ischemic stroke, which is caused by blocked blood flow to the brain.

Veterans with PTSD were 62% more likely to have a stroke, raising the risk more than known risk factors such as obesity and smoking. They were also twice as likely to have a TIA, increasing the risk more than diabetes and sleep apnea.

Even after accounting for known stroke risk factors, mental health disorders (such as depression and anxiety) and drug and alcohol abuse, the investigators found that veterans with PTSD were still 61% more likely to have a TIA and 36% more likely to have a stroke than vets without PTSD.

The link between PTSD and stroke was stronger in men than in women. In addition, vets with PTSD were more likely to have unhealthy habits — such as smoking and inactivity — that increase stroke risk, according to the study published Oct. 17 in the journal Stroke.

Previous studies have shown that PTSD increases heart disease and stroke risk for older adults, but the researchers said this is the first study to identify a link between PTSD and the risk of TIA and stroke in young and middle-aged adults. These groups have had a large increase in strokes over the past decade, the study authors noted.

“Stroke has a devastating impact on young patients and their families, many of whom struggle to cope with long-term disability, depression and economic loss during their most productive years,” said lead author Lindsey Rosman. She’s an assistant professor in the cardiology division at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill.

“Ten to 14% of ischemic strokes occur in adults ages 18 to 45, and we don’t really have a good understanding of the risk factors for stroke in this age group,” she explained in a journal news release.

PTSD affects about 30% of U.S. veterans. While this study focused on veterans, about 8 million U.S. adults have PTSD, which can develop when someone sees or experiences a traumatic event, such as sexual assault, gun violence, military combat or a natural disaster.

“PTSD is not just a veteran issue, it’s a serious public health problem,” Rosman said.

Clinicians should be aware that mental health conditions like PTSD are increasingly common among young people and may affect their risk of stroke, she added.

“Our findings raise important questions about whether early recognition and successful treatment of PTSD can prevent or decrease the likelihood of developing stroke in those exposed to violence, trauma and severe adversity,” Rosman said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more on PTSD.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Moms’ Weight-Loss Surgery Tied to Lower Risk of Birth Defects

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 16, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Weight-loss surgery before pregnancy may lower obese women’s odds of having a baby with major birth defects, new research suggests.

For the study, the researchers examined data on more than 33,000 births in Sweden between 2007 and 2014.

Of these, nearly 3,000 children were born to mothers who had a type of weight-loss surgery called gastric bypass before getting pregnant. The rest were born to women who weighed about the same as the others did before weight-loss surgery — more than 260 pounds.

Women in the surgery group lost an average 88 pounds and weighed about 181 pounds at their first prenatal checkup. In addition, their use of diabetes medications fell from 9.7% to 1.5%.

The risk of major birth defects was about 30% lower in children whose mothers had weight-loss surgery than in those of the obese mothers, the findings showed.

The risk of major birth defects was 3.4% in children born to women who had gastric bypass surgery — similar to the 3.5% rate among those born to normal-weight women, the researchers reported.

The risk of major birth defects was 4.9% in children born to the women who were still obese, according to the study published Oct. 15 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings challenge long-held concerns that weight-loss surgery could increase the odds of major birth defects, according to the researchers.

“This study shows that weight-loss and improved blood sugar control in the mother can actually result in a lower risk of birth defects in the child,” said study author Martin Neovius, a professor of medicine at Karolinska Institute in Solna, Sweden.

“It should help reduce fears that bariatric [weight-loss] surgery increases the risk of birth defects in the event of future pregnancy, assuming that surgery patients take their recommended nutritional supplements,” he said in a university news release.

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Sources

SOURCE: Karolinska Institute, news release, Oct. 15, 2019

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Fewer Teeth, Higher Risk of Heart Disease?

FRIDAY, Oct. 4, 2018 — Losing teeth may be associated with higher risk for heart disease, a new study suggests.

Researchers studied nearly 317,000 Americans between 40 and 79 years of age. They found that 28% of those who had lost all their teeth to gum disease also had heart problems, compared with 7% of those who kept all their teeth.

The researchers found that people with some missing teeth were more likely to develop heart disease, even when accounting for factors such as age, weight, race, tobacco and alcohol use, and dental visits.

“Our results support that there is a relationship between dental health and cardiovascular health,” said lead author Dr. Hamad Mohammed Qabha. He’s chief medical and surgical intern at Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The findings were scheduled to be presented Thursday at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The study only revealed an association rather than a cause-and-effect link.

“If a person’s teeth fall out, there may be other underlying health concerns,” Qabha said in a meeting news release. “Clinicians should be recommending that people in this age group receive adequate oral health care to prevent the diseases that lead to tooth loss in the first place and as potentially another way of reducing risk of future cardiovascular disease.”

Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

For more about steps to prevent heart disease, visit the American Heart Association.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019

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High-Fiber Diet Tied to Lower Heart Risk in Diabetes Patients

FRIDAY, Oct. 4, 2019 — A fiber-rich diet appears to help people with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes in multiple ways, lowering their blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, a new study suggests.

High blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes raise the risk for heart disease, and diet may help keep it at bay, researchers say.

“This study helps us determine three important things for this patient population,” said lead author Dr. Rohit Kapoor, medical director of Care Well Heart and Super Specialty Hospital in Amritsar, India.

“Firstly, a high-fiber diet is important in cases of diabetes and hypertension to prevent future cardiovascular disease,” Kapoor said in a news release from the American College of Cardiology.

“Secondly, medical nutrition therapy and regular counseling sessions also hold great importance in treating and prevention of diabetes and hypertension,” he added.

Thirdly, this type of diet in combination with medical treatment can improve lipid levels, pulse wave velocity [a measure of arterial stiffness], waist-to-hip ratio and high blood pressure, Kapoor said.

For the study, Kapoor’s team tracked fiber consumption among 200 participants over six months. Patients sent photos of their meals on WhatsApp and engaged in phone calls three times a week during which they were asked to recall their diet.

The study found that those participants eating a high-fiber diet showed significant improvement in several risk factors, including a 9% reduction in cholesterol, 23% reduction in triglycerides, 15% reduction in systolic (top number) blood pressure and a 28% reduction in blood sugar.

Foods high in fiber include fruits and vegetables, beans, whole grains and nuts.

The study results were scheduled to be presented Thursday at an American College of Cardiology meeting, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

For more on type 2 diabetes, head to the American Diabetes Association.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019

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Heavy Exposure to Pesticides May Boost Stroke Risk

FRIDAY, Sept. 27, 2019 — Working around high levels of pesticides may translate into a high risk for heart trouble later, a new study suggests.

That was the case for a group of Japanese-American men in Hawaii who were followed for more than three decades. Compared to men who had not worked around pesticides, those who had the greatest exposure had a 45% higher risk for heart disease or stroke, researchers found.

“This study emphasizes the importance of using personal protective equipment during exposure to pesticides on the job and the importance of documenting occupational exposure to pesticides in medical records, as well as controlling standard heart disease risk factors,” said study co-author Dr. Beatriz Rodriguez.

She’s a professor of geriatric medicine at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The findings stem from data on more than 6,000 men on Oahu who took part in the Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program. Because only men of Japanese descent were involved, the findings may not apply to women or other populations, the researchers noted.

Since pesticides have a long half-life, their effects on health may show up years after exposure. In this case, the greatest effects were seen within 10 years of exposure.

“After following the men for 34 years, the link between being exposed to pesticides at work and heart disease and stroke was no longer significant,” Rodriguez said in a news release. “This was probably because other factors tied to aging became more important, masking the possible relation of pesticides and cardiovascular disease later in life.”

Researchers found no significant link between exposure to low to moderate amounts of pesticides and the risk of heart disease or stroke.

The report was published online Sept. 25 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

More information

For more on heart disease and stroke, visit the American Heart Association.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2019

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What Is Your Risk for Prostate Cancer?

THURSDAY, Sept. 12, 2019 — Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men, so it’s important to know the risk factors and warning signs, an expert says.

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be nearly 175,000 new prostate cancer cases in the United States this year and over 31,000 deaths. One in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.

“The disease can be successfully treated when detected early, typically when it is still within the prostate gland,” said Dr. Alexander Kutikov, chief of urologic oncology at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. “However, some types are aggressive and can spread quickly. In these cases, there may be a lesser chance of successful treatment.”

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness month.

Men between 55 and 69 years of age should consider prostate cancer screening, according to the American Urological Association.

“Because screening has its advantages and disadvantages, not every man should be screened for prostate cancer,” Kutikov said. “Men should discuss their risk factors, screening options and preferences with their health care provider before deciding whether to be screened.”

Symptoms of prostate cancer may include trouble urinating, including a slow or weak stream or the need to urinate more often, especially at night; blood in the urine; and pain or burning during urination.

The risk for prostate cancer rises quickly after age 50. About six out of 10 prostate cancers are diagnosed in men older than 65, according to a news release from the cancer center.

Race is another risk factor. Compared to whites, blacks have a higher risk and are more than twice as likely to die from prostate cancer. Asian-American and Hispanic men have a lower risk than white men.

Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s odds for developing the disease. The risk is much higher for men with several affected relatives, particularly if they were young when diagnosed.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on prostate cancer.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2019

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Vets With Traumatic Brain Injury Have Higher Suicide Risk: Study

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 11, 2019 — The risk of suicide among U.S. military veterans who have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is more than double that of other vets, a new study finds.

Researchers analyzed records of more than 1.4 million vets who received care from the U.S. Veterans Health Administration (VHA) between 2005 and 2015.

They compared severity of the traumatic brain injury with diagnoses of psychiatric and other medical conditions, along with method of death in suicide cases.

After adjusting for depression and other mental health diagnoses, the researchers found that veterans with moderate or severe TBI were 2.45 times more likely to die by suicide than those without TBI. The study only found an association and not a cause-and-effect link, however.

During the study period, the suicide rate was 86 per 100,000 person years for those with TBI and 37 per 100,000 person years for others. A person year is a formula that accounts for the number of people in a study and how long they were followed.

Of vets studied who died by suicide, 68% used guns. The rate was 78% among vets with moderate or severe TBI, according to the University of Colorado-led study.

“Together, these findings underscore the importance of understanding veterans’ lifetime history of TBI to prevent future deaths by suicide, and support the implementation of screening initiatives for lifetime history of TBI among all individuals utilizing the VHA,” the authors said in a university news release.

Lisa Brenner, a professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, led the study.

Her team said the findings also show the need for more research regarding gun safety among those with moderate to severe TBI.

The study was published recently in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on traumatic brain injury.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2019

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Vegetarians May Face Higher Stroke Risk

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 5, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Vegetarianism is all the rage these days, but a new study suggests that slicing meat from your diet might raise your risk of stroke slightly.

While vegetarians had a 22% lower risk for heart disease, they had a 20% higher risk for stroke, British researchers found. Meanwhile, people who ate fish but no other meats (pescatarians) had a 13% lower risk of heart disease, with no increased stroke risk.

“The lower risk of heart disease is likely at least partly due to lower weight, lower blood pressure, lower blood cholesterol and lower rates of diabetes linked to pescatarian or vegetarian diets,” said lead researcher Tammy Tong, a nutritional epidemiologist in the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford.

Tong cautioned that this study can’t prove that not eating meat reduces the risk for heart disease or increases the risk for stroke, only that there seems to be a connection.

And the absolute reduction in the risk for heart disease and increased risk for stroke is modest, she said.

“When translated into absolute numbers, this was equivalent to 10 fewer cases of heart disease in the vegetarians than the meat eaters in every 1,000 people eating these diets over 10 years,” Tong said.

As for stroke, three more strokes would be seen among vegetarians compared with meat eaters over the same time, she said.

Why?

Recent evidence suggests that very low cholesterol levels might be linked to a higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke, Tong noted. Vegetarians and vegans might also have low levels of some nutrients, such as vitamin B12, which is only naturally available from animal foods, she added.

“Some research has suggested there may be a link between B12 deficiency and higher stroke risk, but the evidence is not conclusive,” Tong said.

Tong also said that only heart disease and stroke were studied, but other chronic conditions need to be looked at to show the total benefit of a vegetarian diet.

The report was published Sept. 4 in the BMJ journal.

Continued

Mark Lawrence, a professor of public health nutrition at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, said that dietary guidelines have the best advice for vegetarians as well as for fish and meat eaters.

That’s because they consider dietary associations with multiple health outcomes — not just heart disease and stroke, said Lawrence, who co-authored an accompanying journal editorial.

“Shifting towards a plant-based diet can have personal and planetary health benefits, though it does not necessarily mean becoming a vegetarian,” he said.

For the study, Tong and her colleagues collected data on more than 48,000 men and women, average age 45, with no history of stroke or heart disease.

Among the participants were more than 24,000 meat eaters, about 7,500 pescatarians and more than 16,000 vegetarians and vegans.

During the 18 years of the study, nearly 3,000 people developed heart disease and more than 1,000 suffered a stroke. About 500 of the strokes were caused by blood clots in the brain (ischemic stroke) and 300 resulted from bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).

The researchers accounted for factors such as medical history, smoking, use of dietary supplements, and physical activity, which can affect the risk for heart disease and stroke.

One U.S. dietitian noted that there are benefits to vegetarian diets — as long as you include vitamins that may be lacking.

“Vegans and strict vegetarians need to be mindful of obtaining certain nutrients, such as vitamin B12, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids from their diet and supplements,” said Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

Not getting enough of these nutrients may increase the risk of certain health problems, she said.

“That said, a more plant-based approach to eating helps reduce the risk of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and type 2 diabetes,” Heller said.

“You can’t go wrong cutting back on red and processed meats such as beef, pork and ham and adding lentils, chickpeas, tofu, broccoli, spinach or cauliflower to your meals,” Heller advised.

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Sources

SOURCES: Tammy Tong, Ph.D., nutritional epidemiologist, Nuffield Department of Population Health, Oxford University, England; Mark Lawrence, Ph.D., professor, public health nutrition, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia; Samantha Heller, M.S., R.D., senior clinical nutritionist, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City; Sept. 4, 2019,BMJ

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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