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July 25, 2006, 6:16 AM CT

Obesity an increasing obstacle

Obesity an increasing obstacle
The increase of obesity in the United States doubled the number of inconclusive diagnostic imaging exams over a 15-year period, as per a research studyfeatured in the recent issue of Radiology.

Scientists assessed all radiology exams performed at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) between 1989 and 2003 to determine the effects of obesity on imaging quality and diagnosis.

In an effort to quantify how obesity affects diagnostic imaging quality, Dr. Uppot and his colleagues analyzed radiology records from a 15-year span at MGH. They searched for incomplete exams that carried the label "limited by body habitus," meaning limited in quality due to patient size.

"While 0.10 percent of inconclusive exams were due to patient size in 1989, by 2003 the number had jumped to 0.19 percent, despite advances in imaging technology," said Raul N. Uppot, M.D., lead author and staff radiologist at MGH. "Americans need to know that obesity can hinder their medical care when they enter a hospital".

An estimated 66 percent of adults in the United States are overweight, obese or morbidly obese, as per the Department of Health and Human Services. Additionally, more than 12.5 million American children and adolescents are overweight. Hospitals are feeling the strain--they now require larger wheelchairs and beds. Additionally, standard operating tables and imaging equipment are not suited for obese patients.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

July 24, 2006, 6:58 AM CT

People Unconsciously Use Verbal Gestures

People Unconsciously Use Verbal Gestures
University of Chicago researchers have determined that people spontaneously use a system of communicating when they speak that either reinforces their message or provides additional information that is not conveyed by words alone. Dubbed "analog acoustic expression," this previously uninvestigated form of communication is described as a sort of verbal gesturing.

Like gestures, analog acoustic expression expands people's capacity to communicate and typically happens with little intention on the part of the speaker, eventhough it is possible to use this expression explicitly to dramatize an utterance.

Eventhough scientists have been aware that people modulate their speech, they assumed that some of this modulation was intentional and was merely meant to emphasize points or communicate emotion. The new discovery is the first experimental evidence showing that people unconsciously modulate their voices in ways that provide an additional channel of expression understood by listeners, the scientists said.

"I think we've all noticed this form of communication, but have not paid too much attention to it," said co-author Howard Nusbaum, Chairman of the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago "Someone will raise his voice slightly at the end of the sentence when saying, 'the stock market is going up' or lower it when saying 'the stock market is going down'." The modulations also make telephone conversations and words spoken on the radio more comprehensible, he added.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

July 24, 2006, 6:34 AM CT

Slowing Alzheimer's disease

Slowing Alzheimer's disease
Scientists have uncovered the pathways behind the protection offered by environmental stimulation in Alzheimer's disease, further confirming that enhanced mental and physical activity slows neurological decline. The paper by Ambre et al., "Reduction of amyloid angiopathy and Aβ plaque burden after enriched housing in TgCRND8 mice: involvement of multiple pathways," appears in the recent issue of The American Journal of Pathology.

Alzheimer's disease, the leading cause of senile dementia, presents with cognitive and behavioral deficiencies resulting in part from accumulation of -amyloid (A) deposits within the brain (A plaques) and its blood vessels (amyloid angiopathy). Eventhough prior studies have shown that increased mental and physical activity can slow the progression of the disease, how such deceleration occurs has been unclear until now.

Dr. Kathy Keyvani's group at University Hospital Muenster examined the effects of environmental stimulation on the brain pathology of TgCRND8 mice. These mice, which express a mutant form of A found in some Alzheimer's patients, develop Alzheimer-like features including A plaques and cognitive deficits. To study the effects of enrichment, mice were housed in either standard cages or enriched cages, similar to the standard but with access to a stimulus cage containing permanent fixtures (rope and gnawing wood) as well as removable items (tunnels, balls, ladders, ramps, and exercise wheels) that were changed on a rotating basis.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

July 23, 2006, 10:56 PM CT

Prescription pain killer overdose

Prescription pain killer overdose
Trends analysis of drug poisoning deaths has helped explain a national epidemic of overdose deaths in the USA that began in the 1990s, concludes Leonard Paulozzi and his colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, USA. The contribution of prescription pain killers to the epidemic has only become clear recently. This research is published this week in the journal, Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety.

Drugs called "opioids" are frequently prescribed to relieve pain, but if abused they can kill. Over the past 15 years, sales of opioid pain killers, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone and fentanyl, have increased, and deaths from these drugs have increased in parallel.

In 2002, over 16,000 people died in the USA as a result of drug overdoses, with most deaths correlation to opioids, heroin, and cocaine. Opioids surpassed both cocaine and heroin in extent of involvement in these drug overdoses between 1999 and 2002.

The situation appears to be accelerating. Between 1979 and 1990 the rate of deaths attributed to unintentional drug poisoning increased by an average of 5.3% each year. Between 1990 and 2002, the rate increased by 18.1% per year. The contribution played by opioids is also increasing. Between 1999 and 2002 the number of overdose death certificates that mention poisoning by opioid pain killers went up by 91.2%. While the pain killer category showed the greatest increase, death certificates pointing a finger of blame at heroin and cocaine also increased by 12.4% and 22.8% respectively.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

July 23, 2006, 10:21 PM CT

Chronic Stress And Ovarian Cancer

Chronic Stress And Ovarian Cancer
When mice with ovary cancer are stressed, their tumors grow and spread more quickly, but that effect can be blocked using a medicine usually prescribed for heart disease, as per a preclinical study by scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The finding, reported in the journal Nature Medicine, now available on-line, provides the first measurable link between psychological stress and the biological processes that make ovarian tumors grow and spread. Specifically, the scientists showed that stress hormones bind to receptors directly on tumor cells and, in turn, stimulate new blood vessel growth and other factors that lead to faster and more aggressive tumors.

"This study provides a new understanding of how chronic stress and stress factors drive tumor growth," says Anil Sood, M.D., associate professor of gynecologic oncology and cancer biology and director of ovary cancer research.

In fact, when the scientists blocked the stress hormone receptors in their experimental system using a heart disease drug called propranolol, also known as a "beta blocker," they were able to stop the negative effects of stress on tumor growth. The scientists used the beta blocker because the same hormone receptors, called beta adrenergic receptors, are found in the heart and normally work to maintain blood flow.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source

July 20, 2006, 8:28 PM CT

Best Online Learning Experience

Best Online Learning Experience
Breast cancer patients who use online information services in combination with computer support groups and other interactive services are the most likely to feel they have the information they need to cope with their illness, as per new research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research.

"Prior research indicated that women with breast cancer can learn as a result of having access to online health education resources, but this is among the first studies to explain how such learning actually occurs," says Bret Shaw, lead author of the study. The results are published as an advance issue of the journal Health Education Research.

To examine the most effective ways that cancer patients learn online, the scientists provided free computers and Internet access to 286 lower income women recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Participants were also provided access to an integrated computer-based health education and support system called the Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (CHESS) "Living with Breast Cancer" program offering four distinct types of services.

The first type was information services - static Web pages containing a broad range of breast cancer-related information. The system also offered support groups enabling peer-to-peer communication and an expert service allowing patients to ask a question and receive a response within 48 hours. The other service type was interactive in which the computer played an active role in guiding the user, making suggestions, offering feedback and influencing the user's behavior. A browser automatically collected use data on an individual key stoke level as participants used the system, allowing the scientists to measure what types of services were used. Additionally, women were also surveyed before the study began and four months after receiving the system to determine how certain patterns of use behavior contributed to improved learning outcomes.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

July 19, 2006, 10:40 PM CT

Developing Safer Anti-obesity Drugs

Developing Safer Anti-obesity Drugs Dr. Joel Elmquist, professor of internal medicine
A study led by a UT Southwestern Medical Center researcher sheds light on how the brain chemical serotonin, when spurred by diet drugs such as Fen-phen, works to curb appetite.

That knowledge could aid in the design of safer anti-obesity drugs nearly a decade after Fen-phen was banned for causing harmful side effects.

The study, which tested the effect of several drugs that alter serotonin levels in the brain, observed that serotonin activates some neurons and melanocortin-4 receptors, or MC4Rs, to curb appetite and at the same time blocks other neurons that normally act to increase appetite.

The dual effect helps explain how such drugs, including Fen-phen, spur weight loss.

The finding, available online and in the July 20 issue of Neuron, also reinforces the role of serotonin - a regulator of emotions, mood and sleep - in affecting the brain's melanocortin system, a key molecular pathway that controls body weight.

"The more we understand about the pathways and the way serotonergic drugs regulate body weight, the more it one day might lead to harnessing beneficial properties of anti-obesity therapys like Fen-phen and minimizing the harmful side effects," said Dr. Joel Elmquist, professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern and co-senior author of the study.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

July 19, 2006, 10:33 PM CT

Demand For Community Nurses To Increase

Demand For Community Nurses Increase
An ageing population and the increasing number of people living at home with chronic illnesses are placing increasing demands on Australia's community nursing resources.

With the health care system becoming more reliant on community nurses to look after people with chronic and complex health problems such as dementia, diabetes and cancer, scientists at the University of Western Sydney have looked into the types of care provided.

Until now very little research has been done in this area, but this new study has looked at ways patients perceive community nurses and the work that they do.

Senior Lecturer at the UWS School of Nursing, Dr Jane Cioffi, says the study focused on care provided for clients of community health nursing services in Greater Western Sydney over a period of 12 months.

"Community nurses make a major contribution to Australia's health services, but because the work they do is 'behind closed doors', it's commonly only people who receive the service who understand the real value of it," Dr Cioffi says.

"Our research has shown that the standard of care people are receiving is good and they're grateful that the service enables them to stay in their home.

"But there's a need to look ahead to see how we can plan for the increasing demand for services in the future," she says.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

July 19, 2006, 9:56 PM CT

Prevention Program For Childhood Obesity

Prevention Program For Childhood Obesity
The waistlines of children continue to grow, along with the concern about the problem. Two University of Cincinnati scientists are recruiting a school, parents and children in fighting obesity as they test a new prevention program in Meade County, Ky. After spending spring conducting focus groups with children and their parents, the 12-week program, geared toward 129 fifth-graders, will be launched at an elementary school in Brandenburg, Ky., when school begins this fall.

The obesity intervention program is the creation of Megan Canavera, a registered dietician and master's degree candidate in the program of health promotion and education, UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services, and her advisor, Manoj Sharma, associate professor of health promotion and education.

The UC scientists are coordinating with the Brandenburg school's physical education teacher as they test the intervention program developed around four specific components:
  • Regular physical activity.
  • Enforcing healthy eating habits, such as limiting portion size, cutting soft drink consumption and adding fruits and vegetables to the children's diet.
  • Cutting back on time watching TV.
  • Improving parent-child communication to reinforce behaviors that cut back on obesity.
  • ........

    Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

    July 18, 2006, 9:01 PM CT

    Earlier Use Leads To Better Speech

    Earlier Use Leads To Better Speech A cochlear implant's external component senses sound and sends electrical signals to an internal component that stimulates the hearing nerves in the inner ear.
    "Bye-bye, bye-bye," said one 3 and a half-year old child, born deaf but with a cochlear implant that partially restored hearing nine months earlier. That's the most complex speech the child uttered during a testing session that involved play with a toy train set.

    In contrast, a child of the same age who had a cochlear implant 31 months earlier made more sophisticated statements: "OK, now the people goes to stand there with that noise and now - Woo! Woo!" and "OK, the train's coming to get the animals and people."

    The testing session was part of research that indicates the earlier a deaf infant or toddler receives a cochlear implant, the better his or her spoken language skills at age 3 and a half. The research was conducted by Johanna Grant Nicholas, Ph.D., research associate professor of otolaryngology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and colleague Ann E. Geers, Ph.D., from the Southwestern Medical School at the University of Texas at Dallas.

    "Ninety percent of children born deaf are born to hearing parents, and these parents know very little about deafness," Nicholas says. "They don't know how to have a conversation in sign language or teach it to their children. A number of of these parents would like their children to learn spoken language."........

    Posted by: Sue      Permalink         Source

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Did you know?
Adolescents who suffer physical injuries are vulnerable to emotional distress in the months following their hospitalization, yet almost 40 percent of hospitalized adolescents interviewed for a new study had no source for the follow-up medical care that could diagnose and treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress. These young trauma survivors are at risk for high levels of post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms, as well as high levels of alcohol use, according to research by researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center. Archives of society medical news blog

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