Tag Archives: denver

Air pollution can trigger heart arrhythmias, study shows

For people with existing heart problems, exposure to high levels of air pollution can trigger the irregular heartbeats that may lead to a stroke or heart attack, according to a new study. Past research has linked air pollution to ventricular fibrillation, electrical confusion in the lower chambers of the heart which can cause sudden death. The new study also finds an association with atrial fibrillation (AF), erratic quivering in the heart's upper chambers and the most common type of irregular heartbeat. “As in all epidemiological studies we do not prove causation, but rather an association,” said lead author Dr. Mark Link, a cardiologist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. His study included people with so-called implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), which record when the heart's electrical activity is abnormal and deliver shocks to try to right the rhythm. Link and his colleagues analyzed data from the ICDs of 176 heart patients and compared it to air quality data collected in the region. Over about two years, 49 of those people had a total of 328 AF episodes. The researchers found that the level of air pollution, including soot-like particles, on a given day was directly tied to heart rhythm problems. With every 6 microgram per cubic meter increase in fine particulate pollution, for example, people were 26 percent more likely to have an AF episode in the next two hours, the study team reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. That extra risk is greater than the 1 percent increased risk of death from heart attack and the 18 percent increased risk of stroke seen with each 10 microgram per cubic meter rise in pollution in other studies, Link noted. The daily average particulate pollution level in Massachusetts, where the study took place, was 8.4 micrograms per cubic meter, well below the upper limit of 35 set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). More than two million Americans have AF, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although it can cause rapid heartbeat, lightheadedness and fatigue, AF doesn't always come with symptoms. “This study does show that there is an increased association, especially within two hours of air pollutant levels being high, with a person having an irregular heart rhythm,” said Dr. Comilla Sasson, who studies community-wide risk for cardiac arrest at the University of Colorado in Denver. But it does not look at how often those irregular rhythms lead to more deadly problems such as heart attack or sudden death, she added. “Although this is interesting, it still leaves a lot more questions than providing answers,” Sasson said in an email. She questioned whether or not the EPA should reevaluate its air quality standards and if doctors should be talking to patients about increased risks on pollution-heavy days. “There is much more research that will need to be done, especially in other cities, to see if these results hold true,” she said. Although the study focused on people at unusually high risk already, an increase in the chance of AF could have implications for anyone, Link said. “Unfortunately, all of us are at risk for AF, especially as we age. It is by far the most common arrhythmia in the U.S. and for that matter, the entire world,” he said. Boston has relatively clean air, which makes the results all the more troubling, Link said. “Imagine what the effect of air pollution is in cities without the clean air of Boston,” he said.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/14/air-pollution-can-trigger-heart-arrhythmias-study-shows/

Genetic signature of deadly brain cancer identified

"This study identifies a core set of genes and pathways that are dysregulated during both the early and late stages of tumor progression," said University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) neurologist Steven Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., the senior author of the study and co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine. "By virtue of their marked difference from normal cells, these genes appear to comprise a promising set of targets for therapeutic intervention." As its name implies, gliomas arise from a cell type found in the central nervous system called the glial cell. Gliomas progress in severity over time and ultimately become highly invasive tumors known as glioblastomas, which are difficult to treat and almost invariably fatal. …

Medical marijuana laws and treats may send more kids to ER

CHICAGO – & Increased use of medical marijuana may lead to more young children getting sick from accidentally eating food made with the drug, a Colorado study suggests. Medical marijuana items include yummy-looking gummy candies, cookies and other treats that may entice young children. Fourteen children were treated at Colorado Children's Hospital in the two years after a 2009 federal policy change led to a surge in medical marijuana use, the study found. That's when federal authorities said they would not prosecute legal users. Study cases were mostly mild, but parents should know about potential risks and keep the products out of reach, said lead author Dr. George Sam Wang, an emergency room physician at the hospital. Unusual drowsiness and unsteady walking were among the symptoms. One child, a 5-year-old boy, had trouble breathing. Eight children were hospitalized, two in the intensive care unit, though all recovered within a few days, Wang said. By contrast, in four years preceding the policy change, the Denver-area hospital had no such cases. Some children came in laughing, glassy-eyed or “acting a little goofy and `off,”' Wang said. Many had eaten medical marijuana food items, although nonmedical marijuana was involved in at least three cases. The children were younger than 12 and included an 8-month-old boy. The study was released Monday in JAMA Pediatrics. Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., allow medical marijuana, though it remains illegal under federal law. Colorado's law dates to 2000 but the study notes that use there soared after the 2009 policy change on prosecution. Last year, Colorado and Washington state legalized adult possession of small amounts of nonmedical marijuana. Some states, including Colorado, allow medical marijuana use by sick kids, with parents' supervision. In a journal editorial, two Seattle poisoning specialists say that at least seven more states are considering legalizing medical marijuana and that laws that expand marijuana use likely will lead to more children sickened.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/05/27/medical-marijuana-laws-and-treats-may-send-more-kids-to-er/

New drug could reduce asthma attacks by 87 percent

An experimental drug being developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Sanofi SA showed promising results during a small, mid-stage clinical trial in treating a subset of patients with moderate to severe asthma, but some physicians cautioned that it was too early to say how effective the treatment may ultimately be. The drug, dupilumab, is considered one of Regeneron's most promising pipeline drugs and could eventually reach $750 million in annual U.S. sales if it gains U.S. approval to treat asthma, according to Barclays. Regeneron and Sanofi, which have a partnership to co-develop certain experimental drug programs, are also testing the drug to treat a type of eczema, the itchy skin condition, and have said dupilumab could eventually be applied to other allergic conditions. Results from the trial, published online Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that dupilumab reduced asthma attacks by 87 percent in patients taking the drug compared to those receiving a placebo. Side effects of the drug appeared to be relatively consistent with those of patients taking placebos. “It really raises the possibility that we've hit upon a fundamental pathway that's driving the allergic reaction in asthma,” said George D. Yancopoulos, Regeneron's chief scientific officer, in an interview. However, the trial was relatively small, enrolling 52 patients in each of the study's two treatment groups. An editorial accompanying the study results said the trial design, in which patients were gradually weaned off of standard therapies for asthma, did not reflect a “real world” environment. It's also unclear how large a swath of asthma patients will benefit from the drug, because only those with higher-than-normal disease-fighting white blood cells were admitted to the study, Michael E. Wechsler, director of the asthma program at National Jewish Health, a Denver-based research hospital that specializes in respiratory conditions, wrote in the editorial. Just 21 percent of patients screened for the trial met the inclusion criteria, Dr. Wechsler wrote. Asthma affects more than 24 million people in the U.S., but existing therapies are unable to control the condition for as many as 10 percent to 20 percent of patients, according to the study's authors. Click for more from The Wall Street Journal.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/05/22/new-drug-could-reduce-asthma-attacks-by-87-percent/