Decreasing cocaine use leads to regression of coronary artery disease

People who use cocaine regularly are at high risk of coronary artery disease. A study in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, the official journal of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), reports that stopping or reducing cocaine use can potentially reverse the process of coronary atherosclerosis. The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer.

In particular, reducing cocaine use leads to regression of unstable, noncalcified coronary plaques — the type most likely to cause a heart attack or stroke, according to the new research by Dr. Shenghan Lai of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, and colleagues. “In the past, there has been excellent work to uncover the consequences of drug use,” Dr. Lai comments. “However, few studies have revealed what happens after drug use stops. Studies of this kind give people hope for a healthier life after stopping drug use.”

Full story of cocaine use and coronary artery disease at Science Daily

Antidepressant use increases hip fracture risk among elderly

Antidepressant use nearly doubles the risk of hip fracture among community-dwelling persons with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland. The increased risk was highest at the beginning of antidepressant use and remained elevated even 4 years later. The findings were published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

For each person with Alzheimer’s disease, two controls without the disease were matched by age and sex. Antidepressant use was associated with two times higher risk of hip fracture among controls. However, the relative number of hip fractures was higher among persons with Alzheimer’s disease compared to controls.

The increased risk was associated with all of the most frequently used antidepressant groups, which were selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI drugs), mirtazapine and selective noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRI drugs). The association between antidepressant use and the increased risk of hip fracture persisted even after adjusting the results for use of other medication increasing the risk of fall, osteoporosis, socioeconomic status, history of psychiatric diseases, and chronic diseases increasing the risk of fall or fracture.

Full story of antidepressants and hip fracture risk at Science Daily

Rate of elevated systolic blood pressure increases globally, along with associated deaths

An analysis that included 8.7 million participants finds that the rate of elevated systolic blood pressure (SBP) increased substantially globally between 1990 and 2015, and that in 2015 an estimated 3.5 billion adults had systolic blood pressure of at least 110 to 115 mm Hg, and 874 million adults had SBP of 140 mm Hg or higher, according to a study appearing in the January 10 issue of JAMA.

Systolic blood pressure of at least 110 mm Hg has been related to multiple cardiovascular and kidney outcomes, including ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and chronic kidney disease. The global obesity epidemic may further increase SBP in some populations. Quantifying the levels of SBP is important to guide prevention policies and interventions. Christopher J. L. Murray, D.Phil., of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, Seattle, and colleagues estimated the association between SBP of at least 110 to 115 mm Hg and SBP of 140 mm Hg or higher and the burden of different causes of death and disability by age and sex, based on 844 studies from 154 countries (published 1980-2015) of 8.69 million participants.

Full story of increasing elevated systolic blood pressure globally at Science Daily

Brain cell powerhouses appear good treatment target for stroke, TBI recovery

Cell powerhouses are typically long and lean, but with brain injury such as stroke or trauma, they can quickly become bloated and dysfunctional, say scientists who documented the phenomena in real time for the first time in a living brain.

The scientists also found that without giving these mitochondria anything but time, they often resume their usual healthy shape once blood and oxygen were restored to mild or moderately damaged tissue, said Dr. Sergei Kirov, neuroscientist in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

“We believe this is good evidence that mitochondria can recover their normal form following brief periods of ischemia from stroke or trauma and that drugs that enhance their recovery may improve overall recovery from these sorts of brain injuries,” Kirov said.

Full story of brain cell powerhouses a target for stroke treatment at Science Daily

Worker-owned cooperatives may help address elder care deficit

A growing elder care shortage could be eased by worker-owned cooperatives, a little-used business model that also improves the working conditions and the quality of life for caregivers. That’s the conclusion reached by University of Georgia faculty member Rebecca Matthew and Vanessa Bransburg, a cooperative development specialist, in a recent, award-winning case study.

Matthew, an assistant professor at the UGA School of Social Work, and Bransburg, a staff member at Democracy at Work Institute in San Diego, California, looked for a successful system of home-based caring labor that puts equal emphasis on the well-being of both the care recipient and the provider. They examined the most popular forms of paid child care — for-profit and nonprofit services — alongside worker-owned child care cooperatives. The latter system is popular in other parts of the world, but represents a fraction of the caregiving services available in the U.S.

The cooperatives, which give employees greater control over their working conditions and a share in profits, improved the quality of life of both care recipients and providers.

Full story of worker-owned cooperatives and the elder care deficit at Science Daily

Promising new drug stops spread of melanoma by 90 percent

Michigan State University researchers have discovered that a chemical compound, and potential new drug, reduces the spread of melanoma cells by up to 90 percent.

The human-made, small-molecule drug compound goes after a gene’s ability to produce RNA molecules and certain proteins in melanoma tumors. This gene activity, or transcription process, causes the disease to spread but the compound can shut it down. Up until now, few other compounds of this kind have been able to accomplish this.

“It’s been a challenge developing small-molecule drugs that can block this gene activity that works as a signaling mechanism known to be important in melanoma progression,” said Richard Neubig, a pharmacology professor and co-author of the study. “Our chemical compound is actually the same one that we’ve been working on to potentially treat the disease scleroderma, which now we’ve found works effectively on this type of cancer.”

Full story of new melanoma drug at Science Daily

Lowering cholesterol to ‘levels of a new-born baby’ cuts heart attack risk

Reducing our cholesterol levels to those of a new-born baby significantly lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to new research.

Although previous studies have suggested lowering cholesterol levels may be associated with a lower risk of heart attack, recent evidence has questioned whether very low levels are beneficial.

In the latest study, led by scientists at Imperial College London, researchers analysed data from over 5,000 people taking part in cholesterol-lowering trials.

These studies utilised a new therapy to reduce cholesterol to much lower levels than previously possible.

Full story of lowering cholesterol in new born babies cuts heart attack risk at Science Daily

Diabetes, heart disease, and back pain dominate US health care spending

Just 20 conditions make up more than half of all spending on health care in the United States, according to a new comprehensive financial analysis that examines spending by diseases and injuries.

The most expensive condition, diabetes, totaled $101 billion in diagnoses and treatments, growing 36 times faster than the cost of ischemic heart disease, the number-one cause of death, over the past 18 years. While these two conditions typically affect individuals 65 and older, low back and neck pain, the third-most expensive condition, primarily strikes adults of working age.

These three top spending categories, along with hypertension and injuries from falls, comprise 18% of all personal health spending, and totaled $437 billion in 2013.

Full story of diabetes and heart disease dominating US health care spending at Science Daily

Rate of death, heart attack after noncardiac surgery decreases, although risk of stroke increases

In a study published online by JAMA Cardiology,Sripal Bangalore, M.D., M.H.A., of the New York University School of Medicine, New York, and colleagues examined national trends in perioperative cardiovascular outcomes and mortality after major noncardiac surgery.

Worldwide, more than 300 million noncardiac surgeries are performed each year. Major adverse cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events (MACCE), including heart attack and ischemic stroke, are a significant source of perioperative (the period of time extending from when the patient goes into the hospital for surgery until discharged home) illness and death. Despite the significant burden perioperative events place on the national health care system, recent data are lacking on trends in perioperative MACCE among patients hospitalized for major noncardiac surgery.

Full story of decrease in heart attack deaths after noncardiac surgery at Science Daily

Phantom movements in augmented reality helps patients with chronic intractable phantom limb pain

Dr Max Ortiz Catalan at Chalmers University of Technology has developed a novel method of treating phantom limb pain using machine learning and augmented reality. This approach has been tested on over a dozen of amputees with chronic phantom limb pain who found no relief by other clinically available methods before. The new treatment reduced their pain by approximately 50 per cent, reports a clinical study published in The Lancet.

People who lose an arm or leg often experience phantom limb pain, as if the missing limb was still there. Phantom limb pain can become a serious chronic condition that significantly reduces the patients’ quality of life. It is still unclear why phantom limb pain and other phantom sensations occur.

Full story of augmented reality and chronic intractable phantom limb pain at Science Daily