Saturday, October 19, 2013

Health Tip: Soothing Pain With Cold Therapy

Health Tip: Soothing Pain With Cold Therapy

(HealthDay News) -- Cold therapy helps alleviate pain and swelling caused by sprains, strains and the like by reducing blood flow to the affected area.

The University of Rochester Medical Center in New York offers these guidelines:

  • Use cold therapy within 24 to 48 hours of an injury -- such as bruises, bumps, sprains or strains.
  • Wrap an ice or gel pack in a thin towel before applying to the area.
  • Do not leave the cold pack on the area for longer than 20 minutes at a time, and take 10-minute breaks between applications.

-- Diana Kohnle

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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NFL Veterans Show 'Abnormalities' in Brain Activity: Study

NFL Veterans Show 'Abnormalities' in Brain Activity: Study

News Picture: NFL Veterans Show 'Abnormalities' in Brain Activity: Study

THURSDAY, Oct. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Adding new insight to the debate over harm from football-related concussions, researchers say they see unusual activity in the brains of former National Football League players.

These traits were observed during brain scans and were most common among players whose careers were marked by frequent head injuries requiring them to leave the field.

"The NFL alumni showed some of the most pronounced abnormalities in brain activity that I have ever seen, and I have processed a lot of patient data sets in the past," study lead author Dr. Adam Hampshire, of the department of medicine at Imperial College London, in the United Kingdom, said in a college statement.

The study authors examined brain scans taken from 13 former NFL players who suspected they were having neurological problems due to injuries suffered while playing football. The men believed these neurological issues were interfering with their day-to-day activities.

Prior research has linked playing football to higher rates of brain diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

The study compared functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans -- which track the brain's activity in real time -- of the players and 60 healthy volunteers after they took a test in which they were told to quickly rearrange balls in a series of tubes.

Although the healthy volunteers performed modestly better than the ex-players on the test, the scans revealed unusual activity in the frontal lobes of the players. The frontal lobe manages higher-level brain activity known as "executive function."

"The critical fact is that the level of brain abnormality correlates strongly with the measure of head impacts of great enough severity to warrant being taken out of play," Hampshire said. "This means that it is highly likely that damage caused by blows to the head accumulate toward an executive impairment in later life."

The researchers believe that brain scans could help physicians reveal neurological problems in football players that aren't otherwise obvious to observers.

"Researchers have put a lot of time into developing tests to pick up on executive dysfunction, but none of them work at all well," Hampshire said. "It's not unusual for an individual who has had a blow to the head to perform relatively well on a neuropsychological testing battery, and then go on to struggle in everyday life."

He also called for more research. "This is a relatively preliminary study," he said. "We really need to test more players and to track players across seasons using brain imaging."

The study was published Oct. 17 in the journal Scientific Reports.

-- Randy Dotinga

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCE: Imperial College London, press release, Oct. 17, 2013

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Nosebleeds Common But Seldom Serious, Study Finds

Nosebleeds Common But Seldom Serious, Study Finds

News Picture: Nosebleeds Common But Seldom Serious, Study FindsBy Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Oct. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Fewer than one in 10 people hospitalized for an unexplained nosebleed requires invasive treatment to stop the bleeding, a review of nationwide data has found.

About 38 percent of people with nosebleeds so bad they are admitted to the hospital wind up having their nosebleed resolved with little or no treatment, according to the study published online Oct. 17 in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

Clinicians successfully treated another 53 percent of nosebleed patients either by stuffing the nose with cotton or by cauterizing a broken blood vessel using heat, electricity or chemicals.

Only about 8 percent of hospitalized nosebleed patients needed treatment through surgery or by embolization, a process in which doctors seal off the bleeding vessel from within, the researchers found.

The small minority of patients who needed invasive treatment faced increased risk and expense, the data showed. For example, the odds of patients suffering a stroke following embolization were significantly higher than in patients who were treated by packing their nose with cotton.

Study co-author Dr. Jennifer Villwock said the results show why doctors like to proceed slowly when treating a bad nosebleed, giving the more conservative options a chance before opting for more invasive treatments.

"Sometimes it seems like we are putting patients through a lot, but we are doing it with their best interests in mind because the more invasive treatments are not without risk," said Villwock, an otolaryngologist with the State University of New York-Upstate Medical University, in Syracuse. "If we can get it stopped at the bedside, that's going to be best for all involved, but that can seem frustrating when your nose has been bleeding for hours."

Three of every five people will suffer a nosebleed -- also known by the medical term epistaxis -- in their lifetime, Villwock said.

The nose contains many small blood vessels, and these can be ruptured easily, she said. Just the act of breathing can dry out and irritate the lining of the nose, particularly in low humidity or if a person is suffering from a cold or allergies.

Seasonal changes can also have an impact, an expert explained.

"This is the beginning of nosebleed season, as the weather gets cold and the heated air is on in most people's houses," said Dr. Lisa Liberatore, an ear, nose and throat specialist at the New York Head & Neck Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "We're going to see several patients a day, and I'm sure the emergency room is going to get their fair share of nosebleeds."

People also can suffer nosebleeds if they have taken a blow to the nose, are on a blood-thinning medication or have a cancerous lesion in their nose.

Almost everyone is able to treat their nosebleed themselves, or receive successful outpatient treatment at their doctor's office, an urgent-care clinic or an emergency room, the researchers said. Only 0.2 percent of nosebleeds require hospitalization, they said.

This study used nationwide data provided by hospitals to review the care provided to those hospitalized for a nosebleed. Researchers looked at more than 57,000 patients who were hospitalized for nosebleeds between 2008 and 2010. In all cases reviewed, the nosebleed had occurred spontaneously and for no apparent reason, Villwock said.

About 4.7 percent of patients underwent arterial ligation, a surgical procedure that ties off a blood vessel. Another 3.4 percent underwent embolization, in which a catheter delivers a sealant that closes off the bad blood vessel.

These treatments are both riskier and pricier, the researchers said. Embolization carries a five times greater risk of stroke than nasal packing, with 1.5 percent of people who underwent that procedure suffering a stroke. About 1.3 percent of people died while undergoing arterial ligation, a mortality rate nearly twice as high as that of nasal packing.

At the same time, people receiving embolization paid an average nearly $ 66,000 for their hospital stay, more than three times the amount charged to people treated with nasal packing. Despite this, embolization patients had average hospital stays about as long as people receiving other types of treatment for nosebleeds.

Although the study found an association between embolization treatment for nosebleed and an increased risk of stroke compared to other treatments, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, chairman of otolaryngology with the SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York City, praised the study. "This is the best sort of rocket fuel for evidence-based decisions and shared decision-making for treating [nosebleeds]. If I were a patient going into the hospital, I'd want to know these numbers. It could tip a little bit the way people make treatment decisions."

Of the hospitalized patients in the study, "these people are sick, sick pups. They have a lot of [other existing health conditions]," Rosenfeld said, including high blood pressure, alcoholism, kidney failure and lymphoma. "These data might not apply to the average healthy patient who comes in with a really bad nosebleed."

Rosenfeld said invasive treatments, although more risky, still were incredibly safe.

"Even for the most invasive treatments, most people did very well," he said. "Very few of them had poor outcomes."

Most people can handle their own nosebleeds by keeping their head parallel to the ground and applying a little ice and pressure, Villwock said.

"The rule is, if it hasn't stopped within 20 minutes, it's time to come in," she said.

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Jennifer Villwock, M.D., otolaryngologist, State University of New York-Upstate Medical University, Syracuse; Lisa Liberatore, M.D., ear, nose and throat specialist, New York Head & Neck Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Richard Rosenfeld, M.D., chairman of otolaryngology, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, New York City; Oct. 17, 2013, JAMA Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery, online

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Pricey Cigarettes, Smoke-Free Homes Help Curb Habit, Study Suggests

Pricey Cigarettes, Smoke-Free Homes Help Curb Habit, Study Suggests

News Picture: Pricey Cigarettes, Smoke-Free Homes Help Curb Habit, Study Suggests

THURSDAY, Oct. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Low-income smokers light up less often when cigarettes come with a high price tag and homes have a smoke-free policy, according to a new study.

Tobacco use among low-income people remains high, the researchers said, but their findings could help shape public policies aimed at smoking cessation.

"What is important is that clinicians need to emphasize social norms concerning tobacco use and should encourage and discuss strategies for adopting smoke-free homes among all smokers," said the study's first author, Dr. Maya Vijayaraghavan, assistant clinical professor in the department of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine.

"Additionally, there is a lot of interest in raising cigarette prices to reduce smoking," Vijayaraghavan said in a university news release. "While we have evidence that moderate increases reduce smoking behavior in all income groups, it is important to match such a policy with support to help lower-income smokers to quit successfully."

The study of U.S. Census Bureau data, which was published in the Oct. 17 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, suggested that people of all income levels smoke less when a pack of cigarettes costs $ 4.50 or more, said principal investigator John Pierce, professor and director of population sciences at the university.

"Living in a state where the average price paid for cigarettes is low ($ 3.20 or less per pack) means that all smokers, regardless of income, will smoke a lot more than those who live in a state with higher prices," Pierce said.

The researchers also found that having a smoke-free home not only curbs tobacco use, but also helps prevent a relapse among those trying to quit.

"Price is a deterrent to smoking, but successful quitting -- 90 or more days -- was associated in this study only with a smoke-free home," Pierce said.

The researchers said low-income smokers are less likely to have smoke-free policies at home since it's often the case that more than one person in the home smokes.

They noted, however, that anyone serious about quitting should consider a smoke-free rule in their home.

Vijayaraghavan added that another way to deter smoking would be to boost regulation of secondhand smoke in public housing. "This may change norms around smoking among low-income populations living in public housing," she said.

For the study, the researchers examined information on 150,000 adults from a national survey on tobacco use conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau between 2006 and 2007. The participants provided information on their income and smoking habits.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCE: University of California, San Diego, news release, Oct. 17, 2013

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Study: Vitamin D Supplements May Not Raise Risk for Kidney Stones

Study: Vitamin D Supplements May Not Raise Risk for Kidney Stones

News Picture: Study: Vitamin D Supplements May Not Raise Risk for Kidney Stones

THURSDAY, Oct. 17 (HealthDay News) -- If fear of kidney stones is preventing you from using vitamin D supplements, a new study could ease your mind.

Taking vitamin D does not increase the risk for kidney stones, the study found. People's age, gender and weight, however, may play a role in developing the condition.

Previous research suggested that adequate levels of vitamin D might help protect against a number of diseases, including certain forms of cancer.

"Our results may lessen concerns by individuals about taking vitamin D supplements, as no link was shown between such supplementation and an increased risk for kidney stones," study leader Cedric Garland, of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, said in a university news release.

The new study used data on more than 2,000 adults of all ages. After following the participants for 19 months, researchers found that only 13 people reported being diagnosed with a kidney stone during that time.

The study, which appears Oct. 17 in the American Journal of Public Health, did show that being older or having a higher body-mass index (BMI) were both risk factors for this condition. BMI is a measurement of body fat based on height and weight.

Men also are at greater risk for kidney stones than women, the study found. But vitamin D users are not, it suggested.

"Mounting evidence indicates that a vitamin D serum level in the therapeutic range of 40 to 50 [nanograms per milliliter] is needed for substantial reduction in risk of many diseases, including breast and colorectal cancer," said Garland, an adjunct professor with the division of epidemiology in the department of family and preventive medicine.

Garland added that supplements typically are needed to achieve this blood level of vitamin D. People with a higher BMI need more vitamin D to gain its health benefits, he said.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCE: University of California, San Diego, Health Sciences, news release, Oct. 17, 2013

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Fake ID Use Tied to High-Risk Drinking by Underage Students

Fake ID Use Tied to High-Risk Drinking by Underage Students

News Picture: Fake ID Use Tied to High-Risk Drinking by Underage Students

THURSDAY, Oct. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Among students who had already consumed alcohol by their first year of college, two-thirds of those who were underage used fake identification to buy booze, a new study of U.S. students finds.

Underage students tend to drink less frequently than older students, but the use of fake IDs might lead them to drink more often and increase their risk of developing drinking problems, the researchers said.

The study, published online Oct. 17 and in an upcoming print issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, included 529 females and 486 males. All had consumed alcohol at least once by their first year of college, and were followed-up for the first four years of college.

About 66 percent of the underage students used false IDs, and of those, they used the fake IDs about one-fourth of the time they drank before turning 21, corresponding study author Amelia Arria said in a journal news release.

The study also "demonstrated that false ID use led to increases in drinking frequency and quantity," said Arria, director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Health.

In addition, "we showed that while false ID use wasn't directly related to [alcohol use disorders] risk; it indirectly predicted increases in [alcohol use disorders] risk over time through its contribution to increases in drinking frequency," she said.

The study also identified "younger age at first drink of alcohol, greater levels of alcohol and drug involvement during high school, higher levels of sensation-seeking, Greek life involvement and living off-campus" as predictors of how often students used false IDs, Arria noted.

She said it's not clear whether the findings would apply to young adults under 21 who aren't in college and said further research is needed to determine if that's the case.

Jennifer Read is an associate professor in the department of psychology at the State University of New York at Buffalo. "I think some of the most important findings to come out of this study have to do with how widespread this problem is," Read stated in the news release.

"I was surprised that almost two-thirds of the students used false IDs. It will be interesting to see if this reflects something specific to this university or region in Dr. Arria's study, or if the use of false IDs is this ubiquitous across campuses in the U.S.," said Read, who was not involved in the study.

-- Robert Preidt

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCE: Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, news release, Oct. 17, 2013

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Gene Mutation May Double Rate of Brain Tissue Lost to Alzheimer's

Gene Mutation May Double Rate of Brain Tissue Lost to Alzheimer's

News Picture: Gene Mutation May Double Rate of Brain Tissue Lost to Alzheimer's

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 16 (HealthDay News) -- People who carry a certain genetic mutation associated with Alzheimer's disease have double the rate of debilitating brain-tissue loss, a new study finds.

People with this mutation, known as the TREM2 gene variant, may also develop the disease three years earlier than expected, the researchers said.

"Our lab studies the rate of brain-tissue loss in elderly people, trying to discover factors that protect you as you age. We have never seen such a dramatic effect as with this genetic variant," study lead author Paul Thompson, a professor of neurology at the University of Southern California, said in a news release.

"If you carry this genetic mutation, we've found that there is this wildfire of tissue loss in the brain," he said.

In the study, the researchers mapped the effects of the gene mutation on the living brain using MRI scans. "This is the first study to use brain scans to show what this gene variant does, and it's very surprising," Thompson said.

The two-year study, published Oct. 17 in The New England Journal of Medicine, showed that people with the TREM2 gene variant associated with Alzheimer's lose their brain tissue much more quickly.

The research involved nearly 500 adults from North America, averaging 76 years of age. One hundred had Alzheimer's disease, 221 had some impairment in memory or thinking, and 157 were healthy.

People with the gene mutation lost 1.4 percent to 3.3 percent more of their brain tissue than those who did not carry the mutation. This more extensive brain loss, which took place primarily in areas of the brain responsible for memory, also proceeded twice as quickly in those with the mutation.

"This gene speeds up brain loss at a terrific pace," Thompson said. "Carriers of this genetic mutation, who comprise about 1 percent of the population, lose about 3 percent of their brain tissue per year. This is a silent time bomb in 1 percent of the world."

Although healthy people usually lose less than 1 percent of their brain tissue per year, this loss is offset by the creation of new normal tissue from mental stimulation. For those with Alzheimer's, however, symptoms typically appear once about 10 percent of their brain tissue has been destroyed.

Thompson's team said the findings might have real importance in speeding research into effective Alzheimer's treatments because if studies targeted people who carry this mutation, answers to vital questions might become apparent more quickly.

"Enrolling those people who carry the mutation in clinical trials for Alzheimer's treatments could help us reach quicker and more meaningful results," Thompson said.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCE: University of Southern California, news release, Oct. 16, 2013

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