31 Dec

Medical News Today: Retinal Migraine: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

A retinal migraine is one of many types of migraine. A retinal migraine is rare, and it is different from a migraine headache or a migraine with aura. Those conditions usually affect the vision in both eyes. A retinal migraine affects vision in one eye only.

Around 1 in every 200 people who get migraines will have a retinal migraine.

The condition is also sometimes called an ophthalmic migraine, visual migraine, or an ocular migraine, although symptoms for these are slightly different.

A retinal migraine is an eye condition. It can cause temporary blindness or visual problems in one eye. Retinal migraines usually last for up to 1 hour and are followed by the return of normal vision.

Causes of a retinal migraine

A retinal migraine is caused by a reduction in blood flow to the eye when blood vessels narrow suddenly. There are several reasons why this might happen.

[woman with migraine]
A retinal migraine starts with visual disturbances in one eye.

Factors that might trigger blood vessel narrowing and retinal migraines include:

As the blood vessels relax and blood flow returns to normal, the symptoms usually disappear and vision comes back.

Some people are more at risk of a retinal migraine than others. These people include:

  • People aged 40 years and under
  • Individuals with a family history of migraines
  • People with another condition, such as atherosclerosis, epilepsy, lupus, and sickle cell disease

It affects women more often than men.

Symptoms

Retinal migraines involve repeated attacks of certain visual disturbances. These usually happen before the headache phase of a migraine. The visual disturbances are often collectively referred to as “aura.”

Symptoms occur in one eye. The characteristics of an aura may include:

  • Seeing flashing, sparkling, or twinkling lights
  • A blind spot or partial loss of vision
  • Temporary blindness

The aura may spread gradually over 5 minutes or more and last for 6-60 minutes. Within 60 minutes of visual symptoms, the headache phase of a retinal migraine may begin.

The headache phase of a retinal migraine has symptoms like a migraine without aura. These symptoms include a headache that lasts 4 to 72 hours on one side of the head.

The headache may be:

  • Pulsing or throbbing
  • Moderate to severe in pain intensity
  • Made worse by activities such as walking or climbing stairs

A migraine headache may also cause:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Increased sensitivity to sound

A migraine with aura is a different condition to a retinal migraine, although some of the symptoms are similar.

Migraines with aura also cause visual disturbances such as flashes of light, blind spots, and other visual changes. However, a retinal migraine differs from a migraine with aura for two main reasons:

  • The visual symptoms only occur in one eye and not both
  • Complete but temporary blindness may occur in one eye only

Diagnosis

There are no diagnostic tests that detect a retinal migraine. A doctor may diagnose a retinal migraine by examining personal and family medical history, asking about symptoms, and conducting an examination.

Other possible causes for the symptoms will be ruled out before a retinal migraine is diagnosed. It is important to investigate and rule out other causes of temporary blindness.

A specialist doctor might need to ensure that the symptoms are not caused by a serious eye disease or stroke.

Some people that have visual disturbances in one eye might have hemianopia. Hemianopia is the loss of vision on the same side in both eyes. This condition often happens in stroke and traumatic brain injuries.

Treatments

The medication that a doctor prescribes to treat retinal migraines may change depending on a person’s age and how frequently they have retinal migraine attacks.

Prescribed medication might include:

[ibuprofen]
NSAIDS such as ibuprofen or aspirin may relieve the pain of the headache.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin or ibuprofen, to relieve pain and inflammation
  • Antinausea medications to prevent nausea and vomiting
  • Ergotamines to narrow blood vessels in the brain to relieve a headache
  • Triptans to narrow blood vessels in the brain and reduce swelling
  • Beta-blockers to relax blood vessels in the brain
  • Calcium channel blockers to prevent blood vessels constricting
  • Antidepressants to help prevent a migraine
  • Anticonvulsants to help prevent a migraine

There is currently a lack of research into the best way to treat a retinal migraine. However, most treatments focus on pain relief for headaches and reducing exposure to potential retinal migraine triggers.

Complications

There is a small risk with a retinal migraine that the sudden reduction in blood flow to the eye may damage the retina and blood vessels of the eye.

The medications that are used to treat a retinal migraine can sometimes cause other problems.

  • NSAIDs may cause stomach pain, bleeding, ulcers, and other problems
  • Medications can cause overuse headaches if an individual uses them for more than 10 days a month for 3 months
  • Serotonin syndrome is a rare, life-threatening condition that has an increased risk in people that combine certain antidepressants and triptans

The permanent loss of vision following a retinal migraine is rare.

Outlook

Most people that have retinal migraines will usually experience an attack every few months. The visual disturbance phase tends to last no more than an hour, and the subsequent headache can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

A retinal migraine is difficult to diagnose. It is often misdiagnosed as another condition or as a common migraine. While there is no cure for the condition, it can be managed and prevented through medication and avoiding triggers.

Currently, retinal migraines are not fully understood, but research is ongoing. The investigation into migraine prevention is in progress, but, as yet, there is no proven cure.

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Source: medicalnewstoday

31 Dec

Medical News Today: Healthful food perceptions influenced by price

With 2017 just around the corner, many of us will soon be trawling grocery stores in the search for healthful foods to kick-start the New Year’s resolution of losing weight. But according to new research, you should avoid looking at the prices – it might skew your perception of what foods are good for you.
[A woman shopping in a grocery store]
Researchers find that food prices influence our perceptions of what products are healthful.

Study co-author Rebecca Reczek, from the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University, and colleagues found that people often perceive healthful foods to be more expensive, despite there being no evidence to support this view.

The team found that consumers make food choices based on this belief, and the price of foods may also influence how important we perceive certain health conditions to be.

Reczek and colleagues came to their findings – published in the Journal of Consumer Research – by conducting five experiments on different groups of participants.

The aim of the study was to get a better understanding of “lay theories” in relation to the cost of healthful foods. In simple terms, lay theories are ideologies that people use to make sense of their social environment.

One common lay theory is that healthful foods are more expensive than less healthful foods. The researchers point to one example of this popular theory – the nickname given to the health foods store Whole Foods, which is “Whole Paycheck.”

While there are certain types of health foods that are more expensive – such as organic and gluten-free products – Reczek notes that it does not always cost more to eat healthily.

Costly food products perceived as more healthful in experiments

For their study, the researchers tested people’s perceptions of the price of healthful foods in a series of experiments.

In one experiment, the team provided participants with information on a “new” food product called granola bites. Some subjects were told the product was a health grade A- (a healthful food), while the remaining participants were told the product was a health grade C (less healthful).

When each participant was asked how much they thought the granola bites cost, subjects who were told they were a health grade A- thought the bites were more expensive than subjects who were told they were a health grade C.

This finding offers support to the popular belief that healthful foods are costlier. This relationship was further confirmed in another experiment, in which participants rated a breakfast cracker as more healthful when told that it was more expensive than a cheaper, identical cracker.

For the next experiment, the team set out to investigate whether this lay theory influences people’s behavior when it comes to choosing foods.

Participants were asked to imagine that a work colleague had asked them to order his or her lunch. Half of the subjects were told that their co-worker had requested a healthful lunch, while the remaining subjects had no instruction.

Next, participants were offered two choices of food product on a computer screen: a chicken balsamic wrap and a roasted chicken wrap. Ingredients were listed for both products.

The price was also shown for each product. However, the chicken balsamic wrap was listed as more expensive for some subjects, but for others, the roasted chicken wrap was costlier.

The researchers found that participants who were instructed to choose a healthful product were significantly more likely to opt for the more expensive wrap, regardless of which wrap it was. This suggests that our food choices may be influenced by the lay belief that healthful products cost more.

“People don’t just believe that healthy means more expensive – they’re making choices based on that belief,” notes Reczek.

Testing how price cues influence health perceptions

In the final two experiments, the team sought to gain a better understanding of how food prices influence peoples’ perceptions of what is good for us.

Firstly, the researchers asked participants to imagine that they were in a grocery store to purchase trail mix and told to choose from four differently priced products.

One of the mixes was called the “Perfect Vision Mix.” For some subjects, this mix was promoted as being “rich in vitamin A for eye health,” while for others, the product was hailed as “rich in DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) for eye health.”

The team notes that both vitamin A and DHA are believed to be beneficial for eye health, but DHA is less familiar.

For some participants, the Perfect Vision Mix was shown at an average price, while for others, it was more costly than the other three mixes.

When asked about their perceptions of the “key” ingredient in the Perfect Vision Mix, participants thought that vitamin A was equally important for a healthful diet, regardless of how much the mix cost.

However, when DHA was promoted as the key ingredient, subjects were more likely to think that it was an important part of a healthful diet when it was shown as more expensive, compared with when it was an average price.

“People are familiar with vitamin A, so they feel they can judge its value without any price cues,” explains Reczek. “But people don’t know much about DHA, so they go back to the lay theory that expensive must be healthier.”

The team was further surprised during the experiment in which the subjects were told that DHA helped to prevent macular degeneration. When the DHA-containing mix was more expensive, participants were more likely to rate macular degeneration as a popular health issue, compared with when the product was an average price.

Findings are ‘concerning’

In the last experiment, participants were presented with a new product called the “Healthiest Protein Bar on the Planet.”

Some subjects were told that the bar would be priced at $0.99, while the remaining participants were told it would cost $4. All participants were given the opportunity to read reviews before giving their own opinions on the product.

When subjects were told that the bar would be priced at $0.99, the researchers found that they were much more likely to read reviews, compared with when they were told that the bar would cost $4.

“People just couldn’t believe that the ‘healthiest protein bar on the planet’ would cost less than the average bar,” says Reczek. “They had to read more to convince themselves this was true. They were much more willing to accept that the healthy bar would cost twice as much as average.”

All in all, Reczek and team believe that their results are a worry for consumers.

“It’s concerning. The findings suggest that price of food alone can impact our perceptions of what is healthy and even what health issues we should be concerned about.”

Rebecca Reczek

However, the researchers suggest that by being aware of the common misconception that healthful foods are always more expensive and by using “objective evidence” to assess food products, we can overcome this lay theory.

“It makes it easier for us when we’re shopping to use this lay theory, and just assume we’re getting something healthier when we pay more. But we don’t have to be led astray,” says Reczek. “We can compare nutrition labels and we can do research before we go to the grocery store. We can use facts rather than our intuition.”

Read how our food preferences may be altered by certain brain pathways.

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Source: medicalnewstoday

31 Dec

Medical News Today: New study busts the myth that contraceptives kill libido

The contraceptive pill is one of the most popular means of contraception among women of reproductive age. Recent research examines its effects on female sexual desire.
[couple having sex]
New research suggests that contextual factors, such as the length of the relationship, may have a more significant impact on women’s sex drive than the type of contraceptives they use.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2012 that 62 percent of women of reproductive age were using a means of contraception. Of these, 28 percent – or 10.6 million women in the United States – were using the pill, making it the most popular method of contraception.

Despite the common belief that contraceptive pills decrease a woman’s libido, the evidence supporting this has been mixed and inconclusive.

A comprehensive review of existing research reports that the effects of hormonal contraceptives on female sexual desire are conflicting and “not well studied,” with only a small percentage of women reporting either an increase or a decrease in their libido.

Given this lack of evidence, researchers from the University of Kentucky and Indiana University have set out to examine the impact of oral hormonal contraceptive use on female sexual desire.

The results have been published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Examining the effect of different contraceptives on the female libido

Authors of the new study point out that previous research has been inconsistent in the methodology used. For instance, some studies did not differentiate between the types of contraceptives, while others did not use non-hormonal comparison groups.

Additionally, previous studies did not account for the relationship context relating to contraceptive use and the sexual behavior of partners, these authors note.

However, researchers led by Dr. Kristen Mark carried out two separate studies. Both studies investigated the impact of different kinds of contraceptives on sexual desire in women. The studies also examined sexual desire in the men who were partnered with contraceptive-using women.

The first study looked at how contraceptive use affected heterosexual partners in relationships of different lengths, while the second study investigated this impact on long-term relationships.

Using the Sexual Desire Inventory (SDI), researchers examined two kinds of sexual desire: solitary and dyadic. These describe the libido a woman has on her own and with a partner, respectively.

The SDI is a 14-item questionnaire designed to measure sexual desire in cognitive terms, unlike other measurement tools that use behavioral methods.

As for the types of contraceptive, Dr. Mark and team grouped these into three categories: oral hormonal, other hormonal, and non-hormonal.

Overall, researchers examined sexual desire in more than 900 people.

The pill ‘does not kill desire’

The study showed that the type of contraceptive used affected solitary and dyadic sexual desire significantly.

Women using non-hormonal contraceptives reported higher solitary libido than women on hormonal contraceptives. But women using oral hormonal contraceptives had higher levels of dyadic sexual desire than women on non-hormonal contraceptives.

The sexual desire of male partners did not seem to change with the type of contraceptive their partners used.

When scientists accounted for contextual information such as relationship length and age, however, the differences were no longer significant.

This suggests that contextual factors have a more considerable impact on sexual desire than the type of contraceptive used.

Sexual desire was more strongly predicted by the length and age of the relationship than by the type of contraceptive used.

Furthermore, when examining couples, researchers saw no association between contraceptive type and solitary or dyadic sexual desire in men and women.

Dr. Mark emphasizes the need to “bust the myth” that contraceptive pills can decrease libido.

“Sometimes women are looking for something to explain changes in their sexual desire, which is not fixed throughout their life. The message that hormonal pills decrease desire is really prevalent. In my undergrad classes my students often say they hear the pill makes you not want sex, ‘so what’s the point?’ Our findings are clear: the pill does not kill desire. This research helps to bust those myths and hopefully eventually get rid of this common cultural script in our society.”

Dr. Kristen Mark

The lead author also insists that contextual factors are far stronger predictors of sexual desire than the type of contraceptive used. As a result, Dr. Mark is now investigating the effect of other contextual elements on the female libido, such as desire discrepancy. This occurs when one partner has much lower or much higher desire than the other.

Read about how a male birth control shot shows promise.

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Source: medicalnewstoday

31 Dec

Fish Oil During Pregnancy May Cut Kids' Asthma Risk

News Picture: Fish Oil During Pregnancy May Cut Kids' Asthma RiskBy Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

Latest Pregnancy News

THURSDAY, Dec. 29, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Women who take fish oil during their third trimester of pregnancy might cut their children’s risk of developing asthma by as much as one-third, a new clinical trial suggests.

The fish oil dose was high — with fatty acid levels that were 15 to 20 times more than the average American gets from food.

But there were no significant side effects, according to lead researcher Dr. Hans Bisgaard. He’s a professor of pediatrics at the University of Copenhagen, in Denmark.

He stopped short of making any general recommendations for pregnant women, however.

Bisgaard said his “personal interpretation” is that fish oil offers a safe way to prevent some cases of childhood asthma.

But he also said there are questions left for future studies. Among them are: What is the best point in pregnancy to start fish oil, and what is the optimal dose?

Experts who were not involved in the study called the findings encouraging. They also agreed on the need for more research.

“It’s possible that even a lower dose could be effective,” said Dr. Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City.

For now, she suggested that pregnant women talk to their doctors about whether they need more of the fatty acids found in fish oil — namely, DHA and EPA.

“They can talk about whether they’re eating enough fish, and how much (DHA/EPA) they may already be getting from prenatal vitamins,” Wu said.

The study, published Dec. 29 in the New England Journal of Medicine, adds to evidence that fish oil may help ward off asthma.

Lab research has suggested DHA and EPA can make the airways less prone to inflammation, according to Dr. Christopher Ramsden, a researcher with the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

In an editorial published with the study, Ramsden called the results “highly promising.”

Still, he writes, “a note of caution is warranted.”

Because the fish oil doses were high — 2.4 grams per day — research should look at whether the treatment has any negative longer-term effects, Ramsden said.

For the study, Bisgaard’s team randomly assigned 736 pregnant women to take either fish oil capsules or a placebo every day during the third trimester. The placebo capsules contained olive oil.

In the end, children in the fish-oil group were about one-third less likely to develop asthma or persistent wheezing — a sign of asthma in very young children. By the age of 5, nearly 17 percent were diagnosed with either condition, versus almost one-quarter of children in the placebo group.

Some children seemed to benefit more than others, however.

The effects were mostly seen in the one-third of children whose mothers had the lowest DHA/EPA intake to begin with.

Genetics also seemed to matter: Supplements were more effective when mothers carried a gene variant that causes lower DHA/EPA levels in the blood.

Still, that could leave a large number of children who stand to benefit, Bisgaard said.

The study was done in Denmark, where fish intake is relatively high, he pointed out.

“Women in the lower third of intake in Denmark are well above the average intake in the U.S.,” Bisgaard said. “I expect a stronger effect in populations that are inland, where fish is more unusual in the diet.”

But studies are needed to show whether that’s the case, he said.

The gene findings might also complicate the picture somewhat: The percentage of people with “bad” gene variants that cause lower DHA and EPA levels would likely be different from one population to the next, Bisgaard said.

Dr. Jefry Biehler, chairman of pediatrics at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, agreed that studies of other populations are needed.

Biehler also noted that many factors affect a child’s asthma risk — including family history and exposure to environmental hazards, such as cigarette smoke.

So fish oil would not be a magic bullet, he said.

Biehler recommended that pregnant women talk with their doctors before using fish oil — and make sure that any product they use is “high-quality.”

Supplements are medications,” Biehler said. “They should be discussed with your doctor.”

MedicalNews
Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Hans Bisgaard, M.D., professor, pediatrics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Jennifer Wu, M.D., obstetrician-gynecologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Jefry Biehler, M.D., chairman, pediatrics, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Miami; Dec. 29, 2016, New England Journal of Medicine

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Source: MediciNet

31 Dec

Many Misuse OTC Sleep Aids: Survey

News Picture: Many Misuse OTC Sleep Aids: SurveyBy Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

Latest Sleep News

THURSDAY, Dec. 29, 2016 (HealthDay News) — People struggling with insomnia often turn to non-prescription sleep remedies that may be habit-forming and are only intended for short-term use, according to a new Consumer Reports survey.

The survey found that 18 percent of people who said they’d taken such over-the-counter drugs in the past year did so on a daily basis. And 41 percent said they’d taken them for a year or longer.

“We were shocked to see so many people taking so many over-the-counter sleep aids, and doing so much longer than they were supposed to,” said Lisa Gill, deputy content editor of Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs.

The drugs in question include Advil PM and Tylenol PM — pain relievers or cold formulas that contain sleep aids — as well as straight sleep remedies like Nytol, Simply Sleep, Sominex, Unisom SleepMinis and ZzzQuil, according to the survey.

The active sleep aid in all these drugs is diphenhydramine, a decades-old antihistamine intended for short-term use, Gill said.

“It’s really meant to treat allergies, but a side effect is drowsiness,” Gill said.

Such regular use could put people at risk of side effects from either diphenhydramine or other ingredients also contained in the over-the-counter drugs, she said.

“The instructions are pretty clear” regarding diphenhydramine, Gill said. “You don’t want to take it for longer than two weeks at a time. There’s a whole host of reasons for that.”

Medicines containing diphenhydramine can cause constipation, dizziness, daytime drowsiness or confusion, putting a person at risk for accidents, Gill said.

Also, some studies have linked diphenhydramine to an increased risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, Gill said. “That’s the scary part,” she said, since the antihistamine has been available to the public for a very long time.

Sleep expert Dr. Raj Dasgupta said he’s also concerned that people are taking medicines to induce drowsiness that contain other active ingredients.

“It’s scary that people will take these medications for their sleeping effects,” said Dasgupta, an assistant professor with the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, and a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “They sometimes don’t realize they’re getting other medications along with the sleep aid.”

For example, Advil PM contains ibuprofen, a pain reliever that can cause gastrointestinal problems and ulcers if overused, he said.

Dasgupta added that Tylenol PM also contains acetaminophen, a pain reliever that can be hard on the liver — especially if taken while also drinking alcohol.

Consumer Reports is concerned that people might become psychologically dependent on these over-the-counter sleep aids, Gill said, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows manufacturers to state that the drugs are non-habit-forming.

Dasgupta agreed that psychological dependence is a concern regarding these sleep aids.

“Being a physician, caring about my patients, if they are going to ask me if one of these medications is addicting, I am going to be honest and say there’s a chance it can be addicting,” he said. “Because they’re sold over the counter, there isn’t a physician there to make that statement.”

In response to the Consumer Reports story, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, an industry trade group, said in a statement: “For over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, there are two active ingredients (diphenhydramine and doxylamine) that are approved by the FDA to treat occasional sleeplessness, not long-term sleep disorders or insomnia.

“The most important step for consumers to take when using any OTC medicine is to always read and follow the label, and a key take-away for OTC sleep aids is for consumers to note that the label directs use up to two weeks to help relieve occasional [sleeplessness]. Consumers should talk to a health care provider if their sleeplessness persists or if they have any questions.”

Both Dasgupta and Gill recommend cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) as a first-choice treatment for chronic insomnia.

Those with insomnia undergoing CBT work with a licensed sleep therapist to figure out the habits, patterns and attitudes they’ve developed that might be getting in the way of a good night’s rest, Dasgupta said.

For example, patients might be varying their bedtime and wake time throughout the week, which can throw off the body’s internal clock. Or they might be spending too much time in front of a light-emitting tablet or TV just before bed, which can make it harder to get to sleep, he said.

MedicalNews
Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Lisa Gill, deputy content editor, Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs; Raj Dasgupta, M.D., assistant professor, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine; Dec. 28, 2016 statement, Consumer Healthcare Products Association

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Source: MediciNet

31 Dec

Debbie Reynold's Death Puts Spotlight on 'Broken Heart Syndrome'

News Picture: Debbie Reynold's Death Puts Spotlight on 'Broken Heart Syndrome'

Latest Heart News

THURSDAY, Dec. 29, 2016 (HealthDay News) — A stroke claimed the life of actress Debbie Reynolds, 84, on Wednesday — just a day after her daughter Carrie Fisher died from a heart attack.

Reynold’s son, Todd Fisher, told the Associated Press that the stress of losing her daughter may have been a contributing factor in his mother’s death.

Now, doctors familiar with such cases agree that so-called “broken heart syndrome” might have played a role.

“Lots of times I hear a causal mention of someone dying of a ‘broken heart,’ but what many don’t know is that ‘broken heart syndrome’ is a real medical condition,” said Dr. Matthew Lorber, a psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Lorber wasn’t on Reynolds’ medical team, but he said the syndrome is a familiar one for many physicians.

“Broken heart syndrome refers to the consequences of the heart being exposed to a surge of stress hormones triggered by a major stressor,” he explained. “It is most commonly seen in women 50 or older.”

“When the stress hormones hit the heart it can cause arrhythmias [a temporary irregular heart rate], angina [severe chest pain], shortness of breath and intense changes in blood pressure,” Lorber said.

For most people in the midst of a personal crisis, including a sudden bereavement, these heart conditions are temporary. Most will “have a full recovery without any permanent damage,” Lorber said. But the effect in a minority of cases may be more severe.

According to the AP, Reynold’s son confirmed that his mother died from a stroke after being taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

“She’s now with Carrie, and we’re all heartbroken,” Todd Fisher told the news agency. He added that he believes the stress of his sister’s death “was too much” for his mother.

Carrie Fisher, best known for her iconic role as Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” movies, died Tuesday after suffering a heart attack last week on a flight from London to Los Angeles. She was 60.

On Tuesday, Reynolds had expressed gratitude to her daughter’s fans on Facebook.

“Thank you to everyone who has embraced the gifts and talents of my beloved and amazing daughter. I am grateful for your thoughts and prayers that are now guiding her to her next stop,” Reynolds had written.

Reynolds was best known for her roles in films produced in the 1950s and ’60s, which included “Tammy” and “Singing in the Rain.” She received an Oscar nomination for her starring role in the 1964 film “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”

Carrie Fisher was the daughter of Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher. Their marriage ended when Carrie was 2, after Fisher left Reynolds for actress Elizabeth Taylor.

Sudden grief and other life crises don’t have to endanger your heart health, another physician added.

Dr. Scott Krakower is a psychiatrist at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New Hyde Park, N.Y. He said that “if you suspect that you are at risk for this syndrome, you should see a medical doctor as soon as possible.”

Also, “it is important to grieve appropriately and use anxiety/stress reduction techniques during this time,” Krakower said. “These techniques may include deep breathing, self-soothing and utilizing mindfulness. It is important to stay on a routine, remembering to eat, and get adequate sleep.”

— E.J. Mundell

MedicalNews
Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Matthew Lorber, M.D., director, child and adolescent psychiatry, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Scott Krakower, D.O., assistant unit chief, psychiatry, Zucker Hillside Hospital, New Hyde Park, NY; Associated Press

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Source: MediciNet

31 Dec

Fish Oil During Pregnancy May Cut Kids' Asthma Risk

News Picture: Fish Oil During Pregnancy May Cut Kids' Asthma RiskBy Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

Latest Pregnancy News

THURSDAY, Dec. 29, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Women who take fish oil during their third trimester of pregnancy might cut their children’s risk of developing asthma by as much as one-third, a new clinical trial suggests.

The fish oil dose was high — with fatty acid levels that were 15 to 20 times more than the average American gets from food.

But there were no significant side effects, according to lead researcher Dr. Hans Bisgaard. He’s a professor of pediatrics at the University of Copenhagen, in Denmark.

He stopped short of making any general recommendations for pregnant women, however.

Bisgaard said his “personal interpretation” is that fish oil offers a safe way to prevent some cases of childhood asthma.

But he also said there are questions left for future studies. Among them are: What is the best point in pregnancy to start fish oil, and what is the optimal dose?

Experts who were not involved in the study called the findings encouraging. They also agreed on the need for more research.

“It’s possible that even a lower dose could be effective,” said Dr. Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City.

For now, she suggested that pregnant women talk to their doctors about whether they need more of the fatty acids found in fish oil — namely, DHA and EPA.

“They can talk about whether they’re eating enough fish, and how much (DHA/EPA) they may already be getting from prenatal vitamins,” Wu said.

The study, published Dec. 29 in the New England Journal of Medicine, adds to evidence that fish oil may help ward off asthma.

Lab research has suggested DHA and EPA can make the airways less prone to inflammation, according to Dr. Christopher Ramsden, a researcher with the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

In an editorial published with the study, Ramsden called the results “highly promising.”

Still, he writes, “a note of caution is warranted.”

Because the fish oil doses were high — 2.4 grams per day — research should look at whether the treatment has any negative longer-term effects, Ramsden said.

For the study, Bisgaard’s team randomly assigned 736 pregnant women to take either fish oil capsules or a placebo every day during the third trimester. The placebo capsules contained olive oil.

In the end, children in the fish-oil group were about one-third less likely to develop asthma or persistent wheezing — a sign of asthma in very young children. By the age of 5, nearly 17 percent were diagnosed with either condition, versus almost one-quarter of children in the placebo group.

Some children seemed to benefit more than others, however.

The effects were mostly seen in the one-third of children whose mothers had the lowest DHA/EPA intake to begin with.

Genetics also seemed to matter: Supplements were more effective when mothers carried a gene variant that causes lower DHA/EPA levels in the blood.

Still, that could leave a large number of children who stand to benefit, Bisgaard said.

The study was done in Denmark, where fish intake is relatively high, he pointed out.

“Women in the lower third of intake in Denmark are well above the average intake in the U.S.,” Bisgaard said. “I expect a stronger effect in populations that are inland, where fish is more unusual in the diet.”

But studies are needed to show whether that’s the case, he said.

The gene findings might also complicate the picture somewhat: The percentage of people with “bad” gene variants that cause lower DHA and EPA levels would likely be different from one population to the next, Bisgaard said.

Dr. Jefry Biehler, chairman of pediatrics at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, agreed that studies of other populations are needed.

Biehler also noted that many factors affect a child’s asthma risk — including family history and exposure to environmental hazards, such as cigarette smoke.

So fish oil would not be a magic bullet, he said.

Biehler recommended that pregnant women talk with their doctors before using fish oil — and make sure that any product they use is “high-quality.”

Supplements are medications,” Biehler said. “They should be discussed with your doctor.”

MedicalNews
Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Hans Bisgaard, M.D., professor, pediatrics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Jennifer Wu, M.D., obstetrician-gynecologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Jefry Biehler, M.D., chairman, pediatrics, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Miami; Dec. 29, 2016, New England Journal of Medicine

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Recommended article: The Guardian’s Summary of Julian Assange’s Interview Went Viral and Was Completely False.


Source: MediciNet

31 Dec

Many Misuse OTC Sleep Aids: Survey

News Picture: Many Misuse OTC Sleep Aids: SurveyBy Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

Latest Sleep News

THURSDAY, Dec. 29, 2016 (HealthDay News) — People struggling with insomnia often turn to non-prescription sleep remedies that may be habit-forming and are only intended for short-term use, according to a new Consumer Reports survey.

The survey found that 18 percent of people who said they’d taken such over-the-counter drugs in the past year did so on a daily basis. And 41 percent said they’d taken them for a year or longer.

“We were shocked to see so many people taking so many over-the-counter sleep aids, and doing so much longer than they were supposed to,” said Lisa Gill, deputy content editor of Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs.

The drugs in question include Advil PM and Tylenol PM — pain relievers or cold formulas that contain sleep aids — as well as straight sleep remedies like Nytol, Simply Sleep, Sominex, Unisom SleepMinis and ZzzQuil, according to the survey.

The active sleep aid in all these drugs is diphenhydramine, a decades-old antihistamine intended for short-term use, Gill said.

“It’s really meant to treat allergies, but a side effect is drowsiness,” Gill said.

Such regular use could put people at risk of side effects from either diphenhydramine or other ingredients also contained in the over-the-counter drugs, she said.

“The instructions are pretty clear” regarding diphenhydramine, Gill said. “You don’t want to take it for longer than two weeks at a time. There’s a whole host of reasons for that.”

Medicines containing diphenhydramine can cause constipation, dizziness, daytime drowsiness or confusion, putting a person at risk for accidents, Gill said.

Also, some studies have linked diphenhydramine to an increased risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, Gill said. “That’s the scary part,” she said, since the antihistamine has been available to the public for a very long time.

Sleep expert Dr. Raj Dasgupta said he’s also concerned that people are taking medicines to induce drowsiness that contain other active ingredients.

“It’s scary that people will take these medications for their sleeping effects,” said Dasgupta, an assistant professor with the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, and a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “They sometimes don’t realize they’re getting other medications along with the sleep aid.”

For example, Advil PM contains ibuprofen, a pain reliever that can cause gastrointestinal problems and ulcers if overused, he said.

Dasgupta added that Tylenol PM also contains acetaminophen, a pain reliever that can be hard on the liver — especially if taken while also drinking alcohol.

Consumer Reports is concerned that people might become psychologically dependent on these over-the-counter sleep aids, Gill said, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows manufacturers to state that the drugs are non-habit-forming.

Dasgupta agreed that psychological dependence is a concern regarding these sleep aids.

“Being a physician, caring about my patients, if they are going to ask me if one of these medications is addicting, I am going to be honest and say there’s a chance it can be addicting,” he said. “Because they’re sold over the counter, there isn’t a physician there to make that statement.”

In response to the Consumer Reports story, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, an industry trade group, said in a statement: “For over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, there are two active ingredients (diphenhydramine and doxylamine) that are approved by the FDA to treat occasional sleeplessness, not long-term sleep disorders or insomnia.

“The most important step for consumers to take when using any OTC medicine is to always read and follow the label, and a key take-away for OTC sleep aids is for consumers to note that the label directs use up to two weeks to help relieve occasional [sleeplessness]. Consumers should talk to a health care provider if their sleeplessness persists or if they have any questions.”

Both Dasgupta and Gill recommend cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) as a first-choice treatment for chronic insomnia.

Those with insomnia undergoing CBT work with a licensed sleep therapist to figure out the habits, patterns and attitudes they’ve developed that might be getting in the way of a good night’s rest, Dasgupta said.

For example, patients might be varying their bedtime and wake time throughout the week, which can throw off the body’s internal clock. Or they might be spending too much time in front of a light-emitting tablet or TV just before bed, which can make it harder to get to sleep, he said.

MedicalNews
Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Lisa Gill, deputy content editor, Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs; Raj Dasgupta, M.D., assistant professor, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine; Dec. 28, 2016 statement, Consumer Healthcare Products Association

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Source: MediciNet

31 Dec

Debbie Reynold's Death Puts Spotlight on 'Broken Heart Syndrome'

News Picture: Debbie Reynold's Death Puts Spotlight on 'Broken Heart Syndrome'

Latest Heart News

THURSDAY, Dec. 29, 2016 (HealthDay News) — A stroke claimed the life of actress Debbie Reynolds, 84, on Wednesday — just a day after her daughter Carrie Fisher died from a heart attack.

Reynold’s son, Todd Fisher, told the Associated Press that the stress of losing her daughter may have been a contributing factor in his mother’s death.

Now, doctors familiar with such cases agree that so-called “broken heart syndrome” might have played a role.

“Lots of times I hear a causal mention of someone dying of a ‘broken heart,’ but what many don’t know is that ‘broken heart syndrome’ is a real medical condition,” said Dr. Matthew Lorber, a psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Lorber wasn’t on Reynolds’ medical team, but he said the syndrome is a familiar one for many physicians.

“Broken heart syndrome refers to the consequences of the heart being exposed to a surge of stress hormones triggered by a major stressor,” he explained. “It is most commonly seen in women 50 or older.”

“When the stress hormones hit the heart it can cause arrhythmias [a temporary irregular heart rate], angina [severe chest pain], shortness of breath and intense changes in blood pressure,” Lorber said.

For most people in the midst of a personal crisis, including a sudden bereavement, these heart conditions are temporary. Most will “have a full recovery without any permanent damage,” Lorber said. But the effect in a minority of cases may be more severe.

According to the AP, Reynold’s son confirmed that his mother died from a stroke after being taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

“She’s now with Carrie, and we’re all heartbroken,” Todd Fisher told the news agency. He added that he believes the stress of his sister’s death “was too much” for his mother.

Carrie Fisher, best known for her iconic role as Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” movies, died Tuesday after suffering a heart attack last week on a flight from London to Los Angeles. She was 60.

On Tuesday, Reynolds had expressed gratitude to her daughter’s fans on Facebook.

“Thank you to everyone who has embraced the gifts and talents of my beloved and amazing daughter. I am grateful for your thoughts and prayers that are now guiding her to her next stop,” Reynolds had written.

Reynolds was best known for her roles in films produced in the 1950s and ’60s, which included “Tammy” and “Singing in the Rain.” She received an Oscar nomination for her starring role in the 1964 film “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”

Carrie Fisher was the daughter of Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher. Their marriage ended when Carrie was 2, after Fisher left Reynolds for actress Elizabeth Taylor.

Sudden grief and other life crises don’t have to endanger your heart health, another physician added.

Dr. Scott Krakower is a psychiatrist at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New Hyde Park, N.Y. He said that “if you suspect that you are at risk for this syndrome, you should see a medical doctor as soon as possible.”

Also, “it is important to grieve appropriately and use anxiety/stress reduction techniques during this time,” Krakower said. “These techniques may include deep breathing, self-soothing and utilizing mindfulness. It is important to stay on a routine, remembering to eat, and get adequate sleep.”

— E.J. Mundell

MedicalNews
Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Matthew Lorber, M.D., director, child and adolescent psychiatry, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Scott Krakower, D.O., assistant unit chief, psychiatry, Zucker Hillside Hospital, New Hyde Park, NY; Associated Press

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Source: MediciNet

31 Dec

Fish Oil During Pregnancy May Cut Kids' Asthma Risk

News Picture: Fish Oil During Pregnancy May Cut Kids' Asthma RiskBy Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

Latest Pregnancy News

THURSDAY, Dec. 29, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Women who take fish oil during their third trimester of pregnancy might cut their children’s risk of developing asthma by as much as one-third, a new clinical trial suggests.

The fish oil dose was high — with fatty acid levels that were 15 to 20 times more than the average American gets from food.

But there were no significant side effects, according to lead researcher Dr. Hans Bisgaard. He’s a professor of pediatrics at the University of Copenhagen, in Denmark.

He stopped short of making any general recommendations for pregnant women, however.

Bisgaard said his “personal interpretation” is that fish oil offers a safe way to prevent some cases of childhood asthma.

But he also said there are questions left for future studies. Among them are: What is the best point in pregnancy to start fish oil, and what is the optimal dose?

Experts who were not involved in the study called the findings encouraging. They also agreed on the need for more research.

“It’s possible that even a lower dose could be effective,” said Dr. Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City.

For now, she suggested that pregnant women talk to their doctors about whether they need more of the fatty acids found in fish oil — namely, DHA and EPA.

“They can talk about whether they’re eating enough fish, and how much (DHA/EPA) they may already be getting from prenatal vitamins,” Wu said.

The study, published Dec. 29 in the New England Journal of Medicine, adds to evidence that fish oil may help ward off asthma.

Lab research has suggested DHA and EPA can make the airways less prone to inflammation, according to Dr. Christopher Ramsden, a researcher with the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

In an editorial published with the study, Ramsden called the results “highly promising.”

Still, he writes, “a note of caution is warranted.”

Because the fish oil doses were high — 2.4 grams per day — research should look at whether the treatment has any negative longer-term effects, Ramsden said.

For the study, Bisgaard’s team randomly assigned 736 pregnant women to take either fish oil capsules or a placebo every day during the third trimester. The placebo capsules contained olive oil.

In the end, children in the fish-oil group were about one-third less likely to develop asthma or persistent wheezing — a sign of asthma in very young children. By the age of 5, nearly 17 percent were diagnosed with either condition, versus almost one-quarter of children in the placebo group.

Some children seemed to benefit more than others, however.

The effects were mostly seen in the one-third of children whose mothers had the lowest DHA/EPA intake to begin with.

Genetics also seemed to matter: Supplements were more effective when mothers carried a gene variant that causes lower DHA/EPA levels in the blood.

Still, that could leave a large number of children who stand to benefit, Bisgaard said.

The study was done in Denmark, where fish intake is relatively high, he pointed out.

“Women in the lower third of intake in Denmark are well above the average intake in the U.S.,” Bisgaard said. “I expect a stronger effect in populations that are inland, where fish is more unusual in the diet.”

But studies are needed to show whether that’s the case, he said.

The gene findings might also complicate the picture somewhat: The percentage of people with “bad” gene variants that cause lower DHA and EPA levels would likely be different from one population to the next, Bisgaard said.

Dr. Jefry Biehler, chairman of pediatrics at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, agreed that studies of other populations are needed.

Biehler also noted that many factors affect a child’s asthma risk — including family history and exposure to environmental hazards, such as cigarette smoke.

So fish oil would not be a magic bullet, he said.

Biehler recommended that pregnant women talk with their doctors before using fish oil — and make sure that any product they use is “high-quality.”

Supplements are medications,” Biehler said. “They should be discussed with your doctor.”

MedicalNews
Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Hans Bisgaard, M.D., professor, pediatrics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Jennifer Wu, M.D., obstetrician-gynecologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Jefry Biehler, M.D., chairman, pediatrics, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Miami; Dec. 29, 2016, New England Journal of Medicine

This article passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.
Recommended article: The Guardian’s Summary of Julian Assange’s Interview Went Viral and Was Completely False.


Source: MediciNet