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Health Updates 2 March 2012

  • Disabled adults more apt to be victims of violence: “Disabled adults are at higher risk of being victims of violence than adults who aren’t disabled, new research finds.  Those with mental illness are particularly vulnerable, with about 24 percent reporting having experienced physical, sexual or ‘intimate partner’ violence during the past year, according to the study published online…in the Lancet….The meta-analysis, which pools the results of prior research, found that disabled adults are 1.5 times more likely to be a violence victim than those without a disability, while adults with mental illness are nearly four times more likely to be victimized….’Lifetime exposure to violence, and the proportions of individuals with disability who are directly threatened with violence or otherwise live in fear of becoming a victim, are likely to be substantially higher than our estimate,’ study lead author Mark Bells said in a university news release.” (Healthday)
  • Family tree may clarify death risk for inherited heart rhythm disorders: “Reconstructing family trees dating back to 1811, Dutch researchers have estimated the death risk for people with inherited heart rhythm disorders, according to a study in Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, a journal of the American Heart Association.  Heart rhythm disorders can result in sudden cardiac death in apparently healthy people because of severe disturbances in the rhythm of the heart.  The risk is high for people who carry one of these rare genes and have symptoms such as fainting.  Before the study, the risk in people without symptoms was less certain.  Thus, physicians developed preventive measures – including medications and implanted devices that can cause side effects – without a clear idea of the death risk.  With greater use of genetic testing for the relatives of people with one of the disorders, questions about how and when to treat people without symptoms now arises frequently.” (American Heart Association)
  • Duration of diabetes raises stroke risk: “The risk of ischemic stroke increased by 3% for each additional year a patient had diabetes, researchers found.  Compared with nondiabetics in the longitudinal study, those who had the disease for at least 10 years had a three-fold higher stroke risk….Although stroke rates have been dropping among diabetics, more people are developing the disease – and at younger ages – because of the obesity epidemic.  That means that the stroke burden is growing heavier, particularly as the population ages and people live longer.  ‘It is thus important to better understand the dynamics between diabetics, time and stroke, and to emphasize the importance of interventions to prevent early diabetes,’ the authors wrote. ‘Minimizing the number of years a patient has diabetes would help combat the increase in  stroke risk with each year of the disease’.” (Todd Neale, MedPage Today)
  • Parkinson’s drug may help with brain injuries, report finds: “Daily doses of a drug used to treat Parkinson’s disease significantly improved function in severely brain-injured people thought to be beyond the reach of treatment, scientists reported…providing the first rigorous evidence to date that any therapy reliably helps such patients.  The improvements were modest, experts said, and hardly amounted to a cure, or a quick means of ‘waking up’ someone who has long been unresponsive.  But the progress was meaningful, experts said, and, if replicated, would give rehabilitation doctors something they have never had: a standard treatment for injuries that are not at all standard or predictable in the ways they affect the brain.” (NY Times)
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