- FDA Approves Privigen IVIg for ITP
- New Products to Help Stop Bleeding
- CDC Releases New International Travel Guide
- CDC Updates Infection Prevention Guidelines for Health Care Settings
- Search Environmental Conditions by ZIP Code
- It’s Getting Easier to Compare Hospitals
- Join the Health Care Debate
- CAM Being Tested
- Diabetes Increases Risk of Brain Hemorrhage in Younger Patients
- Celiac Diseases May Involve Thrombocytopenia
- Red Blood Cells Communicate with Platelets
- Communication Errors Result in Injury for Surgical Patients
- Warming Before and After Surgery Reduces Blood Loss
- Reading Fights Depression and Anxiety
- Whole Grains Protect Against Inflammation
FDA APPROVES PRIVIGEN IVIG FOR ITP
The Food and Drug Administration has granted marketing approval to CSL Behring for its drug Privigen, an intravenous immunoglobulin for patients with ITP and primary immunodeficiency. The drug does not require refrigeration or reconstitution. In a study of 57 ITP patients, 81% of patients responded with an increased platelet count.
NEW PRODUCTS TO HELP STOP BLEEDING
Products used to stop bleeding in emergency rooms and on the battlefield have moved into the consumer market, in the form of powders, bandages, and nose plugs. For example, Z-Medica, Inc. is now selling QuikClot Sport, a porous sack filled with highly absorbent mineral from lava rocks. Place it on the wound and it pulls the water from the blood, leaving behind clot-forming platelets. Other products to help stop bleeding include QR, a powder to sprinkle on wounds by Biolife; BloodStop, a bandage under the CVS private label; a gause product also named BloodStop by LifeSciencePlus; NasalCease, a seaweed extract to help stop nosebleeds by Catalina Healthcare.
New Products to Help Stop Bleeding Quickly. The Wall Street Journal, July 3, 2007, pg. D6.
CDC RELEASES NEW INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL GUIDE
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its “Yellow book,” which describes travel-related infections and diseases that are common in regions around the world. The latest edition includes recommendations on immunizations, developments in malaria treatment and prevention, advice for avoiding deep vein thrombosis while flying, and a section on avian influenza (bird flu). The book, officially called “CDC Health Information for international Travel 2008,” is available free online.
H. PYLORI TREATMENT IMPROVES WITH TWO ADDITIONS
Standard treatment for H. Pylori infection fails for 1 in 4 patients. Italian researchers have found that adding two products to standard therapy can boost eradication and reduce side effects. Standard treatment is a triple therapy consisting of the antibiotics amoxicillin and clarithromycin, plus a proton pump inhibitor. To this regimen, the researchers added lactoferrin and a probiotic supplement. Lactoferrin is a glycoprotein found in the body involved in immune defense. Probiotics contain multiple lactic-acid producing bacteria, and have been shown effective against gastroenteric illnesses, such as inflammatory bowel disease and viral infections. Eight weeks after treatment, patients taking standard therapy plus the two other products had better eradication of H. Pylori infection and fewer episodes of nausea, diarrhea, or other side effects.
Am J Gastroenterol. 2007;102:951-956.
CDC UPDATES INFECTION PREVENTION GUIDELINES FOR HEALTH CARE SETTINGS
CDC has updated its guidelines for preventing transmission of infectious agents in hospitals and healthcare settings. The guidelines address a broader range of settings, including home care, long-term care, and free-standing specialty care sites, and addresses a broader scope of issues, including the emergence of new pathogens, such as SARS, and concerns about bioweapons attacks. The full report is available at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/pdf/isolation2007.pdf
Medscape, July 3, 2007; ww.medscape.com/viewarticle/559217
SEARCH ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS BY ZIP CODE
The Environmental Protection Agency has a free database called Envirofacts (www.epa.gov/enviro/) for searching, by ZIP code, information about chemicals, radiation, and hazardous waste that could affect a community. Scorecard (www.scorecard.org), is another free service that compares safety of communities with others in the U.S. The Wall Street Journal warns that many environmental databases are at least one year behind.
Quick Fix, The Wall Street Journal, July 26, 2007, Pg. D1.
IT’S GETTING EASIER TO COMPARE HOSPITALS
Several sources are mining Medicare data and state records and surveying hospitals to devise user-friendly databases to help consumers comparison-shop for health care. Find out whether a hospital follows best practices, which means they adhere to recommended guidelines for certain procedures. Hospital Compare (www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov) is run by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and other groups. It compares 5,000 hospitals, but the focus is on best practices, rather than how patients fare. The Leapfrog Group, a consortium of big health-care buyers, publishes a free database (www.leapfroggroup.org) that also focuses on best practices. Some are beginning to publish data on how patients do. For example, New York State’s health department compares death rates for heart surgery at all hospitals in the state.
How to Size Up Your Hospital, The Wall Street Journal, July 10, 2007, Pg. D1-2.
NHLBI WEBSITE CARRIES NEW INFORMATION AND ANIMATIONS
NHLBI’s Diseases and Conditions Index contains updates, animations, and illustrations for consumers. It includes a page on ITP and a new animation on How the Heart Works.
JOIN THE HEALTH CARE DEBATE
With release of Michael Moore’s latest movie, “SICKO”, Families USA (a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the achievement of high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans) is organizing discussion groups so that people can share personal stories about America’s costly and convoluted health care system and “discuss ways to become part of the solution.” Go to familiesusa.org/resources/action-center/sicko.html. Oprah Winfrey is also collecting personal stories about how people have been affected by the health care system.
CAM BEING TESTED
A consortium of 38 medical schools is working to integrate complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) into mainstream medicine while maintaining Western standards of care. Researchers at these centers are trying to determine which CAM practices are safe and effective. The Washington Post asked four specialists at University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins, UCLA, and University of Pennsylvania, who noted that guided imagery, meditation, and other practices to harness the mind to promote health and healing are becoming a popular means of managing stress and pain. Some studies suggest that mind/body exercises with conventional methods can treat cardiovascular disease and bolster the immune system. They are now studying whether a patient’s expectation that a treatment will work affects the outcome—the so-called placebo effect.
Earning a Spot in the Curriculum. Washington Post, July 17, 2007, Health Section F1.6.
DIABETES INCREASES RISK OF BRAIN HEMORRHAGE IN YOUNGER PATIENTS
Patients with diabetes have a 3 to 4-fold increased risk of brain hemorrhage compared to people without diabetes, according to a study at University of Cincinnati. The effect is strongest among black patients younger than 55 years. Diabetes also increases risk for ischemic stroke, caused by bleeding in the brain. Most patients have little knowledge of the symptoms of stroke or the need to get immediate attention by calling 911. To be effective, some stroke treatments must be given within 3 to 4 hours of the stroke.
Medscape, July 6, 2007
CELIAC DISEASES MAY INVOLVE THROMBOCYTOPENIA
Celiac disease, a problem with absorption of vitamins and minerals from the gut, has many hematologic connections, which may lead the patient to the doctor for evaluation of blood-related problems even before a diagnosis of celiac disease, according to researchers at the Mayo Clinic.
Halfdanarson TR, Litzow MR, Murray JA. Hematologic manifestations of celiac disease. Blood, January 15, 2007, 109(2);412-421.
RED BLOOD CELLS COMMUNICATE WITH PLATELETS
Researchers at Wayne State University have shown that red blood cells, as they move through the circulatory system, release a chemical that signals blood-clotting platelets to become less sticky, therefore less likely to clog narrow blood vessels. This finding may explain why people with diabetes have circulatory problems. Red blood cells in people with diabetes have a reduced capacity to release the chemical, called ATP. This offers a new target for fighting diabetes symptoms.
Chemical Conversation, Science News, July 21, 2007, pg. 38.
COMMUNICATION ERRORS RESULT IN INJURY FOR SURGICAL PATIENTS
A review of 444 surgical malpractice claims revealed that communication breakdowns, when important information is not transmitted, or transmitted inaccurately, or responsibilities are unclear, play a role. Communication breakdown was most likely to occur during emergency procedures, during a change or staff, or during patient transfer.
Greenberg CC, Regenbogen SE, Studdert DM, et al. Journal of American College of Surgery. 2007;204:533-540.
WARMING BEFORE AND AFTER SURGERY REDUCES BLOOD LOSS
A randomized trial showed that warming a patient before and after surgery, in addition to warming during surgery, reduces blood loss during surgery and lowers the risk for postoperative complications.
Wong PF, Kumar S, Bohra A, Whetter D, Leaper DJ. British Journal of Surgery, 2007;94:421-426.
READING FIGHTS DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY
Some self-help books can measurably improve mental health. Studies have been conducted to find the books that can have the greatest impact. Research suggests that ‘bibliotherapy” is most successful when combined with conventional therapy. The authors recommend: “Feeling Good,” by David D. Burns; “Mind Over Mood,” by Dennis Greenberger and Christine A. Padesky, and “Control Your Depression,” by Peter Lewinsohn. They do not recommend “Prozac Nation or “You Mean I Don’t Have To Feel This Way?”
Bibliotherapy: Reading Your Way to Mental Health. The Wall Street Journal, July 31, 2007, Pg. D1.
WHOLE GRAINS PROTECT AGAINST INFLAMMATION
Women who eat at least four servings a week of whole grains were 31% less likely than women who never ate whole-grain foods to die from inflammation-related diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to the large Iowa Women’s Health Study, which followed women for 17 years. Previous studies found that whole grains protect against cardiovascular diseases.
Whole Grains Protect More than Heart. Environmental Nutrition Newsletter, August 2007, Pg. 1.