Friday, August 14, 2009

Health Headlines - August 14

Stent Study Expanded

A study of the widely used Xience V heart stent will be expanded by more than 2,000 patients, Abbott Laboratories announced Thursday.

The main study, launched in late 2008, includes more than 25,000 patients. The patients in the new portion of the study will be followed for five years to see how many develop a potentially fatal blood clot near the site of the stent, the Associated Press reported.

The new patients will also be eligible to enroll in the larger study, which is examining the best time for patients to take blood-thinning drugs after they undergo a procedure to clear a blocked artery and have a stent implanted to keep the artery open.

The Xience V stent is already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but the agency requested the large study to help physicians determine the optimal treatment for patients, the AP reported.


Canadian Isotope Reactor Down Till 2010

It will be at least early 2010 before a Canadian reactor that produced one-third of the world's supply of medical isotopes is back in operation, officials said Thursday.

The facility in Chalk River, Ontario was closed in May for repairs. Its shutdown has caused a worldwide shortage of medical isotopes used to diagnose cancer and heart patients, Agence France Presse reported.

Initially, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited predicted the shutdown would last a few months, but a new analysis revealed more problems with the reactor, the agency said.

As more data becomes available, AECL said it will have a better idea of when the National Research Universal reactor will be back in service, AFP reported.


Chocolate Helps Heart Attack Survivors

Eating chocolate can reduce heart attack survivors' risk of dying, say researchers who followed 1,169 Swedish men and women, ages 45 to 70, from the time they were hospitalized with their first heart attack in the early 1990s.

Those who ate chocolate two or more times a week were about three times less likely to die from heart disease than those who never ate chocolate, the study found. Smaller amounts of chocolate also offered some protection, Agence France Presse reported.

The study, which appears in the September issue of the Journal of Internal Medicine, is believed to be the first to demonstrate that chocolate can help prevent death in heart attack survivors.

"Our findings support increasing evidence that chocolate is a rich source of beneficial bioactive compounds," the researchers wrote.

Antioxidants in cocoa likely explain chocolate's beneficial effects in heart attack survivors, study co-author Dr. Kenneth Mukamal, a researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, told AFP.


Childhood Radiation Tied to Pregnancy Problems: Study

Women who had radiation therapy for cancer when they were children are three times more likely to have premature babies and two times more likely to have underweight babies than other women, say British researchers who analyzed data from 7,300 pregnancies in childhood cancer survivors.

The Birmingham University researchers said the exact reasons for these increased risks aren't clear, but added that radiation treatment may lead to a smaller womb and reduced blood flow to the womb, BBC News reported.

The researchers also found a 40 percent increased risk of miscarriage in childhood cancer survivors. There was no link between chemotherapy in childhood and pregnancy complications.

Overall, survivors of childhood cancer had one-third fewer children than women in the general population, and women who had radiation therapy as children had half the number of babies than women in the general population, BBC News reported.

The study appears in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

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