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Updated: 2 hours 41 min ago

A glance back: the Framingham Heart Study

Tue, 2018-07-31 17:19

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the landmark FrFramingham physiciansamingham Heart Study. It is named for the town of Framingham, MA from which the original cohort (there are now six groups of participants) of 5,209 men and women were recruited.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, and it achieved that rank by the 1940s. But for many at the time, it was considered unavoidable consequence of getting older. Fortunately, in 1948, President Harry Truman signed into law the ‘National Heart Act’ which did two things:

  1. Established the National Heart Institute, better known today at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
  2. Allocated funds for a twenty-year epidemiological heart study

Its milestones over the years have been significant and numerous – here are just a few:

  • In 1967, it was discovered that physical activity reduced the risk of heart disease
  • In 1988, HDL or “good” cholesterol was found to reduce risk of death
  • In 2002, obesity was determined as a risk factor for heart failure

To learn more, you can read a history published in 2014 that details its origins and contributions, including the fact that this study was closely linked to the health of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

To celebrate the anniversary, Daniel Levy, M.D., Director, Framingham Heart Study, and Chief of the Population Sciences Branch, NHLBI, gave a recorded talk earlier this year.

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Photo Credit: “Framingham Heart Study physicians” by NIH History Office via The Commons (Flickr)

Categories: Data Science

Could Your Favorite Snack be Causing Manic Episodes?

Thu, 2018-07-26 18:07

hot dogs

Baseball season is in full swing and ballparks across the country are serving up a classic ballpark favorite – hot dogs.  In fact, it is estimated that baseball fans alone will con

sume nearly 19 million hot dogs in 2018.  Could they be getting more than they bargain for with this ballpark food choice?

A recent John Hopkins Medicine study collected data between 2007 and 2017 from 1,101 people with and without psychiatric disorders.   Their study found that those who had been hospitalized for mania were more than three times as likely to have had a history of eating cured meat as those without a psychiatric disorder.

Although hot dogs are nitrate-curated, they aren’t the only food item that falls into this category.  Beej jerky, salami, and other processed meats are also included.  Curating meats with nitrates is not a new process and neither are its associated health issues.  In the past, curated meats have been linked to colorectal cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

While the study did not address cause and effect, it could have an impact on future interventions, according to lead author Robert Yolken, M.D., the Theodore and Vada Stanley Distinguished Professor of Neurovirology in Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  “Future work on this association could lead to dietary interventions to help reduce the risk of manic episodes in those who have bipolar disorder or who are otherwise vulnerable to mania.”

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Categories: Data Science

World Health Organization Releases ICD-11

Tue, 2018-06-26 08:42
Medical Photo

“Picture.” by RawPixels via Unsplash, March 18, 2018, CCO.

The World Health Organization has released the newest version of the International Classification of Diseases, ICD-11.  The ICD tracks health trends and statistics globally.  The nearly 55,000 unique codes identify injuries, diseases, symptoms, and causes of death.  These codes are the common language that health care professionals use to share information worldwide.

This new version of ICD has been in progress for several years and involved a large team of contributors.  Due to the scope of the project, it will not start being used until 2022.  This will allow time for users to familiarize themselves with the new product and prepare for implementation.

One new feature that is being touted as user friendly is a fully electronic version of the product which is a first for ICD.  There are also new chapters that include traditional medicine and sexual health.  The sexual health chapter is most notable for reclassifying transgender so that is no longer a mental health condition.  Another well publicized addition to ICD-11 is gaming disorder is now listed as an addictive disorder.

WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Metrics and Measurement, Dr Lubna Alansari, says: “ICD is a cornerstone of health information and ICD-11 will deliver an up-to-date view of the patterns of disease.”

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Categories: Data Science

New Research Looks at Long-Term Impact of Tonsillectomies

Tue, 2018-06-19 10:20

“Tonsillitis.” via MedlinePlus.gov, April 11, 2017, Public Domain.

When I was in grade school, it seemed as if nearly every kid would miss a week of school to have their tonsils removed. They would return to school bragging about their recovery spent eating ice cream, drinking milkshakes, and watching cartons.  I can almost acutely recall being jealous of these classmates.  After reading new research that evaluates the long-term health risks of tonsillectomies, I realized maybe I shouldn’t have been quite so jealous!

Tonsils are located at the back of the throat. These are knobs of tissue with one located on either side.  Tonsils are part of the lymphatic system which works to clear infections and keep the balance between body fluids.  Specifically, the tonsils, in concert with the adenoids, work by preventing germs from coming in through the mouse and nose.

A tonsillectomy is a procedure to remove the tonsils. This is typically recommended for those that suffer from recurrent infections of the tonsils or when the tonsils are enlarged enough that they obstruct breathing.  For adults, the tonsils are occasionally removed when there is concern for a tumor.

Over half a million tonsillectomies are performed annually in the United States but little research has been done to determine the long-term health risks associated with this procedure. A new study released by the University of Melbourne is the first to look at potential risks.  Their results suggest that individuals who undergo a tonsillectomy are at 3x the risk of their counterparts for diseases of the upper respiratory tract such as asthma, influenza, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – COPD.

Read the entire study findings to learn more.

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Categories: Data Science