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Health Briefs


Rewarming patients after surgery

Most patients undergoing cardiac bypass surgery are placed on heart-lung machines that cool their blood to reduce their bodies' oxygen needs. Now researchers have found that taking an extra 10 to 15 minutes to slowly rewarm patients at the end of their surgery reduces brain overheating, lowering the risk of brain damage and memory loss.

Researchers from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., showed several years ago that patients given an extra 10 to 12 minutes to bring their body temperatures back up scored nearly one-third better on standard cognition tests six weeks after surgery. In a new study, the researchers reported that by changing long-standing rewarming practices in recent years, Duke surgical teams were able to prevent potentially damaging overheating. "Even a half- to one degree of temperature can aggravate a brain that is injured," said lead study author Dr. Hilary Grocott, a cardiac anesthesiologist. Grocott presented the findings to the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists in Honolulu.

Improved nutrition for the very tiny

At just 1 to 2.2 pounds, very low birth-weight babies are too tiny to breastfeed. But by pumping and collecting breast milk for tube feedings, mothers can help protect these infants from potentially fatal infections.

In an analysis of 1,270 very premature newborns studied at 15 medical centers, pediatric epidemiologist Jareen Meinzen-Derr and her colleagues at Cincinnati Children's Hospital found that 39 percent developed sepsis and that "as the amount of human milk increased as a percentage of total nutrition, the risk of sepsis decreased." Sepsis is a bodywide infection that affects about 35 percent of extremely low birth-weight babies and kills as many as 20 percent of them. Meinzen-Derr was to present the results at the Pediatric Academic Societies' annual meeting in San Francisco.

Iced coffee drinks stir up some calories

To someone looking for a refreshing treat, a 16-ounce frozen coffee confection or frothy coffee drink can sure beat run-of-the-mill java. But hot and cold lattes, espressos, mochas, cappuccinos and spiced teas known as chais can pack a hefty caloric punch. They may also supply a hefty chunk of the day's fat, carbohydrates and sugar.

Reporting in the April issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers from Simmons College in Boston found that undergraduate and graduate students who drank gourmet coffee concoctions consumed an extra 200 calories and 32 grams of sugar a day.

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