In Brief

The Baltimore Sun


Most patients suffer from complications

Three out of every five patients with Type 2 diabetes suffer from at least one significant complication of the disease, such as heart disease, stroke, eye damage, chronic kidney disease or foot problems leading to amputation, researchers said this week.

One out of every 10 has two complications, one out of 15 has three and one out of 13 has four or more.

"These numbers are just incredible in terms of their implications for quality of life and health care costs," said health economist Willard G. Manning of the University of Chicago, who presented the data at a Seattle meeting of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.

These complications cost each person an average of about $10,000 per year -- $1,600 of it out of their own pockets -- he said. Those are crucial numbers, he said, because an estimated 40 percent of diabetics have family incomes below $35,000 per year.



N.Y.C.'s greenhouse gases rival Ireland's

New York City produces nearly 1 percent of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions -- an amount that puts it on par with Ireland or Portugal -- according to a city study.

The report, released this week, was ordered by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to assess the city's progress in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

"You have to have a real baseline or we're just talking past each other as to what works and what doesn't work -- we won't ever know whether we really made a difference," Bloomberg said.

The study found that the buildings, subways, buses, cars and decomposition of waste in America's most populous city produced a net emission of 58.3 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2005. The report said the city's emissions "are currently as much as those of Ireland or Portugal."

The U.S. total was 7.26 billion metric tons for that year.

Greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane and other gases essentially trap energy from the sun, which warms the Earth's surface and lower atmosphere. Many scientists believe human activity that increases those gases is contributing to global warming.



Brain, heart linked in stress response

A newly discovered link between the brain and the heart may give researchers insight into cardiac events induced by emotional stress such as grief and surprise, a study found.

A complex part of the brain that deals with understanding, awareness and perception sends and receives signals from the heart, according to the study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The brain's cortex may participate in a feedback loop, regulating and amplifying the cardiac response to stress.

Researchers led by Marcus Gray of University College London measured heart and brain activity in patients with a pre-existing cardiac condition while they performed a mildly stressful task known to raise heart rate: counting backward rapidly by sevens. All patients experienced enhanced cardiovascular activity.

The research expands on previous findings that emotional stress, particularly in people with underlying heart conditions, can cause irregular heart rhythms and sudden death, primarily through the actions of the primitive brain regions sending messages to heart tissue.



Drug abuse may increase stroke risk

Yet another reason to flush those uppers: Cocaine and amphetamines may increase the risk of stroke.

Crunching numbers from a database of more than 3 million hospital patients, researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas found that amphetamine abuse was associated with a nearly five-fold increase in hemorrhagic stroke -- bleeding within the brain.

Cocaine abuse, they report, was associated with more than double the risk of hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke, caused by blocked blood flow to the brain.

The study, which appears in the April edition of Archives of General Psychiatry, looked at patients ages 18 to 44 discharged from Texas hospitals from 2000 through 2003.

"I talked to some friends about my study and they said, 'Wow, big shock, drugs are bad for your brain,'" says lead author Dr. Arthur Westover, a psychiatrist. "But I think there's a bigger message here about methamphetamine abuse."



Fish may be good for pregnant women

In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration advised pregnant women to limit seafood consumption to 12 ounces a week and to avoid certain fish entirely because of concerns about methyl mercury and fetal development.

But a large British-American study published in the British medical journal The Lancet challenges that advice. The study found that children of mothers who ate less than 12 ounces of seafood a week, about two servings, had lower IQs, lower verbal skills and more behavioral and social problems than kids of moms who ate more than the U.S.-recommended limit.

"We recorded no evidence to lend support to the warnings of the U.S. advisory that pregnant women should limit their seafood consumption," wrote the research team, led by Joseph Hibbeln, a researcher at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Hibbeln, in an interview later with Newsweek, said that the "toxic effects of mercury may have been overestimated in relationship to the nutritional benefits of seafood."

The study asked more than 11,000 British pregnant women to fill out questionnaires about how much seafood they ate at 32 weeks of gestation and to report on their child's development from 6 months to 18 months. It also tracked the children at 7 and 8 years old through national standardized tests.

The less seafood a pregnant woman ate, the study found, the greater her risk was of having a child with more verbal, social and behavioral problems.


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