Doctors Should Be Careful About What They Tweet

Photo Courtesy - Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Like everyone else these days, doctors are fans of social networking sites and the vast majority use them responsibly.

Still, a new study from George Washington School of Medicine and Health Science says a small number of physicians cross an ethical line that potentially endangers patients or puts their careers in jeopardy.

Checking out Twitter during May of 2010, Dr. Katherine Chretien and her staff examined more than 5,000 tweets from 260 licensed doctors with at least 500 followers.  In all, the researchers found that three percent of tweets were labeled “unprofessional,” which means they involved breaches of patient privacy along with profanity, sexually-explicit remarks and discriminatory statements.

If that wasn’t bad enough, another one percent of doctor tweets featured claims about a product they were selling on their individual websites that couldn’t be readily substantiated, as well as heavy promotion of other specific health products.  A few of these statements were considered potentially harmful because they contradicted acceptable medical knowledge.

Chretien concluded, “This research helped us to identify how physicians are using social media and has helped us gauge whether or not there is need for greater accountability for physicians who use social media.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Amphetamine Use May Increase Risk Of Parkinson’s Disease

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Amphetamine-based medications prescribed to increase wakefulness and focus in people suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may put users at an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to a new study.

The study’s authors, who presented their findings at a meeting of the American Academy of Neurology on Sunday, analyzed data from more than 66,000 people who reported using amphetamine-based medications between 1964 and 1973. After an average 39 years of followup, the authors found that those who had reported taking medications Benzedrine or Dexedrine were 56 percent more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those who didn’t take the drugs.

A significant flaw, however, in the design of the study – conducted by Kaiser Permanente Northern California – makes its conclusion questionable. Because data was self-reported, people may not have provided accurate responses. More importantly, critics of the study say, is that the information was gathered at a single time, leaving the authors unaware of other risk factors that could, over a 40-year period, have modified the patients’ risk of developing Parkinson’s.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Can Children's Behavioral Problems be Predicted?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BLOOMINGTON, Ind.) -- A new study suggests that certain early traits in children can be used to predict whether they will have more serious behavioral issues later on.

Researchers at Indiana University studied 10,000 children ages 4 to 12 who displayed what were called "callous-unemotional (CU) traits" as well as conduct problems and antisocial behavior.

The study, published in Abnormal Psychology, found that children who had been assessed by their teachers as having high CU traits between the ages of 7 and 12 were more likely to display behaviors such as hyperactivity and emotional problems after the age of 12.

Researchers suggest that this information could be used for early intervention in children who display both high CU traits and conduct problems to stop further issues from developing with age.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Weight Loss Could Ease Osteoarthritis Knee Pain

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN DIEGO) -- Researchers say they have a simple solution for osteoarthritis-related knee pain, they suggest losing weight.

According to a release from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, researchers say they’ve found that patients who had early-onset knee osteoarthritis experienced a decrease in pain after undergoing isolated weight loss via bariatric surgery. Researchers studied 24 patients in the 30-67 age range, who were diagnosed as obese with evidence of knee osteoarthritis. The patients in the study were given surveys to complete before and after undergoing bariatric surgery.

"There are few studies that have investigated the role of isolated weight loss in the absence of additional arthritis treatment on those individuals with radiographically confirmed osteoarthritis," said researcher Christopher Edwards of the Penn State College of Medicine. "Further research still needs to be performed to investigate whether knee arthritis symptom improvement continues over time and are applicable to those individuals who are simply overweight."

Osteoarthritis-related knee pain is common among retired athletes, and osteoarthritis in the knee is one of the leading causes of disability among elderly men and women, according to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. The disease is said to be responsible for over $185 billion in out-of-pocket expenses annually, and obesity is listed as one of the leading risk factors for the disease.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Leg Pain Could Be Sign of Heart Trouble

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New research suggests a disease that affects the legs could be a warning sign for potential heart trouble.

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) affects about 9 million Americans over 50, putting them at risk for heart attack, according to the Vascular Disease Foundation. 

PAD arises when arteries in the legs become blocked with fatty deposits.  The blockage, in turn, causes reduced blood flow to the legs signaled by muscle pain when walking.  If there are blocked arteries in the legs, it is likely that one might also have blocked arteries elsewhere in the body, including the heart.

"Often people think leg discomfort or slow-healing sores are just a part of aging, yet they can be signs of a serious disease," Dr. Joseph Caporusso, chair of the PAD Coalition, said in a news release.

Caporusso noted that early detection and treatment can reduce the devastating effects of PAD and improve cardiovascular health.

The Vascular Disease Foundation suggests adults age 70 and older with PAD symptoms or individuals under age 50 with diabetes or a history of smoking should be tested for PAD.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Is Rare Breast Implant Risk Cancer or 'Condition?'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- The Food and Drug Administration is exploring the incidence of a very rare cancer among a small group of women with breast implants. A longtime critic of breast implants charged in a letter to the agency that leaders of two plastic surgery groups were encouraging their members to mislead American women by recasting the malignancy as a "condition" that could easily be remedied with surgery, and asked that the regulators stop them.

Dr. Sidney M. Wolfe, director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group, and Dr. Michael Carome, the group's deputy director, sent a letter to the FDA on Thursday in which they passed along information that a concerned reconstructive surgeon shared from a Feb. 3 webinar for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Citing a transcript the surgeon provided, they wrote that the president of ASPS, Dr. Phil Haeck of Seattle, suggested in the members-only talk that surgeons respond to patients' questions using the term "condition," so as not to "disturb them by saying this is a cancer, this is a malignancy." In fact, Wolfe said in an interview shortly after releasing the letter, anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) is a type of cancer known as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and is typically aggressive.

In a response released later in the day, ASPS said the partial transcript Public Citizen released took Haeck's "extemporaneous" remarks "out of context." ASPS said Haeck never meant to "trivialize or minimize" the issue and noted that the two societies had commissioned an independent scientific panel and an independent review through RAND, a think tank in Santa Monica, Calif., and Washington, D.C., which soon will publish its findings.

The FDA's review of scientific literature from 1997 through May 2010 has identified 34 cases of ALCL among the estimated 10 million women worldwide whose breasts were surgically enlarged with silicone-filled or saline-filled implants; the cases were diagnosed when women sought treatment for pain, lumps, swelling or asymmetry after fully healing from the implant surgeries. The FDA said it was aware of about 60 cases worldwide among women with implants, but there could be duplication among the published and unpublished cases.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


12-Pound Tumor Swallows Man's Face

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CHICAGO) -- Jose Mestre's face was consumed by a 12-pound tumor, an explosive growth of blood vessels that blinded him in one eye and invaded his mouth, making it difficult to breathe and nearly impossible to eat.

Doctors in his native Portugal had given up hope that they could operate on the 53-year-old former traffic guard, and Mestre had resigned himself to the fact that he surely would die.

But now Mestre is on the road to recovery.

He was born with a venous malformation, also called a hemangioma, one that had begun growing uncontrollably at the age of 14. These tumors typically increase in size during puberty and his had begun to distort all of his facial features.

Eating was difficult, causing bleeding on his tongue. Mestre's left eye was also completely destroyed as the tumor literally swallowed his face.

His mother was a Jehovah's Witness -- a religious denomination that bans blood transfusions -- and she wanted her son to follow her faith. But three years ago, Mestre's mother died and his younger sister became his guardian and became more proactive in seeking medical care.

The biggest debate was whether Mestre should have facial allotransplantation -- or a human face transplant. Mestre and his sister chose surgery, which was also dangerous.

Mestre's journey took him from Portugal to St. Joseph's Hospital in Chicago, where employees raised money to house him for three months and plastic surgeon Dr. McKay McKinnon performed three risky procedures to save the man's face.

In the first procedure over the course of three months, Mestre underwent a tracheostomy to give him a protected airway. Ninety-eight percent of the tumor was removed. In the second surgery, doctors took out a small residual portion of the tumor and began reconstruction of his mouth and nose. An additional tumor on his tongue was also removed. In a third procedure, doctors fed a nasal gastric tube into Mestre to maintain proper nutrition. They repaired skin tissue that had broken down after the two previous surgeries.

His doctors say the tumor is not likely to grow back and that Mestre's future holds promise. He may need minor surgery to his gums or tongue, but he is not longer in danger of losing his life. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


UTI Researchers Trying to Alleviate 'Considerable Human Misery'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) -- Harry L.T. Mobley has devoted the better part of 25 years to alleviating the "considerable human misery" created by bacteria that make themselves a little too at-home in millions of women's urinary tracts.

Working six days a week, Mobley and the dozen researchers in his University of Michigan lab are trying to develop a nasal spray vaccine for urinary tract infections, to keep these rugged invaders from sticking to the bladder, climbing into kidneys and inflicting a torrent of itching, burning, and frequent urination.

Despite the team's purposeful labors, a safe and effective vaccine for urinary tract infections remains at least a decade off, Mobley figures.

"It's painful to say that, because it's such an urgent need," Mobley, a bacteriologist who chairs the department of microbiology and immunology at Michigan, told ABC News in an interview this week.  "Women that get repeated infections -- and I mean one after another and another -- represent about 2.6 percent of all women.  These are the ones we get e-mails from that are totally miserable."

Urinary tract infection is second only to respiratory infection as the most common contagious malady.  It disproportionately plagues women, who can be stricken with the pain, pelvic pressure and associated symptoms at many stages of life: when they become sexually active, during pregnancy, around menopause, and in later years if they're hospitalized or in nursing homes.

Although few cases prove fatal, recurrent infections -- more than three a year -- of the bladder (cystitis) or kidneys (pyelonephritis) exact an enormous economic toll in medical costs and lost work days.  There is a psychological cost too: sufferers feel debilitated and worried that something as enjoyable as sexual activity could lead to another infection.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Republic of Moldova Tops List of Drunkest Countries Worldwide

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(GENEVA) -- When it comes to drinking, the U.S. isn’t close to being number one.

According to statistics collected by the World Health Organization, the Republic of Moldova leads all nations, with an average annual alcohol consumption of 19.2 liters per capita.  That’s more than five gallons of booze per person, per year.

The U.S. ranks 57th on the list.

Here’s a rundown of the top 10 drunkest countries in the world, based on liters per capita:

1. Republic of Moldova, 19.2
2. Czech Republic, 16.5
3. Hungary, 16.3
4. Russia, 15.7
5. Estonia, 15.6
6. Ukraine, 15.6
7. Andorra, 15.5
8. Slovenia, 15.1
9. Belarus, 15.1
10. Croatia, 15.1

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


CBS Reporter Suffered Complex Migraine, Not Stroke, Doctor Says

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images/File Photo(LOS ANGELES) -- A doctor who treated Serene Branson, the CBS Los Angeles reporter whose garbled live report from Sunday's Grammy awards had many wondering if she suffered a stroke on the air, said a complex migraine was to blame.

"Her description of the events is really entirely typical of complex migraine," said Dr. Andrew Charles, director of the Headache Research and Treatment Program in the UCLA Department of Neurology, who saw Branson Thursday morning.

A symptom of migraine aura is "dysphasic language dysfunction," in which people know what they want to say but they can't get the words out.  This is similar to aphasia, which can signal a stroke or a tumor.

"Imaging studies ruled out other kinds of problems like a stroke or primary brain event," Charles said.

Like a stroke, a complex migraine can disturb blood flow in the brain.  But the main event in a migraine is "a storm of brain activity" that causes "waves of change in brain function" that spread across the brain, Charles said.

"There are dramatic changes in blood flow, but in the case of migraine, the changes don't reach the point where they actually damage the brain," Charles said.  "There are no residual effects."

The video of the episode was to some upsetting to watch, as Branson's speech suddenly became slurred and incomprehensible.  She appeared increasingly aware that something was wrong during the broadcast.

Branson was examined shortly after the incident by paramedics on location. Her vital signs were normal and she was not hospitalized.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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