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Aug 20, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- PAIN RELIEF FOR MIGRAINES

Scientists say up to four of five migraine sufferers could find relief in triptan medications yet only one of five do, often because of safety concerns. They say for the majority of migraine sufferers, the potential pain relief and improvement in quality of life outweigh the slight risk of serious side effects from the drugs. The assessment, published in Headache, comes from a panel of expert physicians, convened by the American Headache Society. From a review of nearly three dozen studies and reports, the Triptan Cardiovascular Safety Expert Panel concluded the concern over the drugs causing serious cardiovascular problems generally is overblown for people with no risk factors and should not stop them from taking the drugs.


Scientists say adding the mood stabilizer Depakote to antipsychotic medications may help decrease or maintain patients' total cholesterol levels. This is an important finding for patients with certain mental illnesses because the American Diabetes Association and the American Psychiatric Association recently cautioned that taking atypical antipsychotic drugs may increase the risk of diabetes, obesity or high cholesterol, all of which can lead to heart disease. The new data, presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, shows adding Depakote (divalproex sodium) to either Zyprexa (olanzapine) or Risperdal (risperidone) resulted in a decrease or no change in total cholesterol levels, said lead study investigator Dr. Daniel Casey, professor of psychiatry and neurology at Oregon Health and Science University.


A preliminary study shows magnetic therapy may help patients who have suffered partial damage to their spinal cord. Reporting in Spinal Cord, a team of British doctors says repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation helped patients with incomplete spinal cord injuries to improve their ability to move muscles and limbs and to feel sensations. In such injuries, the spinal cord has not been entirely severed, but the patient has lost the ability to move or feel properly below the injury point. The treatment uses an electromagnet placed on the scalp to generate brief magnetic pulses, about the strength of an MRI scan, which stimulate the brain's cerebral cortex, helping recover feeling and movement, says Dr. Nick Davey from Imperial College London.


Foster children moved repeatedly are more likely to incur higher mental health and medical costs than are children in more stable placements, a study shows. The researchers from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia say their study of more than 1,600 Pennsylvania children in the foster care system, reported in Pediatrics, may help policy makers better target scarce healthcare resources to the most needy youngsters, such as those in their first year of placement. "A child with medical problems, developmental problems or mental health problems is more likely to drift from placement to placement and spend considerable time in the foster care system," says general pediatrician Dr. David Rubin.

(Editors: For more information about PAIN, contact Sonja Sorrel at (312) 558-1770. For MOOD, Amy Laughlin at (415) 948-1057 or For SPINAL, Tony Stephenson at +44 (0)20 7594 6712 or For MENTAL, Joey McCool at (267) 426-6070 or

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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