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Feb 16, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- TESTS MAY MISS WOMEN'S HEART DISEASE

Research shows blood tests routinely used to diagnose heart disease may miss a significant portion of women at high risk for the disorder. Scientists at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston found the usual biomarkers perform differently in women than they do men and may not identify all the females at risk. Standard blood tests placed a third to a half of the women studied at high risk. However, when researchers used multiple markers, including two new blood tests, the high-risk population grew to 69 percent. "This study further supports the need to continue research in female populations to find ways to improve detection, diagnosis and risk assessment of this deadly disease," said lead author Dr. Stephen Wiviott, a cardiovascular researcher. The findings are reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

EARLY TREATMENT MAY SPARE BABY'S SIGHT

Early treatment of premature infants at high risk for vision loss may save their sight, doctors report. The finding contradicts traditional treatment protocols for retinopathy of prematurity, a potentially blinding disease affecting primarily premature infants weighing less than 2 pounds, 12 ounces. The disease leads to the growth of abnormal blood vessels that leak fluid and blood and scar the nerve tissue inside the eye, increasing the risk of retinal detachment and vision loss. The disease, which affects 14,000 to 16,000 premature infants in the United States each year, is a leading cause of vision loss in children, says Dale Phelps of Rochester University in New York. His team found treatment offered earlier than is commonplace significantly reduced the likelihood of poor vision.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING, IN ALCOHOL ADS

A study shows radio ads promoting alcohol are heard by a high number of underage youth. The Center for Alcohol Marketing and Youth found more than a quarter of last summer's radio ads touting alcohol would not have met the alcohol industry's revised marketing codes announced in September. An analysis of 51,883 airings of 106 ads for beer, distilled spirits, wine and flavored malt beverages in 104 markets showed 28 percent occurred when 12-to-20-year-olds comprised more than 30 percent of the listening audience. This was true for 52 percent of the Heineken radio ads, 42 percent of the Amstel Light and the Corona Extra ads and 35 percent of the Miller Lite ads. The industry's revised guidelines stipulate such ads should not be aired when underage youth constitutes more than 30 percent -- rather than the previous 50 -- of the audience.

BIT OF ALCOHOL MAY DAMAGE DEVELOPING BRAIN

Even brief exposure to small amounts of alcohol or anesthetic drugs can damage the developing brain, researchers report. Significant nerve cell death occurs in the infant mouse brain following exposure to blood alcohol levels equivalent to two cocktails, they reported at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Investigator Dr. John Olney of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis noted, "With anesthetic drugs, a dose required to lightly anesthetize an infant mouse for about one hour is sufficient to trigger nerve cell death." Further studies are needed to determine what the findings might mean to the human infant, Olney said.

(EDITORS: For more information about HEART, contact Sara Onderdonk at (617) 534-1600. For SIGHT, Tom Rickey at trickey@admin.rochester.edu. For ALCOHOL, Jenny Park at (415) 901-0111. For BRAIN, Jim Dryden at (314) 286-0110 or jdryden@wustl.edu)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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