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Nov 27, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- ECSTASY CAN TRIGGER HEART ATTACKS

A case report in the Annals of Emergency Medicine finds the drug ecstasy can trigger heart attacks in users. Doctors at the National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei describe a 27-year-old male who sought treatment for chest pain after drinking a bottle of whiskey and taking half of a pill of the illegal drug Methylene 3, 4 dioxy-methamphetamine -- more commonly known as ecstasy. Emergency room doctors diagnosed and treated him for acute myocardial infarction as a result of the drug use. Although the effects of ecstasy on coronary vessels are not well documented, the authors of the study speculate ecstasy-related heart attacks may be similar to those caused by cocaine or amphetamines, agents that promote blood coagulation and can lead to heart attacks when arterial clots develop.


Researchers say anti-viral agents in an infant's saliva may protect the child from breast-feeding related HIV. While breast feeding is estimated to cause one-third to one-half of new infant HIV-1 infections worldwide, most breast-fed infants with HIV-positive mothers remain uninfected. Scientists at Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta identified factors that can affect transmission of HIV through breastfeeding. Scientists believe while breeches in an infant's intestinal lining may allow the virus entry, anti-viral agents in an infant's saliva may present a hostile environment to the virus, diverting infection. The presence of HIV antibody in saliva already has been recognized in HIV-infected individuals, but scientists do not yet know whether this antibody is developed in non-infected breast-fed infants.


Scientists find the brain's ability to turn off thought patterns associated with daydreaming may be linked to Alzheimer's disease. "In young adults, there are parts of the brain that are very active during a passive free-thinking state, but these areas appear to shut down dramatically or 'turn off' when the person is asked to do something," said Cindy Lustig, post-doctoral fellow in psychology at Washington University in St. Louis. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging tests, Lustig and colleagues determined this brain activity takes on a wholly different profile among older people developing Alzheimer's. "What we found in our study is that rather than turning these regions off when asked to concentrate, as young adults do, people with Alzheimer's seem to turn them on," Lustig said. The finding may provide a new method for diagnosing individuals in the very early stages of Alzheimer's disease.


As many as 3 percent of U.S. women may have von Willebrand disease but probably do not know it, says a study by the National Hemophilia Foundation. Researchers say von Willebrand disease, a genetic bleeding disorder affecting both men and women, is under-diagnosed among women. It results from a deficit or defect in the von Willebrand factor, a critical clotting agent in the blood. Symptoms of the disease include heavy and prolonged menstruation, severe nosebleeds and easy bruising and bleeding from tooth brushing. Dr. Paul Brenner of the University of Southern California said over half of 1,083 women surveyed reported they or someone they knew had sought treatment for unusually heavy menstrual flow, and that as many as 20 percent of these women could have the disease. He said a variety of factors contribute to under-diagnosis: unfamiliarity with the disease among doctors and patients, women who view extraordinarily heavy periods as normal because others in their family share the condition, testing often results in false negatives, and many people assume that like hemophilia, von Willebrand can only affect men.


(EDITORS: For more information on ECSTASY contact Colleen Hughes at (202) 728-0610 or For HIV MOTHERS contact Tia Webster at (404) 727-5692 or For ALZHEIMERS contact Gerry Everding at (314) 935-6375 or For VON WILLEBRAND contact Bonnie Hughes at (585) 214-7541.)

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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