Saturday, September 23, 2006

migraine news roundup 19

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A University of Wisconsin-Madison study shows there may be a connection between sleep disorders and depression:

Lack of sleep linked to depression
Individuals whose breathing problems worsened over time increased their risk for depression, says Peppard.

"Among these studies, an increase in sleep-related breathing disorder to the next higher category was associated with a 1.8-fold increased odds for development of depression compared with unchanging sleep-related breathing disorder," the authors write in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

There may be a genetic component to hypertension:

Mutation Plays Key Role In Hypertension
A gene mutation of a key enzyme that regulates smooth muscle contraction and blood pressure in rats has been identified by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The finding, the first genetic link to muscle contraction and high blood pressure, may lead to improved treatments for hypertension.

The study appears in the September issue of Molecular Biology of the Cell.

A thought provoking essay about the role of chance in medical outcomes:

In Science-Based Medicine, Where Does Luck Fit In?
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Luck seems to have become particularly anathema in an era of evidence-based medicine, in which physicians and patients are encouraged to learn the latest relevant data to guide decisions.

Though they may be effective, relatively few Americans are using alternative medicine to treat their insomnia:

Millions use alternative medicine to get to sleep
One in six Americans frequently have difficulty falling asleep, and 4.5 percent of them use some type of alternative medicine to treat their sleeping problems, a new study shows.

"Most respondents who used herbal therapies or relaxation techniques found these therapies helpful for managing their insomnia or trouble sleeping," Dr. Nancy J. Pearson and colleagues from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Pearson and her team analyzed information from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey to find out how common sleeping difficulties were and how often people used alternative techniques to treat them.

Of those surveyed, 17.4 percent reported that, over the past 12 months, they regularly had difficulty falling asleep or suffered from insomnia.

The researchers found that 4.5 percent of those with sleeping troubles, or an estimated 1.6 million people, are using complementary and alternative medicine to help themselves sleep better.

A panel established by the FDA to study prescription drug safety says there is a serious need for reform:

Drug Safety Overhaul Is Urged
The FDA spends far more time on approvals than on follow-ups, a review finds. Calls for reform include warning labels and limits on ads.
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Its 25 recommendations include establishing a fixed term for the FDA commissioner, restricting ubiquitous drug commercials and placing a special cautionary symbol on the packaging of newly approved medications.

The panel found "an imbalance in the regulatory attention and the resources available before and after approval" of new drugs, said Chairwoman Sheila Burke, a former Republican Senate staffer who now is chief operating officer of the Smithsonian. "Staff and resources devoted to pre-approval are substantially greater than those available post-approval."

The panel urged greater legal authority for FDA regulators to compel drug companies to carry out safety monitoring and called for significant increases in agency funding — although it failed to spell out exactly how much and where it would come from.

A previous investigation by the congressional Government Accountability Office had also concluded that the center's powerful new drugs branch — which gets the lion's share of funding and staff — treated the safety office as a sort of bureaucratic stepchild. Some FDA officials complained the new report did not take sufficient note of what it called two years of internal efforts to improve communication, both within the agency and with doctors and patients.

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