Tuesday, June 26, 2007

migraine news roundup 36

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Contrary to the widely-held belief that men are at greater risk of stroke than women, one study recently found that middle-aged women have double the risk of stroke than men. This is an especially significant finding for migraineurs, who may already be at a higher risk of stroke than the general population due to the effect of migraines on the brain.

aWomen Have Double the Risk of Mid-Life Stroke

The trend may be largely due to increases in heart disease and weight gain among women, according to the report in the June 20 online edition of Neurology.

"In the age range of 45 to 54, women were more than twice as likely to report having had a stroke," said lead author Dr. Amytis Towfighi, of the Stroke Center and department of neurology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The study also looked at what factors could be contributing to this increase in women having strokes. "We found that the independent predictors of stroke in women of that age group were coronary artery disease and waist circumference," Towfighi said.

Read more about the increased stroke risk for migraineurs here: Migraines with Aura Signal Moderate Heart Attack, Stroke Risk.

Though it seems a classic example of a "the chicken or the egg" situation, researchers have found sleeplessness can trigger and exacerbate anxiety.

aSleep Problems Can Trigger Anxiety

Two new studies have found evidence indicating that elderly people using SSRIs experience greater bone loss than people their age who are not using them.

aAntidepressants weaken bones in elderly
Millions of people, including many elderly, take these drugs, known as SSRIs, which include Eli Lilly and Co's Prozac, known generically as fluoxetine.

Two teams of researchers found that older men and women taking SSRIs had more bone loss than those not taking the drugs, which account for more than 60 percent of U.S. antidepressant drug prescriptions. A drop in bone mass can lead to osteoporosis and bone fractures.

A team led by Dr. Susan Diem of the University of Minnesota tracked 2,722 women, average age 78, including 198 SSRI users. They measured their bone mineral density five years apart.

Those taking the antidepressants experienced a density decrease at the hip of 0.82 percent per year, compared to 0.47 percent per year among those not taking them, the study found.

"We found that SSRI use was associated with increased rates of bone loss in this group of older women," Diem said in a telephone interview.

"But our research cannot definitively determine whether the SSRIs are the cause of the increased rates of the bone loss or whether the increased rate is due to other differences between SSRI users and nonusers," Diem added.

Diem noted, for example, that users of these drugs may be less physically active than people not using the drugs.

"I don't want people stopping their antidepressants for these results. These are all preliminary findings," Diem said. "However, I think our findings suggest that this area needs to be further looked at."

Researchers are examining the effectiveness of cell phone technology in improving doctor-patient communication and monitoring of chronic illnesses. The prevalence of cell phones would point toward this being a great idea.

aCell Phone Checkups Monitor Chronic Ills

Glenn Leinart, a diabetic 15-year-old who took part in clinical trials of cell-phone monitoring technology earlier this year, is sold on it.

He recorded his daily blood sugar readings with a home glucose meter linked wirelessly to his cell phone.

Using the phone, he sent the data to his health care provider and heard back via text message about how he was doing.

"It just makes things a lot easier for doctor-patient communication," said Leinart, who lives in Benson, N.C., and plans to go to medical school.

Without the technology, Leinart would have to keep a written log of his readings and share it with his health care provider later.

The new setup made life simpler and let him know right away whether he was on the right track, he says.

"It really just gives you peace of mind because you know that someone who is a medical professional is looking at what's going on every day," Leinart said.

"It allows kids to use a technology that they want to carry around anyway -- that's a cell phone," said pediatrician Marc Piehl, who participated in the clinical trial.

Paying attention to blood sugar is critical for diabetics, and cell phone-delivered monitoring and feedback can help younger patients in particular with that process, he says.

"It gives them an incentive to adhere to diabetes self-management," he said.

A New Hampshire firefighter is appealing his termination from his position with the city of Nashua. The city commission fired him when he was unable to work because of frequent migraines following a migraine-induced stroke.

aEx-city firefighter says termination was injust

A city firefighter who lost his job 10 months before he qualified to become vested in the city’s pension plan says his firing was unjust.

Dave Holman, 43, has worked as a firefighter for the city for nine years and two months. According to a letter that Holman provided The Telegraph, the Nashua Board of Fire Commissioners voted June 4 to terminate his employment.

Holman said he was let go after missing work because of a migraine-induced stroke he suffered in August 2005. He returned to the job for about two months in 2006 but had to stop working because his migraines hadn’t been brought under control by medication.

In a letter dated June 7 that Holman provided The Telegraph, Chief Morrissey cited three conclusions reached by a doctor: there is no relationship between Holman’s diagnosis and his disability; that he had “not been responsive to conventional therapy and resolution is unlikely”; and that his migraines are “unpredictable and represent a hazard” to himself and jeopardize the safety of his co-workers.

Holman contends that he’s a valuable, well-trained, accredited firefighter who has the ability to continue working.

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