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Even When You Think You’re Not Sleepy, Your Car Crash Risk Rises

News Picture: Even When You Think You're Not Sleepy, Your Car Crash Risk RisesBy Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 11, 2018 (HealthDay News) — You might be a drowsy driver without knowing it, and new research finds that can make you more dangerous on the road.

People who suffer from chronic sleep apnea are more likely to crash, the study showed: For those with severe apnea, the increased risk hit 123 percent, while those with mild to moderate sleep apnea saw their risk go up by 13 percent.

And you don’t have to have sleep apnea to be more precarious behind the wheel: Among those who don’t suffer from sleep apnea but only get six hours of rest a night, the risk of a crash is 33 percent higher than if they sleep eight hours every night, the researchers added.

“In addition to its importance for cardiovascular and metabolic health, getting a good night’s sleep is important to reduce the risk of motor vehicle crashes,” said lead researcher Dr. Daniel Gottlieb. He’s an associate physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s division of sleep and circadian disorders, in Boston.

Not getting enough sleep affects your thinking and reaction time and can increase the risk for crashes, he explained.

While people who suffer from chronic sleep problems often don’t think they are drowsy, their mental processes — and their driving skills — are often impaired, Gottlieb said.

“In those with mild sleep apnea, the increased crash risk was seen in those who perceived themselves to be sleepy. However, people with severe sleep apnea had more than twice the crash risk of those without sleep apnea, and this risk was just as great in those who did not perceive themselves to be sleepy as in those who did feel sleepy,” he said.

“Perhaps most important,” he added, “this increased crash risk was seen particularly among individuals who did not perceive themselves to be sleepy.”

Sleep apnea causes breathing to stop and start during sleep, reducing the quality of sleep and increasing sleepiness.

About one-sixth of American women and one-third of men suffer from sleep apnea, Gottlieb and his colleagues said.

Lack of proper sleep is also common, with about 25 to 30 percent of U.S. adults getting six or fewer hours of sleep a night, the study authors added.

For the study, the researchers collected data on more than 3,200 men and women between the ages of 40 and 89 who took part in the Sleep Heart Health Study, conducted by the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The findings were published recently in the journal BMC Medicine.

“This study is further evidence that drowsy driving is a significant and deadly issue on our roads, and one not getting enough attention,” said Kara Macek, senior director of communications and programs at the Governors Highway Safety Association. “Far too many Americans aren’t sleeping enough.”

A 2016 study from the association estimated that nearly 84 million Americans are sleep-deprived, which translates to millions of tired people behind the wheel, Macek said.

“We know that driving drowsy is comparable to driving drunk and that going just 21 hours without sleep is similar to having a 0.08 blood alcohol level, which is the legal limit,” she said. “Yet, drowsy driving doesn’t have nearly the social stigma as drunk driving.

“What we really need is a cultural shift putting increased value on sleeping enough and sleeping well,” Macek said.

Copyright © 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Daniel Gottlieb, M.D., M.P.H., associate physician, division of sleep and circadian disorders, Brighams and Women’s Hospital, Boston; Kara Macek, senior director, communications and programs, Governors Highway Safety Association; April 4, 2018, BMC Medicine, online

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    Red and Processed Meats Linked to Liver Woes

    News Picture: Red and Processed Meats Linked to Liver WoesBy Serena Gordon
    HealthDay Reporter

    TUESDAY, March 20, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Bacon lovers, a new study has some bad news for you: Eating a lot of processed and red meats may up your odds for a serious liver condition and insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes.

    The study found that people who consumed the highest amounts of red and processed meats had nearly a 50 percent increased risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and more than a 50 percent higher risk of developing insulin resistance.

    “Heavy meat eaters of red or processed meat have significantly greater chances to be diagnosed with NAFLD and insulin resistance,” said the study’s lead author, Shira Zelber-Sagi. She’s a clinical dietitian and researcher at Tel Aviv Medical Center in Israel.

    The researchers also looked at how meats were cooked. They found that cooking meat at high temperatures for a long time — such as grilling, broiling or frying — was associated with about double the risk of insulin resistance.

    Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a condition that causes fat to deposit in the liver. In some people, this can lead to inflammation and scarring of the liver, according to the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The disorder is becoming a serious global health burden in both developed and developing countries.

    Insulin resistance plays a role in the development of NAFLD, according to the researchers.

    Nearly 800 people, aged 40 to 70, participated in the study. On average, they were overweight. About 15 percent had type 2 diabetes.

    All of the study volunteers had blood tests and a liver ultrasound. They also answered questions about their health and dietary habits. Red meat made up approximately one-third of their diet, and white meat about two-thirds, the researchers said.

    The study authors said there are several reasons why red and processed meats may be linked to insulin resistance and NAFLD. For one, they have saturated fats and can cause inflammation. Processed meats also have a higher sodium content, which may be related to NAFLD. And they have nitrites and nitrates, which can cause inflammation.

    Processed meats included meats like salami and sausage that have been “transformed through salting, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation,” the report stated.

    The study didn’t prove cause-and-effect, and the researchers said they can’t make any definitive recommendations from the findings of just one study. But they pointed out that dietary guidelines generally recommend no more than one to two servings a week of red meat, and no more than one serving of processed meat.

    Fish, chicken and turkey are better sources of protein, the study authors suggested.

    “In addition, try steaming or boiling food, instead of grilling or frying meat at high temperatures until it is very well done,” Zelber-Sagi said.

    And what of low-carb diets that purport to have health benefits even though they often involve high amounts of meat?

    Healthy protein selection should be emphasized, said another study author, Dana Ivancovsky-Wajcman.

    “Even in a low-carb diet, it would be wise to choose healthy meat and healthy cooking methods in the prevention of insulin resistance and NAFLD,” said Ivancovsky-Wajcman, a clinical dietitian and a Ph.D. student at the University of Haifa School of Public Health, in Israel.

    Nutritionist Dana Angelo White from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., said this study shows that eating some foods — such as grilled hot dogs or sausage — may be a “double whammy.”

    White said more research is needed to tease out the exact reasons how red meat and processed foods contribute to NAFLD and insulin resistance, but saturated fats are a likely culprit. She also agreed that the high sodium content and the addition of preservatives, such as nitrites, may play a role, too.

    In addition, cooking with high heat creates harmful chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) that the liver has to process, she explained.

    The bottom line? “Lean proteins still seem to be winners, including fish, poultry and even dark meat poultry, which is higher in polyunsaturated fats. You can also reduce the production of HCAs if you marinate meats before cooking,” White said.

    The study was published online March 20 in the Journal of Hepatology.

    Copyright © 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

    SOURCES: Shira Zelber-Sagi, R.D., Ph.D., clinical dietitian and researcher, Tel Aviv Medical Center, Israel; Dana Ivancovsky-Wajcman, R.D., Ph.D. student, School of Public Health, University of Haifa and the Tel Aviv Medical Center, Israel; Dana Angelo White, M.S, R.D., Quinnipiac University, Hamden, Conn.; March 20, 2018, Journal of Hepatology, online

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      Put Your Best Feet Forward, Despite Diabetes

      News Picture: Put Your Best Feet Forward, Despite Diabetes

      SUNDAY, April 1, 2018 (HealthDay News) — If you have diabetes, it’s time to think about your feet.

      Diabetes is a multisystem disease,” Dr. Ronald Lepow explained in a news release from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “Circulation in the feet and legs may be diminished because there are problems with blood vessels that get narrowed or clogged as a result of the diabetes.

      “A major cause of foot problems in diabetics is lack of blood flow,” added Lepow, a professor of orthopedic surgery at Baylor.

      This can cause calloused or injured areas on the feet to heal more slowly, which can lead to ulcers or infections.

      Another problem is that diabetes-related nerve damage can affect the normal oil and moisture on the skin of the feet. That results in dry and cracking skin, which allows bacteria to get in and cause infections or ulcers, Lepow said.

      What to do?

      Lepow says it’s important for anyone with diabetes to wash and dry their feet and inspect them for scratches, blisters, injuries, cuts and bruises every day. Once feet are dry, apply a cream that’s at least 20 to 40 percent urea.

      Proper footwear is also crucial for people with diabetes. Because of the special needs, Lepow suggests seeing a podiatrist for help.

      For instance, you’ll need a wide and deep toe box. That will allow free movement of your toes and reduce friction and pressure. Also important are a solid sole and cushioning in areas that store-bought shoes typically do not have, he said.

      Podiatrists also can recommend different types of custom shoe inserts, Lepow said.

      Also, wear socks that don’t cause friction or pressure. Cotton socks are recommended. People whose feet sweat a lot should wear moisture-wicking socks. And, Lepow said, everyone should wear thicker socks in the winter.

      — Robert Preidt

      Copyright © 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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        Screen Teens For Depression Annually, Docs Say

        By Pam Harrison
        WebMD Health News

        Feb. 27, 2018 — The country’s top pediatricians group this week endorsed annual depression screenings for teens.

        The new two-part guideline, published online Monday in Pediatrics, was developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Canadian Pediatric Society, and psychiatric associations from both countries.

        “We know that more than 50% of cases of adolescent depression do not get identified, and even fewer get treated. [S]ince pediatricians and primary care providers are at the front-line, seeing these kids either for a well visit, school physicals, camp physicals, sports physicals, or just for common illnesses, they are in a really good position to identify depression as well as manage and treat it,” says Rachel Zuckerbrot, MD, lead author of the Guidelines for Adolescent Depression in Primary Care.

        Nerissa Bauer, MD, a member of the guidelines’ steering group, agrees, emphasizing that there is an urgent need for doctors to help identify and care for teenagers with depression.

        “In the society in which we live, teens are much more prone to suffering from depression than ever, given social media and cyberbullying and the potential to be exposed to trauma every day in terms of social violence, gun violence, community violence,” says Bauer, an associate professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis.

        “[D]epression is definitely a topic that primary care physicians need to be familiar with and to be able to talk sensitively about in a timely way with our families. It’s just part of promoting the optimal wellness of our patients, and at least we have the ability to ask the question,” she adds.

        First Step

        The recommendation for universal screening is a change from the previous guidelines, published a decade ago, and is the first step in a larger strategy that should be followed when a doctor suspects a teenage patient might be depressed.

        As was true for the 2007 guidelines, doctors need to evaluate teenagers for things that make depression more likely, including a family history, substance use, and other concerns. Primary care providers, including pediatricians, should also speak with the teenager’s family or caregivers.

        “I think involving families is something that we’ve always supported,” said Zuckerbrot, an associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. “So while it’s really important for pediatricians to remember to interview the patient alone, it is also important for them to bring the family back in and to involve the family as well.”

        The new recommendations also put a new emphasis on shared care for teenage depression because “patients really benefit” when mental health professionals and pediatricians work together, Zuckerbrot continued.

        Again, Bauer agrees, saying that many doctors’ practices now rely more on other professionals such as social workers and mental health therapists. “So the guidelines really emphasize the collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to getting teens help in a timely manner,” she said.

        Education is critical, not only for the patient, but also for families, who need to understand what the teenager is going through and to recognize warning signs that their child may be getting into trouble and needs help.

        Zuckerbrot works for CAP PC, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for Primary Care, now a regional provider for Project TEACH in New York state. She is also on the steering committee as well as faculty for the REACH Institute, and she and another guideline author receive book royalties from Research Civic Institute. Bauer has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

        ©2018 WebMD, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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          Superbug Types, Names, and Medical Definition

          Superbug: : An informal term for a bacterium that has become resistant to antibiotics that usually
          are used to treat it, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or any multidrug-resistant bacterium.

          The following types of bacteria have all been described antibiotic-resistant threats to patients in healthcare settings or have been referred to in the media as “superbugs”:

          • Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)
          • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
          • ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae (extended-spectrum β-lactamases)
          • Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE)
          • Multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa
          • Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter
          • E.coli H30-Rx: The H30-Rx strain of antibiotic-resistant E. coli bacteria has become a main cause of bacterial infections in women and the elderly worldwide over the past decade.


          Rakel RE, Rakel D. “Textbook of Family Medicine.” 9th edition. 2015 Saunders.

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            Tension Headache Symptoms, Relief, Treatment and Causes

            Tension headache definition and facts

            • Tension headache is the most common type of headache.
            • Although the precise cause of tension headache is unknown, there are factors that seem to contribute to tension headaches, such as
            • Different conditions may contribute to tension headaches such as vision problems or eye strain, overexertion, muscle strains caused by poor posture have all been associated with development of tension headache.
            • While certain foods (processed or aged foods, chocolate, red wine) can trigger migraine headache, in some cases head and neck movement or physical exertion might trigger a migraine; this is not typical of tension headache.
            • Some individuals have both migraine and tension headache; additionally, tension headache can trigger migraine pain, and may be relieved by migraine medications. Symptoms of migraine include
              • light and sound sensitivity,
              • nausea or
              • vomiting, and
              • (often one-sided) throbbing head pain which worsens with exertion
            • Both tension headaches and migraines are diagnosed by physical examination and headache history of the patient.
            • Treatments for tension headaches can include OTC and prescription pain relievers, exercise (including formal physical therapy), stress management and relaxation techniques, and alternative therapies.

            Migraine or Headache? Migraine Symptoms, Triggers, Treatment

            Tension Headache Symptoms: Neck Pain

            Pain in the neck can be more than just a hassle. Neck pain can come from disorders and diseases of any structure in the neck. There are seven vertebrae that are the bony building blocks of the spine in the neck (the cervical vertebrae) that surround the spinal cord and canal. Between these vertebrae are discs and nearby pass the nerves of the neck. Within the neck, structures include the neck muscles, arteries, veins, lymph glands, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, esophagus, larynx, and trachea. Disease of any of these structures can lead to neck pain.

            Neck pain is medically referred to as cervicalgia. Neck pain can be associated with:

            • headaches,
            • tingling in the arms,
            • muscle pain,
            • fever,
            • stiff neck,
            • throat pain,
            • tenderness,
            • weakness of the arms.

            What is a tension headache?

            Headache — a condition so common it’s the punch line for a number of jokes, but when you’re experiencing a headache, it’s no laughing matter.

            When most people discuss headache, they’re typically referring to the most frequently experienced type of headache, a tension headache (also known as tension-type or stress headache). Almost half of adults experienced a headache in the past year; fortunately, for the majority of those individuals, the headache was mild, short-lived, and likely fell into the category of tension headache.

            Children and teens can experience tension headache; with a significant percentage of children having experienced tension headache by age 15. Females are often diagnosed with tension headaches (more often, about twice as often) than males.

            What are the signs and symptoms of a tension headache?

            Most tension headaches occur infrequently, and are usually short-lived (resolves within minutes to a few hours). In rare cases the headache may last for many days. A tension headaches that occur more than 15 days each month are referred to as chronic tension headache.

            Tension headache pain

            • The pain of chronic tension headache tends to wax and wane in severity.
            • The pain associated with tension headache typically impacts the whole head, but may begin in the back of the head or above the eyebrows.
            • Some people experience a cap or band-like sensation which encircles their skull, while others describe their pain as a muscle tension in their neck or shoulder regions.
            • The pain is frequently described as constant and pressure-like.
            • The pain tends to come on gradually and even at maximum intensity is not incapacitating.
            • Most people who have a tension headache are able to continue their daily activities despite the pain.

            Other tension headache symptoms

            Are tension headaches associated with symptoms of other types of headache?

            Tension headaches are not associated with nausea or vomiting, and do not have symptoms like flashing lights, blind spots, or numbness or weakness of the arms or legs which precede the headache. These symptoms can help distinguish tension headaches from other types of headaches (for example, migraine headaches).

            What causes tension headaches?

            The exact cause of tension headache isn’t known; and many factors probably play a role in why people develop headache. These factors may include:

            • lack of sleep,
            • skipping meals, or
            • increased stress (leading to a frequent description of these headaches as stress headaches).

            Underlying diseases or conditions may frequently cause a headache, for example:

            • eye strain,
            • muscular tension caused by poor posture,
            • over exertion, or
            • anxiety.

            In children, headache may be seen as a response to changes in school or home situations such as:

            • a new sibling,
            • testing at school, or
            • social isolation.

            How are tension headaches treated and diagnosed?

            Tension headaches are diagnosed based on the patient’s reported history of the headache and physical examination. There is no test to specifically confirm tension headache. Because the physical examination in patients with tension headache is generally normal, additional testing such as CT scan or MRI scan usually isn’t required. Some basic blood work may be done to confirm that no underlying abnormality is present.

            Treatment for tension headaches include prescription medications, over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, combination drugs containing aspirin, acetaminophen, caffeine, and stress management.

            Prescription medication for tension headaches

            If a diagnosis of chronic tension headache is made or suspected, prescription medications may be used in an effort to lessen the frequency and decrease the severity of the headaches. Medications used include antidepressants and antiseizure drugs. A doctor can help determine which medicine is best for you.

            OTC medicine for tension headaches

            Many people treat tension headache on their own, using OTC (over-the-counter) medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Motrin), or combination medications containing acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine (Excedrin). While these medications can be effective and when taken as directed are safe for most people, overuse can lead to headaches which are more frequent and severe. This can occur if these agents are used more than 2 days each week routinely. If tension headache occurs during pregnancy, the patient should contact her physician about medications that are safe to use.

            • Products which contain aspirin should not be given to children due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome.
            • Chronic use of acetaminophen, or use of acetaminophen in large amounts may lead to liver toxicity (current recommended maximal dose is 3 grams per 24 hours), and a number of medications are combined with acetaminophen so patients should discuss all OTC drugs they are taking with their doctors.

            Home remedies and cures for tension headaches

            • Alternative treatments or therapies: Alternative therapies such as a hot compress or an ice pack may provide substantial benefit for some individuals.
            • Hydrate: Sometimes headaches can be triggered by mild dehydration or lack of food; if so, drinking some non-caffeinated fluids or eating something may help.
            • Flaxseed: People who eat flaxseed, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, may experience a decrease in headaches. This is thought to be related to the anti-inflammatory properties of the omega-3 fatty acids.
            • Peppermint or lavender oil: Inhaling the scent of peppermint oil or lavender oil may help decrease headache pain (lavender oil should not be consumed orally).
            • Scalp massage: A scalp massage is easily done and may provide significant relief; concentrating efforts over the temporal regions or the occipital area (the back of the scalp) may lead to the best response.
            • Whole-body massage: Whole body massage may provide relief.
            • Stress management: If stress seems to be a trigger, learning stress-management techniques or relaxation techniques can provide substantial benefit.
            • Exercise: Exercise, whether regular aerobic activities or specific movements to improve posture, has been shown to be quite effective in decreasing the frequency of tension headaches.

            Managing stress

            For people who experience recurrent tension headache, stress management techniques have been an effective way of helping to decrease headache frequency and severity. This can include regular exercise, deep breathing techniques, and relaxation training. Other non-medicinal approaches can include massage therapy, heat, ice, or acupuncture. Learning to identify stressful situations which trigger headache and taking steps to avoid these is also a useful strategy for many individuals.

            Can tension headaches be prevented?

            Often, the best defense is a good offense and this approach is frequently effective when trying to prevent tension headache. Identifying headache triggers and then attempting to avoid or modify those triggers can be a successful strategy to decrease or even eliminate a tension headache. Some people find that scheduled exercise and eating on a regular basis is beneficial. Learning and practicing relaxation techniques, including deep breathing exercises, directed relaxation of specific muscles, or meditation, can also be effective.

            See your doctor if any of the following situations occur:

            • If a person experiences regular headaches or if they have changed in severity, location or frequency
            • If a person experiences a headache that is very different from his or her usual headaches
            • If previously helpful treatments are no longer effective
            • If someone is experiencing “The worst headache of my life” they need to be evaluated emergently.

            Migraine or Headache? Migraine Symptoms, Triggers, Treatment

            Medically Reviewed on 1/30/2018



            Blanda, M, MD. “Tension Headache.” Medscape. Updated: Nov 21, 2017.

            Taylor, FR, MD. “Tension-type headache in adults: Pathophysiology, clinical features, and diagnosis.” UpToDate. Updated: Nov 02, 2017.

            Headache Classification Committee of the International Headache Society (IHS). The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd edition (beta version). Cephalalgia 2013; 33:629.

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              Brain Injuries Linked With Dementia Risk

              News Picture: Brain Injuries Linked With Dementia Risk

              WEDNESDAY, April 11, 2018 (HealthDay News) — A traumatic brain injury (TBI), even a mild one such as a concussion, may raise your risk for dementia, a new study suggests.

              Researchers analyzed 36 years of data from 2.8 million people and found that those who sustained TBIs were 24 percent more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other dementias than those with no history of TBI.

              But the study did not prove that TBIs cause dementia risk to rise, just that there’s an association.

              The study found that 5.3 percent of people with dementia had suffered at least one TBI.

              The risk of dementia increased with the number of TBIs and the severity of injury. But even a single, mild TBI (such as a concussion) was associated with a 17 percent higher risk of dementia. The researchers found that 4.3 percent of participants with dementia had at least one mild TBI, compared with 4 percent of those without dementia.

              The study was published April 10 in The Lancet Psychiatry journal.

              “Individuals with a history of traumatic brain injury, including those with less severe injuries have an increased risk of developing dementia, even decades after the injury,” said study leader Dr. Jesse Fann. He’s a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine in Seattle.

              “However, it’s important to emphasize that although the relative risk of dementia is increased after traumatic brain injury, the absolute risk increase is low,” Fann noted in a journal news release.

              And, “our findings do not suggest that everyone who suffers a traumatic brain injury will go on to develop dementia in later life,” Fann added.

              Each year, more than 50 million people worldwide suffer a traumatic brain injury, which occurs when a bump or blow to the head disrupts normal brain function. Leading causes of TBI include falls, traffic crashes and assaults.

              Dementia affects 47 million people worldwide, and that number is expected to double in the next 20 years, the researchers said.

              “Our analysis raises some very important issues, in particular that efforts to prevent traumatic brain injury, especially in younger people, may be inadequate considering the huge and growing burden of dementia and the prevalence of TBI worldwide,” Fann said.

              — Robert Preidt

              Copyright © 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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                Early Promise for Eye Implant to Fight Macular Degeneration

                News Picture: Early Promise for Eye Implant to Fight Macular DegenerationBy Dennis Thompson
                HealthDay Reporter

                WEDNESDAY, April 4, 2018 (HealthDay News) — A new stem cell transplant might help preserve or even restore vision being lost to the dry form of age-related macular degeneration, a new pilot clinical trial has shown.

                In the experimental therapy, a specially engineered sheet of stem cells is transplanted into the back wall of the eye to replace a layer of cells destroyed by age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

                Vision loss appeared to halt in four of the first five people treated with the implant cells, researchers reported in the April 4 issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine.

                The fifth patient actually experienced some improvement in vision, and was able to read 17 additional letters off a standard eye chart, said lead researcher Dr. Amir Kashani. He is assistant professor of clinical ophthalmology at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.

                “We didn’t really anticipate or expect dramatic improvement in vision,” Kashani said. “That was a very encouraging sign.”

                Two other patients displayed improvement in their ability to focus or fixate on a target better than before surgery, he added.

                “They could guide their vision to look at a certain location,” Kashani said. “That’s one of the prerequisites for being able to read or look somebody in the face, or doing those high-acuity kinds of tasks, so that was also very encouraging.”

                There currently is no cure or treatment for the dry form of AMD, which accounts for 80 percent to 90 percent of all cases, he noted.

                The retina — the light-sensitive tissue along the back of the eye wall — is slowly destroyed as a result of AMD. As light-sensing cells die off, people’s vision becomes blurry and distorted, and they begin to lose their central vision.

                Age-related macular degeneration currently affects approximately 1.7 million Americans, and is projected to affect almost 3 million by 2020. It’s a leading cause of severe visual impairment in adults older than 65.

                The dry form of AMD involves the loss of a thin layer of cells beneath the retina called retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells, Kashani said.

                “The function of the RPE cells is to support the overlying retina and its photo sensor cells,” Kashani said. Without the nourishment provided by the RPE layer, the retina cannot function normally and begins to die off, permanently damaging vision.

                To halt the advance of vision loss, Kashani and his team engineered in the lab a fresh sheet of RPE cells created from embryonic stem cells.

                The researchers then implanted the new sheet of cells into the eyes of five patients with long-term dry AMD, in a stage I clinical trial that ultimately will include a total of 20 people.

                There were no serious side effects or unanticipated problems in the transplant, Kashani said.

                Patients required only a small amount of immune suppression to make sure the body didn’t reject the implant. That’s because the retina is considered an extension of the brain, and the immune system typically does not target the brain or its related structures, he explained.

                “The body doesn’t really mount immune responses as we understand them in those areas,” Kashani said.

                The researchers already are planning a larger series of trials, which they hope will get underway within the next couple of years.

                Dr. Avnish Deobhakta is a retina surgeon at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai in New York City. “This type of technology is very exciting considering that it aims to replace the precise layer of cells that are progressively damaged in a form of macular degeneration that affects millions of people and is one of the major causes of irreversible blindness in the U.S.,” he said.

                “At present, we do not have any effective treatments for the dry form of macular degeneration that results in this sort of retinal atrophy, so this therapy has the potential to change the way we look at this disease and possibly give patients hope that at the very least we can stem the tide of disease progression,” Deobhakta added.

                Copyright © 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

                SOURCES: Amir Kashani, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, clinical ophthalmology, University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles; Avnish Deobhakta, M.D., retina surgeon, New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, New York City; April 4, 2018, Science Translational Medicine

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                  Those With Diabetes Less Likely to See Dentist Despite Health Risks

                  News Picture: Those With Diabetes Less Likely to See Dentist Despite Health Risks

                  WEDNESDAY, April 4, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Many adults with diabetes don’t see the dentist often enough, even though they’re at increased risk for gum disease, researchers say.

                  In a new study, investigators analyzed data from just over 2.5 million American adults who took part in an annual federal government health survey.

                  The survey results showed that people with diabetes or prediabetes were least likely to visit the dentist. The study included about 248,000 diabetics, 30,500 people with prediabetes and over 2.2 million without diabetes.

                  Study author Huabin Luo, of East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., was concerned by the results. “Those who need dental care the most seem to be the least likely to have it,” said Luo, an assistant professor of public health.

                  People with diabetes are at increased risk for gum disease, which can hamper blood-sugar control and speed the progression of diabetes, the study authors explained.

                  Between 2004 and 2014, annual dental visits fell from 66 percent to 61 percent among people with diabetes; from 66 percent to just under 65 percent among those with prediabetes; and from nearly 72 percent to 66.5 percent for people without diabetes, the study found.

                  According to the study’s senior author, Bei Wu, “For people living with diabetes, regular dental check-ups — paired with proactive dental and diabetes self-care — are important for maintaining good oral health.” Wu is director of Global Health and Aging Research at New York University’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing in New York City.

                  “Regular dental visits provide opportunities for prevention, early detection, and treatment of periodontal [gum] disease, which can potentially help with blood-glucose control and preventing complications from diabetes,” Wu explained in an NYU news release.

                  Health care workers should encourage people with diabetes to visit a dentist at least once a year, she suggested. “Increasing access to dental services is vital to achieving this goal,” she added.

                  The researchers also found other differences in how often Americans see a dentist. Blacks and Hispanics were less likely to see a dentist than whites. Men and single people were also less likely to make regular visits to the dentist than women and those who are married, the findings showed.

                  The report was published online April 2 in the Journal of the American Dental Association.

                  — Robert Preidt

                  Copyright © 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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