Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Repost] Yay for BMJ journal news release for caveats about observational study!

An example of a heart attack, which can occur ...

An example of a heart attack, which can occur after the use of a performance-enhancing drug. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yay for BMJ journal news release for caveats about observational study!.

From the 19 August 2014 post at HealthNewsReview

I’ve criticized them many times, so now it’s time to salute them.

And let’s hope the news release writers for BMJ journals continue this practice.

This week, in a news release about a paper in one of the journals published by the BMJ, the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, was this caveat:

“This is an observational study so no definitive conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, and the researchers admit that some potentially important risk factors, such as family history of heart disease/stroke and genetic influences were not known.”

Such a statement of limitations has been missing many times in past news releases from/about BMJ journals.

I can’t see everything, so I may have missed other good examples in the past.

Here is the full text of the news release in question:

Good neighbours and friendly local community may curb heart attack risk

Might extend social support network which is also linked to lower cardiovascular disease risk, say researchers

[Perceived neighbourhood social cohesion and myocardial infarction Online First doi 10.1136/jech-2014-204009]

Having good neighbours and feeling connected to others in the local community may help to curb an individual’s heart attack risk, concludes research published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Current evidence suggests that the characteristics of an area in which a person lives can negatively affect their cardiovascular health. This includes, for example, the density of fast food outlets; levels of violence, noise, and pollution; drug use; and building disrepair.

But few studies have looked at the potential health enhancing effects of positive local neighbourhood characteristics, such as perceived neighbourhood social cohesion, say the authors.

They therefore tracked the cardiovascular health of over 5000 US adults with no known heart problems over a period of four years, starting in 2006. Their average age was 70, and almost two thirds were women and married (62%).

All the study participants were taking part in the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative study of American adults over the age of 50, who are surveyed every two years.

In 2006 participants were asked to score on a validated seven point scale how much they felt part of their local neighbourhood; if they felt they had neighbours who would help them if they got into difficulty; whether they trusted most people in the area; and felt they were friendly.

Potentially influential factors, such as age, race, gender, income, marital status, educational attainment, outlook and attitude, social integration, mental health, lifestyle, weight, and underlying health issues, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, were all taken into account.

During the four year monitoring period, 148 of the 5276 participants (66 women and 82 men) had a heart attack.

Analysis of the data showed that each standard deviation increase in perceived neighbourhood social cohesion was associated with a 22% reduced risk of a heart attack. Put another way, on the seven-point scale, each unit increase in neighbourhood social cohesion was associated with a 17% reduced risk of heart attack.*

This association held true even after adjusting for relevant sociodemographic, behavioural, biological, and psychosocial factors, as well as individual-level social support.

The researchers say their findings echo those of other studies which have found a link between well integrated local neighbourhoods and lower stroke and heart disease risk.

This is an observational study so no definitive conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, and the researchers admit that some potentially important risk factors, such as family history of heart disease/stroke and genetic influences were not known. But a strong social support network of friends and family has been linked to better health, so friendly neighbourhoods might be an extension of that, they say.

“Perceived neighbourhood social cohesion could be a type of social support that is available in the neighbourhood social environment outside the realm of family and friends,” they write.

And tight-knit local communities may help to reinforce and ‘incentivise’ certain types of cohesive behaviours and so exclude antisocial behaviours, they suggest.

——————–

October 15, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] Heart attacks hit poor hardest

Heart attacks hit poor hardest.

From the 8 January 2014 ScienceDaily article

As people get older, their bodies wear down and become less resilient. In old age, it’s common for people to become “clinically frail,” and this “frailty syndrome” is emerging in the field of public health as a powerful predictor of healthcare use and death.

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 6.50.02 AM

p. 50 of The 2012 National Healthcare Disparities Report
http://www.ahrq.gov/research/findings/nhqrdr/nhdr12/2012nhdr.pdf

Now researchers Vicki Myers and Prof. Yariv Gerber of the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine at the School of Public Health at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and colleagues have found that poor people are more than twice as likely as the wealthy to become frail after a heart attack. The findings, published in the International Journal of Cardiology, could help doctors and policymakers improve post-heart-attack care for the poor.

“By defining frailty, which combines many areas of medicine, we can predict which people are at the highest risk after a heart attack,” said Ms. Myers. “And we found a strong connection between frailty and socioeconomic status.”

Read entire article here

Related Resource

National Healthcare Disparities Report (NHDR)

  • 2012 Web Version | PDF Version [ PDF file – .8.74 MB] | State Snapshots
     

    For the tenth year in a row, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has produced the National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR) and theNational Healthcare Disparities Report (NHDR). These reports measure trends in effectiveness of care, patient safety, timeliness of care, patient centeredness, and efficiency of care.
    New this year are chapters on care coordination, and health system infrastructure. The reports present, in chart form, the latest available findings on quality of and access to health care.
    The National Healthcare Quality Report tracks the health care system through quality measures, such as the percentage of heart attack patients who received recommended care when they reached the hospital or the percentage of children who received recommended vaccinations.
    The National Healthcare Disparities Report summarizes health care quality and access among various racial, ethnic, and income groups and other priority populations, such as residents of rural areas and people with disabilities.

     

 

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January 22, 2014 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Optimism May Help Protect the Heart

myocardial infarction - Myokardinfarkt - scheme

myocardial infarction - Myokardinfarkt - scheme (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 18th April 2012 article at Medical News Today

Harvard researchers suggest optimism, happiness and other positive emotions may help protect heart health and lower the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events. It also appears that these psychological well-being factors slow the progress of cardiovascular disease.

The findings are the result of the first and largest systematic review of its kind, and are reported in the 16 April online issue of Psychological Bulletin, by lead author Julia Boehm, a research fellow, and senior author Laura Kubzansky, an associate professor, in the department of society, human development, and health, at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) in Boston, Massachusetts….

April 21, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Dangers Of Snow Shoveling

 

myocardial infarction - Myokardinfarkt - scheme

Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)

From the 28 November 2011 Medical News Today article

Urban legend warns shoveling snow causesheart attacks, and the legend seems all too accurate, especially for male wintery excavators with a family history of premature cardiovascular disease. However, until recently this warning was based on anecdotal reports. …

Dr. Baranchuk and his team retrospectively reviewed KGH patient records from the two previous winter seasons and discovered that of the 500 patients who came to the hospital with heart problems during this period, 7 per cent (35 patients) had started experiencing symptoms while shoveling snow.

“That is a huge number,” says Dr. Baranchuk. “7 per cent of anything in medicine is a significant proportion. Also, if we take into account that we may have missed some patients who did not mention that they were shoveling snow around the time that the episode occurred, that number could easily double.”

The team also identified three main factors that put individuals at a high risk when shoveling snow. The number one factor was gender (31 of the 35 patients were male), the second was a family history of premature coronary artery disease (20 of the 35 patients), and the third was smoking (16 out of 35 patients). The second two factors may carry much more weight than the first, however, since the team could not correct for high rate of snow shoveling among men in their sample.

A history of regularly taking four or more cardiac medications was found to be preventative. 

 

November 28, 2011 Posted by | Biomedical Research Resources, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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