Egypt Independent: Science-Main news en Female pet owners may be less likely to die of stroke <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Can pets be good for your health? Possibly yes, a study suggests.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>US women over age 50 and generally healthy were less likely to die of cardiovascular events like stroke if they had a cat or dog, the researchers found.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>After accounting for the increase in physical activity required of dog owners, owning a cat instead of a dog was still tied to a lower risk of death from stroke.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The researchers studied almost 4,000 adults age 50 and older without major illnesses who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in 1988 to 1994 and who reported their pet ownership.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Participants also answered questions about physical activity, weight and height, cigarette smoking and other health risk factors. More than half were overweight or obese.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>About 35 percent of people owned a pet, most often a dog. Pet owners tended to be younger, more often were married, and more often were white.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>According to the National Death Index, as of 2006, 11 of every 1,000 non-pet owners had died of cardiovascular disease, compared to about 7 of every 1,000 pet owners.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Specifically for stroke, male pet owners were just as likely to have died, but female pet owners were about 40 percent less likely to have died of stroke.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Cats better for health than dogs&nbsp;</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Most of this association was driven by cat ownership, according to results in High Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Prevention.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Anecdotally, we believe that walking a dog is good for heart, reducing life pressure and blood pressure as well,&rdquo; said senior author Jian Zhang of the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University in the US</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I strongly believe that putative benefits of keeping a dog have not yet fully translated into reality, and we found that pet owners did not walk pets, certainly, dogs, more often than others,&rdquo; Zhang said. &ldquo;This explains why owning a dog did not reduce CVD mortality among dog owners.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Cat owners may have a personality that protects their hearts, rather than cats actually having a concrete effect on heart health, he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;We are short of overall assessment of the associations of companion animals with human health, and our study should not be interpreted to encourage more people to own pets, either dog or cat,&rdquo; Zhang said. &ldquo;Pets are good, but have to be kept responsibly.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;In my study, there was a tendency for pet owners to have a higher risk of dying,&rdquo; said Dr. Richard F. Gillum of Howard University College of Medicine in Washington D.C., who was not part of the new study but did study the same NHANES surveys.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Most findings show no association between pets and survival, he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Data from NHANES are really inadequate to settle the question, since one can only determine there was a pet in the household, but not the number of pets or whether the study participant was the owner, cared for it or interacted with it,&rdquo; Gillum said. &ldquo;So we need to wait for better studies before making any firm conclusions about pets and survival among their owners.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Even if there were a reduction of death from stroke among women with cats, of what importance is that in public health terms if they are just as likely to die as other women, just from another cause,&rdquo; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Sat, 25 Jun 2016 12:46:00 +0000 Reuters 2470616 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/06/25/501184/female_pet_owners_may_be_less_likely_to_die_of_stroke.jpg Adults to be screened for depression, especially pregnant women <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>An influential US panel yesterday called for all adults to be screened for depression, including women during and after pregnancy, marking the first time it has urged a focus on maternal mental health.</p><p>The non-binding call was issued by the US Preventive Services Task Force, an independent, volunteer panel of experts that makes recommendations about the effectiveness of various health and counselling services.<br /><br />&ldquo;The USPSTF found convincing evidence that screening improves the accurate identification of adult patients with depression in primary care settings, including pregnant and postpartum women,&rdquo; said the statement in the&nbsp;Journal of the American Medical Association.<br /><br />It also found evidence that combining screening with &ldquo;adequate support systems&rdquo; may improve clinical outcomes by reducing or eliminating depression.<br /><br />The guidelines update those issued in 2009 which did not specifically mention depression in women of childbearing age, but called for adult screening for depression when and where support systems allowed.<br /><br />&ldquo;Depression is among the leading causes of disability in persons 15 years and older,&rdquo; said the latest report.<br /><br />It is &ldquo;also common in postpartum and pregnant women.&rdquo;<br /><br />The USPSTF &ldquo;found convincing evidence&rdquo; that treating adults with depression with antidepressants, psychotherapy, or both could improve patient outcomes.<br /><br />It also pointed to &ldquo;some harms&rdquo; associated with antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) because they may increase suicide risk and are associated with &ldquo;potential serious fatal harms.&rdquo;<br /><br />Since many questions remain about when to screen and how to treat depression, some experts are calling for increased responsiveness within the medical system.<br /><br />&ldquo;Until there are better methods to match patients with specific forms of treatment, the best hope to improve on a B grade for patients with depression may be to adapt care systems to respond more flexibly and decisively to key events,&rdquo; said an accompanying editorial by doctor Michael Thase of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.<br /><br />As many as one in seven women suffer from postpartum depression, according to the advocacy group Postpartum Support International.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> Tue, 21 Jun 2016 11:09:00 +0000 AFP 2470516 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/05/03/43/stock_headache2.jpg Inovio Pharma gets green signal to test Zika vaccine in human trial <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Drug developer Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc and its partner GeneOne Life Sciences Inc said they had received approval from U.S. regulators to start an early stage human trial testing their Zika vaccine.</p><p>The early-stage study will enroll 40 healthy subjects and evaluate safety, tolerability and immune response generated by the vaccine GLS-5700.</p><p>&quot;We plan to dose our first subjects in the next weeks and expect to report phase I interim results later this year,&quot; Inovio CEO J Joseph Kim said.</p><p>In February, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika a global public health emergency. The virus has been associated with microcephaly, a birth defect characterized by an unusually small head and potential developmental problems.</p><p>Last week, U.S. health officials reported three babies born with birth defects likely linked to Zika infection in the mother during pregnancy.</p><p>French drugmaker Sanofi SA is likely to begin testing its own vaccine in humans next year.</p><p>India&#39;s Bharat Biotech is another company that is in the race to develop a vaccine for the mosquito-borne disease.</p><div>&nbsp;</div><p>&nbsp;</p> Mon, 20 Jun 2016 15:08:00 +0000 Reuters 2470517 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/02/03/503194/screenshot_2016-02-03_12.57.47.png Doctors blame many factors for futile care, themselves included <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Doctors who were asked about causes of inappropriate care at the end of life didn&rsquo;t have to look far to place blame. They blamed themselves.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Australian researchers interviewed 96 physicians from 10 medical specialties and asked them to describe situations when patients received end-of-life care that the doctors felt was inappropriate.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Futile medical treatment at the end of life has been shown to harm patients, cause moral distress to clinicians and waste scarce resources, as the researchers note in the Journal of Medical Ethics.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But 96 percent of physicians pointed to themselves &mdash; or &ldquo;doctor-related factors&rdquo; &mdash; as the main drivers of futile treatment. Poor communication, emotional attachment to patients and aversion to death were also among the causes they cited.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Patient-related factors were important, too. Ninety-one percent of the doctors cited reasons such as family or patient requests for treatment, prognostic uncertainty and not knowing the patient&rsquo;s wishes as contributors to inappropriate care.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;The take-home message for patients and families is to have the conversation about what they want and don&rsquo;t want at the end of life,&rdquo; said study leader Lindy Willmott, of the Australian Center for Health Law Research.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Doctors&rsquo; natural tendency is to treat in this way, and to take another path requires one or more conversations with the patient and family,&rdquo; Willmott told Reuters Health. &ldquo;Such conversations are difficult, and doctors are time-poor.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Close to 70 percent of the surveyed doctors also cited hospital-related causes, such as specializations, medical hierarchy and time pressure, as factors in futile care.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It isn&rsquo;t a matter of one doctor stepping back and considering the overall health of the patient, explained co-author Benjamin White, a law professor at the Queensland University of Technology.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;There are many specialists involved, each focused on a particular organ,&rdquo; he told Reuters Health. The narrow focus of the individual specialists can make it difficult to coordinate a patient&rsquo;s care, he and his colleagues noted in their report.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Roughly one quarter of physicians said aggressive treatments are &ldquo;hard to stop once started.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The difficulty of withdrawing treatment is a challenge that&rsquo;s all too common, agreed Dr. Eytan Szmuilowicz, a palliative care physician at Northwestern University&rsquo;s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Szmuilowicz, who was not associated with the study, added that doctors&rsquo; natural aversion to conflict complicates the issue further.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t know how to manage or negotiate it,&rdquo; he told Reuters Health. &ldquo;It is easier behind the scenes to complain that a treatment may be inappropriate, but we haven&rsquo;t taken a step back to think if we are providing care that furthers a patient&rsquo;s goals.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Szmuilowicz said he and many other physicians prefer to assess treatment in terms of &ldquo;benefit&rdquo; rather than &ldquo;futility.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;It comes down to what the patient values, and it&rsquo;s very hard to discuss what we think the patient values if we haven&rsquo;t talked about it,&rdquo; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Kayhan Parsi of Loyola University-Chicago&rsquo;s Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics sees young physicians struggle with such discussions. Parsi, who was not involved in the study, was not surprised that 44 percent of doctors cited &ldquo;inexperience with death and dying.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>As a member of his hospital&rsquo;s ethics committee, Parsi meets monthly with medical trainees. &ldquo;They feel pressure on them to comply with inappropriate treatment, and they don&rsquo;t know how to address it in an appropriate way,&rdquo; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Thirty percent of the Australian doctors said they or their colleagues had provided futile treatment due to worries about legal consequences. That factor looms even larger in the U.S., according to Thaddeus Pope, director of the health law institute at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Researchers don&rsquo;t frame the issue in terms of patient safety, but that is a big implication of this study,&rdquo; said Pope, who tracks the issue on his Medical Futility Blog.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Pope urges doctors to present medical options in even-handed ways.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;If physicians are too aggressive, families are going to fall in line,&rdquo; he told Reuters Health. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s emotionally hard for (families) to pass up what doctors say is a reasonable option. If they knew the real risks, benefits and alternatives, they may not pick the treatment they are receiving.&rdquo;</div> Sat, 18 Jun 2016 12:39:00 +0000 Reuters 2470467 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/02/15/484151/high_blood_pressure.jpg