Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Morning Drill: July 21, 2011

A collection of dentistry and health related links/comments to start your day.

The perception by teenagers and young adults that heavy cigarette smoking is a high-risk activity has declined in many states, according to a U.S. study on substance abuse and mental health released on Thursday.

The perceived risks of smoking one or more packs of cigarettes a day dropped between 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 in 14 states among youths aged 12 to 17, and in 31 states among those aged 18 to 25.

Perceived smoking risks also dropped in nine states among those 26 and older, a statement from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said regarding the report.

"No state is free from the unique impact of mental and substance use disorders," SAMHSA administrator Pamela Hyde said in a statement.
"Data like these give states the information they can use to target their prevention and treatment activities for the greatest benefit to their residents," she said.

Inherited forms of Alzheimer's disease may be detectable up to two decades before problems with memory and thinking develop, according to new research.

The findings are significant because by the time dementia symptoms appear, the disease has severely damaged the brain, making it nearly impossible to restore a patient's mental abilities or memories, the study authors noted.

"We want to prevent damage and loss of brain cells by intervening early in the disease process -- even before outward symptoms are evident, because by then it may be too late," Dr. Randall Bateman, Alzheimer's researcher and physician at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and an associate director of the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer's Network (DIAN), an international study of inherited forms of Alzheimer's, said in a university news release.

DIAN researchers are following members of families who have mutations in one of three genes: amyloid precursor protein; presenilin 1; or presenilin 2. People with these mutations will develop Alzheimer's disease early, between their 30s and their 50s, research has shown.

The age of disease onset among study participants could be predicted by referencing their parents. For instance, if a parent developed dementia at the age of 50 years, a child who inherited the mutation would be expected to develop dementia at roughly the same age. As a result, scientists are able to compile detailed chronologies of disease progression, covering the many years Alzheimer's is active in people's brains, although symptoms are not yet visible.

Initial results of the study confirm and expand on previous research, which suggested that certain changes in spinal fluid could be detected years before dementia.

Using Twitter for Public Health Surveillance of Dental Pain

The microblogging service Twitter is a new means for the public to communicate health concerns and could afford health care professionals new ways to communicate with patients. With the growing ubiquity of user-generated online content via social networking Web sites such as Twitter, it is clear we are experiencing a revolution in communication and information sharing.

In a study titled "Public Health Surveillance of Dental Pain via Twitter," published in the Journal of Dental Research -- the official publication of the International and American Associations for Dental Research (IADR/AADR), researchers demonstrated that Twitter users are already extensively sharing their experiences of toothache and seeking advice from other users. Researchers Natalie Heaivilin, Barbara Gerbert, Jens Page and Jennifer Gibbs all from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), Preventive and Restorative Dental Sciences, authored this study.

The researchers investigated the content of Twitter posts meeting search criteria relating to dental pain. A set of 1,000 tweets was randomly selected from 4,859 tweets over seven nonconsecutive days. The content was coded using pre-established, non-mutually exclusive categories, including the experience of dental pain, actions taken or contemplated in response to a toothache, impact on daily life and advice sought from the Twitter community.

After excluding ambiguous tweets, spam and repeat users, 772 tweets were analyzed and frequencies calculated. Of those tweets, 83% were primarily categorized as a general statement of dental pain, 22% as an action taken or contemplated, and 15% as describing an impact on daily activities. Among the actions taken or contemplated, 44% reported seeing a dentist, 43% took an analgesic or antibiotic medication and 14% actively sought advice from the Twitter community.

Aspirin Holiday Is a Bad Idea

Those at risk of cardiovascular events who stop taking low doses of aspirin are at an increased risk of myocardial infarction (MI), a large case-controlled study found.

Compared with those taking aspirin, individuals prescribed aspirin for secondary prevention who had recently discontinued the drug had a significantly increased risk of nonfatal myocardial infarction or death from coronary heart disease combined (rate ratio 1.43, 95% CI 1.12 to 1.84) and nonfatal myocardial infarction alone (RR 1.63, CI 1.23 to 2.14), reported Luis Garcia Rodriguez, MD, from the Spanish Centre for Pharmacoepidemiologic Research in Madrid, and colleagues.

There were four more cases of nonfatal myocardial infarction among those who stopped aspirin for every 1,000 patients over a period of one year, according to the study published online in BMJ.

Researchers used the Health Improvement Network database in the U.K. to identify 39,513 participants ages 50 to 84 with a first prescription for aspirin for secondary prevention of cardiovascular outcomes from 2000 to 2007.

"Low dose" was defined as 75 mg to 300 mg/day. However, the current American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology practice guidelines recommend 75 mg to 162 mg of aspirin per day.

Enjoy your day!

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