Education

Roundup: Heart Patients Who Stop Daily Aspirin at Higher Risk; Rate of Concussions Among Teenagers

It’s a well-known and broadly prescribed treatment for many patients who’ve had a heart attack or stroke: Take a low-dose aspirin every day. But how risky is it to stop an aspirin regiment for some?

In a new study published in the journal Circulation, researchers found that people on a long-term, low-dose plan who stopped taking aspirin for whatever reason had a 37 percent higher rate of heart problems, including heart attack and stroke, compared to those who continued regularly taking the aspirin.

“Discontinuing long-term low-dose aspirin treatment in the absence of major surgery or bleeding may be hazardous,” the study’s authors wrote. “The risk increased shortly after discontinuation and did not appear to diminish over time.”

Researchers followed more than 601,000 people who took low-dose aspirin (80mg) daily to prevent heart disease and stroke. Over three years, about 15 percent stopped taking the aspirin. During that same period, there were nearly 62,700 heart attacks, strokes or deaths from cardiovascular causes.

The study’s results confirm the importance of preventive heart treatment. Aspirin can lower the risk of blood clots by preventing platelets from clumping together. It also works to reduce inflammation, another process that has been associated with a number of chronic diseases in recent studies, including heart problems. Inflammation can increase the formation of unstable plaques within blood vessel walls. However, for some people aspirin can cause side effects, like stomach upset or more serious issues.

“A lot of time patients don’t make the connection between aspirin and lower risk of heart attack and stroke,” Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director for the New York University Center for Women’s Health and a spokesperson for the American Heart Association, told Time.com. “Because it is over-the-counter and you don’t need a prescription, people sometimes forget when it runs out to buy it again.”

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1-in-5 Teenagers Say They’ve Suffered a Concussion

A newly release survey of high school students found that 20 percent of teenagers who responded said they have been diagnosed with at least one concussion, mostly a result from playing contact sports.

And nearly 6 percent said they’ve been diagnosed with more than one, according to a research letter published this week in Journal of the American Medical Association, or JAMA. The letter’s authors looked at 13,000 questionnaire responses from the 2016 version of “Monitoring the Future” (MTF), Each year since 1975, the MTF study, run by the University of Michigan Survey Research Center, has surveyed high school students from around the country.

MTF survey data was collected from students in grades eight, 10, and 12. About half the respondents were female.The concussion rate is consistent with a Canadian study that found a similar prevalence in teens in that country.

“Providing a national baseline of concussion prevalence is necessary to target and monitor prevention efforts to reduce these types of injuries during this important developmental period,” reads the research letter.

Those most likely to have a concussion were males in older grades who said they took part in competitive sports. The study did not determine how the kids got their concussions. But the researchers report that about a third of teens participating in contact sports had been diagnosed with a concussion at some point.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says concussions can result in headaches, nausea and irritability. While most people do not suffer from long-term impacts from a concussion, between 10 percent and 20 percent may experience symptoms such depression, headaches or difficulty concentrating. Some people experience sleep problems, and multiple concussions can lead to CTE (“chronic traumatic encephalopathy,” a degenerative brain disease notably found in some former NFL football players.

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FDA Approves First Glucose Monitor Not Requiring Blood Sample

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Thursday approved the first “continuous glucose-monitoring system” that can be used by adults to track blood-sugar levels without requiring a blood sample from the fingertip, also known as “fingersticking.”

The FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System reduces the need for fingerstick testing by implementing a small sensor wire inserted below the skin’s surface, the FDA says. The sensor continuously measures and monitors glucose levels.

Users can determine glucose levels by waving a dedicated, mobile reader above the sensor wire to determine if glucose levels are too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia), and how glucose levels are changing, the agency said in its news release.

The system is designed for people 18 years of age and older with diabetes. After a 12-hour start-up period, it can be worn for up to 10 days.

“This system allows people with diabetes to avoid the additional step of fingerstick calibration, which can sometimes be painful, but still provides necessary information for treating their diabetes – with a wave of the mobile reader,” said Donald St. Pierre, acting director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health and deputy director of new product evaluation in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

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