Some patients with irregular heartbeats who are taken off anti-clotting medication face a high risk of stroke or blood clotting within a month, according to new research presented at the American Heart Association's Emerging Science Series webinar. Patients with certain types of atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat, take these drugs to reduce the risks of clots that could lead to a stroke. Sometimes they are instructed to stop taking the medication temporarily before surgery or permanently because of side effects. "No matter what drug they are on, patients who need anticoagulation revert back to their intrinsic risk of stroke and embolism after discontinuation, so it shouldn't be done lightly, " said Manesh Patel, M.D., lead author and assistant professor of medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine.
Sickle cell disease (SCD), an inherited condition that causes red blood cells to sometimes deform into a crescent shape, affects an estimated 100, 000 Americans, typically those of African descent. However, far more have sickle cell trait (SCT), caused when individuals carry just a single copy of the disease-causing mutation in their genes. Rather than all their red blood cells being affected, those with SCT carry a mix of affected red blood cells and normal ones. Previously, researchers and physicians had assumed that those with SCT were immune from the increased burden of sickness and death that those with SCD carry. However, recent research suggests that the same morbidity and mortality that follow SCD patients at an increased rate also affect those with SCT to a lesser extent. Nearly all these adverse effects are consequences of oxidative stress, a condition in which free radicals overwhelm the body's natural antioxidants.
Citing the lack of clear guidelines for ordering blood transfusions during surgery, Johns Hopkins researchers say a new study confirms there is still wide variation in the use of transfusions and frequent use of transfused blood in patients who don't need it. The resulting overuse of blood is problematic, the researchers say, because blood is a scarce and expensive resource and because recent studies have shown that surgical patients do no better, and may do worse, if given transfusions prematurely or unnecessarily. "Transfusion is not as safe as people think, " says Steven M. Frank, M.D., leader of the study described in the journal Anesthesiology. "Over the past five years, studies have supported giving less blood than we used to, and our research shows that practitioners have not caught up, " says Frank, an associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Researchers at the University of Hull in the UK have identified a family of proteins that could potentially be used as biomarkers to predict resistance to chemotherapy in estrogen receptor-positive (ER-positive) breast cancer patients. In an "in press" issue of their study published online in the Journal of Proteomics on 3 April, lead researcher Dr Lynn Cawkwell and colleagues explain how they discovered a number of potential biomarkers for resistance to epirubicin, docetaxel and other chemo drugs. Resistance to chemotherapy is a big problem in the treatment of some types of cancer. Without a means to predict whether chemo will work, some patients with resistant cancers undergo much hardship: suffering the side effects of ineffective chemo options without the benefits, plus they lose valuable time until an effective therapy is found.
Whether you become infected by some strains of rotavirus may depend on your blood type. Some strains of rotavirus find their way into the cells of the gastrointestinal tract by recognizing antigens associated with the type A blood group, a finding that represents a new paradigm in understanding how this gut pathogen infects humans, said Baylor College of Medicine researchers in an online report in the journal Nature. Rotavirus is a major intestinal pathogen that is the leading cause of severe dehydration and diarrhea in infants around the world. An estimated 500, 000 people worldwide die from the infection annually. The structure of a key part of a strain of the virus known as P provides a clue to how the virus infects human cells, said Dr. B. V. Venkataram Prasad, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at BCM and the report's corresponding author.