Stem cell treatments for heart attacks

Acute myocardial infarctions (AMI), commonly known as heart attacks, are responsible for about 12.6% of deaths worldwide, according to The World Health Report 2004 – Changing History.  In the United States, about 16.6% of those who have heart attacks die within 30 days of the attack.  Outside of AIDS and a few infectious diseases, AMI is the biggest killer of adults.

An AMI is essentially caused by a blockage of the coronary arteries which leads to cellular damage of some of the heart muscle (myocardium).  This prognosis can be minor to deadly, depending on a lot of issues such as other cardiovascular risk profile (diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, smoking and others), quality of treatment, and severity of the tissue damage.  Over the past few years, treatments have improved the outlook for AMI sufferers, but the risk of a subsequent heart attacks and mortality rates are still high. Continue reading “Stem cell treatments for heart attacks”

The importance of Cochrane Reviews to evidence based medicine

Cochrane Collaboration Copyrighted from the Cochrane Collaboration

The Cochrane Collaboration is a critically important source in evidence-based medicine, and a useful tool in providing analytical evidence that can debunk pseudoscientific beliefs. Cochrane’s goal is to organize research data and publications in an logical way that helps physicians and researchers make appropriate decisions about a proposed new therapy, medication or clinical idea. Cochrane Reviews are:

…are systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and health policy, and are internationally recognised as the highest standard in evidence-based health care. They investigate the effects of interventions for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. They also assess the accuracy of a diagnostic test for a given condition in a specific patient group and setting.

Each systematic review addresses a clearly formulated question; for example: Can antibiotics help in alleviating the symptoms of a sore throat? All the existing primary research on a topic that meets certain criteria is searched for and collated, and then assessed using stringent guidelines, to establish whether or not there is conclusive evidence about a specific treatment. The reviews are updated regularly, ensuring that treatment decisions can be based on the most up-to-date and reliable evidence. Continue reading “The importance of Cochrane Reviews to evidence based medicine”

LeRoy neurological illness mystery–junk science–update

(Updated to add more information about the anti-vaccination lunatics weighing in.)

When I write postings here, I never search google for information or sources, I always go to trusted locations for my information.  For example, if I read a news article on some interesting subject, I check with the original source, usually at PubMed, for medical articles, and the original abstract (at least) for other science articles.  I click on nearly every outlink in postings that I read, to confirm whether the information presented is accurate.  A google search is practically useless, especially for medical articles, because the amount of cruft and junk science makes it a challenge to sort. Continue reading “LeRoy neurological illness mystery–junk science–update”

LeRoy teenage neurological illness mystery–junk science everywhere

When I write postings here, I never search google for information or sources, I always go to trusted locations for my information.  For example, if I read a news article on some interesting subject, I check with the original source, usually at PubMed, for medical articles, and the original abstract (at least) for other science articles.  I click on nearly every outlink in postings that I read, to confirm whether the information presented is accurate.  A google search is practically useless, especially for medical articles, because the amount of cruft and junk science makes it a challenge to sort.

WordPress blogs (which I use) tells the user if a blog posting was searched on google (or Yahoo…does anyone use that anymore?)  Apparently, my postings about the LeRoy (NY) neurological show up on google (but not that far up the list, so people must be digging), and I was kind of surprised.  This led me to do something that I just vowed I wouldn’t do, I googled it. Continue reading “LeRoy teenage neurological illness mystery–junk science everywhere”

The newest cause for the LeRoy neurological issues

I’ve published a few posts over the past month about a group of teenagers and one adult who are experiencing some neurological symptoms in LeRoy, NY, a small town outside of Rochester, NY.  Those symptoms seem to mimic Tourette Syndrome (TS), a neuropsychiatric disorder that is characterized by multiple physical or motor tics plus at least one vocal tic.  It is probably inherited, although a gene for it has not been identified.  Since most of the teenagers who exhibit the symptoms attend LeRoy High School, the New York State Department of Health has carefully examined the school for any environmental issues, and have found none.  Erin Brokovich, of the eponymous movie, has gotten involved and has postulated that a train wreck over 40 years ago spilled toxic chemicals, such as arsenic and trichloroethylene, which may be the cause. Continue reading “The newest cause for the LeRoy neurological issues”

National Science Board’s Science and Engineering Indicators–2012

Recently, the National Science Board (NSB) published its biennial Science and Engineering Indicators report for 2012.  This report comprises quantitative data on the U.S. and international science and engineering by objectively reviewing science and engineering progress in both the US and internationally.  The report does not make policy options and recommendations, but it is used by different governmental and non-governmental entities to formulate their own policies and recommendations. This report is required by law. Continue reading “National Science Board’s Science and Engineering Indicators–2012”

Mandatory flu vaccinations for health care workers

Nosocomial infections, or hospital acquired infections, are a significant issue in hospital environments and has become a serious public health issue. These infections include everything from drug resistant bacteria to several viruses, including the flu.  They have serious repercussions in a hospital environment–everything from employee absenteeism to higher mortality rates of patients.  For example, influenza, which has a reputation of being innocuous, can be dangerous to infants, the elderly and immune compromised patients.  Further, a flu outbreak can leave a hospital short-staffed with sick nurses, techs and physicians, making it more difficult to deal with the outbreak itself. Continue reading “Mandatory flu vaccinations for health care workers”

The Placebo Myth from Science Based Medicine

While doing some research on the placebo non-effect, I found this article, The Placebo Myth, by Mark Crislip (an infectious disease specialist), in the Science Based Medicine blog.  He makes a simple and effective question which debunks the “placebo effect”:  “why would actively doing nothing have any measurable physiologic effect? It shouldn’t and it doesn’t. Mind over matter? Bah, humbug.”  He continues, “I think that the placebo effect with pain is a mild example of cognitive behavioral therapy; the pain stays the same, it is the emotional response that is altered.”  So, it’s talking therapy (albeit not very focused), not a sugar pill that works. Continue reading “The Placebo Myth from Science Based Medicine”

How the placebo effect proves nothing and means nothing

Recently, there has been a large uptick in interest about the so-called placebo effect, mostly from the complementary and alternative junk medicine (CAM) crowd.  Evidently, they feel that being equivalent to doing nothing is good enough to be real.  A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Why Placebos Work Wonders, is indicative of this recent pro-placebo point-of-view.  I’ve got other bones to pick with WSJ on global warming, but I’ll save that for another day.

What exactly is the placebo effect?  The definition is often misused, implying some beneficial effect from a sugar pill or sham treatment.  But in medicine, a placebo is actually a failure.  If a new pharmaceutical, procedure or medical device shows no difference in efficacy compared to a placebo, then it is rejected.  But the CAM-pushing herd thinks that proves its a success when one of its potions and lotions is equivalent to a placebo.  What?  A failure of a modality in evidence-based medicine is somehow converted into a successful product in the CAM world? Continue reading “How the placebo effect proves nothing and means nothing”

Le Mur – Censored

Because I’m so annoyed by the anti-vaccination gangsters, I tend to read nearly every article, blog, and CDC statistic (seriously, I’m a vaccine geek) about vaccines.  While doing some background reading on the Patriot Nurse (read about her if you haven’t), I found a blog called Autismum (it’s been promoted to my favorite blogs in the side bar).  Once I start reading a blog, I keep going back to see what’s up.

She wrote a short post about the French movie, Le Mur (the Wall).  It’s a French documentary about some of the abusive practices in the French medical system for autism, including le Packing, which is a procedure (no, a procedure is evidence based, this is just plain medieval) where an autistic child is wrapped in cold wet sheets.  Now, I’m a Francophile.  My ex-wife is born and bred Parisienne.  Both of my daughters’ first language is le Francaise.  I love French food (mostly).  I find the myths about France and the USA to be amusing and untrue.

But this nauseates me at the basic level.  How can a modern country allow this practice?  What’s worse is that the French government is censoring the movie because, I suppose, it offends them.  This makes me despise French political system and hope that whatever we do to improve the US healthcare system, let’s not emulate France.

If you do anything else, read Support the Wall, and give them whatever verbal, monetary, or political support you can.

Source:  Le Mur – Censored « Autismum