Briefs

BRIEFS

November 03, 2008

Stored blood more likely to lead to infections

transfusions

Hospitalized patients who received blood that had been stored for more than four weeks were nearly three times as likely to develop infections as those who received fresher blood, researchers said last week.

The blood itself was not infected, but the stored blood's release of chemical agents called cytokines may have affected the recipients' immune systems, rendering them more susceptible to infections, said Dr. Raquel Nahra of Sparks Regional Medical Center in Fort Smith, Ark. The patients typically suffered an increase in urinary-tract infections, pneumonia and infections associated with intravenous lines, but those who were infected were no more likely to die, Nahra told a Philadelphia meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians. And although the apparent increase in risk was large, the overall number of infections remained small, she said.

Rules permit blood to be stored for 42 days; then it must be discarded. Blood banks typically use the oldest blood on hand first so that it does not go to waste.

The new study follows a March report that heart-surgery patients who received blood that had been stored for more than two weeks were 64 percent more likely to die in the hospital than those who received fresher blood.

Los Angeles Times

Healthier lifestyles lead to better grades

stress

Quit smoking. Turn off the computer. Go to bed. It could improve your grades.

In the first study of its kind, researchers at the University of Minnesota found a clear connection between student health and academic success.

"Health is important," even for young adults who seem to be in the prime of their lives, said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, director of Boynton Health Services at the University of Minnesota and a lead author of the study. Both parents and college administrators "need to make sure that students have access to health care."

Researchers matched grade point averages with the typical health problems such as smoking, drinking and stress reported by nearly 10,000 Minnesota college students. They found stress affects grades the most, followed by excessive computer screen time, binge drinking and gambling.

Students who reported eight or more emotional stresses - anything from failing a class to credit card debt to a conflict with parents - had an average GPA of 2.72. Those who said they had no significant stress reported an average GPA of 3.3. Four or more hours of screen time a day resulted in an average GPA of 3.04 or less. Less than an hour a day bumped it up to 3.3 or better.

The same pattern held with binge drinking. Teetotalers reported an average GPA of 3.31, compared with 2.99 for students who drank excessively at least once in the previous two weeks.

McClatchy-Tribune

WHO report shows global impact of diseases

mortality

Heart ailments, infectious diseases and cancer remain the world's top three killers, the U.N. health agency said last week.

Heart attacks and related problems are the top killer - especially among women - claiming 29 percent of people who die each year, the World Health Organization said in a report on the global burden of disease.

In second place, infectious diseases lead to 16.2 percent of worldwide deaths. Cancer, in third, claims 12.6 percent of global deaths, said the 146-page report, which is based on death registration data from 112 countries and estimates where reporting is incomplete.

The figures are from 2004, the most recent records available on a wide scale, WHO officials said. But the rankings are unchanged since 1990, when WHO first did a global check. Some 58.8 million people died worldwide in 2004, most of them more than 60 years old, the report said. Nearly one in five deaths was a child younger than 5.

The heart disease death rate was unchanged from WHO's previous study on death causes, based on 2002 figures. The rate for infectious diseases dropped from 2002, when they accounted for 19.1 of the world's deaths, partly because estimates for AIDS deaths were revised downward last year, said Colin Mathers, a WHO expert and lead author of the report.

Associated Press

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