FDA approves blood test that can detect concussions 

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 10:58 PM

Maxime Chanot #4 of New York City FC holds his head after a clash of heads form a corner kick during the New York City FC Vs San Jose Earthquakes regular season MLS game at Yankee Stadium on April 1, 2017 in New York City. 
Tim Clayton - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images
Maxime Chanot #4 of New York City FC holds his head after a clash of heads form a corner kick during the New York City FC Vs San Jose Earthquakes regular season MLS game at Yankee Stadium on April 1, 2017 in New York City. (Tim Clayton - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved a breakthrough blood test that can help detect concussions in adults.

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The blood test, also known as the Banyan Brain Trauma Indicator Test, works by measuring UCH-L1 and GFAP, both proteins released from the brain into the blood, within 12 hours of a head injury.

It can be administered as soon as 15 minutes after the injury, but results take a few hours to produce.

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According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traumatic brain injury is a “serious public health problem in the United States.” In 2013 alone, there were about 2.8 million visits to emergency rooms for traumatic brain injury-related conditions. Of these, nearly 50,000 people died.

TBI is typically caused by a blow or bump to the head, or a by a head injury that disrupts the brain’s normal functioning. It can range from mild to severe. About 75 percent of TBIs that occur each year are assessed as mild TBIs or concussions. 

>> Related: Spit test could diagnose concussion in kids, study says

Most patients with traumatic brain injury undergo a neurological exam, followed by a CT scan.

For their research, the FDA evaluated data on 1,947 individual blood samples from adults with suspected mild TBI or concussion and reviewed the product’s performance by comparing blood test results with CT scan results.

They found the blood test was 97.5 percent as effective in detecting concussion and 99.6 perfect as effective in ruling out the injury.

The test also costs as little as one-tenth as much as a CT scan.

» RELATED: Which high school sports have the most concussions? 

"A blood test that accurately, reliably and consistently detects the presence of brain proteins that appear in the blood after a brain injury is a major advance," Dr. David Dodick, a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology who specializes in sports medicine and neurology, told CNN. Dodick was not involved in the study.

One of the challenges of diagnosing concussions is that the injury’s symptoms can occur at various times. For some, they appear instantly. Others may not experience symptoms for hours or even days.

» RELATED: Football players under 12 at high risk of brain injury, study finds

Symptoms also vary from person to person. Some may experience light or noise sensitivity, or may lose balance.

“This is something that has been a long time coming,” Col. Dallas Hack, who was director of the Army’s Combat Casualty Care Research Program from 2008 to 2014 and is now retired, told the New York Times. 

“The concept originally was that we would have something that medical personnel in the field would be able to use to assess whether somebody who had received a head injury needed a higher level of care,” Hack said.

» RELATED: Youth football called ‘child abuse’

But Dodick told CNN that researchers still need to better understand when brains have fully healed from trauma and how the protein biomarkers may actually affect prognosis. Additionally, it’s unclear whether or not the new test can determine subconcussive blows, hits to the head that don’t always cause symptoms but do cause brain injury. 

Subconcussive or repeat blows are believed to lead to the neurodegenerative disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Over time, that damage may lead to personality changes, mood disorders and other behavioral issues.

"These occur much more often than actual concussions, especially in certain collision and contact sports,” Dodick told CNN.

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Common herpes viruses may be linked to development of Alzheimer’s disease, study finds

Published: Saturday, June 23, 2018 @ 7:16 PM

A new study by scientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, discovered a link between the most common herpes viruses and Alzheimer’s disease.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images/Getty Images
A new study by scientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, discovered a link between the most common herpes viruses and Alzheimer’s disease.(Spencer Platt/Getty Images/Getty Images)

Two common herpes viruses may play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, which is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and projected to affect 14 million people by 2050.

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That’s according to new research published Thursday in the journal Neuron, for which a team of scientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, used genetic data from three different brain banks to examine differences between healthy brain tissue and brain tissue from individuals who died with Alzheimer’s.

The medical community still doesn’t know what causes the disease, so the Mount Sinai scientists set out to try and identify new targets for drugs. Instead, they stumbled upon repetitive hints that the brain tissue of Alzheimer’s patients had higher levels of viruses.

>> Related: How to prevent Alzheimer’s: Sleep, drink wine and exercise, researchers suggest

“The title of the talk that I usually give is, 'I Went Looking for Drug Targets and All I Found Were These Lousy Viruses,’” study co-author and geneticist Joel Dudley said in a statement.

While studying brain tissue of 622 people who had signs of the disease and 322 who weren’t affected by it, Dudley and his team found significant evidence suggesting two specific strains of the human herpes virus (HHV-6A and HHV-7), both of which commonly cause skin rashes called roseola in young children, may have seeped into the Alzheimer’s patients’ brains and remained inactive for decades.

>> Related: Have trouble sleeping? Research says that may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s

“I don't think we can answer whether herpes viruses are a primary cause of Alzheimer's disease. But what's clear is that they're perturbing networks and participating in networks that directly accelerate the brain towards the Alzheimer's topology,” Dudley said.

The team found that the herpes virus genes were interacting with specific genes known to increase risk for Alzheimer’s, but the mere presence of the virus isn’t enough to lead to the disease. Instead, Dudley said, something needs to be activating the viruses to cause replication.

>> Related: Why are Alzheimer's disease deaths up significantly in Georgia?

But their findings do align with some other current research, specifically regarding beta-amyloid proteins, proteins known to increase plaque buildup in Alzheimer’s-affected brains. In the new study, the researchers noted that herpes viruses were involved in networks that regulate these amyloid precursor proteins.

The National Institute on Aging, which helped fund the new research, is working to back another study to test the effects of antiviral drugs on people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s with high levels of herpes virus in their brains.

>> Related: This common vegetable may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, study says

While the study findings open a door for new treatment options, co-senior author Sam Gandy said in a statement, the results don’t exactly change what scientists know about the risk and susceptibility of Alzheimer’s or their ability to treat it. That’s because both HHV-6A and HHV-7 are incredibly common. In North America alone, almost 90 percent of children have one of the viruses in their blood by the time they’re a few years old, according to Gandy.

According to 2017 report from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the death rate from Alzheimer’s disease has risen by 55 percent in recent decades.

>> Related: U.S. Alzheimer’s deaths up 55 percent, CDC says

Patients, caregivers and publicly funded long-term care facilities bear significant financial and societal costs due to the increasing rates of Alzheimer’s deaths.

Experts recommend more federal funding for caregiver support and education and for research to find a cure.

According to the CDC, it’s estimated the U.S. spent some $259 billion in 2017 on costs related to the care of those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

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Marriage may lower risk of heart attack, stroke, study suggests

Published: Saturday, June 23, 2018 @ 9:49 PM



Pixabay
(Pixabay)

Single, divorced and widowed individuals may have a higher risk of developing heart disease, stroke and associated risks of death compared to married individuals.

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That’s according to new research published this week in the journal Heart, for which scientists trawled research databases to understand how marital status may influence risk of cardiovascular disease.

Their pooled analysis included 34 studies (1963 to 2015), the largest study to date on the subject, and involved more than 2 million people aged between 42-77 from multiple regions of the globe, including from North America, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Scandinavia.

>> Related: Heart attack sufferers more likely to survive if doctor is away, study says

Compared to married individuals, those who were never married, or are divorced/widowed, had a 42 percent higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and 16 percent higher risk of developing coronary artery heart disease.

Those who had never been married had a heightened risk of dying from both heart disease (42 percent) and stroke (55 percent).

>> Related: You may be able to better avoid heart attacks with this common snack, study says

Divorce was associated with a 35 percent higher risk of developing heart disease for both men and women.

And widowed individuals were 16 percent more likely than married men or women to have a stroke, likely a result of stress-related theory, which suggests that losing a partner may have a negative impact on the emotional, behavioral and economic well-being of an individual.

>> Related: Got heart disease? You may have a better chance of survival if married

Researchers reported no difference in the risk of death following a stroke between married and unmarried individuals. However, risk of death after a heart attack was significantly higher (42 percent) among those who had never married.

“Social causation theory suggests that individuals benefit from spousal support,” study authors wrote. “For example, living with another person allows earlier recognition and response to warning symptoms, especially if a myocardial infarction becomes instantly disabling.”

>> Related: Women less likely than men to get CPR from bystanders - and more likely to die - study suggests

Studies have shown that unmarried patients had longer delays when seeking help, authors wrote in the report. These individuals are also twice as likely not to take prescribed medications, the strongest predictor of better outcomes.

Furthermore, greater financial resources from homes with dual incomes make quality healthcare more accessible.

The researchers note that there was no information on same sex partnerships or marriage quality in their report. The meta-analysis didn’t explore unmarried individuals living with someone, either.

>> Related: Do heart stents even work? New study finds they fail to ease chest pain

Future work, the authors suggest, should focus on whether being married is a “surrogate marker” of other health conditions or whether marital status should be considered a risk factor alone.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 610,000 people die of heart disease in the country every year–that's 1 in every 4 deaths.

>> Related: Common painkillers increase risk of heart attack by one-third, new study finds

More than 350,000 Americans who may or may not have diagnosed heart disease suffer a cardiac arrest each year in areas other than a hospital. And about 90 percent of them die.

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Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker’s son accused of sexually assaulting woman on JetBlue flight

Published: Saturday, June 23, 2018 @ 9:18 PM

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker speaks during the National Clean Energy Summit 9.0 on October 13, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Isaac Brekken/Getty Images
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker speaks during the National Clean Energy Summit 9.0 on October 13, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.(Isaac Brekken/Getty Images)

The son of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is accused of sexually assaulting a woman on a flight Wednesday, but no charges have been filed in the case.

>> Read more trending news   

The incident reportedly happened on a JetBlue flight when Baker’s son, Andrew Baker, known as A.J., was flying from Washington, D.C. to Boston.

Sources told Boston 25 News a female passenger accused A.J. of groping her breast on the flight.

"This is a personal matter for the Baker Family and A.J. will cooperate with any request from authorities," Baker’s office said in a statement.

JetBlue responded to requests for confirmation with a statement.

"On June 20, the crew of flight 1345 were notified of an incident between customers shortly before landing in Boston," the statement read. "The aircraft landed at approximately 11 p.m. local time where it was met by local authorities.”

Massachusetts State Police say charges have not been filed, and they are not investigating since it is not in the department's jurisdiction.

>> Trending: Death of Memphis soldier at Florida training camp is suspicious, family says

A.J. Baker's attorney, Roberto Braceras, released a statement on the allegations.

"A.J. is fully cooperating and looks forward to a resolution of this matter," Braceras said. 

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WATCH: 'Permit Patty' appears to call police on girl selling bottled water in viral video

Published: Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 9:00 AM

File photo of bottled water. A white woman who appeared to call the police on a biracial San Francisco girl selling bottled water to raise money for a Disneyland trip has gone viral, sparking the hashtag #PermitPatty.
denvit / Pixabay.com
File photo of bottled water. A white woman who appeared to call the police on a biracial San Francisco girl selling bottled water to raise money for a Disneyland trip has gone viral, sparking the hashtag #PermitPatty.(denvit / Pixabay.com)

A white woman who appeared to call the police on a biracial girl selling bottled water to raise money for a Disneyland trip has gone viral, sparking the hashtag #PermitPatty.

>> Huge cookout held at Oakland park where cops called on black family's barbecue

According to USA Today, the girl's mother, Erin Austin, captured the alleged phone call on video, which has been viewed millions of times since it was posted Saturday. She said the incident occurred outside her apartment near AT&T Stadium in San Francisco.

"This woman don't want to let a little girl sell some water," Austin says in the 15-second clip, focusing the camera on a woman holding a phone. "She's calling the police on a 8-year-old little girl."

As the woman, identified by HuffPost as Alison Ettel, crouches behind a concrete wall, Austin adds: "You can hide all you want; the whole world's gonna see you, boo."

"And illegally selling water without a permit? Yeah," Ettel says, pointing to her phone.

"On my property," Austin interjects.

"It's not your property," Ettel replies.

>> Watch the video here

Austin and the girl's cousin, Raje Leeshared the footage with the hashtag #PermitPatty, USA Today reported.

"Make this [expletive] go viral like #bbqbecky," Austin captioned the video, referring to the hashtag used after a different woman was recorded calling the police on a black family for using a charcoal grill at an Oakland park. "She's #permitpatty."

>> Read more trending news 

The posts sparked a debate about whether Ettel's actions were racist.

"For all of you saying it's not about race why didn't she stop to harass the white [men] that [were] selling tickets and teeshirts but thought calling the police on a child was okay?" Lee tweeted. "Don't answer. Just ask yourself that."

>> See the tweet here

"I didn't think in San Francisco my biracial child would have to go through something like this," Austin told KNTV.

Ettel told HuffPost that race had nothing to do with it, adding that she didn't really call the police. 

"They were screaming about what they were selling," Ettel said, claiming she had no problem with the girl, only Austin. "It was literally nonstop."

She added: "I completely regret that I handled that so poorly. It was completely stress-related, and I should have never confronted her."

The drama seemed to have a happy ending for Austin's daughter, who received four free tickets to Disneyland from a Twitter user who saw the video, Lee tweeted.

>> See the tweet here

Read more here or here.

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