Saturday, June 13, 2015

Proton Pump Inhibitors May Increase Heart Attack Risk

The New York Times (6/11, Bakalar) “Well” blog reports that research published in PLOS One suggests that “proton pump inhibitors...may increase the risk for heart attack.”
        The Washington Post (6/11, Bernstein) “To Your Health” blog reports that “after combing through 16 million electronic records of 2.9 million patients in two separate databases,” investigators “found that people who take the medication to suppress the release of stomach acid are 16 percent to 21 percent more likely to” experience a heart attack. Nicholas J. Leeper, an author of the study, “said the Food and Drug Administration ‘should be aware of these findings,’ but agreed that only a large, prospective clinical study...could establish whether the drugs are actually causing more heart attacks.”
        On its website, CBS News (6/11, Seidman) reports, however, that “analysis of patients using another type of antacid drugs called H2 blockers...did not show this increased risk.” The study received funding from The National Institutes of Health.
        Medscape (6/11, Pullen) reports that in an email to Medscape Medical News, Joel Rubenstein, MD, chair of the American Gastroenterological Association Institute Clinical Practice Section, wrote, “I would advise against making any changes in the management of patients based on this study. The results are intriguing and deserve further study. But the signal of an association is a weak one, and could easily be due to confounding by other factors, such as obesity, or due to initial misdiagnosis of angina as [gastroesophageal reflux disease].”

CDC To Issue Warning To US Physicians About MERS

David Muir reported on ABC World News (6/10, story 8, 1:05, Muir) that the CDC will issue a warning as early as tomorrow about “the deadly MERS virus.” The CDC is “sounding the alarm for American doctors now,” as more than 1,200 people have been infected around the world and the death toll is “approaching 500.” Richard Besser, MD, added that “the big concern is that the person who brought it into South Korea and spread it around hospitals might be something called a ‘super spreader’ – someone who can spread it to people easier than others.”
        The New York Times (6/11, Choe, Subscription Publication) reports, “With at least nine deaths, 122 confirmed cases and more than 3,400 who may have been exposed,” South Korea is now “experiencing an outbreak of MERS second in size only to that in Saudi Arabia, where it originated in 2012.” Yesterday, experts with the World Health Organization visiting that country “recommended that ‘all patients’ with fevers or respiratory symptoms be questioned about possible exposure to MERS.” The article also discusses the quarantine in place until June 18 in the village of Jangdeok where a case of MERS was reported. While villagers rail against the strict measures of the quarantine, people elsewhere in South Korea are voicing anger at the government for not doing more to contain the MERS outbreak.
        The Wall Street Journal (6/11, Kwaak, Gale, Subscription Publication) reports that fatality rates from MERS are significantly lower in South Korea than they have been in the Middle East. This week, the WHO disclosed that researchers around the globe are investigating if the MERS virus there has mutated.
        Meanwhile, the AP (6/11, Kim) reports that yesterday, “experts from the World Health Organization and South Korea...urged the reopening of more than 2,700 schools closed over fears” of the virus.
        In an opinion piece for CNN (6/10, Vox), physician journalist Ford Vox, MD points out that the US could learn some lessons from the outbreak of MERS in South Korea. Dr. Vox draws parallels to last year’s Ebola outbreak in Dallas, TX, in which poor communication and panic figured prominently. Currently, “South Korea is dealing with familiar problems of panic and insufficient guidance, but it is also putting into place some innovative new measures surrounding quarantine that our public health officials should consider,” such as “monitoring cell phone signals for those under quarantine and...using monitors who frequently call and check on those under quarantine.”
        The NPR (6/10, Hu) “Goats and Soda” blog and “All Things Considered” program focus on smartphone monitoring of people under quarantine orders. Focusing on the economic effects of the MERS outbreak in South Korea are the AP (6/11, Lee), Bloomberg News (6/11, Gale), and Reuters (6/11, Park, Kim).
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