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Study Links Cocaine Use to Heart Attacks

February 05, 2001|THOMAS H. MAUGH II | TIMES MEDICAL WRITER

Regular cocaine use increases the risk of heart attack in young people and may cause one in every four heart attacks among people under the age of 45, according to New York researchers.

Dr. Adnan I. Qureshi and his colleagues at the State University of New York at Buffalo based their results on the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which was conducted between 1988 and 1994 by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That survey, for the first time, asked questions about cocaine use.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Monday March 5, 2001 Home Edition Health Part S Page 3 View Desk 2 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
Nasal spray--An item in the Feb. 5 Capsules mentioned the use of an inhaled morphine spray to combat the pain of broken limbs. The researchers actually used a spray of diamorphine, which is converted to morphine in the body. Diamorphine is used because it is more soluble than morphine.

Qureshi and his colleagues reported in the February issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Assn. that about one in every 20 people between the ages of 18 and 45 reported using cocaine regularly; 67% were men. Analysis of the data showed that those who used the drug regularly were nearly seven times as likely to have a heart attack as those who had never used it.

Cocaine increases heart rate, contractions of the ventricles and the heart's need for oxygen. It also constricts blood vessels and increases platelet aggregation, which may lead to clotting.

Inhaled Morphine May Ease Pain Faster

A short whiff of morphine through the nose eases pain faster than injections and avoids the pain associated with the needle stick itself, according to British researchers.

Dr. Jason Kendall and his colleagues at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol studied 404 patents, ages 3 through 16, who showed up at the emergency room with limb fractures. Half were given conventional injections and half an intranasal spray.

The team reported in the Feb. 3 British Medical Journal that onset of pain relief was faster in the spray group, with lower pain scores at 5, 10 and 20 minutes after treatment. And 80% of patients given the spray showed no obvious discomfort with it, compared to only 9% of those given injections.

Inhaling Insulin Could Work for Diabetics

Inhalation may also be an effective route for delivery of insulin to diabetics, according to another new study.

A team led by Dr. Jay Skyler of the University of Miami School of Medicine studied 73 patients with Type 1, or insulin-dependent, diabetes for three months. About half followed the conventional regimen of two to three insulin injections daily. The rest received inhaled insulin before each meal and an insulin injection before going to bed at night.

The team reported in the Feb. 3 Lancet that the inhaled doses were as effective at controlling diabetes symptoms as the insulin injections by all measures studied. Although the study was relatively small, researchers said the findings support continued development of the concept.

Persimmons Get a Cardiac Thumbs-Up

An apple a day is good for fighting heart disease, but a persimmon is even better, researchers say.

A head-to-head comparison of the two fruits by an international team of researchers found that persimmons contain significantly higher concentrations of dietary fiber, minerals and phenolic antioxidants, all of which are crucial in fighting atherosclerosis--hardening of the arteries.

The study, to be reported in the Feb. 19 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, found that persimmons have twice as much fiber as apples and significantly higher levels of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and manganese. Eating one medium-size persimmon per day is enough to help fight heart disease, said lead author Sheila Gorinstein of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Does Iron Metabolism Impact Parkinson's?

Problems with iron metabolism may play a role in Parkinson's disease and some other brain disorders, according to animal research performed at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Dr. Tracy Roualt and colleagues genetically engineered mice so that they lacked the gene for iron regulatory protein 2 and found that the mice developed damaging iron deposits in key areas of the brain. The team reported in the February Nature Genetics that the mice suffered a progressive deterioration of their nervous systems similar to that observed in Parkinson's and in multiple system atrophy, often called Parkinson's plus.

No one is saying that Parkinson's in humans is caused by a defect in the IRP2 gene. But the strong similarity of symptoms suggests that some defect in iron metabolism may play a major role in the disease.

Gene Defect Tagged in Two Disorders

Defects in a newly discovered gene can cause eyelid defects in newborns and premature menopause in older women, according to an international team of researchers.

The gene, called FOXL2, is required for normal development of the eyelid, the team reports in the February Nature Genetics. Mutations lead to a drooping eyelid condition called blepharophimosis. Interestingly, the gene is also necessary to form a full complement of eggs in the ovaries before birth. The researchers say that the drooping eyelid syndrome may serve as a useful indicator that a female is susceptible to early menopause.

Protein Could Play a Key Role in Lupus

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