In the News — March 1-12, 2011

Study: doctors missing strokes in anemic kids — Doctors may be missing “silent strokes” in a significant number of children with severe anemia, who may be unfairly labeled as slow learners when in fact they have a medical problem. Strokes are known to be a risk for kids with sickle cell anemia, an inherited blood disease that affects 70,000 to 100,000 Americans. New research finds that strokes are more common than believed in these children and others who have conditions that can cause anemia. Dr. Michael Dowling, a pediatric neurologist at UT Southwestern who led the research, said doctors need to consider the possibility of stroke when treating any child with severe anemia. At the study hospital alone, 1 percent of all admissions, or about 400 children over 2 ½ years, were for severe anemia. The story appeared in more than 220 media outlets, including USA Today, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Austin American-Statesman, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, CBS News (National) and almost 100 network affiliates.

Newborn mice regrow lost heart muscle. Could we?
— Researchers at UT Southwestern have discovered that 1-day-old mice can regenerate working heart tissue, according to a study published in Science. Drs. Hesham Sadek and Enzo Porello and colleagues surgically removed 15 percent of the newborn mice's hearts and found that the hearts regrew completely within three weeks. The regrown hearts looked and functioned normally, the team reported. By 7 days of age, however, the regenerative ability was gone. Some fish and amphibians can regrow damaged heart tissue, but adult mammals can't. The story was reported by more than 150 media outlets, including KTVT-TV (CBS) and KXAS-TV (NBC) in Dallas/Fort Worth and more than35 other network affiliates, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, NY Times, Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Business Week, U.S. News & World Report and BBC News.

Breaking Down Stereotypes About Heart Disease
— What was once thought of as a man's disease, heart disease is now a woman’s No. 1 health threat. The next stereotype to break down is which women are at risk. Dr. Amit Khera, a cardiologist at UT Southwestern, was interviewed. “The women who particularly get missed, in my experience, are young women,” he said. "It is the whole stigma that heart disease only affects old men and old women and that’s not the case.” Dr. Khera said heart disease doesn't start in 20s, 30s or 40s, but can start in childhood and teens. More than 75 television affiliates ran the story, including KXAN (Austin), KRBC (Abilene/Sweetwater); KCBD (Lubbock), and KFDX (Wichita Falls).

Rivalry in Treating Appendicitis
— There are two competing surgical approaches to treating the most dangerous form of appendicitis — when a child arrives at the emergency room with an appendix that has already ruptured. Dr. Edward Livingston, chairman of gastrointestinal and endocrine surgery at UT Southwestern, weighed in on the subject. Surgeons have been sharply divided for years on what course to take. Some doctors administer an antibiotic infusion followed by immediate surgery. Others prefer initially to give antibiotics alone, and then wait six or more weeks to perform the appendectomy. “Even Grandma knows that you ought to take the appendix out,” says Dr. Martin Blakely, a pediatric surgeon at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, and lead author of the study.

Avastin increases fatal side effects in cancer patients, study shows
— One of the most financially successful cancer drugs in the world appears to cause more fatal side effects than previously realized, a new study says. Avastin, a blockbuster drug with more than $5.5 billion in global sales, increases the rate of fatal side effects by almost 50 percent when added to traditional chemotherapy, compared with chemo alone. Dr. David Johnson, chairman of internal medicine, provided medical expertise regarding Avastin, saying, “you either really benefit or you don’t benefit at all or very little.”

Treat yourself, in moderation: How much is enough?
—Americans seem to share a creed that goes something like this: If one is good, two are better. That’s fine when it comes to dollars in the collection plate or hours spent volunteering, but not so with certain research-has-shown items consumed in the name of health, like nuts, red wine, dark chocolate, coffee. But doesn’t it stand to reason that if one ounce is recommended a few times a week, two ounces every day would be better? In a word: No, says Dr. Linda Michalsky, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern. Story appeared in more than 80 outlets, including the Charlotte Observer, Montreal Gazette, Seattle Times.

March 1-12, 2011 /