Saturday, April 20, 2013

Canada-wide Vioxx settlement approved

A settlement has been approved which resolves Vioxx claims across Canada. Class actions were filed across Canada on behalf of individuals who used and/or purchased Vioxx, a prescription pain medication distributed by Merck Frosst Canada Ltd. ("Merck"), which was available in Canada until September 30, 2004. The lawsuits included allegations that individuals ingesting Vioxx were placed at an increased risk of experiencing various medical conditions including a heart attack (myocardial infarction), sudden cardiac death, or ischemic stroke and that a proper warning of these increased risks was not provided. The allegations made in the class actions have not been proven in court and the courts have not taken any position as to the truth or merits of the claims or defences asserted by either side. Merck denies the allegations and states that it made the results of its studies available to the scientific community and regulatory authorities around the world. The settlement is for up to $36,881,250.00 depending upon the number of claims ultimately approved, and includes payments to provincial health insurers, payments towards legal costs, and payments for notice and claims administration. Individuals (or their estates) may be eligible to receive payment if they took Vioxx and then experienced a myocardial infarction, sudden cardiac death or ischemic stroke while taking, or shortly after stopping, Vioxx. Spouses and children of eligible claimants may also be eligible for payment. Under the terms of the settlement, eligible claimants will receive payment based on the type of event they experienced and a number of other factors including duration of use of Vioxx and risk factors. Class Counsel is very pleased with the settlement which will result in significant payments being distributed to eligible claimants. According to Michael Peerless of Siskinds LLP, one of the lead counsel for the plaintiffs who negotiated the settlement, "It is an excellent result in a very challenging case." Individuals in Canada who used Vioxx are represented by a consortium of firms across the country. Further information for class members is available at the website Claim forms can be obtained at: or by contacting the Claims Administrator, NPT Ricepoint Class Action Services, at: 1-888-507-8759

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Gardening reduces obesity risk

Gardening reduces obesity risk As well as providing a form of regular exercise, gardening could encourage people to eat more healthily if they grow their own vegetables, researchers said. It could also provide an important social benefit for those who share an allotment with others, for example by introducing them to like-minded people with similarly healthy lifestyles. Researchers from the University of Utah studied a group of 198 gardeners who shared community gardens - an American system similar to allotments - in Salt Lake City. They compared the gardeners' body mass index (BMI), calculated as someone's weight divided by the square of their height, against their neighbours to determine if their hobby made them healthier. On average, female community gardeners on average had a BMI which was 1.84 lower than their neighbours, which translates to an 11lb weight loss for a woman measuring 5ft 5in tall. For male gardeners, BMI scores were 2.36 lower on average - a difference of 16lb in weight for a 5ft 10in man, according to the study published in the American Journal of Public Health. Female gardeners were also 46 per cent less likely to be overweight or obese than their neighbours. The figure for male gardeners was 62 per cent. Gardeners were also more likely to have a healthier figure than their siblings, but not their husbands and wives - suggesting that spouses may also benefit from helping out on the allotment and eating the fruits of their labour. Prof Cathleen Zick, who led the study, said: "This initial study validates the idea that community gardens are a valuable neighbourhood asset that can promote healthier living. "That could be of interest to urban planners, public health officials and others focused on designing new neighbourhoods and revitalising old ones."

More research needed into hair test for heart disease (UK)

More research needed into hair test for heart disease (UK)Measuring hair for a hormone produced by stress could help identify people at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, say scientists. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the body during periods of stress. Researchers looked at the cortisol levels in the hair of older people. They found that the people who had higher long-term levels of the hormone were more likely to have cardiovascular disease. While cortisol levels can be measured by blood tests, these only provide a ‘snapshot’ of levels at a moment in time. By testing hair, scientists were able to see a person’s cortisol levels over the course of several months. British Heart Foundation Senior Cardiac Nurse Maureen Talbot said: "Long-term stress can be a trigger for habits, such as smoking, drinking alcohol to excess and overeating, that can increase our risk of heart disease. "A test that can confirm a sustained increase in cortisol levels could help be a useful way of assessing a person’s cardiovascular risk. "While this study demonstrates a link between raised cortisol levels and cardiovascular disease, the elderly population they studied may already have other risk factors for heart disease too. "Larger studies are required before such a test can be confirmed as a predictor for cardiovascular disease. In the meantime we should all focus on how we handle extra or sustained stress in our lives. A healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise and taking time to relax can all help." The research was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism

Charities warn of phone scam in Saskatchewan

Charities warn of phone scam in SaskatchewanTwo charities have issued a warning about a phone scam in Saskatchewan. The Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Diabetes Association say a company is attempting to sell automated external defibrillators, medical bracelets and/or other medical emergency monitoring systems. The fraudsters claim the products are endorsed by the American Heart Association or American Diabetes Association. The charities say they are not affiliated with the company and do not use telemarketing to sell products. Police and phone busters have been alerted to the scam. The charities are asking anyone who receives a call from either senior safety alert, senior emergency care or senior safe alert to call their local police detachment or phone busters at 1-888-495-8501

Extraordinary General Meeting of CARG - May 15, 2013

An Extraordinary General Meeting of CARG will be held at 9:30 AM on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 in Meeting Room No. 2, Field House, Saskatoon, SK.


1. Call to Order
2. Adoption of Agenda
3. Approval of Minutes of the AGM held on November 14, 2012
4. Business Arising from the Minutes of 2012 AGM
5. Approval of CARG Constitution
6. Revision of CARG Bylaws
7. Old Business
8. New Business
9. Adjournment

Brisk walking equals running for heart health: study

Brisk walking is as good as running for reducing blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes risk - three key players in the development of heart disease, a new study finds. It's a matter of how far you walk or run, not how long, said Paul Williams, a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California. "Both of these activities reduce risk factors, and if you expend the same amount of energy you get the same benefit," Williams said. The key was the more people walked or ran each week, the more their health improved, he said. The findings suggest "there is now some choice in the exercise you want to do," he said. Some people find running more convenient, others prefer walking, especially people just starting to exercise, he noted. The advantage of running is you can cover twice as much ground in the same amount of time as you would walking, Williams pointed out. Williams is referring to brisk walking, however. "Walking for exercise. It's not a mosey kind of thing, but actually walking for exercise," he explained. For the study, published online April 4 in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, Williams and Dr. Paul Thompson, a cardiologist at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, collected data from the National Runners' Health Study and the National Walkers' Health Study. More than 33,000 runners and nearly 16,000 walkers were involved

Old age 'is a state of mind' (UK)

Old age 'is a state of mind' (UK) People who consider themselves to be frail are more likely to abandon activities which can keep them healthy in old age such as taking regular exercise. But others with a more positive attitude can remain socially active, healthy and enjoy a greater quality of life despite having equal or greater levels of physical weakness, a study found. Researchers from Exeter University interviewed 29 people aged 66 to 98, who had varying levels of physical health and some of whom lived independently while others were in care homes. Participants were asked about their experience of ageing and frailty to determine how their attitude could affect their health and quality of life. Most participants, even those in the worst physical shape, maintained that they were still in good condition, with one commenting: "If people think that they are old and frail, they will act like they are old and frail". But in the two people who did consider themselves frail, researchers identified a "cycle of decline" where their outlook had led them to withdraw from socialising and exercise - even though they were physically stronger than some other participants. Previous studies have shown that elderly people who are physically active and have a rich social life remain healthier and happier in old age. Krystal Warmoth, a PhD student who led the study, presented her findings at the annual conference of the British Psychological Society recently. She said: "It is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. "A person's beliefs about their self could lead to a loss of interest in participating in social and physical activities, poor health, stigmatisation, and reduced quality of life. "You are as old as you feel and your own views of yourself, or taking on this identity of being frail, is not what you should be doing," she added. "You should try and keep positive about getting older and not assume you will be frail."

Gene found that regenerates heart tissue (USA)

Gene found that regenerates heart tissueResearchers at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have identified a specific gene that regulates the heart's ability to regenerate after injuries. The function of the gene, called Meis1, in the heart was not known previously. The findings of the UTSW investigation are available online in Nature. "We found that the activity of the Meis1 gene increases significantly in heart cells soon after birth, right around the time heart muscle cells stop dividing. Based on this observation we asked a simple question: If the Meis1 gene is deleted from the heart, will heart cells continue to divide through adulthood? The answer is 'yes'," said Dr. Hesham Sadek, assistant professor of internal medicine in the division of cardiology, and senior author of the study. In 2011, Dr. Sadek's laboratory showed that the newborn mammalian heart is capable of a vigorous, regenerative response to injury through division of its own cells. As the newborn develops, the heart rapidly loses the ability to regenerate and to repair injuries such as heart attacks

Super-grip plaster uses 'bed-of-needles' to help heal surgical wounds

Super-grip plaster uses 'bed-of-needles' to help heal surgical woundsScientists from the US have designed a super-grip plaster, which is covered with microscopic needles, to heal surgical wounds. The "bed-of-needles" patch, which has been inspired by a parasitic worm that lives in the guts of fish and clings on them using its cactus-like spikes, fixes skin grafts firmly in place without any need of staples, the BBC reported. The creators have said that the patch is thrice as strong as the materials currently used for burns patients. The Boston team based at Brigham and Women's Hospital said that the four-sq-cm patch can also deliver therapeutic drugs via its tiny needles. Most self-adhesive bandages stick poorly to wet skin and though staples and stitches help anchor dressings and skin grafts they inevitably cause trauma to the tissue. To get round this problem, Dr Jeffrey Karp and his team looked at a parasitic worm called Pomphorhynchus laevis, which anchors itself to the slippery surface of the host's intestine using micro-needle tips that pierce the surface and then, once wet, swell to lock tight. This means that the needles cause little damage as they go in, yet achieve maximum grip. Karp's patch mimics the action using minute needles made of plastic with tips that are rigid when dry but swell once they pierce wet tissue. Karp said that when the adhesive is removed there is less trauma inflicted to the tissues, blood and nerves compared to staples as well as a reduced risk of infection. The research has been published in Nature Communications journal

French cancer patient 'saves ambulance man's life'

French cancer patient 'saves ambulance man's life' Christian Nayet, a retired 60-year-old old residing in the northern French town of Berck-sur-mer, who has stomach cancer which spread to the liver, was being taken by ambulance to a hospital in Lille to undergo routine tests. But when the driver, Jean-Fran├žois Pina, began to complain of tingling in the fingers, Mr Nayet took over and diverted the ambulance to another hospital in Lens. During the ride, he also administered a blood thinning drug to the driver, as well as another to stabilise his heartbeat. "I told him: 'Give me the keys, trust me! My life is not in danger, but yours is," Mr Nayet told the newspaper Voix du Nord. "I couldn't fire the siren, but I managed to turn the lights on and told him to put his arm out the window to signal to the cars to let us pass." Frederic Allienne, an emergency worker at the Lens hospital, said Mr Nayet drove into the area reserved for ambulances and the driver was immediately admitted to the emergency room. "The patient gave correct information, had the right reflexes, which allowed the driver to be treated quickly," Mr Allienne said, adding that without Mr Nayet's assistance, the driver "could have died." The ambulance driver phoned him the following day, saying: "I have a wife, a child and you saved me." "He wanted to see me again," said Mr Nayet. "I told him: 'The most important thing is that you're ok. As for me, the night (I saved you) I slept like a baby - I knew I had done something good." Mr Nayet, who moved back to France from Britain after he was diagnosed, was taken in another ambulance to the Lille hospital to undergo his scan. "I had chemo, two operations and I'm not really hopeful. My days are numbered, but morale is intact." As for his feat. "Anyone would have done it," he said.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Prominent cardiologist admits record $19 million medical billing fraud scheme (USA)

Prominent cardiologist admits record $19 million medical billing fraud scheme (USA)A cardiologist with offices in New York City and New Jersey carried out what federal authorities called the largest health care fraud ever recorded by a single practitioner in those states. Federal prosecutors said 68-year-old Jose Katz of Closter, N.J., admitted to submitting $19 million in fraudulent billings to Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers. Prosecutors said he subjected thousands of patients to unnecessary and potentially life-threatening treatments as a result of phony diagnoses. "After years of prominence in his field, Jose Katz will now be remembered for his record-setting fraud," said U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman. "Katz was so focused on illegal profits that he directed unlicensed and unqualified providers to treat his patients, ordered unnecessary tests and cavalierly ordered treatments that could have caused patient harm. Ripping off the government and insurance companies is bad enough; risking patient health in the bargain is inexcusable," said Fishman. Katz also admitted keeping his wife on his payroll, even though she did little or no work, so she would be eligible for a quarter-million dollars in Social Security

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Henry Ford Health System unveils new patient gown (USA)

Patients at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit are the "lucky" first to wear new gowns designed for greater comfort, a bit of style, and a shred more decency. Worn like a robe, the new patient gown is securely closed in the front and back, and has a v-shaped neckline so it doesn't look like you're wearing a bedsheet. Developed by Henry Ford Innovation Institute in collaboration with Michigan's College for Creative Studies, the new gown was made to be warmer using thicker material, works using snaps instead of straps, and is made for easy access when working with IV lines

Thursday, April 4, 2013

New treatment of cool and "rewarming" cardiac patients cuts death rate (Singapore)

New treatment of cool and Cooling the bodies of cardiac arrest patients to below normal, then "rewarming" them, can help to cut death rates and limit brain damage, doctors at Singapore General Hospital have found. Preliminary results from a clinical trial on 40 patients found a 25 per cent increase in survival rate in patients given the cooling treatment, called therapeutic hypothermia. The new method involves rapidly cooling the person's body to between 32 and 34 degree Celsius. There are two methods: pumping cool saline into a catheter that is inserted into the patient's body or wrapping cool gel pads around the patient. This is maintained for 12 to 24 hours, after which the person is gradually warmed back to normal body temperature of about 37 degrees Celsius. This spells significant promise for the 1,500 people a year who suffer a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, given that the survival rate is a 2.7 per cent

Male baldness 'indicates heart risk' (Japan)

Male baldness 'indicates heart risk' (Japan)Men going thin on top may be more likely to have heart problems than their friends with a full head of hair, according to researchers in Japan. Their study of nearly 37,000 people, published in the online journal BMJ Open, said balding men were 32% more likely to have coronary heart disease. However, the researchers said the risks were less than for smoking or obesity. The British Heart Foundation said men should focus on their waistline, not their hairline. A shifting hairline is a fact of life for many men. Half have thinning hair by their 50s and 80% have some hair loss by the age of 70. Researchers at the University of Tokyo sifted through years of previous research into links between hair loss and heart problems. They showed that hair that went thin on the crown was associated with coronary heart disease. This was after adjusting for other risk factors such as age and family history. However, a receding hairline did not seem to affect the risk

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

High-tech vest helps doctors investigate abnormal heart beats (UK)

High-tech vest helps doctors investigate abnormal heart beats (UK)Cardiologists at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust are the first in the UK to test a high-tech vest which helps them accurately pinpoint the cause of rapid and abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias). The team, led by consultant cardiologist Dr Prapa Kanagaratnam, have tested the ECVUE system in 40 patients at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington. The Trust is one of only three centres worldwide and the first in the UK to use the system to find the source of extra heartbeats that cause symptoms such as chest discomfort and thumping sensations. At least one million people in the UK have experienced frequent palpitations which can be very disturbing on their day to day activity. In some cases arrhythmias can cause fainting and be potentially life-threatening