Erectile dysfunction drugs linked to serious vision problems

TAKING ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION (ED) drugs such as Viagra, Cialis, Levitra and Stendra regularly can put you at risk for three serious vision-damaging conditions—serous retinal detachment (SRD), retinal vascular occlusion (RVO) and ischaemic optic neuropathy (ION)—according to a Canadian study published in JAMA Ophthalmology.

The researchers analysed health insurance claim records of 2,13,000 US men who did not have any of these eye problems in the year before they started taking ED medications regularly.

They then followed the medical records of these men to see how many of them developed one or more of these vision problems and compared it with men who did not use these medications.

The risk of developing any one of these serious eye conditions increased by 85 per cent for regular users of ED drugs. Erectile dysfunction medication users had a more than 2.5 times greater risk of developing SRD, a condition characterized by the sudden appearance of floaters or spots in the field of vision and light flashes; a 1.4 times higher risk of RVO, symptoms of which include sudden loss or blurring of vision, dark spots or floaters; and a 2.02 times greater risk of ION, symptoms of which include loss of mostly central vision.

Diabetes drug linked to birth defects

BABY BOYS BORN to fathers who took the widely prescribed diabetes drug metformin in the three months before conception are more likely to have genital birth defects, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The researchers used Denmark’s national birth registry to analyze data on over one million babies born between 1997 and 2016. They wanted to compare the risk of birth defects in children whose fathers were treated with different diabetic medications, including insulin, metformin or a class of drugs called sulfonylureas, before conception.

When fathers took metformin during the window of sperm development and maturation—a process that takes about three months before conception—their babies had a 40 per cent higher risk of birth defects.

5.2 per cent of children whose fathers took metformin were born with malformations compared to 3.3 per cent of children whose fathers did not take the diabetes drug.

Most of the malformations were in the genitals of male children, who had three times the risk of malformations.

Children whose fathers took insulin did not have a higher rate of malformations. While children whose fathers took sulfonylurea had a slightly increased risk—it was not statistically significant.

Metformin taken before or after the three months of sperm development was not associated with an increased risk of malformations.

Quit smoking, add five years to your life

HEART DISEASE patients who quit smoking can gain five additional healthy years of life. Quitting is as effective as taking three medications to prevent future heart attacks and strokes.

Cigarette smoking is responsible for nearly 50 per cent of all preventable deaths in smokers, half of which are due to cardiovascular disease. Smokers with heart disease are especially at an increased risk of having another heart attack or stroke.

The study, presented at a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology, included 989 patients aged 45 years and older who continued to smoke at least six months after suffering a heart attack and/or undergoing stent implantation or bypass surgery. Among them, 23 per cent were women.

The researchers used the SMART-REACH model to estimate how many years the patients will gain without a heart attack or stroke, if they quit smoking, or if they continued smoking but took three additional drugs to prevent cardiovascular disease. The medications included Bempedoic acid and PCSK9 inhibitors, which are lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and the anti-inflammatory drug colchicine.

The patients would gain 4.81 event-free years by quitting smoking or 4.83 event-free years if they took the three medications.

Did You Know?

Adults who meet the recommended physical activity (equivalent to 2.5 hours per week) have a 25 per cent lower risk of depression.

JAMA Psychiatry

Artificial sweeteners linked to increased cancer risk

ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS touted as excellent sugar substitutes that reduce sugar and calorie intake without compromising on sweetness, are used in many food and beverage brands worldwide and are consumed by millions of people.

A French study published in PLOS Medicine suggests that some artificial sweeteners can increase the risk of cancer.

To examine the association between artificial sweetener intake and cancer risk, the researchers analysed data from 1,02,865 French participating in the ongoing NutriNet-Santé study.

Soft drinks with no added sugars, table-top sweeteners, and yoghurt/cottage cheese were the most popular products with artificial sweeteners. There were 3,358 new cancer diagnoses during a median follow up of 7.8 years.

Participants who consumed large quantities of artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame and acesulfame-K, had a 13 per cent higher risk of developing cancer than non-consumers.

Why are Alzheimer’s patients drowsy?

ALZHEIMER’S PATIENTS are often drowsy and tend to sleep a lot during the day. The common explanation is that Alzheimer’s patients are trying to compensate for poor sleep at night.

But according to a US study published in JAMA Neurology, the real reason is the degeneration of a type of neuron that keeps a person awake. The researchers studied sleep issues in two neurodegenerative conditions—Alzheimer’s disease and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP)—that are at “opposite ends of the sleep-disturbance spectrum.”

Alzheimer’s patients have difficulty staying awake and PSP patients have difficulty sleeping.

The study included 33 patients with Alzheimer’s, 20 with PSP, and 32 volunteers who had healthy brains through the end of life.

The volunteers had their sleep monitored with an electroencephalogram and donated their brains after they died. The brain has both wake-promoting neurons and sleep-promoting neurons, each tied to neurons controlling circadian rhythms.

In Alzheimer’s patients who are sleepy all the time, “the system in their brain that would keep them awake is gone.” On the other hand, in patients with PSP, neurons that make them feel tired are damaged and they are unable to sleep.

The researchers measured the amounts of two proteins often associated with the neurodegenerative process—beta-amyloid and tau—and concluded that the tau protein was responsible for sleep disturbances.

Did You Know?

Just one night of sleeping with moderate light exposure can impair cardiometabolic function—it can increase nighttime heart rate, decrease heart rate variability and increase insulin resistance in the morning when compared to sleeping in a dimly lit environment.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Magnets in electronic devices may interfere with implanted cardiac devices

MANY HIGH-TECH PORTABLE The devices are equipped with powerful magnets which can interfere with the proper functioning of implanted cardiac devices (ICD) such as a pacemaker and impair their ability to regulate dangerous irregular heart rhythms, according to new research published in the journal Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology.

As part of the study, the researchers tested the magnetic field output of the Apple AirPods Pro, and their wireless charging case, the Microsoft Surface Pen and the Apple Pencil (2nd Generation).

Magnets in these devices can activate a switch prohibiting the ICD from delivering life-saving shocks. Earlier research on the iPhone 12 Pro Max had shown that its magnetic field could disrupt the operation of an implanted pacemaker or ICD when held within an inch.

“These devices can cause a problem when carried in your shirt or jacket pocket in the front of the chest, as well as when you are lying on the couch and resting the electronic device on your chest, or if you fall asleep with the electronic device, said the study.

Is knee replacement surgery safe for people over 80?

ACCORDING TO A STUDY Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, total knee arthroplasty (TKA), or knee replacement surgery could be a safe option for people over 80.

The researchers compared to knee replacement surgery outcomes in more than 1.7 million people aged 65 and older. The patients were divided into two groups—the study group included patients 80 years and older and the control group included patients 65-79 years old.

While the overall odds of developing any medical complication were similar across both groups, the incidence of certain medical complications, such as cerebrovascular accidents, pneumonia, and acute kidney failure was higher among the octogenarians.

They also had higher readmission rates and longer hospital stays following surgery than those aged 65-79.

But octogenarians had a lower incidence of implant-related complications compared to the control group.

“These data will be helpful as surgeons advise patients on the decision of whether to undergo TKA. For older patients, it can be reassuring to know they can have similar outcomes to a 65-year-old and improve their quality of life,” she said. the study.

Treating hypertension during pregnancy benefits mom, baby

TREATING PREGNANT WOMEN with mildly elevated high blood pressure was associated with better pregnancy outcomes for both mother and child, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

More than 2 per cent of women enter pregnancy with chronic hypertension which can triple their risk for severe complications such as preeclampsia and preterm births. About 80 per cent of them have mild chronic hypertension.

While there is consensus on treating pregnant women with severe hypertension—around 160/110 mmHg or higher, there are no clear guidelines on how to manage mild hypertension. There have been concerns that it might impair foetal growth.

The trial included 2,408 women with mild chronic high blood pressure who were less than 23 weeks into their pregnancy.

Half the participants were randomly assigned to receive anti-hypertensive medication to keep their blood pressure below 140/90 mmHg. The other half were started on medication only if their blood pressure rose to 160/105 mmHg or higher.

Women who were treated with medications had about a 20 per cent reduction in the combined rate of severe preeclampsia, preterm birth before 35 weeks, placental abruption and foetal or newborn death compared with pregnant women who did not receive treatment.

Also, taking antihypertensive medication did not impair foetal growth. The birth weights of babies remained similar across both groups.

Did you know?

Employees who use lots of emojis and pictures in their communications at work are perceived as less powerful compared to those who use words only.

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

Lumpectomy as effective as mastectomy for younger breast cancer patients

ACCORDING TO A STUDY Presented at the American Society of Breast Surgeons Annual Meeting, outcomes were similar for young patients with breast cancer who had a lumpectomy or a mastectomy.

Breast cancer before age 40 is usually more aggressive and diagnosed at an advanced stage compared to breast cancer at a later age. The study included 591 women younger than 40 who were treated for nonmetastatic breast cancer (cancer that had not spread to other parts of the body).

Among them, 64.5 per cent of the women underwent a mastectomy (removal of one or both breasts), whereas 35.5 per cent underwent lumpectomy or breast-conserving surgery, where only the tumour and some surrounding tissues are removed.

During a median follow-up of 67 months, 72 women died.

There was no difference in survival outcomes between women who underwent mastectomy vs lumpectomy.

However, post-surgery treatments had an impact. Women with hormone-sensitive cancers (hormone receptor-positive/HER2-negative) who did not receive hormonal therapy increased had a 2.9-fold risk for death compared to women who received it.

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