Monday, February 04, 2013

Marriage? It's good for women's hearts too  -- in Finland

Healthier people are more likely to get married than unhealthy ones and that alone could account for the observed correlation.  Perhaps unhealthy women are particularly unlikely to marry in Finland.  It is a different culture in a number of ways.

Marriage is good for women’s health, not just men’s, according to a study that shows both husbands and wives are far less likely to suffer a heart attack than their single friends.

Previous research has indicated that men gain most of the health benefit from marriage - perhaps because their wives look after them and pester them into seeing the doctor.  But a new Finnish study has found women benefit too.

Both married men and married women have heart attack rates that are considerably lower than single people of the same age. They are also far more likely to survive a heart attack.

The researchers, from Turku University Hospital, looked at 15,330 incidents of ‘acute cardiac syndrome’ - which includes heart attacks and unstable angina - over a 10-year period. Just over half resulted in death within 28 days.

They found both single men and single women were about two-thirds more likely to suffer such an event than those who were married.

Among those who had a heart attack or developed unstable angina, those who were single were up to two-and-a-half times more likely to die within a 28-day period.

Writing in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, the authors conceded: “We cannot exclude the possibility that persons with poor health status may be more prone to staying unmarried or getting divorced.”

But they also believed marriage itself helped protect health, due in part to the “social support” between husband and wife.

This could have life saving consequences. For instance, the researchers found married people were more likely to stick to their medication, like statins or aspirin. And married people tended to get help quicker in the event of a heart attack, because the other rang immediately.


Epilepsy drug linked to tenfold increase in autism: researchers

The numbers in this study are too small to be taken very seriously by themselves  and it is surprising that none of the mothers were given phenytoin, known as unusually safe.   Medical fashion, no doubt.  

But teratogenesis of some kind is a known side-effect for anti-epileptic drugs -- including phenytoin -- so the study takes on some significance because of that. The options for epileptic mothers are not good

Children born to mothers who took an epilepsy drug while pregnant are up to ten times more likely to suffer autism or similar conditions, a study has found.

The study found children born to women who took sodium valproate, known as Epilim, were significantly more likely to suffer autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or dyspraxia.

Researchers warned that women should not stop taking the drug suddenly as fits can harm their unborn child and most women went on to have healthy children.

The findings were published online in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

Researchers from Liverpool University, studied 528 women in the north west of England.

Just fewer than half the mothers had epilepsy and all but 34 of whom took antiepileptic drugs during their pregnancy.

Fifty nine mums took carbamazepine; 59 took valproate; 36 took lamotrigine; 41 took a combination; and 15 took other drugs.

Their children were assessed three times up to the age for/of six and their mothers asked if they had consulted specialists about their child's development.

By the age of six, 19 children had been diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder, of these 12 had autism, one had both autism and ADHD, three had ADHD and four had dyspraxia.

Children exposed to valproate alone in the womb were six times more likely to be diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder.

Those exposed to valproate plus other drugs were ten times more likely to have a diagnosis than children whose mothers did not have epilepsy.

It means 12 per cent of children whose mums had taken valproate alone during their pregnancy had a neurodevelopmental problem, as did one in seven of those whose mums had taken valproate with other drugs.

No child born to a mum with epilepsy, but who didn’t take drugs for the condition during her pregnancy, was diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder.

Boys were three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder, but no significant associations were found for the mother’s age or IQ, length of pregnancy, or epileptic seizure type.

Author of the study Dr Rebecca Bromley, of the Department of Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology, said: “If sodium valproate is the treatment of choice, women should be provided with as much information as possible to enable them to make an informed decision.

“But on no account should pregnant women just stop taking the drug for fear of harming their developing child.”

Dr Gavin Woodhall, Reader in Neuropharmacology at Aston University, said: “This study in man is consistent with what is seen in animal models and should come as no major surprise.

“However, this is only a small study as yet, and it is important to take into account the fact that controlling epilepsy in pregnancy is very important, and most women who are treated for epilepsy during pregnancy go on to have perfectly normal babies.”


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