Friday, December 16, 2011

Paracetamol kills mother who took a 'few extra’ pills a day

I have been warning of the dangers of paracetamol for years so it is very sad to read this. She should have been encouraged to take a combination medicine like Di-Gesic -- as its smaller paracetamol content and greater efficacy make it much safer. So guess which one of those two is at present being banned around the world? It is Di-Gesic!

Desiree Phillips, a young mother who took “a few extra” paracetamol tablets to relieve the pain of a minor operation died after suffering irreversible liver damage.

The death of Desiree Phillips, 20, follows studies showing that “staggered overdoses” of paracetamol over the course of a few days can be more dangerous than a single, massive overdose.

Miss Phillips, of Llanelli, South Wales, had a routine procedure to remove several benign lumps on her breast earlier this year.

Doctors prescribed antibiotics and over-the-counter paracetamol to help her cope with the discomfort.

Nine days after the operation, she was taken to hospital in excruciating pain and diagnosed with liver failure. She underwent a liver transplant but died a week later at Birmingham Queen Elizabeth hospital.

Her father, Des, said he believed his daughter had been taking only “a few extra tablets” than the recommended dose of eight every 24 hours.

“She seemed fine to us, then out of the blue her boyfriend found her stretched out on the sofa and he rang an ambulance. The whole thing came as a terrible shock. When we heard she was in hospital we never expected that she might die.

“People don’t realise – they think an extra two won’t harm, that extra two over a period of time can harm your liver if you keep taking that over two to three weeks,” said Mr Phillips.

Last month research published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that taking just a few extra paracetamol tablets a day can be fatal. The study of 663 patients with paracetamol-induced liver injury found that those who took “staggered overdoses” over the course of several days were a third more likely to die than those who took a single overdose of pills.

Dr Kenneth Simpson, of the University of Edinburgh, who led the research, said: “Those who’ve taken a staggered overdose do worse, paradoxically, than the people who’ve tried to kill themselves.”

Although an inquest is yet to be held into Miss Phillips’s death, her family has spoken out in the hope of preventing similar tragedies.

Mr Phillips , a chef, said: “If a painkiller is that dangerous, it should be prescribed. You should not be able to buy them over the counter. Cigarettes have a label saying 'smoking kills’. Paracetamol can be fatal, but when you look at the packets, they don’t look dangerous.”

Miss Phillips’s one-year-old son, Jayden, is now being cared for by his father, Simon Dewi-Jones. Mr Phillips added: “It was awful, in the end she couldn’t even give him a cuddle goodbye. He’s too young to know what happened now, but I’m sure it will be something that affects him in the future.”

Miss Phillips’s mother, Ayshea, 38, said: “Desiree was taking painkillers because she had three lumps removed from her breast and she was in pain. She didn’t know what was going to happen. Jayden doesn’t deserve to be growing up without a mum because of this.”

A spokesman for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said: “Paracetamol is a safe and effective painkiller for a range of conditions when used correctly and when the dosage recommendations are followed.”


Simple blood test could spot Alzheimer's five years before it kicks in

This is still very speculative

A simple blood test could spot Alzheimer’s at least five years before symptoms start to show. The test’s creator hopes it will be in widespread use within three years.

Quicker detection of the disease would allow earlier treatment and, with the help of new drugs, those who test positive may never fully develop it.

Those given early warnings could also take preventative measures, such as changing their diet and taking more exercise.

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia affect more than 800,000 Britons. The figure is set to double in a generation. Currently, sufferers are only diagnosed after the disease has already caused significant damage to the brain.

But the new test aims to detect signs of Alzheimer’s years earlier by distinguishing between mere forgetfulness and the more dangerous memory lapses that signal dementia in its earliest stages. Spotting Alzheimer’s early on would have ‘immense’ benefits for the elderly, the test’s inventor said last night.

Professor Matej Oresic made the breakthrough after analysing the blood of 226 men and women in their late sixties and seventies and then tracking their health for an average of five years.

At the start of the study, 37 had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; of the others, 46 did not have any memory problems but 143 were suffering from forgetfulness. By the end of the study, 52 of that 143 had also been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Comparing their blood samples with samples from those who were still merely forgetful revealed clear differences in the concentration of three metabolites – chemicals produced by reactions in the body.

Working out how these chemicals relate to the progression of Alzheimer’s could help develop new treatments for the disease. Testing for them in elderly people suffering from forgetfulness could lead to valuable early warnings of the onset of dementia, the journal Translational Psychiatry reports.

Those found to have memory problems related to Alzheimer’s could do mental and physical exercises and change their diet in an attempt to keep their brain healthy for as long as possible.

Professor Oresic, of the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, said delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s in older people ‘is almost as good as preventing it’, adding: ‘A delay of even a couple of years would immensely improve quality of life.’

He said that more work is needed to show just how accurate his test is – but he hopes the kit will be in small-scale use within a year, and widely used in two or three.

Dr Simon Ridley, head of re- search for the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, said Professor Oresic’s work had seen ‘promising early results’.

He added that the chemicals produced by the billions of reactions that occur in the body present a ‘gold-mine’ of potentially useful information for scientists.

If research on such chemicals leads to the development of drugs that can stop the progression of Alzheimer’s, those who receive an early positive on Professor Oresic’s test may never go on to fully develop the disease after all.


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