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New COPD drug approved
March 1st, 2011
05:40 PM ET

New COPD drug approved

Some people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , or COPD, now have a new weapon in the drug arsenal.  On Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration  approved roflumilast, a new class of drug for COPD treatment made by Forest Pharmaceuticals.  The new drug suppresses an enzyme that can cause inflammation in the airways and will be marketed is the United States as DalirespTM.

Last April, the FDA's Pulmonary-Allergy Drugs Advisory Committee voted 10-5 against approving roflumilast, over concerns that the benefits did not outweigh the drugs' risks.

Everyday tips for living with COPD

There are two main forms of COPD: chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Roflumilast is a pill that's taken once a day by patients with severe COPD to alleviate cough and excess mucus linked to bronchitis. It's not to be used to treat COPD involving emphysema.

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March 1st, 2011
04:38 PM ET

TEDMED: Making health info more 'Wired'

Thomas Goetz, the executive editor of  Wired Magazine, studied Renaissance poetry in college. Now, he's dedicated to coupling ideas from public health and information technology to help people make better decisions about their own well-being.

Goetz is the author of "The Decision Tree: Navigating the Future of Healthcare." The basic idea is that health care is a series of choices - for instance, choosing to quit smoking, trying a method to help you stop, and trying something else if it doesn't work. But often people lack access to information that would help them make good choices. The book's website has an interactive tool where you can build your own decision tree about topics such as weight loss and cancer risk.

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NIH will study health of Gulf oil disaster cleanup workers
March 1st, 2011
02:22 PM ET

NIH will study health of Gulf oil disaster cleanup workers

The National Institutes of Health is looking for 55,000 people, who helped in the cleanup efforts following  the Deepwater Horizon oil disasterin the Gulf of Mexico nearly a year ago.  Researchers will study how being exposed to the oil and the chemicals used to remove the oil may have affected the health of workers and volunteers.

They're calling it the GuLF Study, which stands for "Gulf Long-term Follow-up Study." Researchers will be contacting people Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Starting with several lists of workers and volunteers, researchers will be contacting potential participants by mail, by sending out letters of invitation to participate in the trial.  People can also volunteer themselves by calling 1-855-NIH-GULF (1-855-644-4853). Then, when 55,000 participants have been found, the first part of the trial involves a phone interview, which includes questions about the work they did in the aftermath of the disaster.  Of those, 20,000 will also be asked to participate in the second phase of the study, which involves home visits, taking various samples including blood and urine, as well as measuring blood pressure and lung function.

According to the NIH press statement, of the 40 known oil spills in the past 50 years, the health effects have been studied from only eight of those spills. "The goal of the GuLF Study is to help us learn if oil spills and exposure to crude oil and dispersants affect physical and mental health," said the study's lead investigator, Dale Sandler, Ph.D.


March 1st, 2011
01:34 PM ET

Human Factor: Africa opens a mind, a heart

In the Human Factor, Dr. Sanjay Gupta introduces you to survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle - injury, illness or other hardship –- they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn’t know they possessed.  A run by the ocean almost cost elite runner Toby Tanser his life when he was attacked for his shoes.  The incident left Tanser with a new focus that helped him work through his hardships in a most unusual way. Here is his story in his own words.

As a kid I sat and watched Live Aid, I got the perception I should donate money and stay away from Africa.  Wow - disease, famine, sad music playing, flies in the eyes… What can you do?

I wish I could show my Africa to everyone. If I only could I would be out of a job.  Well a volunteer position.  I never wanted to do what I do today. I hunted money, and comfort… but then I was dumb enough to go on holiday to Kenya.

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Food allergy help for grown-ups
March 1st, 2011
11:17 AM ET

Food allergy help for grown-ups

My attitude toward my food allergies used to be: Keep it as private and non-disruptive to others as possible.  But I started to rethink that when I began reading a blog by Sloane Miller, a social worker with food allergies who has turned her passion for eating safely into a public and altruistic career.

Miller has lived with food allergies all her life.  She's widely known as "Allergic Girl," author of the blog "Please Don't Pass the Nuts." She has used her know-how about dining out with food allergies to organize "Worry Free Dinners," which are groups of people with food allergies going to a restaurant together and sharing experiences and strategies.  In her day job, Miller coaches people with dietary restrictions such as food allergies in overcoming their fears and navigating everyday situations.

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March 1st, 2011
10:33 AM ET

Is it OK to stay on antidepressants long term?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Tuesdays, it's Dr. Charles Raison, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, and an expert in the mind-body connection for health.

Question asked by Anonymous of Atlanta, Georgia:

I have a family history of mental illness. Three of my siblings have schizoaffective disorder (one recently told by a doctor that it may be bipolar with hallucinatory symptoms). I have dealt with mild to moderate depression for over 10 years with a few episodes of major depression in that time. About three months ago, I began taking Lexapro even though I have always wondered whether doing so might aggravate an underlying genetic illness. I feel much better on this medication, and do not have a history of mania or hallucinations. (I am a 31-year-old female, and take 10mg of Lexapro a day). I have, however, always been somewhat moody. That has leveled off with this medication. I do still have some concerns about long-term effects of staying on an antidepressant.

Have there been any documented cases of long-term antidepressant use linked to the onset of bipolar or other mental illness? (I know this is a bit like the chicken or the egg question, but I am thinking about research linking antidepressants to increased suicidal thinking.) What about adult onset of mental illness? (I've heard of a few cases like this from people in my life.) Thanks very much for your column. I enjoy reading it and think you're providing an important service for all of us affected by mental illness in our lives.

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Get Some Sleep: Was your mom a sleepwalker?
March 1st, 2011
10:23 AM ET

Get Some Sleep: Was your mom a sleepwalker?

Lisa Shives, M.D., is the founder of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Illinois. She blogs on Tuesdays on The Chart. Read more from her at Dr. Lisa Shives’ Sleep Better Blog.


I was at a conference in Aspen last week and on the chairlift a woman told me that this was her first time back skiing after breaking her pelvic bone.  When I asked her how that happened, she said, “Sleepwalking.”

Sleepwalking, like night terrors, is classified as a parasomnia, which is any unwanted movement or physical occurrence that happens during sleep or immediately upon awakening.  It is much more common in childhood, with prevalence rates reported between 2 percent to 17 percent.  The peak age is 8-12 years and it is thought that most kids will outgrow this.  It does run in families and if a first degree relative experiences a parasomnia such as sleepwalking or night terrors, then a person is 10 times more likely to suffer from a similar parasomnia.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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