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The race for the next big cholesterol fighting drug
March 26th, 2012
05:42 PM ET

The race for the next big cholesterol fighting drug

A battle is officially on to produce the first drug in a new class of cholesterol lowering medications.

PCSK9 inhibitors have yielded promising early stage trial results for two different products at the American College of Cardiology Scientific Session in Chicago.

PCSK9 inhibitors have been developed based on previous research that revealed blocking the PCSK9 protein, which stands for proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin 9, prevents it from binding to LDL receptors on the liver, and impairing the liver’s ability to properly filter bad cholesterol from the blood.

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Could eating chocolate make you thinner?
March 26th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Could eating chocolate make you thinner?

It's every woman's dream: could chocolate, the substance that cures everything from PMS to heartbreak,  also make you skinnier?

If true, there's got to be a catch, right?

Here's the skinny: Dr. Beatrice Golomb, associate professor of medicine at University of California, San Diego, has published a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine linking regular chocolate consumption with a lower body mass index, or BMI. FULL POST


Parents need warnings about multiple SIDS risks, study says
March 26th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

Parents need warnings about multiple SIDS risks, study says

More parents seem to have gotten the message that their infants need to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  However they seem to be unaware that often multiple risk factors occurring at the same time increase the risk of SIDS, according to new research published Monday.

Back in 1994, a campaign called "back-to-sleep" was launched to encourage parents to place their infants on their backs when they sleep to prevent SIDS, the leading cause of death among babies aged 1 to 12 months. And it helped: 10 years later the death rates from SIDS were cut in half.  But around 2000 those rates began to plateau and new research published in the journal Pediatrics suggests it may be due to an increase in other risk factors for SIDS such as bed-sharing and having babies sleep on adult mattresses and bedding.

Researchers studied the records of 568 SIDS babies in San Diego, California, who died between 1991 and 2008 - before and after the 'back-to-sleep' campaign began.  Scientists wanted to find out if the prominent risk factors for SIDS deaths had changed over time.  Experts know that the chance of developing SIDS increases when a baby sleeps on his or her stomach, shares a bed with someone, is born premature and if the mother-to-be smoked.  In this study, scientists found that the biggest risk for SIDS, stomach sleeping, had dramatically dropped during the 17 year period, but the amount of bed-sharing had doubled, especially in babies younger than 2 months old. FULL POST


Study: Popcorn packed with antioxidants
March 25th, 2012
12:01 PM ET

Study: Popcorn packed with antioxidants

Popcorn isn't just low in calories and high in fiber. Turns out the popular snack is chock full of antioxidants, too.

Per serving, plain popcorn contains nearly twice as many polyphenols as the average fruit, according to the preliminary results of a laboratory analysis presented today at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Polyphenols, a type of plant-based chemical found in foods ranging from vegetables to chocolate, help neutralize the harmful substances known as free radicals and are thought to protect against heart disease and other health problems.
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March 23rd, 2012
11:55 AM ET

Would you get the care Muamba did?

Could everyday folks get the kind of intensive resuscitation efforts that Fabrice Muamba, a soccer player whose heart stopped beating for 78 minutes?

The 23-year-old pro-athlete’s cardiac arrest and his subsequent revival during a British soccer match generated international headlines this week.  Muamba was described as being “in effect dead” by the team doctor.

Doctors applied life-saving measures such as chest compressions and 15 defibrillator shocks during the 48 minutes to get Muamba to the hospital and an additional 30 minutes at the hospital. Muamba remains at a hospital in London and has been talking.
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Paying health forward for my students
March 22nd, 2012
01:30 PM ET

Paying health forward for my students

Editor's Note: Carlos Solis is an elementary school teacher from Ontario, California, and a member of the 2012 Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge team known as "The Lucky 7."  Each team member is given the tools they need to prepare to compete in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon in September alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

As a teacher, I have always wanted to “pay it forward;" I believe that comes out of gratitude for making it out of something a lot of kids I hung around with didn’t.

One special teacher, Mr. Shackleton, helped me believe I could change my life. Prior to becoming a teacher in 1997, I held down various jobs but I was always volunteering to help kids. I even worked at a group home as a house parent for abused and neglected children.

If you are a teacher reading this, the term “making a difference” means something to you. For me, it means doing whatever it takes to help make a difference in the life of any student I come into contact with.

Along with a quality education, I have always worked to instill character values to help students overcome obstacles in their lives: bullying, problems at home, academic struggles, peer pressure, etc., but never really took a serious look at how their current health issues could have an effect on their future.
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Experimental cholesterol drug results called 'game changing'
March 22nd, 2012
09:19 AM ET

Experimental cholesterol drug results called 'game changing'

A new, experimental cholesterol-fighting drug is creating quite a buzz among researchers and other experts, prompting some to use words such as "dramatic," "breakthrough" and "game changing," to describe early-stage clinical trial results.

If these initial results pan out in larger trials, the drug could prove to be more effective than statins, the widely prescribed drugs which have been very successful in lowering levels of LDL - or  bad cholesterol.

Researchers have known for some time that when the protein PCSK9, which stands for proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin 9, binds to LDL receptors on the liver, it compromises the organ's ability to filter the bad cholesterol from the blood. 
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Five ways to fight depression in the bedroom
March 22nd, 2012
08:54 AM ET

Five ways to fight depression in the bedroom

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex weekly on The Chart. Read more from him on his website, GoodInBed.

We live in a culture in which use of SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors), talk therapy, and mental health days have become nearly as common as gym memberships and multi-purpose vitamins.

In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that more than 20 million people in the U.S. experience depression. Unfortunately, mood swings aren’t the only symptom of depression - it can also have a negative effect on your romantic relationships, especially when it comes to sex.

"One symptom of depression is anhedonia, a lack of pleasure in things that were once enjoyable,” sex therapist Dr. Stephanie Buehler writes in her timely new book, “Sex, Love, and Mental Illness.”

“Sex is often one of those activities in which a person loses interest. Add to that fatigue, lethargy, and a tendency to want to be alone and there are plenty of reasons for depressed persons and their partners to experience a decline in their sex life."
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Filed under: Depression • Relationships • Sex

Hospitalization may speed cognitive decline in seniors
March 21st, 2012
05:04 PM ET

Hospitalization may speed cognitive decline in seniors

People 65 years of age and older experience cognitive decline an average of 2.4 times faster if they have been hospitalized, compared to people of the same age who haven't, according to a new study.

For the study, published in Neurology, Robert S. Wilson, PhD. and colleagues reviewed the cognitive decline of more than 1,800 patients aged 65 and older who lived in Chicago. The patients were given a baseline cognitive test and then followed for an average of nine years with the same cognitive test repeated at least three times at intervals of three years.

They found that the natural cognitive decline people begin to experience as they age was sped up after a person had been hospitalized, regardless of the reason or how long the hospitalization lasted.

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March 21st, 2012
04:18 PM ET

Red flag found for imminent heart attack

Most heart attacks hit without warning – when a blister plaque on the blood vessel wall ruptures. The resulting clot starves the heart of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood, causing a heart attack and possibly death.

Traditional diagnostic tools like treadmill stress tests only pick up major blockages in the blood vessels, but they don’t alert doctors to this type of impending catastrophe. That’s because the vast majority of heart attacks occur in people whose blood vessels are narrowed only slightly by cholesterol-laden plaque.

“We can’t detect these mild narrowings, which are almost exclusively responsible for heart attacks,” says Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California.

But Topol and a team of researchers now think they’ve found a way to determine which patients are only days or weeks away from a heart attack.
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About this blog

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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