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Study shows risk with sleeping pills; conclusion criticized
February 27th, 2012
06:30 PM ET

Study shows risk with sleeping pills; conclusion criticized

Common sleep medications may be linked to a shorter lifespan, according to a study released Monday in the British Medical Journal.

Researchers compared 10,500 adults who took prescription strength sleep aids with people who did not. Those who popped just one to 18 sleeping pills during the course of a year, had a 3.5 times increase risk of early death than those prescribed none. The increased jumped fivefold for people who took three sleeping pills or more per week.

"After controlling for several factors, we saw the risk rose in tandem with the more doses people consumed," says Dr. Daniel Kripke, study author and psychiatrist  at Viterbi Family Sleep Center in San Diego. "The mortality hazard was very high, it even surprised us."

But one sleep expert not affiliated with the study immediately sought to debunk the conclusions, saying it leads to unnecessary confusion to consumers.

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Cardiac arrest during road races exceedingly rare
January 11th, 2012
05:00 PM ET

Cardiac arrest during road races exceedingly rare

Last November, two apparently healthy young men - one 40 years old, the other just 21 - collapsed during the running of the Philadelphia marathon and were later pronounced dead, apparently of heart-related causes.

The news was shocking but familiar: In the previous two months alone, a 35-year-old firefighter had collapsed with a stopped heart as he neared the finish line of the Chicago Marathon, and a 32-year-old had suffered a fatal heart attack in the homestretch of a half-marathon in Montreal.
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Filed under: Death and Dying • Health.com • Heart

Why does toxicology take so long?
July 25th, 2011
05:07 PM ET

Why does toxicology take so long?

Lab tests to determine what killed singer Amy Winehouse will take  two to four weeks, according to the Scotland Yard.

Unlike television crime shows where results are instant, standard toxicology tests can require several steps, taking up to several weeks.

An autopsy completed Monday afternoon was inconclusive and investigators will need the toxicology results to determine the singer’s cause of death, according to a police statement. FULL POST


June 10th, 2011
06:03 PM ET

Ending one's life a right, doctor says

Dr. Lawrence Egbert is the former medical director for the Final Exit Network, a group that supports “the human right to a death with dignity.” Throughout his tenure with FEN, Egbert reviewed and processed hundreds of applications for assisted suicide. Below, in his own words, Egbert explains his philosophy. He’ll be a guest on "Sanjay Gupta, MD" this weekend (Saturday – Sunday at 7:30 a.m. ET) to defend his stance that suicide is a viable option to end pain and suffering.

My name is Lawrence Deems Egbert, but most friends call me Larry. I graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1948, the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1952, and was then called into the Navy. I served seven years, where I was assigned to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Philadelphia, as a resident specializing in anesthesia.

Not surprisingly I have given a lot of thought to [why I work with the Final Exit Network]. Being arrested and needing a criminal lawyer gets one’s attention! Simple answer: Such work needs doing and I have the technical background to help out.

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Filed under: Death and Dying

June 3rd, 2011
11:45 AM ET

Gupta on Kevorkian: Rest in peace

No matter how old someone is, or how sick they have been, it still comes as a shock to hear they have died. 83-year-old Jack Kevorkian, Dr. Death himself, died this morning as Bach, his favorite, played over the intercom.  I felt an involuntary gasp of air in my throat when I learned of his passing.

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Always controversial, Kevorkian dead at 83
June 3rd, 2011
11:18 AM ET

Always controversial, Kevorkian dead at 83

Dr. Jack Kevorkian assisted in the suicides of 130 people, by his own count, he told CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta last year.

Friday, the controversial physician died at age 83, a spokesman with Beaumont Hospital told CNN.

Kevorkian had been hospitalized for kidney trouble and pneumonia in May.

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Black people more likely than whites to spend with death looming
April 26th, 2011
12:03 AM ET

Black people more likely than whites to spend with death looming

Imagine you’re in the hospital with cancer. Would you rather spend everything you have to potentially live longer, or just forgo the costly medical treatment?

Your answer to that question might be influenced by your race.

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Battle over 'Baby Joseph' intensifies
March 2nd, 2011
05:29 PM ET

Battle over 'Baby Joseph' intensifies

The hospital treating Joseph Maraachli – a 13 month old Canadian boy with a progressively deteriorating neurological condition whose parents are fighting to have him transferred to the U.S. for care- has launched a public information campaign to address what hospital officials  say are "outrageous and defamatory" allegations.

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Families haunted by end-of-life decisions
March 2nd, 2011
03:51 PM ET

Families haunted by end-of-life decisions

The burden of making medical decisions for a loved one can cause distress and even post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

When a patient is physically or mentally unable to make medical choices, his or her fate falls into the hands of others, usually family members or friends.  They ultimately choose whether to start dialysis, have a risky surgery or put a person on life support.

The prevailing logic is that family members know the patient best and can make the most appropriate medical decisions. FULL POST


October 29th, 2010
02:37 PM ET

Your comments: Donating your body to science

Perhaps because Halloween is upon us and our minds are on all things ghoulish, our Empowered Patient column yesterday on ten uses for your body after you die (organ donation, museum submission, cadaver dissection for first-year medical students, among others) generated nearly 400 comments.

Some of you were distrustful, such as PeaceBWitU, who wrote, “Really folks, who can we trust these days? Who knows what they will really do to your body when you donate?” Others, such as Mike425, were thankful: “As a medical student, I can say that I am very grateful to those who have donated their bodies for my education.” Other comments were just, well, odd, such as: “Anyone else here remember a book of cartoons from c. 1979 called ‘101 Uses For A Dead Cat”?

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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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