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Study questions efficacy and safety of knee injections
June 11th, 2012
05:01 PM ET

Study questions efficacy and safety of knee injections

If you're one of the estimated 27 million Americans with osteoarthritis, you're probably all too familiar with the feeling of aching, swollen, or stiff knees.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen may relieve those painful symptoms in most patients. But for others, doctors may prescribe a more invasive treatment that involves injecting hyaluronic acid in to the knee, called viscosupplementation. 

Now, a new report questions the efficacy of this treatment for osteoarthritis in the knee. 

Hyaluronic acid is a lubricating fluid that is naturally found in the knee, but degenerates over time in people with osteoarthritis. The effect of the injection used in viscosupplementation is to stimulate cells in the knee to increase production of hyaluronic acid.
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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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Report: Yearly cost of Alzheimer's tops $200 billion
March 8th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

Report: Yearly cost of Alzheimer's tops $200 billion

Caring for the estimated 5.4 million Americans living with Alzheimer's disease is not just a medical crisis, it's also an economic one according to a new report released Thursday.  The Alzheimer's Association's "2012 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures" finds that the cost of caring for patients with Alzheimer's and other dementias will total $200 billion this year and is projected to increase to $1.1 trillion a year by 2050.

"That is real money, even in government terms," says Dr. William Thies, Chief Medical and Scientific Officer with the Alzheimer's Association.

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Severe traumatic brain injury affects development in young children
January 23rd, 2012
12:03 AM ET

Severe traumatic brain injury affects development in young children

Children who have severe traumatic brain injuries early in life may have impaired cognitive development and long-term intellectual ability as they get older, according to two small studies published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. 

The first study compared the social, intellectual, and behavioral functions of 53 children who had experienced a traumatic brain injury before the age of three, most of which were the result of falls, with 27 children of the same age who had never sustained a TBI. 

The authors write that while a severe TBI was associated with lowered intellectual function, the socioeconomic status of the child's family may be a more powerful predictor of the child's intellectual development.  They cannot fully explain why, but they suggest lower socioeconomic status, high parental stress and low parental involvement has an effect on a child's recovery. 
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U.S obesity rates unchanged
January 17th, 2012
02:04 PM ET

U.S obesity rates unchanged

The prevalence of obesity in the United States seems to have plateaued, according to data released Tuesday.  The numbers show 35.7% of U.S. adults and almost 17% of U.S. children and teens are obese.

"There's been no change in the prevalence of obesity in recent years in children or adults," says Cynthia L Ogden, Ph.D, an epidemiologist with the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics and the leading author of the report.  "But I think looking over the last decade, it's interesting to see how the prevalence of obesity in men has caught up with the prevalence of obesity in women."

Ogden and her team compiled the data from 2009-2010 using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The survey measured the height and weight of almost 6,000 men and women and calculated their Body Mass Index (commonly known as BMI) to determine if they were obese.
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January 5th, 2012
07:53 AM ET

CNN Tri Challenge: Introducing our 2012 team

The 2012 Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge is officially underway!  This year we have selected seven CNN viewers just like you to train for the Nautica Malibu Triathlon with Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Each person will be given a road bike and all of its accessories, a wet suit, and a gym membership.  In turn, they will blog, tweet, and share their workouts, from now until race day in mid-September, on Facebook.

We invite you to follow along as the "Lucky 7" train to swim a half mile in the ocean, bike 18 miles, and run four miles in California!  So without further ado, meet our new team:
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Plavix warning may not be necessary
December 27th, 2011
06:07 PM ET

Plavix warning may not be necessary

The popular blood-thinner Plavix is a safe and effective medication for patients, including those deemed to be "poor metabolizers" of the drug, says an analysis released today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings contradict the 2010 boxed warning that the Food and Drug Administration mandated be placed on the drug's label.

If you're one of the approximately 40 million people worldwide taking Plavix (known generically as clopidogrel), you're probably familiar with the warning. The label cautions that the drug has "diminished effectiveness in poor metabolizers", or patients with a certain genotype, known as CYP2C19, and thus may lead to an increase in cardiovascular events like heart disease, stroke, or bleeding. To help decide if Plavix is a good fit for patients, the label says genetic tests are available to identify people with the genotype in question.
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Report: Arsenic in apple and grape juice
November 30th, 2011
06:02 PM ET

Report: Arsenic in apple and grape juice

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

Ten percent of apple juices and grape juices have higher arsenic levels than are allowed in drinking water in the United States, according to a new study by Consumer Reports.

The magazine analyzed 88 samples of fruit juice purchased at stores in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Several well-known brands, including Walmart, Mott’s, Walgreens and Welch’s, had levels higher than 10 parts per billion of arsenic, the threshold set by the federal government for bottled and tap water.

Twenty-five percent of the samples, including juices from such brands as Gerber, Trader Joe's and Minute Maid, had more than 5 parts per billion of lead, according to Consumer Reports.  Five parts per billion is the standard set for lead in bottled water by the Food and Drug Administration. 
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NFL observers will watch for injuries
November 23rd, 2011
04:52 PM ET

NFL observers will watch for injuries

Injuries are prompting the National Football League to change the way it monitors play during games. 

Beginning with Thursday's games, the league observer in the press box at each stadium will be trying to spot possible player injuries, including concussions, that might be missed at field level. In a memo sent to all of the NFL teams, the league said the decision was made "to enhance the NFL's ability to identify an on-field injury as soon as possible."

The NFL says league observers have been present at its games for decades but have been primarily tasked with following the officiating of the game. Now phone lines from the observer to each team's bench will be installed, allowing the observer direct access to a team's physicians and training staff.

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Common chemical linked to Parkinson's
November 14th, 2011
06:45 PM ET

Common chemical linked to Parkinson's

Exposure to a man-made chemical known as trichloroethylene, or TCE, is associated with a sixfold increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to a new study published Monday in the Annals of Neurology. TCE is a common organic contaminant that pollutes groundwater, soil, and air.

The study also found that exposure to another man-made chemical similar to TCE, known as perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene, or PERC, is associated with a tenfold increased risk of Parkinson's. Both chemicals are found in metal degreasers, metal cleaners, paint, spot removers, and carpet-cleaning fluids.

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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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