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Vol. LX, No. 8
April 18, 2008
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Digest

  Someone in the U.S. goes into cardiac arrest every 2 to 3 minutes, and three out of four cases take place at home. The important message from a new study supported by NHLBI is that in these situations, every second counts.  
  Someone in the U.S. goes into cardiac arrest every 2 to 3 minutes, and three out of four cases take place at home. The important message from a new study supported by NHLBI is that in these situations, every second counts.  

Quick Action for Cardiac Arrest

According to an NHLBI-supported study, automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) are equally helpful for sudden cardiac arrest in the home. This first study to explore AEDs also found that the devices are underused. Researchers, whose findings will be published online and in the Apr. 24 print edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, said the important message here is that whatever quick action you take—using an AED, performing CPR and, in all cases, calling 911—every second counts. Someone in the U.S. goes into cardiac arrest every 2 to 3 minutes, and three out of four cases take place at home. Being prepared in these situations can help save lives.

New Findings—and a Surprising Link—for Type 2 Diabetes

An international team that included NHGRI scientists has identified six more genetic variants involved in type 2 diabetes, raising to 16 the total number of genetic risk factors associated with increased risk of the disease. The biggest surprises in the findings? First, none of the genetic variants uncovered in the new study had been suspected of playing a role in type 2 diabetes; plus, the new variant most strongly associated with the disease has also been implicated in prostate cancer. The study, published online in Nature Genetics on Mar. 31, combined genetic data from more than 70,000 people and was carried out by more than 90 scientists in Europe and North America. Diabetes, a major cause of heart disease and stroke in U.S. adults, is a common cause of blindness, kidney failure and amputations not related to trauma. Researchers said the discovery of these new variants could aid in the understanding of environmental influences and in the development of new, more precisely targeted therapeutics for the disease. The work could also have an important role in understanding the link between type 2 diabetes and prostate cancer, affecting the future design of drugs for both conditions.

ADHD, Stimulants and Substance Abuse

Is there a link between stimulant medications for young people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and substance abuse later in life? This question has been widely debated. Now, two studies funded by NIDA, NIMH and NICHD and published in the April issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, suggest that treating children as young as 6 or 7 with stimulants for ADHD is not likely to increase their risk for substance abuse as adults, though the studies showed treatment with stimulants didn’t prevent substance abuse either. This kind of study is important because stimulants are often prescribed and, like drugs of abuse, they increase dopamine concentrations in the brain and can themselves be abused. Some research has also shown that the earlier an individual is exposed to drugs with abuse potential, the greater his or her risk of substance abuse as an adult. Studies like this could help the medical community provide scientifically valid information to clinicians and parents, though scientists also see a need for more studies and to continue to screen young people with ADHD for substance abuse. ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder in children and adolescents in this country.

The Importance of Older Eyes

Donors of up to 75 years of age should be included in the age pool for cornea transplants, according to an NEI-funded study, because transplants using tissue from older and younger donors have similar rates of survival. In fact, the study, published in the April issue of Ophthalmology, showed that the 5-year transplant success rate was the same—86 percent— for transplants performed with corneas from donors ages 12 to 65 and donors ages 66 to 75. This news comes at a good time. Though the availability of donor corneas has been adequate in the U.S. for the last 10 years, the study authors said recent changes in Food and Drug Administration regulations will likely cause a decrease in the supply of donated corneas in coming years. The cornea—the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye—offers protection and helps focus light entering the eye.—

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