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Vol. LXII, No. 9
April 30, 2010
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Digest

  Researchers from the Sleep Heart Health Study report that men with moderate to severe sleep apnea were nearly three times more likely to have a stroke than men without sleep apnea or with mild sleep apnea.  
  Researchers from the Sleep Heart Health Study report that men with moderate to severe sleep apnea were nearly three times more likely to have a stroke than men without sleep apnea or with mild sleep apnea.  

Sleep Apnea Tied to Increased Risk of Stroke

Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk of stroke in middle-aged and older adults, especially men, according to new results from a landmark study supported by the National
Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Overall, sleep apnea more than doubles the risk of stroke in men. Obstructive sleep apnea is a common disorder in which the upper airway is intermittently narrowed or blocked, disrupting sleep and breathing during sleep.

Researchers from the Sleep Heart Health Study report that the risk of stroke appears in men with mild sleep apnea and rises with the severity of sleep apnea. Men with moderate to severe sleep apnea were nearly three times more likely to have a stroke than men without sleep apnea or with mild sleep apnea. The risk from sleep apnea is independent of other risk factors such as weight, high blood pressure, race, smoking and diabetes.

They also report for the first time a link between sleep apnea and increased risk of stroke in women. The study was published online Mar. 25 ahead of print in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

‘Heel Stick’ Test Not an Effective Screening Tool For CMV in Newborns

A routine screening test for several metabolic and genetic disorders in newborns, the heel-stick procedure, is not effective in screening for cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection, a leading cause of hearing loss in children, according to research published in the Apr. 14 online issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

About 20,000-30,000 infants are born infected with CMV each year, 10-15 percent of whom are at risk for eventually developing hearing loss. CMV is the most common infection passed from a mother to her unborn child.

The study, funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, is part of a multicenter research project headed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham that is seeking to find the most effective screening test for CMV infection in newborns. The standard method for detecting CMV infection in newborns is labor-intensive and not conducive to a widespread screening program.

“The heel-stick test is a simple test that is already being used to screen for other diseases in newborns across the United States, so it seemed like a good candidate for a possible universal screening program for CMV,” said NIDCD director Dr. James F. Battey, Jr. “However, these findings show us that, at least with current technologies, the heel-stick test should not be used as a primary newborn screening tool for CMV.”

Strategy Confirmed to Help Doctors Determine When to Treat Retinopathy of Prematurity

Scientists have shown that through an eye exam, doctors can identify infants who are most likely to benefit from early treatment for a potentially blinding eye condition called retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), resulting in better vision for many children.

These long-term results of the Early Treatment for Retinopathy of Prematurity (ETROP) study confirm that the visual benefit of early treatment for selected infants continues through 6 years of age. The research, published Apr. 12 online in Archives of Ophthalmology, was supported by the National Eye Institute.

“This study has set the standard of care for infants with ROP by showing that early treatment of selected high-risk premature babies has positive longer-term results on vision,” said NEI director Dr. Paul Sieving.

Targeting Blood-Brain Barrier May Delay Progression of Alzheimer’s

Researchers may be one step closer to slowing the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. An animal study supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences shows that by targeting the blood-brain barrier, researchers are able to slow the accumulation of a protein associated with the progression of the illness. The blood-brain barrier separates the brain from circulating blood. It protects the brain by removing toxic metabolites and proteins formed in the brain and preventing entry of toxic chemicals from the blood.

“This study may provide the experimental basis for new strategies that can be used to treat Alzheimer’s patients,” said Dr. David S. Miller, chief of the Laboratory of Toxicology and Pharmacology at NIEHS and an author on the paper that appears in the May issue of Molecular Pharmacology. “What we’ve shown in our mouse models is that we can reduce the accumulation of beta-amyloid protein in the brain by targeting a certain receptor in the brain known as the pregnane X receptor, or PXR.”

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