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Vol. LXVII, No. 5
February 27 2015
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Digest

Iron Supplement After Blood Donation Shortens Hemoglobin Recovery Time

Since iron is needed for red blood cell production, low iron can cause fatigue and anemia—a condition in which the blood has a lower than normal number of red blood cells—and can lead to temporary ineligibility for blood donations. It can take months to recover the lost iron. New research indicates a possible solution.

Since iron is needed for red blood cell production, low iron can cause fatigue and anemia—a condition in which the blood has a lower than normal number of red blood cells—and can lead to temporary ineligibility for blood donations. It can take months to recover the lost iron. New research indicates a possible solution.

An NIH-funded study comparing low-dose iron supplementation to no supplementation in blood donors found that supplementation significantly reduced the time to recovery of post-donation lost iron and hemoglobin—an iron-rich protein that carries oxygen in red blood cells throughout the body.

The results of the Hemoglobin and Iron Recovery Study, supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, appeared Feb. 10 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Blood donors are allowed to give 1 pint of blood every 8 weeks. A major concern is that about 25-35 percent of regular donors develop iron deficiency. Since iron is needed for red blood cell production, low iron can cause fatigue and anemia—a condition in which the blood has a lower than normal number of red blood cells—and can lead to temporary ineligibility for future donations. It can take months to recover the lost iron. New research indicates a possible solution.

“This research brings us another step closer to understanding how to maintain healthy iron levels in blood donors,” said Dr. Simone Glynn of NHLBI. “Maintaining healthy iron levels will allow donors to safely continue donating thereby ensuring a robust blood supply for patients in need.”

 

 

Study Reports Shifts in Americans’ Use of Natural Products

A nationally representative survey shows that natural product use in the United States has shifted since 2007, with some products becoming more popular and some falling out of favor. Overall, natural products (dietary supplements other than vitamins and minerals) remain the most common complementary health approach.

The complementary health questionnaire was developed by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. The questionnaire is administered every 5 years as part of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), an annual study in which tens of thousands of Americans are interviewed about their health and illness-related experiences. The 2012 NHIS survey is the most current, comprehensive and reliable source of information on the use of complementary health approaches by U.S. adults and children.

Survey highlights:

  • Fish oil was the top natural product among adults.

  • Adults’ use of fish oil, probiotics or prebiotics and melatonin increased between 2007 and 2012.

  • Adults’ use of glucosamine/chondroitin, echinacea and garlic decreased between 2007 and 2012.

  • Fish oil was the top natural product among children. This is a change from 2007, when echinacea was first.

  • Melatonin was the second most-used natural product by children in 2012. Its use increased substantially from 2007 to 2012.

“While NHIS does not assess why shifts in use occur, some of the trends are in line with published research on the efficacy of natural products,” said NCCIH director Dr. Josephine Briggs. ”For example, the use of melatonin, shown in studies to have some benefits for sleep issues, has risen dramatically. Conversely, the use of echinacea has fallen, which may reflect conflicting results from studies on whether it’s helpful for colds. This reaffirms why it is important for NIH to study these products and to provide that information to the public.”

Paramedics May Be First Line of Treatment For Stroke

There is no time to waste when it comes to stroke. The more time that passes between stroke onset and treatment, the worse the outcome is for the patient. A study designed to test the benefits of early administration of magnesium sulfate suggests that stroke patients may not have to wait until they get to the hospital for treatment—paramedics may be able to start therapy as soon as stroke is suspected. Although the drug did not improve outcome in stroke patients, the study demonstrated the feasibility of early therapy in the ambulance. The results were published Feb. 5 in the New England Journal of Medicine and the study was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

“This study shows that it is possible to get treatments to stroke patients even before they arrive at a hospital,” said NINDS acting director Dr. Walter Koroshetz. “Because a blocked blood vessel causes brain damage over minutes to hours, this pre-hospital approach to treatment is sure to be adopted and refined in future clinical research studies. Ultra-early brain salvage in stroke patients will someday surely reduce the tremendous burden of disability and death due to stroke.”—compiled by Carla Garnett


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