Sunday, August 21, 2011

Psoriasis may increase stroke risk

Diane Alter – AHN News Trivia Writer

Copengagen, Denmark (AHN) – A new Danish study says psoriasis may increase stroke risk.

A new study published online Aug. 12 in the European Heart Journal found that people who suffer with psoriasis had three times the increased risk of atrial fibrillation, and a 2.8 times increased risk for stroke. The findings add to the growing research linking the skin disorder with heart and vessel problems, including heart attack and cardiovascular disease.

Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes rough, red, itchy, dry and flaky skin. It is a common condition thought to be passed down through families, but is not contagious. It also causes inflammation in the body and may lead a host of other health related problems.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, about 7.5 million Americans, or 2.2 percent of the U.S. population, and 12 million people worldwide, suffer with this auto-immune skin disease.

The mother of missing estate agent Suzy Lamplugh has died aged 75

The mother of an estate agent who disappeared 24 years ago has died after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Women's safety campaigner Diana Lamplugh OBE, of East Sheen, died in her sleep at the age of 75 yesterday, after suffering her second massive stroke in the past nine years.

Mrs Lamplugh’s daughter Suzy, who was living in Putney at the time of her disappearance, went missing in 1986 after going to meet a client for a house viewing. She was never seen again.

The traumatic event led parents Diana and Paul Lamplugh to establish the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which made a name for itself as a national charity that championed the importance of personal safety.

Paul Infield, chairman of the charity’s board of trustees, paid tribute to the inspirational mother of four.

He said: “Diana was one of those people who contributed energy, focus and commitment to everything she did.

“With her husband, Paul, she was tireless in establishing, through the trust, the concept of and discipline for personal safety – now a household expression - as a positive life skill for people of all ages and occupations.

“Her message is as relevant today as when she started campaigning following Suzy's disappearance. While she will be sorely missed, the trustees and staff of the Trust are determined that our work will continue to fulfil Diana's vision of improving people’s personal safety.”

Before her illness Diana led the trust in campaigning for changes in law and procedures regarding safer working practices, safer travel in minicabs, and safer travel on trains and safer stations.

She also championed greater safety in car parks, stricter treatment and sentencing of sex offenders, better systems of helping vulnerable young people and victims of crime, protection from stalking and harassment, and changes in the treatment of young offenders.

For more information about the trust visit

Test for Calcium Buildup May Spot Heart Attack, Stroke Risk Scan may help predict which patients deemed at moderate risk would benefit from statins: study

THURSDAY, Aug. 18 (HealthDay News) -- A calcium test performed with the assistance of a CT scanner seems to provide insight into the likelihood that certain patients at moderate risk of heart problems will have a heart attack or stroke, researchers say.
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The test to detect coronary calcium can help physicians determine whether the patients should take cholesterol-lowering drugs to reduce their cardiovascular risks, the study authors explained.

At issue are people who fall into the middle area between those who are at high risk of heart problems due to factors like high blood pressure and those who are at low risk. People in the so-called "gray zone" may have risk factors, such as being overweight or having high blood sugar levels, but they aren't considered in great danger.

The question is: Should those in the middle range of risk -- an estimated 6 million people in the United States -- be prescribed the anticholesterol drugs known as statins, which often work well but have side effects?

The study, published in the Aug. 19 issue of The Lancet, sought to determine whether a test of calcium in the arteries is more helpful at estimating risk than a blood test that examines levels of C-reactive protein.

The researchers tracked 2,083 people for six years. They found that 13 percent of those with the highest levels of calcium in their arteries had a heart attack or stroke during that time period. But just 2 percent of those with high levels of C-reactive protein -- and no calcium buildup -- had a heart attack or stroke.

Not everyone needs a calcium test, said lead study author Dr. Michael J. Blaha, a cardiology fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. However, he stated in a Hopkins news release, "we believe looking for calcification in coronary vessels in certain patients makes sense in order to predict who may benefit from statin therapy, because the test gets right to the heart of the disease we want to treat."

"Our data support recent American Heart Association guidelines, which say it is reasonable to order a coronary calcium scan for adults who are considered to be at intermediate risk of a heart attack over the next 10 years. A high coronary calcium score would indicate that statin therapy would likely be a useful strategy to lower that person's cardiovascular risk," study co-investigator Dr. Roger Blumenthal, director of the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease at Johns Hopkins University, said in the news release.

Commenting on the study, cardiologist Dr. Vijay Nambi, an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine, said that most insurance companies don't cover the calcium tests, which cost in the range of $200-$400. "Sometimes people have to pay for it out of pocket," said Nambi, who thinks it's a useful test. "It helps physicians in a lot of respects."

Test results can also help patients make decisions when they're worried about taking anticholesterol drugs, Nambi added.