Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Toni Braxton's Microvascular Angina: Questions and Answers

Many music fans and TV watchers were surprised to learn that 40-year-old singer Toni Braxton, a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars," has a heart condition called microvascular angina. What exactly is this condition, how common is it, and what is the prognosis for sufferers like Braxton? WebMD has a good Q&A article on Toni Braxton's microvascular angina, which is also known as cardiac syndrome X.

Braxton has had cardiac problems before; in 2004 she came down with a case of pericarditis, an inflammation of the pericardium, the membrane that surrounds the heart. Does this previous problem have anything to do with her current bout of microvascular angina? WebMD asked that question, too, in its article.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Plastic Chemical Bisphenol A Linked to Health Problems

It seems that bisphenol A, the controversial chemical used in plastics, is not off the hook for health problems just yet. BPA, as it's known, is found in items including baby bottles and those ubiquitous water bottles used by hikers, and WebMD is reporting that for the first time that bisphenol A has been linked to health problems including diabetes and heart disease. The WebMD article above has more details on the study findings and the problems associated with bisphenol A.

Bisphenol A is used in polycarbonate plastic, a type of hard plastic that can be found in the lining of some canned goods as well as the water and baby bottles. The findings were published in The Journal of the American Medical Association and were presented Sept. 16th at a public hearing on bisphenol A held by the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA took a lot of heat for concluding that BPA was safe and ignoring safety concerns that had been brought up, according to a report on the FDA meeting from WebMD.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Accutane Side Effects Being Debated in Courts

Accutane is a powerful drug that can clear up severe cases of acne. But as with many other potent drugs, the side effects can also be powerful. Accutane has been claimed to cause suicidal thoughts or behaviors in rare cases, but a more frequent complaint about the drug is a variety of gastrointestinal disorders.

Accutane (generic name: isotretinoin) should only be used for severe instances of acne, and when other treatments have failed. Accutane side effects are noted in an article on severe acne from the American Academy of Dermatology, which notes that some people should not take the drug at all because of its adverse effects.

The article notes possible Accutane side effects including "Severe pain in the chest or abdomen; trouble swallowing or painful swallowing; severe headache, blurred vision or dizziness; bone and joint pain; nausea or vomiting; diarrhea or rectal bleeding; depression." And Accutane can cause severe and life-threatening birth defects, so females of childbearing age are required to sign a pledge to use birth control, according to Drugs.com.

Numerous lawsuits related to Accutane side effects are in the works, says Forbes magazine. It notes that "A Florida jury awarded $7 million in 2007 to a man who had most of his colon removed after suffering from a disease apparently caused by Accutane," an award that the article says the drug's maker, Hoffmann-La Roche, is appealing. The article also says that a jury in Utah awarded $10 million to a woman who contracted IBD, saying that the manufacturer "downplayed the drug's risks."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Health News: Knee Surgery, Natalie Cole's Hepatitis C, Kids and "Snurf"

A quick roundup of some of the health and medicine topics that are making news this week:

* Arthroscopy has become a very common type of surgery for all kinds of knee problems, but new research shows that it may not have any effect on reducing knee arthritis. Also, here's an in-depth guide to knee pain.

* "Snurf" pills (herbal, over-the-counter drugs that create feelings of euphoria) are becoming a growing health problem with teens.

* Singer Natalie Cole has hepatitis C, and this article answers some questions about the disease: how hepatitis C is contracted, how to treat it, and more.

* And with the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks tomorrow, the Mayo Clinic offers some tips for coping with reminders of grief.