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The Ohio State University Medical Center is releasing the following statement this evening (4/29). We want to make sure you received this before it is released to the local news. The Ohio State University Medical Center provided treatment to a patient who was diagnosed with probable swine influenza A (H1N1) virus, which is pending confirmation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The patient is an employee of the Medical Center who contracted the virus outside the workplace. The patient responded well to treatment and is being discharged this evening. OSU Medical Center staff followed all recommended precautions to prevent the spread of the illness to others. Individuals who had contact with the patient prior to admission are being notified. The Medical Center is providing prophylactic/preventive medication to those individuals, in accordance with standard CDC recommendations. The Medical Center’s normal patient visitation schedule remains unchanged. The hospital continues to urge all visitors and staff to follow infection control steps including covering your mouth and nose if you have a cough or sneeze, and not visit patients if you are ill. Frequent use of waterless hand sanitizers is also recommended. OSU Medical Center is working in collaboration with the CDC, Ohio Department of Health, and Columbus Public Health and following all appropriate guidelines. For more information on swine influenza, go to http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu. We will provide updates in the following days through e-mail and the university emergency web site http://www.emergency.osu.edu.

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WebMD (4/13, Doheny) reported that, according to research published online Apr. 13 in PLoS-Biology and in March in Environmental and Health Perspectives, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) appear to “adversely affect the development of brain cells and also make brain circuits ‘overexcited,’ which has been linked in previous research to developmental problems.” In their studies, researchers from the University of California-Davis Center for Children’s Environmental Health believe they “have identified the way in which a broad class of environmental contaminants influences the developing nervous system and may contribute to neuro-developmental impairments, such as hyperactivity, seizure disorders, and autism.” Working with rats, the team found that “exposures to low doses of PCBs…hampered their ability to learn to swim a maze,” and “adversely affected the plasticity of the animals’ dendrites,” which is “important for learning and memory.” Interestingly, exposure to lower doses appeared to be more damaging than exposure to higher doses of PCBs.

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The Deseret (UT) News (4/13, Leonard) reports that “depression may give heart disease patients even greater risk of heart failure,” according to a study to be “published in the April 21 issue of the Journal of American College of Cardiology.” Researchers “followed more than 13,700 patients diagnosed with heart disease at” Intermountain Medical Center. The investigators “found that a depression diagnosis following coronary heart disease was associated with a two-fold increased risk for the incidence of heart failure.” That “risk remained, but was slightly lower after adjusting for other cardiovascular factors.” The researchers found that “the incidence of heart failure among patients who were not depressed after being diagnosed with coronary artery disease was 3.6 per 100 compared with 16.4 per 100 for those with a post-heart disease depression diagnosis.”

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Time (3/31, Harrell) reported that, according to a study published the March issue of the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, Botox [botulinum toxin type A] may lift patients’ “spirits” by “literally wiping the frowns” off their faces. For the study, researchers from the UK’s University of Cardiff “followed 25 cosmetic-surgery patients, 12 of whom received injections of botulinum toxin A or similar neurotoxins, the others receiving fillers, peels, or other cosmetic treatments for wrinkles.” Two weeks after their treatments, “the patients filled out a Hospital Anxiety and Depression test — a self-screening questionnaire for depression and anxiety,” and “rated the success of their treatments.” The investigators found that “Botox patients scored much lower on measures of depression, anxiety, and irritability.” Notably, “there was no significant difference in how much their treatment made them feel attractive from those who had other treatments, suggesting that [the mood boost] wasn’t just” due “to a boost in self-confidence,” the authors said. They theorized that “facial muscles influence brain activity directly.”

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HealthDay (3/24, Preidt) reported that, according to a study published Mar. 31 in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, “exposure to certain chemicals during the 1991 Gulf War appears to have triggered abnormal responses in the brains of some US veterans.” For the study, researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas examined “21 chronically ill Gulf War veterans and 17 healthy veterans” who “were given small doses of physostigmine, a substance that briefly stimulates cholinergic receptors on brain cells.” Next, the team “used brain scans to observe levels of cell response in different areas of the brain.” They discovered that areas “in the basal ganglia, hippocampus, thalamus,” and amygdala “responded abnormally to the cholinergic challenge.” The study authors theorized that “changes in functioning of these brain structures” may “cause problems with concentration and memory, body pain, fatigue, abnormal emotional responses and personality changes” often seen “in ill Gulf War veterans.”

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A Los Angeles Times (3/23, Kaplan) piece discusses how “anxiety, depression, and stress” can “contribute to increased incidence of heart disease.” The piece then cites findings from several studies, most of which were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC). In one of these studies, “risk of cardiovascular disease and death rose by more than 50 percent among people with depression and anxiety.” In another study published in JACC, nearly “double the risk of heart attack or death was found in coronary artery disease patients with the highest level of anxiety.” And “among those patients, a 10 percent increased risk of heart attack or death was found in those whose anxiety rose over time.”

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