Acronym of the week would be more accurate, but GDUFA will be used as a word so it might as well be defined as one. With the passage of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act on July 9, 2012, GDUFA (‘Generic Drug User Fee Amendments...
by Molly Borowitz, Ketchum Alum
Early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease detectable in sleep patterns
As reported by LaboratoryEquipment.com, a recent large-scale evaluation of the socioeconomic costs of Parkinson’s disease revealed that the condition’s earliest symptoms may be detectable in REM sleep. A group of Danish researchers affiliated with the University of Copenhagen found that Parkinson’s sufferers experienced problematic changes in their work and health statuses up to eight years before they were diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disorder. One of those changes was the sleep disorder RBD (REM sleep Behavior Disorder), in which the brain fails to prevent muscle movement during REM sleep.
REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement, because during this sleep stage the eyes flicker rapidly behind the eyelids in response to dreams. Normally, the brain shuts down all muscle movement during this stage of sleep to prevent us from acting out our dreams. However, sufferers of RBD are often extremely active during REM sleep, and the resulting behaviors range from the innocuous (arm or leg spasms) to the extreme (kicking, shouting, seizing, or leaping out of bed). According to Poul Jennum, a professor of clinical neurophysiology at the University of Copenhagen’s Center for Healthy Ageing and the Glostrup Hospital’s Sleep Center, some RBD patients’ behavior can become violent and even result in injury. This apparent relationship between early Parkinson’s disease and RBD sheds an interesting new light on the way the disorder affects the brain’s control over muscle movement.
Mayo Clinic spots a link between Restless Leg Syndrome and heart disease
According to new research presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session in New Orleans, your sleep patterns may provide an indication not only of your brain health, but also of your heart health. News@JAMA reports that researchers at the Mayo Clinic found a correlation between a diagnosis of restless leg syndrome and a higher incidence of left ventricular hypertrophy, a condition in which the heart muscle thickens, placing patients at higher risk for cardiac events.
Restless leg syndrome, which is characterized as the need to move the legs frequently (more than 35 times an hour), affects about 12 million people in the United States and is difficult to treat. In the Mayo Clinic study, patients who moved their legs more than 35 times an hour during sleep were more likely to show signs of left ventricular enlargement, had a higher incidence of diagnosed coronary artery disease, and, upon follow-up, were twice as likely to experience any cardiac event or death as patients who moved their legs less frequently.
Dr. Arshad Jahangir, principal investigator and professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, said that RLS has also been associated with increased heart rate and blood pressure, both of which elevate the risk for cardiac events. Jahangir added that although the relationship between RLS and cardiac issues is not yet understood, existing research indicates that abnormalities in the brain’s signals to the sympathetic nervous system may be a factor.
The genetic mutation that launched a thousand ships
Roxanne Palmer at Slate shares the news that Elizabeth Taylor’s unbelievable eyes, the subject of endless discussion and uncurbed adoration throughout her seven-decade career, were the result of a genetic mutation. The FOXC2 gene, which influences tissue development in embryos, is believed to be responsible for lymphedema-distichiasis syndrome, a condition which causes lymphatic disorders including a doubling of the eyelashes. That characteristic thick fringe around Ms. Taylor’s famous “violet” peepers was, in fact, two stacked sets of lashes around each eye. Interestingly, lymphedema-distichiasis syndrome is associated with congenital heart disease in about 7 percent of sufferers, and congestive heart failure was the cause of Ms. Taylor’s passing on March 23. She also underwent surgery in 2009 for the reparation of a leaky heart valve.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but my reaction to this revelation is somewhat mixed; while it reinforces the fact that Ms. Taylor’s beauty was truly unique, it also reopens the familiar debate about health versus beauty. Ms. Taylor was an active advocate for several health causes, and used her popularity and her own experiences of illness to raise awareness around the world - I’ll bet it makes you wish you could have had Elizabeth Taylor as the spokeswoman for one of your campaigns.
We capture the opinions and insights of several of our employees on a variety of communication topics about Healthcare.