This week in health news: Married cancer patients live longer

Not everyone may be getting life-saving heart help. Credit: Metro File
Not everyone may be getting life-saving heart help.
Credit: Metro File

Married cancer patients fare better

Location of study: U.S.

Study subjects: 735,000 cancer patients

Results: Married cancer patients might be less likely to have their cancer metastasize than unmarried cancer patients, according to a Harvard study. Researchers also noted that married cancer patients are less likely to die as a result of their cancer than unmarried patients. Male cancer patients benefited more from marriage than female ones did.

Significance: The study supported the significant impact that being in a caring relationship and having social support can have on a patient’s chances of surviving cancer.

New clues into anxiety

Location of study: U.S.

Study subjects: Mice

Results: A small variant in a brain gene found in 20 percent of the population contributes to a greater risk for anxiety, depression and memory loss, according to a report in Nature Communications. The research team at Weill Cornell Medical College discovered that the alteration appears to cause neurons from the hippocampus (an important region for memory and emotion) to shrink, reducing connectivity between brain cells.

Significance: This helps explain why neuropsychiatric disorders run in families. “We will do future work to develop therapeutic strategies to prevent the neuronal disconnection induced by the gene alteration,” says study author Dr. Agustin Anastasia.

Could many cardiac deaths be prevented?

Location of study: U.S.

Study subjects: 2,093 patients who died from sudden cardiac arrest

Results: The majority of patients who died of sudden cardiac arrest qualified to receive potentially lifesaving treatment that was not administered, according to a new Cedars-Sinai study. Researchers examined medical records and found that only 20 percent of patients who died from sudden cardiac arrest were examined to see if they met the criteria to receive an implantable cardiac defibrillator.

Significance: Sudden cardiac arrest accounts for half of all deaths caused by heart disease. Says Dr. Sumeet Chugh, associate director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute: “The pumping function of the heart has to be weak to meet the defibrillator guidelines. Most of the people in our study don’t have a low ejection fraction, [ratio of blood pumped per heart beat] but they still died of sudden cardiac arrest, which leads me to suggest that we need to take another look at the guidelines.”linda clarke


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