Monthly Archives: April 2014

Potential for heart attack, stroke risk seen with marijuana use

potHeartlatimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-heart-attack-stroke-marijuana-20140423,0,3208786.story

By Melissa Healy | April 23, 2014, 4:35 p.m.

Over a five-year period, a government-mandated tracking system in France showed that physicians in that country treated 1,979 patients for serious health problems associated with the use of marijuana, and nearly 2% of those encounters were with patients suffering from cardiovascular problems, including heart attack, cardiac arrhythmia and stroke, and circulation problems in the arms and legs. In roughly a quarter of those cases, the study found, the patient died.

In the United States, when young and otherwise healthy patients show up in emergency departments with symptoms of heart attack, stroke, cardiomyopathy and cardiac arrhythmia, physicians have frequently noted in case reports that these unusual patients are regular marijuana users.

Such reporting is hardly the basis for declaring marijuana use an outright cause of cardiovascular disease. But on Wednesday, cardiologists writing in the Journal of the American Heart Association warned that “clinical evidence … suggests the potential for serious cardiovascular risks associated with marijuana use.” And with a growing movement to decriminalize marijuana use, they called for data-collection efforts capable of detecting and measuring marijuana’s cardiovascular impact among American users of cannibis setiva.

“There is now compelling evidence on the growing risk of marijuana-associated adverse cardiovascular effects, especially in young people,” said Emilie Jouanjus, lead author of the French study, which was also published in the Journal of the American Heart Assn. That evidence, Jouanjus added, should prompt cardiologists to consider marijuana use a potential cause of cardiovascular disease in patients they see.

Marijuana use probably increases clotting factors in the blood, and heavy marijuana use may lead to significant changes in the tiny vessels carrying blood to the heart and brain, such that even after clearance of a major blockage, blood flow remains impeded. Case studies linked recent marijuana use in patients seeking care for increased angina, ischemic ulcers and gangrene associated with blocked blood flow to extremities and transcient ischemic attacks, sometimes called “mini-strokes.” Notably these complaints often came from patients who were young and had no previous evidence of cardiovascular disease.In an editorial published Wednesday in the AHA journal, Drs. Sherief Rezkalla and Robert A. Kloner asked, “Do we really know enough about the cardiovascular effects of marijuana to feel comfortable about its use in patients with known cardiovascular disease or patients with cardiovascular risk factors,” including obesity, sedentary behavior, high blood pressure and worrisome cholesterol numbers.

Rezkalla and Kloner combed the recent medical literature for animal experiments, observational studies and case reports linking marijuana use in close temporal proximity with cardiovascular events. They cited evidence that marijuana use probably increases clotting factors in the blood and that heavy marijuana use may lead to significant changes in the tiny vessels carrying blood to the heart and brain, such that even after clearance of a major blockage, blood flow remains impeded.

Aside from heart attacks and strokes, case studies linked recent marijuana use in patients seeking care for increased angina, ischemic ulcers and gangrene associated with blocked blood flow to extremities and transcient ischemic attacks, sometimes called “mini-strokes.” Notably these complaints often came from patients who were young and had no previous evidence of cardiovascular disease.

“We think the time has come to stop and think about what is the best way to protect our communities from the potential danger of widespread marijuana use in the absence of safety studies,” added Rezkalla, a cardiologist at the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin, and Kloner, a cardiologist at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. “It is the responsibility of the medical community to determine the safety of the drug before it is widely legalized for recreational use.”

Memorare

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MEMORARE, O piissima Virgo Maria, non esse auditum a saeculo, quemquam ad tua currentem praesidia, tua implorantem auxilia, tua petentem suffragia, esse derelictum. Ego tali animatus confidentia, ad te, Virgo Virginum, Mater, curro, ad te venio, coram te gemens peccator assisto. Noli, Mater Verbi, verba mea despicere; sed audi propitia et exaudi. Amen. Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.

Memorare
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Infants ‘unable to use toy building blocks’ due to iPad addiction

telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10767878/Infants-unable-to-use-toy-building-blocks-due-to-iPad-addiction.html

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers warn that rising numbers of children are unable to perform simple tasks such as using building blocks because of overexposure to iPads


Graeme Paton | April 15, 2014

Rising numbers of infants lack the motor skills needed to play with building blocks because of an “addiction” to tablet computers and smartphones, according to teachers.

Many children aged just three or four can “swipe a screen” but have little or no dexterity in their fingers after spending hours glued to iPads, it was claimed.

Members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers also warned how some older children were unable to complete traditional pen and paper exams because their memory had been eroded by overexposure to screen-based technology.

They called on parents to crackdown on tablet computer use and even turn off wi-fi at night to address the problem.

The comments were made after Ofcom figures showed the proportion of households with tablet computers more than doubled from 20 to 51 per cent last year.
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Experts have warned that the growth is having a serious effect on children’s social and physical development.

Last year, a doctor claimed that rising numbers of young people – including one aged just four – required therapy for compulsive behaviour after being exposed to the internet and digital devices from birth.

Addressing the ATL annual conference in Manchester, Colin Kinney, a teacher from Northern Ireland, said colleagues “talk of pupils who come into their classrooms after spending most of the previous night playing computer games and whose attention span is so limited that they may as well not be there”.

He added: “I have spoken to a number of nursery teachers who have concerns over the increasing numbers of young pupils who can swipe a screen but have little or no manipulative skills to play with building blocks or the like, or the pupils who cannot socialise with other pupils but whose parents talk proudly of their ability to use a tablet or smartphone.”

Addressing members, he said the “brilliant computer skills” shown by many pupils was “outweighed by their deteriorating skills in pen and paper exams because they rely on instant support of the computer and are often unable to apply what they should have learned from their textbooks”.

The ATL backed plans to draw up new guidance to be issued to teachers and parents showing the “best way forward” when dealing with children who are “addicted” to iPads and iPhones.

Mark Montgomery, a teacher from Northern Ireland, said overexposure to technology had been linked to weight gain, aggressive behaviour, tiredness and repetitive strain injury.

He called on parents to turn home wi-fi off overnight to stop children staying awake to play online games on iPads.

“It is our job to make sure that the technology is being used wisely and productively and that pupils are not making backward steps and getting obsessed and exhibiting aggressive and anti-social behaviours,” he added.

“In the same way we can use a brick to either break a window or build a house, digital technology can be used for good or bad, and teachers can and should help their pupils make positive choices so they have positive experiences.”

Brain Changes are Associated with Casual Marijuana Use in Young Adults

sfn.org/Press-Room/News-Release-Archives/2014/Brain-Changes-Are-Associated-with-Casual-Marijuana-Use-in-Young-Adults

Society for Neuroscience | April 15, 2014

Preliminary study suggests effects of drug even in those who are not addicted

Washington, DC — The size and shape of two brain regions involved in emotion and motivation may differ in young adults who smoke marijuana at least once a week, according to a study published April 16 in The Journal of Neuroscience. The findings suggest that recreational marijuana use may lead to previously unidentified brain changes, and highlight the importance of research aimed at understanding the long-term effects of low to moderate marijuana use on the brain.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States, with an estimated 18.9 million people reporting recent use, according to the most current analysis of the National Survey on Drug Use and Mental Health. Marijuana use is often associated with motivation, attention, learning, and memory impairments. Previous studies exposing animals to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the main psychoactive component of marijuana — show that repeated exposure to the drug causes structural changes in brain regions involved with these functions. However, less is known about how low to moderate marijuana use affects brain structure in people, particularly in teens and young adults.
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In the current study, Jodi Gilman, PhD, Anne Blood, PhD, and Hans Breiter, MD, of Northwestern University and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to compare the brains of 18- to 25-year olds who reported smoking marijuana at least once per week with those with little to no history of marijuana use. Although psychiatric evaluations ruled out the possibility that the marijuana users were dependent on the drug, imaging data revealed they had significant brain differences. The nucleus accumbens — a brain region known to be involved in reward processing — was larger and altered in its shape and structure in the marijuana users compared to non-users.

“This study suggests that even light to moderate recreational marijuana use can cause changes in brain anatomy,” said Carl Lupica, PhD, who studies drug addiction at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and was not involved with this study. “These observations are particularly interesting because previous studies have focused primarily on the brains of heavy marijuana smokers, and have largely ignored the brains of casual users.”

The team of scientists compared the size, shape, and density of the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala — a brain region that plays a central role in emotion — in 20 marijuana users and 20 non-users. Each marijuana user was asked to estimate their drug consumption over a three-month period, including the number of days they smoked and the amount of the drug consumed each day. The scientists found that the more the marijuana users reported consuming, the greater the abnormalities in the nucleus accumbens and amygdala. The shape and density of both of these regions also differed between marijuana users and non-users.

“This study raises a strong challenge to the idea that casual marijuana use isn’t associated with bad consequences,” Breiter said.

This research was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.