While older women are treated for falls more often than elderly males, men are more likely to sustain skull fractures when they topple over, new research suggests. This is a serious concern because more than 3 million people aged 65 and older are treated in U.S. emergency departments each year for falls. “The high incidence of head injury and subsequent skull fractures due to falls is a cause for concern as our aging population continues living active lifestyles,” study co-author Dr. Scott Alter, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Florida Atlantic University College of Medicine, said in a university news release. Head trauma is the leading cause of serious injury, and skull fractures are a serious head trauma outcome, the study authors noted. About 58% of these falls happen to women, according to the 2016 National Trauma Database annual report. To study this further, Alter and his colleagues evaluated all patients seen with head trauma at two level-one trauma centers in southeast Florida. The researchers examined skull fractures due to acute trauma, comparing them by gender, patient race/ethnicity and how the injury happened. About 56% of the more than 5,400 patients were women. About 85% of the head injuries sustained happened in falls. The women and men had a mean age of about 83 and 81 years, respectively. Men had a significantly increased incidence…  read on >  read on >

(HealthDay News) – U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will remain hospitalized with a concussion after suffering a fall during a dinner on Wednesday night. “Leader McConnell tripped at a dinner event Wednesday evening and has been admitted to the hospital and is being treated for a concussion,” McConnell’s communications director David Popp said in a statement released Thursday, NBC News reported. “He is expected to remain in the hospital for a few days of observation and treatment. The Leader is grateful to the medical professionals for their care and to his colleagues for their warm wishes.” When the 81-year-old, who is the longest-serving Senate Republican leader in history, might return to the Senate after his injury is unclear, according to the New York Times. Democrats have a slim 51-49 majority in the U.S. Senate and have recently needed Vice President Kamala Harris to cast tie-breaking votes on some judicial nominations as some Democrats have been absent. Sen. John Fetterman (D-Penn.), 53, is working remotely during treatment for depression and unable to vote because he is not physically present. Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), 89, is also out, after being hospitalized with shingles. McConnell was previously injured in 2019, having surgery after fracturing his shoulder on a patio at his home in Louisville, the Times reported. He was last re-elected as minority leader in 2022.…  read on >  read on >

Side effects from a COVID-19 vaccination might have made you feel poorly for a day or two, but that may have come with an extra benefit. A new study of health care workers finds a link between stronger side effects and a longer-lasting vaccine. In addition, those who had a COVID-19 infection prior to their vaccination also had a more powerful immune response, according to researchers from UConn Health in Farmington. “Prior infection with COVID meant you were more likely to have a sustained immune response. It definitely set your immune system to respond in a more vigorous way to the vaccination,” study co-author Dr. Kevin Dieckhaus said in a university news release. He’s chief of infectious diseases at UConn School of Medicine. To study this, researchers recruited 296 nurses, doctor and other hospital workers. That included 46 who had already been infected with COVID. Participants were vaccinated with either the Pfizer or the Moderna mRNA vaccines. The study had originally included health care workers vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, but not enough chose that option to make the results statistically significant. The health care workers had their blood tested for neutralizing antibodies at two months post-vaccination, then at five months and again at nine months. These neutralizing antibodies attack the parts of the virus important for infection, the study noted, while other antibodies…  read on >  read on >

When people struggle to fall asleep, it’s no surprise they seek solutions. Options can range from prescription medications to sleep therapy, good habits and an abundance of supplements. Taking magnesium for sleep is something some say has real benefits, but does it really? It’s not entirely certain, but the mineral serves a variety of other important functions, so it just might actually work. “The science on whether taking magnesium helps improve the length or quality of sleep has been mixed,” said Dr. Indira Gurubhagavatula, an associate professor of medicine in the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. Past research has had various design limitations and has not been of high enough quality to support a general recommendation for magnesium supplementation in insomnia sufferers, Gurubhagavatula said. “We don’t have definitive, large, randomized trials across healthy populations, or those with specific diseases, over long periods of time,” she said. What is magnesium? Magnesium is a mineral found in a range of foods and in dietary supplements, according to the Sleep Foundation. It produces protein, bone and DNA; maintains blood sugar and pressure; and regulates the muscles, nerves and the cardiovascular system, according to the foundation. This nutrient is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, according to the National Library of Medicine. “It is used by hundreds of enzymes…  read on >  read on >

A water heater set to 120 degrees Fahrenheit can release water from the tap hot enough to cause a second-degree burn in about nine minutes. Turned up to 130 degrees, that injury happens in just 25 seconds. At 140 degrees, it only takes three seconds, according to a new study that tallied the personal and financial costs of scalding injuries in the United States. Researchers led by Wendy Shields, a senior scientist from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, recommend a potential solution to help prevent these serious accidents. Mandating thermostatic mixing valves that add cold water to tap water before it comes out of the faucet could make a difference, they said. “Scald burns are actually something that’s fairly common that we will see in the emergency department and it is often smaller children that are injured,” said Dr. Torree McGowan, a spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians and an ER doctor for St. Charles Health System in Redmond, Ore. “When we do see scald burns from the tap, it is usually because our water heaters are turned up too high and we underestimate how much of a difference 10 degrees in the heat of our hot water heater can make,” said McGowan, who was not involved in the research. To study the issue, scientists used data from two…  read on >  read on >

U.S. Federal health officials have issued recall notices for two more brands of eyedrops. In the latest round of recalls, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration posted notices after the companies voluntarily pulled several lots of their eyedrops from the market. These recalls do not appear to be connected to other recent recalls or an outbreak in drug-resistant infections, the Associated Press reported. The companies involved in the recalls are Phoenix-based Pharmedica and Florida-based Apotex. Pharmedica is recalling its Purely Soothing 15% MSM Drops meant to treat eye irritation. The two lots were pulled because of problems “that could result in blindness,” the company said. People who have the eyedrops should immediately stop using them and return them to the store where they bought them, the company added. Meanwhile, Apotex is recalling six lots of prescription eyedrops distributed as Brimonidine Tartrate Ophthalmic Solution, 0.15%. They were sold between April 2022 and February 2023. These eyedrops are meant to treat glaucoma. Unfortunately, some of the eyedrop bottles have cracks in the caps, the company said. More information The U.S. National Eye Institute has more on eyedrops and the earlier recalls involving bacteria. SOURCES: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, recall notices, March 2, 2023 and March 3, 2023; Associated Press  read on >

New research offers up some good news for diehard marathon runners: You don’t necessarily have to give up running if you are experiencing hip or knee pain. Contrary to widespread opinion, running marathons does not increase your risk for developing hip or knee osteoarthritis, the wear and tear form of the disease, a new study of seasoned Chicago marathoners showed. “You don’t develop knee or hip osteoarthritis simply because of how fast you run or how many miles you put on your body,” said study author Dr. Matthew James Hartwell, an orthopedic surgery sports medicine fellow at the University of the University of California, San Francisco. So, what does increase a runner’s risk for hip or knee arthritis? Basically, the same things that up these risks in non-marathoners, Hartwell said. This includes advancing age, family history of hip or knee arthritis, and previous injuries or knee surgery, as well as higher body mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat based on height and weight. For the study, more than 3,800 Chicago marathoners (mean age: nearly 44) answered questions about their running history, including number of marathons, number of years spent running, and average weekly mileage. They also answered questions about known risk factors for knee and hip arthritis. Participants completed an average of 9.5 marathons, ran 27.9 miles per week, and had been running…  read on >  read on >

Returning to golf, tennis or pickleball after shoulder replacement surgery shouldn’t be too hard. Healing does take time, but within a few months most people can get back to play at their pre-surgery level without the pain that they experienced before, a pair of new studies show. “Recovery after both an anatomic and reverse shoulder replacement or from any shoulder replacement is identical,” said Dr. Jonathan Levy, director of the Levy Shoulder Center at the Paley Orthopedic and Spine Institute in Boca Raton, Fla., who led both studies. “Patients are protected for the first six weeks and allowed to stretch for the next six weeks, but not allowed to return to the sport for at least three months,” he said. On average, it took patients about six months to play at their former level, Levy said. “But they were given the green light beginning at around three months,” he added. Recovery after shoulder replacements is relatively straightforward, Levy said. “It’s not an extraordinarily painful recovery,” he said. “If people are taking pain medication, it’s for a very short time. It’s just going through the stages of recovery where you go through healing, stretching, and then strength recovery and return to activity.” The first study included 69 golfers who had shoulder replacement surgery. Of this group, 36 returned to the golf course six months after surgery…  read on >  read on >

Can vitamin D lower dementia risk? Quite possibly, a team of British and Canadian researchers report. In their study, investigators spent roughly a decade tracking more than 12,000 older people. None had dementia at the start of the study period. In the end, the team determined that those who had been taking vitamin D supplements during that time appeared to face a 40% lower risk for dementia, compared with those who had never taken the supplements. Even so, Claire Sexton, senior director of scientific programs and outreach at the Alzheimer’s Association, cautioned that much more research is needed to better understand a possible link between vitamin D and dementia risk. For one thing, she noted that the study team did not track how much vitamin D supplementation any of the participants took, nor how long they had been taking them. Similarly, overall patient vitamin D levels were never assessed — either at the study launch or conclusion. In addition, the study was observational, Sexton added, meaning at no point were patients told to take, or not to take, vitamin D. That means the study cannot prove that vitamin D actually causes dementia risk to fall. Still, study author Dr. Zahinoor Ismail said that fresh evidence of vitamin D’s power against dementia has “great biological plausibility.” For example, prior research indicates that people with genetic mutations…  read on >  read on >

You can keep an arm in a cast from wasting away, researchers say, by working out your free arm. A small group of young men who performed eccentric contraction exercises with one arm — lowering a dumbbell in a slow and controlled motion — saw a 4% strength improvement in the other arm, even though it was immobilized by a cast at the elbow. Another group assigned to perform concentric contraction exercises — lifting a dumbbell — only lost about 4% of muscle strength in their immobilized arm, the study results showed. By comparison, a “control group” that did no exercises suffered a 15% decrease in their immobilized arm during the three-week study. It was already known that gaining muscle strength in one limb through resistance training will transfer to the same muscle on the opposite side of the body, said lead researcher Ken Nosaka. He is head of exercise and sports science at the Edith Cowan University School of Medical and Health Sciences, in Australia. “This is known as the cross-education effect,” Nosaka said in a university news release. “The key aspect of this study is one particular type of muscle contraction proved most effective.” For the study, 36 young men had their non-dominant arm immobilized by a cast at their elbow joint for three weeks. They were then split into three groups evenly:…  read on >  read on >