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QUICK STUDY : A weekly digest of new research on major health topics

THIS STUDY analyzed hospital records and death certificates of 11,426 older people with implanted pacemakers and 11,756 people with similar cardiac histories and risks who did not have the devices. Over a three-year period, more people with pacemakers than without were hospitalized for heart failure, which occurs when the heart cannot pump adequate amounts of blood. Within the pacemaker group, those whose devices stimulated both right chambers of the heart were 36 percent more likely to be hospitalized with heart failure than people without pacemakers; people whose pacemakers stimulated only one chamber had a 59 percent increased risk.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED BY THESE FINDINGS? Anyone who needs a pacemaker. About 3 million people worldwide use the devices.

_____The Heart_____
Hearts in the Right Place (The Washington Post, Apr 5, 2005)
A Weekly Shot of News and Notes (The Washington Post, Apr 5, 2005)
How Can You Rehab a Broken Heart? Exercise, Diet, Stress Reduction (The Washington Post, Apr 5, 2005)
Hold the Nitro? (The Washington Post, Mar 29, 2005)
THIS WEEK IN HEALTH (The Washington Post, Mar 29, 2005)
More Heart News

CAVEATS The authors suggested the higher rates of heart failure could be the result of pacemakers' causing the heart chambers to contract in an abnormal order. The study did not account for family history of heart failure, and it was not randomized. One author is associated with a pacemaker manufacturer.

BOTTOM LINE People needing a pacemaker may want to talk with a cardiologist about the most appropriate device and should contact a doctor if they develop shortness of breath and fatigue, typical symptoms of heart failure.

FIND THIS STUDY March 1 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology; abstract available online at www.sciencedirect.com (search for "Freudenberger").

LEARN MORE ABOUT pacemakers at www.fda.gov/hearthealthand patients.uptodate.com.

contact lenses

Silicone lenses seem safest for round-the-clock use.

THE QUESTION The 21st century has brought an array of options to those who wear contacts: daily-wear soft lenses and rigid, gas-permeable ones; disposable lenses and those that can be worn for extended periods. Some even can be slept in. How do eye infection rates compare by lens type?

THIS STUDY analyzed information from questionnaires and eye exams on 118 contact lens wearers who sought help for keratitis, an infection of the cornea. Normal daily wear produced no differences among lens types in the risk of infection. However, more cases of infection were found in people who slept in their lenses than in those who wore them only when awake. Those who slept in hydrogel lenses, the popular disposable type, were five times more likely to develop severe keratitis than were those who slept in silicone hydrogel lenses, a newer generation of contacts.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED BY THESE FINDINGS? Any of the 30 million Americans who wear contacts. More than 50 percent of them wear disposable lenses; about 15 percent have extended-wear lenses.

CAVEATS The number of participants wearing any one type of lens was small. The study was not randomized.

BOTTOM LINE People who sleep in their lenses may want to ask an ophthalmologist about silicone hydrogel lenses.

FIND THIS STUDY March 22 issue of the British Journal of Ophthalmology; abstract available online at bjophthalmol.com.

LEARN MORE ABOUT contact lenses at www.mayoclinic.comand www.preventblindness.org(click on "Eye Problems").

-- Linda Searing

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