Headlines @ U.Va.
DRUG CURBS BP BOOST FROM COCAINE, METHAMPHETAMINE
A calcium channel blocker, isradipine, reduces the dangerous rise in blood pressure (BP) caused by taking cocaine or methamphetamine, according to researchers at U.Va. “Both cocaine and methamphetamine have powerful effects on blood pressure that are associated with strokes and heart failure,” Dr. Bankole A. Johnson, chairman of psychiatric medicine, told Reuters Health. “Isradipine reduces these effects, “thereby lowering the risk of heart failure and stroke in cocaine or methamphetamine addicts,” he said. The medication might be used in treatment “designed to limit the harm of these drugs in chronically addicted individuals.” In the June issue of the American Journal of Hypertension, Johnson and colleagues describe their study involving 12 cocaine-dependent and 19 methamphetamine-dependent individuals. “Contrary to previous opinion, the deleterious effects on blood pressure for methamphetamine and cocaine are the same,” Johnson pointed out. Both drugs rapidly raised blood pressure with peak responses seen within 1 to 3 minutes. (Reuters Health, July 7)
FRIENDS DON'T PICK UP ON THE ANGER
Good friends aren’t good at everything. If you harbor concealed anger, your close friends may not sense it as easily as mere acquaintances will, suggests research from U.Va. In a study, psychologists showed participants a videotape of a close friend or acquaintance telling a story about an irksome event, such as an incident in which he or she yelled or acted aggressively. The researchers shut off the monitor’s sound to force viewers to focus only on nonverbal cues. The researchers found that subjects often fail to detect concealed anger in their close pals. Such mistakes occur, researchers suggest, because friends misinterpret ambiguous signals of emotion, giving them a positive spin. Mere acquaintances, however, saw signals of anger and irritation more readily. (Psychology Today, June 28)
VIDEO ROBOTS REDEFINE' TV DOCTOR'
Ries Daniel was waiting in his hospital room the morning after bladder surgery when the door finally swung open. But it wasn’t his doctor. Instead, a robot rolled in, wheeled over and pivoted its 15-inch video-screen “head” toward the 80-year-old lying in his bed at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital. “Good morning,” said a voice from the robot’s speaker. It was Louis Kavoussi, Daniel’s urologist. His face peered down from the screen atop the five-and-a-half-foot-tall device dubbed Dr. Robot. “So, how was your evening? No problems?” Studying his patient through an image beamed back to his office by Dr. Robot’s video camera, Kavoussi was concerned because Daniel had run a fever overnight and developed a cough. “You’re not looking as good as yesterday,” said Kavoussi, zooming in the camera for a closer look after having focused on Daniel’s chart moments before. “I didn’t have my martini,” said Daniel, managing a smile. ... In the District and almost every state, including Maryland and Virginia, patients are also “meeting” with their doctors from afar through dedicated telemedicine networks. They directly link major medical centers, such as the U.Va. Medical Center, the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore and Children’s National Medical Center in the District, with distant sites. (Washington Post, July 6)