Prenatal Tests; Meth Heart Failure; and Cardio and PTSD

Prenatal Tests; Meth Heart Failure; and Cardio and PTSD

Prenatal Tests Only Lightly Regulated

There is no federal agency that checks to ensure that widely used prenatal tests work the way they claim before they’re sold to healthcare providers, ProPublica reports. As many as half of all pregnant women get noninvasive prenatal screening tests, but the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate them.

The FDA also doesn’t check whether evidence backs up marketing claims before screenings reach patients. With that, companies aren’t required to publicly report instances of when the tests are wrong — sometimes catastrophically.

FDA almost changed things: The FDA was on the cusp of regulating prenatal screenings 6 years ago but backed down in the face of heavy industry opposition.

The risks: The risk for false positives from prenatal screenings has been known for years, and marketing materials pitch the tests as providing far more certainty than they actually do.

Meth-Related Heart Failure Rises

Heart failure associated with methamphetamine use is rising in the United States and around the world across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, a new literature review finds. Meth use is associated with increased heart failure severity, longer inpatient stay, and more readmissions compared with non–meth-related heart failure, according to the study published in Heart.

Treatment is also expensive. In California, the annual charges related to meth-related heart failure rose to $390.2 million in 2018, an 840% increase from 2008, according to state inpatient data. By contrast, charges for all heart failure rose only 82%, to $6.8 billion, in the same time frame.

Assessing meth use: Treating methamphetamine use disorder improves heart failure outcomes, the study says.

Comorbidities: Methamphetamine use has also been linked to hypertension, myocardial infarction, stroke, aortic dissection, and sudden death.

Cardio May Help Relieve PTSD

Adding aerobic exercises to exposure therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can improve the therapy’s benefits, new research suggests. Participants in an aerobic exercise group showed greater reduction in PTSD severity after 6 months compared with those who engaged in passive stretching, according to the study in The Lancet Psychiatry. The aerobic exercise or passive stretching were added to exposure therapy.

Brief exercise after exposure therapy may promote brain-derived neurotrophic factors that are critical for synaptic plasticity, which is necessary for the learning that occurs in therapy, the researchers hypothesized.

Another benefit: The aerobic exercise group also saw improvements in depression symptoms compared with the stretching group.

Therapy doesn’t always work: Up to half of patients who receive trauma-focused psychotherapy do not respond to the treatment.

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