U.S. launches task force to tackle antibiotic-resistant bugs

By P.J. Huffstutter

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The U.S. government will set up a task force and presidential advisory council to tackle the growing threat of antibiotic resistance to national security, setting a Feb. 15 deadline for the outlining of specific steps to be taken, White House advisers said at a press conference on Thursday.

Atorvastatin might improve kidney function in patients with prior stroke or TIA

By Lorraine L. Janeczko

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Atorvastatin (Lipitor) may improve renal function in patients with prior stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), with or without chronic kidney disease, a new post hoc analysis suggests.

It may also preserve the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) in patients with stroke and diabetes mellitus, researchers reported online August 21, 2014, in Stroke.

Combination therapy for COPD tied to better outcomes

By Megan Brooks

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Treatment with a long-acting beta-agonist (LABA) and inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) is associated with better outcomes in older adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), especially if they also have asthma, new research suggests.

LABA-ICS combination therapy has been shown to decrease COPD exacerbations and possibly the risk of death compared with placebo. However, knowledge gaps remain on the effectiveness of combination therapy compared with LABAs alone.

To treat urinary incontinence, start conservatively, doctors say

By Will Boggs MD

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The treatment of urinary incontinence in women should start with conservative measures that depend on what kind of incontinence they have, according to new guidelines from the American College of Physicians.

Women with stress urinary incontinence should start with pelvic floor muscle training.

Women who have urgency urinary incontinence should start with bladder training that aims to extend the time between voiding.

Beta blockers do not improve prognosis in heart failure with AF

By Will Boggs MD

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Beta blockers do not reduce all-cause mortality in heart failure patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), according to a new meta-analysis.

"Our results confirmed that patients with heart failure in normal (sinus) rhythm obtain substantial benefit from beta-blockers in terms of reduction in the risk of death and hospital admission," said Dr. Dipak Kotecha from the University of Birmingham Centre for Cardiovascular Sciences in the UK.

Comparative effectiveness of osteoporosis drugs remains unclear

By Will Boggs MD

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Several medications are effective for preventing osteoporosis-related fractures, but none emerges as clearly better than the others, according to a systematic review.

Stroke less likely for older women who get more potassium

By Kathryn Doyle

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Postmenopausal women who get more potassium in their diets are less likely to have a stroke or die than those who don't get as much, according to a new study.

Potassium-rich diets have been linked to lower blood pressure before, but this is the first time potassium has been tied to stroke risk, said senior author Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller of the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

Several antibiotics tied to hypoglycemia in patients on sulfonylureas

By Will Boggs MD

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Use of certain antimicrobial agents is linked with an increased risk of hypoglycemia in older patients on sulfonylureas, according to a study of Medicare claims.

"Physicians should definitely avoid using those antibiotics in patients on sulfonylureas," Dr. James S. Goodwin from University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston told Reuters Health by email. "In the great majority of cases, there are equally effective, noninteracting antibiotics available."

Melatonin does not reduce delirium incidence in older hip-fracture patients

By Will Boggs MD

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Melatonin does not reduce the incidence of delirium among patients aged 65 and older who are hospitalized with hip fracture, researchers from the Netherlands report.

"At this stage it is uncertain what the exact role for melatonin is as there are only a few studies, but it is still promising," stressed Dr. Annemarieke de Jonghe from Academic Medical Center at the University of Amsterdam.

Pistachios may help reduce diabetes risk: study

By Kathryn Doyle

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - For people who may be headed for type 2 diabetes, regularly eating pistachios might help turn the tide, according to a new trial from Spain.

People with prediabetes have blood sugar levels higher than normal but not yet in the diabetes range. If they do nothing, 15% to 30% will develop diabetes within five years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.