Tuesday, Sep 18, 2018
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Statins may reduce response to flu vaccine



Statins, the cholesterol lowering drugs, may weaken the effect of the flu vaccine, two new studies suggest.

One analysis, led by Dr. Steven Black of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, used data from a larger study of the 2009-10 and 2010-11 flu seasons. Researchers measured blood concentrations of flu antibodies in 5,584 vaccinated people older than 65 who used statins and 1,377 who did not. In those taking statins, antibody concentrations, depending on the type of flu virus, were between 38 percent and 67 percent lower.

The second study involved 137,488 people, most under 65, and found that vaccinated people taking statins were more than 11 percent more likely to get a respiratory disease severe enough to seek medical care than people who weren’t on statins. The researchers suggest that the beneficial anti-inflammatory properties of statins decrease the immune system’s response to the flu vaccine. Both studies are online in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The lead author on the second study, Saad B. Omer, an associate professor at the Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta, said that nothing in these studies should lead to immediate changes in practice.

“Even with the diminishing effect, flu vaccines remain the most effective tool to prevent influenza, including in the elderly,” he said. “They’re not perfect, but nobody should skip their flu vaccine.”

‘Defensive medicine’ may cut malpractice risks

Some doctors practice “defensive medicine,” ordering extra tests and procedures believing this will ward off malpractice suits. A new study suggests that it does.

Using data on 24,637 physicians and more than 18 million hospital admissions in Florida from 2000 to 2009, researchers found that the more a hospital billed, the less likely the doctor was to be sued.

For example, among the one-fifth of general surgeons who billed the least, the rate of malpractice claims was 2.3 percent, while among the one-fifth who billed the most, the rate was 0.4 percent.

Even after controlling for demographic factors and patients who had more than one disease, the association persisted across all specialties.

The researchers also found that doctors who were high spenders one year were consistently high spenders the next.

The study, in BMJ, demonstrated an association, not cause and effect, and it is impossible to know if a doctor’s spending was motivated purely by a desire to avoid malpractice suits.

The lead author, Dr. Anupam B. Jena, of Harvard Medical School, wrote in an email: “Our findings suggest that health-care reform efforts designed to get physicians to reduce utilization may be met with sluggish opposition if the unintended effect of reduced utilization is increased malpractice risk for the physician.”

Kickboxing injuries occur more than in other sports

Injuries may be more common in kickboxing than in traditional boxing, mixed martial arts, or other contact sports, a recent study suggests.

On average, kickboxing has an injury rate of about 40 for every 1,000 minutes of playing time, or about 2.5 injuries an hour, the study of U.S. competitions found.

That’s about as dangerous as karate, but exceeds the typical injury rates of 1 per hour or less for mixed martial arts, boxing, taekwondo or judo, said study author Reidar Lystad, a researcher from Central Queensland University in Sydney.

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