Is Azithromycin Cardiotoxic?

A Danish study shows no excess cardiovascular-related mortality in relatively healthy azithromycin users.


In a study published in 2012, exposure to azithromycin was associated with excess cardiovascular-related and all-cause mortality, compared with exposure to amoxicillin or no antibiotic; a postulated mechanism was QT prolongation (JW Gen Med May 22 2012). However, that study involved Medicaid recipients — a low-income group with a potentially high prevalence of comorbidities. To determine whether the findings could be generalized, researchers performed a similar study using databases encompassing all young and middle-aged adults (age range, 18–64) in Denmark. Death rates during and immediately after 1.1 million episodes of azithromycin use were compared with death rates during similar numbers of episodes of no antibiotic use or penicillin V use. Propensity scoring was used to account for baseline clinical and demographic differences between the azithromycin, penicillin, and no-antibiotic groups.

Current use of azithromycin, compared with no antibiotic use, was associated with excess risk for both cardiovascular- and noncardiovascular-related death. However, azithromycin use was not associated with excess mortality compared with penicillin V use.

Comment: These findings suggest that the infections or other patient characteristics that prompted azithromycin prescriptions — and not the drug itself — accounted for the excess cardiovascular-related mortality; if azithromycin itself had been responsible, its use should have been associated with higher mortality than penicillin use. The difference between these Danish findings and the aforementioned U.S. findings could be explained by better overall health in the Danish cohort (their cardiovascular-related death rate was much lower). However, both studies included relatively few older adults, who would be especially vulnerable to cardiotoxicity.


Source:Journal Watch General Medicine


The Long-Term Effects of Childhood Bacterial Meningitis.

Adult survivors of childhood bacterial meningitis have lower educational achievement and a lower likelihood of economic self-sufficiency than matched healthy controls.


The short-term sequelae of childhood bacterial meningitis can include hearing loss, motor deficits, seizures, and cognitive impairment. But what about functioning in adult life? In a recent cohort study, investigators used national patient registries in Denmark to compare the educational achievement and economic self-sufficiency of individuals with meningococcal, pneumococcal, or Haemophilus influenzae meningitis diagnosed between 1977 and 2007, before age 12 years, with those of age- and sex-matched controls who had not had meningitis. To assess for family-related cofactors, the researchers also evaluated the siblings and parents of these two cohorts.

Survivors of pneumococcal or H. influenzae meningitis were less likely than matched controls to complete high school or to obtain higher education by age 35. They also were less likely to attain these goals than their siblings, who performed similarly to the siblings of controls. In contrast, although meningococcal meningitis survivors were less likely than controls to complete high school or to obtain higher education by age 35, these survivors had educational achievement comparable to that of their siblings, who had lower achievement than the siblings of controls. Educational achievement was lower among parents of meningococcal meningitis survivors than among parents of controls; achievement among pneumococcal and H. influenzae meningitis survivor parents was comparable to that among controls. By 2010, fewer survivors than controls were economically self-sufficient (–3.8%, –10.6%, and –4.3%, respectively, for meningococcal, pneumococcal, and H. influenzae meningitis).

Comment: This large, well-designed study confirms sustained intellectual and economic sequelae of childhood bacterial meningitis but also suggests different routes to these long-term effects. Intellectual and economic impairments are likely direct consequences of the severity of pneumococcal and H. influenzae meningitis. However, family factors appear to predominate in the poorer intellectual and economic achievements of meningococcal meningitis survivors.


Source: Journal Watch Infectious Diseases


Atoms star in world’s smallest movie from IBM.

_67342467_67342466Researchers at IBM have created the world’s smallest movie by manipulating single atoms on a copper surface.

The stop-motion animation uses a few dozen carbon atoms, moved around with the tiny tip of what is called a scanning tunnelling microscope (STM).

It would take about 1,000 of the frames of the film laid side by side to span a single human hair.

The extraordinary feat of atomic precision has been certified by the Guinness Book of World Records.

It is a showpiece for IBM’s efforts to design next-generation data storage solutions based on single atoms.

IBM’s scientists have been behind a number of technologies that can peer into atomic and molecular systems – their recent efforts using a related machine called an atomic force microscope have yieldedpictures of single molecules and even images that detail the atomic bonds within molecules.

The new movie, titled A Boy and His Atom, instead uses the STM, an IBM invention which garnered the scientists behind it the 1986 Nobel prize in physics.

The device works by passing an electrically charged, phenomenally sharp metal needle across the surface of a sample. As the tip nears features on the surface, the charge can “jump the gap” in a quantum physics effect called tunnelling.

The 242 frames of the 90-second movie are essentially maps of this “tunnelling current” with a given arrangement of atoms. It depicts a boy playing with a “ball” made of a single atom, dancing, and jumping on a trampoline.

“The tip of the needle is both our eyes and our hands: it senses the atoms to make images of where the atoms are, and then it is moved closer to the atoms to tug them along the surface to new positions,” explained Andreas Heinrich, principal investigator at IBM Research in California, US.

“The atoms hold still at their new positions because they form chemical bonds to the copper atoms in the surface underneath, and that lets us take an image of the whole arrangement of atoms in each frame of the film.

“Between frames we carefully move around the atoms to their new positions, and take another image,” he told BBC News.

The effort, detailed in a number of YouTube videos, took four scientists two weeks of 18-hour days to pull off.

It underlines the growing ability of scientists to manipulate matter on the atomic level, which IBM scientists hope to use to create future data storage solutions.

In early 2012, they demonstrated a means to store a digital “bit” – the smallest unit of information – using just 12 atoms, in contrast to the million or so atoms required by the device you are reading this on.

But A Boy and His Atom is, Dr Heinrich concedes, a bit of fun.

“This isn’t really about a particular scientific breakthrough. The movie is really a conversation-starter to get kids and other people talking about – and excited about – math, science and technology.”

Source: IBM/BBC

Ground Turkey Study Finds More Than Half Of Samples Contaminated With Fecal Bacteria.

r-GROUND-TURKEY-STUDY-large5702013-04-30-Screenshot20130430at12.54.22PM-thumbMore than half of ground turkey samples are contaminated with fecal bacteria, according to a new study from Consumer Reports. In addition, the magazine found that more than 90 percent of the ground turkey samples it tested contained at least one of the five bacteria the test was looking for — salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, enterococcus and campylobacter (though no campylobacter was found). The test covered 257 retail samples from 21 states and 27 different brands, all purchased in retail stores.

Sixty-nine percent of the ground turkey samples tested by Consumer Reports contained enterococcus, and 60 percent harbored E. coli — both of which are associated with fecal contamination. Some of the bacteria found in the tested samples can cause food poisoning, as well as urinary, bloodstream and other infections.

Industry groups were quick to attack the Consumer Reports findings. The National Turkey Federation refuted the study as “alarmist” in a press release on Tuesday.

“The magazine reported high levels of certain pathogens on the samples tested, but it is important to note that the two most prevalent, enterococcus and generic E.coli, are not considered sources of foodborne illness,” the federation wrote.

The American Meat Institute also offered its take on the study in a press release on Tuesday, saying that while “the magazine chooses to focus today’s story on four bacteria their labs did find, the more important story is about the pathogenic bacteria of public health concern that they didn’t find or found at remarkably low levels.”

In addition to evidence associated with fecal contamination, Consumer Reports also found that many of the disease-causing organisms it tested were resistant to antibiotics used to fight them. Consumer Reports tested both conventional turkey meat and turkey meat from birds that were not fed antibiotics. Conventional ground turkey was compared to ground turkey labeled “no antibiotics,” “organic,” (which doesn’t use antibiotics) or “raised without antibiotics” — and all were found to be equally likely to contain the bacteria the magazine included in its study. However, bacteria on the antibiotic-free ground turkey was less likely to be antibiotic-resistant.

A recent study by the Environmental Working Group found that antibiotic-resistant superbugs are on the rise. The report found that 81 percent of raw ground turkey, 69 percent of raw pork chops, 55 percent of raw ground beef and 39 percent of raw chicken parts purchased in stores in 2011 contained such bacteria.

The FDA objected to the Environmental Working Group report, and warned of oversimplification. In a New York Times letter to the editor, Bernadette Dunham, the Director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine, said that “describing bacteria that are resistant to one, or even a few, drugs as ‘superbugs’ is inappropriate. Rather, ‘superbugs’ are pathogens that can cause severe disease and are very difficult to treat.”

In response to the antibiotics resistance concerns raised by the Consumer Reports study, Betsy Booren, Chief Scientist the American Meat Institute, said in the AMI press release:

The U.S. meat and poultry industry supports the judicious use of antibiotics. The American Meat Institute recognizes that concerns exist and supports efforts now under way to phase out the use of antibiotics for growth promotion.


How to Let Go of Your Resistance to Change?

How-to-Let-Go-of-Your-Resistance-to-ChangeIf we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living. ~Gail Sheehy

Change is a process, and, while not particularly easy, it can occur with more grace than we sometimes realize.

I’ve always been of the mind that if something is occurring in my life that I don’t dig, it’s on me to make a change. Sometimes these changes have been small, like figuring out my body really likes it when I eat protein for breakfast; other times, the changes are not quite so… uncomplicated.

It is often these larger, more complex changes that we avoid and resist; I know I certainly have.

I’ve had lots of opportunities to evaluate my change (and change-avoidance) habits, and have recognized some tendencies that do not support my intention for shifting those experiences.

Creating change for ourselves is a skill, and like all skills, it can be developed with some effort, focus and practice (yea, I said it).

Here are 3 tips to help you let go of your resistance to change and assist you in continuing to build this very necessary skill:

1. Be specific and be clear

It is difficult to begin to create change when what we want to change is vague or ill-defined.

Let’s say, for example, we recognize we are not feeling fulfilled by our job. This is a great start.

Unfortunately, some people stop here, and begin to pine for their dream position. Once they realize they are unhappy with their current situation, the emotion overwhelms them, and they descend into an unpleasant mindset of entitlement, should’s, and worry.

Clarity of mind means clarity of passion, too; this is why a great and clear mind loves ardently and sees distinctly what he loves. ~Blaise Pascal

Alternatively, an excellent next step would be deeper self-exploration: How did I end up in this position to begin with? In what way am I feeling unfulfilled? How would having a different job create more fulfillment? What exactly am I looking for?

There are many possible responses to these questions (and many more possible questions!), and asking them creates a huge potential for a greater inner awareness about our motivations.

Investigating our (sometimes hidden) inner motivations will assist in clarifying and specifying our future goals. There is definitely an appropriate time to imagine our dream job; visualization certainly plays a strong role in manifesting our future. However, it is not a stand-alone technique.

2. Let go of self judgement

This is a big one, and just generally a really awesome gift to give ourselves, regardless of what we’re talking about.

That said, creating change requires looking at our “stuff.” It is necessary to do so with as little judgment as possible, while still being brutally honest. Getting caught up in, “I should’ve…” or, “Why didn’t I…” simply stops any forward momentum we had going.

Self-blame is not a motivator; it is a tiny prison. Opening the door requires the willingness to put the blame aside. We have nothing to atone for, no spilled milk to cry over. We can give ourselves permission to be human, and imperfect, and continue on our journey without the self-condemnation.

That said, it is also possible that self-judgment is a step along the road to creating change. Sometimes we have to experience the unpleasantness of this behavior many times before we decide to change it. On it’s own, though, self-judgment creates no flow; it just enhances stagnation.

 3. Leave your excuses behind

There’s no space in this skill-building for blaming others, or rationalizing our behaviors, or making excuses.

For example, it is certainly understandable to respond in kind when someone lashes out at us; however, is that behavior supporting our intention to express kindness and compassion towards others?

I wouldn’t even mention this except for the fact that our own logic (read: rationalizations and excuses) is so seductive. We’ve been listening to it for most of our lives, and it is very familiar and comforting, like a favorite blanket.

Don’t fall for it. The goal is to look within and explore our own behaviors. It would be pointless to expend time and energy justifying the behaviors we want to change during this process.

Excuses are the tools with which persons with no purpose in view build for themselves great monuments of nothing. ~Steven Grayhm

Our personal power lies in our ability to make conscious decisions about our lives; specifically, our behaviors and our reactions. We, and only we, are responsible for our emotions and responses. We are capable of creating change in our inner world, which is then reflected in the external one.




Meet Marty Cooper, Inventor of the Cell Phone


“If you try to build a device that does all things for all people, it won’t do any of them very well.”  Marty Cooper.martycooper

“Often what the world calls nonsensical, becomes practical,” Alexander Graham Bell observed in reflecting on his early work that would eventually produce the telephone. Yet how nonsensical the notion of a wireless phone must have seemed even to him at the dawn of the 20th century. But a mere seven decades later, in April of 1973, the first cellular phone made its debut. To celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the era-defining technology, filmmaker David Friedman has profiled inventor Martin “Marty” Cooper (b. 1928) in the latest installment of his wonderful series of portraits of inventors.

Watch the video.




NASA Successfully Launches Three Smartphone Satellites.

Three smartphones destined to become low-cost satellites rode to space Sunday aboard the maiden flight of Orbital Science Corp.’s Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia.
The trio of “PhoneSats” is operating in orbit, and may prove to be the lowest-cost satellites ever flown in space. The goal of NASA’s PhoneSat mission is to determine whether a consumer-grade smartphone can be used as the main flight avionics of a capable, yet very inexpensive, satellite.

Transmissions from all three PhoneSats have been received at multiple ground stations on Earth, indicating they are operating normally. The PhoneSat team at the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., will continue to monitor the satellites in the coming days. The satellites are expected to remain in orbit for as long as two weeks.

“It’s always great to see a space technology mission make it to orbit — the high frontier is the ultimate testing ground for new and innovative space technologies of the future,” said Michael Gazarik, NASA’s associate administrator for space technology in Washington.

“Smartphones offer a wealth of potential capabilities for flying small, low-cost, powerful satellites for atmospheric or Earth science, communications, or other space-born applications. They also may open space to a whole new generation of commercial, academic and citizen-space users.”

Satellites consisting mainly of the smartphones will send information about their health via radio back to Earth in an effort to demonstrate they can work as satellites in space. The spacecraft also will attempt to take pictures of Earth using their cameras. Amateur radio operators around the world can participate in the mission by monitoring transmissions and retrieving image data from the three satellites. Large images will be transmitted in small chunks and will be reconstructed through a distributed ground station network.

NASA’s off-the-shelf PhoneSats already have many of the systems needed for a satellite, including fast processors, versatile operating systems, multiple miniature sensors, high-resolution cameras, GPS receivers and several radios.

NASA engineers kept the total cost of the components for the three prototype satellites in the PhoneSat project between $3,500 and $7,000 by using primarily commercial hardware and keeping the design and mission objectives to a minimum. The hardware for this mission is the Google-HTC Nexus One smartphone running the Android operating system.

NASA added items a satellite needs that the smartphones do not have — a larger, external lithium-ion battery bank and a more powerful radio for messages it sends from space. The smartphone’s ability to send and receive calls and text messages has been disabled.
Each smartphone is housed in a standard cubesat structure, measuring about 4 inches square. The smartphone acts as the satellite’s onboard computer. Its sensors are used for attitude determination and its camera for Earth observation.


he PhoneSat mission is a technology demonstration project developed through the agency’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program, part of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. The directorate is innovating, developing, testing and flying hardware for use in future science and exploration missions. NASA’s technology investments provide cutting-edge solutions for our nation’s future. For more information about NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, visit: