Medical notes this week…

Doctors have long known that obesity and diabetes contribute to heart failure. And now, a study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology shows technology can’t keep up anymore. Death rates due to heart failure have been increasing since 2012 despite improvements in medicine and surgery. With America’s aging population and growing obesity and diabetes problems, population experts predict the unfortunate trend may continue. 

Binge drinking is often seen as a problem among college students and 20-somethings… but a study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society finds that a lot of senior citizens binge drink, too. Researchers say that about 10 percent of people aged 65 and over binge drink at least monthly. Seniors who binge drink show up at the emergency room more often than others…. But surprisingly, they’re less likely to have chronic diseases than those who don’t binge drink. Scientists say it could be that chronic diseases make people cut back.

Just about any athlete can suffer a tear of the ACL in their knee, but it’s especially a danger in young women. ACL tears have traditionally been thought of as the result of one bad landing… but new research in the American Journal of Sports Medicine finds they may be the product of an accumulation of repeated, less severe stresses. Scientists suggest knees may need to be taken care of in the same way that baseball pitchers keep track of pitch counts for their elbows. Researchers say the average age of women getting an ACL tear is 14. 

If you’ve ever done shift work, you know how it can mess up your body clock. But two new studies in the journal Current Biology find that early morning sunshine and a couple of good breakfasts can reset it. Researchers sent people with impaired circadian rhythms off on a weekend camping trip…where early sunshine is almost unavoidable… and found their body clocks had been reset on their return. Scientists say both light and mealtimes have an influence on circadian rhythms.

And finally… if you have a generic smartphone charger, it could be time to get rid of it. A study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine shows that non-name brand mobile phone chargers fail at a high rate… landing people in the emergency room with burns and shocks. Researchers say their evaluation of generic chargers shows a 58 percent failure rate on electric strength tests… and a 99 percent failure rate for shock safety risks.

Check out this week’s Medical Notes!

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