Research Briefs - 14th September

FAMILY SCREENING TO PREVENT PREMATURE MI
Screening families of patients with premature CHD could prevent 42 per cent of premature MI and 8 per cent of all MI in England and Scotland, Scottish researchers say. Using data from previous studies, they estimated that there are 7,369 premature heart attacks each year in patients with a family history, of which 6,485 might be preventable. Fourteen per cent of families in the UK with a family history of heart attack account for 48 per cent of all CHD events and 72 per cent of all premature deaths (BMJ 2007; 335: 481-5).

MOBILE PHONE USE IN HOSPITAL
Mobile phones should be kept at least a metre away from critical care beds to avoid interference with life-saving medical equipment, according to Dutch researchers. They tested the disruption caused by mobile phone signals on 61 medical devices. They recorded 48 incidents of interference in 26 devices, of which 33 per cent were hazardous. Second-generation mobile phones caused more interference than older phones or newer, third-generation mobiles (Critical Care 2007, 11: R98).

GENE FOUND THAT CAN INFLUENCE HEIGHT
A gene that influences height has been discovered for the first time, according to US researchers. People who carry two copies of the 'tall' variant of the HMGA2 gene are up to 1cm taller than those who carry two copies of the 'short' variant of the gene. Researchers analysed the genomes of 5,000 white European patients who gave DNA samples and details of their height. They predict that many other genes will now be uncovered that control height (Nature Genetics 2007 Online).

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