Here are the stories our MDedge editors across specialties think you need to know about today:
First reported U.S. case of COVID-19 linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome
The first official U.S. case of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) associated with COVID-19 has been reported by neurologists from Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, further supporting a link between the virus and neurologic complications, including GBS.
Physicians in China reported the first case that initially presented as acute GBS. Subsequently, physicians in Italy reported five cases of GBS in association with COVID-19.
“This onset is similar to a case report of acute Zika virus infection with concurrent GBS suggesting a parainfectious complication,” first author Sandeep Rana, MD, and colleagues noted. Read more.
Five healthy lifestyle choices tied to dramatic cut in dementia risk
Combining four of five healthy lifestyle choices has been linked to up to a 60% reduced risk for Alzheimer’s dementia in new research that strengthens ties between healthy behaviors and lower dementia risk. “I hope this study will motivate people to engage in a healthy lifestyle by not smoking, being physically and cognitively active, and having a high-quality diet,” lead investigator Klodian Dhana, MD, PhD, said in an interview.
They defined a healthy lifestyle score on the basis of the following factors: not smoking; engaging in 150 min/wk or more of physical exercise; light to moderate alcohol consumption; consuming a high-quality Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet (upper 40%); and engaging in late-life cognitive activities.
“What needs to be determined is how early should we start ‘behaving.’ We should all aim to score four to five factors across our entire lifespan, but this is not always feasible. So, when is the time to behave? Also, what is the relative weight of each of these factors?” said Luca Giliberto, MD, PhD. Read more.
Marijuana for migraine? Some tentative evidence
Medical marijuana may have promise for managing headache pain, according to results from a small study conducted at the Jefferson Headache Center at Thomas Jefferson University. The researchers found general satisfaction with medical marijuana, more frequent use as an abortive medication rather than a preventative, and more than two-thirds using the inhaled form rather than oral.
“A lot of patients are interested in medical marijuana but don’t know how to integrate it into the therapy plan they already have – whether it should be just to treat bad headaches when they happen, or is it meant to be a preventive medicine they use every day? We have some data out there that it can be helpful, but not a lot of specific information to guide your recommendations,” said Jefferson headache fellow Claire Ceriani, MD, in an interview. Read more.
Inside Mercy’s mission to care for non-COVID patients in Los Angeles
When the hospital ship USNS Mercy departed San Diego’s Naval Station North Island on March 23, 2020, to support the Department of Defense efforts in Los Angeles during the coronavirus outbreak, Commander Erin Blevins remembers the crew’s excitement was palpable. “We normally do partnerships abroad and respond to tsunamis and earthquakes,” said Cdr. Blevins, MD, a pediatric hematologist-oncologist who served as director of medical services for the mission.
Between March 29 and May 15, about 1,071 medical personnel aboard the Mercy cared for 77 patients with an average age of 53 years who were referred from 11 Los Angeles area hospitals.
Care aboard the ship ranged from basic medical and surgical care to critical care and trauma. The most common procedures were cholecystectomies and orthopedic procedures, and the average length of stay was 4-5 days, according to Cdr. Blevins. Over the course of the mission, the medical professionals conducted 36 surgeries, 77 x-ray exams, 26 CT scans, and administered hundreds of ancillary studies ranging from routine labs to high-end x-rays and blood transfusion support. Special Feature.