Lab Report: Health, Science and Medicine

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HEART DISEASE

Are You a Type-D Personality?

If an anxious, type-A personality can raise the risk of heart disease, can a depressive one do the same? According to researchers in the Netherlands, the answer is yes.

People with type-D personality tend to have a negative outlook on life and suppress their feelings. They're also likely to be reserved and socially inhibited. All of these factors can lead to heart-damaging stress. So when researchers pooled studies of heart patients with type-D profiles but without clinical depression, they found them to be three times as likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those without that personality profile. The effect remained strong even after the scientists adjusted for any negative feelings patients may have developed as a result of being diagnosed with heart disease.

The Dutch group plans to expand its study to see if its 14-item test for type-D personality can predict future heart disease among healthy individuals as well. If the test is validated, they say, it could be used in a doctor's office to identify high-risk patients.

FLU

No Pandemic, but You Still Need to Worry About Flu

The World Health Organization declared the H1N1 pandemic over in July, but the virus is still circulating. Here's what you need to know to protect yourself against influenza this season.

Q: Which flu strains are included in this year's vaccine?

A: The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three strains of influenza: the 2009 H1N1, an H3N2 strain and a B strain of the virus.

Q: Why isn't H1N1 in a separate shot, as it was last year?

A: The only reason the H1N1 immunization was separate last year was that the first cases of H1N1 infection emerged after health officials had begun the months-long manufacturing process for the seasonal flu vaccine. If the cases had occurred a few months earlier, then H1N1 would have been included in the seasonal vaccine. If you are vaccinated against flu this year, you will be immunized against H1N1.

Q: Are the same high-risk groups from last year being given priority again for this season's vaccine?

A: No. For the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising that all people 6 months or older be vaccinated against flu. But medical groups are also calling for mandatory immunization of health care workers and increased vaccination of pregnant women.

FROM THE LABS

A Blood Test for Alzheimer's?

Picking up signs of dying brain nerves in Alzheimer's disease is a challenge, but researchers have homed in on a suite of proteins in the blood that may signal the degenerative disorder. The proteins were 80% accurate in identifying people with the disease. But experts caution it may be years before the test is ready for the clinic.

Predicting Postpartum Depression

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