• The team of researchers from Sydney’s Westmead Institute for Medical Research and Stanford University said it could mean that the average two to three years it currently takes for an individual to find a depression medication that works for them, could instead be determined in a matter of weeks.
• Four directors from the Far West LHD were unexpectedly removed from the board on Friday, with three new members appointed to replace them. The governance review was commissioned after a difficult 2015 for the LHD, which faced two independent inquiries into allegations of a poor culture and bullying. The LHD said that staff and management were cleared by both investigations.
• A study conducted by the Australian Catholic University’s Mary McKillop Institute for Health, looked at the impact of heart disease on Australian women. Under those parameters, the Cardiovascular Risk and Diseases in Australian Women report found heart disease was the number one killer of women, leading to more than 31,000 deaths every year.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 12th of October 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News
A brain scan could determine which depression medication will work best for each person, say Australian and American researchers — a significant finding for the millions of people who suffer from the mental illness.
The team of researchers from Sydney’s Westmead Institute for Medical Research and Stanford University said it could mean that the average two to three years it currently takes for an individual to find a depression medication that works for them, could instead be determined in a matter of weeks.
About a million people per year are diagnosed with depression in Australia, and with that comes one of the highest rates of antidepressant use in the world — with more than one in 10 Australians using them.
Professor Philip Mitchell, from the school of Psychiatry at the University of NSW and a research fellow at the Black Dog Institute, said while 30 per cent of people will have a full response to their first choice of medication, that leaves two thirds who do not.
“People do find that difficult and I think that can be demoralising, particularly if people are significantly depressed,” he said.
The researchers’ study, published in the American journal Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, used two measures:
First, they asked depressed patients to answer a questionnaire about their exposure to early life stress.
Then, an MRI machine measured particular brain reactions while the patients were shown pictures of different facial expressions.
They wanted to see how the amygdala — which is the part of the brain which generates emotions — would react.
Dr Mayuresh Korgaonkar, from the Westmead Institute for Medical Research and one of the authors of the report, said they showed the patients happy faces and studied their reactions.
While some of the patients reacted normally, and others had a low reactivity —signifying that they had an impaired amygdala.
“And what we found was that information was actually linked to how they would respond to antidepressants,” he said.
Professor Mitchell said while the finding was an exciting one, they needed other groups around the world to come up with similar findings before they could have strong confidence in their own.
There has been upheaval on the board of the Far West Local Health District (LHD), with members claiming they have been sacked for challenging a decision.
Four directors were unexpectedly removed from the board on Friday, with three new members appointed to replace them.
The Far West LHD provides medical services to far west NSW, including the city of Broken Hill.
Aged care executive Allan Carter, Professor David Lyle from Broken Hill’s University Department of Rural Health, former Royal Flying Doctor Service executive Clyde Thomson and Bradley Clarke received letters last week ending their terms with time still to serve.
Mr Carter believed it was because they were pressuring the health ministry and board chairman Tom Hynes to release the findings of a review of the board’s governance.
Mr Carter said he and other members continued agitating for the release of the document even after the ministry refused.
The NSW Health Minister, Jillian Skinner, said the members were dropped from the board because it needed to be downsized.
The LHD said that staff and management were cleared by both investigations.
Heart disease contributes to more deaths among women than most forms of cancer, a university report has found.
The study, conducted by the Australian Catholic University’s Mary McKillop Institute for Health, looked at the impact of heart disease on Australian women by considering not only heart attack and stroke, but also a widened analysis of associated diseases like diabetes and kidney failure.
Under those parameters, the Cardiovascular Risk and Diseases in Australian Women report found heart disease was the number one killer of women, leading to more than 31,000 deaths every year.
That number is far greater than the 12,000 deaths of women from common forms of cancer, including breast cancer.
Of the 31,000 deaths each year, the report identified that 3,000 women died before they could even get to a hospital for treatment.
One of the report’s lead researchers, Maja-Lisa Lochan, said many women failed to get timely medical treatment because they failed to recognise the symptoms of a heart attack.
Professor Lochan said the increasing epidemic of obesity had also led to higher risk factors for heart disease amongst younger women.
She said the number of deaths could be reduced if the key causative factors were tackled.
According to the report, Australia’s health system spends $3 billion annually on cardiovascular disease-related hospital care for women.