The Health News – 09 June 2015

Overview:

• Heart attack and stroke patients could soon avoid potentially risky drugs like Warfarin and aspirin, thanks to the discovery of a blood-clotting enzyme by a team of scientists at Sydney’s Heart Research Institute.

• More people are buying illicit drugs like ecstasy and cocaine on the internet, as prices are now cheaper online than on the street, a new report shows.

• A West Australian Indigenous elder who campaigned on behalf of Aboriginal Agent Orange victims has been made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).

Health News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 9th June 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-08/new-drug-may-protect-against-heart-disease-stroke/6526352

Heart attack and stroke patients could soon avoid potentially risky drugs like Warfarin and aspirin, thanks to the discovery of a blood-clotting enzyme by a team of scientists at Sydney’s Heart Research Institute.

The new research, led by Professor Shaun Jackson, has the potential to protect thousands of Australians from heart attacks and strokes and has revealed for the first time a particular enzyme plays a vital role in controlling clotting of the blood.
“We’ve discovered this enzyme has the very special ability to reduce build-up of blood clots that clog arteries while also sticking blood firmly to the site of blood vessel injury,” Professor Jackson said.
“This is an exciting area of research as new medicines represent one of the most promising new ways of treating disease.”
Researchers discovered the new enzyme, then developed new therapies that had not been tested before.

The breakthrough was made by a team of researchers from Monash University, University of Melbourne, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, University of Strasbourg, France and the Scripps Research Institute, United States.
Blood-thinning medications like Warfarin and aspirin are used by thousands of Australians to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
But they can cause side-effects, and patients on Warfarin need to be carefully monitored.
Professor Jackson said the discovery of the enzyme and the new therapy was made all the more exciting by the element of surprise.
“The function of this enzyme has been a mystery for decades so to discover what its role is and realise its importance is a thrill,” he said.

The findings have been published in the prestigious journal Nature Communication.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-08/more-people-buying-ecstasy-cocaine-on-internet-survey/6529196

More people are buying illicit drugs like ecstasy and cocaine on the internet, as prices are now cheaper online than on the street, a new report shows.

According to the Global Drug Survey 2015, the price of ecstasy pills in Australia is now double the global average, so more people are taking to the net to buy the drug and other substances like it.
But British addictions psychiatrist and survey founder Dr Adam Winstock said the safety and quality online drug stores provide is also attractive to buyers.
“Buying things online gives you product range,” he said.
“I think there is an opportunity of getting improved quality. I think some people would perceive it as safer and certainly a lot of people say it’s safer to buy drugs online. There’s less risk of, you know, getting involved in face to face dealing.”
Dr Winstock said while the shift to online may attract new buyers, it is mostly existing dealers making the move at present.
“What we’re seeing is simply a displacement of people who would otherwise buy drugs on the street,” he said.

According to the survey, Australians are among the biggest users of prescription drugs.

Dr Winstock said Australia’s strict border security meant drugs were more expensive because they were harder to get into the country.

But the high drug prices in Australia mean many often choose to buy cheaper alternatives, including crystal methamphetamine, or ice.

On a lighter note, while Australia remains one of the top drinking countries in the world, about a third of Australians want to drink less, the survey revealed.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-08/queens-birthday-honours-west-australians-recognised/6522804

A West Australian Indigenous elder who campaigned on behalf of Aboriginal Agent Orange victims has been made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).

Derby woman Lucy Marshall is one of more than 500 people recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday honours.
Ms Marshall has had a distinguished career working for Aboriginal associations, and was a key contributor to negotiations for land use agreements that benefited the local community.
She also lost her son, Cyril Hunter, at 33 from a heart attack, one of a spate of deaths of young men who worked with the potent herbicides like 2,4,5-T in the 1970s and 80s to control weeds in the Kimberley.
Ms Marshall, who has lived in Derby for more than 60 years, campaigned vigorously for compensation for the families of the men.

An outspoken critic of domestic violence and alcohol abuse, the senior Nyikina woman is also a mentor in her community and has fostered more than 50 children rescued from abusive homes – from Indigenous and non-Indigenous backgrounds.
She has dedicated her life to preserving local Aboriginal customs and language, and was a contributor to the Nyikina Language and Culture Resource Kit.

Perth man Keith Chapman, 70, has also been recognised with an AM for his services to people with a disability.

His own daughter, one of six children, was born with cerebral palsy, prompting his involvement in the Cerebral Palsy Association.

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