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Platelet E-News – October 15, 2004

This e-newsletter is a monthly publication of The Platelet Disorder Support Association. The information in this newsletter is for educational purposes only. For advice on your unique medical condition, please consult a health care professional.


  • Two Simple Tests to Prevent Strokes
  • Research Hospital Dedicated at NIH
  • Emotions Linked Indirectly to Heart Disease
  • NIH Bans New Outside Collaboration
  • Healthy Gut Source of Vitamin K
  • Several States Initiate Program to Lower Drug Costs
  • Your Shower as Microbe Hideout



Strokes were the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2001 behind heart disease and all cancers. Many who are stricken are seemingly in good health. Much of this mortality and disability associated with strokes could be avoided with two simple, relatively inexpensive tests. One is the carotid ultrasound test that spots fatty plaque buildup in the carotid arteries. This buildup curtails blood flow to the brain and can be the cause of a stroke. Experts estimate that carotid strokes account for one-third to one-half of all strokes. The other test is the ankle-brachial test that provides an indication of plaque buildup throughout arteries in the entire body. The tests can cost several hundred dollars but many facilities charge much less. Neither Medicare nor private health insurance companies pay for these tests for screening purposes. Screening information is available at .

T. M. Burton, “Two Simple Tests Can Prevent Stroke, But Few Get Them”, Wall Street Journal, Sept 24, 2004, pA1.

(Note: people with ITP, even those with low platelets, are not protected from strokes)


Last month the National Institutes of Health dedicated the 238-bed Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center on the NIH Bethesda, Maryland campus. Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, director of NIH said “there is nothing out there like it.” The new NIH center is unique in that it combines a large size and research labs. There are 80,000 patients on the NIH’s active rolls. Last year 8,600 new patients were admitted to the current clinical center with the average length of stay 8.5 days. Care at the new hospital is entirely free to the patient. Except for unusual circumstances, no insurance companies are billed either. The taxpayer foots the whole bill. The building is flooded with natural light and flexibility is built in everywhere. The building has been designed to last 50 years at a cost of over $600 million with another $30 million for furnishings. Scientists will be moving labs during the next several months. All patients will move during a single day, December 4, 2004. One patient called it “the house of hope”

D. Brown, “NIH Dedicates New Research Hospital”, Washington Post, Sept 23, 2004, p.A27.

See: to view a videocast of the ribbon cutting ceremonies and other NIH meetings.


The link goes like this. High levels of a substance called C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood have been associated with a variety of health problems including heart disease. Edward Suarez and colleagues at Duke University had 121 healthy men and women take a personality test that assessed levels of anger, hostility, and depression. Then this group was tested to determine the level of CRP in their blood. The study found that the subjects that scored high on the tests for anger, hostility, and depression had CRP levels in their blood two to three times higher than those who scored low on the personality test. Heart disease has been associated with high blood pressure, smoking, and an inactive life style. Now we can add psychological factors that activate the inflammatory process.

R. Stein, “Emotions, Heart Disease Linked”, Washington Post, Sept 27, 2004, pA27.

(Note: Inflammation as measured by CRP has been associated with some autoimmune diseases. See:


An important policy shift at the National Institutes of Health will ban all its scientists from any new collaborating arrangements with pharmaceuticals or biotechnology firms for at least one year and require all existing collaborations to be discontinued. The need for such a ban became apparent after the agencies own conflict-of-interest investigation turned up more problems and more serious ones than had been anticipated. The examples of ethics violations have been alarming to many. As many as 100 NIH scientists are involved in collaborations that will have to be discontinued. Many others, it is thought, have recently dropped their collaborating arrangements in light of all the recent attention.

R. Weiss, “NIH Bans Collaboration With Outside Companies”, Washington Post, Sept 24, 2004, pA23.


A healthy gut includes a population of “friendly” bacteria (probiotics) that help digest food and just as important produce certain vitamins, like vitamin K. Dr. Andrew Weil points out certain foods like yogurt, the best-known probiotic food, and miso, which is fermented soybean paste, as excellent foods to help maintain a healthy gut. Other helpful probiotic foods include kefir, which is similar to liquid yogurt, and sauerkraut. Dr Weil prefers probiotic supplements to probiotic foods to assure an adequate supply of the friendly backteria. He recommends Culturelle but cautions the use of the supplements by people “with compromised immune function as they could theoretically develop an infection from the probiotic organisms.”

Dr. A. Weil, “Probiotics: Beneficial Bacteria”, Self Healing, October 2004, p1.

(Note: Vitamin K is needed for your blood to clot)


The state of Illinois has initiated, with the strong support of Governor Blagojevich, the I-SaveRX program to save state residents from 25% to 50% on their prescription refill costs. There will be direct savings to the states for the drug benefit programs it offers state employees. While not all drugs are available, the list is extensive. The medications are available from 45 licensed, inspected pharmacies in Canada, Ireland, and Great Britain. The I-SaveRX program is presently available only to residents of Illinois and Wisconsin but other states are considering adopting the program. The program requires your physician’s approval and signature on your application. Also you qualify only for medications that were first filled at a pharmacy in the U.S. and which you have been taking for 30 days without adverse side effects. There is a one page application that with your physician’s signature can be mailed or faxed to CanaRx Services Inc. The Illinois form and available medications are available at

Weekly Email, HealthAssistance Partnership, October 4, 2004, p.3.


If your immune system is weakened, take note. Infectious diseases have been on the increase for a decade or more. Researchers have been searching ever more diligently for any overlooked sources of germs. Recently a most unlikely hideout was discovered by scientists at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The soap scum from vinyl shower curtains yielded a host of pathogens including the Sphingomonas bacteria which can cause urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and skin ulcers. Another critter discovered in the same hideout was Methlobacterium which also can cause pneumonia, skin ulcers, and inflammation of the cornea. These pathogens are especially a risk for those with a weakened or troubled immune system. The researchers recommend a 10 % bleach solution to keep them in check.

Alternative Medicine Newsletter, News, October 2004.

(Note: Those with certain diseases and conditions, especially ITP, take warning; the bleach solution could be as bad as or worse than the problem. Bleach is a strong chemical and great care is required in using it. If you have ITP consider using a less potentially harmful method of control, maybe washing with a detergent in hot water.

Many medications used to treat ITP weaken the immune system making people more susceptible to opportune infections. People who have had a splenetomy are particularly vulnerable to pneumonia)