Today’s Headlines: Palliative Care Urged for More Cancer Patients, Don’t Rely on “Good” Cholesterol to Measure Heart Health, and Emotional Unrest Increases Heart Attack Risk

The American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has released a new guideline for doctors treating cancer patients. The authors of the guideline update emphasize the importance of palliative care, and note that such care ought to be a central part of a patient’s treatment. Right now, mostly advanced-stage patients receive palliative care (“comfort” care, revolving around the support of family and medical caregivers). “Patients really need to get these services early in the disease course, while still getting chemotherapy and other disease focused treatments,” said Betty R. Ferrell, the lead author of the guideline. (FOX)

New findings published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology show that “good” cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) is more complicated than its name suggests. Using a big data approach, researchers analyzed information from more than 630,000 patients. They found that high levels of HDL cholesterol, while not associated with an increase in heart-related deaths, are associated with an increase in non-cardiovascular related deaths. “We thought that the higher it [HDL levels] goes, the lower the outcomes, but in fact, it’s not a straight-line relationship,” said Dr. Dennis Ko, the scientist who led the study. Some experts are calling for a more narrow approach in studying how HDL cholesterol affects certain individuals and population groups. (CBS)

A new study, which examined data of more than 12,000 heart attack patients from around the globe, suggests that keeping calm can go a long way in preventing a heart attack. In a new study published in Circulation, researchers drew two conclusions. First, anger and emotional tension doubled the risk of having a heart attack. Second, for those who performed intense physical activity in a highly emotional state, the risk more than tripled. “Intense physical activity and negative emotions can increase heart rate and blood pressure, which reduces the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart, the researchers said.” (WSJ)