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Health Highlights: Aug. 26, 2014

Nigeria Keeps Schools Closed Until October as Part of Ebola Control Measures Blood Pressure Controlled Best by Patient: Study

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Nigeria Keeps Schools Closed Until October as Part of Ebola Control Measures

Nigeria has ordered all schools to stay closed until mid-October as part of efforts to halt the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

The new school year was scheduled to start Monday, but the education minister told schools to remain closed to give time for staff to be trained on how to deal with suspected Ebola cases, BBC News reported.

"All state ministries of education are to immediately organize and ensure that at least two staff in each school, both private and public, are trained by appropriate health workers," Education Minister Ibrahim Shekarau said.

An Ebola outbreak in West Africa has sickened more than 2,600 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and about 1,400 of them have died. The virus spread to Nigeria in July when an infected man flew to that country from Liberia, BBC News reported.


Blood Pressure Controlled Best by Patient: Study

Patients with hypertension who monitored their own blood pressure at home, and adjusted their medications accordingly, had better blood pressure readings after a year than those who were under the care of their doctor, a new study shows.

Although the patients who cared for themselves weren't completely on their own, they did not have to consult their doctor every time they increased the dosage on their blood pressure drugs if it fell within the doctor's general treatment plan, the Associated Press reported.

Why this was so wasn't clear, but the researchers suggested that these patients might have been more vigilant in their own care than their doctor would have been, the AP reported. The findings were published Aug. 27 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Study author Richard McManus, a professor at the University of Oxford in England, said doctors may sometimes exercise what is called "clinical inertia," or a tendency to not increase medication dosages even when blood pressure readings are high, the AP reported.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost one in three Americans have high blood pressure but only about half of them have it under control.

In the study, 450 adults in England who had heart problems, stroke, diabetes or kidney disease were followed for a year, the wire service reported. Their average age was 70.

Average blood pressure measurements that were taken initially were about 143/80. That dropped to about 128/74 among the self-care patients and 138/76 in the group that received a doctor's care, the AP reported.

If those levels stayed steady, the researchers estimated that those in the self-care group might eventually see a 30 percent reduction in stroke risk, compared with those in the standard care group, according to the AP.

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