Trending News Today: Brain Scans Indicate Aaron Hernandez Had Advanced Degenerative Brain Disease

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

A posthumous brain scan of former New England Patriots tight end and convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez indicated he had severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a severe form of degenerative brain disease. According to The New York Times, the damage resembled that of players well into their 60s, even though Hernandez died at age 27. CTE is often marked by issues with aggression and impulses, some degree of dementia, mood swings, lapses in judgment, and a disorganized manner, the NY Times reported. Researchers at Boston University said CTE has been found in more than 100 former NFL players, some of whom committed suicide. Hernandez’s estate filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the NFL and the New England Patriots seeking damages to compensate his daughter for the loss of her father. According to the NY Times, the suit alleges the league and team knew that repeated hits to the head could lead to brain disease, but they did not do enough to protect Hernandez from these collisions.

New data suggest a link between air pollution and kidney disease, according to The New York Times. For the study, investigators followed 2,482,737 veterans for an average of 8.5 years and pulled data on air pollution from NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency. The results showed that increases in PM 2.5 directly corresponded with decreases in glomerular filtration rate, indicating worsening kidney function, according to the NY Times. Prior studies have linked high levels of PM 2.5 to cardiovascular disease and stroke. The scientists calculated that unhealthy levels of pollution resulted in an annual increase of 44,793 cases of chronic kidney disease, and 2438 cases of end-stage kidney disease that requires dialysis. The authors noted that even levels below those considered safe also increase the risk.

Data show amputations have increased significantly in California and more than doubled in San Diego County. According to inewsource, lower-limb amputations increased by more than 31% in California between 2010 and 2016. In San Diego County, the increase was 66.4%. Explanations for this trend may lie in the diabetes and obesity problem in the United States. Edward Gregg, chief of epidemiology and statistics for the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation, told inewsource that public health officials consider amputations to be an important indicator of a region’s diabetes care.