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May 9, 2011

Analysis paralysis on dialysis

Daily Briefing

    The 10-year hunt for Osama bin Laden was partially guided by rumors that he suffered from poor health. How accurate were these claims? New evidence has emerged that the terrorist leader did not have any long-term conditions after all.

    ABC News recently reviewed the top five rumors about bin Laden's health, which included the following claims:

    • Kidney disease: The former president of Pakistan once asserted that bin Laden was traveling with dialysis machines and had probably died of kidney failure by 2002. TIME Magazine reported in 2008 that some CIA officials had concluded that bin Laden had serious kidney disease and just months left to live.
    • Marfan's syndrome: ABC News reports that federal officials initially suspected that bin Laden suffered from the disease, which can cause individuals to be tall and thin but also affect the body's connective tissues, leading to an enlarged heart or torn vessels.

    The director of practice development for the American Society of Health System Pharmacists also reviewed the list of medications found at bin Laden's compound, but noted that "nothing" indicates the terrorist leader was suffering from long-term conditions.

    However, the medicines did include drugs intended to ease symptoms of ulcers and gastric reflux. Meanwhile, a drug used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure—Natrilix— was also found at the compound, but that drug should not be used by people with kidney failure, according to the pharmacist (Carollo, ABC News, 5/4; Aleccia,, 5/6; Calabresi, TIME Magazine, 6/30/08).

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