Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Newtown Public Opinion on Gun Policy—the Disconnect with Political Action

Originally posted on Johns Hopkins University Press Blog:

Guest Post by Beth McGinty and Colleen Barry

Fourteen months ago, the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school prompted a national dialogue about gun violence. The weeks and months following the shooting provided a rare window of opportunity for policymakers to garner the public support and political will needed to strengthen gun laws in the United States, and polls showed that the overwhelming majority of Americans supported many gun policy options. In January 2013, less than a month after the Sandy Hook shooting, our team of researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research conducted a national public opinion survey to gauge Americans’ support for gun policy options. We found that large majorities of Americans— including gun owners and Republicans—supported a wide range of gun policies, including policies to enhance the background check system for gun sales and prevent certain categories of dangerous persons—like those convicted of…

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March 19, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sexual violence and exploitation are public health issues

Originally posted on Public Health Emergency:

Almost a year after public health responsibilities transferred back to local government, Birmingham City Council is getting to grips with sexual health…and that means tackling big issues like sexual violence and exploitation.

Ask most people what sexual health services meant to them and the most common answers will be contraception or family planning and of course sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

In truth, that is only part of the story.

In Birmingham we’re currently reviewing services to ensure we meet the needs of one of Europe’s youngest cities in 2014 and that means an increased focus on the less talked about issues of sexual coercion, sexual violence and exploitation.

Figures taken from the British Crime Survey show that 76,000 Birmingham women and 1,100 men have been subject to a sexual assault since the age of 16. In 2011 (the most recent figures we have), that amounted to 11,600 women and 1,100…

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March 19, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

E-cigarettes – We Need More Research

Originally posted on Drexel SPH Blog:

E Cigarettes Become Popular Alternative E-cigarettes are a growing method of respiring nicotine and other hazardous chemicals into one’s body.  Recently I heard students across the country are using e-cigarettes on college campuses and in college buildings.  I think this was bound to happen soon seeing as tobacco products are heavily regulated and taxed.  E-cigarettes offer another method of delivery that is advertised as safer for others in the vicinity because it is a vaporizer.  I am still very hesitant about this, and after being near someone on the train using an e-cigarette, I decided to get some more information.

I came across a publication about secondary exposures to e-cigarette emission.  E-cigarettes contain volatile organic substances including, but not limited to, nicotine and propylene glycol, which is a known odorless and colorless toxin.  When released into the air as “vapor”, there are very small, 2.5 micrometer particulates.  These small particulates penetrate further into the respiratory…

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March 19, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Is Violent Radicalisation Associated with Poverty, Migration, Poor Self-Reported Health and Common Mental Disorders?

Originally posted on PublicMentalHealth:

Sympathies for violent protest and terrorism were uncommon among men and women, aged 18–45, of Muslim heritage living in two English cities. Youth, wealth, and being in education rather than employment were risk factors.

See the full paper: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0090718

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March 19, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Interactive USDA Food Environment Atlas

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 7.10.43 AM

The USDA has published online an interactive map including food security issues by county.

Topics include”store/restaurant proximity, food prices, food and nutrition assistance programs, and how community characteristics—interact to influence food choices and diet quality.”

Options for printouts and exports (JPG and NPG).

A little tricky to use. Found by trial and error (I have a MacBook Pro) that the arrows on the lower right  of my keyboard re-center the map.

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March 19, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Innovative gaming research gains national recognition

Just completed an online continuing ed medical librarian class on emerging technologies.
Week 4 focused on gamification. Went into the course a bit wary on gamification. However,
if developed and implemented properly, it could prevent medical errors.
A local hospital was in the news two years ago for a failed kidney transplant procedure. The donor kidney was placed in the medical waste container. By the time the error was noticed, the kidney was no longer usable.

From the 14 March 2014 EurkAlert

A collaborative project in North Texas could help physicians and nurses improve communication.

 IMAGE: In GLIMPSE, physicians and nurses are helping researchers determine if a video game simulation can improve their communication skills.Click here for more information.

Television shows have been using tension between hospital personnel as compelling drama for years. But, in the real world, misunderstandings and miscommunication in the healthcare environment can cause errors with long-lasting, even fatal consequences.

With that in mind, researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington College of Nursing, Baylor Scott & White Health and UT Dallas developed a video-game simulation that they say can teach doctors and nurses to work more collaboratively by playing out tense situations in a virtual world.

The federally funded project recently received two national awards at the 4th Annual Serious Games and Virtual Environments Arcade & Showcase during the 2014 International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare in San Francisco. The honors included a Best-in-Show award for the Academic Faculty Category and a 4th place award in the Technology Innovations division.

“Our hope is that this project will enhance patient safety and, ultimately, improve patient outcomes,” said Beth Mancini, a UT Arlington nursing professor and Associate Dean of the College of Nursing. “Being honored by the judges at this year’s International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare tells us that the virtual learning environment we’ve built is among the very best in terms of content and design.”

Read the entire press release here

Links to a few items from the course I took

  • Gamification pioneer Yu-kai Chou, provides an overview of Gamification.
    (His Web site including description of Octoanlysis is here)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5Qjuegtiyc

 

From the class….Choose read a minimum of two (2) of these articles to get a better sense of how gamification is being used in various industries.

  1. In Gaming, A Shift from Enemies to Emotions. NPR. All Tech Considered. January 7, 2014.
  2. Silverman, Rachel (Nov 2, 2011). “Latest Game Theory: Mixing Work and Play — Companies Adopt gaming Techniques to Motivate Employees”. Wallstreet Journal.
  3. Takahashi, Dean (August 25, 2010). “Website builder DevHub gets users hooked by “gamifying” its service”. VentureBeat.
  4.  Sinanian, Michael (April 12, 2010). “The ultimate healthcare reform could be fun and games”. Venture Beat.
  5. A Game wit Heart, Gone Home is a Bold Step in Storytelling. NPR. All Tech Considered. Dec. 26, 2013.

March 14, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Explore causes of regional variations in premiums | Association of Health Care Journalists

 Explore causes of regional variations in premiums | Association of Health Care Journalists

Excerpts from the 4 March 2014 blog item

The regional variations are more complicated. It’s not as simple as labor costs in New York being higher than those in Arkansas.

Competition is a big factor. The highest prices aren’t necessarily in a big city. Some of the highest rates are in rural areas with few health care providers and scant competition to drive prices down.

Narrow networks, where there are fewer doctors and hospitals, or at least fewer name-brand hospitals, are also a factor. Not all consumers want these – although some are willing to make that tradeoff to save money.

There also may be fewer insurers offering coverage in the exchanges in some areas. Even where competition is minimal, the medical loss ratio in the Affordable Care Act limits how much profit an insurer can make or at least limits how much of the premium people pay can be used for nonmedical purposes – including profit. They have to rebate the money if they don’t meet MLR.

Local health care history and how it has affected incentives and efficiency is a factor. For instance, Minnesota, which has some of the lowest premiums, has been working on delivery system, integrated care and managed care for years.

Also, regional oddities – such as a mountainous section of Colorado that has to medevac people by helicopter – can play a role in why one section of a state pays more than others.

Jordan Rau of Kaiser Health News has written about the cheapest and most expensive markets nationally. Katie Kerwin McCrimmon of Health News Colorado has written about the controversy in Colorado about why people in one community pay more than people in an adjacent community. (Here and here).

 

 

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March 14, 2014 Posted by | health care | , | Leave a comment

Explore how changing nursing home culture affects care

From the 28 January 2014 article at Covering Health

 

Any journalist who covers nursing homes should check out this month’s special supplement in The Gerontologist, the Gerontological Society of America’s journal. It focuses on the two-decade long effort to change nursing home culture and many of the articles and studies raise important questions about whether enough progress has been shown.

English: Nursing Home in Goldthorn Hill. This ...

English: Nursing Home in Goldthorn Hill. This area of Wolverhampton has a cluster of nursing homes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For example, this study finds that nursing homes that are considered culture change adopters show a nearly 15 percent decrease in health-related survey deficiency citations relative to comparable nonadopting homes. This study looks at what is meant by nursing home culture change – the nature and scope of interventions, measurement, adherence and outcomes.  Harvard health policy expert David Grabowski and colleagues take a closer look at some of the key innovators in nursing home care and what it might mean for health policy – particularly in light of the Affordable Care Act’s directive to provide more home and community-based care. Other articles look at the THRIVE study, mouth care, workplace practices, Medicaid reimbursement, and more policy implications.

Any of these studies — or several taken together — can serve as a jumping off point for local coverage. Are there nursing homes in your community that are doing things differently? Have any instituted policies or processes that show improvements in care coordination, outcomes, quality, or other key measures? Are there homes that are resisting change? Why? Which one(s) best exemplify person-centered care? How do these changes affect the workforce?

Nursing Home Compare from CMS provides the data behind complaints, violations, quality, and cost, among other metrics. This article in The Philadelphia Inquirer is a great example of interweaving research with personal narrative. Another approach might be to look at trends in the city, state, or region. How are nursing homes marketing themselves to consumers? To referral sources? Have their business models changed?

Experts on all sides have been talking about culture change for more than a decade. And in 2008, a Commonwealth Fund report explored culture change in nursing homes. Has the time finally come, for real?

 

Read the entire article here

 

Unfortunately, the articles referred to are subscription based only.
For information on how to get them for free or low cost, click here.

 

Articles referred to above

 

  • Transforming Nursing Home Culture: Evidence for Practice and Policy

     

  • What Does the Evidence Really Say About Culture Change in Nursing Homes?
  • A “Recipe” for Culture Change? Findings From the THRIVE Survey of Culture Change Adopters
  • High-Performance Workplace Practices in Nursing Homes: An Economic Perspective
  • Medicaid Capital Reimbursement Policy and Environmental Artifacts of Nursing Home Culture Change
  • Building a State Coalition for Nursing Home Excellence
  • Implications for Policy: The Nursing Home as Least Restrictive Setting

     

 

 

 

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March 14, 2014 Posted by | health care | , , , , | Leave a comment

How Twitter Can Revolutionize Public Health

Originally posted on NPHR Blog:

by Catherine Bartlett, MPH student
Image

credit: connection.sagepub.com

As much as people may try to deny it, traditionally healthcare organizations are rarely early adopters of new technologies. The lack of electronic health systems, computerized methods of communication, filing, and overall resistance to change has left many health care organizations years behind other high tech industries.

Public health officials have used many different strategies to engage the general public, from billboards, radio PSAs, to the CDC’s unique “prepare for the zombie apocalypse” web campaign.  Although some may dismiss Twitter as frivolous or silly, it is an excellent platform to educate and communicate with a large group of people in a succinct way (140 characters to be exact).  Indeed, over the past five years, Twitter has become one of the most popular social media and sharing platforms in the world. According to the Twitter blog, more than 500 million tweets are…

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

What do we know about health care determinants?

Originally posted on healthcareinfonomics:

Image As a nation, we only spend 9% of national health expenditures in embracing healthy behavior. On the other hand, only 6% of health determinates are related to access to services, although 90% of national health expenditures is spent on medical services. [1] Therefore, presumably, providing primary care providers the tools and the means to change and educate patients about their health determinate will have a significant impact on overall spending on medical services.

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | health care | , , | Leave a comment

Bayesian Reasoning, False Positives, and Breast Cancer

Originally posted on robertbyron22:

A nice introduction to probability, using an important example. [h/t Sobering Thoughts ] Posted as another example of public health in action for Lexi who is considering a major in the topic, but thinks she is done with math.

I remember when the BRCA genes were discovered and first used in screening for cancer. Estimates were that approximately 10 times the number of the women who could possibly have developed breast cancer chose to have mastectomies. Many of these were undoubtedly prophylactic surgeries, but still … Now the test is recommended to be used in the context of family histories, rather than in testing the general population. Here is a current factsheet from the National Cancer Institute:

Who should consider genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations?

Because harmful BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations are relatively rare in the general population, most experts agree that mutation testing of individuals…

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eat less protein in middle age, more when over 65, experts suggest

Originally posted on Public Health View:

Low protein consumption in middle age and moderate to high consumption in older adults works best for health and longevity, researchers said in  a new study . Adverse effects of proteins were mostly due to animal proteins rather than plant-based proteins, they added.
Image courtesy of Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The study, which included over 6,000 participants aged 50 and above, found that those aged 50-65 reporting high-protein diets had a 75% higher risk of death and 4 times the risk of cancer death than those who did not. Conversely, it found that this risk turned into a protective effect for those who were 65 and older. These older individuals had a lower risk of death overall and death from cancer if they consumed more proteins.

Both adult groups, however, were 5 times more at risk of death from diabetes if their lifestyle included a high-protein diet.

Also, when animal-based…

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | | Leave a comment

Drugs For Life; Subcultural Identity

Originally posted on The Kente Weaver:

Watch: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01r0h4r

BY: BBC Video Documentary, Think Aloud.

Here’s a short video interview with anthropologist Joseph Dummit, author of the book “Drugs For Life” in which he tackles  the pervasiveness of America’s pharmaceutical market in its economy and society. Dummit explores in detail, America’s increasing medicalization and the emergence of the ‘expert patient’ who shifts the dynamic of the patient-doctor relationship because this ‘expert patient’ is now equipped with ‘knowledge’ about his own health, what kind of lifestyle is healthy and to some extent the ‘medical know-how’ of how to treat certain conditions ‘off-the-counter’.

Dummit argues that Pharmaceutical companies have come to occupy a predominant role in American society, changing the discourse about what is “healthy” and what isn’t through their huge marketing campaigns and their capitalistic drive. What I find most interesting in his argument is the fact that he shows how these direct-to-consumer advertising mechanisms not only affect patients…

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | health care | , , | Leave a comment

NYTimes: Rethinking Our ‘Rights’ to Dangerous Behaviors

Originally posted on NobodyisFlyingthePlane:

“What we need,” Freudenberg said to me, “is to return to the public sector the right to set health policy and to limit corporations’ freedom to profit at the expense of public health.”

Bittman contributes to the ongoing discussion here at NobodyisFlyingthePlane about how certain industries deflect public discourse from what is best for our citizens to what makes the most profit, no matter the consequences.

The author he quotes poses a series of questions which get at the heart of the matter.

“Shouldn’t science and technology be used to improve human well-being, not to advance business goals that harm health?”

Similarly, we need to be asking not “Do junk food companies have the right to market to children?” but “Do children have the right to a healthy diet?”

Essentially its a PR game. Do we let whole industries spin how the conversation is framed or do we let the…

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sugar, not fat, is real heart disease killer: We got it wrong on diet advice, claims expert

Originally posted on wchildblog:

  • Low-fat diets do not curb heart disease or help you live longer, scientist says
  • James DiNicolantonio says the real enemy is sugar and carbohydrates
  • Cardiovascular research scientist says demonising saturated fat has put public health at risk
  • Sweden’s dietary guidelines favour low-carb, high-fat nutrition advice

By Gerri Peev, 5 March 2014, MailOnline

Low-fat diets do not curb heart disease or help you live longer – the real enemy is sugar and carbohydrates, according to a leading scientist.

Current dietary advice is based on flawed evidence from the 1950s that has demonised saturated fat and put public health at risk, he said.

James DiNicolantonio, a cardiovascular research scientist in New York, said: ‘We need a public health campaign as strong as the one we had in the 70s and 80s demonising saturated fats, to say that we got it wrong.’

Writing in the journal Open Heart, he added: ‘There is no…

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

Vaccine-preventable outbreaks

Originally posted on Eideard:

vaccine preventable
Click for interactive map

In what medical century does your nation reside?

Thanks, Mike

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Mediterranean Diet and Diabetes Prevention?

Janice Flahiff:

Does the Mediterranean Diet reduce the risk of developing diabetes type 2?
A new study published in theAnnals of Internal Medicinesuggests that it might. The Mediterranean Diet has been extensively studied for its health benefits which include reducing heart disease, cancer, dementia,  hypertension and stroke risks.

Researchers studied 3,541 men and women without diabetes who ranged in age from 55 – 80 years old.  They were however, at a high risk for heart disease.  All participants were assigned to either a Mediterranean diet with 50 ml of extra – virgin olive oil (EVOO), a Mediterranean diet with 30 grams of mixed nuts, or a low-fat diet each day. Those consuming the Mediterranean diets were counseled by dietitians.  All participants were not told to reduce their calories or to increase exercise.

After 4 years of follow-up, it was determined that 273 of the patients had developed diabetes type 2.  Of these, 101 were  from the low-fat group; 80 were from the Mediterranean diet with extra EVOO and 92 were from the Mediterranean diet with extra nuts.  There were only slight changes in body weight, waist circumference, and physical activity between the groups.

The authors concluded: Following a Mediterranean diet is “palatable and sustainable”, therefore it could have public health implications for the prevention of diabetes.

There is no one particular Mediterranean diet, but can include diets that emphasize increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, beans and fish while decreasing consumption of red meats, processed meats, butter and sweets.  A previous post of mine graphically shows how to eat a more Mediterranean-type diet.  Enjoy!!

 

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Originally posted on FOOD, FACTS and FADS:

Large olive tree - Portugal

Large olive tree – Portugal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does the Mediterranean Diet reduce the risk of developing diabetes type 2?
A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that it might. The Mediterranean Diet has been extensively studied for its health benefits which include reducing heart disease, cancer, dementia,  hypertension and stroke risks.

Researchers studied 3,541 men and women without diabetes who ranged in age from 55 – 80 years old.  They were however, at a high risk for heart disease.  All participants were assigned to either a Mediterranean diet with 50 ml of extra – virgin olive oil (EVOO), a Mediterranean diet with 30 grams of mixed nuts, or a low-fat diet each day. Those consuming the Mediterranean diets were counseled by dietitians.  All participants were not told to reduce their calories or to increase exercise.

After 4 years of follow-up, it was determined that 273…

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] The disturbing confessions of a medical scribe

From the 9 March 2014 KevinMD article

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 7.16.13 AM

As a medical scribe working with a large, well-known scribe company, unnamed to protect my job, it makes me proud reading all the articles published about how much having a scribe benefits a physician, especially in the emergency department. I enjoy my job immensely and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn and engage in patient care. However, as a pre-medical student working next to several other doctor-hopefuls in a high stress environment, being a scribe frustrates me on an ethical level.

 

 

 

Let’s examine the structure and reasoning that has made medical scribe programs so successful. When EMR systems were first introduced, there was resistance, but it gave way to the push for efficiency. The biggest benefit of EMRs is easy: risk management. By allowing for documentation of every little part of a patient’s care, EMRs significantly decrease the risk of mistakes slipping through the cracks. It allows for better defense of the physician’s medical decisions, even months down the line.

 

For example, a physician I worked with was asked to go to court for a patient who had been assaulted by her boyfriend. The patient had been seen several months ago in the ED. Few physicians would be able to remember all the details of an encounter so long ago. His testimony was therefore entirely based on the medical chart, written by me and approved by him. The EMR allowed for comprehensive, detailed documentation of test results, discussions with the patient, and interactions with the police.

 

Unfortunately, such comprehensive medical records take time and effort to write. Physicians complain that they were becoming little more than data entry specialists, dedicating large portions of the time they should be spending with patients to clicking buttons. In comes the scribe. Usually students or recent graduates interested in becoming a medical provider, we become the physician’s right hand. Scribes are purported to decrease physician burnout considerably and increase ED efficiency. Better documentation also leads to better billing, so hospitals make more money. The physicians I work with, in a hospital who has been using scribes for over 3 years now, have all been grateful for the program.

 

Sounds great, right? The winning combination of EMRs and scribes. The road to increased efficiency, increased Press-Ganey scores, increased billing accuracy, increased fraud, increased profits for the administration. Happiness abounds.

 

How many of you missed the “increased fraud”?

 

…..

 

Read the entire article here

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | health care | , , , | Leave a comment

Wristbands Offer Clues to Toxin Exposure

Originally posted on HealthCetera - CHMP's Blog:



Environmental exposure, or exposomes, plays a critical role in public health, as Elise Miller, Director of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment   discussed  on a recent segment of   HealthStyles .

Exposomes encompass indoor and outdoor toxins, as well as behavioral factors like nutrition, stress, and lifestyle. Researchers are working on new technologies to better understand the links between exposomes and long-term health effects on a wide range of compounds.

Simple silicone wristbands – like the ones worn for cancer awareness or animal cruelty — may be an inexpensive means to detect potential disease risks of exposure to substances like pesticides. According to a recently published study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, people breathe, touch and ingest a low-level mix of natural and synthetic substances every day.

wristbands

However, determining exactly which compounds can lead to disease is difficult. Thousands of these compounds are in common consumer…

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Human Health in a Changing Climate

Mean surface temperature change for 1999–2008 ...

Mean surface temperature change for 1999–2008 relative to the average temperatures from 1940 to 1980 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 3 December 2013 post at Quest- The Science of Sustainability

An Expert Opinion: Jonathan Patz

Polar bears aren’t the only species threatened by climate change. Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin, has spent the last two decades studying the ways that a warming world will affect human health. In 2007, he shared the Nobel Prize as a lead author for the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Patz, who holds degrees in medicine and public health, crisscrosses the globe to spread the word about the far-reaching impacts of climate change on our health and why better urban planning might be the answer.

 When we think about the effects of climate change on our health, most of us probably think about big events like heat waves. Are there other, overlooked implications for public health? 

One of the reasons I think that climate change poses an enormous public health risk is because of the multiple pathways through which the impacts will be experienced. When you have a heat wave, you get worsening of pollution effects. Also higher temperatures promote more ragweed pollen, and then all sorts of infectious diseases. There are so many diseases very sensitive to small shifts in temperature. It’s also extremes of the water cycle. Already we don’t handle heavy rainfall events very well. When it rains really hard, you’re going to find bacteria and viruses in the water.

But I think one of the biggest problems that’s the most difficult to study and document, could be the disruption of big populations: droughts forcing people to move, sea level rise. These are going to cause population-wide disruption, social upheaval. I think this could be a huge burden with mental health, post-traumatic stress, and things like that.

In the upper map, countries are sized based on their greenhouse gas production

The disparity in carbon emissions (shown in the upper map) and prevalence of climate-senstive disease (lower map) between industrialized and non-industrialized countries is an ethical problem. Image by Jeff Miller, UW-Madison.

You’ve said that the way climate change is affecting our health is an ethical issue.

Where are today’s most climate-sensitive diseases like malaria, malnutrition, diarrheal disease? They’re mostly in poor countries, especially Africa and India. Then you ask the question, who’s causing global warming? Global warming is primarily from burning fossil fuels — that’s in the industrialized world. That’s the huge ethical dilemma. Those most vulnerable are the least responsible.

When I was meeting with the Dalai Lama two years ago, I was explaining to him that we didn’t know when we were developing the steam engine and oil- and gas-powered vehicles and powering our electricity with coal, we didn’t know that it was a bad thing. So now we know that. And the Dalai Lama asked me, he said, “Well, wait a minute, now that you know that, why are you still burning fossil fuels? It’s no longer ethical, with that knowledge.” I said to him, “That’s a good question. That’s a very good question.”

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem. Are there concrete things people can do that will mitigate some of the negative effects on our health?

Well, this is the exciting piece of this that I really think is important. With every crisis there’s an opportunity.

The automobile, the dependence on the automobile, is really a very costly design for our health. We actually quantified the economic benefit and the health benefit if you took the 11 largest cities in the upper Midwest and you asked the question, what if short car trips, trips that are two and a half miles, were taken off the road? What would it mean for urban air quality? We found that we would save 500 lives a year, hundreds of thousands in hospitalizations, and about four billion dollars every year in savings from avoided health costs.

Now, what if half of those short car trips become bicycle trips, and only during the summer? That would save another 700 lives per year because of physical fitness. So we’re talking about eight billion dollars, about 1,300 lives saved. So, this is a golden opportunity — a huge public health dividend — to be able to design cities and design transportation for active transit, for biking, for walking.

You bike to work, right? Even in the Wisconsin winter?

I have recently bought studded snow tires and I do bike to work, but that’s not actually the message that I want to portray. Because I would say while I bike to work in the winter, I do it for speed and convenience. If I lived further away, I would probably take the bus.

Read the entire post here

 

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | environmental health | , , | Leave a comment

IT maybe be helpful for your health! – Clinical decision support, CPOE get thumbs up from academics

Clinical decision support, CPOE get thumbs up from academics 

From the 22 January 2014 news article at EHRIntelligence

Formal academic studies about the implementation of clinical decision support (CDS) and computerized provider order entry (CPOE) are generally positive, according to a study of studies targeting the meaningful use of EHRs and associated technologies.  The report, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that for the most part, health IT implementations were successful in reducing adverse events and increasing efficient and effective processes of care.  However, many key aspects of IT adoption have been underreported, including the reasons why implementations go awry, leading to significant gaps in the ability to study the industry’s progress.

Funded by the ONC, the research team found that at least 78% of studies focused on medication safety found positive effects from CPOE use.  The automated dose calculation features of the software helped reduce dosage errors anywhere between 37% and 80%.
Fifty-eight of the articles reviewed by the researchers addressed efficiency questions, and found that health IT was able to reduce costs in 85% of cases, even though a large number of studies also reported increased time and effort spent on electronic documentation.  Clinical decision support was associated with a 30% increase in adherence to infection prevention guidelines in one study, and a “substantial decline” in venous thromboembolism for patients in another.
Overall, positive findings from CDS and CPOE projects included shorter emergency department turnaround times, more time for clinicians to interact with patients, and better chronic disease management.  However, when individual studies reported negative or mixed findings, there were few clues in the literature as to why the problems manifested themselves or how to correct them.
Read the entire article here

 

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | health care | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Accelerating Medicines Partnership – National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Accelerating Medicines Partnership – National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Great component – sharing data! Note below the bolded underlined portion

From the 4 March 2014 press release

The Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) is a bold new venture between the NIH, 10 biopharmaceutical companies and several non-profit organizations to transform the current model for developing new diagnostics and treatments by jointly identifying and validating promising biological targets of disease. The ultimate goal is to increase the number of new diagnostics and therapies for patients and reduce the time and cost of developing them.

AMP will begin with three to five year pilot projects in three disease areas:

For each pilot, scientists from NIH and industry have developed research plans aimed at characterizing effective molecular indicators of disease called biomarkers and distinguishing biological targets most likely to respond to new therapies.

Through this cross-sector partnership, which will be managed through the Foundation for the NIH (FNIH), NIH and industry partners are sharing expertise and resources — $230 million — in an integrated governance structure that enables the best informed contributions to science from all participants. A critical component of the partnership is that industry partners have agreed to make the AMP data and analyses publicly accessible to the broad biomedical community. These pilot projects will set the stage for broadening AMP to other diseases and conditions.

AMP Partners

Government Industry Non-Profit Organizations
FDA

NIH

AbbVie

Biogen Idec

Bristol-Myers Squibb

GlaxoSmithKline

Johnson & Johnson

Lilly

Merck

Pfizer

Sanofi

Takeda

Alliance for Lupus Research

Alzheimer’s Association

American Diabetes Association

Lupus Foundation of America

Lupus Research Institute

Foundation for the NIH

Geoffrey Beene Foundation

PhRMA

Rheumatology Research Foundation

USAgainstAlzheimer’s

Budget: 5 years [$230 Million (Rounded) Total Project Funding]

($Millions) Total Project Total NIH Total Industry
Alzheimer’s Disease 129.5 67.6 61.9
Type 2 Diabetes 58.4 30.4 28
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus 41.6 20.9 20.7
Total 229.5 118.9 110.6

 

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Relaxation Techniques for Health: An Introduction | NCCAM

Relaxation Techniques for Health: An Introduction | NCCAM

Excerpts from the Web page at The  National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

On this page:

Introduction

Relaxation techniques include a number of practices such as progressive relaxation, guided imagery,biofeedback, self-hypnosis, and deep breathing exercises. The goal is similar in all: to consciously produce the body’s natural relaxation response, characterized by slower breathing, lower blood pressure, and a feeling of calm and well-being.

Relaxation techniques (also called relaxation response techniques) may be used by some to release tension and to counteract the ill effects of stress. Relaxation techniques are also used to induce sleep, reduce pain, and calm emotions. This fact sheet provides basic information about relaxation techniques, summarizes scientific research on effectiveness and safety, and suggests sources for additional information.

Key Points

  • Relaxation techniques may be an effective part of an overall treatment plan for anxiety, depression, and some types of pain. Some research also suggests that these techniques may help with other conditions, such as ringing in the ears and overactive bladder. However, their ability to improve conditions such as high blood pressure and asthma is unclear.
  • Relaxation techniques are generally safe.
  • Do not use relaxation techniques to replace scientifically proven treatments or to postpone seeing a health care provider about a medical problem.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

 

About Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation is more than a state of mind; it physically changes the way your body functions. When your body is relaxed breathing slows, blood pressure and oxygen consumption decrease, and some people report an increased sense of well-being. This is called the “relaxation response.” Being able to produce the relaxation response using relaxation techniques may counteract the effects of long-term stress, which may contribute to or worsen a range of health problems including depression, digestive disorders, headaches, high blood pressure, and insomnia.

Go here for the entire article

 

 

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | Health Education (General Public) | , , , , | Leave a comment

Order or Download Your Free Patient Packet – Tips on How to Talk with your Health Care Provider

Order or Download Your Free Patient Packet | NCCAM

From the Web page

Order or Download Your Free Patient Packet

As part of the Time To Talk campaign, NCCAM has developed a packet of helpful materials to help you begin a dialogue with your health care providers. Order your packet online or call 1-888-644-6226 and use reference code D393.

Each packet contains:

  • Backgrounder PDFBackgrounder: The backgrounder provides information about the importance of health care providers and their patients talking about complementary health practices.Download PDF

 

Order your packet online or call 1-888-644-6226 and use reference code D393.

 

Related Resources

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | health care, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BBC – Future – Body bacteria: Can your gut bugs make you smarter?

BBC – Future – Body bacteria: Can your gut bugs make you smarter?.

Excerpts from the 21 February 2014 article

The bacteria in our guts can influence the working of the mind, says Frank Swain. So could they be upgraded to enhance brainpower?

I have some startling news: you are not human. At least, by some counts. While you are indeed made up of billions of human cells working in remarkable concert, these are easily outnumbered by the bacterial cells that live on and in you – your microbiome. There are ten of them for every one of your own cells, and they add an extra two kilograms (4.4lbs) to your body.

Far from being freeloading passengers, many of these microbes actively help digest food and prevent infection. And now evidence is emerging that these tiny organisms may also have a profound impact on the brain too. They are a living augmentation of your body – and like any enhancement, this means they could, in principle, be upgraded. So, could you hack your microbiome to make yourself healthier, happier, and smarter too?

..

“Diet is perhaps the biggest factor in shaping the composition of the microbiome,” he says. A study by University College Cork researcherspublished in Nature in 2012 followed 200 elderly people over the course of two years, as they transitioned into different environments such as nursing homes. The researchers found that their subjects’ health – frailty, cognition, and immune system – all correlated with their microbiome. From bacterial population alone, researchers could tell if a patient was a long-stay patient in a nursing home, or short-stay, or living in the general community. These changes were a direct reflection of their diet in these different environments. “A diverse diet gives you a diverse microbiome that gives you a better health outcome,” says Cryan.

Beyond a healthy and varied diet, though, it still remains to be discovered whether certain food combinations could alter the microbiome to produce a cognitive boost. In fact, Cryan recommends that claims from probiotic supplements of brain-boosting ought to be taken with a pinch of salt for now. “Unless the studies have been done, one can assume they’re not going to have any effect on mental health,” he says. Still, he’s optimistic about the future. “The field right now is evolving very strongly and quickly. There’s a lot of important research to be done. It’s still early days.”

 

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition, Psychology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BBC – Future – What happens to prosthetics and implants after you die?

As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, I am acutely aware of global health disparities.  For example, for every American who receives a prosthetic or implant….I often wonder how many folks worldwide do without…

BBC – Future – What happens to prosthetics and implants after you die?.

Excerpts

Millions of prosthetics, breast implants, and pacemakers now exist – so what happens to all these augmentations when their owners die or no longer need them? Frank Swain investigates.

Under the watchful eye of the prison guards at Metro Davidson County Detention Facility, half a dozen inmates in blue overalls are wrestling with prosthetic legs. They strip each one down into a collection of screws, bolts, connectors, feet and other components. The prison workshop is home to a collaboration with Standing With Hope, a US charity based in Nashville, Tennessee that recycles unwanted prosthetic limbs for the developing world. The disassembled legs will be shipped to Ghana, where locally trained clinicians will rebuild them to fit patients there.

These legs will get a second life, but other types of prosthetics and implants usually face a different destiny. What to do with augmented human parts when they are no longer needed – often due to the owner’s death – is an increasingly common issue. Modern medicine offers a litany of replacement parts, from whole limbs to metal hips, shoulders and joints. Then there are pacemakers and internal cardiac defibrillators (ICDs), as well as more common augmentations like dentures and silicone breast implants. What happens to these augmentations when someone dies?

Once removed, implants are typically discarded – both the European Union and the US, among others, have rules that forbid the reuse of implanted medical devices. However, there is a growing trend to recover them for use in the developing world.

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] No such thing as porn ‘addiction,’ researchers say

From the 12 February 2014 EurekAlert

Review article highlights lack of strong research about addictive nature of viewing sexual images

Journalists and psychologists are quick to describe someone as being a porn “addict,” yet there’s no strong scientific research that shows such addictions actually exists. Slapping such labels onto the habit of frequently viewing images of a sexual nature only describes it as a form of pathology. These labels ignore the positive benefits it holds. So says David Ley, PhD, a clinical psychologist in practice in Albuquerque, NM, and Executive Director of New Mexico Solutions, a large behavioral health program. Dr. Ley is the author of a review article about the so-called “pornography addiction model,” which is published in Springer’s journal Current Sexual Health Reports.

“Pornography addiction” was not included in the recently revised Diagnostic and Statistical Manual because of a lack of scientific data. Fewer than two in every five research articles (37 percent) about high frequency sexual behavior describe it as being an addiction. Only 27 percent (13 of 49) of articles on the subject contained actual data, while only one related psychophysiological study appeared in 2013. Ley’s review article highlights the poor experimental designs, methodological rigor and lack of model specification of most studies surrounding it.

The research actually found very little evidence – if any at all – to support some of the purported negative side effects of porn “addiction.” There was no sign that use of pornography is connected to erectile dysfunction, or that it causes any changes to the brains of users. Also, despite great furor over the effects of childhood exposure to pornography, the use of sexually explicit material explains very little of the variance in adolescents’ behaviors. These are better explained and predicted by other individual and family variables.

Instead, Ley and his team believe that the positive benefits attached to viewing such images do not make it problematic de facto. It can improve attitudes towards sexuality, increase the quality of life and variety of sexual behaviors and increase pleasure in long-term relationships. It provides a legal outlet for illegal sexual behaviors or desires, and its consumption or availability has been associated with a decrease in sex offenses, especially child molestation.

Clinicians should be aware that people reporting “addiction” are likely to be male, have a non-heterosexual orientation, have a high libido, tend towards sensation seeking and have religious values that conflict with their sexual behavior and desires. They may be using visually stimulating images to cope with negative emotional states or decreased life satisfaction.

“We need better methods to help people who struggle with the high frequency use of visual sexual stimuli, without pathologizing them or their use thereof,” writes Ley, who is critical about the pseudoscientific yet lucrative practices surrounding the treatment of so-called porn addiction. “Rather than helping patients who may struggle to control viewing images of a sexual nature, the ‘porn addiction’ concept instead seems to feed an industry with secondary gain from the acceptance of the idea.”

###

Reference: Ley, D. et al. (2014). The Emperor Has No Clothes: A Review of the “Pornography Addiction” Model, Current Sexual Health Reports. DOI 10.1007/s11930-014-0016-8.

The full text article and interviews are available to journalists upon request.

Contact: Alexander Brown | Springer | tel.: +1 212.620.8063 | alexander.brown@springer.com

February 13, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | Leave a comment

[Press Release] American Psychological Association Survey Shows Teen Stress Rivals That of Adults

From the 12 February 2014 Full Text Reports item

American Psychological Association Survey Shows Teen Stress Rivals That of Adults
Source: American Psychological Association

American teens report experiences with stress that follow a similar pattern as adults, according to a new survey released today by the American Psychological Association (APA). In fact, during the school year, teens say their stress level is higher than levels reported by adults in the past month. For teens and adults alike, stress has an impact on healthy behaviors like exercising, sleeping well and eating healthy foods.

Findings from Stress in America™: Are Teens Adopting Adults’ Stress Habits?, which was conducted online by Harris Interactive Inc., (on behalf of APA) among 1,950 adults and 1,018 teens in the U.S. in August 2013, suggest that unhealthy behaviors associated with stress may begin manifesting early in people’s lives.

Teens report that their stress level during the school year far exceeds what they believe to be healthy (5.8 versus 3.9 on a 10-point scale) and tops adults’ average reported stress levels (5.8 for teens versus 5.1 for adults). Even during the summer — between Aug. 3 and Aug. 31, 2013, when interviewing took place — teens reported their stress during the past month at levels higher than what they believe is healthy (4.6 versus 3.9 on a 10-point scale). Many teens also report feeling overwhelmed (31 percent) and depressed or sad (30 percent) as a result of stress. More than one-third of teens report fatigue or feeling tired (36 percent) and nearly one-quarter of teens (23 percent) report skipping a meal due to stress.

Despite the impact that stress appears to have on their lives, teens are more likely than adults to report that their stress level has a slight or no impact on their body or physical health (54 percent of teens versus 39 percent of adults) or their mental health (52 percent of teens versus 43 percent of adults).

 

 

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February 13, 2014 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pill Nation

Pill Nation.

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February 13, 2014 Posted by | health care | | 4 Comments

[Reblog] Legal High Lies

An arrangement of psychoactive drugs

An arrangement of psychoactive drugs (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Image taken from en:Image:Pyschoactive Drugs.jpg, originally uploaded by Thoric. 

 

From the 12 February 2014 2020 post at Health WellBeing Responsibility 

 

It was terribly sad listening to the bother of a “legal high” victim on the radio this morning. The now banned N-Bomb LSD copycat drug had left his brother severely brain damaged and dependent on 24 hour care for the rest of his life.

Surely it is time to stop using the incredibly misleading term ‘legal high’ with its safe, non-addictive, not-bad-enough-to-be-banned connotations. It’s a lie. The internet is littered with websites selling untold numbers of chemical compounds, blithely labelled with seductive names and proclaimed as legal, ‘quality research chemicals and herbal incense’, getting away with it through a bold disclaimer of “STRICTLY NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION”.

To try and start classifying them is financially and logistically possible, even though the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform (clue is in the name) calls for the Utopian solution of the an introduction of a new category for psychoactive substances whereby their supply can be ‘regulated’ and a review of the government lead for drugs to ensure a health focus. Yeah right.

The first step from the government surely has to be to a serious focus on deterrence. Insist on accurate labeling such as ‘high risk unclassified highs’ in all commentary – because there is never, ever anyway of the public being sure what is in the psychoactive substance. Possession should automatically incur a significant fine – pills, powder, whatever – you are potentially endangering yours and others lives. It may be herbs and talc but life is too short to test everything – the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction identified 73 new substances in 2012 alone - and it sends a message of principle. It is ridiculous that they can have ‘not fit for human consumption’ on the packet as a legal requirement alongside names such as gogaine, spellweaver, charlie and e-scape.

The American example of “analogue” legislation which simply automatically bans any new substance that has a similar chemical structure to an already banned drug is worth considering but it can never keep pace with new products coming to market. There are hundreds if not thousands of labs in Asia where new synthetic drugs are synthesised to imitate the effects of existing legal drugs. We have to keep this simple, and act now, if we are to prevent more tragic episodes of injury and death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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February 13, 2014 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] Dental care in school breaks down social inequalities

From the 10 February 2014 Science Daily article

 

A new global survey documents how dental care in the school environment is helping to assure a healthy life and social equity — even in developing countries. But there are still major challenges to overcome worldwide.

Around 60 per cent of the countries that took part in the study run formalized teaching in how to brush teeth, but not all countries have access to clean water and the necessary sanitary conditions. This constitutes a major challenge for the health and school authorities in Asia, Latin America and Africa in particular.

English: ADA/Dental Health on US postage stamp

English: ADA/Dental Health on US postage stamp (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Countries in these regions are battling problems involving the sale of sugary drinks and sweets in the school playgrounds. Selling sweets is often a source of extra income for school teachers, who are poorly paid,” explains Poul Erik Petersen.

He continues: “This naturally has an adverse effect on the children’s teeth. Many children suffer from toothache and general discomfort and these children may not get the full benefit of their education.”

The biggest challenges to improved dental health in low-income countries are a lack of financial resources and trained staff. Schools in the poorest countries therefore devote little or no time to dental care, and they similarly make only very limited use of fluoride in their preventative work. Moreover, the healthy schools in low-income countries find it harder to share their experience and results.

Social inequality is a serious problem

Social inequality in dental health and care is a serious problem all over the world:

“However, inequality is greater in developing countries where people are battling with limited resources, an increasing number of children with toothache, children suffering from HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases — combined with a lack of preventive measures and trained healthcare staff,” says Poul Erik Petersen, before adding:

“Even in a rich country like Denmark, we see social inequalities to dental care, despite the fact that dental health here is much improved among both children and adults. The socially and financially disadvantaged groups of the population show a high incidence of tooth and mouth complaints compared with the more affluent groups.”

 

Read the entire article here

 

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February 12, 2014 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] How chronic stress predisposes brain to mental disorders

From the 11 February 2014 ScienceDaily article

 

Biologists have shown in rats that chronic stress makes stem cells in the brain produce more myelin-producing cells and fewer neurons, possibly affecting the speed of connections between cells as well as memory and learning. This could explain why stress leads to mental illness, such as PTSD, anxiety and mood disorders, later in life.
 …

Does stress affect brain connectivity?

Kaufer’s findings suggest a mechanism that may explain some changes in brain connectivity in people with PTSD, for example. One can imagine, she said, that PTSD patients could develop a stronger connectivity between the hippocampus and the amygdala — the seat of the brain’s fight or flight response — and lower than normal connectivity between the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, which moderates our responses.

“You can imagine that if your amygdala and hippocampus are better connected, that could mean that your fear responses are much quicker, which is something you see in stress survivors,” she said. “On the other hand, if your connections are not so good to the prefrontal cortex, your ability to shut down responses is impaired. So, when you are in a stressful situation, the inhibitory pathways from the prefrontal cortex telling you not to get stressed don’t work as well as the amygdala shouting to the hippocampus, ‘This is terrible!’ You have a much bigger response than you should.”

Brain structures involved in dealing with fear...

Brain structures involved in dealing with fear and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stress tweaks stem cells

Kaufer’s lab, which conducts research on the molecular and cellular effects of acute and chronic stress, focused in this study on neural stem cells in the hippocampus of the brains of adult rats. These stem cells were previously thought to mature only into neurons or a type of glial cell called an astrocyte. The researchers found, however, that chronic stress also made stem cells in the hippocampus mature into another type of glial cell called an oligodendrocyte, which produces the myelin that sheaths nerve cells.

The fact that chronic stress also decreases the number of stem cells that mature into neurons could provide an explanation for how chronic stress also affects learning and memory, she said.

Kaufer is now conducting experiments to determine how stress in infancy affects the brain’s white matter, and whether chronic early-life stress decreases resilience later in life. She also is looking at the effects of therapies, ranging from exercise to antidepressant drugs, that reduce the impact of stress and stress hormones.

 

Read entire article here

 

 

 

 

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February 12, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Psychiatry | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Trading Food for Medication: The Intersection of Poverty and Pain, Part 1

From the 8 February 2014 para las fridas blog item

Chronic pain syndrome is an extremely complicated diagnosis and the treatment of its symptoms requires an interdisciplinary approach ranging from primary care physicians, physical therapists, anesthesiologists, and psychologists.  Likewise, understanding the barriers to the treatment of chronic pain requires teasing out a similarly convoluted picture.  Therefore, I’ve decided to write about the extremely complex and understudied relationship between poverty and pain.  Not surprisingly, there are many components to this relationship because the American health care system is one that involves many players from the government, private sector, non-profits, and Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, Children’s Health Insurance Program, Social Security Administration, and the Veteran’s Administration, just to name a few.  However my focus will be narrowed to concentrate on the relationship between living in poverty and efficacious treatment of chronic pain, the flip side of that relationship where individuals fall into poverty as a result of a life-altering, limiting, and costly diagnosis of chronic pain, and the stigma of poverty that consciously or unconsciously affects access to treatment for patients in pain.

Living in poverty increases an individual’s risk for pain on almost every level including musculoskeletal, sciatica, ulcer, and neuropathic.  Poleshuck and Green suggest that an individual’s socioeconomic status permeates almost every level of why an individual may suffer with chronic pain including the ability to implement positive coping strategies, job type and satisfaction, access to quality health insurance, and even social support and interpersonal relationships.

too often research on chronic pain is conducted in areas that have significant financial resources instead of places such as churches, homeless shelters, and community centers. There are other things to consider here.  People that live in poverty and suffer from pain may not have access to primary care givers, analgesics or pharmacies that carry analgesics, and pain specialists. As the U.S. population ages and increasingly more people are diagnosed with pain disorders, those on the fringe will suffer most.  Of course, there is a moral argument to be made here but there is an economic one too.  According to an article that came out in Science Daily in 2012, health economists at Johns Hopkins estimated that chronic pain cost as much as $635 billion a year which they found was higher than heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.  This was a conservative estimate. Therefore, one could argue that it is a public health interest to employ strategies of risk management, access, and multidisciplinary approaches to pain to vulnerable groups who suffer disabling pain at a higher number and magnitude.

….

The Top Five Useless Chronic Pain Treatments (Psychology Today), What not to do to help the chronic pain patient.Published on January 31, 2014 by Dr. Mark Borigini, M.D. in Overcoming Pain

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February 9, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , | Leave a comment

[News article] The Rise of Medical Identity Theft

From the 7 February 2014 Stateline news article 

By Michael Ollove, Staff Writer

A young woman retrieves a patient’s medical records at the Family Health Center in Louisville, Ky. The theft of personal medical information, whether paper-based or electronic, is a large and growing problem. (Getty)

If modern technology has ushered in a plague of identity theft, one particular strain of the disease has emerged as most virulent: medical identity theft.

Last month the Identity Theft Resource Centerproduced a surveyshowing that breaches of medical records involving personal information accounted for 43 percent of all records breaches involving personal information reported in the United States in 2013. That is a far greater chunk of record breaches than those involving banking and finance, the government and the military or education.

The definition of medical identity theft is the fraudulent acquisition of someone’s personal information – name, Social Security number, health insurance number – for the purpose of illegally obtaining medical services or devices, insurance reimbursements or prescription drugs.

“Medical identity theft is a growing and dangerous crime that leaves its victims with little to no recourse for recovery,” said Pam Dixon, the founder and executive director of World Privacy Forum. “Victims often experience financial repercussions and worse yet, they frequently discover erroneous information has been added to their personal medical files due to the thief’s activities.”

The Affordable Care Act has raised the stakes. One of the main concerns swirling around the disastrous rollout of federal and state health insurance exchanges last fall was whether the malfunctioning online marketplaces were compromising the confidentiality of Americans’ medical information.  Meanwhile, the law’s emphasis on digitizing medical records, touted as a way to boost efficiency and cut costs, comes amid intensifying concerns over the security of computer networks.

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who has disclosed the agency’s activities to the media, says the NSA has cracked the encryption used to protect the medical records of millions of Americans.

Multiple Motives

Thieves have used stolen medical information for all sorts of nefarious reasons, according to information collected by World Privacy Forum, a research group that seeks to educate consumers about privacy risks. For example:

  • A Massachusetts psychiatrist created false diagnoses of drug addiction and severe depression for people who were not his patients in order to submit medical insurance claims for psychiatric sessions that never occurred. One man discovered the false diagnoses when he applied for a job. He hadn’t even been a patient.
  • An identity thief in Missouri used the information of actual people to create false driver’s licenses in their names. Using one of them, she was able to enter a regional health center, obtain the health records of a woman she was impersonating, and leave with a prescription in the woman’s name.
  • An Ohio woman working in a dental office gained access to protected information of Medicaid patients in order to illegally obtain prescription drugs.
  • A Pennsylvania man found that an imposter had used his identity at five different hospitals in order to receive more than $100,000 in treatment. At each spot, the imposter left behind a medical history in his victim’s name.
  • A Colorado man whose Social Security number, name and address had been stolen received a bill for $44,000 for a surgery he not undergone.

 

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February 9, 2014 Posted by | health care | , , , | 2 Comments

[Press release] EPA’s 2012 Toxics Release Inventory Shows Air Pollutants Continue to Decline

TOXMAP, A Map of benzene release 2007-8 lower ...

TOXMAP, A Map of benzene release 2007-8 lower 48 US (Photo credit: Wikipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Benzene_release_2007-8_lower_48_US.JPG Attribution: The US National Library of Medicine’s TOXMAP, http://toxmap.nlm.nih.govFrom the 4 February 2014 EPA press release

From the 4 February 2014 EPA Press Release

Total releases of toxic chemicals decreased 12 percent from 2011-2012, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report released today. The decrease includes an eight percent decline in total toxic air releases, primarily due to reductions in hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions.

“People deserve to know what toxic chemicals are being used and released in their backyards, and what companies are doing to prevent pollution,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “By making that information easily accessible through online tools, maps, and reports, TRI is helping protect our health and the environment.”

The 2012 data show that 3.63 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were either disposed or otherwise released into the environment through air, water, and land. There was also a decline in releases of HAPs such as hydrochloric acid and mercury, which continues a long-term trend. Between 2011 and 2012, toxic releases into surface water decreased three percent and toxic releases to land decreased 16 percent. 

This is the first year that TRI has collected data on hydrogen sulfide. While it was added to the TRI list of reportable toxic chemicals in a 1993 rulemaking, EPA issued an Administrative Stay in 1994 that deferred reporting while the agency completed further evaluation of the chemical. EPA lifted the stay in 2011. In 2012, 25.8 million pounds of hydrogen sulfide were reported to TRI, mainly in the form of releases to air from paper, petroleum, and chemical manufacturing facilities.

Another new addition to TRI reporting is a requirement for each facility located in Indian country to submit TRI reports to EPA and the appropriate tribe, and not the state where the facility is geographically located. EPA finalized this requirement in a 2012 rule aimed at increasing tribal participation in the TRI Program.

This year’s TRI national analysis report includes new analyses and interactive maps for each U.S. metropolitan and micropolitan area, new information about industry efforts to reduce pollution through green chemistry and other pollution prevention practices, and a new feature about chemical use in consumer products.

The annual TRI report provides citizens with critical information about their communities. The TRI Program collects data on certain toxic chemical releases to the air, water, and land, as well as information on waste management and pollution prevention activities by facilities across the country.
The data are submitted annually to EPA, states, and tribes by facilities in industry sectors such as manufacturing, metal mining, electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste. Many of the releases from facilities that are subject to TRI reporting are regulated under other EPA program requirements designed to limit harm to human health and the environment.

Also available is the expanded TRI Pollution Prevention (P2) Search Tool, which now allows users to graphically compare facilities within the same industry using a variety of environmental metrics.

Toxics Release Inventory National Analysis

Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), facilities must report their toxic chemical releases to EPA by July 1 of each year. The Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 also requires facilities to submit information on waste management activities related to TRI chemicals.
More information on the 2012 TRI analysis, including metropolitan and micropolitan areas is available atwww.epa.gov/tri/nationalanalysis.

Read the entire press release here

Resources

What tools are available to help me conduct my own analysis?

A variety of online tools available from the Data and Tools webpage will help you access and analyze TRI data.

Where can I get downloadable files containing the data used in the 2012 National Analysis?

  • Basic Data Files: Each file contains the most commonly requested data fields submitted by facilities on the TRI Reporting Form R or the Form A Certification Statement.
  • Basic Plus Data Files: These files collectively contain all the data fields submitted by facilities on the TRI Reporting Form R or the Form A Certification Statement.
  • Dioxin, Dioxin-Like Compounds and TEQ Data Files: These files include the individually reported mass quantity data for dioxin and dioxin-like compounds reported on the TRI Reporting Form R Schedule 1, along with the associated TEQ data.
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February 9, 2014 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] CDC study shows that child passenger deaths have decreased 43 percent from 2002 – 2011

From the 4 February 2014 CDC press release

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Research has shown that using age- and size-appropriate child restraints (car seats, booster seats, and seat belts) is the best way to save lives and reduce injuries in a crash. Yet the report found that almost half of all black (45 percent) and Hispanic (46 percent) children who died in crashes were not buckled up, compared to 26 percent of white children (2009-2010).

The Vital Signs report also found that:

  • One in three children who died in crashes in 2011 was not buckled up.
  • Only 2 out of every 100 children live in states that require car seat or booster seat use for children age 8 and under.

Child passenger restraint laws result in more children being buckled up. A recent studyExternal Web Site Icon by Eichelberger et al, showed that among five states that increased the required car seat or booster seat age to 7 or 8 years, car seat and booster seat use tripled, and deaths and serious injuries decreased by 17 percent.


To help keep children safe on the road, parents and caregivers can:

  • Use car seats, booster seats, and seat belts in the back seat—on every trip, no matter how short.
    • Rear-facing car seat from birth up to age 2
      Buckle children in a rear-facing seat until age 2 or when they reach the upper weight or height limit of that seat.
    • Forward-facing car seat from age 2 up to at least age 5 When children outgrow their rear-facing seat, they should be buckled in a forward-facing car seat until at least age 5 or when they reach the upper weight or height limit of that seat.
    • Booster seat from age 5 up until seat belt fits properlyOnce children outgrow their forward-facing seat, they should be buckled in a booster seat until seat belts fit properly. The recommended height for proper seat belt fit is 57 inches tall.
    • Seat belt once it fits properly without a booster seatChildren no longer need to use a booster seat once seat belts fit them properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt lays across the chest (not the neck).
  • Install and use car seats according to the owner’s manual or get help installing them from a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.

 

Read the entire press release here

February 9, 2014 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Majority of Americans have their heart health facts wrong

From the 6 February 2014 ScienceDaily article

Summary:
Despite the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., about three-quarters (74 percent) of Americans do not fear dying from it, according to a recent survey.

Despite the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., about three-quarters (74 percent) of Americans do not fear dying from it, according to a recent survey from Cleveland Clinic.

Conducted as part of its “Love Your Heart” consumer education campaign in celebration of Heart Month, the survey found that Americans are largely misinformed about heart disease prevention and symptoms, and almost a third (32 percent) of them are not taking any proactive steps to prevent it. Even among those Americans with a family history of the disease (39 percent), who are at a significantly higher risk, 26 percent do not take any preventative steps to protect their heart health, according to the survey.

Perhaps even more concerning is that the majority (70 percent) of Americans are unaware of all the symptoms of heart disease, even though two out of three (64 percent) have or know someone who has the disease. Only 30 percent of Americans correctly identified unusual fatigue, sleep disturbances and jaw pain as all being signs of heart disease — just a few of the symptoms that can manifest.

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Related Slide show at the Cleveland Clinic Web site
http://my.clevelandclinic.org/default.aspx

“Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women in this country, so it’s disappointing to see that so many Americans are unaware of the severity of not taking action to prevent heart disease, or how exactly to do so,” said Steven Nissen, M.D., Chairman of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. “This is a disease that can largely be prevented and managed, but you have to be educated about how to do so and then incorporate prevention into your lifestyle.”

Many Americans believe the myth that fish oil can prevent heart disease.

Vitamins are viewed — mistakenly — as a key to heart disease prevention.

There is a lack of awareness about secret sodium sources.

Americans believe there is a heart disease gene.

 …

There is no single way to prevent heart disease, given that every person is different,” Dr. Nissen added.
“Yet there are five things everyone should learn when it comes to their heart health because they can make an enormous difference and greatly improve your risk:

eat right,
exercise regularly,
know your cholesterol,blood pressure, and body mass index numbers,
do not use tobacco,
and know your family history.
Taking these steps can help lead to a healthier heart and a longer, more vibrant life.”

Read the entire article here

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February 8, 2014 Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Health News Items, Nutrition | , , , , | Leave a comment

[News item] Fortified foods make up for some missing nutrients: study (but unprocessed is still best)

From the 6 February 2014 Reuter article

 

(Reuters Health) – Fortification of foods with additional nutrients does have an impact on kids’ intake of vitamins and minerals, but many children and teens are still not getting adequate nutrition, according to a new U.S. study.

Based on a large national dietary survey, the researchers found that without fortification, the diets of a large number of children and teens would be nutritionally inadequate. With fortification the picture is better, but not perfect.

(Reuters Health) – Fortification of foods with additional nutrients does have an impact on kids’ intake of vitamins and minerals, but many children and teens are still not getting adequate nutrition, according to a new U.S. study.

Based on a large national dietary survey, the researchers found that without fortification, the diets of a large number of children and teens would be nutritionally inadequate. With fortification the picture is better, but not perfect.

Katz said the paper demonstrates that in a culture that eats very poorly, we need fortification to have adequate nutrient intake.

“But what this paper does not address at all is: what would happen if we actually ate well,” he added.

Katz said it’s a mistake to think that preventing nutrient deficiencies with fortified “junk” foods is in any way the same as eating truly good foods.

“Eating a variety of wholesome foods would provide those same nutrients, along with many others, and without the sugar, salt, refined starch, unhealthy oils, excess calories and so on,” Katz said.

SOURCE: bit.ly/1iq2L5M Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Online January 27, 2014.

Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe

Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe (Photo credit: epSos.de) http://www.flickr.com/photos/36495803@N05/8077920518

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

 

 

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February 8, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] One way to prevent deaths by opiate overdose – Naxolene

From the 6 February 2014 blog item by Mackenzie Fuller at 100 resumes- the perils and victories of starting a public health career

……..

For opiate users, one option for harm reduction is to provide individuals, their friends, or other people close to them with naloxone (aka Narcan), an antidote to opiate overdose that can be administered intranasally, intramuscularly, or intravenously. Paramedics carry it for responding to potential drug overdoses, but sometimes paramedics aren’t called or arrive too late.

The recent death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from a suspected overdose has increased the news coverage of heroin deaths and the importance of naloxone. In my opinion, this news coverage of such an excellent actor highlights that users of heroin and other life-threatening drugs are multi-faceted, complex people, rather than beyond-hope dregs of society. I’m sure to many people this is a no duh statement, yet stereotypes continue to exist.

In July of 2013, Outside In started training their clients to administer naloxone. According one of their Facebook posts, they have trained 600 people and have had 174 overdose reversals reported to them as of February 5th, 2014. That is a lot of lives. While administering naloxone does send a person into withdrawal, withdrawal is better than death. Outside In also runs a needle exchange program, another harm reduction strategy.

In 2013, Oregon passed  SB 384 A, a law allowing persons who have completedtraining (developed by Oregon Health Authority) to possess and administer naloxone for treatment of opiate overdose. The law also gives such individuals immunity from civil liability except for in the case of wanton misconduct. The law became effective June 6th, 2013.

There are naloxone laws expanding access to this antidote in 17 states plus the District of Columbia (though not all the laws are state-wide). See this informative document by the Network for Public Health Law for more information.

……

“How To Stop Heroin Deaths”: Up To 85 Percent Of Users Overdose In The Presence Of Others [mykeystrokes.com]

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February 8, 2014 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] NIH to partner with biopharmaceutical companies and nonprofits to diagnose/treat diseases

From the 5 February 2014 (US) National Institutes of Health press release

The Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) is a bold new venture between the NIH, 10 biopharmaceutical companies and several non-profit organizations to transform the current model for developing new diagnostics and treatments by jointly identifying and validating promising biological targets of disease. The ultimate goal is to increase the number of new diagnostics and therapies for patients and reduce the time and cost of developing them.

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[At the risk of breaking copyright, this came via Twitter]

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AMP will begin with three to five year pilot projects in three disease areas:

For each pilot, scientists from NIH and industry have developed research plans aimed at characterizing effective molecular indicators of disease called biomarkers and distinguishing biological targets most likely to respond to new therapies.

Through this cross-sector partnership, which will be managed through the Foundation for the NIH (FNIH), NIH and industry partners are sharing expertise and resources — $230 million — in an integrated governance structure that enables the best informed contributions to science from all participants. A critical component of the partnership is that industry partners have agreed to make the AMP data and analyses publicly accessible to the broad biomedical community. These pilot projects will set the stage for broadening AMP to other diseases and conditions.

AMP Partners

Government Industry Non-Profit Organizations
FDANIH AbbVieBiogen Idec

Bristol-Myers Squibb

GlaxoSmithKline

Johnson & Johnson

Lilly

Merck

Pfizer

Sanofi

Takeda

Alzheimer’s AssociationAmerican Diabetes Association

Lupus Foundation of America

Foundation for the NIH

Geoffrey Beene Foundation

PhRMA

Rheumatology Research Foundation

USAgainstAlzheimer’s

Budget: 5 years [$230 Million (Rounded) Total Project Funding]

($Millions) Total Project Total NIH Total Industry
Alzheimer’s Disease 129.5 67.6 61.9
Type 2 Diabetes 58.4 30.4 28
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus 41.6 20.9 20.7
Total 229.5 118.9 110.6
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February 6, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Are you big pharma’s new target market?

From the 3 February 2014 EurekAlert

Taking a cue from Apple and Coca-Cola, pharmaceutical firms are humanizing their brands

This news release is available in French.

Montreal, February 4, 2014 — By 2018, it is estimated that the global pharmaceutical market will be worth more than $1.3 trillion USD. To corner their share of profits, established drug companies have to fight fierce competition from generic products, adhere to stringent government regulations and sway a consumer base that is better informed than ever before.

New research from Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business shows that Big Pharma has begun these efforts by embracing “brand personality,” a marketing strategy traditionally employed by consumer-focused companies like Apple, Coca-Cola and Harley-Davidson.

By imbuing their brands with human characteristics, pharmaceutical companies can boost sales by developing direct relationships with their consumers. The result: patients are more likely to ask their physician to prescribe specific brand-name medication.

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“Brand personalities can transform products from being merely functional to having emotional value in the eyes of the consumer,” says marketing professor Lea Katsanis, a co-author of the study that recently appeared in the Journal of Consumer Marketing.

“Pharmaceutical companies give their brands personality traits by relying on physical attributes, practical functions, user imagery and usage contexts. As a result, brand names like Viagra, Lipitor and Prozac become shorthand for the drugs themselves.”

To carry out the study, Katsanis and co-author Erica Leonard, a recent graduate of Concordia’s Master of Science in Marketing program, used an online survey to poll a total of 483 U.S. respondents. They rated 15 well-known prescription medications based on 22 different personality traits, such as dependability, optimism, anxiousness and elegance. The study included blockbuster drugs from Big Pharma companies such as Pfizer, Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline.

The results show that prescription drug brand personality, as perceived by consumers, has two distinct dimensions: competence and innovativeness. Consumers typically applied terms such as dependable, reliable, responsible, successful, stable, practical and solution-oriented” to branded drugs, thus showing a preference for overall competence. Words like unique, innovative and original related to the “innovativeness” of the drug in question.

“Our findings can help marketers better understand how competing brands are positioned and act accordingly to ensure their products remain distinctive. One way of achieving this could be to appropriately focus more on either the competence or innovativeness dimensions,” says Katsanis.

“From a consumer perspective, prescription drug brand personality may make health-related issues more approachable and less intimidating, facilitating physician-patient interactions by making patients more familiar with the medications used to treat what ails them.”

###

Related links:

 

 

Media contact:

Cléa Desjardins
Senior advisor, media relations
University Communications Services
Concordia University
Phone: 514-848-2424, ext. 5068
Email: clea.desjardins@concordia.ca
Web: concordia.ca/now/media-relations
Twitter: twitter.com/CleaDesjardins

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February 5, 2014 Posted by | health care, Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Taking statins to lower cholesterol? New guidelines

From the 4 February 2014 Mayo Clinic Press Release

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Feb. 4, 2014 — Clinicians and patients should use shared decision-making to select individualized treatments based on the new guidelines to prevent cardiovascular disease, according to a commentary by three Mayo Clinic physicians published in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

Journalists:  Sound bites with Dr. Montori are available in the downloads.

Shared decision-making is a collaborative process that allows patients and their clinicians to make health care decisions together, taking into account the best scientific evidence available, as well as the patient’s values and preferences.

In 2013, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association issued new cholesterol guidelines, replacing previous guidelines that had been in place for more than a decade. The new guidelines recommend that caregivers prescribe statins to healthy patients if their 10-year cardiovascular risk is 7.5 percent or higher.

“The new cholesterol guidelines are a major improvement from the old ones, which lacked scientific rigor,” says primary author Victor Montori, M.D., Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and lead researcher in the Knowledge and Evaluation Research Unit. “The new guidelines are based upon calculating a patient’s 10-year cardiovascular risk and prescribing proven cholesterol-lowering drugs — statins — if that risk is high.”

However, Dr. Montori cautions that the risk threshold established by the guideline panel is somewhat arbitrary. Instead he recommends that patients and their clinicians use a decision-making tool to discuss the risks and benefits of treatment with statins.

“Rather than routinely prescribing statins to the millions of adults who have at least a 7.5 percent risk of having a heart attack or stroke within 10 years, there is an opportunity for clinicians and patients to discuss the potential benefits, harm and burdens of statins in order to arrive at a choice that reflects the existing research and the values and context of each patient,” he says.

“We’re creating a much more sophisticated, patient-centered practice of medicine in which we move the decision-making from the scientist to the patient who is going to experience the consequences of these treatments and the burdens of these interventions,” Dr. Montori explains. “Decision-making tools can democratize this approach and put it in the hands of millions of Americans who have their own goals front and center in the decision-making process.”

Additional authors of the commentary include Henry Ting, M.D., and Juan Pablo Brito Campana, M.B.B.S., both of Mayo Clinic.

 

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February 5, 2014 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press Release] Brain Scans Show We Take Risks Because We Can’t Stop Ourselves

Major implications in concepts as free will, sin, justice, mental illness, government/medical “intervention”…..

From the 4 February 2014 University of Texas at Austin press release

AUSTIN, Texas — A new study correlating brain activity with how people make decisions suggests that when individuals engage in risky behavior, such as drunk driving or unsafe sex, it’s probably not because their brains’ desire systems are too active, but because their self-control systems are not active enough.

This might have implications for how health experts treat mental illness and addiction or how the legal system assesses a criminal’s likelihood of committing another crime.

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When these brain regions (mostly associated with control) aren’t active enough, we make risky choices. Z-statistic corresponds to predictive ability, yellow being the most predictive regions. Image: Sarah Helfinstein/U. of Texas at Austin.

Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin, UCLA and elsewhere analyzed data from 108 subjects who sat in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner — a machine that allows researchers to pinpoint brain activity in vivid, three-dimensional images — while playing a video game that simulates risk-taking.

The researchers used specialized software to look for patterns of activity across the whole brain that preceded a person’s making a risky choice or a safe choice in one set of subjects. Then they asked the software to predict what other subjects would choose during the game based solely on their brain activity. The software accurately predicted people’s choices 71 percent of the time.

“These patterns are reliable enough that not only can we predict what will happen in an additional test on the same person, but on people we haven’t seen before,” said Russell Poldrack, director of UT Austin’s Imaging Research Center and professor of psychology and neuroscience.

Read the entire press release here

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February 5, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , | 2 Comments

[Article] Pain sensitivity may be influenced by lifestyle, environment, twin study suggests

One way to address the growing heroin epidemic? Address lifestyle and environment components.
Certainly would be a public health way to stem folks dependence on substances that can often diminish quality of life and death.

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From the 4 January 2014 Science Daily article (read the entire article at this link)

Researchers have discovered that sensitivity to pain could be altered by a person’s lifestyle and environment throughout their lifetime. The study is the first to find that pain sensitivity, previously thought to be relatively inflexible, can change as a result of genes being switched on or off by lifestyle and environmental factors — a process called epigenetics, which chemically alters the expression of genes.

Related articles

 

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February 5, 2014 Posted by | environmental health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Sweat glands heal injuries

From the 4 February 2014 press release at EurkAlert

This news release is available in German.

 IMAGE: A biopsy punch arranges the biopolymer substrate into the appropriate shape (left). Cells then colonize these circular discs in cell culture vessels (right).

Click here for more information. 

It all began with the pancreas. Prof. Charli Kruse, head of the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Marine Biotechnology EMB in Lübeck, still remembers it well. The researchers had isolated some cells taken from the organ in a petri dish as part of their research – their aim was to investigate the function of the protein Vigilin, which is produced in the gland cells. “Suddenly we realized that these cells were reproducing in an unusual way, since the microscope showed not only gland cells in the dish but nerve and muscle cells, too.” Stem cells had formed out of the gland tissue and multiplied to form a variety of different cells. It quickly became apparent that other gland cells shared the same capability: “We slowly worked our way outward from the internal organs until we got to the skin – and the sweat glands. Again, this yielded the same result: a petri dish full of stem cells.” Up to now the sweat glands haven’t really received much attention since laboratory animals such as mice or rats have them only on their paws. A human being, on the other hand, possesses up to three million – predominantly on the soles of the feet, palms of the hand, armpits and forehead.

Healing stem cells obtained from the armpit

Biologists and medics use stem cells to obtain new tissue to replace cells that are damaged or diseased. They play a particularly important role in healing wounds. Stem cells taken from the patient’s own body are ideal because there is no chance of the body rejecting them. Getting at them, however, requires a cumbersome operation to extract the stem cells either from bone marrow or from the blood. “The sweat glands are significantly easier to get to. All that is required is a short walk-in walk-out visit to your dermatologist. We can obtain stem cells from less than 3 millimeters of underarm skin,” explains Kruse. When grafted to a skin injury, these stem cells can have a very beneficial effect on the healing process. Whether it is the cells themselves that build new skin cells and blood vessels or whether their role is to manage healing processes by releasing growth hormones that in turn activate immune cells is currently undergoing investigation.

Tests conducted by the scientists on animals and on human skin in the petri dish have demonstrated the beneficial effect of stem cells in healing injuries.

 

Read the entire press release here

February 5, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Report] Understanding Differences Between High- And Low-Price Hospitals: Implications For Efforts To Rein In Costs

From the 1 January 2014 report at Health Affairs

Abstract

Private insurers pay widely varying prices for inpatient care across hospitals. Previous research indicates that certain hospitals use market clout to obtain higher payment rates, but there have been few in-depth examinations of the relationship between hospital characteristics and pricing power.

This study used private insurance claims data to identify hospitals receiving inpatient prices significantly higher or lower than the median in their market. High-price hospitals, compared to other hospitals, tend to be larger; be major teaching hospitals; belong to systems with large market shares; and provide specialized services, such as heart transplants and Level I trauma care.

High-price hospitals also receive significant revenues from nonpatient sources, such as state Medicaid disproportionate-share hospital funds, and they enjoy healthy total financial margins.

Quality indicators for high-price hospitals were mixed: High-price hospitals fared much better than low-price hospitals did in U.S. News & World Report rankings, which are largely based on reputation, while generally scoring worse on objective measures of quality, such as postsurgical mortality rates.

Thus, insurers may face resistance if they attempt to steer patients away from high-price hospitals because these facilities have good reputations and offer specialized services that may be unique in their markets.

 

 

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February 5, 2014 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Article] Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Recommended Immunization Schedule for Adults Aged 19 Years or Older: United States, 2014

From the 4 February 2014 Annals of Internal Medicine article by Carolyn B. Bridges, MD; Tamera Coyne-Beasley, MD, MPH, on behalf of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices

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View a larger version of the graphic and the accompanying article here

Related articles

 

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February 5, 2014 Posted by | Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

[BBC] Cancer ‘tidal wave’ on horizon, warns WHO

Back in 1980/81 I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia, West Africa.
Cancer was basically unheard of.  Children were dying at high rates of preventable diseases/conditions as malaria and diarrhea. Most diseases were infectious  and/or related to environmental conditions as malaria, dengue fever, and cholera.
Always thought that cancer was not prevalent because the diet was healthy. Everything I ate was what we call “organic”.

Now the tide not only is turning, it has turned.

Just one note, the term “developing country” is a misnomer. All countries are developing!

From the 3 February 2014 BBC article

The globe is facing a “tidal wave” of cancer, and restrictions on alcohol and sugar need to be considered, say World Health Organization scientists.

It predicts the number of cancer cases will reach 24 million a year by 2035, but half could be prevented.

The WHO said there was now a “real need” to focus on cancer prevention by tackling smoking, obesity and drinking.

The World Cancer Research Fund said there was an “alarming” level of naivety about diet’s role in cancer.

Fourteen million people a year are diagnosed with cancer, but that is predicted to increase to 19 million by 2025, 22 million by 2030 and 24 million by 2035.

 

The developing world will bear the brunt of the extra cases.

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Dr Chris Wild, the director of the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, told the BBC: “The global cancer burden is increasing and quite markedly, due predominately to the ageing of the populations and population growth.

“If we look at the cost of treatment of cancers, it is spiralling out of control, even for the high-income countries. Prevention is absolutely critical and it’s been somewhat neglected.”

A third of people said cancer was mainly due to family history, but the charity said no more than 10% of cancers were down to inherited genes.

The WHO’s World Cancer Report 2014 said the major sources of preventable cancer included:

  • Smoking
  • Infections
  • Alcohol
  • Obesity and inactivity
  • Radiation, both from the sun and medical scans
  • Air pollution and other environmental factors
  • Delayed parenthood, having fewer children and not breastfeeding

 

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Continue reading the main story

 

February 4, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

[Reblog] Are you a victim of patient profiling?

Very controversial, this posting has 113 comments as of Feb 4, 2014.
Two (or more! ) sides to this.
On a personal level, my medical record very boldly on the first page states two conditions
– Anxiety/Depression (have not needed medication for these conditions in 5 years)
– High Cholesterol ( have disputed the doctor on this, based on how I have read the scientific literature)

So, yes…I feel profiled!

Yet, the doctor is doing the best he can. He can only see patients for 15 minutes. His electronic records are
basically, well, dictated by the group he is in.

On another note, just as I am not defined by my job or resume…
I am also not defined by my medical record!

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From the 4 February 2014 Kevin MD article by Pamela Wible, MD

Ever felt misjudged by a doctor? Or treated unfairly by a clinic or hospital? You may be a victim of patient profiling.

Patient profiling is the practice of regarding particular patients as more likely to have certain behaviors or illnesses based on their appearance, race, gender, financial status, or other observable characteristics. Profiling disproportionately impacts patients with chronic pain, mental illness, the uninsured, and patients of color. Like racial profiling by police, patient profiling by physicians is more common than you think.

 

We rely on doctors to first do no harm–to safeguard our health–but profiling patients often leads to improper medical care, and distrust of physicians and the health care system, with potential lifelong consequences.

For the first time, people share their stories:

I was once denied pain meds after a fall off a 10-foot porch by the same doc who gave my pretty female friend pain meds after getting two stitches in her finger. I felt like my appearance had something to do with it.” ~ Jay Snider

 

Read the entire article (with 113+ comments) here

 

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February 4, 2014 Posted by | health care | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Recipes for folks with diabetes which are also good for us all!

Folks with diabetes are advised to plan ahead and ..

  • Limiting foods that are high in sugar
  • Eat smaller portions, spread out over the day
  • Be careful about when and how many carbohydrates you eat
  • Eat a variety of whole-grain foods, fruits and vegetables every day
  • Eat less fat
  • Limit  use of alcohol
  • Use less salt

Sensible advice for just about everybody.
Also, a healthy diet and a health diet can prevent diabetes from developing.

Here’s a few good resources for planning healthy meals and healthy eating in general

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February 3, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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