Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Americans’ Salt Intake Unchanged Over 50 Years

Intense efforts to limit sodium in U.S. diet aren’t working, an expert says

From an October 20, 2010 Health Day news item

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) — Americans still consume more salt than they should, despite decades of warnings linking high-salt diets with an increase in blood pressure and a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

A new Harvard study finds salt intake is about the same today as it was nearly 50 years ago, an amount well above recommended guidelines, noted Dr. Adam M. Bernstein, the study’s lead author.

Bernstein, a research fellow in the Harvard School of Public Health’s department of nutrition, and colleague Dr. Walter C. Willett analyzed 38 studies, published between 1957 and 2003, that reported the amount of salt that the more than 26,000 participants passed in their urine. This test is the most reliable estimate of salt intake.

The researchers thought they would find that salt intake had increased over time because Americans eat more processed foods today than in 1957. But decade after decade, people consistently consumed about 3,700 milligrams of sodium a day, the data showed. Current sodium guidelines advise up to 2,300 milligrams (about one teaspoon) a day for adults, and 1,500 milligrams for those who have or are at risk for high blood pressure.

The study appears in the November issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

[Editor Flahiff’s note…Ask a reference librarian at a local public, academic, or medical library for the availability of the full text of this article…either at or through the library. The library may charge a fee. It’s always best to call ahead for information!]




October 23, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | Leave a comment

Health Tip: Should You Take Probiotics?

From an October 20th Health Day news item

By Diana Kohnle

(HealthDay News) — Probiotics are micro-organisms designed to help manage digestive health. Manufacturers are now including them in everything from yogurt to granola bars, the American Gastroenterological Association says.

[Probiotics: What They Are and What They Can Do for You]

While studies have shown that probiotics may help people with a host of digestive conditions, their benefit hasn’t been proven in people with severely compromised immune systems, the association says.

On the other hand, probiotics may help treat people with:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
  • Diarrhea caused by infection with a virus, bacteria or parasite.
  • Diarrhea caused by taking antibiotics.




October 23, 2010 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

Some Adversity in Life Seems to Help Build Resilience

From an Oct 20, 2010 Health Day news item

By Robert Preidt

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) — In life, some adversity can benefit your mental health by strengthening your adaptability and resilience, a new study suggests.

Researchers analyzed data from 2,398 people who took part in a national survey each year from 2001 to 2004. Those who experienced some adverse events reported better mental health and well-being than those exposed to high levels of adversity or no adversity at all.

“Our findings revealed that a history of some lifetime adversity — relative to both no adversity or high adversity — predicted lower global distress, lower functional impairment, lower [post-traumatic stress] symptoms and higher life satisfaction,” study author Mark Seery, an assistant professor of psychology at the University at Buffalo, said in a university news release.

He and his colleagues also found that people with a history of some lifetime adversity appeared to weather recent adverse events better than other people.

“Although we studied major lifetime adversity, there is reason to believe that other relatively mundane experiences should also contribute to resilience,” Seery said. “This suggests that carefully designed psychotherapeutic interventions may be able to do so, as well, although there is much work that still needs to be done to fully understand resilience and where it comes from.”

The findings were released online in October in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
[Editor Flahiff’s note…Ask a reference librarian at a local public, academic, or medical library for the availability of the full text of this article…either at or through the library. The library may charge a fee. It’s always best to call ahead for information!]



October 23, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | Leave a comment

A Free Health Care Quality Resource

From the About page of was created and is maintained by The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation working toward a high performance health system. It is a free resource for health care professionals interested in tracking performance on various measures of health care quality. It enables organizations to compare their performance against that of peer organizations, against a range of benchmarks, and over time. Case studies and improvement tools spotlight successful improvement strategies of the nation’s top performers.

Currently, the site includes measures of hospital quality that are publicly reported on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Web site, Hospital Compare. We will update these data sets four times a year. Data are included for nearly all U.S. hospitals, over 4,500. It also includes data on the incidence of central line associated bloodstream infections, from some 900 hospitals across the nation. For information on the particular measures, please see Methodology.

WhyNotTheBest? also includes these resources

  • Case Studies to “Learn from other hospitals about successful strategies to create safe, reliable health care processes and deliver high-quality care to patients.”
  • Improvement Tools “from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and other resources”
  • Related Publication citations/links
  • Invited commentaries on subjects related to performance measurement and improvement.


October 23, 2010 Posted by | Librarian Resources | Leave a comment

New Strain of Swine Flu Emerges

From a Oct 22, 2010 Reuters Health Information news release

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The H1N1 swine flu virus may be starting to mutate, and a slightly new form has begun to predominate in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, researchers reported on Thursday.

More study is needed to tell whether the new strain is more likely to kill patients and whether the current vaccine can protect against it completely, said Ian Barr of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne, Australia and colleagues.

“However, it may represent the start of more dramatic antigenic drift of the pandemic influenza A(H1N1) viruses that may require a vaccine update sooner than might have been expected,” they wrote in the online publication Eurosurveillance.

It is possible it is both more deadly and also able to infect people who have been vaccinated, they said.

Flu viruses mutate constantly — this is why people need a fresh flu vaccine every year. Since it broke out in March 2009 and spread globally, the H1N1 swine flu virus has been very stable with almost no mutation….

“The virus has changed little since it emerged in 2009, however, in this report we describe several genetically distinct changes in the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus,” Barr’s team wrote in the report, available at

“These variants were first detected in Singapore in early 2010 and have subsequently spread through Australia and New Zealand.”

The changes are not significant yet, they said. But there have been some cases of people who were vaccinated also becoming infected, and also some deaths.

“Already this variant virus has been associated with several vaccine breakthroughs in teenagers and adults vaccinated in 2010 with monovalent pandemic influenza vaccine (protecting against only H1N1) as well as a number of fatal cases from whom the variant virus was isolated,” they wrote.

But there is not enough information to tell whether there may have been other factors making the patients more vulnerable, they stressed.

“It remains to be seen whether this variant will continue to predominate for the rest of the influenza season in Oceania and in other parts of the southern hemisphere and then spread to the northern hemisphere or merely die out,” they wrote.


A few good resources to keep up with H1N1 news

  • is a “comprehensive government-wide information on seasonal, H1N1 (swine), H5N1 (bird) and pandemic influenza for the general public, health and emergency preparedness professionals, policy makers, government and business leaders, school systems, and local communities” includes an option for email updates, printable fact sheets and other printable resources, news articles, FAQs, and much more
  • Influenza (World Health Organization)


October 23, 2010 Posted by | Public Health | , , | 1 Comment

Accidental drug ingestions lead to more than 100,000 hospital emergency department visits annually

Vast majority of cases involved patients aged 5 years old or younger

From a (US ) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Oct 14, 2010 news release

A new Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) study found that two-thirds (68.9 percent) of the 100,340 emergency department visits made in 2008 for accidental ingestion of drugs were made by children aged 5 or younger.

Two-fifths (42.3 percent) of the visits involved patients aged 2 years old, and almost one third (29.5 percent) involved one-year-old patients.  The report showed that males accounted for slightly more than half (55.7 percent) of the emergency department visits for accidental drug ingestion among children aged 5 or younger….

.”Poisoning is one of the most common childhood injuries. Most of the time it happens right at home,” [Editor Flahiff’s emphasis] said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. “Locking up drugs and properly disposing leftover or expired drugs can save lives. Studies like this one that measure the impact on the health care system of accidental ingestion of drugs also provides us an opportunity to get the message out to parents and caregivers that there are simple steps they can take to prevent accidental drug ingestion.”

A copy of the study is available at:

For more poison prevention and first aid information, call 1-800-222-1222 or visit:



October 23, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , | Leave a comment

A New Order for CPR, named CAB (Compression-Airway- Breathing)


A link to information about the new CPR guidelines (Compression – Airway- Breathing) may be found here.
presskit with media materials, statements from experts, and real life stories may be found here.

Excerpt from the American Heart Association Oct 18, 2010 news release

Statement Highlights:

  • The 2010 AHA Guidelines for CPR and ECC update the 2005 guidelines.
  • When administering CPR, immediate chest compressions should be done first.
  • Untrained lay people are urged to administer Hands-Only CPR (chest compressions only).

DALLAS, Oct. 18, 2010 — The American Heart Association is re-arranging the ABCs of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in its 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Recommending that chest compressions be the first step for lay and professional rescuers to revive victims of sudden cardiac arrest, the association said the A-B-Cs (Airway-Breathing-Compressions) of CPR should now be changed to C-A-B (Compressions-Airway-Breathing).[Editor Flahiff’s emphasis]

“For more than 40 years, CPR training has emphasized the ABCs of CPR, which instructed people to open a victim’s airway by tilting their head back, pinching the nose and breathing into the victim’s mouth, and only then giving chest compressions,” said Michael Sayre, M.D., co-author of the guidelines and chairman of the American Heart Association’s Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC) Committee. “This approach was causing significant delays in starting chest compressions, which are essential for keeping oxygen-rich blood circulating through the body. Changing the sequence from A-B-C to C-A-B for adults and children allows all rescuers to begin chest compressions right away.”

In previous guidelines, the association recommended looking, listening and feeling for normal breathing before starting CPR. Now, compressions should be started immediately on anyone who is unresponsive and not breathing normally.

All victims in cardiac arrest need chest compressions. In the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest, victims will have oxygen remaining in their lungs and bloodstream, so starting CPR with chest compressions can pump that blood to the victim’s brain and heart sooner. Research shows that rescuers who started CPR with opening the airway took 30 critical seconds longer to begin chest compressions than rescuers who began CPR with chest compressions.

The change in the CPR sequence applies to adults, children and infants, but excludes newborns.

Other recommendations, based mainly on research published since the last AHA resuscitation guidelines in 2005:

  • During CPR, rescuers should give chest compressions a little faster, at a rate of at least 100 times a minute.
  • Rescuers should push deeper on the chest, compressing at least two inches in adults and children and 1.5 inches in infants.
  • Between each compression, rescuers should avoid leaning on the chest to allow it to return to its starting position.
  • Rescuers should avoid stopping chest compressions and avoid excessive ventilation.
  • All 9-1-1 centers should assertively provide instructions over the telephone to get chest compressions started when cardiac arrest is suspected.

Related Links


Vinnie Jones’ hard and fast Hands-only CPR  (British Heart Foundation)


Learn Sarver Heart Center’s Continuous Chest Compression CPR

ScienceDaily (Mar. 8, 2011) — Study participants who viewed a brief hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) video were more likely to attempt CPR, and perform better quality CPR in an emergency than participants who did not view the short videos, according to research reported in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.


October 23, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

FDA Heightens Focus on Retail Food Safety

From a Oct 22, 2010 US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) news release

10-year tracking report highlights areas for improvement

The Food and Drug Administration called today for stepped up efforts to improve food safety practices in retail food establishments, specifically pointing to the need for the presence of certified food safety managers to oversee safety practices. FDA pledged to work closely with state and local governments and operators of restaurants, grocery stores and other food service establishments to prevent illness from contaminated food.

FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael R. Taylor cited the retail food industry’s recent progress in key areas as well as room for improvement, based on the findings released today from FDA’s 10-year study tracking the retail industry’s efforts to reduce five key risk factors.

“In looking at the data, it is quite clear that having a certified food protection manager on the job makes a difference,” Taylor said. “Some states and localities require certified food protection managers already, and many in the retail industry employ them voluntarily as a matter of good practice. We think it should become common practice.”

A component of the 10-year study, the 2009 retail food report, found that the presence of a certified food protection manager in four facility types was correlated with statistically significant higher compliance levels with food safety practices and behaviors than in facilities lacking a certified manager. For instance, compliance in full service restaurants was 70 percent with a manager, versus 58 percent without a manager. In delicatessens, compliance was 79 percent with a manager, versus 64 percent without. For seafood markets, compliance with a manager was 88 percent, versus 82 percent without. And in produce markets, compliance was 86 percent with a manager, versus 79 percent without.



October 23, 2010 Posted by | Public Health | | Leave a comment


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