Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Snoring and Sleep Disorders: A Dental Approach to a Major Public Health Issue

The Cycle of Obstructive Sleep Apnea - OSA

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From the 19 April 2011 Science Daily item

ScienceDaily (Apr. 19, 2011) — Over seven million people in Spain are at risk of developing sleep apnoea (SA), a health problem caused by obstructed air intake during sleep. The disorder has become a common issue in public health, affecting patients’ quality of life and potentially leading to hypertension, cardiovascular disease and neurological disorders, as well as increasing the likelihood of traffic, workplace and domestic accidents with personal, financial and healthcare repercussions. In children, SA is often associated with learning difficulties and behavioural and attention disorders.

Almost two million people in Spain show symptoms of SA requiring treatment, but only 5% are conclusively diagnosed….

…Excess weight, alcohol consumption, smoking, polymedication, nasal obstruction, menopause and unhealthy lifestyle habits in general have a negative impact on health and the sleep cycle. “As healthcare professionals, our obligation is to encourage people to correct habits that are harmful to their health to improve sleep hygiene and quality of life. We must use our knowledge to guarantee effective medical treatment for patients. Professionals with responsibility for the health and safety of others, such as ourselves, or chauffeurs and pilots, for example, know that our work is helping to save lives and to save companies money,” says Maribel Pascual. As Eva Willaert explains, “In the case of snoring, the model has changed completely: before we thought it was a sign of sleeping well, but snoring can be the first sign of respiratory difficulties during sleep. Statistics show that 60% of men over 50 and 40% of women in the same age group snore. Not everyone that snores develops SA, but snoring can lead to other health conditions and it is always worth reviewing clinical histories.”…

…The most common treatment for snoring and SA until recently was continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), administered using a device consisting of a nose piece or full mask that supplies a constant air pressure during sleep. A newer alternative, the mandibular advancement device (MAD), alters certain characteristics of the upper airways, leading to improvements in people affected by snoring and by mild and moderate cases of SA, making it the preferred treatment option for both disorders….

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided byUniversidad de Barcelona, via AlphaGalileo.

April 20, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Why Do Hopeful Consumers Make Healthier Choices Than Happy Ones?

Happy people are more likely to eat candy bars, whereas hopeful people choose fruit, according to a new study. That’s because when people feel hope, they’re thinking about the future. (Credit: © Andrea Berger / Fotolia)

From the 20 April 2011 Science News Today article

ScienceDaily (Apr. 20, 2011) — Happy people are more likely to eat candy bars, whereas hopeful people choose fruit, according to a new study in theJournal of Consumer Research. That’s because when people feel hope, they’re thinking about the future.

Most of us are aware that we often fall victim to emotional eating, but how is it that we might choose unhealthy or healthy snacks when we’re feeling good?” write authors Karen Page Winterich (Pennsylvania State University) and Kelly L. Haws (Texas A&M University).

Because previous research has explored how feeling sad leads to eating bad, the authors focused on the complicated relationship between positive emotions and food consumption. “We demonstrate the importance of the time frame on which the positive emotion focuses and find that positive emotions focusing on the future decrease unhealthy food consumption in the present,” the authors write….

Journal Reference:

  1. Karen Page Winterich and Kelly L. Haws. Helpful Hopefulness: The Effect off Future Positive Emotions on ConsumptionJournal of Consumer Research, October 2011 (published online March 18, 2011) DOI:10.1086/659873

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April 20, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

Experts Question Whether Preventive Drugs Are Value For Money


[For an overview of Cochrane Reviews, click here]

From the 19 April Medical News Today article

Experts today challenge the view that popular drugs to prevent disease – like statins and antihypertensives to prevent heart disease andstroke, or bisphosphonates to prevent fractures – represent value for money.

In a paper published on[full text] today, Teppo Järvinen and colleagues argue that the benefits seen when these drugs are tested in clinical trials may not apply in the real world.

They argue that value for money in real life clinical practice is likely to be much lower than in a clinical trial, where patients are carefully selected and receive special attention from dedicated staff. “This gap between the ideal and clinical circumstances raises the question of how well our most widely used preventive drugs work in real life,” they write. ….

…although there are claims that important preventive drugs such as statins, antihypertensives, and bisphosphonates are cost effective, there are no valid data on the effectiveness, and particularly the cost effectiveness, in usual clinical care,” they say.

Despite this dearth of data, they point out that the majority of clinical guidelines and recommendations for preventive drug therapy rest on these claims.

The authors argue that before claims on cost effectiveness can be used to guide treatment policies and practices, it should be adequately proven by testing in a real-world setting. …

April 20, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

Veteran Psychologist Explains Our ‘Lust For Blood’

The Lust for Blood: Why We Are Fascinated by Death, Murder, Horror, and Violence

From the Medical News Today article, 20 April 2011

We are fascinated with the lurid details of sensational murder trials. Horror fiction and slasher movies thrill us – the gorier the better. When we drive by the scene of an accident, we’re compelled to slow down. And it’s no secret that brutal video games are solid moneymakers. Why do we thirst for the frighteningly grotesque? In The “LUST FOR BLOOD: WHY WE ARE FASCINATED BY DEATH, MURDER, HORROR, AND VIOLENCE” (Prometheus Books, $25) veteran psychologist Jeffrey A. Kottler explains our dark desire for guts, gore, and the gruesome. …

…[Kottler] ably explores our paradoxical lust and revulsion as a cathartic means of restraint, with specific attention to its psychological impact: seeing violence within a media frame makes us feel alive, recharging us to face our private anxieties about life-and-death issues. This book offers something for everyone, from media psychologists to fans of splatter-films,” said Ramsland.

Kottler considers ideas from a variety of theories and research to explain our responses to violence, raises questions about the shifting line between normal and abnormal, evaluates the confusion and ambivalence that many people feel when witnessing others’ suffering, and suggests future trends in society’s attitudes toward violence.

About the Author:
Jeffrey A. Kottler, PhD, is a practicing psychologist, professor of counseling at California State University, Fullerton, and the author of more than seventy-five books, including the New York Times best seller “The Last Victim: A True-Life Journey into the Mind of the Serial Killer.” He is also head of Empower Nepali Girls, which provides educational scholarships for at-risk, lower-caste girls.

April 20, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Researchers Study Decision-Making Process For Using Direct-To-Consumer Genetic Tests

Genetic testing

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From the 20 April 2011 Medical News Today article

Consumers decide whether to use mail-in genetic tests based on both rational and emotional reasons, a finding that adds to a growing body of health-care behavior research on information seeking and avoidance, according to researchers at the University of California, Riverside.

In a study of what motivates or discourages consumers from participating in direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing, UC Riverside psychologists found that potential users of the tests were influenced by perceived benefits and barriers to testing, and anticipated regret over testing versus not testing. …

…”We were interested in examining how people perceive DTC genetic testing and how information about the procedure might influence their interest in testing, not about the advantages or disadvantages of the testing procedure itself,” said Kate Sweeny, assistant professor of psychology and lead author of “Predictors of interest in direct-to-consumer genetic testing.” The paper appears in the online edition of the peer-reviewed journal Psychology & Health.

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April 20, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | Leave a comment

10 symptoms not to ignore

Mayo Clinic

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From the Mayo Clinic Staff handout 10 symptoms not to ignore

Take note of these warning signs and know when you need to seek medical care.
1. Unexplained weight loss

Losing weight when you’re not trying to may sound good, but in reality it can signal a health problem. If you’ve lost up 10 percent of your weight during the past six months — for instance, 15 pounds (7 kilograms) if you weigh 150 pounds (68 kilograms) — see your doctor.

An unexplained drop in weight could be caused by a number of conditions, such as an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), depression, liver disease, cancer or other noncancerous disorders, or disorders that interfere with how your body absorbs nutrients (malabsorption disorders).

2. Persistent or high fever

Fever isn’t an illness, but it is often a sign of one. Most of the time, a fever means your body is fighting a common viral or bacterial infection. However, a persistent low-grade fever — over 102 F (38.9 C) — that lasts for three days or more should be checked by your doctor. Similarly, if you have a high fever — greater than 104 F (40 C) — or if you’re otherwise severely ill, see your doctor as soon as possible.

If you have an immune system problem or take drugs that suppress your immune system, fever may not be a reliable warning sign. Ask your primary doctor or oncologist what would signal a need for an evaluation.

Persistent fever can signal hidden infections, which could be anything from a urinary tract infection to tuberculosis. At other times, malignant conditions — such as lymphomas — cause prolonged or persistent fevers, as can some medications.

3. Shortness of breath

Feeling short of breath — more than that caused by a stuffy nose or exercise — could signal an underlying health problem. If you’re unable to get your breath or you’re gasping for air or wheezing, seek emergency medical care. Feeling breathless when lying down, with or without exertion, also is a symptom that needs to be medically evaluated without delay.

Causes for breathlessness may include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, a blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism), as well as other heart and lung problems. Difficulty breathing can also occur with panic attacks, which are episodes of intense anxiety that cause physical symptoms……

April 20, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | Leave a comment


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