Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

How Twitter Can Revolutionize Public Health

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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?

Market Research for Health Care and beyond

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

 

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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

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

 

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

NYTimes: Rethinking Our ‘Rights’ to Dangerous Behaviors

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

 

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2574269/Sugar-not-fat-real-heart-disease-killer-We-got-wrong-diet-advice-claims-expert.html#ixzz2vvZtwFZC
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

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

Vaccine-preventable outbreaks

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?

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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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

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

   

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