Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

That Tap Water Is Legal but May Be Unhealthy [newspaper article]

Toxic Waters

From a 2009 NY Times article

(Yes this article is a bit old, but posting it because of water woes here in Toledo regarding microcystins, which fortunately are still at safe levels, in my humble opinion. Still, it seems to be wrecking havoc with our mayor’s election bid)

The 35-year-old federal law regulating tap water is so out of date that the water Americans drink can pose what scientists say are serious health risks — and still be legal.

Toxic Waters

Outdated Laws

Articles in this series are examining the worsening pollution in American waters, and regulators’ response.

All Articles in the Series »

Only 91 contaminants [ still true, I counted them today, 31 July 2015  at http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/index.cfm#List ] are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used within the United States, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Government and independent scientists have scrutinized thousands of those chemicals in recent decades, and identified hundreds associated with a risk of cancer and other diseases at small concentrations in drinking water, according to an analysis of government records by The New York Times.

July 31, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The rise of wearable health tech could mean the end of the sickie

The rise of wearable health tech could mean the end of the sickie.

From the 25 May 2015 Lancaster University news release

Is your smartwatch spying on you? wearables by Alexey Boldin/shutterstock.com

26 May 2015 06:11

Now that the sun is shining and the temperature is rising, it’s officially sickie season: go to work, or get struck down with “flu”, a “24-hour virus”, or that faithful stand-by, the dodgy prawn takeaway.

Figures show that over a third of employees in the UK admit to pulling a sickie at some point or other. But things may be changing soon – wearable tech such as the Apple Watch, Microsoft Band, Fitbit, or Jawbone Up may become mainstream within a few years, bringing health monitoring capabilities that reveal how your body is performing. It’s not inconceivable that in time this same data could be used to prove how well, or unwell, you are – such as when phoning in sick.

Wearable health tech is still in its early days. These devices come with sensors that can record how many steps and how much exercise you’ve taken, how well and long you‘ve slept, stress levels, blood pressure, sun exposure, even what you’ve have eaten. Added together, all this could easily demonstrate that you’re not so sick after all.

Using your data against you

What if employers and health insurance companies move in the direction that the car insurance industry has taken, where every health transgression (a boozy night out, a Christmas feast, or too many lazy days on the sofa) could increase your health premium rates? Such a scenario isn’t so far away, and this should concern us. Apple is clearly making a beeline for the health and fitness industry with Watch and its integrated HealthKit software, now integrated with its iOS mobile operating system, and it is the only firm to do so.

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

Awe may promote altruistic behavior

Awe may promote altruistic behavior.

From the 19 May 2015 post at APA

Inducing a sense of awe in people can promote altruistic, helpful and positive social behavior according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

“Our investigation indicates that awe, although often fleeting and hard to describe, serves a vital social function. By diminishing the emphasis on the individual self, awe may encourage people to forgo strict self-interest to improve the welfare of others,” said Paul Piff, PhD, assistant professor of psychology and social behavior at the University of California, Irvine. He was lead author of the study, which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology®.

Awe is that sense of wonder we feel in the presence of something vast that transcends our understanding of the world. People commonly experience awe in nature, but also in response to religion, art and even music.

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

EPA Releases Updated Health Indicators Database [reblog]

From the 23 July 2015 ResearchBuzz post

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 8.37.04 AM

 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released updated environmental and public health indicators and made them available in an online database. “This is an online update to EPA’s Report on the Environment. Users can explore 85 individual indicators– on our air, water, land, human exposure, health and ecological condition– using interactive graphs, tables, and maps, and download the data for each indicator.”

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Public Health, environmental health | , , | Leave a comment

Florida’s Penchant For Eating Armadillos Has Triggered A Leprosy Outbreak [Reblog]

My Peace Corps Liberia site (1980/81) was 10 miles away from a “leper colony” at a Methodist Mission.
Most of the residents were men with their families. Many made a living wood carving. How they did that with many of their finger extremities was incredible.  Bought quite a few carvings before I left, 2 or 3 commissioned.  Was never afraid of getting leprosy, was told during our Peace Corps training it took 17 years or so of very close contact.

Woodcarver (with leprosy) with finished carving

 

madonna  Madonna – commissioned for about $25, (“market rate”)

3carvings

Women with baby pounding rice (dehulling); hair pic (yiddi-fa); Madonna

From the 23 July 2015  UPPROX post  

shutterstock_83394460

If you’re a nerd like me, you’re fully aware that only two animals can contract leprosy: Armadillos and humans. This is an excellent reason to stay away from armadillos, but Floridians apparently never got that memo.

Why, you might ask, are Floridians handling armadillos? Well, you know the old joke about how armadillos exist to give Texans something to eat on the half-shell?Nobody explained that was a joke to Florida’s population. We’re not kidding: Shooting and eating armadillos is, for some reason, common enough in Florida tobecome a public health problem.

Just to underline how bizarre and dumb this is, leprosy is incredibly hard to get. Ninety-five percent of humanity is naturally immune to it, thanks to dormant versions of the virus being effectively everywhere, and you can only get it through prolonged contact with somebody who has it. Even then, it’s an exceptionally slow virus; you can have it for decades before you show any symptoms. Similarly, armadillos are very shy and hard to trap, so it’s not like they’re up in our business.

The good news is that leprosy is currently very treatable with multi-drug therapy techniques. Now, the shame of gunning down an ugly-cute animal and eating it, there’s no treatment for that except shame. Work on exporting shame to Florida is ongoing, and we hope to have the first treatments soon.

 

Read the entire post here

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6 Things Every Woman Should Know About Yeast Infections [Reblog]

From the 25 July 2015 Time blog by Jennifer So

The symptoms can mimic other problems

One study found that as few as 11% of women who have never had a yeast infection could identify the symptoms, while other research has found that only one-third of women who thought they had a yeast infection actually did. Why the confusion?

The signs are similar to other down-there problems. If you have a yeast infection, you might notice burning, itching, pain during sex, and a thick white odorless discharge.

But if it smells fishy, it may instead be bacterial vaginosis (BV), and if you have only burning and pain during urination, that suggests a urinary tract infection. Bottom line: It can be difficult to figure out.

First-timer? Go to the doctor if you think you have one

 

Read the entire post here

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , , | Leave a comment

Public Health 24/7 or Using Twitter to Advance Public Health

Originally posted on Innovations in Health Communications:

Smartphones changed the way we connect with the world: most U.S. smartphone owners check their phone at least hourly.

Essentially we are staying in constant touch with each other through our handheld devices. According to recent Gallup report, 72 percent of the respondents claim to check their smartphone at least once an hour, most of them several times. Young Americans are the most frequent smartphone checkers. 22 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds peek at their phone every few minutes and another 51 percent check it a few times an hour.1 Could it be due to socializing on Twitter, a powerful networking service with more than 500 million active users who generate more than 58 million tweets and 2.1 billion search queries every day?2

I think that Twitter’s concept: access to information in real time on a global scale is an important way for public health professionals to improve…

View original 539 more words

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

5 Challenges Facing Medicaid At 50 [Reblog]

From the 27 July 2015 Kaiser Health News blog item

A “sleeper” provision when Congress created Medicare in 1965 to cover health care for seniors, Medicaid now provides coverage to nearly 1 in 4 Americans, at an annual cost of more than $500 billion. Today, it is the workhorse of the U.S. health system, covering nearly half of all births, one-third of children and two-thirds of people in nursing homes.

Enrollment has soared to more than 70 million people since 2014 when the Affordable Care Act began providing billions to states that chose to expand eligibility to low-income adults under age 65. Previously, the program mainly covered children, pregnant women and the disabled.

Unlike Medicare, which is mostly funded by the federal government (with beneficiaries paying some costs), Medicaid is a state-federal hybrid. States share in the cost, and within broad federal parameters, have flexibility to set benefits and eligibility rules.

Though it provides a vital safety net, Medicaid faces five big challenges to providing good care and control costs into the future:

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill creating Medicare and Medicaid at the library of former President Harry Truman, who was in attendance, on July 30, 1965. (Photo courtesy of Truman Library)

July 28, 2015 Posted by | health care | , | Leave a comment

Are interventions to reduce sitting at workplace effective? [reblog]

From the 28 July 2015  post at al_gores_officeDR. SOUMYADEEP B

It is common for family physicians in developing nations like India to encounter patients whose profession demands sedentary lifestyle. Such patients present with back problems, obesity, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes and ask doctors for advice on how to decrease sitting. Workplaces need to address this issue by inculcating strategies to decrease sitting and improve health of their employees. Occupational physicians too need to suggest evidence-based strategies to employers. This article provides an evidence based summary about what interventions are actually effective for decreasing sitting at workplace.

Read the full Evidence Summary , published at Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care here. (Open Access)

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Workplace Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Large urban hospitals disadvantaged by medicare/medicaid patient satisfaction rating system [News release]

Large urban hospitals disadvantaged by medicare/medicaid patient satisfaction rating system.

From the 25 May 2015 Mt. Sinai news release

The largest urban health systems do worse on government patient satisfaction scores than smaller, non-urban hospitals according to a new study by Mount Sinai researchers published this month in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

NEW YORK

 – May 19, 2015 /Press Release/  –– 

The largest urban health systems, which serve as safety nets for large patient populations with lower socioeconomic status and greater likelihood to speak English as a second language, do worse on government patient satisfaction scores than smaller, non-urban hospitals likely to serve white customers with higher education levels, according to a new study by Mount Sinai researchers published this month in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

Patient satisfaction scores, in part due to the Affordable Care Act of 2010, are a key part of the formula that determines reimbursements levels to hospitals by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The ACA has encouraged hospitals to evolve from a fee-for-service model to one based on measures of value, including patient satisfaction. Hospitals are rewarded or penalized based on metrics that assess quality and efficiency of care in part culled from Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) surveys.

The study authors suggest that the current formulas need adjustment to be fair to large, urban hospitals, and offer a formula to achieve this equity.

“Our analysis found that the lowest satisfaction scores were obtained from population-dense regions of Washington, DC; New York State, California, Maryland and New Jersey, and the best scores were from Louisiana, South Dakota, Iowa, Maine and Vermont,” said senior author Randall Holcombe, MD, Professor, Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Chief Medical Officer for Cancer for The Mount Sinai Health System.

Across the country, large hospital size and non-English as a primary language predicted poor patient satisfaction scores while white race and higher education level predicted better scores,” said co-author Daniel McFarland, DO, Clinical Fellow, Hematology and Medical Oncology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Other demographic factors were also important but these four were the most significant.”

“This study points out that the interpretation of patient satisfaction scores can be very complex,” said Sandra Myerson, MBA, MS, BNS, RN, Senior Vice President and Chief Patient Experience Officer of the Mount Sinai Health System. “It is important to understand these trends in order to provide the highest quality of patient experience.”

July 28, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , | Leave a comment

Unemployment and Depression Among Emerging Adults in 12 States, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2010 [Report]

Unemployment and Depression Among Emerging Adults in 12 States, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System,*** 2010 | Full Text Reports….

Introduction
The high rate of unemployment among emerging adults (aged 18 to 25 years) is a public health concern. The risk of depression is higher among the unemployed than among the employed, but little is known about the relationship between unemployment and mental health among emerging adults. This secondary data analysis assessed the relationship between unemployment and depression among emerging adults.

Methods
Data from the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) were analyzed.

Results
Almost 12% of emerging adults were depressed (PHQ-8 ≥10) and about 23% were unemployed. Significantly more unemployed than employed emerging adults were classified with depression. In the final model, the odds of depression were about 3 times higher for unemployed than employed emerging adults.

Conclusion
The relationship between unemployment and depression is significant among emerging adults. With high rates of unemployment for this age group, this population may benefit from employment- and mental-health–focused interventions.

***

BRFSS logo imageThe Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is the nation’s premier system of health-related telephone surveys that collect state data about U.S. residents regarding their health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and use of preventive services. Established in 1984 with 15 states, BRFSS now collects data in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories. BRFSS completes more than 400,000 adult interviews each year, making it the largest continuously conducted health survey system in the world.

By collecting behavioral health risk data at the state and local level, BRFSS has become a powerful tool for targeting and building health promotion activities. As a result, BRFSS users have increasingly demanded more data and asked for more questions on the survey.

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Health Statistics, Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Complex signaling between blood and stem cells controls regeneration in fly gut

Complex signaling between blood and stem cells controls regeneration in fly gut.

 

Buck Institute scientists say impaired interactions between macrophages and stem cells are likely players in human intestinal maladies like IBS, leaky gut and colorectal cancers 

May 25, 2015/NOVATO, CA:  Having a healthy gut may well depend on maintaining a complex signaling dance between immune cells and the stem cells that line the intestine. Scientists at the Buck Institute are now reporting significant new insight into how these complex interactions control intestinal regeneration after a bacterial infection. It’s a dance that ensures repair after a challenge, but that also goes awry in aging fruit flies — the work thus offers important new clues into the potential causes of age-related human maladies, such as irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut and colorectal cancer.

“We’ve dissected a very complex signaling interaction,” said senior scientist and Buck faculty Heinrich Jasper, PhD. “By doing so temporally we’ve clearly established a role for the immune system both in initiating the regenerative process and in shutting it down – activities that are essential for maintaining tissue homeostasis.”

Publishing in the May 25, advance online edition of Nature Cell Biology, researchers in the Jasper lab show that the macrophage-like hemocytes (which comprise the cellular immune system in flies) go to the intestines ofDrosophila following damage. The hemocytes secrete the growth factor Dpp (a homologue of BMP, which has many functions, including the control of mobility, differentiation and invasiveness of normal cells), setting off the regenerative process by activating specific receptors in stem cells. In a fascinating twist, stem cells switch their response to Dpp in the middle of the regenerative response by turning on other Dpp-related receptors, which in turn instruct the stem cells to go back to a quiescent or quiet state.  Jasper says it’s a balancing act that both allows for healing and prevents excessive cell proliferation, which could lead to pre-cancerous dysplasia. “The temporal sequence of cell interactions during injury-induced regeneration is only beginning to be understood,” said Jasper. “The proper timing of these interactions may be key in maintaining a healthy gut.”

Jasper says aging makes it harder for the stem cells to switch gears between proliferation and quiescence and that flies suffer from age-related intestinal dysfunctions similar to those experienced by humans.

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How the brain makes decisions [news release]

How the brain makes decisions.
From the 25 May 2015 MedicalExpress news release

 

Some types of decision-making have proven to be very difficult to simulate, limiting progress in the development of computer models of the brain. EPFL scientists have developed a new model of complex decision-making, and have validated it against humans and cutting-edge computer models, uncovering fascinating information about what influences our decision-making and ability to learn from it.

Decision-making comes in two major into two types: Markovian and non-Markovian, named after the mathematician Andrey Markov (1856-1922). Simply put, in Markovian decision-making, the next decision step depends entirely on the current state of affairs. For example, when playing backgammon, the next move depends only on the current layout of the board, and not on how it got to be like that. This relatively straightforward process has been extensively modeled in computers and machines.

Non-Markovian decision-making is more complex. Here, the next step is affected by other factors, such as external constraints and previous decisions. For example, a person’s goal might be to travel on the train. But what will happens when he arrives at the door to the train depends on whether or not he has previously visited the ticket booth to buy a ticket. In other words, the next step depends on how he got there; without a ticket, he cannot proceed to the desired goal. In neuroscience, the “buy-ticket” step is referred to as a “switch-state”.

Decision dynamics

The results of the study drew three major conclusions. First, that human decision-making can perform just as well as current sophisticated computer models under non-Markovian conditions, such as the presence of a switch-state. This is a significant finding in our current efforts to model the  and develop artificial intelligence systems.

Secondly, that delayed feedback significantly impairs human decision-making and learning, even though it does not impact the performance of computer models, which have perfect memory. In the second experiment, it took human participants ten times more attempts to correctly recall and assign arrows to icons. Feedback is a crucial element of decision-making and learning. We set a goal, make a decision about how to achieve it, act accordingly, and then find out whether or not our goal was met. In some cases, e.g. learning to ride a bike, feedback on every decision we make for balancing, pedaling, braking etc. is instant: either we stay up and going, or we fall down. But in many other cases, such as playing backgammon, feedback is significantly delayed; it can take a while to find out if each move has led us to victory or not.

Finally, the researchers found that the spiking neurons model matches and describes human performance very well. The significance of this cannot be overstated, as non-Markovian decision-making has proven to be very challenging for computer models. “This is a proof-of-concept study,” says Michael Herzog. “But the study makes an important contribution toward understanding, and accurately modeling, the human brain – and even surpassing its abilities with artificial intelligence.”

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | | Leave a comment

A digital nightmare: When fitness bands become student-tracking devices [News release]

From the 25 May 2015 University of Queensland news release

A “nightmarish” vision of a future in which technology makes physical education more boring, judgmental and narrow is driving a new study by a University of Queensland academic.

Associate Professor Michael Gard from the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences has begun a three-year research project on the digitisation of school health and physical education.

The project stems from the assumption that developments in digital technology present exciting educational opportunities but carry a new set of philosophical, educational and ethical questions and dilemmas.

“Will we leverage the power of digital technology to expand students’ minds and open up choices about how to live, or will we use it to monitor students’ behaviour and tell them how to live?” Dr Gard said.

“For example, much of the health-related technology that we are seeing involves asking children to count the calories they consume or expend when they are exercising. Is this this what we want students to be doing at school?

“There is a lot of money to be made from digitising school health and physical education and, make no mistake, companies are already vigorously marketing all kinds of health and fitness technologies to schools.

“Then you have the whole ‘big data’ concern about how your child’s records are used.”

 

“Then think of a perfect storm, where performance pay for health and physical education teachers is linked to children losing weight, and you introduce some very tricky ethical situations. Once again, some American states are moving in this direction.”

The study will also investigate how schools use digital technology to measure students, such as their BMI (body mass index), and what becomes of the data once collected.

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beware of hype about how consumers will benefit when health insurers merge [Reblog]

From the 27 July 2015 blog of the Association of Healthcare Journalists

GraphicStock

GraphicStock

 

Earlier this month, Thomas Greaney explained the antitrust issuescomprehensively in Health Affairs. “Because each market is local, antitrust analysis would also require an assessment of the competitive overlap in each region,” he wrote. Greaney, is the Chester A. Myers Professor of Law and director of the Center for Health Law Studies at Saint Louis University School of Law.

There is no evidence that insurance or provider monopolies are good for consumers, he wrote, citing Boston and Pittsburgh as evidence that big is not necessarily better in health care or health insurance.

For a good review of the regulatory hurdles insurers face, see this thorough analysisi*** in The New York Times by Robert Cyran. Regulators are concerned about how reduced competition may drive up prices, he explained, writing, “Insurance markets are highly concentrated, and big mergers will make them even more so.”

***Excerpt from The New York Times article
“What’s more, the argument that a big merger would create competition for an even heftier rival has already failed in other industries. In 2011, for example, Sprint, the third-largest cellphone service provider at the time, defended its plan to buy T-Mobile US, the fourth-largest, as necessary to keep its rivals Verizon and AT&T in check. The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department rejected the contention, making clear that shrinking the market to fewer than two nationwide carriers would harm consumers.”

So what might persuade the regulators?

The Affordable Care Act could be the answer. President Obama’s health care overhaul creates online exchanges for buying coverage, allowing insurers to expand into new markets without hiring expensive agents. The companies will still need the approval of state commissioners, but the lower barriers to entry should stir more competition – and, at least in the future, appease regulatory fears. It’s unclear whether that would be enough to counterbalance concerns over the top five insurers’ currently chunky market shares.”

July 28, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , | Leave a comment

Guide to Clinical Preventive Services 2014: Recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Guide to Clinical Preventive Services 2014: Recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (ePub) – Available for download at this site.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (via USGPO)

The Guide to Clinical Preventive Services presents abridged U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations on screening, counseling, and preventive medications for use in primary care practice. The 2014 Guide continues the precedent set by earlier editions in providing the Task Force recommendations in a form that provides on-the-job clinical decision support for clinicians. The Guide is organized and cross referenced so that clinicians can search for recommendations alphabetically by topic and by patient category (adult or child/adolescent).

Related Resource

Choosing Wisely is an initiative of the ABIM Foundation that promotes patient-physician conversations about unnecessary medical tests and procedures.

July 25, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Glancing at a grassy green roof significantly boosts concentration [news item]

Glancing at a grassy green roof significantly boosts concentration.

A green grassy roof in Toronto, a city renowned for its efforts to balance nature and urban space.

The study, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, gave 150 students a boring, attention-sapping task. The students were asked to press a key as a series of numbers repeatedly flashed on a computer screen, unless that number was three.

They were given a 40-second break midway through the task to view a city rooftop scene. Half the group viewed a flowering meadow green roof, the other half looked out onto a bare concrete roof.

After the break, students who glanced at the greener vista made significantly less errors and demonstrated superior concentration on the second half of the task, compared to those who viewed the concrete roof.

The green roof provided a restorative experience that boosted those mental resources that control attention, researchers concluded.

Read the entire news item here

July 25, 2015 Posted by | Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Can social isolation fuel epidemics? [news release]

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?
F
rom the 21 July 2015 MedicalExpress news release

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according to two SFI researchers, and the consequences could reach far beyond epidemiology.

In a paper published in the July 20 early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Laurent Hébert-Dufresne and Benjamin Althouse show that when two separate diseases interact with each other, a population clustered into relatively isolated groups can lead to epidemics that spread like wildfire.

“We thought we understood how clustering works,” Hébert-Dufresne says,”but it behaves exactly opposite to what we thought once interactions are added in. Our intuition was totally wrong.”

At the heart of the new study are two effects that have had a lot of attention in recent years—social clustering and coinfection, in which one disease can change the infection dynamics of another—but haven’t been studied together. That, Hébert-Dufresne and Althouse say, turns out to be a major omission

Ordinarily, the pair say, clustering limits outbreaks. Maybe kids in one preschool get sick, for example, but since those kids don’t see kids from other preschools as often, they’re not likely to spread the disease very far. Coinfection often works the other way. Once someone is sick with, say, pneumococcal pneumonia, they’re more likely than others to come down with the flu, lowering the bar for an epidemic of both diseases.

But put the effects together, Hébert-Dufresne and Althouse discovered, and you get something that is more—and different—than the sum of its parts. While clustering works to prevent single-disease epidemics, interactions between diseases like pneumonia and the flu help keep each other going within a social group long enough that one of them can break out into other clusters, becoming a foothold for the other—or perhaps a spark in a dry forest. Both diseases, Althouse says, “can catch fire.” The end result is a larger, more rapidly developing, epidemic than would otherwise be possible.

That conclusion has immediate consequences for , whose worst-case scenarios might be different or even tame compared with the outbreaks Hébert-Dufresne and Althouse hypothesize. But there are equally important consequences for network scientists and complex systems researchers, who often think in epidemiological terms. Two ideas, for example, might interact with each other so that both spread more rapidly than they would on their own, just as diseases do.

Now that they’ve realized the importance of such interactions, “we hope to take this work in new and different directions in epidemiology, social science, and the study of dynamic networks,” Althouse says. “There’s great potential.”

More information: “Complex dynamics of synergistic coinfections on realistically clustered networks.”PNAS 2015 ; published ahead of print July 20, 2015, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1507820112

July 25, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sex and violence may not really sell products

From the 21 July 2015 Ohio State news release

Researchers analyzed the results of 53 different experiments (a so-called meta-analysis) involving nearly 8,500 people, done over 44 years. All of these experiments examined some facet of the question of whether sexual or violent media content could help sell advertised products.

When all the results are considered together, the overall conclusion, with some caveats, is that programs featuring violence and sex aren’t the ideal context for effective advertising, said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University.

It’s not that people don’t pay attention to sex and violence in the media, Bushman said. In fact, an evolutionary perspective would say it is just the opposite.

“People are so focused on the sex and violence they see in the media that they pay less attention to the advertising messages that appear along with it,” Bushman said

Read the entire article here

July 25, 2015 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Common chemicals may act together to increase cancer risk, study finds [news release]

Another reason not to use anti bacterial soaps
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Common chemicals may act together to increase cancer risk, study finds
From the 20 July 2015 Oregon State University news release

In a nearly three-year investigation of the state of knowledge about environmentally influenced cancers, the scientists studied low-dose effects of 85 common chemicals not considered to be carcinogenic to humans.

The researchers reviewed the actions of these chemicals against a long list of mechanisms that are important for cancer development. Drawing on hundreds of laboratory studies, large databases of cancer information, and models that predict cancer development, they compared the chemicals’ biological activity patterns to 11 known cancer “hallmarks” – distinctive patterns of cellular and genetic disruption associated with early development of tumors.

n a nearly three-year investigation of the state of knowledge about environmentally influenced cancers, the scientists studied low-dose effects of 85 common chemicals not considered to be carcinogenic to humans.

The researchers reviewed the actions of these chemicals against a long list of mechanisms that are important for cancer development. Drawing on hundreds of laboratory studies, large databases of cancer information, and models that predict cancer development, they compared the chemicals’ biological activity patterns to 11 known cancer “hallmarks” – distinctive patterns of cellular and genetic disruption associated with early development of tumors.

The chemicals included bisphenol A (BPA), used in plastic food and beverage containers; rotenone, a broad-spectrum insecticide; paraquat, an agricultural herbicide; and triclosan, an antibacterial agent used in soaps and cosmetics.

Read the entire article here

 

July 25, 2015 Posted by | environmental health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The top five unnecessary tests, treatments in newborn medicine

The top five unnecessary tests, treatments in newborn medicine

The top five unnecessary tests and treatments have been identified in newborn medicine, according to an article published online July 20 in Pediatrics.

These included:
(1) avoiding routine use of antireflux medications for treatment of symptomatic gastroesophageal reflux disease or apnea and desaturation treatment in preterm infants;
(2) for treatment of initially asymptomatic infants without evidence of bacterial infection, routine continuation of antibiotics beyond 48 hours should be avoided;
(3) routine pneumograms for predischarge assessment of ongoing/prolonged apnea of prematurity should be avoided;
(4) in the absence of indication, daily chest radiographs should be avoided for intubated infants; and (5) in preterm infants, routine screening term-equivalent or discharge brain magnetic resonance imaging should be avoided.

“The Choosing Wisely **Top Five for newborn medicine highlights tests and treatments that cannot be adequately justified on the basis of efficacy, safety, or cost,” the authors write. “This list serves as a starting point for quality improvement efforts to optimize both clinical outcomes and resource utilization in newborn care.”

Read the entire article here

 

**Choosing Wisely is an initiative of the ABIM Foundation that promotes patient-physician conversations about unnecessary medical tests and procedures.

July 25, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

coding answers

From the 7 January 2015 Medical Economics article

The new year brings changes to many evaluation and management codes physicians use, including chronic care management and advanced planning

Read the entire article here

July 25, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Evolution not just mutation drives development of cancer [news release]

Evolution not just mutation drives development of cancer
From the 21 July 2015 Clinicalnews.org news release

A paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences argues against the commonly held “accumulation of mutations” model of oncogenesis in favor of a model that depends on evolutionary pressures acting on populations of cells. Basically, the paper states that the ecosystem of a healthy tissue landscape lets healthy cells outcompete ones with cancerous mutations; it is when the tissue ecosystem changes due to aging, smoking, or other stressors, that cells with cancerous mutations can suddenly find themselves the most fit, allowing their population to expand over generations of natural selection.

The answer that DeGregori and CU Cancer Center colleague Andrii Rozhok, PhD propose is that in addition to activating mutation, cancer may require age-associated changes to the tissue landscape in order for evolution to favor the survival and growth of cancer cells over the competition of healthy cells.

Consider the following two evolutionary scenarios: In a grassy lawn, the health of the lawn is the best defense against dandelions; and in the time of the dinosaurs, the environment selected for giant lizards until the meteor hit at which point the new context favored the evolution of new species better adapted to the changed environment, including larger mammals.

Let’s start with the lawn: “Healthy cells are optimized for the ecosystem of the healthy body. But when the tissue ecosystem changes, such as with aging or smoking, cancer-causing mutations are often very good at exploiting the conditions of a damaged tissue landscape,” DeGregori says. In this scenario, DeGregori’s suggestion to explore the development of interventions supporting the fitness of healthy tissues is like applying fertilizer to the lawn rather than herbicide to the weeds.

Read the entire article here

July 25, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

It takes a village… to ward off dangerous infections? New microbiome research suggests so [news release]

It takes a village… to ward off dangerous infections? New microbiome research suggests so
FROM the 23 July 2015 UM HealthSystem news release

Angry villagers

Your gut’s “village” of bacteria may protect you against C. difficile infection – or not.

 

Like a collection of ragtag villagers fighting off an invading army, the mix of bacteria that live in our guts may band together to keep dangerous infections from taking hold, new research suggests.

But some “villages” may succeed better than others at holding off the invasion, because of key differences in the kinds of bacteria that make up their feisty population, the team from theUniversity of Michigan Medical School reports.

The researchers even show it may be possible to predict which collections of gut bacteria will resist invasion the best — opening the door to new ways of aiding them in their fight.

…these models could serve as a diagnostic tool, to predict which patients will need the most protection against C-diff before they go to the hospital, or even to custom-design a protective dose of bacteria before or after a C-diff exposure.

In other words, to see which villages need the most reinforcements to prevail in battle.

Community matters

Schloss, who is a key member of the Medical School’s Host Microbiome Initiative, notes that no one species of bacteria by itself protected against colonization. It was the mix that did it. And no one particular mix of specific bacteria was spectacularly better than others – several of the diverse “villages” resisted invasion.

Resistance was associated with members of the Porphyromonadaceae, Lachnospiraceae, Lactobacillus, Alistipes, and Turicibacter families of bacteria. Susceptibility to C. difficile, on the other hand, was associated with loss of these protective species and a rise in Escherichia or Streptococcus bacteria.

“It’s the community that matters, and antibiotics screw it up,” Schloss explains. Being able to use advance genetic tools to detect the DNA of dozens of different bacteria species, and tell how common or rare each one is in a particular gut, made this research possible.

C. difficile bacteria cell

Clostridium difficile bacteria kill
thousands of Americans each year.

Then, this massive amount of information about the villages of bacteria present in each of the mice in the experiment, and the relative success of each village in fighting off C-diff, was fed into the computer model created by the team.

Read the entire article here

July 25, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Expert discusses ways to stay heart healthy, hydrated and fit during the summer

Expert discusses ways to stay heart healthy, hydrated and fit during the summer
From the 22 July 2015 Virginia Commonwealth news release

Summer can be a lazy time. Cookouts, vacations, graduation parties and similar events may tempt us to throw caution to the wind when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, particularly as it relates to diet and exercise. However, experts at the Pauley Heart Center, part of Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, suggest being ever mindful of lifestyle habits that promote good heart health.

What is the significance of staying hydrated as it relates to a healthy heart?

Your heart has to work harder if you are dehydrated.  Your muscles do not work efficiently without proper hydration. Hydrate throughout the day, not just before exercise. Water is best. Mix it up with flavored waters or sparkling water.  Keep a water bottle within reach. Avoid sodas and alcohol. Additionally, monitor your urine. If you are drinking enough water, it should be clear or light yellow, not cloudy and dark. If you weigh yourself before and after exercise, consume 16-20 ounces of fluid for every pound lost.

Consider healthy choices at your family events. Choose lean beef and make smaller hamburger patties. Grill chicken or salmon. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Considering typical summer events such as cookouts, graduation celebrations, etc., what are some tips for eating healthy and thoughtfully?

Consider healthy choices at your family events. Choose lean beef and make smaller hamburger patties. Grill chicken or salmon. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. They contain nutrients that you lose when you sweat. Enjoy seasonal food, peaches, watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes, cantaloupes. Try new healthy foods like kale, spinach or red beets. Eat desserts in moderation.

Describe the appropriate attire and accessories to stay cool and regulate your body temperature during the summer months?

Wear single-layer, absorbent, loose-fitting clothing, preferably light colors. Look for “wicking” fabrics. Carry a water bottle and consider a water belt.

What types of exercises and preventive actions are appropriate during the summer months for a person who has heart issues?

Don’t give up.  If you can stay active, you should.  Walk on the treadmill indoors.  Exercise at a cardiac rehab center with blood pressure and heart rate monitoring. Take more breaks. Rest in a shaded area. Exercise early in the day.  Gradually begin your exercise and gradually cool off. Pay attention to the heat index which takes into account

Read the entire article here

July 25, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to save against jaw-dropping prescription drug prices

How to save against jaw-dropping prescription drug prices July 17, 2015 by Danielle Braff, Chicago Tribune

From the article

Pharmaceutical experts clued us in on how to get the biggest discounts at the pharmacy counter.

Shop around: A 2013 study by Consumer Reports found that doing a little comparison shopping can have a big payoff, especially if you’re paying out of pocket for your medications. The study found a $749 difference between the highest- and lowest-priced stores when shopping for a month’s supply of five drugs. Costco was the least expensive (and you don’t have to be a member to use its pharmacy), while CVS, Target and Rite Aid were the most expensive.

Be proactive about getting the generic version: Ask if there are generic or less-expensive brand-name drugs that would work just as well as the prescription and over-the-counter medications you’re taking now,” Engle said. “If a generic is not available, check to see if you can use a therapeutic alternative, which is a similar drug that gives the same result that is available as a generic.”

Split pills: Check with your pharmacist to see if your medication is safe to split and — if it is available in a variety of strengths that cost about the same amount.

Read the entire article here

Related Resource

Prescription drug cost assistance (from Health Resources for All Edited by Janice Flahiff)
Including

  • Partnership for Prescription Assistance is a directory which helps qualifying patients without prescription drug coverage get the medicines they need for free or nearly free.
  • Extra Help (program thru the US Social Security Administration for limited income people)
  • NeedyMeds – Non-profit information resource devoted to helping people in need find assistance programs to help them afford their medications and costs related to health care. Includes coverage gap programs.

July 25, 2015 Posted by | Finding Aids/Directories, health care | , , | Leave a comment

Birth order has no meaningful effect on personality or IQ, massive study reports [news item]

Birth order has no meaningful effect on personality or IQ, massive study reports

From the 23 July 2015 Business Insider news item

For those who believe that birth order influences traits like personality and intelligence, a study of 377,000 high school students offers some good news: Yes, the study found, first-borns do have higher IQs and consistently different personality traits than those born later in the family chronology. However, researchers say, the differences between first-borns and “later-borns” are so small that they have no practical relevance to people’s lives.

July 25, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Indian state sets schoolbag weight limit [news item]

Indian state sets schoolbag weight limit

heavier-school-baghttp://www.coreconcepts.com.sg/mcr/sling-bag-vs-back-pack-vs-luggage-bag-which-one-should-i-pick/

Children struggling under the weight of an oversized schoolbag is a common sight the world over, but now one Indian state has ordered parents to ensure kids lighten their load.

“As a rule of thumb the bags must be ten percent of the child’s body weight,” local education secretary Mr Nand Kumar wrote in the executive order.

“But we have found bags that weigh 20 to 30 percent due to thick notebooks, textbooks, unrequired stationery and even cosmetics.

“This is harmful. It causes spine and joint problems as well as stress and fatigue. They adversely affect the well being of the child,” he added.

Given the intense competition for higher education places in India, children often feel under immense pressure to perform well at school, with materials for extra tuition in the evening often adding to the weight of their bag.

The government ruling said teachers should stagger homework and timetables so children don’t need to carry several textbooks to school every day. It also asked parents to ensure children do not pack unnecessary items.

The order did not mention any punishment for violating the weight restriction.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/afp-indian-state-sets-schoolbag-weight-limit-2015-7#ixzz3gtyJVBn8

 

Related posts

Sling bag vs. back pack vs. luggage bag, which one should I pick?

July 25, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health | | Leave a comment

Extreme athletes gain control through fear – and sometimes pay the price

Extreme athletes gain control through fear – and sometimes pay the price.

-1

From the 22 May 2015 post at Bangor University

Originally published on The Conversation by Tim Woodman, Professor and Head of the School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences at Bangor University, Lew Hardy, Emeritus Professor, Institute for the Psychology of Elite Performance at Bangor University and Matthew Barlow, Post-Doc Researcher in Sport Psychology at Bangor University. Read the original article.

The death of famed “daredevil” climber and base jumper Dean Potter has once again raised the idea that all high-risk sportspeople are hedonistic thrill seekers. Our research into extreme athletes shows this view is simplistic and wrong.

It’s about attitudes to risk. In his famous Moon speech in 1962, John F Kennedy said:

Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked [by a New York Times journalist] why did he want to climb it. He said, ‘Because it is there.’ Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there …

Humans have evolved through taking risks. In fact, most human actions can be conceptualised as containing an element of risk: as we take our first step, we risk falling down; as we try a new food, we risk being disgusted; as we ride a bicycle, we risk falling over; as we go on a date, we risk being rejected; and as we travel to the moon, we risk not coming back.

Human endeavour and risk are intertwined. So it is not surprising that despite the increasingly risk-averse society that we live in, many people crave danger and risk – a life less sanitised.

Dean Potter exemplified that craving. He was a pioneering climber and base jumper, well known for scaling huge vertical rock faces without ropes and with only a parachute for protection. On May 16 Potter and fellow climber Graham Hunt died in Yosemite National Park after attempting a dangerous wingsuit flight, where base jumpers wear a special suit that enables them to “fly” forwards and control their fall.

Potter’s endeavours and those of George Mallory seem motivated by something very different from hedonistic thrill. Over the past ten years we have interviewed dozens of high-risk sports people and studied their profiles in detail with a view to trying to find out what that “something different” is. Our findings are surprising.

For example, it is now clear that sensation-seeking explains very little about the motive for many of these people. Many high-risk sportspeople do not crave excitement at all – yes they seek out risky environments, but only with a view to minimising any additional risk so that they can remain in control despite the apparent danger of dangling off cliffs or jumping out of planes.

But there are two more striking features of our recent risk-taking research.

From pawns to players

The first is something we call “agentic emotion regulation”. Feeling agency is similar to feeling in control, but more akin to the feeling “I want to be the person who decides how my life pans out”. Some high-risk sportspeople purposefully seek out danger in order to make some sense of their feelings of lack of agency. In other words, in everyday life they do not feel like the chess player of their life but more like the pawn on the chessboard – they feel emotionally constrained and passive.

Legendary climber Patrick Berhault, who later died traversing a steep face of Switzerland’s highest mountain without a safety rope, once said he didn’t think he’d do it if there wasn’t the notion of risk. “Ordinary life lacks intensity and attraction for me”, he said, “I can’t stand it; I believe we should live!”

The fascinating feature of this finding is that the lowest sense of agency is in relationships that are the most emotional: with loving partners. This feeling of low agency is made worse by the difficulty with expressing their emotions.

In this way, the relationship with risk serves as a proxy for the relationship with a loving partner, except that the risk-taker is rewarded – rather than penalised – for not expressing emotion.

July 22, 2015 Posted by | Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Motherhood permanently alters the brain and its response to hormone therapy later in life

Motherhood permanently alters the brain and its response to hormone therapy later in life.

EstrogrenMenopause

From the 25 May 2015 EurkAlert

Hormone therapy (HT) is prescribed to alleviate some of the symptoms of menopause in women. Menopausal women are more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease but not other forms of dementia, and HT has been prescribed to treat cognitive decline in post-menopausal women with variable degrees of effectiveness. New research by Dr. Liisa Galea, at the University of British Columbia, suggests the form of estrogens used in HT and previous motherhood could be critical to explain why HT has variable effects. Research in women, and Dr. Galea’s research in animals, shows that one form of estrogens, called estradiol, which is the predominant form of estrogens in young women, had beneficial effects, while estrone, which is the predominant form of estrogens in older women, did not. Furthermore, the effects of estrone also depended on whether the rats had experienced motherhood: estrone-based HT impaired learning in middle-aged rats that were mothers, while it improved learning in rats that were not. Dr. Galea’s latest results were presented at the 9th Annual Canadian Neuroscience Meeting, on May 25th 2015 in Vancouver British Columbia.

“Our most recent research shows that previous motherhood alters cognition and neuroplasticity in response to hormone therapy, demonstrating that motherhood permanently alters the brain” says Dr. Liisa Galea.

Read the entire news release here

July 22, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Anticipating temptation may reduce unethical behavior, research finds

Anticipating temptation may reduce unethical behavior, research finds.

From the 22 May 2015 EurekAlert

Why do good people do bad things? It’s a question that has been pondered for centuries, and new research published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology may offer some insights about when people succumb to versus resist ethical temptations.

“People often think that bad people do bad things and good people do good things, and that unethical behavior just comes down to character,” says lead research author Oliver Sheldon, PhD. “But most people behave dishonestly sometimes, and frequently, this may have more to do with the situation and how people view their own unethical behavior than character, per se.”

In a series of experiments, participants who anticipated a temptation to act unethically were less likely to then behave unethically, relative to those who did not. These participants also were less likely to endorse unethical behavior that offered short-term benefits, such as stealing office supplies or illegally downloading copyrighted material. The study was published online in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin on May 22, 2015.

“Self-control, or a lack thereof, may be one factor which explains why good people occasionally do bad things,” says Sheldon, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at Rutgers University.

..

Anticipating temptation may only help, however, if people identify an unethical act as having the potential to jeopardize their self-image, integrity, or reputation.

Participants who were encouraged to anticipate temptation and who thought their behavior was consistent with their future self, were honest

People also may be more likely to engage in unethical behavior if they believe the act is an isolated incident.

“Unethical behavior may not be experienced as something that needs to be resisted if people think it’s socially acceptable or does not reflect on their moral self-image,” Sheldon says. “People often compartmentalize their experiences of temptation, making it much easier for them to rationalize the behavior. They might say, ‘Just because I took office supplies home for personal use one time, that doesn’t mean I’m a thief.'”

If people want to avoid unethical behavior, it may help to anticipate situations where they will be tempted and consider how acting upon such temptation fits with their long-term goals or beliefs about their own morality. “You may not be concerned about getting caught or about your reputation if people found out, but you might be concerned about your own ethical self-image,” Sheldon says. “Keeping such considerations in mind as one enters into potentially tempting situations can help people resist the temptation to behave unethically.”

The same suggestions may apply for employers, Sheldon says. For example, a manager could email employees before a work trip to warn them against the temptation to inflate travel expenses. The reminder about upcoming temptation might help protect the company’s bottom line, especially if employees view the temptation to inflate travel expenses as something they will encounter repeatedly in the future.

July 22, 2015 Posted by | Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

Patient Engagement: Overused Sound Bite or Transformative Opportunity? ‹ Reader — WordPress.com

Patient Engagement: Overused Sound Bite or Transformative Opportunity?

From the 31 March 2015 post at The C Health Blog


Criteria for Stage 3 of meaningful use of EHRs were released recently and there is lots of controversy, as would have been predicted. One set of recommendations that is raising eyebrows is around patient engagement.

The recommendations include three measures of engagement, and providers would have to report on all three of them, but successfully meet thresholds on two.

  1. Following on the Stage 2 measure of getting patients to view, download, and transmit their personal health data, the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) has proposed an increase from five to 25 percent.
  2. The second measure requires that more than 35 percent of all patients seen by the provider or discharged from the hospital receive a secure message using the electronic health record’s (EHR) electronic messaging function or in response to a secure message sent by the patient (or the patient’s authorized representative).
  3. The third measure calls for more than 15 percent of patients to contribute patient-generated health data or data from a non-clinical setting, to the EHR.

This is all a mouthful, and it’s striking and a bit misguided from two perspectives. First, this requires health care providers to present material to or interact with patients electronically in the name of patient engagement. But it is really mostly about shoveling uninspiring material at our patients that is redolent of highly technical jargon with minimal context, with the belief that it is somehow good for patients to be engaged in this way. The intent is admirable, but the execution flawed. In addition, it is not surprising that many providers have had challenges meeting the Stage 2 requirement that five percent of patients download their medical records. It seems akin to saying that this week’s book club selection is the text for advanced graduate study of quantum mechanics — and then wondering why no one shows up for the meeting.

Some define engagement in terms of how many times consumers or patients interact with informational websites or portals. Both insurers and providers do this. Once again, there is puzzlement over why consumers would choose to spend more time on sites such as BuzzFeed, Facebook and Yahoo, rather than intently study their health benefits or review their lab tests.

At Partners HealthCare Connected Health, our first generation interest in engagement came when we saw, reproducibly, that people who interact with connected health programs have consistently better health outcomes.

cHealth Blog_patient engagement_mobilePartners HealthCare Center for Connected Health's 2010 Progress Report, Forward Currents

This brings up two salient points: The first is how finely we can measure engagement using connected health.

……

July 22, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Simple questions predicted health risk [reblog]

From the 20 July 2015 post at Cardiac Exercise Research Group

…One of the intriguing findings of the study was that measures that could be obtained by a simple verbal interview, without physical examination turned out to be the strongest predictors. Simple metrics such as our self-reported health status and our preferred walking pace was highly predictive in both sexes and across different causes of death. In otherwise healthy people, smoking remained the strongest predictor. Unfortunately, cardiorespiratory fitness measurements were not included in the analysis, but based on our own and others research, we think some simple measure of fitness certainly would be among the most important variables.

July 21, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , , | Leave a comment

3 types of social media that can change your life

Originally posted on Innovations in Health Communications:

Considering that I’m not much of a social media user, I have not been paying particular attention to all the changes going on around me with the level of activity that has increased using these types of platforms.  A little bit of searching on the web has changed my perspective quite a bit.  Not that I didn’t believe that social media was taking flight and soaring at heights that have never been seen before, but my perspective on believing that this type of communication tool could be used to make a positive change!  I first consulted Statista, a credible source of statistical data across many different disciplines, and learned that the results of a 2013 U.S. survey demonstrated that almost 85% of grocery retailers with a registered dietician on staff promote health and nutrition by using social media.  Times have changed!

Statista graph

A little closer look at the social media platforms being used and I soon came to realize…

View original 715 more words

July 21, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Time to Talk Tips on Complementary Health Practices [reblog, resource]

From the 2 June 2015 post by Evelyn Cunico, M.A., M.S. at CHIMEconsumerhealth

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 7.47.23 AM

“Time to Talk Tips” is one of the resources in the “Time to Talk Campaign,” managed by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Like any health-related decision, your decision about whether to use complementary health practices is central to your health and safety. Yet, information you find on the Web is not always specific to your illness or based on scientific evidence.

The NIH monthly consumer-friendly series, “Time to Talk Tips,” discusses specific health topics, together with the scientific evidence related to those topics. The series is designed to encourage you and your medical doctors or other healthcare providers to talk about any complementary practice that you are considering.

Examples of “Time to Talk Tips”

Each month, the series highlights a health topic. For example, topics include “Natural Products for the Flu and Colds,” and “What Consumers Need to Know about the Use of Dietary Supplements.”

The series includes simple tips, such as, taking vitamin C regularly does not reduce the likelihood of getting a cold, but may improve some cold symptoms, and some dietary supplements may interact with prescription or over-the-counter medications or other dietary supplements.

Read the entire post here

July 21, 2015 Posted by | health care, Health News Items | , , | Leave a comment

Study identifies brain regions activated when pain intensity doesn’t match expectation [news release]

Study identifies brain regions activated when pain intensity doesn’t match expectation – Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
th-5

From the 27 May 2015 news release

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – May 27, 2015 – Picture yourself in a medical office, anxiously awaiting your annual flu shot. The nurse casually states, “This won’t hurt a bit.” But when the needle pierces your skin it hurts, and it hurts a lot. Your expectations have been violated, and not in a good way.

In a study published in the early online edition of the journal PAIN, researchers atWake Forest Baptist Medical Center have identified through imaging the part of the brain that is activated when a person expects one level of pain but experiences another.

“This finding gives us a better understanding of the importance of how our expectations of pain affect the experience of pain,” said Fadel Zeidan, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist and first author of the study. “This effect shows us how important it is to manage people’s expectations when it comes to pain.”

Previous studies have shown that the expectation of intense pain can make pain feel worse while the expectation of milder pain can make it hurt less. However, the brain mechanisms associated with processing mismatches between expected and experienced pain have been poorly understood.

This Wake Forest Baptist study found that activation of the parietal lobe and insular cortex are involved in processing real-time mismatches between expected and experienced pain.

 

July 21, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

ClinGen: A new era for genetic interpretation [news release]

ClinGen: A new era for genetic interpretation  – University of North Carolina

Jonathan Berg, MD, PhD, is a UNC Lineberger member and an assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine. James P. Evans, MD, PhD, is a Lineberger member and the UNC School of Medicine Bryson Distinguished Professor of Genetics and Medicine. (Source: UNC)Jonathan Berg, MD, PhD, is a UNC Lineberger member and an assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine. James P. Evans, MD, PhD, is a Lineberger member and the UNC School of Medicine Bryson Distinguished Professor of Genetics and Medicine. (Source: UNC)

From the 2 June 2015 news release

CHAPEL HILL – Millions of genetic variants have been discovered in the last 25 years, but interpreting the clinical impact of the differences in a person’s genome remains a major bottleneck in genomic medicine. In a paper published today in The New England Journal of Medicine, a consortium including investigators from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center present ClinGen, a program launched to evaluate the clinical relevance of genetic variants for use in precision medicine and research.

“Sequencing has revealed that there are potentially several million genetic variants per person,” said Jonathan Berg, MD, PhD, a UNC Lineberger member, an assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Genetics and this year’s ClinGen steering committee chair. “Right now there is a certain degree to which we can infer what those variants do, but most of them remain really beyond our understanding of how they are affecting human health, if at all. Through ClinGen, we’re working to evaluate the clinical relevance of genes and variants, and to provide a public database so that labs and clinicians will have a resource that they can go to as a way to understand their patients’ genetic testing results.”

Clinicians and researchers hope to use information about genetic variants not only to make predictions about an individual’s risk of disease, but also to develop more accurate clinical trials and better, tailored treatments and care for patients. However, labs and clinicians may interpret the same variant differently.

July 21, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New foam technology to lead advances in medical devices and protective equipment [news release]

New foam technology to lead advances in medical devices and protective equipment

Changchun “Chad” Zeng with Florida State University’s High Performance Materials Institute (HPMI).

Changchun “Chad” Zeng with Florida State University’s High Performance Materials Institute (HPMI).

 

From the 26 May 2015 Florida State University news release

Foam. We wear it. We sit on it. We sleep on it. We even use it to protect ourselves.

Whether it’s a football helmet, hospital bed, knee pad or body armor, the foam it contains plays a critical role in making that product both comfortable and safe. But can that foam be transformed into something significantly better, safer and more comfortable?

Changchun “Chad” Zeng with Florida State University’s High Performance Materials Institute (HPMI) says yes, and his brand new, high-performing auxetic foam is proving the point as it heads to the marketplace through a license agreement with Auxadyne LLC.

“We know what is not working with current products and technology, and what it is going to take to make it better,” said Zeng. “For example, the socks that amputees currently use to attach prosthetic devices do not adjust to limb shape and volume, creating lots of problems. My invention solves those issues.”

Part of what makes Zeng’s auxetic foam truly unique is its ability to get thicker, rather than thinner, when stretched. In practical terms, this counter-intuitive behavior, totally opposite to that of conventional foam, leads to many enhanced materials properties including a better and more comfortable fit that adjusts on the fly.

July 21, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Safety, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UCLA scientists explain mechanism that makes their mouthwash so effective against tooth decay | UCLA

UCLA scientists explain mechanism that makes their mouthwash so effective against tooth decay | UCLA.

From the 2 June 2015 UCLA news release

Killing S. mutans

Courtesy of Dr. Wenyuan Shi ; S. mutans bacteria, before and after treatment with C16G2.

In 2011, UCLA’s Dr. Wenyuan Shi developed amouthwash that could eliminate the bacteriathat is the principal cause of tooth decay.

A new study led by Shi, chair of the section of oral biology at the UCLA School of Dentistry, describes more precisely the mechanism that makes the mouthwash’s active ingredient so effective.

The research, published in the June issue (PDF) of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, explains how a specifically targeted antimicrobial peptide, or STAMP, known as C16G2 works to eradicate only the harmful acid-producing Streptococcus mutans bacteria, the main cause of tooth decay, without disturbing the benign and beneficial bacteria in the mouth.

These changes resulted in a microbial community structure that supports better oral health.

The finding is a critical advance because, as scientists have understood for about two decades, the vast majority of bacterial cells in the human mouth are not harmful to our health. Most common broad-spectrum antibiotics and conventional mouthwashes indiscriminately kill both beneficial and harmful pathogenic organisms, and their effects last for only about 12 hours. In addition, overusing broad-spectrum antibiotics can seriously disrupt the body’s ecological balance, which can make people more susceptible to microbial infections. As a result, there is no effective treatment for bacteria-induced tooth decay.

Shi said the STAMP approach would be a unique solution for re-engineering the mouth’s microbiome for long-term health.

C16G2, which is now delivered via a gel tray, is being developed for use in preventing tooth decay and cavities under an investigational new drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by Los Angeles-based C3 Jian, a company Shi founded around patent rights he developed at UCLA. It is currently in Phase 2 clinical trials.

July 21, 2015 Posted by | health care, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Teens turn to Internet to cope with health challenges [news release]

Teens turn to Internet to cope with health challenges.

From the 2 June 2015 Northwestern University news release

National survey explores how and why teens use online health information and digital tools

June 2, 2015 | by Julie Deardorff

EVANSTON, Ill. — At a time when teenagers are grappling with new and often confusing health concerns, the overwhelming majority — 84 percent — turn to the Internet, according to the first national study in more than a decade to examine how adolescents use digital tools for health information.

But while most teens tap online sources to learn more about puberty, drugs, sex, depression and other issues, a surprising 88 percent said they do not feel comfortable sharing their health concerns with Facebook friends or on other social networking sites, according to the study by Northwestern University researchers.

The report yields important information for public health organizations trying to reach adolescents. Nearly one third of the teenagers surveyed said the online information led to behavior changes, such as cutting back on soda, trying healthier recipes and using exercise to combat depression. One in five teens surveyed, or 21 percent, meanwhile, have downloaded mobile health apps.

“We found some real surprises about what teens are doing online when it comes to their health,” said Ellen Wartella, director of Northwestern’s Center on Media and Human Development and lead author of the report.

“We often hear about all the negative things kids are doing online, but teens are using the Internet to take care of themselves and others around them,” said Wartella, the Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor in Communication in Northwestern’s School of Communication.

“The new study underscores how important it is to make sure there is accurate, appropriate and easily accessible information available to teens, because it’s used and acted upon.”**

– See more at: http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2015/06/teens-turn-to-internet-to-cope-with-health-challenges.html#sthash.kXrBqfZl.dpuf

**Related Resources

KidsHealth provides information about health, behavior, and development from before birth through the teen years.Material is written by doctors in understandable language at three levels: parents, kids, and teens. KidsHealth also provides families with perspective, advice, and comfort about a wide range of physical, emotional, and behavioral issues that affect children and teens

 

MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You

Medline Plus (National Insitutes of Health)  is a great starting point for reliable health information.Over 750 topics on conditions, diseases, and wellness.  Information on drugs, herbs, and supplements. Links to directories (health care providers, health care facilities, etc) and organizations which provide health informationSurgery videosinteractive health tutorials, and more. 

Image DetailThe CDC is the US government’s primary way to communicate information on diseases, conditions, and safety. Information may be found in areas as ….

 

 

July 21, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , , | Leave a comment

Many health impacts of aging are due to inactivity—not getting old [Reblog]

Many health impacts of aging are due to inactivity—not getting old.

From the 2 June 2015 post at The Longevity Network

 

This past winter I taught a course titled “Physical Activity and Aging.” It was a fun course, and really drove home an issue that I’ve known for a while, but hadn’t previously given a lot of thought: the impact of aging is identical to the detraining that happens in response to reduced physical activity and/or increased sedentary behaviour.

Aging is associated with reduced fitness, weaker bones, reduced insulin sensitivity, reduced muscle strength, and reduced balance. Lack of  is also associated with all of those things. This isn’t a coincidence – many (probably most) of the health impacts of aging are not really due to aging at all.

You see, there are 2 types of aging. Eugeric aging, which you can think of as “true” aging. The stuff you simply cannot avoid as you get older (e.g. hearing loss, or reduced eyesight).

– See more at: http://www.longevitynetwork.org/news/many-health-impacts-of-aging-are-due-to-inactivity-not-getting-old/#sthash.MXcqsEDG.dpuf

July 21, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

Single 30-day hospital readmission metric fails to reflect changing risk factors

Single 30-day hospital readmission metric fails to reflect changing risk factors.

wsj-readmissions

From the 3 June 2015 P & T news release

Separate 8-day and 30-day benchmarks would better inform readmission prevention strategies, authors say

A new study from researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center suggests that risk factors for readmission change significantly over the course of the 30 days following hospital discharge. Thirty-day hospital readmission rates have become a federal quality metric intended to reflect inpatient quality of care and unnecessary health-care utilization.

Published June 2 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the research suggests that two distinct 8-day and 30-day readmission rates would serve as better inpatient quality measurements and would better inform readmission prevention strategies.

he authors also noted that other research has shown that hospitals that strictly follow evidence-based care standards do not necessarily have the lowest readmission rates and that readmission rates do not serve as a benchmark for inpatient mortality. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services may reduce payments to acute-care hospitals deemed to have excess readmissions within 30 days of discharge.

The study also found that discharges between 8 a.m. and 12:59 p.m. were associated with lower odds of an early readmission. The authors noted that discharge in the first part of the day likely gave patients and their families more time to access community resources such as pharmacies and social supports, thereby reducing the likelihood of readmission.

The authors also found that social determinants of health are closely tied to readmissions, as they affect how patients access care. They evaluated the effect of barriers to health literacy on readmissions and found that they were associated with both early and late readmissions. A patient’s insurance status was also relevant among those readmitted in the late period; patients with unsupplemented Medicare or Medicaid were more likely to be readmitted 8 or more days after discharge.

“The growing movement toward accountable-care organizations and patient-centered medical homes may prove beneficial in preventing unnecessary hospital readmissions,” Graham said. “Patients discharged from the hospital need support from and teamwork among hospitalists, primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, visiting nurses, pharmacists, and others.”

The authors stressed that both hospital and outpatient settings need systems of care that closely monitor patients as they transition their medical care from the hospital team back to the primary care team. Post-discharge monitoring would better enable a team to make sure patients adhere to the detailed care plan designed by the hospital team, such as taking medications correctly and keeping follow-up appointments.

Source: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; June 2, 2015.

July 21, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where do you get your health information? [Reblog]

Where do you get your health information? ‹ Reader — WordPress.com.

From a June 2015 post at drgladstone

Recently there was something in the news about roughly half of the information in the shows “the doctors” and the Dr. Oz show was correct (actually it was 63% of the time in “the doctors: and correct about 49% on the Dr. Oz show). See an article reporting on this here. Often times people will have looked things up on the internet when they come into the office.

Now I’m not bringing this up to knock Dr. Oz or the doctors who appear on “The Doctors”, nor looking things up the internet. However it’s important to ask several questions.
1) Does the claim have any scientific basis?
2) Has the study (if a study is being quoted) been replicated with the same or similar results obtained?
2a) who funded the study? was it reported in a reputable journal? If it is a product being touted, did the company making the product fund the study?
3) Does the person ‘reporting’ the results, or pushing the product have a connection with the company? Just because someone is employed or funded doesn’t necessarily mean they’re biased, but it is something to take into account

Read the entire post here

Related Resources

MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You

Medline Plus (National Insitutes of Health)  is a great starting point for reliable health information.Over 750 topics on conditions, diseases, and wellness.  Information on drugs, herbs, and supplements. Links to directories (health care providers, health care facilities, etc) and organizations which provide health informationSurgery videosinteractive health tutorials, and more.

Agency for Healthcare Research Quality

  Latest information for improving your health, including podcasts and videos

Image DetailThe CDC is the US government’s primary way to communicate information on diseases, conditions, and safety. Information may be found in areas as ….

Most articles include causes, symptoms, treatment options, prevention, prognosis, and more. Information may also be browsed by topic (Topics A-Z).  Additional features include picture slideshowsetools, and more. 

 

 

familydoctor.org -- health information for the whole familyFamilydoctor.org includes health information for the whole family
Short generalized information on Diseases and Conditions (with A-Z index), Health Information for Seniors, Men, and Women, Healthy Living Topics, pages geared to Parenting & Kids.  Numerous health tools in the left column (as health trackers, health assessments, and a Search by Symptom page.

Healthfinder.gov is a US government Web site with information and tools that can help you stay healthy.

 
KidsHealth provides information about health, behavior, and development from before birth through the teen years.Material is written by doctors in understandable language at three levels: parents, kids, and teens. KidsHealth also provides families with perspective, advice, and comfort about a wide range of physical, emotional, and behavioral issues that affect children and teens
UpToDate
UpToDate For Patients has a Patient Information tab to find information by topic or through a search box.
Topics help one to learn more about a medical condition, better understand management and treatment options, and have a better dialogue with health care providers.
 

[Adapted from Great Places to start (Univ of Toledo Consumer Health LibGuide)]

Even more….

Health Resources for All Edited by Janice Flahiff

Consumer Health Library Guide – University of Toledo
mostly link to free reputable Web sites

July 21, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , | Leave a comment

California, Oregon To Allow Hormonal Contraceptives Without A Doctor’s Prescription [Reblog]

California, Oregon To Allow Hormonal Contraceptives Without A Doctor’s Prescription

From a July 2015 Kaiser Health News post

California and Oregon will allow hormonal contraceptives without a doctor’s prescription (Photo by Heidi de Marco/KHN).

California and Oregon will be the first states in the nation to allow women to get birth control pills and other hormonal contraceptives directly from their pharmacists – without a doctor’s prescription.

As California officials were busy finalizing regulations on a state  law passed in 2013, Oregon’s governor Kate Brown signed a similar bill into law last week.

The two measures were hailed by women’s health advocates. They noted that men have long had an easier time getting birth control, simply purchasing condoms over the counter.

“We support efforts like these that remove barriers to women gaining access to birth control and other reproductive health care,” said Kathy Kneer, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California,  in a written statement.

Read the entire post here 

July 20, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, health care, Health News Items | , , , | Leave a comment

Why Is the Federal Government Afraid of Fat? [Reblog]

Why Is the Federal Government Afraid of Fat?
F
rom a July 2015 post at Medication Health News

The New York ID-100303054Times has recently shared an interesting piece with their readers. Since 1980’s Dietary Guidelines and Federal food policies recommended limiting dietary fat in the American diet to less than 30% of a daily caloric intake. This recommendation has remained active since and is still used in the Nutrition Facts panel on all packaged foods. A number of recent studies of low-fat diets revealed no significant benefits in major cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer risk and weight gain. In fact, the only research that suggested a reduction in these conditions related to a Mediterranean-style diet with a higher 40% of total fat intake. Additionally, a harmful increase in the consumption of refined carbohydrates has occurred over the past several decades. For the first time the advisory committee for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines omitted the upper limit on total fat, focusing the recommendation on promoting healthy food consumption and improving the food quality rather than concentrating on the total fat content. In your opinion, is an average American ready to abandon the low-fat trend?

For additional information please read The NewYork times

Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

July 20, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

From a July 2015 post by Dr. Jekyll

douche aisle

Women who use feminine care products called douches may increase their exposure to harmful chemicals called phthalates–and black women may be at particularly high risk due to frequent use. Public health officials advise against the use of douching products, which can hide vaginal infections and lead to other serious health problems. Despite that, douching products are still a popular item on the drug store shelf, and are disproportionately used by black women.

“This study suggests, for the first time, that vaginal douches may increase a woman’s exposure to phthalates, chemicals that may alter hormone action and are associated with serious health problems,” says senior author of the study Ami Zota, ScD, MS.

“These findings raise questions about the health and safety of vaginal douches and other fragranced products used in and around the vaginal area.”

 

This study did not directly tie phthalates in douching products to health problems in women–additional research will have to make that direct connection. Still, the research did find that vaginal douching may increase a woman’s exposure to DEP and that’s a troubling finding that needs to be explored further.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other health experts recommend against douching because this practice has been associated with increased risks of vagina infection, pelvic inflammatory disease, problems during pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Now, this study adds the worry that douching may also expose women to chemicals that can lead to health problems later in life or can harm their developing baby–if women are pregnant while using such products.

Read the entire post here

July 20, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , | Leave a comment

Climate Change-related Health Effects Tied to the Decline of Pollinators such as Bees and Butterflies [Reblog]

From a July 2015 post at RFF Library blog
th-4

[AFP via Yahoo! Health] The unprecedented degradation of Earth’s natural resources coupled with climate change could reverse major gains in human health over the last 150 years, according to a sweeping scientific review published late Wednesday.

“We have been mortgaging the health of future generations to realize economic and development gains in the present,” said the report, written by 15 leading academics and published in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet.

“By unsustainably exploiting nature’s resources, human civilization has flourished but now risks substantial health effects from the degradation of nature’s life support systems in the future.”

Climate change, ocean acidification, depleted water sources, polluted land, over-fishing, biodiversity loss — all unintended by-products of humanity’s drive to develop and prosper — “pose serious challenges to the global health gains of the past several decades,” especially in poorer nations, the 60-page report concludes…

“This is the first time that the global health community has come out in a concerted way to report that we are in real danger of undermining the core ecological systems that support human health,” said Samuel Myers, a scientist at Harvard University and one the authors.

A companion study on the worldwide decline of bees and other pollinators, led by Myers and also published in The Lancet, illustrates one way this might happen.

The dramatic decline of bees has already compromised the quantity and quality of many nutrient-rich crops that depend on the transfer of pollen to bear fruit…

 

 

Read the entire post here

July 20, 2015 Posted by | environmental health | , , | Leave a comment

US debate on e-cig’ regulation rages on | States & Municipalities with Laws Regulating Use of Electronic Cigarettes (Report) -[Reblog]

E-cigs are at the least annoying. Both my husband and I can tell if there is e-cig smoke in the near vicinity, it is a nasty feeling in one’s lungs.  I was walking out of the public library behind someone, and before I could dodge another person exiting, he was vamping. Took about 15 minutes for the vapors to get out of my lungs.

From a July 2015 post at  DR B’ VAPING. all.things.vapelife

Petal (Mississippi) resident Jonathan McNeil used to smoke three packs of cigarettes a day. His smoking once caused his two cousins to have asthma attacks, and even forced him to have to use an inhaler. “Now that I vape, I don’t need one,” he said. “I was vaping at the shop and filled the whole place with the vapor. My little cousins walked in, and they were fine. They didn’t have a single attack.” McNeil is one of many who believe electronic cigarettes help people more than they harm them. “This vapor is fine for people to be around,” he said. “It’s the same stuff that comes out of smoke machines on Halloween. A business should be able to do what it wants, so I think a ban like this from the government isn’t needed.” But there are plenty who disagree.

E-cigarettes are being banned in an increasing number of locations, as the debate about their potential harmful side effects rages on. So far, Petal is the lone city inForrest and Lamar counties to specifically address the electronic smoking devices, although the issue is on other cities’ radar. “We’re just trying to keep pace with the technology that is out there,” said Petal Ward 4, Alderman Brad Amacker, who proposed the Friendly City’s ban on using the devices in public locations. “We already have the ban on tobacco cigarettes, so it only seemed prudent to update the ordinance to reflect current smoking devices.”

American Non-smokers Rights Foundation (ANRF) issued a report detailing Local Laws Regulating Use of E-cigarettes. As of July 1, Mississippi had 46 cities and counties where laws restrict e-cigarette use in 100 percent smoke-free venues.

Read the entire article here

July 20, 2015 Posted by | environmental health | , , , | Leave a comment

Asthma attack! Nosy bacteria could be to blame [Reblog]

From a July 2015 post at Public Health, FYI

Asthma attack! Nosy bacteria could be to blame

You have been colonized by bacteria since the day you were born. Yes, you are the breeding ground for a multitude of tiny organisms. In fact, bacteria outnumber your own cells by 10 to 1!

But before you drench yourself in hand sanitizer to get rid of these little beings, it’s important to note that not all bacteria are bad.

Some good bacteria that live in your gut actually help you digest food. Other good bacteria also live in food like yogurt and milk.

But in a world of good and evil, we do have bacteria that rather complicate our lives and cause us more harm than good.

Meet Staphylococcus aureus, a seemingly innocent-looking bacterium. S aureuslikes to live on your salty skin and in mucosal membranes like your nostrils. This bacterium isn’t always pathogenic, which means it doesn’t always cause disease; however, it can secrete a toxin called that could be the true culprit for causing illness.

These enterotoxins can be found in undercooked or mishandled food, which can cause food poisoning. Beyond causing explosive bowel movement due to a bad burrito, enterotoxins can actually be inhaled, especially if a colony of S aureus lives in your nose.

Herein lies the newest medical mystery – can S aureus enterotoxins cause some kind of respiratory damage like asthma?

Science says… maybe!

 

July 20, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Different Chronic Illnesses Demand Different Connected Health Strategies [Reblog]

From a May 2015 post at The cHealth blog

….

We made a decision some years ago to build the case for connected health around the management of these illnesses because:

  1. They are costly. By some estimates these chronic diseases account for 70% of U.S. health care costs.
  2. They have a significant lifestyle component. This backdrop seems an ideal canvas for connected health interventions because they involve motivational psychology, self-tracking and engagement with health messages. These chronic illnesses pose a unique challenge in that the lifestyle choices that accelerate them are for the most part pleasurable (another piece of cheese cake? spending Sunday afternoon on the couch watching football, smoking more cigarettes and drinking more beer.) In contrast, the reward for healthy behavior is abstract and distant (a few more minutes of life sometime down the road or an avoided heart attack or stroke). This combination of lack of symptoms and the uphill battle around lifestyle improvement makes these illnesses uniquely challenging.
  3. They are mostly amenable to tracking some objective bit of information about you (e.g. your blood pressure, blood glucose or activity level) in order to make you more aware and, hopefully improve your lifestyle in order to improve your health.

20100811 - Wednesday, August 11, 2010, Fairhaven, MA, USA – LIGHTCHASER PHOTOGRAPHY – Images of a Mass General Hospital diabetes patient in his own home using an advanced home monitoring system for the Partners HealthCare Center for Connected Health's 2010 Progress Report, Forward Currents.   ( lightchaser photography 2010 © image by j. kiely jr. )

 

 

ocused on these illnesses and the attendant challenges, we developed programs for home blood pressure monitoring, home glucose monitoring and various activity challenges (nothing on cholesterol just yet). By iteration, trial and error, we’ve become comfortable with the psychology around these illnesses and how it affects both our ability to manage patients and the patient’s ability to improve these conditions.

Because these conditions are silent and because most people would rather not be reminded that they have an illness, we found that a strong engagement platform is needed to get people’s attention. We also found that we need to create tools that nudge people to adopt and sustain a healthy lifestyle rather than ignore our natural tendencies to ignore these silent conditions and engage in unhealthy behaviors.

Read the entire blog post here 

July 20, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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