Friday, October 30, 2015
This from a paper presented at the recent Anesthesiology 2015 conference.
The study ran over 2013 and 2014 and focused on drug errors during surgeries--drug labeling, incorrect dosing, drug documentation mistakes, and failing to note changes in vital signs. Supposedly this is the first large-scale look at this.
An adverse drug event was found in 124 of 277 surgeries. Two-thirds were seen as "serious." Two percent were life-threatening.
The researchers found the results disturbing but not surprising--meaning they expected screwups in a large number of cases.
Good thing patients are asleep. I had three major eye surgeries--you have to be conscious for those, but they knock you out for 10 minutes to stick needles in your eye. Then you wake up. When they started on cut on my first one, I felt it and went...ahhhh and ZAP! I was knocked out again for another dose.
This is why I recommend avoiding cutting into yourself if you possibly can. Once you mess with the goo, it's never the same. It can be better, can be worse, but it's not the same.
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Developed by Akili Interactive Labs in Boston, Evo is made for mobile devices and acts as daily therapy for those with brain disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Five to 11% of kids may have this problem, which can continue into adolescence and even adulthood. Many take Ritalin or Adderall, but these drugs can cause side effects such as nervousness, loss of appetite, insomnia and increased heart rate and blood pressure.
Evo helps kids concentrate by thrusting into a world of split-second decisions. They tune out distractions and guide a spacecraft through a canyon. To move a ship, they must find the red fish and tune out the other color fish. As the child plays the game, the difficulty is increased.
Pfizer is involved, a study is pending...My question is why prescription?
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
The most common food allergies are milk, eggs, and peanuts, says Tracy Fausnight, a pediatric allergist at Penn State (er) Hershey.
Kids with milk allergies cannot eat most types of chocolate. Peanut allergy--this takes in a lot of candy. Those with egg allergies must avoid nougats (Milky Way, Three Musketeers). Even SweeTARTS have egg.
Older kids can dump the treats and sift out the bad actors. Some parents also let allergic kids dress up, but substitute a goodie bag when they get home.
Those warnings that an item was manufactured in a facility also processing say, peanuts, are not really reliable, Fausnight says.
--Skittles, Smarties, Starburst, Dum Dums, Haribo gummy bears.
--Stickers, pencils, bubbles, crayons, friendship bracelets, balls, and bookmarks. Also money.
Some houses also display a sign--Safe for allergic trick or treaters.
Interesting to me is that this seems to have shifted from the mean lunatic stuffing treats with razor blades to a medical theme.
But still, kids do have sensitivities--and I guess it's up to everyone to look out for them. It takes a village and all that.
Of course, on Saturday that village will be Salem, Mass. Bwaaa-ha--ha.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Dr Anupam Jena a health policy researcher at Harvard, was quoted as saying the same societal and environmental factors that affect the rest of us affect them, too.
The researchers looked at nationwide surveys between 2002 and 2013 asking respondents about their profession and health. Three percent of the 150,000 were health professionals--doctors, dentists, nurses, chiropractors, pharmacists, and physician assistants.
They were less likely to smoke and more likely to exercise that people in other jobs--but also more likely to report moderate to heavy alcohol consumption.
Of course, the behaviors were self-reported. And some health jobs might encourage better choices--they were all lumped together.
But, the researchers concluded, these people were role models and still, though, were human. "Healthy choices are not easy to come by," Jena said.
Maybe it's me, but I trust a chubby doctor more--at least he or she knows the struggle and won't automatically indict weight as the cause of every complaint you have. They might look beyond.
Monday, October 26, 2015
Beth Kimmerle sought to dispel some myths about candy in the Oct 23rd Washington Post.
First, it's a myth that natural and sugar-free alternatives are healthier than candy. Candy, while not the enemy, is not exactly health food, so people look for alternatives. But protein bars, granola bars, energy bars, etc, can have more sugar and cals than a candy bar. The oats, fruit, flax, and nuts are often bound together by corn syrup or chocolate. A choc-dipped granola bar (Target's Pantry Party) contains 15 gr of sugar and 140 cals. A Fun Size Snickers is 8.5 grams or sugar and 80 cals. (A medium-sized apple has 19 gr of sugar.)
Sugar-free gummies are made with sugar alcohols--which can cause diarrhea.
Another myth is that old candy should be thrown out. There is no sell-by date for candy. Candy is cooked to high temps. But if it contains butter, nuts or chocolate, think a year maybe. Brittle old candy can also break teeth.
Remember how dark chocolate is good for you? Fine print: This is in powdered, unsweetened form...not luscious bar form.
Many people also think candy recipes are kept consistent--yet the product can vary country to country. Cadbury bars: First ingredient in the US is chocolate, in Britain, milk. Chocolate itself varies from place to place.
Was Halloween invented by the candy companies? Nah--it goes way back a Celtic harvest festivals where the spirits were thanked for the harvest. This evolved into All Souls Day, where families handed out sweet cakes in exchange for prayers for the dead.
By the way, 75% of adults eat candy at least once a week.
Friday, October 23, 2015
There is a new study in the journal Appetite that posits that the rise in commercials for such high-fat, high-sodium, high-calorie treats is warping our teens.
Some researchers at the American University's Kogod School of Business surveyed 1,000 teens about their eating and viewing.
To me surprisingly, heavy TV viewers who did not eat fast food much were desensitized to its negatives, but those who regularly ate it, did know about how it might affect them but ate it anyway.
In other words, as exposure on TV goes up, actually eating a lot of fast food could increase sensitivity to the risks.
But the researchers concluded that maybe fast food ads should be monitored and perhaps regulated. And maybe there could be mention or even ads for healthier foods.
I am not sure what all this proves, if anything. Are we going to see ads that end with...
Please do not eat the burger shown without consulting your doctor. Side effects include weight gain, acne, sluggishness, cardiovascular and heart disease, diabetes, abdominal fullness, and bad breath from the onions.
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Sometimes I think about the political scene and think this IS Dementia Friendly America, but I snark.
Anyway, test programs are bring launched with state money and grants to help first responders, police officers, bank tellers, caregivers, and road sign makers, among others, to better handle the growing number of citizens who suffer from dementia.
The number of Americans with Alzheimer's is 5.3 million and there are other forms of dementia, or senility, as it used to be called.
By 2050, this will be 16 million.
I spent 18 years caring for my mother, who had simple, garden-variety memory issues. We ran into many officials and even a couple of hospital nurses who seemed puzzled by her not making sense, her flares of anger (and swearing--a no-no when we were kids), and generalized non-tracking.
Doctors would ask her, not us, my sister and me, what was wrong with her. She would cheerily say, "Nothing, why do you ask?" I remember a bank official who handed the phone to her to talk to Social Security--she could hardly figure out which end to put to her ear--and I had power of attorney.
I think people in the public and health sectors can use some more education on this subject.
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
However, we have an assistant prof at Saint Louis University, Angela Sanford, MD, a geriatrican (old people's doc), who says no one can be unhappy around little kids. She has three under 3 herself.
She also thinks the little ones adore and look up to their grandparents, which is good for the older folks' self-esteem. Older people, she says, can make the tots into better people.
I don't mean to be totally cynical--I have no grandkids and often wistfully wish I did. I like little kids. But my sister, who has little grandkids, can barely stand it.
Sanford says boomers are enthusiastic grandparents, as enthusiastic as they would greet a Led Zeppelin concert (best not to try those metaphors).
The pluses of grandparenting:
--Play, exercise. Tag, pushing a swing, walking around the zoo.
--Cooking. You eat more healthy things if you cook. Sanford says. Chopping, stirring and lifting heavy pots helps arthritis. Sharing family recipes with kids also strengthens bonds.
--Playing games and doing puzzles. Cards, chess, I spy with my little eye--help older people.
--Being busy busy. Kids like variety--grandparents must think up different things to do.
--Napping. OK, now you're on to something. Nap when the kids do.
--Kids also help older people stay flexible--maybe the kids' mother wants them to do something besides what you planned--Sanford says this will help you be more flexible in dealing with change.
--Prayer. If you are so inclined, you can pray with kids.
Being a grandparent turns your focus outward, she says. No time for a pity party.
So that is what older people do all day--have a pity party?
Dunno about this--maybe she has some good points. But others seem to be really reaching for a positive.
I would say hang with the kids because they are funny and you get to eat the cookies you bake. When their parents come home, say bye and have a drink.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
According to a site called Black Health Matters, cinnamon shows promise--in animals--of boosting memory. In a controlled study, larger doses of cinnamon resulted in better maze running than lower doses.
A 2013 review of research suggested benefits in Type 2 diabetes. Research is mixed, though. We need larger, randomized studies. It has low risks--but capsule form is probably best for this purpose if you want to try it. (Eating a lot of apple pie is probably not the way here.)
Cinnamaldehyde--which gives cinnamon its color and scent--may stop formation of colorectal cancer--at least in mice. Much mmore research is needed.
Cramps--yuck. In a small study done in Iran, 420 mg of cinnamon a day resulted in fewer menstrual cramps in 24 hours and almmost none by day three. A control group took starch--no help.
Viruses also hate cinnamon. Scientists from Touro College in NYC compared cinnamon to onion, garlic, cloves, peppermint, cocoa and Spanish saffron--and a 10% cinnamon killed a virus after 10 mins. A tablespoon once or twice a day can wipe viruses out of your body, one doctor said.
Just don't choke it down in powder form as some stupid teens try to do.
Personally, I like the pie route, but you know how I am. The toast approach is also good.
Monday, October 19, 2015
The American Heart Assn hosted the fourth annual "Honoring the Beat of Life" Powwow in Shawnee OK on Oct 17.
Sponsored by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Oklahoma--one of 39 tribes in the state--the say included free health screenings, healthy food, activity demos, and bingo.
The ever-popular fry bread (ever had it?) was not served this year--too fatty. Some high-sodium traditional foods were also not in evidence.
Rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity in the Indian communities have been rising alarmingly.
Indians die at younger ages than the rest of the population.
Maybe that fry bread isn't the big treat some think it is.
Friday, October 16, 2015
|Safe to drive?|
The 62% apparently thought workers under the influence--for whatever reason--risked injuries to themselves, coworkers or customers.
An important first step in dealing with this new realilty is to have a clearly documented workplace policy.
Forty-two percent in the survey did not have this. Seventy-four percent did not require drug tests.
Marijuana for medical or recreational purposes is now legal in 24 states and DC.
Ten percent of the employers polled said they had employees show up under the influence.
Some states allow use at home but employees can face consequences if they arrive at work under the influence. Other states have prevented termination for this.
So--basically--this is all over the map. In a state of becoming...
Still, it seems to me that people should not be working in severe pain, either...
Companies need to think this through.
Thursday, October 15, 2015
The US Geological Survey (USGS) says nearly HALF of all Americans are exposed to potentially damaging earthquakes.
Want to see what your risk is--check out the 2014 USGS National Seismic Hazard Maps. http://usgs.gov.
If the ground starts to shake:
--Drop to the floor and get under a sturdy desk or table and hold on to it securely.
--No table? Drop to the floor near an interior wall and protect your head and neck with your arms.
--Don't get near exterior walls, windows, hanging objects, mirrors, tall furniture, large appliances (say the fridge), and cabinets filled with heavy objects.
--If you are outside, move to a clear, open space.
--Avoid power lines, trees, signs, vehicles and anything else that could fall on you.
--If you are driving, pull to the side and put on the parking brake. Do NOT stop under bridges, overpasses, power lines, or traffic signs. Stay in the vehicle until the shaking stops.
To learn more and to sign up for notices of earthquakes, go to the website.
I know someone who was in the Alaska earthquake some years ago. He was walking down a street in Alaska and the windows in the buildings undulated like glass waves for a split second, then shattered and the rock and roll began.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
When he was first starting out in the field, he was assisting in a back surgery on a 12-year-old girl. His tests showed she would lose function in her legs if the surgeon continued the approach he was using. The surgeon adjusted the screws and rods in the girl's spine--and she came through.
This is a fast-growing field--with starting salaries for U-M grads around $70,000 to $80,000. They not only take courses but pass a certification exam.
Neuromonitorists work for hospitals or companies who farm out such services to doctors and hospitals.
Something new everyday--lucky for us.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
The thinking is that smell and taste are processed in the brain's limbic system, which governs emotions, motivation, memory and instinctive behaviors.
A couple of Austrian researchers investigated the taste preferences of 1,000 people with an average age of 35.
First, 500 men and women were asked to rate sweet,, salty and sour foods (cake, bacon, vinegar, radishes). Then they filled in questionnaires about their levels of agression.
In a second experiment, they were asked to agree or disagree with the traits of Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism. The statements evaluated were such things as "I tend to manipulate others to get my way" and "I tend to want others to pay attention to me." They were also asked about sweet and bitter foods.
They found a link between the darker personality traits and bitter foods.'
A similar 2013 study showed a correlation between adventure seeking and spicy foods.
What do you think? Claptrap? While you think about that, I am making a radish sandwich with arugula--but don't be afraid.
Or too afraid.
Monday, October 12, 2015
She chronicles several overweight women whose bulk was in their legs, buttocks, and thighs. No matter how much they exercised and how well they ate, it would not dissolve.
The Mayo Clinic first identified lipedema in 1940--it's widely recognized in Europe. Many US docs do not know about it.
It begins during puberty and worsens after pregnancy and menopause.
It is characterized by fatty deposits under the skin. Even after weight loss surgery, the top of the body will thin out but the lower part will remain fat.
The lipedema fat is fibrous--it can contain hard nodules you can feel. This fat also stalls calorie burn. and it can be toxic.
And it can hurt--one gal said the cat jumping on her lap really hurt.
The fat on inner thighs can make arthritis worse and even increase the need for knee replacement surgery.
There is really no treatment--except liposuction--to just get rid of it. Some sufferers also wear compression stockings and garments.
Lipo is usually not covered by insurance, though--so this is a bad thing to have. If you think this is you--ask your doctor about it.
Friday, October 09, 2015
Elizabeth Goatley, PhD, assistant professor in Baylor's Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, says it starts small. Maybe your 13-yr old makes new friends from playing an online game. Or your flirty 15-yr-old daughter catches the eye of an older guy at the mall.
Sound like a Lifetime movie? Well, 30,000 to 40,000 children are at risk for recruitment in any given year.
In 2014, more than 5,000 cases were reported, 3600 of which were sex trafficking, with labor trafficking in second place.
Traffickers and pimps play on the vulnernability of young people. Kids want to fit in, make friends. Maybe parents are out a lot or work all the time. The traffickers try tio find the void in the kid and fill it.
Some possible signs your child is in the sway of one of these traffickers:
--Your child begins to use new slang and appear more sexualized. This is especially noticeable if parents and child were formerly close.
--Your child will not allow you access to his or her technology.
--Your child has a second cellphone or multiple accounts on the socials.
--Kids who run away or are thrown out of the home are approached within 48 hours. After 24 hours, the traffickers know they want and need food and safe shelter--they pounce.
--If your kid has a new boyfriend--particularly older. Older can be 18, remember, not some sleazebag 35-yr-old.
The antidotes? Love and care for your children, have family dinners, little talks, outings. Don't pay the cellphone bills and cut the kid loose in the world.
The world is a dangerous place.
Thursday, October 08, 2015
Just last week, I heard about a woman who got a knee replacement and is now having trouble stopping the pills.
More than a quarter of Americans have taken prescription--meaning opiod-based--painkillers in the past year. Seven in 10 have been given these in their lifetime.
In 2012, among people 25 to 64, drug overdose surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of death.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health did a national opinion study of 1,100 adults in the US (Addiction, Oct 7).
One upshot was that the public may be on the verge of wanting more controls, such as:
--Better medical training on controlling pain and treating addiction
--Requiring docs to make sure patients aren't getting multiple prescriptions from different doctors (doc shopping)
--Requiring pharmacists to check ID.
In the study, 58% of respondents ranked prescription drug abuse as serious or extremely serious--up there with guns and tobacco.
Many Americans--this showed--have had experience with these or known someone who has.
This applies to my family. My family member was asked repeatedly to sign pledges with the doctor that she would not get pills from another doctor, but did so anyway. She denied she had a problem but took addictive pills daily for back pain. She lied about it all.
Others try the internet for supplies or go to Mexico. Or Mexico comes to them--and they buy the stuff on the street.
One thing you need to know--you can take these pills (oxy, Percodan, Percocet) for real pain, say after an operation, and still get hooked. It takes an addictive gene or personality. But it can happen.
Other people take them for a healing period and stop as soon as possible because of nausea or constipation, no problem.
Still others need them for chronic pain--day in, day out.
Aren't drugs a blast?
Wednesday, October 07, 2015
They estimated a typical visit is 121 minutes--2 hours. That comes to 37 minutes in travel, 64 minutes waiting or filling in forms, and only 20 minutes with the physician.
Based on an average sum people make working, they figured it costs you $43 in lost time. Add to that the average cost of the copay--$32.
Nationally that comes to $52 billion a year--basically in sitting around.
Blacks and Hispanics spend 25-28% longer because of long wait times at clinics or bad transportation. People already marginalized are further marginalized and penalized for not having money.
What can be done? Same-day appointments would help, they said (how that would cut wait times is not clear to me).
Another approach could be virtual visits--via Skype on the phone or pad.
Doctors could improve their workflow--but the paper said this is hard when demand for primaries, for instance, is so high,
Also--and you ALWAYS hear this--the problems that come into the office sometimes cannot be solved in 20 minutes. This is their explanation when you complain--then they hit you with, "Wouldn't you want the same good care?"
The fact is, doctors often double book to be sure to get their quota of copays. Waiting is baked in.
One doctor they cited had 35 people scheduled for 8:30 AM. I can beat that--I once scheduled for 8 AM on their advice--and learned the doctor did not even come in until 9 AM.
That same doctor kept people waiting at least four hours. Sometimes they passed out crackers to diabetics about to keel over in the waiting room.
How about canning some of these "wellness" visits, these "talk about death" visits, the "let's see if you have Alzheimer's yet" visits, and the constant look-sees to get your medications renewed?
If you have a rash--call the primary, get the referral to the dermatologist and go--no trip to the primary first.
How about that?
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
Now researchers at the Univ of Missouri Columbia have found that six hours of sitting can indeed impair function--but that walking around for 10 mins can restore health even after marathon sits.
It's easy to lose track of time, says Jaume Padilla, PhD, assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the School of Medicine. Sitting reduces blood flow to the legs--but 10 minutes of walking does something to something called Shear Stress. Something good..
So if a colleague is a few halls or cubicles away--don't text or email--walk over.
You may be a desk potato, but do the "mash" every so often.
See? Saved your life.
Monday, October 05, 2015
As many as 20% of people who get a prescription, do not fill it--and of those who do, half do not take as prescribed.
Now, some researchers at the Univ of Massachusetts has published some preliminary research in the J of Medical Toxicology on an ingestible monitoring device. The patients take the medicine as they normally would. The gelain capsule dissolves and stomach acid activates a transmitter in it. A monitor on the patient's hop then records critical info and sends it to the web.
Within minutes someone knows the patient took it--or did not, at least at the prescribed time.
The first test was on people taking oxycodone for a broken leg.
Ding ding--.hmmm...Would they take another dose of the addictive pain killer too soon?
My alarm went off. But the researchers insist this is good for reminding oldsters to take their meds, too.
I guess I am just not a monitoring type person.
Friday, October 02, 2015
Some recommendations for exercising on the cheap?
The outdoors is free. For the cost of decent shoes, you can run, jog, or hike. Twenty-two mins a day will increase your lifespan (statistically anyhow).
How about a home gym? The average gym membership is about $60 a month...In five years, that's $3500. You can get dumbbells, a balance ball, resistance bands and even a treadmill (Craigs) for way less.
Or just adapt some household items into weights. Water bottles, big cans, detergent, even 40-lb bags of pet food. Some moms even hoist the kid.
Use your own body weight to provide resistance. Lunges, squats, pushups.
Stream free videos. Check out The Daily Hit or YouTube offerings.
If you like going to a facility, take advantage of cheap trials--you may get several mos of free workouts.
Before you sign a contract, look for deals from the company online. Coupon Sherpa is a good one.
Some retailers also offer free workouts--check. Also, check your local Meetup.com for hiking groups.
You can also barter--how about teaching a few classes to get a few? Or check people in, clean up in the evenings--you can ask anyone anything.
Thursday, October 01, 2015
Called ViroCap, it can detect viruses not found by standard testing. You don't have to look for something with a special test--it tells you, here are the viruses present. (Sept Genome Research)
The gold standard now is polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays. However, these screen for only about 20 viruses at a time.
Researchers screened blood, stool, and nasal secretions. In one test, they screened 14 children--the new test found viruses missed in four under previous methods. The standard testing missed Influenza B, parechovirus (intestinal and respiratory), herpes virus 1 (cold sores), and the chicken pox virus.
It can detect even viruses that are close to each other genetically. It also sorts of subtypes that can cause ailments.
The test may also be modified in the future to find bacteria, fungi, and other microbes as well as indicators that the pathogen is resistant to antibiotics.
The research and test are being provided publicly and will be available to scientists--and eventually patients?--worldwide.
Yay--let's get on it!