Friday, April 29, 2016

Vitamin deficiencies--still possible

Ew--that isn't good.
In this big, rich country with fare of every description and a more or less half-health literate population, you'd think vitamin deficiencies would be a thing of the past.

While we are not exactly 18th century sailors keeling over with scurvy, our various "diets" and "food plans" and otherwise unbalanced eating behavior can result in issues, according to the Food Technology Institute.

I have personal experience. I have intestinal issues and tend to steer away from the recommended bales of veggies and also from dairy, so when my hair started to fall out a month or two ago, the dermatologist checked my blood for Vitamin B1, folic acid, and iron (my thyroid tests were normal) . Or wanted to--I could not get a ride to the lab, so am looking up foods I can emphasize to maybe up these levels if indeed they are the culprits.

The Food Technology Institute says people in weird dietary spaces need to pay attention to getting essential nutrients.

VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN. As much as 20% of the global population is one of these. These people must eat legumes, soy products, nuts, seeds, and whole grains--no meats, poultry or seafood.  They may be higher in calcium and fiber, but lower in Vitamin D. Pay special attention to calcium, Vit D, Vit B12, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and zinc.

HUGH PROTEIN/LOW CARB/GLUTEN-FREE.  Emphasis here is on eliminating carbs and often whole grains.  You could be missing out on B vitamins and fiber. Eat more quinoa, brown rice, and sweet potatoes.

PALEO. supposedly based on what cavemen ate, the idea here is to eat lean meat, seafood, nuts, fruits, veggies, and healthful oils. No grains, legumes, dairy, and foods with refined sugar and lots of salt. These people need to supplement with folate, B vits, calcium, and Vit D.

OK...I don't see my situation there.  Back to the research.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Migraines affect the whole family

A new study from the Montefiore Headache Center of the Albert Einstein School of Medicine (Mayo Clinic Proceedings) says one member with the pain and disability of migraine headaches affects the emotional, social, and financial well-being of the entire family.

The Chronic Migraine Epidemiology and Outcomes Study looked at 4,022 people with migraines, along with their spouses or partners.

--Approx 41% of people with migraine and 23% of the spouses said the migraine sufferer would be a better parent if he or she did not suffer from migraines.

--Half of the migraineurs missed at least one family activity in the past month.

--One-third of the sufferers and 21% of their partners said migraines threatened their long-term financial security.

--The burden was worst among people with chronic migraine--defined as 15 or more headaches a month.

The sufferers see this happening and suffered from guilt, worry, and sadness--in addition to the debilitating pain and workplace issues.

If this affects you, revisit your medical condition--see what new approaches there may be.  Your family is counting on you.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Maybe "blue light" isn't all that bad

Do you check your phone in the dark at night? I know I have an MP3 player with blue light I click on when I can't sleep. That supposedly can interfere with melatonin production and sleep--but that is not what this is about.

This is about whether blue light can harm your eyes.

The Vision Council says 90% of adults use digital devices more than two hours a day (is that all?).

There have been stories on how blue light can do all sorts of bad things to you, but Adam Gordon, OD, clinical assoc professor at the University of Alabama's Birmingham School of Optometry, says overuse and exposure to blue light can lead to eyestrain and focusing problems--but does not appear to cause long-term harm, eye disease, or damage to the retina.

Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum--high-energy light just beyond the potentially harmful ultraviolet light.

Blue light goes to the retina, triggering "sight."

Ultraviolet light can be harmful to the eye, contributing to cataracts, ptergia (growths) and perhaps macular degeneration.

We are exposed these days more to blue light--through fluorescents, LED, etc--and our digital devices.

Digital eyestrain comes from not blinking as frequently and the resulting dry eye. The effect can be burning or stinging. Plus, with digital devices, you are looking at a pixilated image that is rapidly alternating or flickering many times per second. It makes it hard to maintain focus.

There are special eyeglasses to help while using digital devices. They block the blue light. These may help if you spend a lot of time at the computer.

But otherwise, you can use the 20/20/20 rule. For every 20 mins on the device, look away for 20 seconds, focusing on something 20 feet away.

I do that--I gaze into the yard and daydream...Sorry, was I just doing it?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Why do tox reports take so long?

The music was all.
I am not even sure why it's so important to know exactly what killed Prince. I guess because it's what we do in this country--tie up loose ends. And maybe some people want it to be "his" fault somehow.

We have all heard it will be weeks until we know--lacking any damage to his body that would indicate foul play. His remains have already been cremated.

But we have all heard we must wait another few weeks for a finding. Maybe as long as six weeks. Why does it take so long?

According to the College of American Pathologists, blood, tissue, and if possible, urine, samples are taken from multiple areas in the body (concentration of drugs can vary throughout the body).

Tissues come from the liver, brain, kidney, and the eyes. Stomach contents are also tested.

Some toxicology testing may be done during the autopsy--or the samples are turned over to an accreditied lab--or both.

Pathologists, toxicologists, and chemists collaborate.

The first tests are screens for drugs in the blood or urine. They are looking for antibodies to opiates, amphetamines, marijuana, alcohol, and barbiturates.

If a drug is flagged--tests are repeated. If this confirms it, a second, more sophisticated test is done.

The presence of multiple drugs, or the emergence of a second drug during this follow-on testing, requires more tests. Are the levels lethal and likely the cause of death? More tests.

Only 20% of deaths are followed by an autopsy--but of course, this one was.

Still, this is not detracting from the outpouring of love and respect for Prince. Nor should it.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Ugh--those TV pharmaceutical ads AGAIN

Richard A. Friedman, professor of clinical psychiatry and director of the psychopharmacology clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College, had a blog post in the Sunday NYT about all those dopey pharmco ads on TV.

They are so easy to mock, it's almost not sporting. One of my favorite comedians Jay Mohr, in his concert Happy and a Lot, remarked that daytime TV is  pretty much all side effects. And not just daytime...

Friedman singles out a new concoction called Latuda, for bipolar depression. It's supposedly effective for many people with this problem. Note the "many"--not all, for sure.

And of course, you get no side-by-side with Prozac/Zyprexa, Seroquel, and others. Clinical trials are..well, where are they? How many people have serious side effects? Can't say because side effects can take years to emerge and Latuda is new.

So basically, we are not told how many cheaper older drugs work just as well. In fact, Latuda is one of 10 "second generation" antipsychotic durgs that work the same way.

Friedman recommends a simple graphic to follow each of these ads...showing cost and effectivness compared with similar drugs.

How many total clinical trials were there? How many were positive, how many negative? How many times did it beat the placebo?

Positive trials are reported more than negative ones--duh.

He would also like to see a new measurement--number needed to treat. NNT means the number of patients who need to take the drug before one benefits measurably. The lower the NNT--the more effective the dug.

But, as I said and as Friedman said, beating the placebo is not enough--it needs to beat existing drugs.

But now we come down to it--most "new" drugs are not new at all but tweaks of old drugs.

Supposedly the Affordable Care Act created a nonprofit called the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to check comparative effectiveness, but don't start holding your breath now.

In fact, that could kill you. No--wait--"death could happen," as the ads say.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A walk, boy--want to go for a walk?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults do 150 minutes of moderate activity a week.

For people over 60, this probably means walking.

And statistics show these people are more likely to get the recommended amount if they have a dog to walk.

Dog walking is associated with lower body mass index, fewer doctor visits, and an increase in social contact.

Sure enough--there is science. Researchers at the University of Missouri analyzed 2012 data from the Health and Retirement study sponsored by the Natl Institute on Aging and the Social Security Administration.

They found the associations I mentioned, but also found that the more the person liked the dog and had bonded with it, the more they walked the dog and the more the benefits.

As an aside, the researchers urged retirement communities to allow dogs.

Yeah, baby!

I want another dog so bad...I go on Craigs all the time hoping to find one that some idiot puppy mill is not "selling" (calling it a rehoming fee). But not yet...

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Disposing of needles at home

Six bucks from Amazon, but
then what?
We have all seen the red "sharps" container in the doctor's office--but what if you self-inject as many do these days for osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, HIV, hep C, cancer, infertility, allergies, and psoriasis?

Each year, an estimated 8 billion needles are used at home--and this does not include the lancets used for fingersticks for diabetes. The FDA recommends used needles be placed in an approved container and taken to a facility that can properly destroy them.

Unfortunately, these services are not usually available. Some police stations take back drugs but not needles.

At least one hospital, the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, does accept needles as part of its Drive-Through Prescription Drug Take-Back Event. But that is one day and a few hours.

Usually, people who use injectables must use expensive mail-back programs, which can run from $50 to $200, depending on the size of the container.

Yet, putting needles in the trash endangers trash collectors, kids, and caregivers, as well as pets.

Some people use hard plastic laundry detergent bottles--but these, too, must be properly labeled and disposed of.

What is the answer? I don't have one--but didn't you like how I described the problem?

For more ideas, go to safeneedledisposal.com. But don't expect relevations.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Vaseline--Third World healer

First, I love Vaseline...you are never supposed to use a petroleum based product on your face (according to the fashion rags--which push much more expensive goo)--but I often do and my skin is pretty wrinkle free for my age.

Then I read a little story in Marie Claire (May)--on the use of this perennial product to salve the abused, cracked skin of the feet of refugees.

Vaseline has started the Vaseline Healing Project to make the miracle salve available to refugees in Jordan, Kismu (Kenya), Chennai (India), and Marabut (Philippines).

The company also sponsors dermatologists on medical missions to needy areas under its Direct Relief program (which also sends teams to areas in Dallas and New Orleans).

Every Vaseline purchase (except lip products) supports the Direct Relief outreach.

Cheap, available, and helpful in keeping horrible skin abuse from eating into people.

Let's hear it for Vaseline.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Earn now, have kids later?

Researchers at Washington University in St Louis have weighed in on the delaying motherhood debate--they say women can minimize career income losses by waiting until they are 30 or more to have kids.

Published in PLOS ONE, these findings show that this is true even if the woman does not have a college degree.

Their study showed lower lifetime earnings for women who gave birth before age 30. The hit was the worst for women with no degree who had a baby before 25.

The study was conducted among Danish women--because the Danes collect such info on 100% of their people.

The researchers said children do not kill careers, but the earlier they arrive, the less the mother's lifetime income. According to this, mothers lose 2-2.5 years of labor force income by having a baby before 25.

---For college educated women, this is 2 years of income.

---Women who give birth before 28, college or no, consistently earn less throughout their careers.

---This was interesting: College educated women who delay children until after age 31 earned more over their entire careers that women with no children.

Of course, these decisions run smack into declining fertility after age 30--but the improvements in IVF may increase the trend toward older motherhood.

I had my daughter at 38. Staying home and working at home as a writer, I had no real income to see go missing. I was only mistaken for my daughter's grandmother one time.

And waiting too long makes it harder to chase the little ones around--and may mean they have to take care of you that much sooner. Sad face. Money isn't everything--heard that before?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Like wine tours, only with weed

My TV system has a weird little channel called Viceland...hippie-dippy meets crunchy granola. There is a series on it called Weediquette...And recently they featured women pot growers (a minority). These gals sat around sampling each other's candy and pot-coated pretzels. I wondered how they could run a business.

But getting stoned and getting others stoned is a big business in Colorado, at least. The New York Times did a piece on marijuana tourism in the amusingly named Mile High State.

There are marijuana-laced ski outings (watch out, a tree!), stoner mountain treks, stoner foodie tours, vaporizer rentals, you name it.

The reporter picked a tour that offered him a vaporizer to start in his room in the hotel, a copy of Dope Magazine, and some lavender oil to bring him down if he freaked.

The story went on in the same vein--he probably munched on  or toked some female-entrepreneur product, too. Who knows.

I came up in the sixties--pot was everyplace. I never much liked it. I understand the grade of MJ is much stronger now, with hundreds of varietals.

Maybe I am an old grump now, but it occurs to me that with the man-in-the-street interviews showing that many young people cannot name four US presidents, we don't need to become an stupider.

On the other hand, politics being what it is now, maybe pot is the answer. Who even knows anymore.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Kids of same-sex couples in stable homes fare equally well

A study in the April J of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics shows that children raised by same-sex female parents with a good family life show no difference in general health, emotions difficulties or coping and learning from kids in different-sex stable homes.

They said their study showed households with no divorces or other family transitions have similar spouse-partner and parent-child relationships whether same-sex or opposite-sex.

They looked at 95 households of each. They matched the parent and child characteristics. (Male same-sex couples were not included because their database had too few of those.)

The couples were raising the children with no disruptions since birth--no divorce, separation, or adoption.

They also found the more positive the parent-child relationships resulted in better coping and behavior.

The did note, however, that same-sex couples experienced more parenting stress, which they attributed to the "cultural spotlight" on such relationships.

In other words, do people need to butt out of judging and tweaking these relationships and just let people live?

Yup.




Thursday, April 14, 2016

Definition of prudent drinking varies by country

"Are we in Chile yet?"
Maybe you are not drinking too much--and just need to move instead. (Joke)

Ali Venosa, MedicalDaily.com (a good site, by the way), reports on a new story in the journal Addiction wherein researchers at Stanford examined 75 countries' drinking guidelines.

Interestingly, only 27 of those provided guidelines for low risk drinking.

As for what constituted high risk--they were, pardon the expression, all over the map.

The gap in what constituted a standard drink, even, varied 250%--from a low of 8 grams of pure alcohol in Iceland to 20 grams in Australia. (The eight grams equals 8 oz of beer or 2.5 ounces of wine--approximately.)

In Iceland, you can be a low risk drinker if you consume less than 10 grams of pure alcohol a day. In Chile, though, you are still low risk if you drink 56 grams day. Other countries allow more on special occasions, but the drinker is still low risk.

Still other countries--Australia, Grenada, Portugal and South Africa have done away with gender guidelines.

The World Health Organization says a standard drink is 10 grams and both sexes should not exceed two drinks a day.

In the US, the National institute on Alchol Abuse and Alcoholism says a standard drink is 14 (not 10) grams.

Confused yet? Well, I will drink to that. Cheers.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

New whack at old data might exonerate saturated fats

Come to Mommy, you linoleic-free
little beauty.
Researchers at the Univ of North Carolina School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health are throwing shade on the "conventional wisdom" that it's good to replace butter with vegetable oils high in linoleic acid.

The findings in today's British Medical Journal says evidence from a large controlled study in Minnesota 50 yrs ago (and never published), as well as similar studies done more recently, says these oils may be worse than butter for preventing heart disease.

The analysis shows that these veggie oils failed to reduce heart disease and overall mortality even though they reduced
                                                         cholesterol.

This linoleic acid seems to be suspect--it is also found in corn oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, and cottonseed oil.

The UNC people got the earlier data and reanalyzed it. They also looked at autopsy studies--the corn oil group in the study had twice the number of heart attacks as the control group.

Of course, they did not have individual data so they could not tease out reasons this might be true (besides eating corn oil).

In 2013, though, they looked at unpublished data from the Sydney Diet Heart Study and found more heart disease and death among patients who are safflower oil compared with controls.

I eat butter--but it's mixed with canola oil to make it softer and easier to use. I wonder about that now.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Foot blister help--now hear this, hikers!

Remember--paper tape.
If you do any form of athletics or even wear high heels, you will be interested in this. Read on.

Grant Lipman, MD, an ER doc, worked with endurance athletes running up to 50 miles a day--and their common complaint was foot blisters.

Everyone has tried a range of treatments--bandaids, powders, antiperspirants, lubricants, and tape.

Lipman and some colleagues studied this and guess what they found--paper tape was best.

You know--that thin white crisp surgical tape with loose stickum?

Their work will be published in the Clin J of Sport Medicine--April 11th issue.

Apparently he got this idea partly from the military--foot blisters are a big bugaboo on runs and hikes or on missions.

In 2014, Lipman's team recruited 128 runners in a 155-mile ultramarathon.

Paper tape was applied to one foot of each runner. The untaped area of the same foot acted as the control. Blister prone areas were chosen, but if the subject did not have a blister history, random areas were taped.

The paper tape was applied in a smooth, single layer at the beginning and reapplied as the race went on.

For 98 of the 128 runners, no blisters where the tape had been applied--but 81 of the 128 got blisters in untaped areas.

A little roll costs about 69 cents, Lipman says. Ridiculously cheap and easy.

The word ultramarathon made me shudder, but this may be helpful to many of you.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Advances against infertility

Yes! Success!
I suffered two miscarriages and also used donor sperm, so I was on the fringes of the infertility dance back in the day. It can be all-consuming.

Stephanie Estes, a board-certified fertility specialist and director of the Robotic Surgery Program at Penn State, says a breast cancer treatment called Letrozole increases ovulation in women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and works better than Clomid, the former stand-by (also fewer side efx and multiple births).

If your infertility is caused by irregular ovulation, she recommends you ask your doc about this drug.

First, of course, infertility experts must try to determine the reason you are not getting pregnant. Depending on the cause, some approaches include:

Intra-uterine insemination. The sperm is placed directly into the uterus so it doesn't have so far to travel.

In vitro fertilization. The woman's eggs are harvested, combined with sperm and then when an embryo forms, that embryo is placed back in her uterus. This technology is getting better and more insurance companies are paying.

Insurance companies also pay for testing--so why not test and see what's what, Estes says.

When is testing justified? Couples should be 35 or older with regular cycles and who have had unprotected sex for six months with no results. Under 35--same conditions, test if no pregnancy in a year.

Other treatments include clearing off stray uterine tissue gumming up the works (endometriosis). Removal or shirnkage of large fibroids can also help. And the doctors also check for blocked Fallopian tubes.

Also maximizing chances? Clean up your lifestyle in the "trying" phase--stop smoking, limit caffeine and alcohol--and also learn your cycle and try to have sex at the "good" times.

You can gauge the good times by taking your temperature every morning...when it drops half a degree, that could be a good time. I learned with many month's practice, my good time was about day 12 counting from the first day of my period. Every woman differs.

The sperm remains viable for a couple of days--but it's good to have it in there just before the egg starts down the tube.

Too much personal info? Just trying to help.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Sunscreen advice varies by sport you play

I am sensitive about skin cancer--being tested for it at the moment. Ugh.

Anyhow, a dermatologist named Suzanne Friedler, MD, of Advanced Dermatology in NY, says 65,000 people a year worldwide die of skin cancer (ew).

General advice applies to all outdoor activities--hats, sleeves, don't go out between 10 am and 4 PM without protection--but some is specific to certain sports.

GOLF. UV can be more intense due to reflection off ponds and sand traps, which can bounce back 80% of the rays, hitting players twice. Use a sports sunscreen (doesn't run) --and reapply every nine holes. Also--wear a broad brim hat that protects neck, shoulders, and ears. This is not a ball cap.

TENNIS. Tennis can cause sore muscles and you may be taking an NSAID. Ibuprofen and naproxen make you extra sensitive to the sun. Use zinc oxide or titantium dioxide, which physically block, rather than the other types--and emphasize protecting your lips.

SAILING AND SWIMMING. Sailors should apply high SPF all day. Swimmers need sunscreen every 90 minutes. Look for extended waterproof coverage--on the label. The blocking stuff on nose, upper ears, and cheeks is also good.

RUNNING AND BIKING. Even if you run or bike on shady lanes or it's cloudy--you need protection. Also invest in UV protective clothing (factor 30 or higher)--sunscreen can run off with sweat.

The skin is the largest organ of the body--it has a lot to do with your performance.

And you sure don't want some doctor drilling holes in your face like I had.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Girls don't get enough exercise

You go, girls!
Children in general don't get the recommended amounts of exercise, with girls lagging the furthest behind.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that school-age kids get at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity every day. According to the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academy of Sciences, half of this should come during the school day.

Not even close, people.

Researchers at Tufts found that of 453 kids, only 15% achieved the goal of 60 minutes, and only 8% got it during the school day. The biggest gap was between boys and girls--with only 8% meeting the 60 minute goal and only 2% during the school day.

Overweight kids also got less during the school day than normal weight kids.

Fee states require schools to provide this much exercise. In fact, may schools are cutting back or eliminating gym and recess.

Mostly, in school, kids spend time in sedentary or light physical activities.

Can we do better? Kids spend a lot of time in school--give them a chance to blow off steam and run around. Make them climb the dreaded rope or dodge the ball? That may be going to far, she said, shuddering at the memory.

For some reason, I do remember square dancing quite fondly...I guess that used to be a sport.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Med students think blacks don't feel pain? Good grief

In the April 4 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a study from the University of Virginia says a substantial number of white medical students and residents think black people don't feel pain like white people do.  They assume black people's skin is thicker, that their blood coagulates more quickly.

Studies show black Americans are systematically undertreated for pain. Could this be the ridiculous reason?

Such physicians may also assume their black patients will abuse pain killers more than whites.

The research team asked 222 white med students and residents to rate pain on 1-10 on two cases--a kidney stone and a leg fracture--for both a white person and a black person.

They also asked these participants about some health differences between blacks and whites, to wit: blacks age more slowly than whites, their nerve endings are less sensitive than whites', their blood clots more quickly, their skin is thicker. THESE ARE ALL FALSE.

Half the sample believed at least one of the false statements.

They also looked at 10 more experienced physicians. These prescribed according to WHO guidelines and did not buy into the false ideas.

The researchers said the students were not necessarily prejudiced, but believed too heartily in biological differences.

Well, prejudice or mistaken belief, that kidney stone hurts both races equally.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Food tips for us old gals

As your body sinks slowly into the west with all sorts of random crud, older people tend to try to eat their prescriptions if they can.

Kimberley Hibbert, ALL WOMAN, Apr 4, 2016, president of the Jamaica Assn of Professionals in Nutrition and Dietetics, says eating well, especially in the older years, can improve mental health, protect against disease, raise energy levels, help you heal and recover, and generally make everything better.

Older women, especially, she says, should seek the advice of a nutritionist.

Of course, maintaining a normal weight is the first thing they recommend...Everyone is getting fatter, does this mean "normal" is fatter--all righty then.

Eating from the six food groups is also important. So many people eliminate groups--such as carbs. (I had eliminated dairy and it really helped with my trouble insides.)

Advice for older women:

Eat more fruits. Whole fruits, not juice.  A fourth of your intake should be fruits. All colors.

Also eat a range of colors in your veggies. Dark leafy greens, yellow and orange as in carrots and squash. Another quarter of your intake--veggies.

You also need plenty of calcium.  Think 1,200 mg a day. This can come from milk, yogurt, or cheese. For non-dairy, tofu, broccoli, almonds and (of course) the ever-popular kale.

Pay attention to your staples.  For carbs, think high fiber such as yams, bananas, and sweet potatoes. Less good--rice, flour products.

And last, food from animal sources. People without kidney disease or diabetes, need 1.5 grams of protein per 2.2 lbs of body weight.  Don't know the metric system--nah, me either. anyhow, Spread the protein throughout the day and vary the sources.  Instead of just red meat--try some fish, beans, eggs, nuts, milk and cheese.

I have bought some frozen blueberries--yum. I also add the range of veggies in frozen stir-fry mix to everything I eat almost.

Am I a fanatic about no sugar. No, I am not. You lose half your taste buds after age 50--I never used to have a sweet tooth and now I do.


Monday, April 04, 2016

United Healthcare's gamble on making the doc more fun

According to a story by Phil Galewitz on MedCity, United Health care is spending $65 million to launch pilot primary care approaches in Chicago (4 clinics) and Atlanta (6 clinics).

Available to Obamacare recipients, Harken Health covers 35,000 members.

The company threatened to drop out of Obamacare last November, but is now trying to attract more customers instead.

Harken Health offers unlimited free doctor visits, 24/7 access by phone, a personal health coach, mental health services, yoga, cooking, acupuncture. The clinics are beautiful--hardwood floors, faus fireplaces.

The idea is to get members to seek care early and not wait until they are really sick. There are no out-of-pocket costs for docs and no small networks.

The health coaches meet with patients during and after visits--and help with referrals and insurance. They also will coach on weight loss and other medical issues.

Yes, you do pay copays for drugs. With generics for chronic diseases, you pay for two mos and get the third mo free.

This is primary care--what about returning to the new model when you have to see a specialist? The new model seems to be surly staff, endless noodging to get test results, long waits, and forms, forms, forms. I signed a form the other day allowing the doctor to examine me. That's why I was there! We need a form?

Still--those fireplaces...sounds kind of inviting.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Did you ever "see" something that wasn't there?

You know--a hallucination sort of. No, no--stick with me....

These mental "tricks", say some researchers from Carnegie Mellon (J of Neuroscience), can be from neurons in different parts of the visual system feeding your brain different signals--and the brain reacting.

Take optical illusions. The one in the picture is called the Kanizsa Triangle. You see a triangle, even though one if not outlined...your brain fills it in.

When we look at an object, the info travels through circuits on neurons beginning in the retina, then to the thalamus, and into the brain's visual cortex. In the visual cortex, the "data" gets processed in many stages and sent to the prefrontal cortex..where the brain makes a decision on it--how to respond.

BUT, not all the info stays on this forward path--at the visual cortex level, some neurons may reverse course and send some info back to the first stage.

They experimented on mice and found that 20% of the neuronal activity in the visual cortex was from feedback. In other words, the brain reacted not to the original "sight," but to stimuli that happened down the road.

So--bottom line--you can't always believe your lyin' eyes...I mean, brain.