Thursday, August 29, 2013

How to Avoid Sleeping Pills

My opinion:  While I would like to address the causes of such restless nights, I feel as if many of them cannot easily be changed.  For example, it is very difficult for people to lose weight (the obese often have trouble sleeping), and it may be impossible to relax after a tragic event occurs. Unfortunately, sleeping pills are very addicted and may not always be the best option for relief.  There might be some other ways to improve sleeping, however, and I'd like to focus on the demographic majorities in the study to determine what these methods are.  Most of the people using prescription sleeping pills are women, white, educated and over 50.  How come women of other races don't get these pills as much?  Perhaps they are participating in different activities then the white women, some of which are more exhausting.  Also, if 50 year-olds are experiencing these problems, perhaps menopause is preventing women from sleeping.  Should their medication be added/changed to account for this?  And what does being educated have to do with it?  Are the educated more likely to ask for prescriptions?  Feel free to comment.

 

9 Million Use Sleeping Pills to Get More Zzz's


Can't get enough shuteye? Nearly 9 million U.S. adults resort to prescription sleeping pills — and most are white, female, educated or 50 or older, according to the first government study of its kind.
But that's only part of the picture. Experts believe there are millions more who try options like over-the-counter medicines or chamomile tea, or simply suffer through sleepless nights.
"Not everyone is running out to get a prescription drug," said Russell Rosenberg, an Atlanta-based sleep researcher.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study was based on interviews with about 17,000 adults from 2005 through 2010. Study participants were even asked to bring in any medicines they were taking.
Overall, 4 percent of adults said they'd taken a prescription sleeping pill or sedative in the previous month.
The study did not say whether use is increasing. But a CDC researcher calculated that use rose from 3.3 percent in 2003-2006 to 4.3 percent in 2007-2010.
That echoes U.S. market research — as well as studies in some other countries — that indicate an increase in insomnia in recent decades.
"Sleep disorders overall are more prevalent than what they were," said Dr. Ana Krieger, medical director of New York's Weill Cornell Center for Sleep Medicine.
That could be due to a number of factors, experts said. Some include obesity-related sleep apnea, the rise of social media and other electronic late-night distractions and financial worries from the recent recession.

From: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/million-sleeping-pills-zzzs-20102548

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Does Drinking Moderately Aid Longevity?

My opinion:  I think there are some hidden reasons that may more easily explain this phenomena.  Drinking probably doesn't help longevity directly, but it can in other manners.  I assume that this study has documented the lives of people who are middle-aged or older.  These people have had a long time when they were legally allowed to drink, as opposed to younger adults.  I also would assume that drinking may become addictive early on in life, rather than later.  Thus, the people who were moderate drinkers have probably always been moderate drinkers - they have the ability to control the amount that they drink.  Hence, because of this control, they may also be able to control other lifestyle choices that prevent them from dying early.  Drinking may also give them a sense or relieve, reducing stress, which in turn may lead to sicknesses.  Non-drinkers, on the other hand, may not have such experience with control and are unable to find other ways to relax.  Does this explanation sound reasonable, or does alcohol directly benefit body chemistry?  Feel free to comment.

 

Alcohol and Life Expectancy: Unraveling the Mystery of Why Nondrinkers Have Higher Risk of Premature Death

Patrick M. Krueger


Prior research has documented that both heavy drinkers and nondrinkers have higher risks of premature death than their peers who drink in moderation. Heavy drinkers have elevated rates of death from accidents, suicides, homicides, liver disease, and some cancers. But the reason for the elevated rates of death among nondrinkers is less well understood. Some researchers* have advocated for national guidelines that discourage nondrinking and encourage moderate alcohol consumption. But physicians are reticent to suggest that their nondrinking patients drink more, because alcohol is a nonessential part of a person’s diet, is disallowed by many religions, and can have adverse consequences for health if consumed to excess.

Our findings show that diverse groups of nondrinkers also have diverse rates of death. For example, adults who quit drinking because of their histories with problem drinking or for health reasons have among the highest rates of death among the nondrinkers. As such, the subgroups of nondrinkers who have the worse mortality outcomes would likely have even higher rates of death if they were to begin drinking. In contrast, adults who have consumed very little alcohol throughout their lives, due to interests in being responsible family members or for moral reasons, have mortality risks that are as low as those who drink in moderation. Thus, nondrinkers who avoid drinking for the most positive reasons may have little to gain, in terms of further reducing their mortality risk, if they were to begin drinking in moderation.

From: http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/human-capital-blog/2013/08/alcohol_and_lifeexp.html?cid=xtw_humancap

Sunday, August 25, 2013

How To Prevent Cognitive Impairment: Language Matters


My opinion:  While the results of this study in general are not surprising, I am a bit surprised that the correlations are so strong.  Doctors used to tell me that, in order to prevent cognitive impairment, it may be helpful to use some brain power for various activities.  For example, many say that doing crossword puzzles and math problems contributes to preventing Alzheimer's disease.  Though I like this study, I think it could be improved by accounting for other factors in the patients' lifestyles.  Perhaps a combination of mental efforts work best, but these results indicate that language has a profound impact on its own.  Any other tips for preventing cognitive impairment or for improving this study?  Feel free to comment.

Speaking More Than Two Languages Has a Protective Effect on Memory


According a study, people who speak more than two languages may lower their risk of developing memory problems.”It appears speaking more than two languages has a protective effect on memory in seniors who practice foreign languages over their lifetime or at the time of the study,” said study author Magali Perquin.The study involved 230 men and women with an average age of 73 who had spoken or currently spoke two to seven languages. Of the participants, 44 reported cognitive problems; the rest of the group had no memory issues.
Researchers discovered that those people who spoke four or more languages were five times less likely to develop cognitive problems compared to those people who only spoke two languages.
People who spoke three languages were three times less likely to have cognitive problems compared to bilinguals. In addition, people who currently spoke more than two languages were also four times less likely to have cognitive impairment. The results accounted for the age and the education of the participants.  “Further studies are needed to try to confirm these findings and determine whether the protection is limited to thinking skills related to language or if it also extends beyond that and benefits other areas of cognition,” said Perquin.

From: http://www.a-health-blog.com/speaking-more-than-two-languages-has-a-protective-effect-on-memory.html

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

How to Safely Beat the Heat: Do Air Conditioners Cause Colds?

 

My opinion:  I think this is especially important for people who sleep with the AC blowing into their faces.  By exposing the sinuses to cold air for six to ten hours a night, I wouldn't be surprised if these people developed sicknesses.  It also explains why someone like me, who usually loves the AC in hot weather, likes to sleep in a cold room with blankets on top of me - perhaps most of the drop in temperature isn't needed.  Instead, it may be safer to set the AC to an optimal 70-73 degrees.  That way, maybe the blood vessels will not constrict as much.  For those who must frequently shift from environments of low to high temperature, though, I'm not sure if there is a solution.  Is there a such thing as a mobile AC?  Any other possible solutions?  Feel free to comment.

Can Going In and Out of Air Conditioning Cause Colds?


How exposing the body to extreme temperature swings can lower our natural defenses

HEIDI MITCHELL
Can you get a summer cold going between the hot outdoors and an air conditioned building? Missy Sullivan explains on Lunch Break. Photo: Getty Images.
For most people, summer involves numerous daily shifts between scorching outdoor heat and frosty air-conditioned interiors. But does exposing the body to extreme temperature swings make people sick? Professor Ron Eccles, director of the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University in Wales, which performs clinical trials for treatments for coughs, colds and flu, explains why keeping a sweater at work isn't such a bad idea.
Chill Defenders
As warm-blooded animals, humans are hard-wired to keep our body temperature at around 98 degrees Fahrenheit. So when a person is exposed to frigid environments after being in the summer heat, the body "will do whatever it can to defend itself against chilling," Prof. Eccles says.
One such defense: A thermal regulator in the brain, after receiving messages from temperature sensors in the skin, automatically alerts blood vessels there to constrict. "You can see this when someone suddenly goes into a very cold building, they go pale or their skin mottles," says Prof. Eccles. The next stage is shivering, which will raise body temperature by generating heat.
imageGetty Images/Image Source
In or Out: Shifting repeatedly from outdoor heat into air conditioning can lower the body's natural defenses.
At the same time, blood vessels constrict in the nose and throat, where bacteria and viruses often lurk. "If you were to look into a throat, you could see it go from a nice pink-red to a very pale color," says Prof. Eccles. "This happens within a few seconds to conserve the heat that we lose to the air we
When blood flow diminishes, the white blood cells that typically fight bacteria and viruses do too, allowing these latent risk factors to easily bloom into a full-blown cold.

From: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324139404579015062305117896.html?mod=WSJ_GoogleNews&utm_source=buffer&utm_campaign=Buffer&utm_content=bufferae87c&utm_medium=twitter

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Antidepressants Often Unnecessary

 My opinion:  Though I frequently discuss the overuse on antidepressants in many of my articles, I'd like to focus on it a bit more.  As common as depression is, we need a new system to diagnose it.  First off, this report suggests that it depression is misdiagnosed more often among the elderly and the less educated.  It's possible that doctors hold biases against these groups, even though prior research has shown that the old are actually happier than younger people.  Doctors shouldn't judge these patients by face value, but perhaps they should ask them questions about their long-term moods.  This may eliminate giving antidepressants to patients who appear sad at the doctor's appointment, but may be happier elsewhere.  Also, since many of these doctors who prescribe antidepressants aren't psychiatrists, maybe psychiatrists should be teaching them the proper diagnostic tools.  Though that may take care of many situations, what if the patient is feigning depression just to get the drugs?  Is it possible for doctors to see through histrionics?  Feel free to comment.

Misdiagnoses pushing rise of antidepressants

By  Roni Caryn Rabin
The New York Times Tuesday August 13, 2013 7:06 AM
 
Over the past two decades, the use of antidepressants has skyrocketed. One in 10 Americans now takes an antidepressant medication; among women in their 40s and 50s, the figure is 1 in 4.
Experts have offered numerous reasons. Depression is common, and economic struggles have added to stress and anxiety. Television ads promote antidepressants, and insurance plans usually cover them, even while limiting talk therapy. But a recent study suggests another explanation: that the condition is being overdiagnosed on a remarkable scale.
The study, published in April in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, found that nearly two-thirds of a sample of more than 5,000 patients who had been given a diagnosis of depression within the previous 12 months did not meet the criteria for major depressive episode as described by the psychiatrists’ bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (or DSM).


From: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/national_world/2013/08/13/misdiagnoses-pushing-rise-of-antidepressants.html

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Case Western Researcher Discovers Why Doctors Often Fail to Be Empathetic


My opinion: I'm not that surprised about this discovery - usually, when humans focus on one thing, it is difficult to focus on something else.  But now that this professor has scientific evidence that analysis and empathy are separate thought processes in the human mind, it may be easier to develop solutions to this problem.  Though doctors might want to be analytic and empathetic at the same time for social purposes, he or she can divide the patient's appointment into two parts.  The first part may be where the doctor inquires about the problem and devotes attention to the patient's story.  This way, the session is more social in nature and it may become easier to empathize with the patient.  When the discussion is over, then the doctor can more closely analyze the patient's condition and search for solutions.  Though I think it might be better to empathize and analyze simultaneously, it might actually be easier to do this, instead.  Any other solutions?  Feel free to comment.

Why it's so difficult for physicians to be empathetic and analytic at the same time
Publish date: JUL 31, 2013

For years, physicians have been urged to show more empathy during patient encounters, but most doctors would tell you it isn't quite that simple.
For physicians who struggle to balance empathy with analytic thinking during patient visits, neuroscience researcher and brain-imaging expert Anthony Jack, PhD, has a somewhat comforting explanation: It's not your fault, it's your brain's.
Jack, who leads Case Western Reserve University's Brain, Mind and Consciousness lab, has employed brain-scanning technology to discover that, the more active the region of the brain responsible for analytic thinking is, the less active the region governing empathy becomes. In other words, the brain's analytic and empathetic systems operate in constant tension with one another.

- See more at: http://medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com/medical-economics/news/why-its-so-difficult-physicians-be-empathetic-and-analytic-same-time?page=0,0#sthash.62qHSVUP.dpuf

Why it's so difficult for physicians to be empathetic and analytic at the same time



Anthony Jack, PhDFor years, physicians have been urged to show more empathy during patient encounters, but most doctors would tell you it isn't quite that simple.
For physicians who struggle to balance empathy with analytic thinking during patient visits, neuroscience researcher and brain-imaging expert Anthony Jack, PhD, has a somewhat comforting explanation: It's not your fault, it's your brain's.
Jack, who leads Case Western Reserve University's Brain, Mind and Consciousness lab, has employed brain-scanning technology to discover that, the more active the region of the brain responsible for analytic thinking is, the less active the region governing empathy becomes. In other words, the brain's analytic and empathetic systems operate in constant tension with one another.
- See more at: http://medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com/medical-economics/news/why-its-so-difficult-physicians-be-empathetic-and-analytic-same-time?page=0,0#sthash.62qHSVUP.dpuf

Why it's so difficult for physicians to be empathetic and analytic at the same time



Anthony Jack, PhDFor years, physicians have been urged to show more empathy during patient encounters, but most doctors would tell you it isn't quite that simple.
For physicians who struggle to balance empathy with analytic thinking during patient visits, neuroscience researcher and brain-imaging expert Anthony Jack, PhD, has a somewhat comforting explanation: It's not your fault, it's your brain's.
Jack, who leads Case Western Reserve University's Brain, Mind and Consciousness lab, has employed brain-scanning technology to discover that, the more active the region of the brain responsible for analytic thinking is, the less active the region governing empathy becomes. In other words, the brain's analytic and empathetic systems operate in constant tension with one another.
- See more at: http://medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com/medical-economics/news/why-its-so-difficult-physicians-be-empathetic-and-analytic-same-time?page=0,0#sthash.62qHSVUP.dpuf

Why it's so difficult for physicians to be empathetic and analytic at the same time



Anthony Jack, PhDFor years, physicians have been urged to show more empathy during patient encounters, but most doctors would tell you it isn't quite that simple.
For physicians who struggle to balance empathy with analytic thinking during patient visits, neuroscience researcher and brain-imaging expert Anthony Jack, PhD, has a somewhat comforting explanation: It's not your fault, it's your brain's.
Jack, who leads Case Western Reserve University's Brain, Mind and Consciousness lab, has employed brain-scanning technology to discover that, the more active the region of the brain responsible for analytic thinking is, the less active the region governing empathy becomes. In other words, the brain's analytic and empathetic systems operate in constant tension with one another.
- See more at: http://medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com/medical-economics/news/why-its-so-difficult-physicians-be-empathetic-and-analytic-same-time?page=0,0#sthash.62qHSVUP.dpuf

Why it's so difficult for physicians to be empathetic and analytic at the same time



Anthony Jack, PhDFor years, physicians have been urged to show more empathy during patient encounters, but most doctors would tell you it isn't quite that simple.
For physicians who struggle to balance empathy with analytic thinking during patient visits, neuroscience researcher and brain-imaging expert Anthony Jack, PhD, has a somewhat comforting explanation: It's not your fault, it's your brain's.
Jack, who leads Case Western Reserve University's Brain, Mind and Consciousness lab, has employed brain-scanning technology to discover that, the more active the region of the brain responsible for analytic thinking is, the less active the region governing empathy becomes. In other words, the brain's analytic and empathetic systems operate in constant tension with one another.
- See more at: http://medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com/medical-economics/news/why-its-so-difficult-physicians-be-empathetic-and-analytic-same-time?page=0,0#sthash.62qHSVUP.dpuf

Why it's so difficult for physicians to be empathetic and analytic at the same time



Anthony Jack, PhDFor years, physicians have been urged to show more empathy during patient encounters, but most doctors would tell you it isn't quite that simple.
For physicians who struggle to balance empathy with analytic thinking during patient visits, neuroscience researcher and brain-imaging expert Anthony Jack, PhD, has a somewhat comforting explanation: It's not your fault, it's your brain's.
Jack, who leads Case Western Reserve University's Brain, Mind and Consciousness lab, has employed brain-scanning technology to discover that, the more active the region of the brain responsible for analytic thinking is, the less active the region governing empathy becomes. In other words, the brain's analytic and empathetic systems operate in constant tension with one another.
- See more at: http://medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com/medical-economics/news/why-its-so-difficult-physicians-be-empathetic-and-analytic-same-time?page=0,0#sthash.62qHSVUP.dpuf

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Bionic Eye from Duke University Partially Cures Blindness

My opinion:  I can understand how it has taken 20 years to develop this - I think this has always been a dream invention for some people, but now it is finally real!  What's even better is that this helps people who suffer from the worst types of genetic blindness.  Perhaps it can also help those who have less severe forms of blindness, and those who were blinded in accidents.  Unfortunately, it is incredibly expensive.  Though I can see the price decreasing in coming years, I think this is the same with all great inventions, even for ones that may cure what would otherwise be terminal illnesses.  Is it possible to make the bionic eye more accessible?  Would it help it researchers developed it elsewhere?  And can eye doctors from more places pool their efforts into this project?  Feel free to comment.

 Duke University Hospital becomes test site for first ‘bionic eye’

Jul. 13, 2013 @ 10:11 PM
Duke University Hospital will soon be able to surgically implant the first retinal prosthesis in the world that can partly restore a blind patient’s vision.
The company behind the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, Second Sight in Sylmar, Calif., said the idea for the technology was born at Duke.
The project began as “just a back porch idea,” according to Mark Humayun, a University of Southern California professor who received his education at Duke University Medical School and the University of North Carolina for biomedical engineering.
The Argus, which refers to the giant in Greek mythology with 100 eyes, is an innovation more than 20 years in the making.
The prosthesis includes an antenna, electronics case and electrode array that are surgically implanted in and on the eye. The external equipment includes glasses, a video processing unit and a cable.
The miniature video camera housed in the patient’s glasses captures a scene, which ends up being transmitted as instructions into the implant. Light patterns are created, which the patient learns to interpret as visual patterns, according to Second Sight.
The retinal prosthesis was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in February and will be implanted in patients suffering from severe to profound retinitis pigmentosa. These patients get diagnosed with the genetic disease in their 20s and slowly begin to lose their peripheral vision.

From: http://www.heraldsun.com/news/x533455882/Duke-University-Hospital-becomes-test-site-for-first-bionic-eye

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Medical Tourism May Lead to Massive Savings


 My opinion: I think this story indicates that healthcare in America is indeed overpriced for absurd reasons, and at many levels.  It's not just the doctors' fees that are high, but the price of a joint in America costs the same as the entire procedure abroad, including travel expenses.  Though there are indeed legitimate reasons for price hikes in healthcare, such as the research needed for new inventions, perhaps the healthcare industry has taken advantage of this.  Now, to help deal with the costs, medical tourism companies are sprouting up throughout America to help individuals get affordable care abroad.  Given the proximity of both Canada and Mexico, it is possible that healthcare in these countries will be booming if such tourism companies take off.  But I also am wondering if the article is misleading.  Aren't there some doctors who cost less, as well as surgical parts?  Also, is it possible to have these synthetic body parts purchased in Europe for a lower price and then shipped to America?  And will Americans start focusing more on emergency health procedures that are more immediate, as patients cannot take the time to travel elsewhere for this kind of care?  Feel free to comment.


Dr. Rory Wright, an orthopedist, displays two modern hip joint options at the Orthopedic Hospital of Wisconsin in Glendale, Wis. Wright says joint makers in the U.S. keep prices high “because they can,
Dr. Rory Wright, an orthopedist, displays two modern hip joint options at the Orthopedic Hospital of Wisconsin in Glendale, Wis. Wright says joint makers in the U.S. keep prices high “because they can," not because of research and development or liability costs.
Narayan Mahon / New York Times News Service

Implant costs drive medical tourism

By Elisabeth Rosenthal / New York Times News Service
Published: August 04. 2013 4:00AM PST WARSAW, Ind. — Michael Shopenn’s artificial hip was made by a company based in this remote town, a global center of joint manufacturing. But he had to fly to Europe to have it installed.
Shopenn, 67, an architectural photographer and avid snowboarder, had been in such pain from arthritis that he could not stand long enough to make coffee, let alone work. He had health insurance, but it would not cover a joint replacement because his degenerative disease was related to an old sports injury, thus considered a pre-existing condition.
Desperate to find an affordable solution, he reached out to a sailing buddy with friends at a medical device manufacturer, which arranged to provide his local hospital with an implant at what was described as the “list price" of $13,000, with no markup. But when the hospital’s finance office estimated that the hospital charges would run another $65,000, not including the surgeon’s fee, he knew he had to think outside the box.
“Very leery" of going to a developing country like India or Thailand, which both draw medical tourists, he chose to have his hip replaced in 2007 at a private hospital outside Brussels for $13,660.
That price included not only a hip joint, made by Warsaw, Ind.-based Zimmer Holdings, but also all doctors’ fees, operating room charges, crutches, medicine, a hospital room for five days, a week in rehab and a round-trip ticket from America.

From: http://www.bendbulletin.com/article/20130804/NEWS0107/308040395/

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Bribing Physicians: How Common Is It Really?

My opinion:  Though this may be a bigger issue in China than in America, I think that America has a different form of physician bribery.  I remember watching a news show once in which an investigator tries to bribe doctors into giving him certain prescriptions, and he was usually successful.  Just recently, a psychiatrist in my hometown was charged for taking bribes.  So the problem definitely exists, but it may be exaggerated in the near future, as Medicare will not be paying doctors as much as in the past.  I wonder which types of doctors accept bribes most often.  Family doctors make less money than many, but psychiatrists and pains doctors have access to highly desirable drugs.  Does the government/police do a sufficient job of checking up on doctors like these?  And are there other doctors, like surgeons and radiologists, who may accept different types of bribes that can be easily hidden under the rug?  Feel free to comment.

 

Glaxo Case Shines Light on China’s Medical Bribery


(BEIJING) — Huang Dongliang says his uncle was being ignored by his low-paid cancer physician at a Chinese government hospital. So the family gave the doctor a “hongbao,” the traditional red envelope used for gifts, with 3,000 yuan ($480).
“We could feel an obvious difference” after that, said Huang, who lives in the southeastern city of Quanzhou. “The doctor started to do more checkups, to give suggestions and advice and offered a detailed chemotherapy plan.”
Such informal payments are pervasive in China’s dysfunctional health system. Low salaries and skimpy budgets drive doctors, nurses and administrators to make ends meet by accepting money from patients, drug suppliers and others. Accusations this month that GlaxoSmithKline employees bribed Chinese doctors to prescribe its drugs brought international attention to the flow of illicit money. But to China’s public, the practice has long been common knowledge.
Many blame a system in which the country’s hospitals nearly all are state-run but get too little money from Beijing. Most of China’s 2.3 million doctors are hospital employees and are barred from adding to their income by taking on second jobs.
“Physicians are way underpaid and they need to find a way to survive,” said Gordon Liu, a health care economist at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management.

Read more: http://business.time.com/2013/07/31/glaxo-case-shines-light-on-chinas-medical-bribery/#ixzz2alkxwOTu