Health Medicine comes with a smile

New Study Suggests Gender, Race, And Age Gap In Responsible Use Of OTC Medications

Millions of Americans use over-the-counter medicines; in fact, about 35% of Americans use OTC medications on a regular basis. A recent national survey of 2,038 U.S. adults suggests that many Americans are not in touch with the risks associated with OTC medications, and don't feel compelled to review OTC drug facts labels carefully. As I have discussed on this blog previously, excessive medication use (regardless of whether they are prescription or OTC) can be dangerous.

Some of the survey’s key findings include:

  • 2 in 5 respondents believe that OTC dosing instructions are suggestions, not directions
  • While all age groups find it important to read the label on OTCs they are taking for the first time, significantly more millennials say it is still important to read the label on OTCs they have taken before (82%), whereas only 54% of older Americans over age 70 agree
    • 75% of those over age 50 believe that it's not possible to overdose on an OTC medication
    • 25% of respondents feel it's ok to not read the drug facts label if they've taken the medicine before

On the brighter side, some consumers are doing a little better than others at taking OTC medicines as directed and these...

Continue Reading

Living Your Best Life, Even In The Hospital

My patient was an elderly farmer with severe vascular disease. He had advanced leg artery narrowing, had survived multiple heart attacks, and was admitted to the hospital after a large stroke. He was incredibly cheerful, vibrant, and optimistic. He had a very large, loving family who took turns attending to him, and encouraging him with each small improvement in his leg and arm strength. They knew his neurological exam better than his doctors.

I was amazed at his recovery, given the size and location of his stroke (and his advanced age), I had suspected that he would end up wheelchair bound. But he was determined to walk again and get back to his gardening as soon as possible. His children told me that he was very stubborn and was a true "fighter." As their patriarch, he carefully questioned each of them about their goings on, making sure that they were each on track with grain harvesting plans, animal feedings, and various farm-related projects. His life had meaning and purpose, and the hospitalization was merely a change of venue for his daily instructions.

Because my patient was so motivated, I offered to bring him to his physical therapy session early one day. To my...

Continue Reading

Pain Management And Why It’s So Personal

Most of my patients think about pain medicines in terms of the symptoms they treat. “This is my headache medicine, and this is my arthritis medicine,” they often say. Healthcare providers are more likely to categorize pain medicines by the way they work: some are anti-inflammatory, some affect nerve endings, and others influence how the brain perceives pain. But the truth is that no matter how you classify pain medicines, there is no way to know if they'll help until you try them for yourself.

Most people don't realize that pain management is personal. Research is beginning to help us understand why people respond to medicines so differently, and one day we will probably be able to personalize treatment plans more successfully. For now, there are several known genetic reasons why pain medicines are more or less effective for one individual over another. Genes affect:

  1. The number of enzymes that break down medicines and remove them from the body. Some people have larger numbers of these enzymes and therefore require more drug to feel its pain-relieving effects. Others may be strongly affected by even small doses of drug.

  2. Pain medicine receptor variations can make one medicine...

Continue Reading

Doctors: It’s Not What You Say, But How You Say It

Most physicians will be thrust into the role of patient or caregiver at some point during their careers. Unfortunately, it's not until this occurs that many become fully aware of the finer points of excellent care and communication. Take for example, the simple act of reporting test results to a patient. We do this every day, but may not realize that how we frame the information is as important as the data themselves.

I came to realize this on a recent hospital visit when I was in the role of healthcare proxy for a loved one with heart disease. Not only did various physicians present information with different degrees of optimism, but individual doctors presented things differently on different days... depending on (I guess) how tired/hurried they were. Consider these different messages with the same ejection fraction (EF - a measure of heart pump strength) and angiogram (heart vessel imaging) test results:

Doctor 1: "I wish I had better news. The EF is lower than we thought. It is low because of your previous massive heart attack."

Doctor 2: "Although your EF is impaired, there's a lot that can be done to improve pump function with medications."

Doctor 1 (different day): "On...

Continue Reading

When Elderly Parents Suck The Life Out Of Their Kids

My patient's son stood vigil outside her hospital room day and night. His eyebrows were frozen at an anxious angle. Although his mom was healing well from her injury, I could see that he was worried about next steps. He asked staff repeatedly about his mom's pain management, and reviewed every therapy session she attended.

His mom, on the other hand, was deceptively charming. She was a thin, well-groomed elderly woman who knew how to exact empathy from others. When I looked into her room from a distance she appeared comfortable, lying in her hospital bed covered in a quilt that her son had brought her from home. When I entered the room to check on her, she would grab my hand and wince, telling me that the pain was severe but that she didn't want any medication. She was quite invested in convincing me that she was unable to go home and care for herself, and that she needed to be discharged to her son's home. She would not accept others help at home, nor would she go to a skilled nursing facility.

She was doing well in therapy, limited mostly by her macular degeneration (poor eyesight). Again, I watched her from outside her field of vision. I saw her stand without assistance,...

Continue Reading

Why Young Physicians Should Consider Locum Tenens: Try Before You Buy!

*This blog post was initially published on the Barton Blog.

When doctors complete their residency training, they are under a lot of pressure to land their first “real job” quickly. Student loan deferments end shortly after training, and whopping debt faces many of them. But choosing a job that is a good long-term fit can be difficult, and gaining a broader exposure to the wide variety of options is key to success. That’s why “try before you buy” can be an excellent strategy for young physicians.

Locum tenens agencies such as Barton Associates work with healthcare organizations and practice locations across the country to offer a variety of temporary assignments for physicians.

These agencies negotiate your salary and call schedule. They also arrange the logistics, covering the costs of travel and accommodations. Once the doctor and the facility agree to terms, the physician simply arrives on the required date(s) and takes on the responsibilities requested. It’s a hassle-free, minimal-commitment arrangement that pays an hourly or daily rate for work.

Locum providers are given the convenient option to receive direct deposits to their bank accounts at regular intervals. Physicians...

Continue Reading

Healthcare And The Importance Of Hope

Hope is a tricky thing. On the one hand, false hope can lead patients to opt for painful, futile treatments at the end of life. On the other, unnecessarily bleak outlooks can lead to depression and inaction. When health is at stake, presenting information with the right amount of hope can guide patients away from both suffering needlessly and/or succumbing to treatable disease.

I was reading a sad story about a patient whose physician had made her feel hopeless. She was an elderly widow with some real, but not immediately life-threatening, medical conditions. His attitude led her to believe that she was sick and useless - with little to look forward to but ongoing testing, disease progression and eventual death. His professional opinion held special weight for her, coloring her entire outlook. It wasn't until a friend reminded her of the doctor's fallibility that she began to question her diagnoses, treatment options, and even prognosis.

When faced with concerning new medical diagnoses, even the most educated among us tend to imagine the worst case scenario. Knowing this, physicians should take care to offer reassurance and optimism whenever it is warranted. Hope provides the...

Continue Reading

The Three Pillars of the Medical-Industrial Complex – and the Physician. Part 5. Decoupling Research.

VIEW ENTIRE SERIES Mike Magee Historically, for a century since the Flexner report, some 40 premier academic health systems have been the masters and the model for American health delivery, constantly reinforcing the three-prong definition of the ideal senior level “thought leader” and successful academic physician – researcher, teacher, clinician. But in 2009, AHA president, […]

The post The Three Pillars of the Medical-Industrial Complex – and the Physician. Part 5. Decoupling Research. appeared first on HealthCommentary.

Continue Reading

The Three Pillars of the Medical-Industrial Complex – and the Physician. Part 4. Inside the White House – Cost vs. Coverage.

VIEW ENTIRE SERIES Mike Magee When President Obama entered office in 2008, and made the political assessment that it was now or never for health care reform, he saw waste and excess everywhere he looked. As New York Times columnist, Steven Brill, explained in 2015, he found: an $86 billion expenditure annually for ineffective treatments […]

The post The Three Pillars of the Medical-Industrial Complex – and the Physician. Part 4. Inside the White House – Cost vs. Coverage. appeared first on HealthCommentary.

Continue Reading

The Three Pillars of the Medical-Industrial Complex and the Physician. Part 3. Rapid Cost Escalation.

VIEW ENTIRE SERIES Mike Magee As we have seen, by the time the 1990’s arrived, prospects for the premier academic health systems were looking questionable. The educational enterprise was increasingly underfunded. Inpatient reimbursement continued to decline alongside admissions and length of stay. The massive faculty hirings of the 70’s and 80’s now left the institutions […]

The post The Three Pillars of the Medical-Industrial Complex and the Physician. Part 3. Rapid Cost Escalation. appeared first on HealthCommentary.

Continue Reading

The 3 Pillars of the Medical-Industrial Complex and the Physician. Part 2. Evolution of The Hospitals and Insurers.

VIEW ENTIRE SERIES Mike Magee In Part 1 of this 5 part series, I described the financial power and stakes of the pharmaceutical, health insurance and hospital industries, as revealed in the “givebacks” they granted to the Affordable Care Act in return for policy concessions to the Obama White House. In Part 2, I explore […]

The post The 3 Pillars of the Medical-Industrial Complex and the Physician. Part 2. Evolution of The Hospitals and Insurers. appeared first on HealthCommentary.

Continue Reading

Missing link in epigenetics could explain conundrum of disease inheritance

The process by which a mother's diet during pregnancy can permanently affect her offspring's attributes, such as weight, could be strongly influenced by genetic variation in an unexpected part of the genome, according to research. The discovery could shed light on why many human genetic studies have previously not been able to fully explain how certain diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and obesity, are inherited.

Continue Reading

Extra-coding RNAs regulate DNA methylation in the adult brain

A special form of RNA called extra-coding RNA, or ecRNA, controls the careful targeting to add or remove methyl groups to chromosomal DNA of the adult neuron. The ecRNAs are fundamental regulators of DNA methylation patterns in the adult brain through interaction with DNA methyltransferase enzymes, are involved in creation of memories, and the ecRNAs may offer a promising future therapeutic avenue to treat neuropsychiatric disease.

Continue Reading

Exercise training in heart failure: Shaping your proteins

Aerobic exercise training restored the cardiac protein quality control system in rats, showed a new study. More than 20 million people worldwide are estimated to have heart failure and this situation will get worse since the prevalence of heart failure will rise as the mean age of the population increases. The results of this study suggest that heart failure development is associated with disruption of cardiac protein quality control system and reinforce the importance of aerobic exercise training as a primary non-pharmacological therapy for treatment of heart failure patients.

Continue Reading

Exercise improves memory in breast cancer survivors

Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity is related to improved subjective memory in breast cancer survivors, who often complain about memory problems, reports a new study. It appears the physical activity alleviates stress and benefits women psychologically, which in turn aids their memory. Memory problems appear to be related to the high stress load cancer survivors experience, and may not be specific to chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

Continue Reading

Increase in childhood, adult asthma linked to London's 1952 Great Smog

London's Great Smog of 1952 resulted in thousands of premature deaths and even more people becoming ill. The five December days the smog lasted may have also resulted in thousands more cases of childhood and adult asthma. Researchers studied how London's Great Smog affected early childhood health and the long-term health consequences. The results showed that the Great Smog event of 1952 likely still affects some people's health more than 60 years later.

Continue Reading

New work aiming to stop diabetes, a major global health challenge

A new study estimates the global prevalence of diabetes and anticipates future trends. According to the results, the world's adult population with diabetes increased from 108 million in 1980 to 422 millions in 2014 and if measures are not taken on time, this figure will exceed 700 millions in the next years.

Continue Reading

Hey! You stole my food!: Abnormal eating behaviors in frontotemporal dementia

Frontotemporal dementia is associated with a wide variety of abnormal eating behaviors such as hyperphagia, fixations on one kind of food, even ingestion of inanimate objects, making an already difficult situation even worse. A new review gathers together the state of the art of what is known in this field, paying particular attention to the brain mechanisms involved. The information may be used for understanding eating disorders in healthy people.

Continue Reading

'Coral zombies' may spell doom for coral reefs around world

Scientists have known for a while that coral reefs around the world are dying, and in a worst-case scenario they were counting on large, healthy-looking corals to repopulate. But a new study shows that these seemingly healthy colonies are 'Coral Zombies' with no reproductive ability, which makes them useless in a recovery effort.

Continue Reading

Primary care physicians primed to help patients be more active

Exercise plays a crucial role in being healthy and preventing disease. Because of their close relationship to patients, primary care physicians (PCPs) can act as a catalyst to help people be more active through physical activity counseling; however, doctors often encounter barriers to being able to properly address inactivity. A new paper offers PCPs implementable strategies to break down those barriers and help their patients get more exercise.

Continue Reading

Mice fed more fiber have less severe food allergies

The development of food allergies in mice can be linked to what their gut bacteria are being fed, reports a new study. Rodents that received a diet with average calories, sugar, and fiber content had more severe peanut allergies than those that received a high-fiber diet. The researchers show that gut bacteria release a specific fatty acid in response to fiber intake, which eventually impacts allergic responses via changes to the immune system.

Continue Reading

Psychiatric diagnostic tools may not be valid for African Americans

African Americans perceive depression as a weakness inconsistent with notions of strength in the community, rather than as a health condition, new research shows. The study results have significant implications for the clinical assessment of depression and for the measurement of depression in community surveys.

Continue Reading

Service robot Floka’s big debut

What must an intelligent apartment provide in order to make everyday life safe, healthy, and comfortable? Robotics experts have developed the service robot Floka. Floka is fitted with a new "social" robotic head that was also developed at CITEC whose facial expressions can signal happiness, worry, interest, or anger.

Continue Reading

Self-learning arm controlled by thought

Scientists are developing a robotic arm prototype and its control algorithm using myoelectric signals. The mechanical limb will independently recognize the motions of its owner and be able to perform all the same motions like a healthy arm. The scientists estimate the final cost of the device of 600 - 1,000 USD.

Continue Reading

Is 'when we eat' as important as 'what we eat'?

In a review of research on the effect of meal patterns on health, the few studies available suggest that eating irregularly is linked to a higher risk of metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity). The limited evidence highlights the need for larger scale studies to better understand the impact of chrono-nutrition on public health, argue the authors of two new papers.

Continue Reading

Coral killers

In a three-year effort to understand the effects of known stressors such as overfishing and nutrient pollution on coral reefs, scientists made a totally unexpected finding: A normally healthy interaction between fish and coral had turned deadly. The new work also shows how rising ocean temperatures are potentially lethal for coral reefs.

Continue Reading

Pneumococcal vaccine watches bacteria, strikes only when needed

Conventional vaccines indiscriminately destroy bacteria and other disease-causing agents. The approach works, but there is growing concern that it creates opportunity other pathogens to harm the body -- similar to antibiotic resistance resulting in new and more potent pathogens. A new, protein-based pneumococcal vaccine takes a different approach. It allows pneumonia-causing bacteria to colonize in the body and -- like a nightclub bouncer -- swings into action only if the bacteria becomes harmful.

Continue Reading

Study reveals if spirituality, religion help parents cope after losing a child

Nothing is more devastating for a parent than the death of a child. Yet, few studies have examined parents’ mental health and personal growth, especially in black and Hispanic parents, following their child’s death in the hospital, and the role of spirituality or religion in helping them cope. Results of a new study reveal important differences in how mothers and fathers cope with the death of a child.

Continue Reading

Psoriasis: Light shed on new details

"A pathological and very complex autoimmune reaction of the skin": This is the definition doctors and scientists use to describe psoriasis, a disease that affects one to three percent of the population. It is characterized by accelerated cell division in the upper dermal layers with proliferated skin cells and an inflammation of the skin beneath. Many different cells are involved in the complex processes: skin cells (keratinocytes) and cells of the immune system, among others T lymphocytes, macrophages, mast cells and others.

Continue Reading

Addressing antibiotic resistance: Breath analysis aims to reduce unnecessary prescriptions

The overuse of antibiotics gives harmful bacteria the opportunity to evolve into drug resistant strains that threaten health care. To help tackle the problem, scientists have begun a pilot study examining biomarkers exhaled by patients. The team's goal is to develop an efficient (fast, accurate, painless and affordable) test that will assist doctors in prescribing antibiotics only when the treatment is absolutely necessary.

Continue Reading

Study sheds light on uncategorized genetic mutations in cystic fibrosis

A new study on cystic fibrosis sheds light on some the genetic mutations implicated, and the impact for those who carry them. CF is a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, in the United States alone about 12 million people are carriers, and every year 2,500 babies are born with the disease which occurs when the child inherits two defective genes.

Continue Reading

Pubertal timing strongly linked to men's sexual and reproductive health

A new study finds a strong association between late onset of puberty and subsequent semen quality. This is the first study of its kind to investigate the influence of pubertal timing on male reproductive health. 1,068 healthy young Danish men participated in the study and provided information on the timing of puberty. This suggests that timing of pubertal onset may be a fundamental marker of male reproductive health. Men with a history of early puberty were shorter, had a higher BMI and were often smokers or exposed to prenatal tobacco smoke.

Continue Reading

More Articles ...