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Study Finds Diabetes May Increase Alzheimer’s Risk

Healthcare Research June 17, 2019

Diabetes May Increase Alzheimer

A recent medical study examined the direct relation between diabetes and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The findings, published by the American Academy of Neurology in the August 2010 issue of Neurology, suggest a clear connection between type 2 diabetes and increased risks for developing brain plaques associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Autopsies Reveal Insulin-Alzheimer’s Link

Researchers at the Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan studied the autopsies of more than 130 adults, all of whom had died between 1998 and 2003. All had undergone a battery of glucose tolerance tests ten years earlier as part of an ongoing study on brain and heart health.

Evidence strongly linked the presence of high levels of fasting insulin, a prime indication of type 2diabetes, with the appearance of plaque deposits between the nerves in the brain. These neuritic plaques, or neurofibrillary tangles as they are often called, are considered by many experts to be chief causes of the brain tissue destruction that is related to Alzheimer’s disease.

Preventing Diabetes May Decrease Alzheimer’s Risk

The number of people afflicted with type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease has been steadily rising over the years. Nearly 6 million people in the United States have type 2 diabetes. With many diabetics suffering from health complications ranging from nervous system damage and limitations in mobility, to blindness and lower-extremity amputations, it is obvious to see why the rationale for controlling diabetes is so compelling.

Diabetes 2 Risk Groups

Though there is currently no sure way to either prevent or cure Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes prevention may decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s. Some of the factors that indicate who may be at risk for type 2 diabetes include:

  • being over the age 45
  • being overweight
  • having high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol levels
  • having a genetic predisposition

These individuals are advised to see their doctor to get information on making necessary lifestyle changes to lower their risk factors for both Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. Prevention is key.

Doctors can perform tests and monitor changes in health to remain on the alert for any developments that might indicate whether or not there is a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s or diabetes. New treatments are being discovered almost daily that can help delay or slow down the progression of these illnesses.

The hope for a cure to Alzheimer’s disease rests in the dedication of the medical community to continue uncovering the answers to this life-threatening ailment.

To read the complete article, go to HealthDay News

For more information about Alzheimer’s disease and Diabetes:

Alzheimer’s Association: providing information on research and care for Alzheimer’s patients and their loved ones.

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America: useful information and support services for patients and caregivers.

American Diabetes Association: abundant research and factual data with useful tips for living well.

Source:

Aug. 25, 2010, online, Neurology

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Krill Oil: A Wonder Pill? Possibly

Healthcare Research June 14, 2019

Krill Oil

Krill Oil. What the heck is a krill, you might ask? It is a tiny shrimp-like animal that lives with billions of friends and relatives in the Antarctic Sea. It contains omega-3 fatty acids like other fish used in fish oils. However, the makers of krill oil pills claim their products are far superior to fish oil because they can do the following:

  • reduce your weight
  • slow skin aging and improve wrinkles
  • insure brain health
  • improve your memory
  • give you better liver health
  • boost your immune system
  • prevent prostate cancer
  • and some even claim it’s the best thing you can do for your body and brain

Sounds great! But how true? According to Arthur Agaston, MD, preventive cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Miami, krill oil looks promising. In studies on heart health, it lowered total cholesterol, LDL (the bad cholesterol) and triglycerides better than a dose of fish oil three times greater. Also, its anti-inflammatory potential appears to be better. Dr. Agaston says that you should use the Antarctic krill oil, not krill found anywhere else, because it is not as potent.

Other studies, noted by Dr. Ira Ockene, cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts, also show promise.

  • a study of 90 people with osteoarthritis showed that their joint pain improved, although similar results were achieved with fish oil
  • a study of premenstrual syndrome (pain and mood changes) concluded that krill oil worked better than fish oil

Dr. Ockene says these results are interesting but need more confirmation. For example, an Italian study of fish oils involved 11,000 people who were followed for 3 1/2 years and showed a 45% drop in mortality from sudden death. The krill studies have involved only small numbers of subjects (30 in the blood lipids study). Much larger numbers of people and longer periods of study are needed for scientific conclusions to be valid.

Krill oil is also used by some health professionals to help patients with depression, stroke, and high blood pressure, in similar ways as fish oil. It can also decrease swelling and make platelets less sticky, which would help prevent clots.

It is safe for most adults. According to WebMd, side effects are bad breath, heartburn, fishy taste, upset stomach, nausea, and loose stools. It shouldn’t be taken by pregnant or nursing mothers, due to lack of research in this area. People with seafood allergies should avoid it. Because of its blood-thinning nature, it should not be used with medications that thin the blood, such as aspirin, Coumadin, Plavix, ibuprofen, or naproxen.

So far, there is not enough research to recommend dosages, and more studies are needed to substantiate claims made by manufacturers. Needless to say, a claim like “the best thing you can do for your body and brain,” as above, is impossible to substantiate, and the other claims need much investigation before anyone takes them seriously. Remember, in the United States, supplement makers can put just about anything they want on their labels. No proof needed. Let’s hope krill oil can live up to the claims.

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Taiwanese Health Care

Healthcare Research June 11, 2019

Taiwanese Health Care

In the early to mid 1990s, three rich, democratic nations looked to overhaul their health care systems to provide insurance coverage to all of its citizens.

As America’s 1993 health care reform led by the Clinton administration ended in political defeat, Switzerland and Taiwan successfully reformed their health care systems to cover every citizen in 1994 and 1995, respectively.

Today, Taiwan’s single-payer health care system incorporates state-of-the art information technology, provides equal access to all with free choice of providers that compete for patients, there are no waiting lines, and the government runs its financing.

Taiwan at a glance

Size: 13,974 square miles, (about the size of Delaware and Maryland)

Population: About 23,239,268 people, according to 2012 estimates.

Percentage of GDP spent on health care: About 6.3 percent

Government: Unitary, semi-presidential republic.

Taiwan is a wealthy democratic state that is considered one of the Four Asian Tigers or Asian Dragons along with Hong Kong, Korea, and Singapore. Taiwan is notable for its exceptionally high economic growth and rapid industrialization from 1960 to 1990s and is a world leader in manufacturing information technology.

How it works

Taiwan’s health care system is financed by a single-payer insurer that collects the money and pays health care providers, but is delivered by private hospitals and doctors. Every citizen has health insurance and working people pay premiums split with their employers. For the poor and veterans, their coverage is subsidized.

The system is managed by the Bureau of National Health Insurance (BNHI) and services require a co-payment unless it is for preventative services and catastrophic diseases.

There are standardized set prices for procedures and visits, and every citizen has a smart card that contains all of the patient’s medical history. Bills are sent to the government insurer office and are paid automatically. The smart card system also helps public health officials monitor national standards and helps control overuse of the system.

There are also no waiting lines and the Taiwanese don’t need a referral to see a specialist.

With its implementation of the smart card and a single-payer system, Taiwan’s health care administrative costs are the lowest in the world, around 2 percent.

History

In the late 1980s, half of Taiwan’s population had insurance coverage.

As Taiwan’s economy grew and the country became wealthy, the government looked to create a health care system modeled after other rich democracies’ systems.

In the PBS Frontline documentary “Sick Around the World,” Dr. Hongjen Chang noted that Taiwan studied numerous health care systems from Canada, France, Germany, the Nordic countries and the United States.

He noted that the American health care system is not really a system that can be copied, but more like a market, and decided against a private-insurance system left entirely to the free market.

In 1995, the government created a single payer health care system but with private doctors and hospitals similar to the Canadian model and the U.S. Medicare system for senior citizens.

In a 2009 interview with the Physicians for a National Health Program, Dr. Michael Chen, Vice President and CFO of Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Bureau, explained that fundamentally, BNHI is modeled after Medicare. “… and there are so many similarities – other than that our program covers all of the population, and Medicare covers only the elderly. It seems the way to go to have social insurance.”

Concerns:

Although Taiwan has done an excellent job controlling costs and providing universal coverage, the country spends too little on health care as hospitals operate in the red.

According to Princeton’s Tsung-mei Cheng, the government borrows money from banks to pay what there isn’t enough to pay the health care providers.

The problem is compounded by politics, because it is up to Taiwan’s parliament to approve an increase in insurance premiums, which it has only done once since the program was enacted, notes Frontline.

What America can learn

Taiwan’s use of a single-payer system combined with information technology shouldn’t seem that foreign to Americans.

Although certain parts of American politics abhor the idea of a “big government” health care system for all, America already has a single payer health care system in Medicare for senior citizens where the government program collects the money and pays the health care providers which are private doctors and hospitals.

According to reports from Health Affairs and the the Commonwealth Fund, and later reported by the The Huffington Post, the health of the elderly population has improved since its advent, and Medicare enrollees are overall satisfied with their access to and quality of care.

Sources:

“Sick Around the World” PBS Frontline, 2008

“How to save American health care” CNN GPS, 2012

“Jonathan Cohn interviews Taiwan’s Dr. Michael Chan” Physicians for a National Health Program, 2009

“44 Years of Medicare Success” The Huffington Post, 2009

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Is The Information Accurate?

Healthcare Research September 9, 2018

Health Care Information

Make Sure Your Health Care Information is Current and Relevant

This increase is likely in response to the trend in health care to make the patient more responsible for his own health status and outcomes. In order to accomplish this, people need information. Information is readily available on the Internet.

Physicians and other health care practitioners do not have the time or resources to educate patients adequately. They do the best they can with the ten to fifteen minutes they typically spend with the patient in an office appointment. They may supplement their teaching with brochures, pamphlets and other literature for the patient to read.

The problem is that more than half of the population is health care-illiterate. This doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t read, but that they don’t understand their health status enough to know where to begin to ask questions or to seek information.

What Can Consumers Do?

So how do consumers know that they have found accurate information? Anyone can post information on the Internet. What makes this information legitimate, accurate and effective?

In this day of instant gratification, it’s time to slow down and carefully evaluate the information on any subject. Common sense and a good dose of skepticism can be a healthy thing. Always remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Not always, but most times.

The health care industry has taken many measures to try to protect consumers from the snake oil sellers. One such effort is the Hon Code; Health on the Net Foundation. Many of the most reputable health websites have been accredited by this organization.

Tips for the Researcher

Another such watchdog is the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI) who makes the suggestion that consumers do their homework when researching and evaluate the medical advice on the Internet by discovering:

  • The purpose of the website
  • Who runs the site
  • Who pays for the site
  • Where is the information derived
  • How recent is the information
  • Is the information reviewed by medical experts before it’s published

If the website is run by a drug company and it’s promoting specific medications, it’s going to be biased. If the website is run by a lay person, understand that they may be very knowledgable, but are not a medical expert.

Understand that medicine is not an exact science. It is an ongoing learning experience for patients and practitioners alike based on evidence and knowledge. Not every person reacts the same to a medication or treatment. Studying the trials and errors helps everyone to benefit.

Practitioners don’t always have time to keep up with all of the latest research and they are often influenced by the vendors who bring them sample drugs, information, literature and equipment.

Health care consumers may have to do some research on their own, and then bring the information to the practitioner to discuss its relevance to their particular case. Finding timely and accurate information is vital to successful outcomes. Scrutinize the information. Don’t grasp at straws, demand proof. Slow down and be sure this is the best information.

Resources:

Harris Interactive®

National Reeserch Corporation

Hon Code

CMPI

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Reiki in Complimentary Medicine

Healthcare Research September 6, 2018

Reiki

Reiki is now being practiced in several hospitals in the US

Reiki is a simple hands-on healing modality that is becoming very popular in the world. Increasingly, reiki is getting more attention from medical practitioners and several hospitals in the US have now incorporated reiki in their programs.

The term reiki is a combination of two Japanese words: rei, which means “spiritually guided” and ki, which is the Japanese word for “energy.” Reiki was re-introduced to the world by the Japanese spiritual seeker Mikao Usui in the late 1800s after a lengthy period of fasting and meditation.

Reiki is one of the most simple hands-on healing modality in the world and is also one of the most effective. No wonder then, that doctors and nurses are now beginning to study and use reiki to help patients heal faster.

One of the first to include a reiki practitioner in his department at The Columbia Presbyterian Medical Centre in New York City was Dr. Mehmet Oz.. Dr. Mehmet Oz is one of the leading cardiovascular surgeons in the United States. The New York Times Magazine reported that Dr. Oz has allowed the use of reiki during open heart surgeries and heart transplant operations. Says Dr. Oz: “Reiki has become a sought-after healing art among patients and mainstream medical professionals.”

Two other hospitals in New York, namely Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital and Memorial Sloane Kettering Hospital have also embraced reiki. Marilyn Vega is a nurse who has given reiki sessions to patients in both hospitals. “Reiki sessions cause patients to heal faster with less pain,” says Vega.

Several other hospitals across the US have included reiki in their roster of patient services.

Since 1998, the Columbia/HCA Portsmouth Regional Hospital in Portsmouth, New Hampshire has been giving their surgical patients the option of 15 min pre- and post- surgery reiki treatments. As a result of this, there has been less use of pain medication, shorter length of stay in the hospital and an increase in patient satisfaction.

In the Reiki Clinic at Tucson Medical Center in Arizona, a team of Reiki practitioners give reiki to patients. Reiki was first offered to patients in the Cancer Care Unit but has since expanded to other units after it had been proven that pain, chronic conditions, and post operative surgery conditions all responded well to reiki.

One of the largest hospitals in northern California is the California Pacific Medical Center and here, Dr. Mike Cantwell, a pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases, provides one to three hour-long reiki sessions. When asked how reiki helps his patients Cantwell said, “I have found reiki to be useful in the treatment of acute illnesses such as musculoskeletal injury, pain, headache, acute infections and asthma. Reiki is also useful for patients with chronic illnesses especially those associated with chronic pain.”

Dr. Nancy Eos of the University of Michigan Medical School is one of the increasing number of doctors who incorporates reiki in their medical practice. “I can’t imagine practicing medicine without Reiki,” Eos says. “With Reiki all I have to do is touch a person. Things happen that don’t usually happen. Pain lessens in intensity. Rashes fade. Wheezing gives way to breathing clearly. Angry people begin to joke with me.”

Reiki practitioners are also becoming mainstays in delivery rooms in hospitals where reiki is given to mothers and babies to help alleviate the trauma of the birthing process. Tests conducted at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut show that Reiki used during pregnancy reduced anxiety by 94 percent, nausea by 80 percent, pain by 78 percent and improved sleep by 86 percent.

Ironically, Reiki still has to gain a modicum of acceptance in the East, where it originated. Reiki flourished in Japan because the Meiji emperor supported Usui’s efforts to teach and give reiki, and the older people of his generation welcomed the return to spirituality. Since his death, however, reiki has not been incorporated into the Japanese healthcare system and continues to remain largely in the shadows of modern medicine.

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Meditation for Non-Meditators

Healthcare Research September 3, 2018

Meditation

Bring Meditation Into Your Daily Life Through Mindfulness Meditation

One of the staunchest proponents of meditation is Dr. Dean Ornish who, for the past 25 years, has demonstrated that comprehensive lifestyle changes can reverse severe coronary heart disease without drugs or surgery. He prescribes meditation as a necessary tool for reversing heart disease. Dr. Ornish says that when one meditates, “a number of changes occur in your body, as you experience a profound state of relaxation, deeper even than sleep. Your blood pressure decreases, your heart rate slows, your arteries dilate, you think more clearly… you experience your senses more fully…your mind quiets down and you experience an inner sense of peace, joy and wellbeing.”

Meditation is a tool that has been used for centuries to help develop the ability to control our mental states. It brings the brain wave pattern into a level of consciousness that promotes a healing state. Meditation balances a person’s physical, emotional and mental states – no wonder then that more and more physicians are prescribing meditation to help people deal with stress, pain, cancer and other chronic illnesses, infertility, heart disease, high blood pressure, psoriasis, respiratory crises, tension headaches, PMS, irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia.

There are numerous meditation techniques and learning them usually requires time and the guidance of a teacher. How then can one fit this age-old healing tool into a busy schedule?

The easiest and simplest way to meditate is through mindfulness. By simply being mindful of or by paying attention to your daily activities, you are in fact practicing meditation. In other words, become aware of what you’re doing while you’re doing it – and you will enjoy the benefits that meditation brings!

By “being where you are” and by paying attention to what you are doing you slow down your sense of time and learn to monitor your moods and thoughts. This is the reason why we feel so relaxed when we indulge in activities like gardening, crafting, painting, taking a solitary walk, listening to music, or fishing.

When we engage in activities we enjoy all our senses are active and we are “in the moment.” If this same quality of attentiveness can be brought to the performance of our daily tasks, we will be able to enjoy the benefits of meditation on a daily basis.

It seems deceptively simple, but if you try to do one small task – like cleaning your table – you will probably discover that your mind is full of other thoughts that have nothing at all to do with cleaning the table. Is it because cleaning the table is a boring chore? Probably, but chances are your mind is racing with other thoughts simply because it is no longer used to focusing on one activity.

If you go further and try to notice how your body is feeling while you are cleaning the table, you will most likely discover that your shoulders are tight, your jaws are clenched and you are probably exerting more effort than is needed for such a simple task. This is because your mind – filled with a flurry of thoughts – is unable to communicate with your body. The end result is that you add stress to your whole system just by cleaning a table.

To practice mindfulness meditation, start small. Choose a simple task that will take five minutes to accomplish. As you perform this simple chore, try to be there – feel your body while you are doing it. If other thoughts come rushing by, ignore them and focus instead on what you are doing. The trick is to be the performer and observer at the same time.

Practiced on a daily basis, this short mindfulness meditation will work wonders for your body, mind and spirit. In time you will be able to stretch the period of mindfulness and if you are really serious about it, you will eventually arrive at a point where you will be able to bring focus and intent to all that you do.

Even while doing our everyday chores we can relax ourselves, quiet the conscious mind, experience stillness and leave room for deeper levels of inspiration and understanding – all we need do is perform our tasks with mindfulness.

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What is Pain Control?

Healthcare Research August 31, 2018

Pain Control

Addiction is not always the outcome

Often physicians are not well educated in pain management and/or struggle with beliefs that using narcotics will cause addiction problems for most patients.

The Myth of Addiction

In fact, if your body requires the pain medication, there is little evidence that addiction will result from using medications as prescribed. Misusing the medication and taking it when you no longer have pain, is a different story. Appropriate evaluation and prescribing is required. For anyone with a history of addictive behaviors, alternatives and/or close supervision is needed.

Using Medication Appropriately

How often have you been prescribed something such as Vicodin or Tylenol with codeine for an injury or after a surgical procedure? The dosage may vary, but the usual frequency is every four to six hours “as needed for pain.” The practitioner gives you the prescription and tells you to take it only if you need it, and usually suggests you try a milder OTC medication such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol first.

Depending upon your pain threshold and the underlying cause of the pain, the milder medication may work just fine or you may need nothing. However, in many instances, you will need the prescription dose at least for a couple of days. If you need it, you should take it so that your body can heal.

Meds Don’t Cure Pain

Pain is a subjective symptom and everyone’s perception of pain is different. Pain medication does not “cure” the pain. It merely helps to alter your brain’s perception of the pain and allows your body to cope with a lower degree of pain.

Studies have proven that healing is slowed by pain, as is coping and learning to live with chronic conditions. Excruciating pain is not something that you have to learn to live with. It does not make you weak to use pain medication to obtain pain control.

Pain is usually measured on a scale such as the Wong-Baker Pain Scale where 0 represents no pain and 10 represents the worst pain imaginable. In achieving pain control, 0 pain is not usually the goal. The goal is to get the pain down to a range of about 2-3 where most patients perceive they can cope.

If pain is interfering with ADLs (activities of daily living) such as eating, sleeping and mobility, then it needs to be better controlled.

Oral pain medication, including OTC meds, usually takes about thirty to forty-five minutes to take effect. If you wait until your pain is really bad before taking the medication, it’s going to get worse before the medication takes effect. What happens then is that the medication is less effective. Take the medication as directed on a routine basis for one to two days to achieve control.

For example, pain medication usually lowers your pain level by about 2-3 points on the pain scale. Therefore if you wait until your pain is at 7 before you take the medication and during the time it takes to take effect, your pain level increases to 8 or 9; your pain relief is only going to be about 5-7. This in effect makes the medication seem useless or less effective.

On the other hand if you take the medication every four hours and keep your pain level at a maximum of 5 or 6; your relief level should be about 2 to 3. You may not even approach a 6 if you take the medication routinely throughout the day and night.

With a minimum pain level, you should be able to eat, drink, sleep, and move about and function without encountering major pain episodes. As your body heals, you will notice less and less pain and can spread out the pain medications to six hours and then taper it off even more and switch to OTC meds if needed.

Be Responsible

Be aware that prescription pain medications can impair your responses and you should NOT drive or operate any machinery while taking these medications. Driving while taking Vicodin for instance could result in a DUI the same as consuming alcohol and driving.

In most instances, you will only need the prescription medications for a couple of days during your recuperation from the injury or procedure, and staying home and resting while your body heals would be wise. After a couple of days, you should be able to use OTC medications for your pain.

If Pain Meds Don’t Help

Persist ant pain can be a sign of infection or lack of healing. It can also indicate that an injury is worse than first diagnosed. Notify your practitioner.

Discuss your pain control issues with your primary practitioner. If you have chronic pain, you may need referral to a pain clinic or specialist.

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Hospital Quality Study in America

Healthcare Research August 28, 2018

Annual Report Polls 5000 Hospitals based on Medicare Records

Whether it’s emergency care or a planned procedure, everyone wants to make sure they are receiving the best possible medical care. Location definitely impacts the quality of your medical care.

The annual Hospital Quality in America Study was just released and shows a wide gap in the quality of care between the top performing hospitals and all others. The study included evaluation of 18 procedures and conditions.

5000 hospitals across the US were studied over a two year period. Results were based on Medicare records from over 40 million hospitals. Researchers used the data to determine the best and worst regions and states in the country for hospital care.

According to Dr. Samantha Collier, one of the authors of the study, there is a big difference in quality among the nation’s best and poorest-performing hospitals. Statistically, patients are 71 percent less likely to die during procedures or under care at the nation’s top-performing hospitals.

The best care was found to be in five states in the Midwest Region:

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Michigan
  • Ohio
  • Wisconsin

The worst care was found in eleven states of the Northeast and South Central Regions; less than 7 percent of the hospitals in these states are considered “top-performing”:

  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont

Other areas of interest included the East North Central Region, which had the highest concentration of top-performing hospitals at 26 percent.

The West South Central Region demonstrated most overall improvement for all procedures and conditions. By contrast, the region with the least improvement was the Mountain Region which includes: Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Dr. Collier explains that concentrating on copying practices from the best hospitals will help improve care everywhere. She feels that four areas of procedures could be focused upon to achieve up to a 50 percent reduction in potentially preventable deaths:

  • heart failure
  • respiratory failure
  • sepsis (blood infection)
  • pneumonia

Just because you live in a region with one of the lower ratings doesn’t mean you won’t find a good hospital. And if you live in an area with the best ratings, it’s still possible to find lesser-quality care. Studies like this help improve the quality of health care overall.

No matter where you live, you should have access to good quality medical procedures. It is worthwhile to spend a little time checking out your local hospital and medical care facilities to see how they stack up.

Hospital quality, individual doctors and providers can be researched on Healthgrades‘ website, the company that conducts the annual hospital study.

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Latest Vitamin C Research

Healthcare Research August 25, 2018

Vitamin C

Findings show Vitaminc C is actually useless against colds

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin. It is essential for tissue growth and healing. For example, wounds, and torn ligaments and tendons, damaged blood vessels, torn cartilage and broken bones require Vitamin C for proper healing. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant and helps to strengthen the immune system in preventing or minimizing the effects of cancer, heart disease and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

Most people think that taking high doses of Vitamin C can prevent or lessen the effects of colds. In the early 1970’s, American chemist and biochemist, Linus Pauling wrote “Vitamin C and the Common Cold.” The Nobel Prize winning chemist who pioneered the idea of quantum mechanics to chemistry, suggested that taking mega doses (200 mg/day or more) of Vitamin C could ward off colds.

The recommended daily amount (RDA) of Vitamin C is 90mg. for men and 75 mg. for women. Recent findings from Finnish scientists at the University of Helsinki and and Australian scientists at the Australian National University who reviewed 30 scientific papers which complied the results of over 11,000 participants in clinical trials covering several decades was released by the Cochrane Library. The participants in these studies took supplemental doses of Vitamin C daily. The report finds that taking supplemental doses of Vitamin C really has little effect on preventing or lessening symptoms of colds.

How to Get Your RDA of Vitamin C

The body does not manufacture or store Vitamin C and therefore it needs to be taken in each day. Fruits and vegetables all contain some level of Vitamin C. Foods containing the highest amount include citrus fruits, strawberries, cantaloupe, tomatoes, green peppers, broccoli, and leafy green vegetables. Watermelon, raspberries, papaya, mango cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, red peppers and winter squash are also excellent sources of Vitamin C.

Toxicity Issues

Toxicity is rare because the body doesn’t store Vitamin C but huge mega doses (2000 mg/day) can cause stomach upset and diarrhea. Most excess doses will be excreted in feces and urine.

Getting too little Vitamin C

Deficiencies of Vitamin C can cause scurvy. Signs and symptoms of Vitamin C deficiency include:

  • bleeding gums
  • decreased wound healing
  • nosebleeds
  • weakened tooth enamel
  • swollen and painful joints
  • easy bruising
  • dry, splitting hair

These can all be symptoms of other diseases, so in addition to evaluating your intake of Vitamin C, discuss your symptoms with your health care practitioner and decide on how best to increase your levels of Vitamin C. In general consuming a balanced diet containing a variety of fruits and vegetable each day will meet or exceed your RDA of Vitamin C.

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Antibiotics Often Overprescribed

Healthcare Research August 22, 2018

Antibiotics

Sinus Infections Caused by Viruses Need Antibiotics?

The results of a study of sinus infections (acute and chronic rhinosinusitis) and the use of antibiotics were recently released in the March 2007 issue of Archives of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. The report was written by Hadley Sharp, B.S. and Donald Leopold, MD of the University of Nebraska.

The study used data collected between 1999 and 2002 from two U.S. national surveys; the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. The two surveys were conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Antibiotics Ineffective Against Viruses

Alarmingly, the results show that although most sinus infections are caused by viruses, in more than 70% of the infections, patients were prescribed antibiotics. In extensive studies, antibiotics have been proven to be ineffective against viruses. The most widely prescribed antibiotics in this study included those in the penicillin family such as Augmentin and amoxicillin.

Super Bugs Growing

The significance of this is that the over use of antibiotics has caused antibiotic resistant bacteria such as MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and VRE (Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus) to evolve and grow into a serious health hazard both in hospitals and in the community at large. When greater than 2/3 of those patients reporting acute or chronic sinusitis symptoms expect to be, and are, treated with antibiotics, the message is not getting through to prescribing health care practitioners and patients.

Antihistamines and Decongestants are Recommended

In addition to the antibiotics, 20-25% of the patients were prescribed antihistamines. Nasal decongestants, and a variety of OTC (over-the-counter) cough formulas which include expectorants (sputum producing) and anti-tussive (cough calming) medications were also among those recommended. All of these are currently recommended medications for the treatment of viral sinus infections.

The research was limited by the inability to record the use of OTC medications and home remedies. OTC treatments such as hot packs, nasal irrigation, vaporizers, etc. may have contributed to the recovery from the infections.

In about 15% of the cases, inhaled or nasal corticosteroids were prescribed. This treatment has been and remains controversial as to whether or not it is effective.

Conclusions

The researchers concluded that health care practitioners seem to continue to prescribe antibiotics for acute and chronic sinusitis because they seem to be effective. However, the researchers theorize that the infections would have resolved in time regardless of the treatment and that prescribing antibiotics based solely on the resolution of symptoms is not good practice.

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Manual Therapy Diagnostics

Healthcare Research August 19, 2018

Manual Therapy Diagnostics

Hands-on Assessment for Health and Vitality

A headache might feel like a bone bruise of the temporal bone to an Integrative Manual Therapy practitioner. That same headache can look like an energy disturbance in the tissue to a Reiki master. The headache might smell pungent to an acupuncturist.

So, which is the “real” headache? The pain, the blood flow, the bone, the energy, the smell are all just manifestations of structures and processes in the body. To each individual their perception of this manifestation is what is “real”. That is what they can work with to shift the uncomfortable symptoms and improve health.

Myofascial mapping, developed by Sharon W. Giammatteo, PT, PhD, is an assessment tool used by Integrative Manual Therapy practitioners to get an image on paper of what is contributing to the symptoms a client is experiencing. It involves the client lying clothed on a comfortable table, as the practitioner palpates, feels the surface of their body first on the front then on the back of the person.

The practitioner is feeling for several things. One, the quality of the tissue. Is it too dense, too spongy or swollen, too hot, too cold or too hard? Two, are there areas of redness, paleness, or sweat on the palms or feet. Three, they are palpating the rhythm of the connective tissue, a circadian rhythm that gives an indication of the health of the deeper tissues. Just as one can feel the effects of the heart beat far from the heart (at the wrist, for example), a skilled therapist can feel the effects of connective tissue dysfunction with their hands on the surface of the body.

Manual Therapists will also consider the range of motion or how well the joint and tissues move. They can press on a joint and feel the response or lack of response of the bones, cartilage, muscles and even whether there is enough space for the joint and muscles to move freely. This makes it easy to locate areas that don’t move as well as the surrounding tissue. These are considered to be contributors to the pain and symptoms.

The location of the tissue that is not moving the way it should, or is too hot or there is too much muscle tension or swelling can also be important. There are certain points that are considered reflex points and when they are different from the surrounding tissue it can indicate specific things.

If there is myofascial mapping over the liver but not the head, that could indicate that toxicity from the liver is contributing to the headache. If several acupuncture points along the heart meridian are more dense than they should be, it can indicate that the circulatory system is contributing to the headache.

If there is swelling and tenderness over the Chapman Reflexes, it indicates that a disturbance of the lymphatic system is contributing to the headache. Chapman Reflex points are found along the spine and the middle of the chest, they are points developed by an American Osteopath, Frank Chapman.

In 1993, Inamura, et al. in Environmental Medicine noted, the role of sympathetic (fight or flight part of the nervous system) nerve outflow to the muscles in the generation of one-minute waves in body fluid volume. A power spectral analysis of muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) was performed in an upright standing position simultaneously with the measurements of body circumference, venous pressure at the dorsum pedis veins at the ankle, intrathoracic fluid volume, soleus (muscle in the calf) EMG, and calf fluid volume.

They found that several things changed during the one-minute oscillation:

  1. an increase in calf fluid volume;
  2. a decrease in intrathoracic fluid volume;
  3. an increase in venous pressure at the dorsum pedis veins;
  4. an increase in the soleus EMG activation;
  5. an activation of muscle sympathetic nerve activity;
  6. a decrease in calf fluid volume; and
  7. an increase in intrathoracic fluid volume.

It is concluded that sympathetic nerve activity as well as cardiovascular variables have a cyclic rhythm with a duration of one minute to maintain hemodynamic homeostasis in humans in an upright standing position.

These, are the kinds of things a manual therapist pays attention to, assesses and palpates with the goal of balancing out any disturbance. Each practitioner will use their own method of assessing the problem listening to the client’s history and symptoms, observing the way they move, talk and even smell.

They will note the quality of the tissue and palpate for subtle changes. The shifts in the tissue indicate where there are bone bruises, circulation and lymphatic dysfunctions. The skill with which they assess and gather information and then put it together to come up with a plan of care, will determine the effectiveness of the treatment, the reduction of symptoms and recovery of health.

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Walnuts Lower Insulin Levels

Healthcare Research August 13, 2018

Walnuts

Hyperinsulinemia or high blood insulin levels affects many disorders. Some of these diseases are metabolic syndrome (a disease characterized by hypertension, abnormal blood cholesterol, obesity, and insulin resistance), polycycstic ovary syndrome (a disorder in which the ovaries are enlarged and contain many fluid-filled sacs/cysts), obesity, (accumulation of excess body fat), insulinoma (tumor in the pancreas), and excessive insulin use, (in type 1 – where the pancreas do not produce insulin so insulin has to be injected, or in type 2 diabetes where the pancreas continues to manufacture insulin, sometimes at higher than normal levels).

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreatic beta cells. It’s functions are to:

  • counter the combined actions of hyperglycemic hormones: glucagon, epinephrine/adrenaline, cortisol, adrenocorticohormone/ACTH, growth hormone, and thyroxine – hormones that increase blood sugar levels.
  • maintain low blood glucose levels thereby regulating glucose metabolism
  • stimulate lipogenesis (fat synthesis)
  • reduce lipolysis (fat breakdown)
  • increase amino acid transport into cells
  • modulate the transcription of numerous genes altering the cell content of many mRNAs
  • stimulate growth, DNA synthesis and cell replication; effects that it holds in common with insulin-like growth factors (IGF) and relaxin- an insulin-like hormone.

Insulin is a vital hormone. However, because of its effects on blood sugar concentration, too much can be dangerous, especially to organs that depends on glucose for its primary fuel source like the central nervous system. Free fatty acids cannot cross the brain-blood barrier although the brain can use ketones.Uncontrolled low blood sugar caused by hyperinsulinemia can lead to seizures, mental retardation, and permanent brain damage. The normal fasting blood insulin level range is 5-20 mcU/ml (mcU/ml means microunit per milliliter). Tappell and colleagues found that eating 30 grams (1/4 cup) of walnuts per day can favourably change the fasting insulin levels of overweight type 2 diabetics. To conduct the study, they recruited 50 overweight adults with type 2 diabetes aged 54 -58 yrs. None were on insulin injections. Participants were instructed to a low fat diet (about 2,000 calories with 30% fat) for one year. The subjects were divided into 2 groups; a control group and a “walnut” group – those who consumed 30 g of walnuts per day.

Results: The “walnut group showed significantly greater lower fasting levels of insulin than the control group, during the first three months. Both groups showed a 1-2 kg loss on the diet, and lower levels of serum triglyceride (the storage form of fat in the body). The researchers concluded that dietary fats can be manipulated with whole foods like walnuts to produce reductions in fasting insulin levels, and its salutary effects on insulin is attributed to walnuts’ polyunsaturated fat content (omega-3 fatty acid). Their investigation was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Origin, Geographic, and Nutritional Content of Walnuts

Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) or Eastern Black Walnut or American Walnut is a native of the deciduous forests of the eastern United States and Ontario, Canada. It is a large tree that may grow up to 125 feet, and live over 100 years. The walnut fruit is a drupe-like furrowed nut encased in a thick yellowish-green husk. A drupe is a fruit in which an outer fleshy part (or skin) surrounds a shell (the pit of stone). The meat is edible, sweet, oily and high in protein.

One quarter cup (30 g) of walnuts contains:

  • Calories: 163 calories
  • Omega 3 fatty acid: 2.27 g
  • Omega 6 fatty acid:
  • Protein: 3.81 g
  • Carbohydrates: 3.4 g
  • Total Fat: 16.30 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.53 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 1.53 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 12 g
  • Vitamin A: 10.25 International Units (IUs)
  • Vitamin B1/Thiamin: 0.09 mg
  • Vitamin B2/Riboflavin: 0.04 mg
  • Vitamin B3/Niacin: 1/23 mg
  • Vitamin B6: 0.13 mg
  • Biotin: 4.75 mcg (micrograms)
  • Folate: 24.50 mcg
  • Vitamin E: 1.10 IUs
  • Vitamin K: 0.68 mcg
  • Pantothenic Acid: 0.14 mg
  • Calcium: 26 mg
  • Copper: 0.40 mg
  • Iodine: 2.25 mg
  • Iron: 0.73 mg
  • Magnesium: 40 mg
  • Phosphorus: 87 mg
  • Potassium: 110 mg
  • Selenium: 1.15 mcg
  • Sodium: 0.50 mg
  • Zinc: 0.77 mg

References

Tappell LC et al. “Long-term effects of increased dietary polyunsaturated fatty acid fats from walnuts on metabolic parameters in type 2 diabetes” European J of Clinical Nutrition 2009;63:1008-1015

Kasim-Karakas S. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Insulin Resistance CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL 2000

Storlien LH et al. “Dietary Composition and Insulin Action in Animal Models” British J Nutrition 2000;83(Supp 1): S85-S90

National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) Medical Encyclopedia

Whitney EN & Rolfes SR Understanding Nutrition, Ninth Edition Wadsworth, CA 2002

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How to Start Living a Healthy Life

Healthcare Research August 10, 2018

Healthy Life

Make Your Emotional and Physical Health a Top Priority

Summer is here and you want to look and feel your best. But proper diet and exercising may not be enough. When was the last time you actually evaluated your health? To do so, you may need to ask yourself some crucial questions: Do you get recommended health screenings? When was the last time you had a check up? Have you evaluated your emotional wellness and stress control lately? Whatever you may be struggling with (or want to improve or learn about), you need to get started with a few basics that will assist you in your quest for health and fitness.

Finding a Health Provider

You may not know what changes you need to make until you visit a doctor and get a physical exam. Most doctors recommend yearly checkups, at least for the basics. Get your blood pressure tested and some various lab tests that include ones for cholesterol and diabetes. You may even want to do a stress test (a test to see how well your heart reacts to physical activity). A doctor can also determine what tests are necessary for your age group and gender.

Tools for Success

According to the healthcare experts, the first step to success is education. There are many ways to learn how to improve your health. Do online research, take a smoking cessation class to help quit your habit, and if money permits, hire a personal trainer to help you find the correct exercise routine. You can also do some easy and basic things like get a pedometer to track your steps, a scale to measure foods, or various exercise/stress related videos or dvds. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for support. Accountability to others is a proven way to keep you on track.

Keep Those Appointments

Have a daily planner to keep track of important health related appointments such as your next visit to the dentist. Many people use their busy jobs or family obligations as reasons to “put things off”. But as one healthcare advisor points out: “If you don’t have your health, you won’t have the time to work or spend time with friends or family. It’s that simple.”

As stated earlier, the internet is loaded with organizations to assist you in improving your lifestyle and overall well being. The following six online tools are good places to start:

  • NetWellness, is a non-profit consumer health site with high quality health information as well as a question and answer service provided by health professionals from three major universities.
  • The American Health Association provides a free web-based tool. It helps people make positive changes through walking and eating better. You can also map out a customized walking route near your home, office, or school.
  • Medicine Plus, offers information on more than 750 health topics as well as current health news, health check tools, and directories for finding medical experts in your area.
  • MedicineNet is another website that offers newsletters, health news of the week, and on-line patient/doctor discussions
  • Mayo Clinic, is one of the more popular sites. It provides a healthy living center where people can get health information, check symptoms, and ask a Mayo Clinic expert health related questions.
  • AARP, offers aging tips for people over fifty years old. It includes information about prescriptions and insurance. And if you are an AARP member, you quality for discounts on personal trainers, health clubs, and diet and nutrition products.

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Power Naps Can Save Your Life

Healthcare Research August 10, 2018

Power Naps

Take a break each day from the stresses and reduce your risks

In a global economy and society where businesses seem to run 24 hours/day, the pressure to stay late and come in early is taking its toll. A healthy 8-9 hours of sleep each night is becoming a thing of the past for today’s workers. For some working late hours means they can’t fall asleep early enough to get in 8-9 hours before they have to be up for the day again. Others complain that sleep seems to be a waste of time. They have far more important things to accomplish.

A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that a midday siesta or nap can be very good for you. The study was performed in Greece over a period of years from 1994 to 1999. None of the 23,681 Greek men and women between the ages of 20 and 86 who participated in this study had any history of heart disease or other chronic conditions before they began the study.

Lower stress hormone levels

The researchers concluded that those who took time out to get away from the stresses of their job by taking a midday siesta showed significantly lower risk for heart disease than those who did not. Stress hormone levels were lower in those who took stress-reducing actions such as napping.

There were 792 deaths among the participants and 133 of them were deaths from heart disease. Factoring in other risks for heart disease, the researchers tabulated their results and found that in general, those who napped for any frequency and duration lowered their risks of heart disease.

Random VS Systematic Nappers

Those who took naps of random frequency and duration showed a 34% lowered risk. Those who systematically napped for 30 or more minutes at least three times a week showed a 37% reduction in their risk for heart disease.

When should I nap?

The most effective time to nap according to the study is between 1 and 3 PM when the body’s temperature has peaked and is dropping. This phenomenon also happens between 1 and 3 AM. A pattern of snoozing and taking a break from the day’s stresses has shown to lower blood pressure and improve performance.

Don’t Fall Into Deep Sleep

Naps should be short duration (between 15 to 45 minutes) and one should not fall into a deep sleep. You can nap in any position, but preferably support your head either on the back of your chair or lay your head on your desk. Loosen restrictive clothing and relax your muscles. Darken th room or use an eye shade. Turn off your cell phone. Awaken slowly, stretch and take a few deep breaths. A power nap of 15 -20 minutes right before an important meeting or a test can dramatically improve your attention span and concentration.

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