Category Archives: Health

“Opioid crackdown forces pain patients to taper off drugs they say they need” – The Washington Post

pain“Hank Skinner and his wife, Carol, are no strangers to pain, having collectively experienced multiple illnesses and surgeries. Hank relies on a fentanyl patch but is now being forced to lower his dosage.” (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

by Joel Achenbach and Lenny Bernstein

Carol and Hank Skinner of Alexandria, Va., can talk about pain all day long.

“Carol, 77, once had so much pain in her right hip and so little satisfaction with medical treatment she vowed to stay in bed until she died.

“Hank, 79, has had seven shoulder surgeries, lung cancer, open-heart surgery, a blown-out knee and lifelong complications from a clubfoot. He has a fentanyl patch on his belly to treat his chronic shoulder pain. He replaces the patch every three days, supplementing the slow-release fentanyl with pills containing hydrocodone.

“But to the Skinners’ dismay, Hank is now going through what is known as a forced taper.”

“1 in 10 older adults binge drink” – Fururity

older-woman-drinking-red-wine_1600

“More than one-tenth of adults 65 and older currently binge drink, putting them at risk for a range of health problems, a new study shows.”

posted by Rachel Harrison

“The study also finds certain factors—including using cannabis and being male—are associated with an increase in binge drinking.

“Binge drinking is risky, particularly for older adults due to aging-related physical changes—an increased risk of falling, for example—and the likelihood of having chronic health issues. Despite the potential for harm, little research has focused on binge drinking among older adults.

“‘Binge drinking, even episodically or infrequently, may negatively affect other health conditions by exacerbating disease, interacting with prescribed medications, and complicating disease management,’ says lead author Benjamin Han, an assistant professor in the division of geriatric medicine and palliative care and in the population health department at New York University.”

Read this article at Futurity in its entirety here.

 

“10 Medical Myths We Should Stop Believing. Doctors, Too.” – The New York Times

“Researchers identified nearly 400 common medical practices and theories that were contradicted by rigorous studies. Here are some of the most notable findings.”

medical myths

Ingo Fast

by Gina Kolata

“You might assume that standard medical advice was supported by mounds of scientific research. But researchers recently discovered that nearly 400 routine practices were flatly contradicted by studies published in leading journals.

“Of more than 3,000 studies published from 2003 through 2017 in JAMA and the Lancet, and from 2011 through 2017 in the New England Journal of Medicine, more than one of 10 amounted to a “medical reversal”: a conclusion opposite of what had been conventional wisdom among doctors.

“‘You come away with a sense of humility,’ said Dr. Vinay Prasad of Oregon Health and Science University, who conceived of the study. ‘Very smart and well-intentioned people came to practice these things for many, many years. But they were wrong.’”

Continue reading this article in its entirety at The New York Times.

“This score indicates risk of death, suicide, memory loss” – futurity

POSTED BY multimorbidity_score_1600

“A new tool ‘scores’ patients with multiple chronic conditions. Those with higher multimorbidity scores have faster memory loss, a higher suicide risk, and a higher overall risk of death, researchers report.”

“Assessing the effect of chronic disease on a person’s health is important because 45 percent of all adults have more than one condition—and that figure jumps to 80 percent after age 65, says researcher Melissa Wei, a primary care physician at Michigan Medicine, who led development of the new scoring system, called the multimorbidity-weighted index, or MWI.

PROGNOSIS TOOL

“‘Multimorbidity scores’ can help doctors understand a patient’s overall prognosis—and can help identify special risks that people with multiple chronic illnesses face, researchers say.

“As reported in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, people with higher scores had a much faster decline in thinking and memory abilities than those with lower scores, even though most of the chronic conditions included in the index had no direct relationship with brain health.”

Click here to continue reading this article at futurity.org.

“A Clearer Map For Aging: ‘Elderhood’ Shows How Geriatricians Help Seniors Thrive” – NPR

Yesterday afternoon, Dr. Louise Aronson was featured on WITF radio; her interview (only 37 minutes long) is quite interesting. Click here to listen.

elderhood“Geriatrics is a specialty that should adapt and change with each patient, says physician and author Louise Aronson. ‘I need to be a different sort of doctor for people at different ages and phases of old age.’” – Robert Lang Photography/Getty Images

“Dr. Louise Aronson says the U.S. doesn’t have nearly enough geriatricians — physicians devoted to the health and care of older people: ‘There may be maybe six or seven thousand geriatricians,’ she says. ‘Compare that to the membership of the pediatric society, which is about 70,000.’

“Aronson is a geriatrician and a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She notes that older adults make up a much larger percentage of hospital stays than their pediatric counterparts. The result, she says, is that many geriatricians wind up focusing on “the oldest and the frailest” — rather than concentrating on healthy aging.

“Aronson sees geriatrics as a specialty that should adapt and change with each patient. ‘My youngest patient has been 60 and my oldest 111, so we’re really talking a half-century there,’ she says. ‘I need to be a different sort of doctor for people at different ages and phases of old age.’

“She writes about changing approaches to elder health care and end-of-life care in her new book, Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life.”

elderhood book

 

“Laughter really is the best medicine? In many ways, that’s no joke.” – The Washington Post

laughterDomenic Bahmann for The Washington Post

by Marlene Cimons

“Carl Reiner, 97, has been a comedic icon for more than 70 years, a perennial favorite of baby boomers who grew up with Sid Caesar and Dick Van Dyke. But even younger generations have come to appreciate his singular wit. He’s been an actor, screenwriter and director, as well as a legendary straight man for his old pal, Mel Brooks. He believes humor has enriched his life and boosted his longevity.

“’There is no doubt about it,’ he says. ‘Laughter is my first priority. I watch something every night that makes me laugh. I wake up and tickle myself while I’m still in bed. There is no greater pleasure than pointing at something, smiling and laughing about it. I don’t think there is anything more important than being able to laugh. When you can laugh, life is worth living. It keeps me going. It keeps me young. ‘

“In 2017, Reiner hosted an HBO documentary, ‘If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast,’ featuring a number of still-active nonagenarians, including Brooks, who will be 93 this month, Van Dyke, 93, TV producer Norman Lear, who will be 97 next month, and actress Betty White, 97. He believes their good health — and his — is why they still enjoy humor and stay funny.”

Read this Washington Post article in its entirety, click here.

“Deadly Falls in Older Americans Are Rising. Here’s How to Prevent Them.” – The New York Times

“The rate of deaths after falls is rising for people over 75, a new study shows. But falls are avoidable for most seniors. We have some tips.”

exercsieIf a doctor prescribes a walker, use it. “It will allow you to be more independent for longer,” Dr. Elizabeth Eckstrom, a geriatrician, said. – Credit: Ramin Rahimian for The New York Times

by Katie Hafner

“As the population ages, the number of older Americans who die following a fall is rising. A study published Tuesday in the medical journal JAMA found that for people over 75, the rate of mortality from falls more than doubled from 2000 to 2016.

“Researchers analyzed information obtained from death certificates maintained by the federal government’s National Center for Health Statistics. In 2016, the rate of death from falls for people 75 and older was 111 per 100,000 people, they found. In 2000, that rate was 52 per 100,000 people.

“Elizabeth Burns, a health scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who was an author of the study, said the reason for the increase was unclear.

“’The most likely reason is that people are living longer with conditions that in the past they might have died from,’ she said. In addition, she continued, older adults are on medications that increase their risk of falling. Women are slightly more likely to fall than men, but men are slightly more likely to die as a result of a fall.”

 

 

“I Have Arthritis of the Knees | What Should I Do?” – JAMA Network

kneesby Michael A. Incze

“What Is Osteoarthritis?

“Arthritis is a painful condition that affects joints. Infection, inflammation, and years of wear and tear can all cause different types of arthritis. Wear and tear, called ‘osteoarthritis,’ is the most common type in middle-aged and older adults. In osteoarthritis of the knees, the protective padding (cartilage) in the knee joint has worn away. This causes pain at the knee joint with standing or movement.

“Why Do I Have Arthritis of the Knees?

“Osteoarthritis is very common. Nearly 1 in 5 adults older than 45 years has knee osteoarthritis. Risk factors include being older than 45 years, prior knee injury, obesity, female sex, arthritis in family members, and/or physically demanding occupations.”

Click here to continue reading this article at JAMA Network. 

 

 

“A.I. Took a Test to Detect Lung Cancer. It Got an A. | Artificial intelligence may help doctors make more accurate readings of CT scans used to screen for lung cancer.” – The New York Times

lung scanA colored CT scan showing a tumor in the lung. Artificial intelligence was just as good, and sometimes better, than doctors in diagnosing lung tumors in CT scans, a new study indicates. Credit Voisin/Science Source

by Denise Grady

“Computers were as good or better than doctors at detecting tiny lung cancers on CT scans, in a study by researchers from Google and several medical centers.

“The technology is a work in progress, not ready for widespread use, but the new report, published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine, offers a glimpse of the future of artificial intelligence in medicine.

“One of the most promising areas is recognizing patterns and interpreting images — the same skills that humans use to read microscope slides, X-rays, M.R.I.s and other medical scans.

“y feeding huge amounts of data from medical imaging into systems called artificial neural networks, researchers can train computers to recognize patterns linked to a specific condition, like pneumonia, cancer or a wrist fracture that would be hard for a person to see.”

Read this New York Times article in its entirety, click here. 

 

“Dude, where’s my regulatory framework? As CBD gains popularity, Washington struggles to keep up” – STATNews

cbdCannabidiol pain cream products in a pharmacy in Remington, Virginia.KRISTOFFER TRIPPLAAR/SIPA VIA AP

“The $300 billion CBD industry is giving Washington a major headache. The cannabis extract is used as a home remedy for everything from pain to anxiety, and celebrities are even considering adding the extract to wine. But this lack of a clear line between therapeutic and food additive means that the FDA is unsure whether to regulate the product as a therapeutic or to treat CBD the way it treats vitamins and other nutritional supplements. “’The FDA needs to take a leadership position as quickly as possible to make sure that the wild west of CBD doesn’t harm the public health,’ Peter Pitts, president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest and a former FDA official.”


WASHINGTON — Online reviews proclaim CBD a “life changer,” “the best thing ever,” and “truly incredible.” It’s a $390 million industry, expected to grow to at least $1.3 billion by 2022. Montel Williams has his own designer line of CBD products; so do Tommy Chong and Mike Tyson.

Despite the rave reviews, CBD is giving Washington a major headache. The Food and Drug Administration has different rules for regulating medicines and dietary supplements like vitamins — and it isn’t perfectly clear yet which category CBD, or cannabidiol, an extract of cannabis used as a home remedy for everything from anxiety to back pain, falls into. Congress, too, has struggled. Lawmakers passed a bill last year that officially legalized hemp, the plant from which CBD is extracted, but left the FDA will little guidance on how to regulate CBD.”

Click here to continue reading this article at STATNews.