A community for people who want to remain as healthy as possible as we age.

Lifestyle Changes Key to Tackling Diabetes

(Science Daily) Unhealthy behaviours like being overweight, smoking and heavy drinking explain almost half of the social inequalities in type 2 diabetes, finds a study…
The authors say further efforts to tackle these risk factors, particularly excess weight, among disadvantaged groups are urgently needed.
The burden of type 2 diabetes disproportionally affects the lower socioeconomic groups in society. Lifestyle related risk factors are thought to play a key role, but previous studies have tended to underestimate their effect.
Community: Programs to prevent diabetes can work. But even if no program is available, there are a number of practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or alleviate type 2 diabetes.
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Nudging Patients to Ward Off Diabetes

(Health Blog, Wall Street Journal) With as many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults having prediabetes…, health-care providers are ramping up education and management programs to help people make the lifestyle changes — such as weight loss and exercise — needed to ward off full-blown Type 2 diabetes.
The National Diabetes Prevention Program led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  offers group lifestyle-change classes based on the Diabetes Prevention Program research trial which showed that people with pre-diabetes could reduce their risk of developing Type 2 by 58% by losing 5% to 7% percent of their body weight and getting 150 minutes of exercise each week.
The program is offered in a number of states, with many of the enrollment costs covered by health plans.  The recently introduced Medicare Diabetes Prevention Act, endorsed by groups including the American Diabetes Association would provide coverage of the program under Medicare.
Health care providers are increasingly offering their own programs at outpatient clinics and community centers.
Community: Even if no program is available, there are a number of practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or alleviate type 2 diabetes.
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Sensor Detects Glucose in Saliva and Tears for Diabetes Testing

(Science Daily) Researchers have created a new type of biosensor that can detect minute concentrations of glucose in saliva, tears and urine and might be manufactured at low cost because it does not require many processing steps to produce.
"It's an inherently non-invasive way to estimate glucose content in the body," said Jonathan Claussen, a former Purdue University doctoral student and now a research scientist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. "Because it can detect glucose in the saliva and tears, it's a platform that might eventually help to eliminate or reduce the frequency of using pinpricks for diabetes testing. We are proving its functionality."
Community: There are a number of practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or alleviate type 2 diabetes.
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Diabetes Care Goes Mobile as WellDoc App Aims to Monitor Disease

(Bloomberg) DiabetesManager is the only software medical device cleared by U.S. regulators for real-time Type 2 diabetes medication and treatment coaching in adults, said Chris Bergstrom, Baltimore- based WellDoc’s chief strategy and commercial officer. As many as 300,000 diabetics served by health-care manager Alere Inc. (ALR) will have access to the service through a partnership with AT&T Inc. (T) announced Aug. 8. Such a tool may help blunt effects of the disease, which afflicts 25.8 million people in the U.S.
“The object is not to let diabetes control you, but to control diabetes,” said [a participant] in a trial of the app four years ago.
Community: There are a number of practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or alleviate type 2 diabetes.
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Weight loss surgery helps prevent diabetes: study

(Reuters Health) Treating obese people with weight loss surgery dramatically delays or prevents the onset of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.
"We saw a marked delay (in the development of diabetes) over 15 years," said coauthor Dr. Lars Sjostrom of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. "Some of those surgical patients will probably develop diabetes later. But over a lifetime, there will be a large difference."…
About 285 million people worldwide have type 2 diabetes and people with severe obesity have the highest risk. More than one third of U.S. adults are obese. About 220,000 people had bariatric surgery in 2009, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). Surgery costs range from about $11,500 to $26,000.
Community: Shame on these doctors for promoting expensive surgery with permanent consequences to the bodies of those who undergo it, when it’s really the dietary changes associated with the surgery that reduce the diabetes. And there are a number of practical, non-surgical, things we can do to prevent, delay, or alleviate type 2 diabetes.
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More Recent Research on Diabetes

(Consumer Reports) The Food and Drug Administration approved generic versions of the type 2 diabetes medication Actos (pioglitazone) last week. But we say skip Actos as both a generic and brand-name medication, unless other options have not worked. Pioglitazone can cause serious side effects, such as an increased risk of heart failure, bone fractures, and bladder cancer. Other medications to treat diabetes, such as metformin, are a better first choice.
(Science Daily) A popular class of diabetes drugs increases patients' risk of bladder cancer, according to a new study… Researchers … found that patients taking thiazolidinedione (TZDs) drugs -- which account for up to 20 percent of the drugs prescribed to diabetics in the United States -- are two to three times more likely to develop bladder cancer than those who took a sulfonylurea drug, another common class of medications for diabetes.
(Science Daily) An 'all-natural' method for studying pancreatic islets, the small tissues responsible for insulin production and regulation in the body, has recently been developed … to try to track metabolic changes in living tissues in 'real time' and without additional chemicals or drugs.
Community: There are a number of practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or alleviate type 2 diabetes.
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Mozzarella, Ham, and Basil Panini
A few special ingredients--like freshly baked ciabatta bread or imported Dijon mustard--make a quick, simple sandwich seem like a treat.
Grilled Chicken & Polenta with Nectarine-Blackberry Salsa
Grilled nectarines and fresh blackberries turn into a summery salsa to top cumin-rubbed chicken and polenta in a dish that's special enough for weeknight entertaining. Make it a meal: Serve with a spinach salad and a crisp glass of rosé.
Appetite for Health:
Smoked Norwegian Salmon & Pearl Barley Salad
Try this amazing Smoked Norwegian Salmon & Pearl Barley Salad recipe! This will wow your family and friends, plus you can make it ahead of time so no last-minute rushing.  Courtesy of Chef Harald Osa and the Norwegian Salmon Board.
Los Angeles Times:
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A shopping guide for nutritious food on a budget

(Los Angeles Times) The nonprofit Environmental Working Group released an online guide this week to offer a little assistance, called “Good Food on a Tight Budget.”
“EWG assessed nearly 1,200 foods and handpicked the best 100 or so that pack in nutrients at a good price, with the fewest pesticides, contaminants and artificial ingredients,” the organization’s researchers say.
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Low-Fat Foods – Are They Better?

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) A search for the term "fat-free" in the grocery section on Amazon.com brings up 3,386 products; "low-fat" yields 3,597. That's a vast array of food products in which no- or low-fat content is touted as a virtue. Many of them compensate for the fat's absence with extra sugar, corn syrup or other added sweeteners.
But the fact is, there appears to be very little hard evidence that saturated fat – long reviled as the worst of the fats for heart health – really does raise heart disease risk. Government and industry have used shaky science to demonize natural fats and promote fat-free dairy products, processed grains and sweeteners…
No one's health is improved by swapping out natural saturated or monounsaturated fats for skim milk, sugars or processed grains.
Community: Dr. Weil says that even lard is making a comeback.
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The Truth About Cocoa Butter

(MyHealthNewsDaily) Composed of a combination of fats that is solid at room temperature, but liquid at human body temperature, cocoa butter is the reason that chocolate literally melts in your mouth (and sometimes your pockets). It's also resistant to oxidation, which means it helps chocolate to not become rancid.
Even if cocoa butter is the silent partner in the powder-butter duo, it's far from inactive in the body. Cocoa butter consists mainly of palmitic, stearic, and oleic acids. Palmitic acid, a solid, saturated fat, increases risk of cardiovascular disease. Stearic acid, which is also a solid, saturated fat, appears to have a neutral effect, which is uncommon among saturated fats. Oleic acid, meanwhile, is a liquid, monounsaturated fat that decreases the risk of heart disease.
Community: It sounds as though the good fats in chocolate may outweigh the bad, and as Dr. Weil says, above, even the so-called bad fats may not be as bad for us as we’ve been told.
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Brain-Eating Amoeba Came From Faucet

(MedPage Today) Two recent cases of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) show that municipal tap water can harbor the amoeba responsible for the fatal disease, according to CDC researchers.
The deaths of two adults in Louisiana hospitals of infectious meningoencephalitis are the first recorded PAM cases in the country associated with the presence of Naegleria fowleri in household plumbing served by treated municipal water, wrote Jonathan Yoder, MPH, of the CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases in Atlanta, and colleagues.
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Court Upholds Block on Graphic Cigarette Warnings

(ABCNEWS.com) A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a decision barring the federal government from requiring tobacco companies to put large graphic health warnings on cigarette packages to show that smoking can disfigure and even kill people.
In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington affirmed a lower court ruling that the requirement ran afoul of the First Amendment's free speech protections. The appeals court tossed out the requirement and told the Food and Drug Administration to go back to the drawing board.
Community: There you go, folks, the tobacco companies have a constitutional right to disfigure us and kill us. And so does the tanning industry. See below.
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Embattled tanning industry fights back, taking its cues from Big Tobacco

(FairWarning) [The] International Smart Tan Network [has mounted] a defiant campaign to defend the $4.9 billion industry against mounting evidence of its questionable business practices and the harm caused by tanning. And, in an extraordinary touch, it is portraying doctors and other health authorities as the true villains – trying to counter a broad consensus among medical authorities that sunbed use increases the risk of skin cancer including melanoma, the most lethal form…
Central to the industry’s message is the idea that tanning’s critics -- such as dermatologists, sunscreen manufacturers and even charities like the American Cancer Society -- are part of a profit-driven conspiracy. These critics are described as a “Sun Scare industry” that aims to frighten the public into avoiding all exposure to ultraviolet light. The tanning industry blames this group for causing what it calls a deadly epidemic of vitamin D deficiency, and tries to position itself as a more trustworthy source of information on tanning’s health effects.
What tanning’s proponents rarely point out is that the notion of a vitamin D epidemic is disputed, and that even if you need more of the vitamin, you can safely and easily get it from dietary supplements and certain foods.
Even as they themselves use techniques cigarette companies pioneered, some in the tanning industry compare the Sun Scare group to the tobacco industry. “The Sun Scare people are just like Big Tobacco, lying for money and killing people,” Joseph Levy, executive director of Smart Tan, said in the D-Angel video.
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New mobile app from NIH helps women learn about their health in 52 weeks

(National Institutes of Health) 52 Weeks for Women’s Health, a new app that offers women access to a year's worth of practical health information, highlighted week-by-week, is now available…
Key features of the app are:
·         a personal health section for recording medications, medical conditions, and disabilities
·         a journal feature
·         a personal goal-setting section for health and lifestyle details
A variety of different skins can be applied to personalize the app, and it can be password-protected to help ensure health information remains confidential…
The app is available for download to your iPhone or iPad from the App Store or to your Android device via Google Play.
Content is also accessible without the use of a handheld device, at http://52weeks4women.nih.gov/. In the near future, NIH will launch an app for men’s health with similar features.
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Mayo Clinic Seeks To Extend Its Reach With Series Of Affiliations Around The Country

(Kaiser Health News) [The Mayo Clinic is rolling] out a new strategy of affiliating with hospitals and health systems across the country, a response to a chaotic healthcare environment.
Capitalizing on its reputation for top notch medical care, Mayo previously relied primarily on patients traveling to its main campus in Rochester, Minn., as well as satellite campuses in Jacksonville, Fla., and Phoenix and Scottsdale, Ariz., and a regional health system it has built in ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota…
For new affiliates, that means getting quick access to consultations from Mayo specialists and to an electronic database in which clinic physicians share cutting-edge medical information, as well as periodic advice about how to improve operations, for an annual subscription fee.
Community: Good! We need the high-quality nonprofit healthcare providers to squeeze out the profit makers.
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49 states plan health insurance exchanges

(UPI) Health insurance exchanges are being planned in 49 states, while 34 states have begun building the exchanges, U.S. health officials said Thursday…
Starting in 2014, consumers and small businesses will have access to high-quality, affordable health insurance through an exchange -- a one-stop marketplace where consumers can choose a private health insurance plan that fits their health needs and have the same kinds of insurance choices as members of Congress, [Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,] said.
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Medicare Fraud Squads Wield New Weapons

(Kaiser Health News) "For a long time we were not in a position to keep up with the really sophisticated criminals," said Peter Budetti, who oversees anti-fraud efforts at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "They're not only smart, they're extremely well-funded. And this is their full time job."
And their creativity is endless. Criminals use real patient IDs to bill for wheelchairs that were never delivered or exams never performed. Dishonest doctors – a small percentage of physicians, to be sure – charge for care they never deliver or perform unnecessary operations. In one scam, criminals bill Medicare and a private insurer for the same patient.
But if crooks are smart, it may turn out that computers are smarter. The federal health law and other legislation directed the federal government to start using sophisticated anti-fraud computer systems. Budetti said the systems, which are being used first in the Medicare program, are similar to those used by credit card companies to detect suspicious purchases.
"We're able to now verify whether a person was being treated by two different physicians in two different states on the same day or a variety of other possibilities," he said.
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REPORT: Seniors Will Pay $60,000 More For Medicare Under Romney/Ryan Plan

(Center for American Progress) The Romney/Ryan proposal to transform Medicare’s guaranteed benefit into a “premium support” structure for future retirees could increase costs by almost $60,000 for seniors reaching the age of 65 in 2023, a new report from the Center for American Progress finds. Current seniors would also have to pay more for preventive, hospital, and physician services should Romney and Ryan repeal the Affordable Care Act, facing an increase in health spending of between $7,900 and $18,600 over the course of their retirement.
Read the full report here or check out this infographic:
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A vaccine for heart disease?

(La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology) A number of research studies have demonstrated inflammation's role in fueling plaque buildup, also known as atherosclerosis, which is the underlying cause of most heart attacks and strokes, but knowledge of which immune cells are key to this process has been limited – until now.
Researchers at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology have identified the specific type of immune cells (CD4 T cells) that orchestrate the inflammatory attack on the artery wall. Further, the researchers discovered that these immune cells behave as if they have previously seen the antigen that causes them to launch the attack.
"The thing that excites me most about this finding is that these immune cells appear to have 'memory' of the molecule brought forth by the antigen-presenting cells," said Klaus Ley, M.D., a renowned expert in vascular immunology, who led the study in mouse models. "Immune memory is the underlying basis of successful vaccines. This means that conceptually it becomes possible to consider the development of a vaccine for heart disease."
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Psoriasis Drugs May Curb Heart Disease Risk

(MedPage Today) Treating psoriasis patients with biologic drugs that inhibit tumor necrosis factor (TNF) may cut risk of heart attack compared with other treatments, observational results suggested.
TNF-treated patients were half as likely to have a myocardial infarction (MI) as those treated with topical drugs after adjustment for other factors, Jashin J. Wu, MD, of the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, and colleagues found in a retrospective cohort study…
"It seems that controlling psoriasis with aggressive therapy and, thus, lowering inflammation leads to a reduction in MI risk," they wrote.
As a systemic inflammatory disease, psoriasis is linked to many cardiovascular risks, from obesity and atherosclerosis to type 2 diabetes, stroke, MI, and cardiac death.
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Testing an anti-inflammatory treatment for preventing cardiovascular deaths

(National Institutes of Health) An international multi-site trial has launched to determine whether a common anti-inflammatory drug can reduce heart attacks, strokes, and deaths due to cardiovascular disease in people at high risk for them. This study is being supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a part of the National Institutes of Health.
Inflammation, along with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, plays a major role in heart attack and stroke. The Cardiovascular Inflammation Reduction Trial (CIRT) will determine whether treatment with a drug specifically targeting inflammation reduces rates of cardiovascular events among adults who have had a heart attack within the past five years and who also have type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome. The trial will randomly assign participants to receive methotrexate given at 10 to 20 milligrams weekly for three to four years or a placebo. Methotrexate is an inexpensive generic drug commonly used at low doses to treat rheumatoid arthritis. It is also used at higher doses to treat certain forms of cancers such as leukemias and lymphomas.
"This trial could have global impact by potentially changing treatment recommendations for millions of individuals with heart disease," said Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., director of the NHLBI.
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Family history foretells early heart disease

(Reuters) If you have a relative who died of heart disease before age 60, your own risk of early heart trouble is higher as well, a study involving millions of people in Denmark over three decades has determined…
Researchers found that people with a parent or sibling who died young of heart problems were roughly twice as likely as others to be diagnosed with coronary heart disease - where "plaques" build up in the heart arteries, raising the risk of heart attack before age 50.
They also had double the risk of suffering a ventricular arrhythmia, an often fatal rhythm disturbance in the heart's main pumping chamber.
Community: One of my brothers died of a heart attack at age 60. That was one of the things that gave me the impetus to start taking better care of my health.
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Your blood type may inherently raise your heart disease risk, study suggests

(CBS News) It's common knowledge that heart disease risk can be raised by smoking, obesity and your family history. Now, a new study adds to the list that your very own blood type might increase risk for future heart problems.
Harvard researchers have found that people with blood types A, B or AB have a higher risk for coronary heart disease than people with blood type O. People with the rarest blood type, AB, were found to have the greatest risk.
"While people cannot change their blood type, our findings may help physicians better understand who is at risk for developing heart disease," Study author Dr. Lu Qi, assistant professor in the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, said in an American Heart Association press release.
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More Recent Research on Cardiovascular Disease

(LiveScience) Marriage may reduce health risks in women, new research finds, but men who get married too early may find their likelihood of chronic inflammation going up.
(MyHealthNewsDaily) Exposure to bisphenol-A, a chemical found in many plastics and commonly known as BPA, may increase the chance of people's arteries narrowing, which can lead to a heart attack, according to a new study.
(Andrew Weil, M.D.) For people battling high cholesterol, choosing meals wisely can be a challenge, but it is essential. Restaurants, parties, even an office potluck may present unhealthy temptations. But simple dietary modifications can help you eliminate those unhealthy choices. In pictures: Five foods to pick.
(TIME) A recent study by researchers at Western University in Canada found that the more egg yolks people ate, the thicker their artery walls became — an indicator of heart disease risk — and that the effect was almost as bad as from smoking cigarettes… However, the study’s findings raised brows among other health experts, ABC News reports: “[C]ardiologists say the study shouldn’t be taken so seriously because the research is flawed.”… Indeed, it’s possible that the people who ate a lot of eggs also tended to eat a lot of other high-fat, high-salt or high-cholesterol foods. Or maybe they also tended to exercise less.
(Reuters Health) Women who eat dried apple every day for a year see a persistent decrease in their cholesterol levels, according to a new study.
(The People’s Pharmacy) Many people were surprised by research showing that calcium supplements were associated with a higher risk of heart attacks (BMJ, online April 19, 2011; Heart, June, 2012). Taking calcium carbonate for occasional heartburn should not put you in danger, but there are other options. These range from herbal tea to sugarless gum, ginger or baking soda.
(Bloomberg) Doctors may be able diagnose a heart attack in one hour using a new test approach that could save time, money and crowding in hospital emergency rooms, researchers said.
(MedPage Today) The American Heart Association issued the statement, published online in Circulation, that outlines plans for bringing cardiac intensive care units (CICU) in line with contemporary needs and demands… [E]vidence has shown that outcomes are better when critical care is provided by specially trained healthcare professionals in a dedicated intensive care unit, [the authors] wrote. But cardiovascular medicine has lagged behind other specialties that have met the "critical care crisis" with ICU-focused innovations in organizing, training, and quality improvement, they said.
(MyHealthNewsDaily) Spouses of people who had a sudden heart attack were found to be at higher risk of depression, anxiety or suicide than were spouses of people with other health conditions. The risk of mental health conditions was heightened regardless of whether the stricken partner died or survived, the study found.
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Skillet Chicken Souvlaki
Prepare a family-friendly Mediterranean-style dish that's sure to please even the pickiest eater. The quick-cooking chicken and simple homemade yogurt sauce make this a perfect dish for a busy weeknight. Serve with a simple side salad.
White Pizza with Clams
Here’s an easy homemade pizza recipe that is a take on white clam pizza, which was first made famous by Frank Pepe of Pepe’s Pizzeria in New Haven, Connecticut. Look for fresh clam strips in the seafood department. You can find them ready to use out of their shells at most large supermarkets. If you don’t want to use fresh, we also like the briny flavor and convenience of canned chopped clams.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Curried Greens
[T]he vegetable section of the grocery is … brimming with a variety of greens such as chard, kale, mustard, collards and bok choy that are tasty as well as excellent sources of vitamins and minerals. Iron, calcium and folic acid (an important B vitamin that helps prevent birth defects and offers protection from heart disease) are abundant in these leafy veggies. Greens can have strong tastes, but we encourage you to experiment with varieties you've never tried or haven't had in a while. You'll be in for a pleasant surprise.
Food as Medicine
Turmeric, one of the spices traditionally used to make curry, has a long history of medicinal uses in both Chinese and Indian healing systems…  Greens are among the most healthful additions you can make to your diet, and among greens, kale and collard greens are standouts; almost no other foods offer so much nutrition for so few calories.
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Potency of Statins Linked to Muscle Side Effects

(Science Daily) A study … reports that muscle problems reported by patients taking statins were related to the strength or potency of the given cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Adverse effects such as muscle pain and weakness, reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were related to a statin's potency, or the degree by which it typically lowers cholesterol at commonly prescribed doses.
"These findings underscore that stronger statins bear higher risk -- and should be used with greater caution and circumspection," said investigator Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD.
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One in Five Rx's for Seniors Is Inappropriate

(Scientific American) Approximately 20 percent of prescriptions that primary care providers give to patients over the age of 65 are inappropriate, according to [a new study]…
The most common medications to get inappropriate scripts for the older set are: the pain-reliever Propoxyphene (Darvon), the antidepressant Amitriptiline (Elavil, Endep, Vanatrip), the beta-blocker Doxazosin (Cardura) and the antihistamine Diphenhydramine (Benadryl, etc.). Some of these frequently mis-prescribed meds, including antidepressants and antihistamines, can have serious adverse consequences when not taken correctly, especially in the senior population.
Those over the age of 65 are more likely than younger patients to be taking several drugs that might interact; may have have poor kidney and liver function, which can effect drug metabolism; and may have “disabilities like visual and cognitive decline,” which may put them at risk of accepting a prescription that is not right for them, the researchers noted…
The authors of the new study recommend continuing to push for more and better electronic decision-making tools, such as those that might accompany electronic health records. EHRs can track patients’ histories and other medications more easily and send alerts if doctors are prescribing a medication that carries higher risks than a similar drug or might interact with a med the patient is already taking. Indeed, a 2010 study … found that computer drug ordering systems helped reduce prescription errors—especially for those 66 and up.
Community: The People’s Pharmacy is up in arms about this study.
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Economic Viability of Orphan Drugs Repositioned for Unmet Medical Needs

(Reuters) The Intellectual Property & Science business of Thomson Reuters, the world's leading provider of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, today released the results of its study on orphan drugs, developed to treat rare diseases, finding that they have the potential to generate as much lifetime revenue as drugs used for more common health conditions.
The findings are featured in the Thomson Reuters paper, "The Economic Power of Orphan Drugs" and in Drug Discovery Today. Rare diseases affect from a handful to up to 200,000 patients and include illnesses such as Cystic fibrosis, Wilson's disease, and Homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia.
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Toward Medicines That Recruit the Body's Natural Disease-Fighting Proteins

(Science Daily) Like recruiters pitching military service to a throng of people, scientists are developing drugs to recruit disease-fighting proteins present naturally in everyone's blood in medicine's war on infections, cancer and a range of other diseases…
David Spiegel, M.D., Ph.D., who heads one of the major research teams developing "antibody-recruiting molecules" (or ARMs), said that the approach is a response to the old and seemingly impossible dream of identifying "magic bullets" for wide-ranging diseases. Antibodies are components of the immune defense system that latch onto microbes and other foreign material in the body and mark them for destruction…
ARMs for cancer work well in laboratory mice, which are stand-ins for humans in these types of experiments, and such tests for anti-HIV ARMs are currently ongoing. Spiegel said that ARMs could also be designed to treat other conditions, such as autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
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'Naked Darth Vader' Approach Could Tame Antibiotic Resistant Superbugs

(Science Daily) Rather than trying to kill bacteria outright with drugs, Université de Montréal researchers have discovered a way to disarm bacteria that may allow the body's own defense mechanisms to destroy them.
"To understand this strategy one could imagine harmful bacteria being like Darth Vader, and the anti-virulence drug would take away his armor and lightsaber," explained Dr. Christian Baron, the study's lead author… "A naked Darth Vader would be an easy target and similarly, pathogenic bacteria without their virulence factors would be rendered harmless and eliminated by our immune system."…
The concept of anti-virulence drugs still has to be proven in the clinic, but in the new battles that will arise in our war on bacteria, such drugs could prove formidable new weapons.
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Microbiologists Find New Approach to Fighting Viral Illnesses

(Science Daily) By discovering how certain viruses use their host cells to replicate, UC Irvine microbiologists have identified a new approach to the development of universal treatments for viral illnesses such as meningitis, encephalitis, hepatitis and possibly the common cold.
The UCI researchers, working with Dutch colleagues, found that certain RNA viruses hijack a key DNA repair activity of human cells to produce the genetic material necessary for them to multiply…
As part of their survival mechanism, RNA viruses mutate often, and drugs intended for them usually become ineffective over time. HIV, for example, rapidly mutates, necessitating a combination therapy employing a number of antiviral agents.
A drug that blocks RNA viruses from hijacking DNA repair enzymes may avoid these resistance issues.
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CSI Bethesda: Sleuths used sequenced genome to track down killer

(Booster Shots, Los Angeles Times) Patients were dying at the National Institutes of Health's Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., and the suspect was an elusive and resilient strain of bacteria called Klebsiella pnuemoniae. But how could the infectious disease control sleuths at NIH's research hospital collar the perpetrator and put an end to its reign of terror?
The answer, in this most forward-leaning of research institutions, was genomic sequencing…
[T]he sleuths at NIH grabbed the suspect bacteria and ran its genome to gain a definitive answer to the question: was this a serial killer or an series of unrelated infections? Where was the miscreant hiding, and how was it getting from room to room?...
"Genome sequencing, as it becomes more affordable and rapid, will become a critical tool for healthcare epidemiology in the future," said Dr. David Henderson, the NIH Clinical Center's deputy director for clinical care. He predicted it would be "rapidly adopted" by other hospitals to track down and eradicate future hospital-borne infections.
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PSA Test Linked to Better Prostate Cancer Survival

(WebMD Medical Reference) Despite the controversy surrounding its use, routine PSA prostate cancer screening may improve survival among men with spreading prostate cancer.
According to a new study, men diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer during the time when PSA screening was widely recommended lived longer than men who were diagnosed and treated before the "PSA era."
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Thyroid surgery costlier with robotic system

(Reuters Health) Surgery to remove part of the thyroid gland is twice as expensive when it's done with the help of a robot rather than by a surgeon alone, according to a new study…
The new research suggests using the tool doesn't provide any ultimate cost benefits that would make the initial investment worth it, researchers reported this week.
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Hospital chain accused of kickback scheme to pay $16.5 million

(Los Angeles Times) A Los Angeles-based hospital chain has agreed to pay the government $16.5 million to settle allegations that its subsidiaries paid illegal kickbacks for patients recruited from among the homeless and provided them unnecessary services in an attempt to defraud Medicare and Medi-Cal, according to court documents…
A Pacific Health subsidiary, Los Angeles Doctors Hospital Inc., has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy charges, according to prosecutors. The company provided payroll services to three hospitals that allegedly paid nearly $2.4 million in kickbacks to two patient recruiters and submitted $15.9 million in improper claims to Medicare and Medi-Cal between 2003 and 2008, prosecutors said.
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Hospitals Gripe About Health Insurers, Too

(Shots, NPR) It is a truth universally acknowledged that health insurance companies can be a pain for patients. What may be a surprise is that hospitals often complain, too. And the reasons aren't so different from those of consumers: Denied claims. Low reimbursement. Late reimbursement. Thickets of red tape.
Each year ReviveHealth, a hospital PR firm in Santa Barbara, Calif., asks hospitals to name the most problematic payers. This year's loser: WellPoint, which "managed to have some pretty intense negative opinion" in the regions where it does business, said Revive President Brandon Edwards. "That vaults them above — or I should say below — all the other health plans, even those that operate in all 50" states.
WellPoint ranked last in overall favorability and in the "dealing with hospitals" category. Cigna was No. 1 in overall favorability while Aetna scored best in the dealing with hospitals category.
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Secrets of 'SuperAger' Brains

(Science Daily) Northwestern Medicine researcher Emily … Rogalski's new study has for the first time identified an elite group of elderly people age 80 and older whose memories are as sharp as people 20 to 30 years younger than them. And on 3-D MRI scans, the SuperAger participants' brains appear as young -- and one brain region was even bigger -- than the brains of the middle-aged participants.
She was astounded by the vitality of the SuperAgers' cortex -- the outer layer of the brain important for memory, attention and other thinking abilities. Theirs was much thicker than the cortex of the normal group of elderly 80 and older (whose showed significant thinning) and closely resembled the cortex size of participants ages 50 to 65, considered the middle-aged group of the study.
"These findings are remarkable given the fact that grey matter or brain cell loss is a common part of normal aging," said Rogalski, the principal investigator of the study…
In another region deep in the brain, the anterior cingulate of SuperAger participants' was actually thicker than in the 50 to 65 year olds.
"This is pretty incredible," Rogalski said. "This region is important for attention. Attention supports memory. Perhaps the SuperAgers have really keen attention and that supports their exceptional memories."
Community: I don’t know how to build a thicker anterior cingulate, but we’ve learned that exercise can increase brain volume and that it increases the amount of nutrients sent to the prefrontal cortex. And there are many other practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or reduce the severity of cognitive decline.
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Resistance to dementia may be genetic

(ABC2 News) While the cause of dementia is not always clear, a new study finds resistance to the disease may be genetic.
People with high levels of a protein called c-reactive protein (CRP) appear to have built in protections from developing dementia. The study found those with elevated CRP levels were more than 30% less likely to have a relative with the disease.
Community: Yes, but high CRP levels are associated with heart disease. And there are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or reduce the severity of cognitive decline.
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Promising New Direction for Cognitive Rehabilitation in the Elderly

(Science Daily) Research has found that declines in temporal information processing (TIP), the rate at which auditory information is processed, underlies the progressive loss of function across multiple cognitive systems in the elderly, including new learning, memory, perception, attention, thinking, motor control, problem solving, and concept formation. In a new study, scientists have found that elderly subjects who underwent temporal training improved not only the rate at which they processed auditory information, but also in other cognitive areas…
One group received temporal training using Fast ForWord Language® (FFW), a program composed of several computer games designed to improve memory, attention, and sequencing abilities. The program was developed to help children who have trouble reading, writing, and learning…
After the training, improved temporal information processing was found on the tone task in the temporal training group. It was accompanied by improvements in some aspects of attention and short-term memory. In contrast, the non-temporal training group's attentional and memory resources scores remained at the pre-training level.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or reduce the severity of cognitive decline.
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