Tub Birth Alternative

May 12th, 2014  |  The Blog

Midwives have been doing it for decades. That is, delivering babies in water to ease birth pain and speed up the delivery time.

This practice is called aquatic labor. It is not considered a standard choice but, rather, an alternative birthing method.

The Choices

A woman who is pregnant needs to make a choice about her delivery options, given that it is expected to be a normal delivery. Her options include:

  • Go through labor in the standard way
  • Give birth in a pool of warm water

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) report that there is scant scientific information about underwater births coupled with several reports of near drowning over a ten-year span, which keep this birthing option from becoming more common.

While water births are increasing in popularity, there is no accurate count of the number of babies born via this method in the U.S

The Benefits

According to water birth supporters, these are the benefits:

  • Easier and less stressful on mother
  • More natural
  • Peaceful for baby
  • Shortens 1st stage of labor
  • Less use of epidural anesthesia
  • Natural buoyancy allows mother to feel lighter
  • Relaxes muscles
  • Improves blood flow
  • Reduces vaginal tearing

The Risks

There are the skeptics who list the following as detriments of a water birth:

  • Not enough proof that it is safe
  • Baby?s first breath could aspirate water and cause choking or drowning; there are no real time statistics for this
  • Risk of infection for baby and/or mother due to water contaminated with blood or feces
  • Difficulty regulating the baby?s body temperature
  • Brain injury for the baby due to lack of oxygen underwater
  • Electrolyte imbalance for the baby, if water swallowed

Important Guidelines

Pro or con, there are certain guidelines established for a water birth that must be followed to safely delivery the baby. They include:

  • Pregnancy must be full term or at least 39 weeks
  • Surface baby right away
  • Do not put baby back in the water
  • Be sure umbilical cord is long enough the raise the baby out of the water without damaging the cord
  • Be prepared to remove the woman from the pool of water quickly if a problem arises

Where Can a Water Birth Take Place?

A water birth can take place at home, in a birthing center or in a hospital. The delivery can occur in a bathtub, hot tub with temperature turned down or any other pool of water.

In a hospital setting, there are medical care devices like an underwater Doppler to monitor the fetal heartbeat and also the option to have an intravenous (IV) inserted to receive medication as needed.

Who Should Be Excluded From This Birthing Option?

There are certain populations that should not attempt aquatic labor. They include:

  • High-risk pregnancies
  • Pregnancy complications including the development of preeclampsia or toxemia
  • Maternal health issues like diabetes and hypertension
  • Previous Cesarean sections
  • Women with herpes; it can pass to the baby through the water
  • Breech or feet first position
  • Multiple births must be determined for safety on an individual basis with a physician

A Compromise for Now

Some researchers agree that sitting in a tub of warm water during the early stages of labor can be beneficial in easing a woman?s pain. There needs to be more research done to determine if actually giving birth underwater has enough benefits and few enough risks to allow it to be a recommended method of giving birth, rather than an alternative option.

So for now, laboring in a warm pool of water can be beneficial but a woman should discuss the risks and benefits of actually delivering her baby underwater before making the final decision.

 

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The 5-Second Rule

May 5th, 2014  |  The Blog

Everyone has heard of the 5-Second Rule. Is it really true? There are scientific study results dealing with this dropped food issue.

The famous 5-Second Rule states that any food dropped on the ground is okay to eat if it has been there for five seconds or less.

5-Second Rule Facts

The popular Mythbusters group proved in the past that bacteria could be transferred to dropped food in as few as two seconds. This remains a fact, in some cases, but other groups, which offer some interesting information, have done further studies.

Another group at Ashton University School of Life and Health Sciences in England have come up with the following. They studied the transfer of E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus from the floor to the dropped food in three to thirty seconds.

There were several important variables in the study:

  • Floor type; carpet, laminate or tile
  • Food type; toast, pasta, biscuit or sweet, sticky food

Their Results

  • Bacteria is least likely to transfer from a carpeted surface
  • Bacteria is most likely to transfer from laminate or tiled surface
  • Moist food attracts the most bacteria
  • There is increased bacteria transfer if contact for more that 5 seconds

Who Follows (or not) the 5-Second Rule?

Interestingly, the majority of Americans already follow the 5-second rule, scientifically proven or not. Here are the numbers:

  • 87% of Americans have or would eat food off of the floor
  • 55% of those who would eat off of the floor are women
  • 81% of those women who would eat off of the floor actually do follow the 5-second rule

Here is a real truth, the population is more likely to eat a dropped cookie or candy but not so much, dropped cauliflower or broccoli.

The Risks

Bacteria, including E. coli, are everywhere, which can cause foodborne illnesses like fever, diarrhea and flu-like symptoms. These illnesses can present within 24 hours and up to a week after exposure. With the time of onset varying so much, many people do not relate a 5-Second Rule food drop with an illness that occurs up to a week later.

Foodborne illnesses are not usually serious for the majority of the 76 million Americans who suffer from them each year. But, there are some serious cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Annually, about 300,000 of the affected public are hospitalized and 5,000 die from such an illness. The deaths are most common among young children, elderly and those with a weakened immune system.

The Bottom Line

Here are a few final thoughts and scientific findings about the 5-Second Rule:

  • Carpet is the safest place to drop food. E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus live on carpet for the shortest period of time.
  • Drier foods like toast and crackers have lower bacteria transfer than pasta or sticky sweets.

There is no guarantee that there are no bacteria on dropped food. There will always be that risk. So, the longer the food is on the floor, the more bacteria it will attract.

The best advise: eating a piece of toast off of a carpeted surface is the safest choice. The 5-second rule is real.

 

 

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Planning for the Inevitable

April 28th, 2014  |  The Blog

Everyone and everything dies, eventually. That is the reality of life itself.

What does it mean to die? How many people actually discuss their feelings about death with loved ones and friends? The subject is uncomfortable to discuss but help is available.

People need to talk about death.

Death Cafe Origin

The concept of a death cafe started in England in September 2011. John Underwood, a self-appointed death entrepreneur, hosted the first cafe. He based the gathering on an idea of Bernard Crettaz, a Swiss sociologist, who stated that talking about death leads to authenticity. Moving forward with the concept, John Underwood says that, death cafes exist because of a belief that more authenticity is needed in the world. Death denial is an omnipresent feature of Western consumer capitalism.

The general feeling is that the more death is discussed, the more fully a person can live without fear. The fear of death leads the present culture to turn away from aging and live in a youth obsessed world.

The idea and development of death cafes is slowly spreading across the U.S. Awareness is spreading on the Internet, especially at? www.deathcafe.com

Death Cafe Concept

The basic concept of a death cafe includes the following points:

  • Casual atmosphere
  • Held in coffee shops, restaurants, intensive care units, at a cemetery to mane a few locations
  • Hosted by social workers and chaplains
  • No professional association or religious sponsor
  • Participants drink tea, eat cake and talk about death
  • No sales of caskets or cemetery plots is allowed

Attendees are split into groups of 5 to 8 people. They talk for several hours. Facilitators circulate and listen to the ongoing conversations. If a participant is identified by the facilitator as needing further counseling, they are given information about where to seek more help.

Participants

Some participants are those who have survived cancer, other serious illnesses or those who have had brushes with death. If their family members do not want to talk about death with them, a death cafe offers an outlet to openly talk to others.

Participants are people of all ages, usually more women than men, aging baby boomers, children who need to talk about grandparents death, those who are working or retired and beyond.

The purpose is to get people to talk about death so they are not afraid when the time comes, either for themselves or those they love.

Cafe Topics

Cafe topics vary. Some popular topics, which are discussed at death cafes include:

  • Advance directive planning
  • Physician-assisted dying
  • Funeral arrangements
  • How to talk about funeral arrangements with aging parents
  • What happens after death
  • Euthanasia
  • Grief
  • Do not resuscitate orders
  • Books related to death

Why Eat Cake at the Meeting?

Eating is a life-sustaining process so eating cake at the death cafe is important. It makes things normal.

It is important to note that death cafes offer an opportunity for discussion about death but are not meant to provide grief or personal counseling or act as end-of-life planning sessions.

The Future of Death Cafes

There is an Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) in the U.S., that is an information resource about death cafes.

Currently, there are about 560 death cafes throughout the world. They are in 40 cities in the U.S. The concept of death cafes is spreading but will take some time.

Most people envision dying in a comfortable setting, surrounded by family members and friends. They want to be grateful for the life they lived and thank those who shared their life. They do not want to be lying in a hospital bed, filled with tubes and hooked to a respirator. They need to talk about death, what it means to them and how they want to face it head-on. Death cafes are the vehicle for such a discussion.

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The World’s Smallest Cardiac Pacemaker

April 21st, 2014  |  The Blog

Cardiac pacemakers save lives. That is a fact. The traditional cardiac pacemaker is placed in the upper left chest with wires or leads threaded into the heart, where the pacing occurs. The traditional device is a visible and palpable under the skin on the chest wall.

All that is about to change with the debut of the newest, smallest pacemaker, Medtronic’s Micra Transcatheter Pacing System (TPS). This new device will change the world of the cardiac healthcare industry.

The Specifics of the Device

The Transcatheter Pacing System is small, in comparison to the traditional device. It is 1/10th the size of a traditional pacemaker or about the size of a nickel or 5-cent coin. The new device is an all-inclusive, one piece system with no generator or traditional wires or leads. It has a long, 10-year, battery life.

The new pacemaker is implanted through the femoral vein via catheter and is placed inside the heart.

The Benefits of TSP

There are many benefits to the new cardiac pacemaker, which include some of the following:

  • The TSP is a smaller size device, which is not visible on the chest wall.
  • There is no surgical incision on the chest wall, unlike the surgical pocket needed to hold the traditional pacemaker.
  • This pacemaker does not require the traditional surgical procedure, which carries its own risks. Placement of the TSP requires a minimally invasive procedure.
  • This pacemaker eliminates leads or wires threaded from the traditional device into the heart.
  • It performs the same functions as the traditional system.
  • Without the surgical incision or wires, the risk of infection is reduced.
  • There is increased safety, improved patient comfort and better patient satisfaction without the traditional rigid device in place on the chest wall.
  • The TSP reduces the recovery time of traditional pacemaker procedure.

How the Device Works

The TPS is placed inside the heart via a femoral vein catheterization. The tiny pacemaker attaches onto the endocardial tissue or heart wall with tines. It can be repositioned within the heart, if needed.

Pacing signals or the delivery of electrical impulses that pace the heart rate are sent through the electrode tip at the end of the implanted device.

The End Result

The Medtronic?s Micra Transcatheter Pacing System brings implantable cardiac devices to a whole new level. Both the patient outcomes and device efficiency are significantly improved with this cardiac device update and new technology.

 

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3-D Printing Changes Lives

April 14th, 2014  |  The Blog

Getting a new printer has just gone to a whole new level. The 3-D printer can make wonderful arts and crafts projects but it can also produce so much more. That so much more has to do with life-changing health issues.

3-D printing, also called additive manufacturing, is changing the medical world in several ways. The printed objects are used in real time and also used as prototypes for practice and to fine-tune upcoming complicated surgical procedures.

3-D Printing Explained

3-D printing technology and uses have dramatically changed and multiplied over the past several years. The high-resolution, plastic 3-D models, some of which provide down to 16 microns accuracy or the size of a miniscule droplet in a cloud, are works-of-art.

Since a variety of materials can be used to mimic the different structures in the body like bone, skin and blood vessels, the 3-D printer has many applications. The 3-D renditions are printed from a patient’s computed tomography (CT) scan images. This helps to capture the unique anatomy of each patient.

Who makes 3-D printers?

There are several companies who provide this 3-D capability with their product. Two popular manufacturer options include:

  • MakerBot
  • Adobe, which added a 3-D program to Photoshop

There are also companies, such as Shapeways, from which a client can order completed 3-D printing services.

How It Works

The actual 3-D printing is done this way:

  • Printable objects are designed by a special program
  • The printer lays down consecutive layers of material like plastic, ceramics or metals, from bottom up
  • A different section of the program slices the object into many layers, which are then placed in specifically programmed areas of the end product
  • 3-D object is finished

Benefits of the 3-D Printer

There are many uses and benefits for 3-D printing. They include:

  • Provides a means for medical procedure simulation and increased preparedness for a complicated procedure. Especially helpful in complicated, convoluted cases like a hemispherectomy (brain surgery for epilepsy patients) and vascular procedures involving veins and arteries
  • Allows training and practice on the actual anatomy of a patient before a sensitive surgical procedure. That is, practice on an accurate 3-D model before performing the surgery
  • By actually holding a 3-D model of a patient’s actual anatomy, surgeons can pre-plan their surgical approach and equipment needs (like the catheter size before a catheterization)

Some healthcare facilities are making 3-D printed models as standard protocol for every patient being treated in their clinic. This is especially popular in cerebrovascular surgery centers. Many physicians call this capability the cutting edge of neurosurgery. It makes impending surgery safer and minutely accurate.

3-D Uses

The 3-D printer has been used for many different things, some of which include:

  • Skulls, brains and neurological vessels
  • Pelvis
  • Prosthetic hands
  • Ear organs
  • Windpipe (breathing tube)

A Supported Windpipe

A population of babies have benefited by 3-D printing. Fragile, underdeveloped windpipes are supported by a flexible, plastic 3-D splint to hold the airway open until it is strong enough to work on its own.

A Look at the Prosthetic Hand

A prosthetic hand is exorbitantly expensive, especially as a child grows and the hand needs to be adjusted to their changing body size. Depending upon the quality of the prosthetic, the cost can be $10,000-$80,000. Many patients cannot afford the cost.

Out of financial necessity, the dad of a young son became inventive and created a $5.00 prosthetic hand. The $5.00 covers the materials to actually print the hand. Then, add on $150 in other necessary parts. This is still a real bargain, thanks to their MarkerBots 3-D printer. Every new hand requires 3 or 4 printings, each of which takes one to two hours to print. Each new version of the hand has better capabilities.

The Future

There is a website called www.thingiverse.com, where there are designs for toys, mechanical parts and medical devices in the 3-D printer world. This is the cutting edge of the future in some medical fields.

 

 

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A Cancer Registry

April 7th, 2014  |  The Blog

So, you are with a patient, friend or family member or caring for a patient when they get the news. They have cancer. It does not matter where the cancer is located or what stage of cancer the doctor tells them. The fact is that, they have cancer. What now?

A patient’s response to getting the news of a newly diagnosed or recurrent case of cancer varies but is most often not a happy one. No one ever wants to hear those words.

The Survey

A group of breast cancer patients being treated at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, MA, recently participated in an online survey to discuss their emotional response to receiving the news that they have the dreaded disease. Their participation has brought this survey option to light.

Cancer Patient Registry

The online survey is called the Cancer Experience Registry. The link to the site is: https://csc.cancerexperienceregistry.org.

A non-profit patient advocacy organization, the Cancer Support Community, manages the registry. The site has been up and running for nearly one year. There are over 6,000 cancer patients registered in the national registry.

Personal information from the survey is not publicly shared. Researchers analyze the information and the general results are shared with the medical professionals caring for cancer patients.

The hope is that the information from the surveys will provide the healthcare community with information about where in the cancer care process there is a lack of patient support and information.

Patient Response

The purpose of the registry is to encourage cancer patients to share their personal experiences with cancer.

The survey takes each patient 30 to 45 minutes to complete. The questions posed to the patient include information about:

  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Ongoing symptoms
  • Level of emotional support

The Cancer Experience Registry site plans to add a caregiver’s section by June 2014. This will add another and very necessary dimension to bettering the care of cancer patients.

The Survey Outcome

The three main results, so far, show the following:

  • 54% of the patients wished that they had more support to deal with the emotions associated with a cancer diagnosis
  • 58% of the participants wished they had more help dealing with the long-term side effects of cancer like fatigue and anxiety
  • 41% of the patients documented that engaging in sex since their cancer diagnosis has added a source of distress to their life

The registry will ultimately benefit the greater community of cancer patients and survivors. The information collected will serve to give healthcare providers the data they need to improve the overall physical and emotional well being of their patients. Questions that are not asked in a routine office or clinic visit are found on the survey. This survey goes beyond the routine clinical questions and looks at the personal and emotional aspects of a cancer diagnosis.

 

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Ramping Up to Opening Day

March 31st, 2014  |  The Blog

As the Major League Baseball (MLB) season ramps up, the baseball world is evaluating and tweeking the nutrition status of its players. You are what you eat, or that is what they say.

Let’s take a look at what the sports nutrition experts, specifically those working with the Boston Red Sox, suggest for the pros. There are a few simple and valuable lessons to learn.

First, the main do not’s:

  • Do not buy into fad diets. They are not the answer to good nutrition and weight loss.
  • Avoid fast food restaurants. Stick with restaurants that are known to offer healthy options.
  • Avoid oil-based sauces.

Now, the main to do’s:

  • Add in strength training and conditioning. Both are important additions to augment a balanced diet.
  • Eat fresh vegetables.
  • Cut back on the amount of salad dressing. Use fresh spices for added flavor.
  • Order dressing on-the-side.
  • Enjoy grilled lean protein choices like fish, chicken breast, steak with lower fat content (top round or sirloin are good choices).
  • Snack on healthy choices like an apple and yogurt.
  • Sweets are okay but do not consume more than 10% to 20% of daily calories on sweets.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Chew well, smell and taste the food. This helps to avoid overeating because the brain has time to process the stomach’s signal that it is full.

Nutrition supplements:

The MLB has a pretty strict policy of what is allowed, with regard to nutrition supplements. Allowable supplements must be stamped with NSF International’s NSF Certified for Sport Program seal. This guarantees that the product was tested and does not contain any banned substances.

While the public sector need not be quite as vigilant about the MLB nutrition rules and suggestions as the players, it is wise to follow their healthy and substance-free choices. The general philosophy is this: the best way to get nutrition, specifically vitamins and minerals, is through fortified foods, not supplements.

The MLB nutrition team offers these relatively simple and healthy diet tips:

  • Eat more plant-based food.
  • Avoid processed foods like protein bars.
  • A simple, everyday substitute for the ever-popular protein bar, of which there are 100?s of choices, is simple. Eat a peanut butter (PB) and banana sandwich on whole wheat bread or a selection of fresh fruit and nuts.
  • Keep it simple. Keep it real. Keep it healthy.

The end result of eating fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and nuts, according to the MLB nutrition specialists is:

  • Less illness
  • Fewer injuries
  • Better playing on the baseball field

With the baseball season close to starting, aka Opening Day, perhaps the fans should also take an important lesson from the sports nutrition specialists who guide the players of America’s favorite pastime. Make the right food choices and eat healthy. Play Ball!

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Menopause Symptoms 101

March 24th, 2014  |  The Blog

Menopause is the end of a long hormonal journey for women. At this time, menstrual periods stop. This transition is accompanied by some other physical changes of the body and their associated, and sometimes bothersome, symptoms.

Once menstrual periods stop for one full year, a woman is considered to be post-menopausal. How do women get to the other side of menopause? Every woman experiences different symptoms, which can include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Low libido
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Thinning hair
  • Acne
  • Mental fogginess

How to Deal With the Symptoms

Here is a look, one-by-one, at each aforementioned menopausal symptom and how to deal with it.

Hot flashes

First, keep track of what might initiate an episode; write it down. Does caffeine, stress, alcohol or an overheated room set off a hot flash. Take slow, deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth to help a hot flash pass.

Night sweats

A typical hot flash during the night can last about 3 minutes. If night sweats are becoming routine, switching to lighter PJs will help. A lighter blanket and a tabletop fan will also help reduce the frequency of the episodes.

Sleep disturbance

There are a few ways to increase and enhance sleep. Meditation, including yoga and tai chi, can help with relaxation. Regular exercise helps but be sure to stop exercising 3 hours before bedtime. Drinking warm milk, which contains tryptophan, induces sleep.

If it is hard to fall asleep, get out of bed and read until sleepiness sets in.

There is one do not that affects sleep: skip any alcohol before bedtime. It actually causes sleeplessness later on in the night.

Vaginal dryness

Menopausal hormone changes cause the vagina to become dryer and develop a thinner wall. This can result in painful sex. Water-based, over-the-counter vaginal lubricants can help. There are also prescription-strength hormonal vaginal creams and rings that can be used.

More frequent sex increases the blood flow to the vagina, which also helps reduce the overall complaints.

Low libido

This is a common symptom of menopause. Making time for sex, amid everyone’s busy life and schedule, will help. Discuss the issue with a physician to rule out any other physical causes.

Mood swings

There has been a link found between bad PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and more severe mood swings during menopause. Low dose birth control pills (BCP), antidepressants and other medications can help relieve the symptoms.

Headaches

Migraines can increase during menopause or appear for the first time. Keeping a diary of what triggers a headache can help to avoid or, at least, relieve them. Some common triggers include: hunger or lack of sleep.

Thinning hair

A woman?s hair can shed or thin faster during menopause. That is a bad enough consequence but hair can also appear in unwanted places. Some women find hairs on their chin or cheeks. A few things can be done to try and preserve hair: use hair color without harmful chemicals and avoid the sun, which causes drying.

Facial hair can be bleached, plucked, waxed or lasered away.

Acne

Using gentle, oil free face products, including moisturizer, sunscreen, cleansers and make-up, will pamper aging skin.

Mental fogginess

Interestingly, women who experience more hot flashes also report more memory issues. It is important to challenge the brain function to keep it sharp. Lowering the stress level can help curb mental fogginess and fuzzy thinking.

It is important to discuss any long-term menopause-related concerns with a physician.

 

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Weight Loss and Atrial Fibrillation

March 17th, 2014  |  The Blog

Atrial fibrillation affects 2.3 million Americans. There are 200,000-300,000 new cases of atrial fib diagnosed every year in the U.S. An estimated 12 million people will be diagnosed every year by 2030. Why the spike? Simply stated, the rate of obesity in America.

Atrial Fibrillation 101

Atrial fibrillation is a cardiac arrhythmia, which translates into an irregular heartbeat. The two upper chambers of the heart, the atria, beat in a fast, disorganized and irregular manner. It is an electrical conduction problem.

The Symptoms

Atrial fibrillation symptoms vary among patients but most commonly include some of the following:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Chest pain

This arrhythmia usually delivers uncomfortable physical symptoms for the sufferer. It also increases the risk of stroke and other cardiac problems.

The Risks

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consider the body-mass index (BMI) to be a good indicator for overall weight management.

Atrial fibrillation is greatly impacted by body weight. The newly recognized body weight risks, specifically the person’s BMI, revolving around atrial fibrillation include:

  • Overweight or a BMI over 25
  • Obesity or a BMI over 30

Interestingly, there is a 4% to 5% increased risk of atrial fibrillation for each 1-point increase of a person’s BMI. Clearly, being overweight has an impact on the function of the upper chambers of the heart.

Obesity also increases general inflammation in the body, which can cause thickening of the wall of the heart. This leads to less efficient heart function and an increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation.

Overweight people suffer from sleep apnea, hypertension or high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome. These factors each increase the risk of developing atrial fibrillation.

Other risk factors for developing atrial fibrillation include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart attack
  • Infection
  • Heart valve problems

The Treatment for Atrial Fibrillation

Popular treatments for atrial fibrillation include medications, electr0-cardioversion and/or a cardiac ablation procedure.

The newest treatment recommendation for atrial fibrillation is, depending upon the person’s BMI:

Lose an average of a little over 30 pounds

Many people who lost a significant amount of weight while awaiting an invasive ablation procedure never had to undergo the procedure. The weight loss was treatment enough to control their irregular heart rhythm.

The Result

Strict weight management resulted in a five-fold decrease in atrial fibrillation episodes. It is important to note that some people with atrial fibrillation are intermittently in the arrhythmia while others are constantly in the irregular heart rhythm. There were fewer and less severe episodes of atrial fibrillation reported by those patients who lost significant weight.

Patients who lost weight are less likely to need further procedures like an ablation to control atrial fibrillation.

Weight management, exercise and good nutrition are the basics of a generally healthy lifestyle. The addition of an atrial fibrillation diagnosis is a valid reason to imminently work on the weight management.

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Lice Should Not Be Scary

March 10th, 2014  |  The Blog

Lice. The word scares every parent, teacher and school nurse. In the big picture, what does it really mean?

Parents feel a true sense of embarrassment when they get that call or note from the school nurse stating that their child or some other child in the class has lice.

The tiny glossy lice eggs embed in the hair along the scalp surface. Most schools have a no-nit policy. Let the lice removal or picking begin.

One-third of cases with nits, when left untreated, continue on to have an issue with lice.

The Current Treatment

Most lice-treating products involve an initial shampoo treatment followed by a second medicated shampoo one week later.

The New Recommendations

Head lice pose no health threat to the individual, according to public health experts. The new thought is that a no-nit policy is unnecessary.

The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) has voiced concern about young students unnecessarily missing a week or more of school under the current no-nit policies. The AAP has worked at getting schools to adopt the new, more liberal policy for over ten years.

The AAP makes their point about getting rid of the current school lice policies by stating that checking for lice on every child is futile. Schools do not routinely check for strep throat or chicken pox, both of which are more dangerous than lice.

The Solution

Some school systems have taken the new recommendation and discontinued the no-nit policies. How are lice findings handled?

  1. Infected students are sent home at the end of the school day with an informational note from the school nurse. This information includes two main components: The child is allowed to attend school. Children with adult lice should receive the standard shampoo treatment before returning to school.
  2. Some schools do not send students home midday but do not allow them to return to school until they are nit-free. The theory behind this is the fact that students might have been infected for weeks before the lice are discovered. The school nurse re-checks the student before they are allowed to re-enter classes.
  3. Some schools require that an empty bottle of lice shampoo be returned to the school nurse when they come back to classes.

Lice Resistance

Recent statistics show that about 60% of childhood head lice are resistant to over-the-counter chemical treatments, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

Lice do respond to the newer treatments available, many of which are prescription strength. Malathion or Ovide is one such lice treatment. Unfortunately, many health insurance companies do not cover these treatments and they are costly, about $100 for a usual course of treatment.

Some health insurance companies require a child to undergo the readily available over-the-counter treatment before they will cover a prescription strength treatment. If lice survive the OTC treatment, some insurance companies will then pay for the prescription.

The Bottom Line

The earlier the treatment for lice begins, the more effective and the easier the situation is to control. Vigilance is a key factor. Parents should screen their children regularly, about weekly, for lice. Young children can be readily checked during bath time or when their hair is being combed or braided for school.

 

 

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