MedlinePlus is an excellent resource for consumer health education, but did you know that it is also a great source of current and comprehensive health news? The “Health News” section of MedlinePlus is updated every weekday, and Reuters and HealthDay news stories remain on the site for 90 days. A direct link to the complete list of Health News items is available from the main MedlinePlus page, and each health topic also includes a link to “latest news” in the Basics section of the main health topic page. You can even get the latest health news on specific topics by email if you subscribe to a free service that alerts you when new information is available and set up your personal profile.
Current health news source: MedlinePlus
Depression More Deadly for Diabetics
Recently posted information in the New York Times appears to show that treating older patients who suffer from diabetes as well as depression, can live longer when both health issues are addressed.
The five-year study, involving approximately 600 patients suffering from depression, also included 123 individuals with a history of diabetes. Split into two groups, one was treated by primary care doctors and the other group received more focused treatment under the direction of a depression case manager. The results showed the treatment for depression did not influence the death rates among the non-diabetic patients, but it did make a considerable difference in those patients with diabetes. The group who worked with the case manager was half as likely to die as those who received the less specialized care.
An article on the randomized controlled trial appears in the December 2007 issue of Diabetes Care.
Día del Médico
Tomorrow is “el Día del Médico” in Mexico, which has been celebrated on 23 October annually since 1930. In recognizing the event, Notimex cites a recent international study called “The Global Doctor” in which market research firm Grupo Psyma AG surveyed 600 doctors in China, Germany, Japan, Spain, the United States and Mexico. The results of that study indicate that despite working conditions that are not always optimal, doctors in Mexico (both specialists and general practitioners) report a very high level of satisfaction with their work and with their personal lives — higher than in many of the other surveyed countries. The article notes that:
“One of the reasons that doctors feel satisfaction for their profession, despite adverse situations, is the high social recognition they have among the general population, the acceptance of their mission to help their neighbors, and their work in research and teaching… Mexican doctors are similar to their Chinese colleagues in terms of the social prestige of their profession, which is highly valued.”
¡Saludos a todos los médicos en su día!
Diabetes rates increasing among youth
The NIH News reports that rates of Type 2 diabetes, most commonly seen in adults, are increasing among youth under age 20. About 154,000 youth under age 20 have diabetes in the United States. According to data reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2006, one in 523 people younger than age 20 has diabetes. Among this group, 79 percent are aged 10 to 19 years. To help young people diagnosed with diabetes and their parents, the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) is introducing a new series of tip sheets and an online quiz specially created for teens to help them manage their disease and reduce their risk for complications. See the full story from the NIH at http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/nov2007/niddk-13.htm.
Diabetes Research Funded
The Hispanic population of South Texas has been fighting a battle against two strong opponents…diabetes and obesity. But thanks to a $5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the fight to combat these two growing health problems will be fought even harder.
Researchers from the University of Texas School of Public Health’s Brownsville regional campus plan to establish the Center of Excellence on Diabetes in Americans of Mexican Descent. The aim of this center will be to develop prevention programs for diabetes and obesity in Mexican Americans. The additional funding will help to expand a region-wide media campaign on preventing obesity and improving health.
Figures from Cameron County prove the need for just such a program.
52% of county residents are obese
32 % of county residents are overweight
1 in 5 county residents has diabetes
23% of county residents have pre-diabetes
The goal of the researchers’ work is to find programs that will work in changing behavior and making Valley residents healthier.
Disparities in Adult Awareness of Heart Attack Warning Signs
The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for 2008-02-22 focused on a public health information issue potentially affecting hundreds of thousands of patients in the US each year. A new analysis of 2005 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) looked at data from 13 states and the District of Columbia, where the BRFSS included questions on the signs & symptoms of heart attack. The analysis found that overall, less than a third of all respondents were able to correctly identify the five warning signs of a heart attack, when given a list of closed-end (yes/no/don’t-know) questions. Those warning signs include:
- Pain and discomfort in the jaw, neck or back
- Feeling weak, lightheaded or faint
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Pain or discomfort in the arms or shoulder
- Shortness of breath
Even fewer respondents indicated that they would immediately call 9-1-1 if they suspected someone was having a heart attack. And although Texas was not one of the states studied, the analysis found notable disparities in awareness of heart-attack warning signs between Hispanic adults and non-Hispanic adults: only 14.3% of Hispanic adults knew the five warning signs and indicated they would call 9-1-1 in case of heart attack, compared with 16.2% among non-Hispanic blacks and 30.2% among non-Hispanic whites. Men also lagged significantly behind women overall (22.5% vs 30.8%) in awareness of the signs and correct steps to take.
Additional information on this study:
Drugs and Drug Interactions
One increasing challenge in health information is helping consumers to be aware of the variety of drugs and supplements they may be taking, keep track of them, and understand their use, effects, and possible interactions and side-effects. When helping patients who may not be able to get regularly updated drug information from their doctors — such as Winter Texans or other visitors whose regular doctors may be far away — it’s important to be able to provide consumer-oriented drug-information sources that they can use to understand drug topics despite their complexity and fluidity. Here are a few suggestions:
- DrugLib.com is a drug information database that can be searched by drug name, condition, or category and includes FDA alerts.
- ExpressScripts’ DrugDigest tool includes a drug library and comparison tool, as well as a helpful interaction checker where you can enter a set of drugs and check the interactions between those drugs as well as interactions with food and alcohol.
- The FDA’s MedWatch site provides drug safety information and an RSS feed of the latest safety alerts. [thanks pilgrimtinker at Learn to Live]
- iGuard.org is a service launched earlier this year that allows patients to enter the list of drugs they’re taking; iGuard then provides an analysis of the risk of interaction problems, and allows user to sign up for a personalized alert service with new information, alerts or discoveries about their specific set of drugs. [thanks Joshua Schwimmer at TechMedicine]
- Last week, Thomson launched PDRhealth.com, a new consumer-oriented site based upon Thomson’s PDR products for health professionals. The new site supports the PDR drug information with background information on conditions, and online tools like risk factor analyzers to support health decision-making.
Finding equivalent consumer-oriented sites in the Spanish language is a bit more difficult. Two options include:
- BuenaSalud.com includes a searchable Enciclopedia de Medicamentos that provides helpful information on quite a few drugs.
- PortalFarma.com, from the professional organization of pharmacists in Spain, provides an online database that does offer interaction information; unfortunately, although it is available to the public, the presentation is not very consumer-friendly.
Elevated Levels of Mercury Found in Mexican Cosmetic Cream
Texans are being warned by the South Texas Poison Center about the possible dangers of a cosmetic cream from Mexico and its link to inorganic mercury exposure and poisonings. The product, “Crema Aguamary”, is not approved for use in the U.S. and is probably being brought into the United States from across the border. Approximately 20 cases have been reported to State health officials, primarily in border towns.
EPA Support for South Texas/Mexico Environmental Health
Last month the EPA awarded $24.75m to the North American Development Bank and the Border Environment Cooperation Commission to support local communities’ involvement in improving their environmental infrastructure. Yesterday EPA also awarded $200,000 to support environmental projects that support collaborations between Texas and the Mexican border states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon and Coahuila.
Exercise plus resistance training = increased fitness for people with diabetes
A new article in the current issue of JAMA reports on a randomized controlled trial that compared the effects of different types of exercise on people with type 2 diabetes. The objective of the study was to examine the benefits of aerobic training alone, resistance training alone, and a combination of both on hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c). The study group of 262 sedentary men and women was enrolled in a 9-month exercise program with random assignment to one of four groups. Forty-one participants were assigned to the non-exercise control group, 73 to resistance weight-training 3 days a week, 72 to aerobic exercise in which they walked on a treadmill for the equivalent to a brisk, 4 mph walk for 50 minutes 3 times per week, and 76 to combined aerobic and resistance training in which they walked on the treadmill 3 times per week and did two weight lifting sessions each week. The workouts were designed so that each would take about the same amount of time at 140-150 minutes per week.
Results indicated that participants in all exercise groups reduced their waist circumference and lost weight compared with the control group. Only the combination group improved maximum oxygen consumption. Although HbA1c didn’t change significantly for people who did aerobic training only or resistance training only, it fell by 0.34 percent in the combination exercise group, which would translate to a decreased risk of heart disease and microvascular complications.
Dr. Timothy Church, the study’s author, noted that their findings support the 2008 federal physical activity guidelines, which recommend that people get at least 150 minutes of walking or 75 minutes of running a week, along with two or more days a week of resistance training.
1) Effects of Aerobic and Resistance Training on Hemoglobin A1c Levels in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes
Timothy S. Church, MD, MPH, PhD; Steven N. Blair, PED; Shannon Cocreham, BS; Neil Johannsen, PhD; William Johnson, PhD; Kimberly Kramer, MPH; Catherine R. Mikus, MS; Valerie Myers, PhD; Melissa Nauta, BS; Ruben Q. Rodarte, MS, MBA; Lauren Sparks, PhD; Angela Thompson, MSPH; Conrad P. Earnest, PhD
JAMA. 2010;304(20):2253-2262. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1710
2) Weights plus walking equals more fit in less time.
http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/11/23/weights.plus.walking/index.html?hpt=Sbin. Accessed 11/24/10.