Saturday, January 27, 2018

Journal Watch January 2018

Does an exploding brain network cause chronic pain? New research reports that hyperreactive brain networks could play a part in the hypersensitivity of fibromyalgia. Scientific Reports

Loosing Weight Helps Lower Pain Levels: A study of 123 obese patients found that losing weight not only lowered pain levels in the knees and hips, but in unexpected areas such as the abdomen, arm, chest and jaw. Study participants who could reach the goal of losing 10% of their weight also reported better mental health, improved cognition and more energy. Men in particular showed improvements in their energy levels. The Journal of Pain

Interpersonal Touch to Reduce Pain: A study of 23 couples found that partner’s touch resulted in enhanced pain-reduction in comparison with others. Women with highly empathetic partners reported increased pain-reduction associates with that partner’s touch. Aeon

Migraine surgery produces 'dramatic improvements' in functioning, study finds: In addition to reducing headache frequency and severity, surgical treatment for migraine leads to significant improvements in everyday functioning and coping ability, according to a new study. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Study uncovers potential key to preventing back pain in runners: A new study examines what may cause chronic back pain in runners and the exercises to help prevent it. The study suggests that runners with weak deep core muscles are at higher risk of developing low back pain. And, unfortunately, most people's deep core muscles aren't nearly as strong as they should be. Exercises such as planks that focus on stabilizing the core, especially on unstable surfaces, are what's really going to make you a better runner. Journal of Biomechanics

Hot Yoga Is No Better Than Regular Yoga: Bikram yoga has attracted a loyal following due to its steamy classes, which involve 26 specific postures and breathing exercises, typically performed in a room heated to about 105 degrees. Proponents swear by the style’s ability to work up a sweat and promote flexibility, and past research has shown that it’s good for your vascular health — but a small study published Thursday in Experimental Physiology suggests it’s the physical practice of Bikram, not the sweltering heat, that’s good for you.

Available Evidence on Marijuana's Cardiovascular Effects Is Scant: The evidence examining associations between marijuana use and cardiovascular risk factors and outcomes is limited, according to a review published online Jan. 23 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

• Approved Lutathera for Some Gastro and Pancreatic Cancers
• Approves first treatment for breast cancer with a certain inherited genetic mutation
• Permits marketing of device to treat diabetic foot ulcers
• Clears stereotactic radiotherapy system for use in treating brest cancer
• Approves drug to treat dangerously low blood pressure

Exercise can Help Boost Memory: A new recommendation from the American Academy of Neurology suggests that exercise is indeed helpful for people with mild cognitive impairment. Neurology

No greater risk of reaction than for those without an allergy Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, 2018

Thirty-year study shows women who breastfeed for 6 months or more reduce their diabetes risk In a long-term national study, breastfeeding for six months or longer cuts the risk of developing type 2 diabetes nearly in half for women throughout their childbearing years, according to new research. JAMA Internal Medicine.

Hits, not concussions, cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy: New insights into the disease show head impact, not concussion, triggers CTE and pave way for early detection, prevention and treatment. Researchers have identified evidence of early Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) brain pathology after head impact -- even in the absence of signs of concussion. Early indicators of CTE pathology not only persisted long after injury but also spread through the brain, providing the best evidence to date that head impact, not concussion, causes CTE. Brain

Just one cigarette a day carries greater risk of heart disease and stroke than expected, warn expert No safe level of smoking exists; smokers should aim to quit instead of cutting down. Smoking just one cigarette a day has a much higher risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke than expected -- about half the risk of smoking 20 per day -- concludes a new review. BMJ 

Aerobic exercise may mildly delay, slightly improve Alzheimer's symptoms: Geriatrics experts have suggested that exercising can improve brain health in older adults. However, not all studies of exercise and older adults have proven the benefits of exercise. A team of researchers designed a study to learn whether exercise could delay or improve AD symptoms. They reviewed 19 studies that examined the effect of an exercise training program on cognitive function in older adults who were at risk for or diagnosed with AD. The research team concluded that this study may be the first to show that for older adults who are at risk for or who have AD, aerobic exercise may be more effective than other types of exercise in preserving the ability to think and make decisions. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Multidomain Lifestyle Intervention May Aid Cognition in APOE ε4 Carriers: A multidomain lifestyle intervention seems to be beneficial for cognition in older at-risk individuals, even among apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 carriers, according to a study published online Jan. 22 in JAMA Neurology

Cognitive Training Aids Memory in People With Mild Impairment: Cognitive training improves memory in older patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), according to a study published online Jan. 4 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 

Repeated Flu Vaccinations Help Prevent Severe Infection: Vaccination for influenza for multiple seasons is twice as effective in preventing severe influenza -- compared with non-severe influenza -- in older patients admitted to hospital, according to a study published in the Jan. 8 issue of CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association.


Best Diets for 2018: Your New Year's resolution diet should be based on a well-balanced eating plan that fits your lifestyle, rather than a weird fad replete with food restrictions. That's according to U.S. News & World Report's best diet rankings for 2018. The two diets that tied for the top spot -- the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH Diet -- fit that bill because they feature real food and reasonable, flexible guidelines, experts said. 

Energy Drinks Can Negatively Impact Health of Youth: Over half of Canadian youth and young adults who have consumed energy drinks have experienced negative health effects as a result, including rapid heartbeat, nausea, and in rare cases, seizures, according to a new study. CMAJ

Vitamin D Protects Against Cold and Flu: A new global collaborative study has confirmed that vitamin D supplementation can help protect against acute respiratory infections. The study, a participant data meta-analysis of 25 randomized controlled trials including more than 11,000 participants, has been published online in The BMJ. The investigators found that daily or weekly supplementation had the greatest benefit for individuals with the most significant vitamin D deficiency (blood levels below 10 mg/dl) — cutting their risk of respiratory infection in half — and that all participants experienced some beneficial effects from regular vitamin D supplementation. Administering occasional high doses of vitamin D did not produce significant benefits.

Diet rich in apples and tomatoes may help repair lungs of ex-smokers, study suggests Study also found that regular intake of tomatoes may also help slow the natural decline in lung function among all adults. The natural decline in lung function over a 10-year period was slower among former smokers with a diet high in tomatoes and fruits, especially apples, suggesting certain components in these foods might help restore lung damage caused by smoking. European Respiratory Journal,

Paleolithic diet healthier for overweight women: Overweight women after menopause who eat a Paleolithic diet can maintain weight loss in the long term. The levels of risk factors of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases also decrease.  Umeå universitet

Choose Omega-3s fromfish over flax for cancer prevention, study finds: Omega-3s from fish pack a stronger punch than flaxseed and other oils when it comes to cancer prevention, according to a new study. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry

MIND diet may slow cognitive decline in stroke survivors: A diet created by researchers may help substantially slow cognitive decline in stroke survivors, according to preliminary research. The finding are significant because stroke survivors are twice as likely to develop dementia compared to the general population. The diet, known as the MIND diet, is short for Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. Both have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension, heart attack and stroke. American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference

Mediterranean Diet May Lower Risk of Aggressive Prostate Cancer: High adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer, according to a study published in the February issue of The Journal of Urology

Adherence to Mediterranean Diet Linked to Reduced Frailty: For community-dwelling older adults, greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with reduced risk of incident frailty, according to a review published online Jan. 11 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society a

Hysterectomy May Have Long-Term Health Risks: Women who undergo a hysterectomy are at greater risk for heart disease and other health issues -- even if they keep their ovaries, new research suggests. Menopause

First vaccine in the world developed against grass pollen allergy: Around 400 million people world-wide suffer in some form or other from a grass pollen allergy (rhinitis) – with the usual symptoms such as a runny nose, cough and severe breathing problems. Medical researchers have now shown in a Phase II-b study with 180 patients in 11 European centers, that four injections of the synthetically manufactured vaccine BM32 in the first year and a top-up in the second year of treatment relieve the sufferers' symptoms by at least 25%. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 

Combo of BP, Cholesterol Meds Tied to Reduced Stroke Risk: For patients with intermediate risk of cardiovascular disease, combining antihypertensive therapy and statin medications is associated with a 44 percent reduction in stroke, according to a study presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 

Guidelines of Care Developed for Skin Cancer Management: Guidelines of care have been developed for the management of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC), according to two reports published online Jan. 10 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Broader Statin Use Improves Atherosclerotic CVD Prevention: Guidelines that recommend statins for more people for primary prevention of atherosclerosis are likely to prevent more atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) events than guidelines that recommend fewer people take statins, according to a study published online Jan. 1 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Chronic Disease Care: Family Family helpers play key roles, but feel left out by providers : People with diabetes, heart failure and other chronic diseases often live independent lives, without a traditional 'caregiver.' But many of them have a family member or friend who plays a key supporting role in their health care. A new study finds that many of these 'health supporters' wish they could understand their loved one's condition better, or get more involved in helping them navigate a long-term illness. But it also reveals that many aren't getting the information or access from health providers that could help them do that better. Families, Systems and Health, 


Clean Air Act May BeSaving More Lives than Thought: The number of Americans who die each year from inhaling fine-particle pollutants has dropped dramatically since 1970, thanks to laws that originated from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That finding stems from an investigation, led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers, into the impact of EPA rules enacted by the 1970 Clean Air Act and amendments added to it in 1990.

Odds of Post-Op Mortality Increase As Weekend Approaches: Mortality after elective surgery increases in graded manner as day of surgery approaches weekend. Medical Care

Walmart Launches Disposal Solution for Opioids, Rx Meds: Walmart is launching a first-of-its-kind opioid disposal solution in all company pharmacies, which is available at no cost, according to a press release from the company.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Take a Break: Celebrate National Handwriting Day

National Handwriting Day takes place on January 23, the birthday of John Hancock, the first man to sign the Declaration of Independence. It was founded by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association (WIMA) in order to recognize the reward of composing a handwritten note using a high quality writing instrument.

Celebrate by trying some of the following:

• Hand write a note and send it to someone

• Try Calligraphy. There are lots of videos and links on line. This is just one to get you started.

• Stop by a stationary store (Staples will do if need be) and try writing with different pens.

Not interested in today’s activities, try the Take a Break Pinterest Board.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Life with chronic conditions: Impact of Government Shut Down

Congress failed to pass a stopgap measure so the federal government is now in partial shutdown as of midnight.

What this impacts
 Social Security, SSI, Unemployment insurance, TANF, Food Stamps: Benefits will continue, but applying and appealing may be stopped.

Medicare and Medicaid: Payment may be delayed for providers but the programs will continue to operate

Not Affected
• Veteran’s Hospitals
• Federal prisons
• Local Governments, schools, libraries etc.
• U.S. Postal Service (note that new rates go into effect on Sunday. A stamp will now cost. 50¢)
• Airports-Air traffic controllers, TSA officers and customs agents will continue to work at airports
• USDA Inspection of meat, poultry and eggs
• Federal Financial Aid-Note that 90% of the Education Department staff will be sent home
• Congress
• Supreme Court
• Special counsel’s Russia investigation

What is closed
• Smithsonian Museums and the National Zoo
• National Zoo Panda Cam
• Federal office Buildings: Most departments and agencies will be shut down
• IRS Customer Service-Automated processes will continue but anything that involves people will be closed
• Disaster recovery efforts
• Many government research operations
• National parks though limited access will be available wherever possible.

 Possible Impact
• Federal courts: Will have three more weeks of funding
• Passport offices will likely remain open but not those in federal buildings
• Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is funded through March.
• Military is currently paid through Feb. 1. After that they will not be paid until after the shutdown
• Department of Health and Human Services: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will have a hard time with their annual flu programs. Reduced staffing is expected

Other Ways it can Impact
• Home buyers could face delays in closing. The Federal Housing Administration would halt new mortgage approvals. Since lenders often ask IRS to verify a potential buyer’s tax information, delays should be expected

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Take a Break: Celebrate National Popcorn Day

January 19, Friday, is National Pop Corn Day. Celebrate by:

Not interested in today’s activities, try the Take a Break Pinterest Board.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Life with Chronic Conditions: When They Can’t Figure Out What’s Wrong

Several people I know have a multitude of symptoms but no diagnosis. While this may seem frightening and unusual to them, many people have symptoms that they’ve been tested for in numerous ways yielding no definitive answer. Yes it would be nice sometimes if life could be like the TV doctor who figures out the mysterious illness and finds an effective cure all in less than 60 minutes. But that’s not reality and the elusive search for a diagnosis and ultimate cure can be a problem in and of itself.

As one doctor wrote, while there are many ways you can feel miserable, there are a finite number of ways the heart stops working causing death. Mystery Diseases (Diagnosing the Undiagnosable) The plus side of an extensive work up that yields no diagnosis, it also rules out the ways you could be at risk for premature death. Symptoms can get worse, persist or even get better, but in the interim, you aren’t going to die from them. Watchful waiting can sometimes yield the best results.

Please note that this pertains to adults and not children who have been experiencing symptoms from birth.

While you are “watchful waiting” consider the following.

You don’t need a diagnosis to feel better. Keep in mind that just because they can’t name your disease, it doesn’t mean you can’t get help controlling symptoms.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: Study after study continues to show that MBSR helps those with chronic conditions as well as anxiety, pain etc. I had an opportunity to hear the founder of MBSR, Jon Kabat-Zinn speak several years ago at an academic hospital. He stated emphatically that docs should send patients that they didn’t know what to do with to an MBSR program since they were getting good results. While you can do MBSR on-line for free, it’s best to do it as part of a group.

See another doctor: Describe the symptoms and let the provider draw their own conclusion. Giving them another doctor’s diagnosis right off the bat can skew their thinking. Consider doctors of different specialties as well as those who are part of academic medical centers

Keep a personal health notebook/diary: Log symptoms and triggers as well as tests done, results, medications you’ve taken etc. Some on-line tools to help you get started.

Check your Meds: Whether it’s an over the counter medication, vitamin, supplement or a prescribed medication, side effects and interactions are very possible as well as having one of them mask symptoms that can help your doctor make a diagnosis. Be sure to let your provider know everything you’re taking, dosage and when you take them. 

Could it be Environmental? Talk to people in your neighborhood to see if they are having similar symptoms. If you travel and find that your symptoms disappear, this could an indication of an environmental issue as well as a reaction to a stressful home environment.


Undiagnosed Diseases Network (UDN) is a research study funded by the National Institutes of Health Common Fund. The UDN is made up of clinical and research centers across the United States working to improve diagnosis and care of patients with undiagnosed diseases. Physicians and patients with additional questions may call 1-844-746-4836 (1-844-Ring-UDN).

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Take a Break: Check out Ursula Le Guin’s Blog

As I write this I’m battling something nasty my eldest son brought home for Christmas. The presents were wonderful, as was seeing him. The cough, fever and yucks I can do without. However, I’m fortunate that my brother-in-law sent me Ursula Le Guin’s newest book, which is of her blog posts. Really interesting reading. You can follow her blog, which is indexed (she’s been writing it since 2010) at her website.

 Don’t know Le Guin’s work? She is viewed as America’s “greatest living science fiction writer,” thought it’s not a title she’s comfortable with. She is the author of the Earthsea Trilogy. 

Not interested in today’s activity, go to the Take a Break Pinterest and pick out something else.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Life With Chronic Conditions: Embracing Change

I’m watching people in my community becoming unglued by upcoming changes due to school redistricting and the retirement of several principals. I came across a quote that I thought was not only appropriate for this situation, but also for anyone affected by chronic health issues- The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old but on building the new.

People are trying so hard to keep things as they know them, they’re not only missing opportunities but they’re making themselves and everyone around them miserable.

Whether it’s a change in health status, loss of a job, best friend moves away or something else, the unfamiliar can be an opportunity to steer yourself in a new more positive direction. However our natural inclination is to react with fear and concern. Part of it is our wiring-we fear the unknown. However, there are ways to handle change that make it less stressful.

Change is the one constant in life and by learning to accept and embrace it, we open ourselves to many new and wonderful opportunities.

Consider the following:
• Give yourself some breathing room: Take your time to understand what’s happened and don’t get caught up in a whirlwind of activity.

• Take care of yourself: It’s easy to let yourself eat bad food, skip exercise or even skip meds when you are distracted. While absorbing the changes, take care of yourself by eating healthy foods, socializing, getting enough sleep etc. Pamper yourself with healthy options.

• Accept that you don’t know it all: To learn something new you often have to change your mind. Not something we like to do but if we aren’t willing to change our ideas, we’re not going to grow and change will be more difficult.

• Silence your “reptile brain.” We’re programmed for survival and so we often function like there is a tiger that’s going to pounce on us at any minute. We imagine the worse possible things, which rarely if ever come true and if they do, they aren’t half as bad as we imagine.

• Grow flexibility: Try something new. Get in the habit of trying new things-maybe even once a day. Seek out new perspectives. Really listen to other ideas. Try to argue both sides of a debate. The more flexibility you develop the easier change becomes and the more you can live comfortably with a certain level of uncertainty.

• Review past changes in your life: Sometimes by examining other times in your life when major changes have occurred you’ll find that not only did you weather them just fine, but they often produced some very positive results.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Take a Break: Repurpose Holiday Decorations for Year Round Use

 As the holiday decorations come down, and your wondering how you could have amassed so much stuff, a lot of which you no longer use, consider ways that various items can be re purposed.

Balls & Ribbon: If you have the space and containers, store by color so they can be taken out and used year round.

Red, white and blue-patriotic holidays
Red, White-Valentine’s Day
Red, Gold: Chinese New Year
Green, Gold and Purple-Mardi Gras
Green, white-St. Patrick’s Day
Black, yellow, orange, purple: Halloween
Orange, yellow, brown: Thanksgiving
Metallic, silver ornaments can be used year round particularly when mixed with natural materials such as sea grass, twine or wood. Place in a bowl or glass vase.

Balls can be hung with ribbon, piled high in a bowl or other glass container, or attached to a wreath frame. If you have the time and talent, decorate some as gifts. Lots of wonderful ideas

Take Things Apart: I found a bunch of glass candle holders my kids made, which we no longer use. Since they have various items attached with craft glue, I dunked them in hot water and let them sit for a while and now have a nice collection of votives that can be used any time of the year.

Take wreaths apart as the frames can be used through out the year for various projects

Artificial Trees (particularly small ones) can be decorated seasonally throughout the year.

Window candles: In VT, where the temps have hardly climbed into the single digits, no one bothers to remove the outside decorations until Easter, so candles in the window are up year round. It is a welcoming touch that is appreciated in all seasons.

Lights: These can be used year round to create a festive touch to just about any occasion. Wrap them carefully and sort by colors for ease of use.

 Not interested in today’s activity, go to the Take a Break Pinterest and pick out something else.