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In the News

Our summaries of the most relevant and interesting studies and medical news we want the C2it Health community to know about.

A Positive Outlook May Be Good for Your Health

Jane Brody, New York Times

Positive thoughts can impact your overall health. In the midst of a health crisis, you can improve your quality of life and boost your immune system by changing your outlook. Having a positive view on aging, can have a direct impact on how long you live and influence your overall health. There are specific skills that can be developed to affect how happy you feel.

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Pop a Pill for Heartburn? Try Diet and Exercise Instead

Jane Brody, New York Times

Acid reflux is serious and if left untreated can cause more health problems. Many people think they can just treat it with a type of pill called a PPI (proton pump inhibitor). Unfortunately, these pills are linked to other complications and studies suggest that 80 percent of Americans may be taking these powerful meds incorrectly. Individuals with acid reflux should consider an alternative approach, namely diet and lifestyle changes that can minimize symptoms and even heal damage.  A food does not have to be obviously acidic to be troublesome. Everyone’s trigger foods are different.

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What to Do if You Have Medical Debt

Ann Carrns, New York Times

About a quarter of adults under 65 have medical debt, compared with only ten percent of those over 65. No matter your age, there are often ways to reduce this debt or pay it off over time. If your insurer has denied coverage, call and ask whether the provider used the correct billing codes, specifically ask ‘what code needs to be used to have this covered’. Consider contacting your health care provider directly and ask if you can negotiate the amount due. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers additional tips on its site.

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Knee Patients Spending Millions on Wasted Treatments, Study Finds

Maggie Fox, NBC Health News

Osteoarthritis of the knee is the leading cause of disability in the US. What works for the pain? Physical therapy, NSAIDs (like ibuprofen) or the painkiller, Tramadol. Unfortunately, this line of treatment is only followed by 1 in 10 patients. Read about another debilitating problem, spinal stenosis.

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A Death in the I.C.U.

Daniela J. Lamas, M.D, New York Times

More than 80 percent of people say they would prefer to die at home, and yet more than half of them die in the hospital, surrounded by noise and strange smells and tubes and machines. A procedure or an I.C.U. stay at the end of life can be a gamble. It is important to evaluate new treatment decisions in the context of a patient and family’s goals.

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Old-Style Chemo Is Still A Mainstay In The Age Of Targeted Cancer Therapy

Richard Harris, Health News from NPR

There is an underappreciated role of chemotherapy — its ability to directly affect the immune system. ‘It appears that after chemotherapy kills cancer cells, the debris that’s left can sometimes stimulate an immune reaction. That leftover material is like a vaccine, in that it trains the immune system to recognize and attack remaining cancer cells.’ Researchers are exploring combined modalities; fast-acting chemotherapy which can help slow an aggressive cancer, for instance, and give the slower-acting immunotherapy treatments a chance to work.

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When Pills are the Problem: The Movement to Deprescribe

Colin Poitras, UConn Today

40% of people over 65 are taking 5 or more medications. That may be too many. It is estimated that 20% of medications prescribed to seniors is inappropriate and may cause harmful side effects, such as dizziness or falls. Doctors and pharmacists are being taught to “deprescribe” safely after reviewing an older patient’s medicine regimen. A detailed review should occur once a year and include over the counter medications. This should be viewed as a critical task in caring for a geriatric patient.

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You’re Overpaying for Drugs and Your Pharmacist Can’t Tell You

Jared S. Hopkins, Bloomberg

Be a conscientious consumer of health care. Always ask your pharmacist about cheaper options for your prescriptions. They are only able to tell you about less expensive options if you ask.  Do not assume that your copay is the least expensive option.  If your insurance company denies coverage of a drug, know your options by reading the related post.

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How to Get Patients to Take More Control of Their Medical Decisions

Laura Landro, Wall Street Journal

Patients that know their options can make decisions that include what matters most to them. In some cases, it is which treatment and in other cases it is whether to treat at all. Studies show that shared decision making improves long term health by improving outcomes and reducing procedures that are invasive.

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The Worst That Could Happen? Going Blind, People Say

Jane Brody, New York Times

For people over 70, poor vision ranks behind arthritis and heart disease as the third most common cause of impaired functioning. There are steps to take to lower the risk of diseases and factors that can impact eyesight impairment. First and foremost, have your eyes checked once every two years. Many ailments associated with low vision as you age, have no early symptoms.

The effects of failing eyesight are far reaching. People can feel anxious and socially disengaged. This leads to isolation, loneliness and a poor quality of life. Safety is also an issue, as there is an increase in falls and medication errors. If your senior is no longer reading or watching TV, consider whether there could be an issue with their eyesight.

 

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Picking the Right Over-the-Counter Pain Reliever

Christopher Mele, New York Times

Know the active ingredients and the potential side effects of the pain reliever you choose. There are many options on the shelf from which to pick.  Depending on the source of your pain, one option may be better than another. Chronic use of any pain reliever can be associated with additional health issues. Consult your health care provider for the appropriate long term use.

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Who Will Care for the Caregivers?

Dhruv Khullar, New York Times

There are some 40 million Americans that daily help a parent, grandparent, relative or neighbor with basic needs. Often, while working, parenting, or both. Family caregivers are generally unpaid, but the economic value of their care is estimated at $470 billion a year.

Caregivers are increasingly expected to manage illness at home as patients are discharged from hospitals quicker and sicker. It is important that a caregiver feel comfortable speaking up about their needs, and asking for information on support services available in their area.

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How to Get the Most Out of a Doctor’s Visit?

Sumathi Reddy, Wall Street Journal

Your doctor has only 15-20 minutes to get all the information they need to fully understand your condition. Be organized and prepared; bring your medications and think of questions in advance. It is best to bring a friend or family member who can help to take notes during the appointment.

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Hacks Can Ease the Trials of Aging

Marie Tae McDermott, New York TImes

As my mother always said, “necessity is the mother of invention”. There are lots of tricks which will ease the day to day struggles of aging. I had a patient who used the handle of a hand scrub brush and affixed it to the back of his Ipad so that he could easily grip it, despite his arthritic riddled hands. Do you have one you can share?

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Maximum human lifespan has already been reached

Albert Einstein College, Nature

Advances in modern medicine may continue to extend longevity, but perhaps resources now being spent to increase lifespan should instead go to lengthening healthspan — the duration of old age spent in good health.

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Are You Fit for Surgery?

Laura Landro, Wall Street Journal

A recommendation that you should train for elective surgery in the same way that an athlete trains for a competition. Postponing procedures for a period of time while nutrition and fitness are improved translates to fewer complications after surgery.

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Vitamin B-12 as Protection for the Aging Brain

Jane Brody, New York Times

B12 vitamin deficiency as a cause of cognitive issues is more common than is known. The ability to absorb B12 naturally present in foods depends on the presence of adequate stomach acid. Between 10 percent and 30 percent of people older than 50 produce too little stomach acid to release B12 from foods. Insufficient absorption of B12 from foods may even be common among adults aged 26 to 49.

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When an Elderly Parent Has Been Scammed

Veronica Daghar, Wall Street Journal

43% of older Americans exhibit one or more signs of financial victimization.” Educate your parents about possible scams and express empathy for them if they have been victimized.

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States Worse Than Death Among Hospitalized Patients With Serious Illnesses

Emily Rubin, et al, JAMA Intern Med

Important things to consider when it comes to making decisions about your health. What could you tolerate? See to it that your wishes are known.

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Why Fidgeting Is Good Medicine

Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times

Science now shows that “toe-tapping” and “foot-wagging” is important during periods of uninterrupted sitting. So get moving!