The Latest in Heart Health and Treatment
Thanks to advances in comprehension and communication, emergency treatments for heart attacks are becoming ever faster and more effective. In the case of a heart attack, a speedy response can be lifesaving. This is why emergency response teams have evolved to assess and alert medical staff while still on the road, and hospitals and emergency doctors continue to refine treatment protocols in search of faster ways to open blockages and restore blood flow. This recent New York Times article offers a wealth of information about heart attacks, including step-by-step infographics. The simple question-and-answer style clearly describes heart attack symptoms to watch for and spells out the swift, critical actions to take if they appear.
(A Possibly Lifesaving Guide to Heart Attacks; New York Times)
The heart attack guide is part of a larger New York Times series entitled ‘Mending Hearts,’ which offers an overview of the latest in heart science and medical advances. For example, this related article in the series investigates current thinking about blood pressure. It’s accepted that lower numbers are better than higher ones, but exactly how low to aim for at any given age and health status — and how aggressively to pursue such a target with drug regimens — remains the subject of developing research.
(Blood Pressure, the Mystery Number; New York Times)
Diabetes Treatments Get Smarter
Controlling blood sugar in diabetes involves many related steps, most notably monitoring levels of blood glucose and, when necessary, adjusting them by injection of insulin, several times each day. But one research team is working toward automation of the process, with a foolproof, long-lasting new device. Scientists from the University of North Carolina and NC State have been testing an innovation that can be applied to the skin as a patch, with miniscule needles that both sense glucose in the blood and release insulin to control it. Although the relatively painless patch has been found to be effective in mice, further experiments are necessary before clinical trials can begin toward drug approval.
Community Approach to Hospice Care
Author Karen M. Wyatt, M.D., dives into a little-known concept in U.S. end-of-life care: the ‘social model’ of collaborative, community hospice care. For patients who may not have the financial or caregiver resources to die at home, the residential hospice home may represent an alternative to a hospital or skilled nursing setting.
(Social Model Hospice Homes May Revolutionize End-of-Life Care in the U.S.; Huffington Post)
- Post-operative patients readmitted to the hospital were found to have a substantial survival benefit if they returned to the same facility in which their surgery was performed. The study’s authors suggest that knowing the context of the procedure may explain some of the difference in outcome. (For post-op complications, go back to the same hospital: study; Reuters)
- A new study suggests that millions of older Americans, current and former smokers alike, may have undiagnosed lung impairments. (In old age, current and former smokers face early lung disease; Reuters)
- Similarly, another study indicates that most patients who qualify as having pre-diabetes are not aware that they are at risk. Yet at the pre-diabetes stage, prevention and lifestyle changes can drastically reduce risk of ultimately developing diabetes. (Few people heading toward diabetes know it; Reuters)
- Unlike most injuries, neurologic injury (such as stroke) had classically been treated with bed rest. But a new study has demonstrated that making the effort to help these patients up as soon as possible can translate to major benefits, up to and including shorter ICU (and hospital) stays. (People With Brain Injuries Heal Faster If They Get Up And Get Moving; NPR)
- A collaborative study across continents examined patients with type 2 diabetes in China and in the United States. The patients showed no cross-culture variance in terms of cognitive function: diabetes was linked to cognitive impairment in both groups. (Two cultures, same risk for cognitive impairment; MNT)
- A review of dozens of drug trials showed strong evidence that medical marijuana is effective for some symptoms, such as chronic pain; however, the evidence was not as convincing for other symptoms, such as nausea. (Medical marijuana: good evidence for some diseases, weak for others; Reuters)
- Here’s some measured, gentle advice for approaching an incredibly difficult conversation. (Talking to Kids About Death and Dying; Pallimed)
- Not all fats are created equal: a recent study reinforces that good fats (especially the oils naturally found in fish and vegetables) aid in longevity. (Fats from fish and plants may help older adults live longer; Reuters)
- The trifecta of lessening reliance on acute and hospital care: home adaptation, caregiver support, and community resources. (3 Changes to Make Aging-in-Place a Reality for Seniors; Home Health Care News)