Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday Health Myths: Sugar, Suicides, and Cold-Weather Clothes from

Are holiday "facts" fiction?

The holiday season is a great time for family, friends, and well, old wives’ tales: Who hasn’t been told to wear a hat because you lose the most heat from your head?

There are some real holiday health hazards (see 11 of them here). But an analysis in the British Medical Journal suggests that your mother’s—or even your doctor’s—holiday hazards often lack rock-solid evidence to back them up.

For the full article please go here.

Analysts release '1st-of-its kind' report on ACOs from

SALT LAKE CITY – Leavitt Partners’ Center for ACO Intelligence, which tracks national and regional trends related to ACOs and other emerging care delivery systems, released a white paper Wednesday on the status of ACOs following federal health reform.

Leaders at Leavitt Partners’ Center said the paper, entitled "Growth and Dispersion of Accountable Care Organizations," is the first report of its kind regarding the types and locations of ACOs.

The report provides data-driven insights into the evolution of ACOs following federal health reform and the recent announcement of the Medicare Shared Savings Program. Data and analysis on the growth and national dispersion trends of more than 160 ACO or ACO-like organizations are highlighted.

For the full article please go here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

CDC reports new flu strain

Flu Vaccine Week approaches; CDC reports new flu strain [The Lebanon Reporter, Ind.]
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New Way To Defeat Drug-Resistant Superbugs: Renew Their Susceptibility To Antibiotics from Medical News Today

How do you defeat an opponent who has acquired an effective new defence mechanism? Either develop a more powerful weapon, or find a way to undermine his clever new defence device. In the war against superbugs, this is the equivalent of either developing new drugs, or make them susceptible again to existing drugs. Well, now scientists have discovered a way to do this for drug-resistant bacteria that have acquired an ingenious defence mechanism: efflux pumps. These pumps enable the bugs to expel antibiotic drugs from their bodies; that is until a team of chemists from Brown University comes along and blocks their pumps, making them vulnerable again to antibiotics.

Dr Jason K. Sello, assistant professor of chemistry at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island in the US, and colleagues, write about how they synthesized a new compound called BU-005 and used it to block efflux pumps that bacteria use to expel an antibacterial agent called chloramphenicol, in the 15 December issue of Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry.

Sitting in the cell walls or membranes of bacteria, efflux pumps are proteins that spot and expel drugs that breach those membranes. In some cases, the pumps have become so advanced they can recognize and expel drugs with totally different structures and mechanisms.

For the full article please go here.

6 most in-demand skills for HIT professionals in 2012 from HealthIT news

The demand for capable IT specialists is growing, and according to Guillermo Moreno, vice president of recruiting firm Experis Healthcare, certain skills are bound to take the spotlight come 2012.

“This is an area that’s of interest and concern, given what we’re seeing in the marketplace,” Moreno said. “With the continuation of the build of the information technology movement in healthcare, we are seeing some sizable fractures in the healthcare space around human capital and human talent.”

With the New Year around the corner, we asked Moreno to look ahead and share with us the top six most in-demand skills for healthcare IT professionals in 2012.

1. ICD-10/5010 expertise. Moreno said with the movement to reach the audit function and compliance right in front of us, the demand in the market place for professionals is at an all-time high. “More and more organizations are beginning to road map themselves in ICD-10 migration,” he said. “Everyone understands what ICD-9 is and what it means to generically migrate to ICD-10, but there are few who have actually made the transition or are in the process of doing so.” Moreno said he’s seeing requests and demands both on the payer and provider side, as well as large government organizations looking for skilled professionals. This includes those with expertise in project management, program management, and coding. “Those are the three pretty major areas for people who understand ICD-10, and frankly, in this country, there isn’t a lot of experience in that space.”

For the full article please go here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

17 Holiday Health Tips from Real Simple

Follow this advice to enjoy a little holiday indulgence without sacrificing your health goals.
Indulging Without Overindulging

Relax. You won’t gain 10 pounds. It’s a misconception that you’ll need to go up a pant size in January. The average person gains only about a pound during the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. That’s no excuse to eat with abandon, though. (After all, gaining one pound every year can add up in the long run.) But a study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology notes that people who had an attitude of forgiveness and self-compassion after one high-calorie setback were less likely to give up and keep bingeing. So if you lose control with a dish of chocolate truffles, don’t think, I’ve blown it. Might as well move on to the eggnog. Just forgive yourself for the truffles.

For the full article please go here.

Price of heart failure Low income raises HF risk from

The odds of suffering heart failure appear to be higher in seniors with a low income, even among those with a college or higher education, according to research presented last week at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2011 in Orlando.

"As far as the risk of developing heart failure is concerned, lower education may not matter if a person is able to maintain a high income in later years," said Ali Ahmed, MD, MPH, senior researcher and the director of the Geriatric Heart Failure Clinics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Birmingham VA Medical Center.

The researchers said the study is the first to link low income with an increased risk of heart failure in Medicare-eligible community-dwelling older men and women.

For the full article please go here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Can pollution increase risk of diabetes? From yahoo news

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People who live in areas with high levels of traffic-related air pollution may face a slightly increased risk of developing diabetes, Danish researchers conclude in a new study.

They found that people living in urban areas with high levels of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant found in traffic exhaust, were four percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than people living in neighborhoods with cleaner air.

Healthier people seemed to be in greater peril from the influence of air pollution, with diabetes risk jumping by 10 percent in physically active people and 12 percent in non-smokers.

For the full article please go here.

Tavenner To Replace Berwick At CMS Helm from Kaiser Healths News

Marilyn Tavenner, who has an extensive health background as a nurse, a health care official at both the state and federal level and a hospital chain executive, was tapped by President Barack Obama Wednesday to succeed Dr. Donald M. Berwick as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Tavenner, who is the agency’s principal deputy administrator, will serve on an acting basis as administrator during the confirmation process, according to an announcement to CMS staff.

Berwick was not confirmed by the Senate and instead got a recess appointment from Obama. His appointment expires Dec. 31 and he will be stepping down Dec. 2.

For the full article please go here.

Top 8 germiest places in the mall from CNN

( -- During the craziness of the holidays, the last thing you want is to get sidelined with a cold, flu, stomach bug -- or worse. But while you're checking items off your shopping list, you may be exposing yourself to germs -- like flu viruses, E. coli, and staph -- that can make you sick.

"Anywhere people gather is filled with bacteria and viruses, and a crowded shopping mall is a perfect example," says Philip Tierno, Ph.D., director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Langone Medical Center.

With that in mind, we asked a panel of experts to rank the worst germ hot spots at your local shopping center. Check out the ewww-inducing results -- and tips for keeping yourself in the clear.

For the full article please go here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cutting Back on Salt: How Low Is Too Low?

Cutting back on salt is a key recommendation in the government's latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) and has been a part of good health advice for decades. But, increasingly, the evidence suggests that that guidance may be too simplistic, and that there is a limit to the benefits of salt reduction on the heart.

For people at risk of heart disease, a new study finds, lowering sodium can actually harm their health. Researchers led by Martin O'Donnell, an associate professor at McMaster University in Toronto and a professor of translational medicine at the National University of Ireland, looked at data on more than 28,000 people with heart disease or at high risk of developing heart disease or diabetes, and found that both those who consumed too much sodium and those who consumed too little had increased risks of heart disease and heart-related death over the study's four-and-a-half year follow-up.

The government currently advises adults to eat no more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day, and recommends that children, older Americans and those at risk of heart disease cut their sodium to 1,500 mg a day. The World Health Organization advises eating less than 2,000 mg a day.

For the full article please go here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

5 Busted Brain Myths from Yahoo News

True or false: The brain’s hippocampus contains an “Oprah neuron” that lights up when we see pictures of Ms. Winfrey or even hear her name. If you guessed “false,” check out British neuroscientist Rodrigo Quian Quiroga’s quirky research, which not only found specialized Oprah neurons, but also brain cells devoted to Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, basketball great Michael Jordan, and even Luke Skywalker. There was also a brain cell that preferred watching “The Simpsons” to Madonna and Quiroga, researchers found.

While the studies were small—one involved 7 epileptic patients with electrodes implanted in their brains to find cells that were triggering their seizures—the research offers an intriguing look at the mysteries hidden inside our brains, which contain more neurons than the galaxies in the known universe: about 100 billion on average, plus thousands of miles of nerves, packed into a space the size of a coconut. No two brains are alike—even those of identical twins. How much do you know about your most important organ?

Here’s a look at five common myths about the brain.

For the full article please go here.

Which Vitamins Do You Need? from

By Amanda Gardner

Vitamins and minerals are essential to any diet, and research suggests they may help prevent cancer and heart disease, not to mention other health problems. But reality check: Many studies have been conducted on vitamin-containing food, but not necessarily supplements.

In fact, if you eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fortified food, you're probably getting all you need. But supplements do offer an easy, just-in-case form of health insurance.

Do you need them? Here's a quick guide to beneficial nutrients and what they can do for you.

For the full article please go here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

ADHD drug shortage on the horizon from NPR

When it's time to renew her son's prescriptions for medicine to treat his attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, Roxanne Ryan prepares for another wild goose chase.

The Philadelphia mother says she typically has to call around to 10 to 15 different pharmacies to find where the prescriptions can be filled. And when 10-year-old Sergey doesn't get his medication, he's a bundle of uncontained energy.

"It's like having a hundred channels racing through your mind," Ryan says. "He can't sit still. He would interrupt the lesson. He can't complete a thought."

For the full article please go here.

How to beat the afternoon workday crash from Medical News Today

A new study finds that protein, not sugar, stimulates certain brain cells into keeping us awake, and also, by telling the body to burn calories, keeping us thin. Study leader Dr Denis Burdakov, from the University of Cambridge in the UK, and colleagues, write about their findings in the 17 November issue of Neuron. They suggest their discovery will increase understanding of obesity and sleep disorders.

Burdakov, from the Department of Pharmacology and Institute of Metabolic Science at Cambridge, told the media scientists had already established orexin cells in the brain send electrical signals that stimulate wakefulness and tell the body to use up energy. He and his co-authors wanted to take this further and find out if particular dietary nutrients influenced those signals:

For the full article please go here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nurses At the Forefront of Change

As the nation continues its historic effort to overhaul health care under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, nurses have been working quietly for the last decade to implement their own brand of reform. Nurses have been redefining and expanding their roles, championing quality of care improvements, spearheading research innovation, advocating for patient rights, and challenging the status quo..
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Cancer Flourishes On Recycled Cell Waste from MNT

Cancer cells flourish on recycled cell waste, and preventing their access to this natural "Pac-Man" process appears to stop tumors growing and spreading. This remarkable finding is the result of a new study from researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York who write about their work in the 16 November issue of Science Translational Medicine.

We have known for a while that in order to fuel their abnormally accelerated and greedy growth, cancer cells need stacks of energy in the form of glucose or sugar. However, what hasn't been so clear is how and where they get it from: until now.

For the full article please go here.

The vicious physiology of stress from CNN

One of my favorite parts of this job is stalking busy scientists researching different aspects of stress.

I recently tracked down the brilliant Dr. Rajita Sinha, director of the Yale Stress Center, and spoke to her about what she’s working on. In this first part of our conversation, we discussed the physiology of stress and its connection to maladies, ranging from addiction to chronic disease, diabetes and obesity.

How did you come to study stress?

Early on I was working with different types of emotions - anger and sadness - and how they affect the body and change our responses to different stimuli in the environment. One of the things I observed was that generally people don’t have pure emotions, like anger or fear.

For the full article please go here.

6 states to participate in tech retreats for health insurance exchanges from HealthCareIT

WASHINGTON – The National Governors Association (NGA) on Wednesday named six states selected to participate in NGA retreats to help the states technically prepare for health insurance exchanges.

According to NGA, the retreats are customized to address each state’s unique circumstances. The states selected to participate are Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Nevada, Utah and Washington.

States have just a short time left to make many decisions about establishing the health insurance exchanges mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Regardless of whether a state is considering a state-based exchange, a federal exchange or a partnership, a wide range of cross-agency planning and discussion must take place to meet the 2013 deadline established by the ACA, say NGA officials.

For the full article please go here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

9 ways advances in technology are changing Health Care: from

MCLEAN, VA – As healthcare moves into a new era of efficiency, effectiveness and improved patient outcomes through health information technology, consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton has identified the top nine ways health IT is transforming healthcare. Among the changes with the greatest impact are reduced medical errors and faster emergency care.

"Good healthcare is no longer about just good doctors and good hospitals; it's about connectivity, it's about data, it's about information, it's about speed to treatment and health IT enables each of those," said Robert M. Pearl, MD, the executive director and CEO of The Permanente Medical Group.

For the full article please go here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

US Supreme Court to hear US Health Care Law case from Huffington Post

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide the fate of President Barack Obama's healthcare law, with an election-year ruling due by July on the U.S. healthcare system's biggest overhaul in nearly 50 years.

The decision had been widely expected since late September, when the Obama administration asked the nation's highest court to uphold the centerpiece insurance provision and 26 states and a business group separately asked that the entire law be struck down.

The justices in a brief order agreed to hear the appeals. At the heart of the legal battle is whether Congressoverstepped its powers by requiring that all Americans buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty, a provision known as the individual mandate. (Reporting by James Vicini, Editing by Eric Beech)

For the full article please go here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

8 Types of Cancer Linked to Rheumatoid Arthritis from

RA and cancer risk

By Tammy Worth

If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you may be at increased risk for certain cancers because of RA medications—or RA-related inflammation itself.

The best thing you can do is to be aware, but don't worry excessively. "The risk of all of these is very, very low," says Stanley Cohen, MD, clinical professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and co-director of the division of rheumatology at Presbyterian Hospital, in Dallas. "When you look at the numbers, the relative risk is higher but the actual risk is low."

For the full article please go here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Walmart Wants To Be Nation's Biggest Primary Care Provider from Kaiser Health News

Walmart -- the nation's largest retailer and biggest private employer -- now wants to dominate a growing part of the health care market, offering a range of medical services from basic prevention to management of chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease, according to a document obtained by NPR and Kaiser Health News.

In the same week in late October that Walmart announced it would stop offering health insurance benefits to new part-time employees, the retailer sent out a request for information seeking partners to help it "dramatically ... lower the cost of healthcare ... by becoming the largest provider of primary healthcare services in the nation."

On Tuesday, Walmart spokeswoman Tara Raddohl confirmed the proposal but declined to elaborate on specifics, calling it simply an effort to determine "strategic next steps."

For the full article please go here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tips for Healthy Flying from Medical News Today

There was a time when jumping on a plane was a relatively easy thing to do (assuming you had the money). But today's flying experience is often more of an ordeal than a pleasure, aggravated by concerns about terrorism, long queues for safety and security checks, and other irritants such as checking the long lists of things you can and can't take with you.

As well as the stress that precedes departure, there are the physical health issues, ranging from aching limbs, swollen ankles, and sleep disruption, to what has been popularly described as "economy class syndrome" (the possibility of deep vein thrombosis, DVT), and of course, coping with jet lag.

For the full article please go here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

10 ways we put ourselves at risk for the flu from

Whether you decide to get a flu shot this year or not, it's important to take steps to prevent yourself from getting the seasonal flu, as well as H1N1, commonly referred to as swine flu.

If you already sneeze into your sleeve, wash your hands diligently, and avoid crowds where these viruses can easily spread, you're on the right track. But you still may be putting yourself at risk in these unexpected ways—probably without even realizing it.

For the full article please go here.

High Blood pressure can make some socially ackward from MSNBC

By Joan Raymond

It’s no secret that high blood pressure ups your risk for heart attack and stroke. But now scientists are saying it could also affect how you perceive emotions.

In a new study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, researchers found that individuals with higher than normal blood pressures not only had a tough time assigning emotions to text passages they read but also had problems recognizing angry, fearful, sad and happy faces when looking at photographs.

The phenomenon is called “emotional dampening,” a kind of reduced response to both positive and negative life events, explains lead author James McCubbin, professor of psychology at Clemson University.

In previous studies, individuals with emotional dampening showed reduced responses to both pain and stress.

For the full article please go here.

How a robot can help doctors from

Earlier this year, a robot named Watson beat out two long-time champs on the quiz show Jeopardy, using 200 million pages of structured and unstructured content. The QA computing system built by IBM has since garnered attention from folks within the healthcare industry, and this past September, Watson landed his first full-time gig with WellPoint Inc., which plans to use Watson’s data-crunching to suggest treatment options, monitor patients and offer support to physicians.

To learn more about Watson’s role in healthcare, both now and in the years to come, we asked Andrew J. Lang, CIO at WellPoint, to share some of the company’s plans. “We’re linked with IBM, and we have a strong partnership with them that predates Watson,” said Lang. “We’re the first to bring the Watson solution to the market, and our first focus is on a diagnosis and treatment for oncology. Then, we’re moving both vertically and horizontally from that space to explore other partnerships with Watson and IBM.”

For the full article please go here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Erasing Signs of Aging in Human Cells Now a Reality from Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Nov. 3, 2011) — Scientists have recently succeeded in rejuvenating cells from elderly donors (aged over 100). These old cells were reprogrammed in vitro to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) and to rejuvenated and human embryonic stem cells (hESC): cells of all types can again be differentiated after this genuine "rejuvenation" therapy. The results represent significant progress for research into iPSC cells and a further step forwards for regenerative medicine.

Inserm's AVENIR "Genomic plasticity and aging" team, directed by Jean-Marc Lemaitre, Inserm researcher at the Functional Genomics Institute (Inserm/CNRS/Université de Montpellier 1 and 2) performed the research. The results were published in Genes & Development on November 1, 2011.

For the full article please go here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Children: reducing mortality from WHO

Key facts

7.6 million children under the age of five die every year, according to 2010 figures.
Over two-thirds of these early child deaths are due to conditions that could be prevented or treated with access to simple, affordable interventions.
Leading causes of death in under-five children are pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria and health problems during the first month of life.
Over one third of all child deaths are linked to malnutrition.
Children in low-income countries are nearly 18 times more likely to die before the age of five than children in high-income countries.

A child's risk of dying is highest in the neonatal period, the first 28 days of life. Safe childbirth and effective neonatal care are essential to prevent these deaths. About 40% of child deaths under the age of five take place during the neonatal period.

Preterm birth, birth asphyxia (lack of breathing at birth), and infections cause most neonatal deaths. From the end of the neonatal period and through the first five years of life, the main causes of death are pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria Malnutrition is the underlying contributing factor in over one third of all child deaths, making children more vulnerable to severe disease.

For the full article please go here.

4 Secrets to Never Getting Sick from

Kick the cold

By Jeannette Moninger
From Health magazine

Ever wonder why you always seem to come down with a life-interrupting virus this time of year, while other women you know sail through the season sniffle-, cough-, and ache-free?

We canvassed the research and talked to top experts to uncover these key, study-backed secrets for staying well, even when you're surrounded by germs. The docs' number one tip: Get the flu vaccine, ASAP. Then, follow these simple steps to boost your virus protection even more.

For the full article please go here.

$6.8 Billion Spent Yearly On 12 Unnecessary Tests And Treatments from Kaiser Health News

By Michelle Andrews

Oct 31, 2011

For many adults, a routine visit to a primary care physician might involve blood tests, a urinalysis, an electrocardiogram, maybe a bone density scan. Too often, however, these tests are inappropriate and they cost a bundle, according to a recent study, not only for the health care system but also for individuals, who are increasingly footing more of the bill for their care.

The study, led by physicians from the Mount Sinai Medical Center and the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, was published online in October in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The researchers examined the cost of common primary care practices that were identified as being overused earlier this year in a study by another group of physicians, known as the Good Stewardship Working Group.

For the full article please go here.

Live Longer With Fewer Calories? from Science daily

ScienceDaily (Oct. 31, 2011) — By consuming fewer calories, aging can be slowed down and the development of age-related diseases such as cancer and type 2 diabetes can be delayed. The earlier calorie intake is reduced, the greater the effect. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg have now identified one of the enzymes that hold the key to the aging process.

"We are able to show that caloric restriction slows down aging by preventing an enzyme, peroxiredoxin, from being inactivated. This enzyme is also extremely important in counteracting damage to our genetic material," says Mikael Molin of the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology.

For the full article please go here.