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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Administration Prescribes Prevention For Nation's Health

I found the following story on the NPR iPhone App:

Administration Prescribes Prevention For Nation's Health
by Linda Thrasybule

- June 16, 2011

Obama administration officials unveiled a plan to improve our nation's prosperity. No, not with more jobs, but by helping Americans stay healthy at every stage of life.

But first, they got a workout congratulating each other on a job well done with the National Prevention Strategy, a plan required by the federal law overhauling health care, during a Thursday media briefing.

Some of the key players behind the plan, including Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and Senator Tom Harkin, were on hand to outline a broad, and sometimes cryptic, blueprint for improving the nation's health.

Sebelius said the plan "will help us transform our health care system away from a focus on sickness and disease to a focus on prevention and wellness." That shift, she said, would help "people live long and productive lives and can help combat rising health care costs."

Some 17 federal agencies are expected to be involved in executing the plan, which was developed by the National Prevention Council. The plan would draw on a wide range of health workers, institutions, community-based organizations and government agencies for help.

The strategy aims to reduce leading causes of death and illness, such as smoking, bad eating habits and drug abuse.

"For every dollar we invest in prevention, we save $6," said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), a major supporter of the strategy, who was also in attendance. We need to provide an approach that makes it easier to be healthy and harder to be unhealthy."

Programs such as the newly unveiled nutritional guidance called MyPlate are a start. It's "a simple tool on how to eat," said Surgeon General Benjamin. "Empowering people to make healthy choices."

She also noted the big challenge will be changing the way people think about health in this country. Rather than trying to cure a disease, the focus will be on how to prevent it. "It's too important for us to not make these investments," she said.

Under the plan, there will be a yearly status report that tracks and measures progress. [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

To learn more about the NPR iPhone app, go to http://iphone.npr.org/recommendnprnews

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Timing Is Everything For Heart Failure Treatment With Pacemakers

I found the following story on the NPR iPad App:

Timing Is Everything For Heart Failure Treatment With Pacemakers
by Nancy Shute

NPR - June 13, 2011

People with congestive heart failure are often given pacemakers to help their hearts pump more efficiently. But doctors have been puzzled by about 40 percent of people given those devices who don't get any better.

They often wind up in the hospital, or they die. Now researchers say they've got the problem figured out. It was a matter of giving the devices to patients whose hearts just weren't that out of sync to begin with.

About 200,000 people with congestive heart failure had the devices implanted from 2006 through 2009. The goal was to correct an abnormal heart rhythm that affects many people with heart failure, making the heart's two powerful pumping chambers, or ventricles, contract out of sync. That reduces the amount of blood pumped.

And since people with congestive heart failure already have weak heart muscle, that inefficient pumping can be a big problem.

After a while, though, it became clear to cardiologists that many people were not being helped by the implants. But studies weren't able to nail the problem. "We wanted to look at data from the clinical trials more carefully," Ilke Sipahi, a cardiologist at the University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, tells Shots. So he and his colleagues crunched numbers from five clinical trials involving 5,813 patients.

They found that people whose heart rhythms were off by more than 150 milliseconds benefited from a pacemaker, while people with a variation of less than 150 milliseconds got none. Their findings were published online today in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Simple, right? Well, the problem is that current guidelines from organizations like the American Heart Association also recommend pacemakers for people with variations of 120 to 150 milliseconds. "They don't benefit at all," says Sipahi.

Not only do they not benefit, but pacemakers are expensive. They're inserted with surgery, bringing with it risk of infection. And the special three-lead pacemakers used on heart failure patients are tricky to install. Sipahi doesn't think that's an issue in why they don't work for many. Instead, he says, it's a clear question of finding out when the devices work, and then applying that lesson to the daily practice of medicine. [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

To learn more about the NPR iPad app, go to http://ipad.npr.org/recommendnprforipad

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Mediterranean Diet: It's Not Just About Food

The following, taken from the article in the Huffington Post cited below, is a great description of the Mediterranean Diet and it's lesson for healthy living (not just eating). 

Beyond just nutritional health, the Mediterranean Diet promotes a way of living that includes the following components, which could explain the positive health benefits.

Intense physical activity that includes work and all its forms of movement; farming, building, planting, gardening, dancing, sports, house work, child care or any activity that provides a non-sedentary daily routine.

Consuming many types and varieties of food in moderation as a form of nourishment -- both physically and socially, as well as sharing with others.

  • Meals are a part of the social and family fabric and are not taken alone.
  • Time spent eating is relaxing, nourishing and pleasurable.
  • Foods choices often include fruits, vegetables, whole grain bread and other cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds.
  • Olive oil is an important monounsaturated fat source in the diet.
  • Dairy products, fish and poultry are consumed in low to modest amounts, and little red meat is eaten.
  • Eggs are consumed zero to four times a week.
  • Wine, a component of social family sharing and bonding, is a dietary staple this is consumed in low to moderate amounts.

GEORGIANNA DONADIO, MSC, PH.D., D.C.: The Mediterranean Diet: It's Not Just About Food
A point that is often missed by the media is that health is not isolated to one's diet. The whole health of an individual is about the physical, emotional, nutritional, environmental and even spiritual components.