Monthly Archives: September 2013

Foods worth enjoying this fall

When most people think of fall, they think of comfort meals. More often than not, these foods are not the healthiest options to choose from. However, there are some that are great for enjoying once the autumn season hits. Additionally, some of those grocery store items you thought you should stay away from, aren't really that bad for you.

Fall superfoods
As the leaves change color, there's a good chance you'll find yourself at a cider mill or picking apples. Sure, these are rich in antioxidants and fiber, but they aren't the only fall food you'll want to enjoy. Some of the other must-haves for this time of year include:1

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Dates
  • Grapefruit
  • Parsnips
  • Pears
  • Pomegranates
  • Pumpkin
  • Rutabaga
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tangerines
  • Turnips

Most of the items on this list are root vegetables, so of course they are best enjoyed in the fall months. However, some of the other items – like pears and dates – may come as a surprise to most. These are all excellent options for hearty meals and snacking. Get creative with your recipes this season to find out how you can incorporate less-used foods like turnips and parsnips into a meal.

Foods that are OK to enjoy
There are a number of items at the grocery store we all avoid when trying to make smart-eating choices. However, not all of those foods have to be on the do-not-eat list. Here are a few that may comes as a surprise to you:2

  • Cheese: Although you have have heard that cheese is a no-no, most varieties are actually a great source of calcium. Additionally, cheeses contain protein, vitamin D, phosphorus and zinc, and can even help regulate blood pressure.
  • Frozen desserts: OK, so not all frozen treats are a good idea. You'll want to stay away from items that have added sugar or artificial sweeteners listed as the first or second ingredient. However, those that contain only natural flavors – like Greek frozen yogurts – are a great option for satisfying your sweet tooth.
  • Snacks: Snack foods are often cookies, crackers and chips, which can be extremely unhealthy. However, if you select whole grain options and those that are void of hydrogenated oils and shortening, it's OK to indulge. The best choice: popcorn.

As with most things in life, these foods are great for you in moderation. Smart eating is generally healthy, so just pay attention to what's on your plate.

Medex Supply provides medical supply equipment to both health care professionals and private parties.

1 Health Magazine, "15 best superfoods for fall"
2 Health Magazine, "The health must-eat list" June 11, 2013

Heart Attack Prevention And Recovery

A hospital in Philadelphia has begun to implement an innovative new approach to fighting heart attacks, one doctors hope will minimize permanent damage to the heart and reduce fatalities and the risk of future heart attacks. The standard procedure is to prioritize restoring blood flow to the heart, generally by opening an artery. At Temple University Medical Center, doctors instead use a temporary pump to do the work of the heart. This keeps the patient alive while allowing the heart to rest and repair itself, like turning off the water before fixing the sink. Hospital staff says this has lead to a 50 percent reduction in heart damage.

Another thing that helps people who have heart problems is maintaining a positive outlook. In a study, people with heart disease who were generally happy had a lower risk of death over five years than gloomier patients. Researchers say it isn’t especially the happiness itself that leads to the improved outcomes. Rather, they say, happy people are more likely to lead active lives and get sufficient exercise to keep their heart problems under control. The same study found a direct statistical link between positive affect and exercising regularly, at least once a week; exercise, in turn, cut the risk of death in half.

In addition to exercise and keeping yourself cheerful, you can improve your odds by eating right, quitting smoking, reducing stress in your life, and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol under control. If you have diabetes, it’s important to make sure that’s properly managed as well. If you’re at risk for a heart attack—because you’re a man over 45 or a woman over 55, you have a family history of heart disease, you’ve had a heart attack already or preeclampsia during pregnancy, you’re obese, or any other risk factor—there are medications you can take to help protect your heart.

If you do have symptoms of a heart attack, call a doctor immediately, Symptoms to look for are chest pain that radiates down the left arm and sometimes spreads to the neck or jaw, anxiety, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, fatigue, nausea or heartburn, poor sleeping, or a cold sweat. Not every heart attack will show all these symptoms, particularly chest pain, but most have some of them.

Is the brain causing obesity?

Overeating is a key factor of obesity, which has become a major issue for Americans. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 35.7 percent of U.S. adults are obese.1 This is a problem, as those who are severely overweight are also at risk of developing heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Additionally, it can become a rather expensive health condition.

Cause of overeating
Recently, it was found that there is a circuit within the brain that is responsible for causing people to overeat. This is called the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, or BNST for short.2 The way it works, according to researchers, is that the BNST closes the pathway of neurons that are supposed to make an individual feel full or stop eating.

"When we stimulate the pathway, the animals eat a third to 50 percent of the calories they eat in a normal day, in about 20 minutes," researcher Garret Stuber said.

To put this into relatable terms, that would be the same as a human eating their lunch and dinner in a single sitting. From here, researchers would like to take a look at this circuit in humans. Since obesity is such a prevalent problem within the population, the investigators – from the University of North Carolina – believe further research could have outstanding effects on the disease.3

Those who are suffering from obesity and diabetes can turn to Medex Supply for all of their diabetic supplies. Medex also offers a variety of other medical supply equipment for health care professionals and individuals.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Adult obesity facts" August 16, 2013
2 LiveScience, "Circuit that controls overeating found in the brain" September 26, 2013
3 Science, "The inhibitory circuit architecture of the lateral hypothalamus orchestrates feeding" September 27, 2013

Treating Rabies

One of the first—and most fearsome—diseases humankind has had to contend with, rabies is found in almost every country in the world and is nearly always fatal, killing 55,000 people each year. In the four millennia since the first people were recorded as having gotten the disease, the number of survivors is small; indeed, of people who were exposed to rabies, did not get vaccinated, and then developed the disease, only seven are ever known to have survived.

Rabies is one of a class of viruses that can be easily transmitted between species. About 97 percent of infections are due to dog bites, but any warm-blooded animal can carry the disease, and bats are also sometimes known to be culprits. In Australia, Japan, and some other countries, rabies has been completely eliminated among land animals, and many more have been able, through comprehensive vaccination programs, reduced the incidence of the condition in dogs to nearly zero.

Nonetheless, if you have been bitten by a strange animal, it is important to get medical attention right away. In medicine as elsewhere, the best defense is a good offense, and the best thing to do after possible exposure is to get a rabies vaccine. The vaccine is effective even after infection has already occurred, but needs to be given quickly to prevent the virus, if it's present, from doing damage.

Seven people, however, have survived rabies without vaccination. They all were treated with what is called the Milwaukee protocol, after the city in which it was first used in 2004. The protocol can be administered to patients who have already started to develop rabies symptoms, such as fever and headache, difficulty swallowing and an aversion to water, insomnia, hallucinations, and the better known symptoms of agitation, anxiety, confusion, and salivation; while it is only successful in about one in 12 cases, it is the only treatment protocol shown to have any efficacy in the absence of vaccination. It entails inducing a coma to protect the brain until the infection is dealt with by the immune system. Because the Milwaukee protocol is itself dangerous, and because of its low success rate, doctors recommend getting vaccinated after any potential exposure, unless the patient is already immune, such as due to a previous vaccination.

Low Platelet Count

For about 200,000 Americans with an autoimmune disease called idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, bruises are common. In this condition, the immune system attacks the blood platelets, cells that help maintain blood vessel structural integrity and are an important part of the process of clotting. The resultant low platelet count—as low as one-fortieth normal—makes patients more prone to hemorrhaging as well as spontaneous bruising. However, the condition is only fatal in a small number of severe cases.

It’s unclear what causes the immune system to respond to platelets as to infectious agents. In children, and to a lesser extent in adults as well, the condition is often triggered by a major viral infection, such as influenza or mumps. Adult idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura generally strikes women of childbearing age, though it can affect anyone at any time, regardless of age or sex.

Aside from bruising, symptoms include:

  • Excessive bleeding from cuts
  • pinpoint reddish-purple spots from bleeding into the skin
  • Bleeding from the gums after dental work, and occasionally at other times
  • Heavy menstrual flow
  • Nosebleeds
  • Bloody urine or stool

As with many autoimmune disorders, corticosteroids and immune suppressants are common treatment options. Other treatments include medications to boost platelet count and surgery to remove the spleen.

Parents, keep up the good work!

As fall rolls around, we all know that flu season is coming. However, not all Americans always take the necessary precautions when it comes to prevention. In 2012, though, more children than ever before were vaccinated.1 Health care professionals are hopeful that this trend will continue and perhaps even surpass last year's numbers.

Vaccine availability
According to USA Today, clinics will be offering patients a variety of flu shots to choose from this season. In some cases, these are strains that have never before been available.2 Among these options are both shot injections and nasal sprays – which may be a great option for the frightened child. Vaccine options include:

  • Cell-culture
  • High-dose
  • Intradermal
  • Quadrivalant
  • Recombinant protein

When heading to the doctor or a walk-in clinic for vaccination, you may find that only one option is available. So, you might want to "shop around" once you've decided which variation is best for you and your children. Regardless, it is highly recommended than anyone over the age of 6 months get a flu shot.

Children and the flu
Many wonder why it's so important for children to be vaccinated for the flu. Kids are at a greater risk for catching the virus, since their immune systems are not fully developed.3 It is most important for children who are 6 months to 5 years or who suffer from a chronic health condition to be vaccinated.

If your child comes down with the flu, you need to treat him or her appropriately. Using a suction bulb, you can clear aggravating mucus in children who are younger than the age of 2. A cool-mist humidifier can also help ease the ability to breath. It's always best to consult a doctor if:

  • You want to provide your child with an over-the-counter medication
  • A child is having trouble breathing or breathing too quickly
  • Your kid is unable to drink enough fluids to stay hydrated
  • The skin has a bluish color to it
  • Flu-like symptoms worsen after having improved

Risks during pregnancy
It is also important for expecting moms to get vaccinated for the flu. During pregnancy, the immune system constantly undergoes changes, which may put a female at greater risk for getting sick.4 If you are pregnant and get the flu, consult your health care provider immediately. Seek medical attention if you:

  • Have difficulty breathing
  • Experience pain in the chest or abdomen
  • Become dizzy or confused
  • Run a high fever
  • Feel a decrease in movement from the fetus

The main recommendation from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for fighting the flu is vaccination. With between 135 million and 139 million doses of the vaccine available in the U.S. this year, it is likely that we will not be faced with a shortage.5 However, people can do much more than get a shot to prevent the spread of the flu this season. It's important for those who are sick to stay home, and everyone should make it a point to regularly wash their hands and cover their mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing.

Health care professionals and private parties can turn to Medex Supply for a variety of medical supply equipment. Some offered products include:

1 USA Today, "More kids protected from flu; CDC says keep it up" September 26, 2013
2 USA Today, "More types of flu shots available this year than ever" September 10, 2013
3, "Who's at risk: Children & infants"
4, "Who's at risk: Pregnant women"
5 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "What you should know for the 2013-2014 influenza season" September 4, 2013

Asthma Through The Generations

Smoking is bad for your lungs, and it’s pretty well established that it affects the lungs of people around you who breathe in the smoke as well. Now a growing body of evidence suggests that the effects may linger a lot longer and be felt far more distantly that previously recognized. Not only are the children of smokers affected by it, their grandchildren are as well. In fact, a recent study found that smoking increases the risk of your descendants developing asthma for at least three generations—meaning that not only children and grandchildren, but great-grandchildren of a smoker are at risk for asthma, even if the smoking ancestor never smokes around them.

Researchers think nicotine affects the genes, causing what is called epigenetic modification, resulting in heightened susceptibility to childhood asthma being passed further down. There are many risk factors for asthma, including exposure to other environmental contaminants or having other allergies. However, being descended from smokers can raise the odds of these or other triggers developing into asthma.

The good news is that people who have asthma as children sometimes outgrow it as they get older. Those who don’t need to take measures to avoid asthma attacks their whole lives. This generally means avoiding triggers such as cold air, airborne particles and allergens, stress, and some medications; there are a number of possible triggers, and they differ from person to person, so someone with asthma needs to learn to recognize and avoid the things that set them off. There are also medications that can be taken daily by patients who encounter their triggers particularly often. Anti-inflammatory medications such as corticosteroids or beta agonoists can be taken daily with an inhaler, and drugs called leukotriene modifiers are taken orally to relieve symptoms for 24 hours.

Another approach used to treat asthma sufferers is immunotherapy. Asthma is often accompanied by—or the result of—dust and other respiratory allergies. Vaccines are available that can help desensitize patients to these allergens. A course of injections is initially administered to build up tolerance to the allergen, and that over the next few years a series of maintenance doses are given. In one study, this significantly reduced the number of days in which people experienced allergies and cut sick days from work by two-thirds.

Link between antidepressants and Type 2 diabetes

Recently, the number of Americans taking antidepressants has increased. In 2005, there were 27 million patients that had been prescribed drugs for mental health issues. This was up more than 100 percent from 1996, when there were 13.3 million individuals taking antidepressants. Many health care professionals attribute this spike to a better awareness of the importance for maintaining mental health among the population.1 However, some research has shown that these drugs may actually increase the risk of patients developing other health issues.

A review of the evidence
Professionals from the University of Southampton were well aware of the increase of antidepressant usage and also understood that many of these drugs adversely affect glucose metabolism in the body. Therefore, they aimed to see how these medications affected a patient's risk for developing Type 2 diabetes by reviewing previously published studies on the subject.2

Through their investigations, researchers found that antidepressants were the third most widely prescribed drugs in the United States, based on a 2011 study. Additionally there were 46.7 million prescriptions for these medications in the United Kingdom that same year. More importantly, another study found that those who were taking antidepressants were more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. In total, 22 studies and three other reviews were included in this investigation.

"Our research shows that when you take away all the classic risk factors of Type 2 diabetes; weight gain, lifestyle ect, there is something about antidepressants that appears to be an independent risk factor," Dr. Katharine Barnard, who led the study, said in a statement.3

Based on this information, researchers urge doctors to be aware of the potential risk for Type 2 diabetes when prescribing antidepressants to patients. This is even more important when the medications are used in high doses or for extended periods of time. Health care professionals can monitor those on antidepressants for Type 2 diabetes and encourage them to maintain healthy lifestyles to deter the onset if this disease.

Whether or not you're taking antidepressants, Medex Supply can provide you with the necessary medical supply equipment for living with diabetes. Products include:

1 Medical News Today, "What are antidepressants?" July 26, 2012
2 American Diabetes Association, "Antidepressant medication as a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes and impaired glucose regulation" October 2013
3 Medical News Today, "Antidepressants linked to higher risk of Type 2 diabetes" September 25, 2013

Trends of childhood obesity are decreasing

For once, there's good news when it comes to childhood obesity. More specifically, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report explaining that these rates are decreasing across a number of U.S. states.1 This was discovered after researchers reviewed data from 12 million children ages 2 to 4 who participated in federally-funded nutrition programs in 40 states, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Research findings
It was found that of the 40 states, only three saw an increase in childhood obesity, based on this research. These included:

  1. Pennsylvania
  2. Tennessee
  3. Colorado

Although there were plenty of states – 21 to be exact – that saw no change in these numbers, 19 experienced slight decreases from 2008 to 2011.2 Some of these states were:

  • California
  • New York
  • Florida
  • New Jersey
  • Minnesota

The CDC indicates that childhood obesity remains an issue because of the number of preschoolers who fall into this category. When becoming a problem so early in childhood, it's even more difficult to turn around as a kid ages.

Soda and juice are key triggers for obesity
There have been a number of studies that have found supporting evidence for a link between sugary drinks and obesity. For children, these mainly include soda and juice. Based on information collected from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey, researchers found that kids age 2 who drank more than one sugar-sweetened beverage daily were more likely to have greater body mass index – which related to obesity – by age 4.3

However, the doctors who conducted this investigation are upbeat regarding the potential to turn things around when it comes to childhood obesity. There are a number of things that parents, child care providers, schools doctors and even national and local governments can do to turn things around.

Preventing childhood obesity
Some of the basics the CDC recommends for treating and preventing childhood obesity include:4

  • Providing quality meals for children at school, including appealing food and beverage options.
  • Including physical education as a regular part of all children's routines, including gym classes, recess and sports at school as well as activities at home.
  • Offering free water to children on school premises and at extracurricular activities and reducing the availability of sugar-sweetened beverages in these locations and in households.
  • Building community areas where children and safe, free and encouraged to participate in physical activity with other kids in the neighborhood at parks and playgrounds.

More importantly, parents play a key role in providing the necessary means for the prevention of childhood obesity. It's key that moms and dads across the country are well educated regarding how to ensure that their kids maintain healthy lifestyles. This can be as simple as:

  • Starting the day out right with a nutritious breakfast.
  • Serving plenty of fruits and vegetables during meals and snacks, even for picky eaters.
  • Eating healthy yourself, in order to set a good example for children.
  • Limiting time spent watching TV, playing video games and surfing the Internet, so that more time can be put toward getting outdoors and burning calories.
  • Encouraging children to be active on a regular basis through supporting participation in a variety of extracurricular activities and sports.

Parents should pay attention to what their children's interests are. If they turn their noses up to broccoli but enjoy raw carrots, make this a regular snack-time treat. Kids who like to play tag may be more interested in joining the track and field team than the baseball team.

Medex Supply provides a number of medical supplies for treating obesity, including diabetic supplies and other equipment.

1 CNN Health, "Many states and US territories are showing decreases in childhood obesity" August 6, 2013
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Progress on childhood obesity" August 2013
3 CNN Health, "Study: Kids who drink soda, juice weigh more" August 5, 2013
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Combating childhood obesity" September 23, 2013

Low E

Men, as they age, are frequently diagnosed as having a deficiency in the hormone testosterone, referred to as the "male sex hormone." Now studies suggest that, surprisingly, it may instead be an issue of estrogen. The notion that testosterone is male and estrogen is female is a vast oversimplification; men and women both have both types of hormones. In fact, testosterone turns into estrogen as it is used by the male body. Men do have far higher amounts of testosterone than women do, but a study published earlier this month suggests that the symptoms attributed to low testosterone—including reduced sex drive, lowered energy, increased body fat and reduced muscle mass, and a down mood—are actually due to low levels of estrogen.

The symptoms are not dissimilar to those of menopause, so it isn’t particularly odd that they have substantially the same cause; menopause is marked by a drop in estrogen production. However, the degree to which estrogen affects signs of aging in men has proven to be much greater than suspected. In the study, volunteer subjects who did not convert testosterone to estrogen developed more body fat than those in whom this process was not disrupted. The changes in sexuality—reductions in both drive and capability—turned out to be linked to levels of both testosterone and estrogen.

Another effect of the reduction in estrogen production is memory lapses and cognitive deficits, one reason there deficits are so common in old age. A recent study explored the exact nature of the relationship between the sex hormones and the brain. Dementia and other cognitive effects of aging are most visible in a region of the brain called the hippocampus, which suffers the ravages of time particularly strongly. The researchers found that estrogen helps form memory in the presence of another compound.

This research has important implications for treatments for menopausal symptoms and age-related cognitive decline. Hormone replacement therapy is given to women after menopause to treat their symptoms, but there are dangerous and sometimes lethal side effects, such as an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers are hoping to be able to separate out the helpful compounds to improve cognitive function in these patients without those side effect risks.