Monthly Archives: November 2013

Health Benefts Of Fried Foods

There are dozens of diets with different and often contradictory advice for how to lose pounds and maintain a healthy weight, but there’s one thing on which they almost all agree: fried foods are bad for your health. Recent research, however, suggests it might not be that simple. In one study, subjects with the most fried food consumption had about the same risk of coronary heard disease and a lower mortality rate than those with the least.

Of course, that isn’t as simple as it sounds either. The type of oil used, for example, makes a big difference in the outcome. The people in that study were eating food fried generally in sunflower oil or olive oil, and another study found that food fried in extra-virgin olive oil can lower insulin levels. Other oils and fats—the ones more commonly used at all but the highest-end restaurants—are less healthy. Fried foods may not cause heart disease, but they are high in calories. Reusing cooking oil can also change it from neutral or beneficial to a danger. Reheating sunflower oil after it has been used once, for example, releases compounds called aldehydes, which can cause cancer in high amounts. One reuse is generally safe, but the risk increases after that.

Nonetheless, there is some evidence that some of the reputation of fried foods is guilt by association, in which a diet high in fried foods also tends to include a lot of fast-food meals, a high salt intake, a lot of processed foods, and other unhealthy choices. Fried foods aren’t harmful in moderation—and nearly anything eaten immoderately is bad for you—but they’re often served as part of meals that are. The study that found no harm was done in Spain, and the standard Mediterranean diet is famously heart-healthy; it may well be that the benefits of the overall diet compensated for the health problems caused or exacerbated by frying.

Moreover, the foods people choose to fry are often questionable no matter how they’re prepared. Deep-fried cola, a dessert invented at the Texas state fair, is probably bad for your health, but cola in any form is bad for your health. Frying vegetables, on the other hand, doesn’t rob them of nutritional value, and while the results may not be better for you than vegetables cooked by other methods, it’s an improvement over deep-fried junk food.

CPR Training

Lower-income and rural areas, particularly in the South, have very few people trained in proper cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques, according to a new study by Duke University. These are the areas that most need people who are trained in CPR—they are the parts of the country with the highest rates of cardiovascular illness, meaning people are more prone to heart-related medical emergencies—but they are also the areas where people to whom those emergencies happen are least likely to have someone around who can help.

This is a serious public health issue, researchers say, because CPR, performed quickly, can dramatically improve survival rates. Survival drops off ten percentage points for every minute of delay in starting CPR. Even simple compression CPR—call 911, then push hard and fast on the chest until help arrives—can help save lives, at least as compared to doing nothing. Often, nothing is exactly what people who see a person go into cardiac arrest do, generally out of a fear that they’ll do something wrong and cause further harm. That’s why laws have been passed in North Carolina and 11 other states that make CPR training a requirement for high school graduation, with yet more states considering doing the same.

Even without a requirement, more and more schools are teaching students CPR. In fact, the American Heart Association has developed a training kit specifically designed to be used with school health curricula to teach CPR to teens. It uses an inflatable manikin and a DVD to teach the needed skills in less than 30 minutes. The hope is that by teaching CPR to the next generation, we can be sure people will be able to help for a long time to come.

Even faster are one-minute training kiosks for compression CPR such as one recently installed in Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The American Heart Association revised its guidelines in 2010 to reflect the understanding that this hands-only form of CPR can save lives when ambulances are on the way. The kiosk in Dallas is part of a pilot program to create instructional guides that untrained bystanders can turn to in an emergency situation.

Healthy Holidays To You

Holiday season can be as difficult as it is fun. Studies show that stress levels peak around this time of year. Here are some tips for a healthy holiday season:

  • Take the time to rest and recharge, and be sure to get enough sleep.
  • If you’re traveling across time zones, keeping hydrated—meaning avoiding alcohol or caffeine—can help minimize jet lag. Sleep and eat on destination time the day before you leave if you can.
  • Try to stay with healthy snacks, especially on non-holiday holiday days such as the weekend after Thanksgiving or Christmas.
  • Stand on a step-stool to hang decorations or get things down from high places, or have someone tall do it. Standing on furniture not made to support standing isn’t safe.
  • At holiday celebrations, try to eat healthy, but don’t feel you need to stick to a strict diet when people around you are indulging. The average person gains only a pound between Thanksgiving and the end of the year.
  • If you have diabetes, check your glucose at least once during holiday meals.
  • People who have recently quit smoking or drinking, or who have just embarked on the road to recovery from substance abuse, should be given plenty of opportunities to step away from the busiest parts of celebrations and relax—and should not be nagged about relapsing.
  • If you’ve been drinking, don’t get behind the wheel, all the more so when you’ll be driving on dark or icy roads.

The good news is that holiday time can actually make you healthier. The time with your family and friends, and the holiday cheer, is good for you. So bask in the glow and have a happy holiday season.

Take care to avoid an ER visit this Thanksgiving

It may or may not come as a surprise to you to find out that with the holidays come some interesting emergency room stories. Make sure that your family stays safe this Thanksgiving by learning from others mishaps.

Turkey problems
This big bird is more than just the center of our meal on Thanksgiving Day. From cooking to carving to enjoying, turkeys have been known to send people to the hospital. Anyone who is considering deep frying their bird should take the utmost precaution when doing so.

"We've had fires that singed hair and eyebrows, and splash burns to the face," Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician, told LiveScience.1

Also, whether you're carving while distracted or after having a few drinks, this can be dangerous to your health. Reports of finger and thumb lacerations are not uncommon in the ER during the holidays. Make sure to take care and slice nothing other than the carcass so that the family can actually enjoy the bird that cooked for hours.

And many of us know the issue of indigestion following a huge turkey dinner. However, if symptoms become so severe as to cause vomiting or intestinal blockage, you'll need to go to the hospital. There have even been reports of choking on pieces of dry turkey that are eaten too quickly. So, slow down and enjoy your dinner.

Getting there
A lot of people travel great distances around the holidays to see family and friends, in fact the day before is one of the busiest days on the roads.2 Unfortunately, this time of year is generally joined by bad weather. Regardless of the conditions outside, you can expect to hit some traffic on Turkey Day, so leaving early is always the best decision. Not only will this prevent stress from running late, but it will allow you to slow down on ice-covered roadways. Plus, if you're heading off to your in laws, there's no need to add to the anxiety you may already be experiencing.

Medex Supply is happy to provide ERs and other facilities with all the necessary medical supplies for treating even the strangest of Thanksgiving incidents. From surgical instruments to blood pressure monitors, the online medical supply store serves both individuals and professionals.

1 LiveScience, "Thanksgiving trauma: The 7 strangest holiday ER visits" November 27, 2013
2 ABC News, "Relatives, alcohol, knives and other ED Thanksgiving tales" November 25, 2011

News for hepatitis C patients

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new treatment for hepatitis C – an infectious disease of the liver. This condition affects an estimated 4 million or more Americans and can lead to a chronic infection in 55 percent to 85 percent of sufferers. From there, 75 percent of patients end up having liver disease.1 Because of this, the FDA's news could have a serious impact on the population.

Background on hepatitis C
This virus is spread through blood or bodily fluids that are already infected. This can be due to needle-sharing in street drug usage, and mothers can transfer the infection to their children during pregnancy. Since 1992, there has been a great decrease in cases, due to the implementation of blood screen procedures. This means that someone receiving a blood transfusion has a minimal risk of contracting hepatitis C as a result.

Someone who is suffering from this infection may not even realize they are carrying the virus. However, there are a few symptoms that occur in some cases: dark urine, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and/or jaundice. If present at all, these signs will not be present for six to 12 weeks following exposure. Whether or not someone is aware of their condition, it is imperative that the infection be caught before it turns into liver disease.

In order to diagnose hepatitis C, medical professionals must do a biopsy of the liver. In most cases, any damage that has already been done upon diagnosis is irreversible. So, anyone who is at a high risk of contracting the infection should talk to their doctor about being tested, regardless of whether or not they are exhibiting any symptoms. Individuals at risk include dialysis patients, those who received a blood transfusion prior to 1992, someone who has been in contact with another individual who has hepatitis C, health care workers, HIV patients, people with other liver issues, and anyone who has used or is currently using injection drugs.

Treatment: old and new
Currently, health care professionals will remove the diseased liver immediately upon diagnosis. Until recently, there were only two drugs available to treat the infection: interferon and ribavirin. In many cases, these medications will be used together. Since only 15 percent to 25 percent of those who have contracted hepatitis C experience a full recovery from the virus, the medical industry has continued to look for other options. That's where the FDA's recently approved drug comes into play.

Olysio (simeprevir) is now an available option to help treat certain patients who have the infection. According to HealthDay, those who have cirrhosis or other liver diseases (but still have a functioning organ), individuals who have yet to be treated for hepatitis C and people who have not seen any improvements to their condition due to hepatitis C following other treatments are able to consider this new drug.2 This is great news because interferon is known to have some difficult side effects. Simeprevir could soon replace that portion of the current combination doctors are prescribing to patients who have been infected with hepatitis C.

"This could be the beginning of the end for hepatitis C, if everyone that has it gets tested and treated, as the CDC recommends for baby boomers," Dr. Douglas Dieterich explained to the source.

Medex Supply is a top online provider of medical supplies that can help prevent infection to both individuals and health care professionals.

1 National Institutes of Health, "Hepatitis C" October 1, 2009
2 HealthDay, "FDA approves new treatment for hepatitis C infection" November 25, 2013

Blood Sugar And Memory

Diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease are so closely linked—in causes, in risk factors, even in some of their effects and symptoms—that Alzheimer’s has been referred to as "type 3 diabetes." Uncontrolled diabetes is very closely associated with a heightened risk of developing vascular dementia resulting from poor blood flow to the brain, in old age. Worse, some researchers suspect there’s a cycle, with diabetes and dementia each making the other worse.

Moreover, new research suggests that you don’t have to have diabetes, or even a diabetes precursor, such as glucose intolerance, for your memory to be affected. A recent study found that simple high blood sugar is enough to affect subjects’ performance on a standard laboratory memory test. The subjects all had blood sugar near the top of the normal range, well below the level that is the standard for a diagnosis of diabetes. In addition to the memory test, brain MRI scans showed that the area of the brain responsible for memory was lower in people with high blood sugar levels.

"These results suggest that even for people within the normal range of blood sugar, lowering their blood sugar levels could be a promising strategy for preventing memory problems and cognitive decline as they age," said Dr. Agnes Floël, the author of the study, in a statement. "Strategies such as lowering calorie intake and increasing physical activity should be tested."

In addition to keeping blood sugar levels under control, there are several things you can do to help maintain and improve your memory. For one thing, in addition to physical activity, make sure to keep up mental activity. Don’t let yourself stagnate alone; things like crossword puzzles, spending time with friends or in group activities, or learning a language or a musical instrument can all help keep your mind sharp. You’re never too old to take a class or learn a craft. Keeping your space organized will help organize your brain, and make it easier to remember things in general. Preventing dementia won’t just give you a longer life, but also a richer one; it means having not just more years, but better years.

New protocol for surgical patients in Wales

There's an abundance of evidence supporting the negative effects that smoking and obesity can have on surgical and wound recovery times. As a result, health care professionals in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan are beginning to take steps toward educating those who are scheduled to undergo non-emergency surgical procedures.

In the news
According to BBC News, patients who smoke or are considered obese will have to undergo "lifestyle" courses before having planned surgeries starting December 1.1 This is in an effort to help the individuals make healthier life decisions moving forward, by providing support and advice in adapting their habits.

"Nobody has to quit or lose weight but there is clear evidence showing that any changes can reduce the risk of complications in surgery, reduce recovery time and improve your chances of a successful surgery," Dr. Sharon Hopkins explained to the source. "But some people do manage to quit or lose weight, which is absolutely great for them, their health and their surgical results."

It is believed that nearly 2 percent of the adult population in Cardiff and Vale has a body mass index of more than 40 and 21 percent of these individuals smoke, which is what has led to this new policy. In the last several months, there has been a great deal of disagreement over whether or not it should be put into place. Of course, the requirements are not relevant for someone who is in need of emergency surgery, but it is unclear how successful the courses will be.2

Effects of obesity
According to Science Daily, professionals from Laval University evaluated the risk of obesity on patients in 2009. The research included anyone with a BMI of 40 or greater, which made up 3 percent to 4 percent of the population at that time. Specifically, those who suffered from both obesity and issues such as past instances of heart failure, current levels of high blood pressure or a history of blood clots had increased risks for experiencing other health issues during surgery.3

"Since recovery can be a problem for these patients, we recommend that they take steps to be as healthy as possible before going into surgery," Dr. Paul Poirier, lead author on the study, told the source. "For example, the person with diabetes should get his or her blood sugar under control."

This is where programs such as those soon to take place in Wales come into play. Educating patients on the problems associated with their current weight and undergoing surgery is a great start, but many need further guidance.

Smoking and wound healing
However, obesity is not the only health issue to be seen to have negative effects on postoperative patients. Someone who decides to smoke while their wound from a major surgery is trying to heal will experience issues. According to the University of Wisconsin, the blood vessels become smaller when an individual smokes. As a result, these vessels have a difficult time transporting oxygen, nutrients and other healing contributors to a wound site.4 Therefore, most will experienced prolonged healing times if they opt to smoke, even occasionally, following surgery. The source also cites a number of issues that may arise when one chooses to smoke during recovery:

  • blood clots
  • infections
  • prolonged hospital stays
  • illnesses ranging from a cold to pneumonia
  • unnecessary scarring
  • unsuccessful skin grafts

Health care professionals interested in purchasing surgical equipment can visit Medex Supply online. Individuals will also find a number of wound care supplies readily available from the company.

1 BBC News, "Pre-surgery weight and smoking courses rolled out in Cardiff and Vale" November 25, 2013
2 Walesonline, "Smokers and obese face pre-surgery courses from December 1" November 25, 2013
3 Science Daily, "Severe obesity increases risk of health problems during surgery" June 22, 2009
4 UW Health, "Smoking and wound healing: a guide for surgical and burn patients" May 14, 2013

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot in a large vein usually in a leg, strikes around 2 million Americans each year. As common as it is, it should not be dismissed as harmless. Though it is usually not life-threatening, the clot can travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism, or the brain, causing a stroke, and those conditions can be fatal. Deep vein thrombosis is thus responsible for approximately 200,000 deaths each year.

The direct cause of the condition is restricted mobility, and so it is generally associated with airplanes—sitting for a long time in cramped circumstances, not walking around or even changing position. However, deep vein thrombosis is also common after long hospital stays, certain types of surgery including knee and hip replacement, some kinds of cancer, and some kinds of cancer treatment. In addition, there are blood disorders that can cause clotting and make people prone to thrombosis, and heart disease is also a risk factor. Some of these diseases are hereditary, meaning people with a family history of deep vein thrombosis or other clotting disorders need to be particularly on alert.

In addition to walking around when possible, there are steps you can take to lower the risk of deep vein thrombosis. Vitamin K contributes to clotting, and it’s found in green leafy vegetables, liver and foie gras, and certain cooking oils. People who are unavoidably going to be still for a while—for instance, after surgery—can get compression stockings to help prevent clotting in the legs. In some cases, people who are especially vulnerable to clots may be prescribed medications called anti-coagulants, or blood thinners, to prevent them.

Left untreated, thrombosis can lead to pulmonary embolism or stroke, or to a condition called postphlebitic syndrome. The pain and swelling in the legs and discolored skin that characterize postphlebitic syndrome may not occur for months or even years after the thrombosis occurs. Treatments include anti-coagulants and medications that break up clots. In some cases a wire filter can be put in a wide blood vessel to break up clots before they reach the slightly narrower veins in the legs.

Thanksgiving desserts for diabetics

Just because you're a diabetic doesn't mean that you shouldn't be able to enjoy a sweet dessert this Thanksgiving. There are a number of recipes floating around on the Internet that will satisfy your craving, without getting your whole system out of whack. Eating Well is a great resource to check out for some tasty treats.

Maple-pumpkin custards1
This recipe is best made two days ahead of time so the custard cups can sit in the refrigerator. However, you can also make it the day of if you are running low on time. Before beginning, keep in mind that you will need six 6-ounce custard cups.

4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups 1 percent milk
3/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
3 tablespoons whipped cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, regardless of if you are cooking the custards ahead of time or day of. Heat a pot or kettle of water so that you can create a water bath. You'll also want to line your roasting pan with a kitchen towel that has been folded.

Now, heat the milk over low heat in a small saucepan. It should barely steam, without boiling. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and syrup together. Once smooth, carefully combine the warm milk to this mixture a little at a time – otherwise you risk cooking the egg. Then you can add the puree, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, whisking until all is blended evenly.

Take your custard cups and distribute the mixture among them evenly. If a foam creates on the top of each dish, be sure to remove it before placing them in the roasting pan. Now, take the boiling water and carefully pour it into the pan until it is halfway up the sides of the cups. Everything will then be placed in the oven to bake uncovered for 45 to 50 minutes. The custards should appear set, while still jiggling in the center.

Once baked, remove from the oven and transfer the cups to a wire rack to cool. These should sit for about 45 minutes and can then be covered and refrigerated for at least an hour. When you're ready to serve, just top each custard with whipped cream and some ginger.

Chocolate-pumpkin cake2
When you think of Thanksgiving, how can you not think of desserts featuring pumpkin? This recipe adds the seasonal gourd to chocolate for a satisfyingly sweet Bundt cake.

1 15-ounce can unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup nonfat buttermilk
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg white, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and coat your 12-cup Bundt cake pan with cooking spray.

Then, whisk the flours, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and soda, pumpkin spice and salt together in a medium-sized bowl. Use an electric mixer on low to blend the buttermilk, puree and brown sugar together. Add the eggs, beating, and then stir in the oil, corn syrup and vanilla. Now, gradually incorporate the dry ingredients. Transfer to your pan.

Bake for about 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing the cake from its pan, and then leave to cool for another 2 hours. Add a glaze by stirring together 1/2 cup of packed confectioners' sugar and 1 tablespoon of nonfat buttermilk and drizzling it over the cake.

Medex Supply provides medical professionals with a number of diabetic supplies for helping to manage diabetes.

1 Eating Well, "Maple-pumpkin custards with crystallized ginger" fall 2002
2 Eating Well, "Glazed chocolate-pumpkin Bundt cake" October/November 2006

Cerebral Palsy Risk

Researchers are zeroing in on a more precise and detailed understanding of the risk factors for cerebral palsy, a category of motor deficiency conditions that result in physical disability. There are a number of related conditions grouped under the term "cerebral palsy," with a variety of causes, but they all involve damage to areas within the largest part of the brain, the cerebrum.

The common wisdom about cerebral palsy is that this damage is a result of asphyxial birth events, such as nuchal cord—a fairly common condition in which a baby is born with the umbilical cord wrapped around the neck—or other things that interfere with oxygen reaching the brain during or immediately after birth. New research, however, shows that nuchal cord is harmless more often than not, and other problems are more important in cerebral palsy than previously realized.

Those other problems are primarily inflammation due to infection, low birth weight, and birth defects. Low weight and birth defects were found in over half of all children with cerebral palsy, and the dyskenesia, or problems coordinating muscle movements, present in some types of cerebral palsy was associated only with those factors, and not with asphyxiation during birth at all. Low birth weight is common with premature births, and birth defects are common in babies born to mothers who had rubella, chickenpox, toxoplasmosis, or certain other infectious diseases while they were pregnant. Children born in multiple births, particularly when there is a miscarriage, are also particularly prone to cerebral palsy.

There are support groups available in many communities and online for people with cerebral palsy and for parents of children with cerebral palsy. However, people with cerebral palsy can do more than simply cope with the condition. There’s no cure, but ongoing treatment can often help people with strength and movement, through a combination of training, medication, and surgery in some cases. Physical and occupational therapy can also be useful, though they can only do so much. The goal with treatment for cerebral palsy is not to eliminate every trace of the condition but to make it possible for people to carry out the routine tasks of daily life.