Tuesday, December 4, 2007

November Health News

High Blood Sugar

Maybe you've been diagnosed with diabetes, or maybe your doctor has told you to watch your diet in order to control your blood glucose levels. Here are some highlights, recently published from the Institute for Point of Care Testing regarding hyperglycemia.

Hyperglycemia is associated with a number of serious health complications, especially in the presence other medical disorders. Critically and acutely ill patients with elevated blood glucose levels experience higher rates of complications during hospitalization. Serious infections following surgery are more common. Death is more common in the Intensive Care Unit.

Hospitalized patients experience spikes in blood glucose levels, perhaps as the result of stress; as a means for the body to adapt to illness. The phenomenon exists even in non diabetic patients.

Aggressive treatment of new hyperglycemia in hospitalized patients has not been routinely targeted. It is not uncommon to see glucose levels above 200. The normal range is 80-110. It is now obvious that hyperglycemia results in higher death rates following surgery, trauma to the head, burns, stroke and heart attack. Hyperglycemia increases the severity of strokes and heart attack.

The risk is worse in persons who are not diabetic, in other words, new onset of hyperglycemia.

The DIGAMI (Diabetes and Insulin-Glucose Infusion in Acute Myocardial Infarction) study has shown that providing insulin therapy for three months following new onset of hyperglycemia decreased the relative risk of death from complications by 30%. Follow up at 3.4 years showed an absolute reduction in deaths of 11%. The risk reduction was seen in diabetics who had not previously been on Insulin and who had no risk factors for heart attack.

To summarize, intensive control of blood sugar is needed to help the body fight infection, prevent death from complications of illness, reduce the extent of heart attack and stroke, slow the progression of damage to the organs and improve overall quality of life.

If you are diabetic, or have been told that your blood sugar levels are high, take care with your diet. Monitor you blood sugar levels and report abnormalities to your physician. Though it may seem harmless, the risks associated with high blood sugars have a definite negative impact on the body's ability to heal. Hyperglycemia clearly contributes to complications of existing illness.

If you have a family history of diabetes, see your doctor for regular screening and follow up.

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Fasting May Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints (LDS) live longer than the non LDS population. Researchers have investigated lifestyle to determine what might account for the increase in longevity. The Mormon population regularly fasts for twenty four hours once a month, and is a non smoking group.

It's possible that regular fasting plays a role. There also seems to be a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease among non LDS members who regularly fast; 66% lower for LDS members and 61% lower for non LDS study participants who regularly fast. Dr Benjamin Horne (Intermountain Medical Center, Murray, UT) presented the results of the study during the American Heart Association (AHA) 2007 Scientific Sessions.

The Intermountain Heart Collaborative Study first conducted interviews with 4600 participants. Risk factors for coronary artery disease were determined among the participants. Of the 4600 people, 1467 regularly fast and are not part of the religious group. Both groups, regardless of religious beliefs, had a lower risk of heart disease when coronary angiogram (cardiac catheterization) was performed. Angiography was performed on 515 members of the study.

To explain the effect, it’s possible that fasting signals the body's metabolism to "dip" into its storage of nutrition, altering the way the body processes glucose (sugar) and insulin. It's also speculated that people who fast may simply have better overall control over their dietary habits.

Further investigation is needed to completely define what role fasting seems to play in cardiovascular health. Presently, the potential benefit is just implied. Diabetics should not consider fasting as an option for the reduction of heart disease.

It's a concept that hopefully will be further explored. It should be noted that people who restrict their intake of calories also live longer.

Qigong (Chi Gung) Exercise Shown to Reduce Neck Pain

Qigong has its roots in traditional Chinese medicine. Qigong or Chi Gung exercise involves breathing and movement designed to provide harmony to the body.

In the aforementioned study, one group received exercise, the other Qigong therapy. The participants all had been experiencing long term neck pain. Those excluded from the study included chronic tension-type headache, migraine, traumatic neck injury, neurologic findings, rheumatic diseases, fibromyalgia or other severe physical diseases, and treatment with antidepressive and anti-inflammatory drugs.

The study was performed between 2001 and 2004 and involved exercises over a period of three months for twelve treatments. Both groups showed improvement, making Qigong and exercise equally effective for the treatment of neck pain.

The researchers report that improvement was greater than 50% in both groups and was maintained for six to twelve months following therapy.

The study group was admittedly small and was not compared to a group receiving no therapy. It is felt however, that it would be safe to offer Qigong as a method for self management of unspecified chronic neck pain.

The results come from a study performed by Lansinger and colleagues.

Watch the video. Notice the flowing movements. Qigong is a very gentle way to help your body promote healing.

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America Public Health Association Takes a Stand on Climate Change

The American Public Health Association, (APHA) held their annual meeting. The executive director, Dr. Georges C. Benjamin has made a statement that the association is about to take a role in policies that affect climate change.

The effort is aimed at involving the public to make individual lifestyle changes. The goal is to improve our climate as it affects global health.

"Until now...most of the public dialogue has focused on ecological devastation. As a result, few Americans are aware of the very real consequences of climate change on their daily lives today," Dr. Benjamin said. "Climate change is one of the most serious public health threats facing our world, and public health needs to have a seat at the table for this conversation." Dr. Benjamin points out that what happens in one part of the world affects us all. He reminds us that we are globally interconnected.

Between now and April 2008, Dr. Benjamin will be designing a piece by piece plan to present to health practitioners to use in promoting public awareness and lifestyle changes. A plan will be devised to include simple steps that we all can take to diminish the effects of climate change. Examples of needed change include better urban design, decreased use of cars and more physical activity.

Dr. Benjamin states: "The prospect of $200 a barrel oil," more than twice the cost today, "is a very powerful incentive for major change." His belief is that people should be thinking about what they can be doing on a daily basis about climate issues that impact health.

Research will be needed to determine how to change existing behaviors. Considerations for economic impact must be also addressed. Participation in this endeavor will be facilitated through meetings with groups, individuals and through participation in the APHA blog which is expected to contain about 50,000 members.

Stay tuned for what you can do as an individual to improve the health of everyone by changing the way you live. Think about it every day. I urge you to do what you can.

Meat, poultry, vegetables feel heat from global warming

11/21/07 Updates: reprinted from Care 2
"Kansas Says No to Global Warming. On October 18, Kansas became the first state to reject a coal-fired power plant because of its global warming impacts. Kansas now leads the national surge against coal power expansion. Thanks to Earthjustice and to the many activists who took action to defeat the plant."

"Target Commits to Reduce PVC. Target has finally agreed to reduce its use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic. The company is reducing PVC found in many of its owned brand products including infant products, children's toys, shower curtains, packaging and fashion accessories. Thanks to Care2 members, concerned citizens and the Center for Health, Environment and Justice."

Watch the video. Breathe in and out slowly. Look at our beautiful world and see if you can "connect".

Simple Measure you can take:
Give Free Rice by Just Playing a Word Game
Visit Brilliant Energy
Thirty small suggestions
How to Save the Planet
Directory of Green Products

Do You Want to Stop Smoking?

I won't even try to talk about smoking. Everyone knows it's expensive.

Okay, if you think that was silly, then good. I'm soft peddling the issue. We all know it's bad for your health. Good news is here, and I think if you're serious at all about quitting, this should be encouraging.

Hypnotherapy has been again scrutinized as a viable means to help people stop smoking. Hypnotherapy outperformed all other methods after six months in terms of success. Fifty percent of patients who received hypnotherapy in the hospital remained smoke free when evaluated at six months as compared to those who tried to quit on their own. To further tout the advantage of hypnotherapy - that statistic is double the success rate when compared to those who used patches and nicotine replacement to quit.

All of the patients who entered the study decided how they wanted to quit smoking. Men primarily chose cold turkey; most of the women chose hypnotherapy and other chose a combination of nicotine replacement and hypnotherapy.

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