Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Q&A Session at HealthTap.com

I workout at the gym every day.I take protein supplements and 10 egg whites and skimmed milk for protein.my uric acid is high.how to reduce it.



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He takes a lot of time for doing toilet as the rate of flow is very slow. What could be the problem and how can it be checked?



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Q&A Session at HealthTap.com

When do i stop having sex with my pregnant partner?



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USPSTF's Draft Recommendations re Lung Cancer Screening

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), that most august body, has just put out a draft recommendation for lung cancer, making it available for public comment thru Aug 26th. This Grade B recommendation to annually screen smokers with low dose CT scan was based upon a systematic review of currently available evidence published online yesterday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

So what's this mean for you & me?  Well, the evidence was given a B grade.  In other words, USPSTF believes that there is high certainty that net benefit is moderate or that there is moderate certainty that net benefit is moderate to substantial.  Did you catch that?  It's not an A grade in which USPSTF would believe that there is high certainty that net benefit is substantial.  

High certainty means that the available evidence is consistent and derived from well-designed & well-conducted studies, and as such are unlikely to be affected by future data.  OK, that's fine but if you read the systematic review itself, the USPSTF could only find 4 trials, of which only one was large & of good quality showing significant benefit in lung cancer & all-cause mortality.  The other 3 were small (underpowered) & did not demonstrate any benefit (insufficient duration to evaluate effectiveness).  So how is the evidence consistent?  And how is it that underpowered studies of insufficient duration were judged well-designed & well-conducted?

Before you jump to conclusions and rush out for your own LDCT scan, read the evidence review yourself.  And ask the USPSTF (by commenting on their website) if the evidence is really that good & strong enough to support these draft recommendations?  



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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Q&A Session at HealthTap.com

What can I do to guard against osteoporosis ?



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I have sleep apnea & use C-pap will I always have this forever? Am about 20lbs overweight. Would losing weight help get rid of apnea?



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I have an important interview tomorrow afternoon, what steps can I take to ensure my mind and body are in top shape?



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Does Your Back Hurt? Don't Go See Your Doctor Unless . . .

A very interesting study was published yesterday in JAMA Internal Medicine in which the authors noted that despite numerous guidelines to the contrary, simple uncomplicated back pain is being overtreated here in the States. Most recently, a number of specialty groups came together for the Choosing Wisely campaign to educate consumers on what not to do.  High up on the list is (not) getting some kind of imaging, be it xray, CT scan or MRI for simple back pain w/o any red flag signs/symptoms.  Chances are the study won't find anything wrong and certainly won't help you get better any faster than if you didn't exposure yourself to all that radiation.

But this isn't the first time that we've promulgated that bit of advice.  Yet in the article published yesterday, over the last 12 years, we've been ordering more CT scans & MRIs and prescribing more narcotics, none of which really helps. Unless you have numbness, tingling, weakness, incontinence, fever, sweats, chills, unexplained weight loss or known cancer, what you really need is time. But from personal experience, that was the longest 4 weeks of my life!




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Monday, July 29, 2013

Q&A Session at HealthTap.com

My toddler has had a fever of 102 all day and I havent been able to keep it down, he just puked Ibuprofen and he's been lethargic, what should I do?



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Q&A Session at HealthTap.com

Pls can u advice of causes of persistent high pulse , mine is often between 85 to 90+ for more then 6 months now approx it checked regularly ?



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My friend has heb b is it ok if she takes liverite?



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Dietary Supplements: Is the Fox Guarding the Hen House? Part 6

In case you weren't aware, no dietary supplements are "FDA approved".  In fact, there is no legal requirement that the manufacturers prove the safety of their product or truthfulness of their advertising claims prior to selling to unsuspecting individuals ready to grab at any ray of hope.  Unfortunately, there are really no quick fixes.  Granted, not every barrel of apples has a rotten one, but two recent stories are worrisome for the overall picture.

In the first, published last week in USA Today, the author focuses on the serial havoc just one person has managed to create with dangerous substances, not listed on "all natural" "all organic" product labels, to achieve advertising claims with harmful consequences. The very next day, the FDA issued a warning about another dietary supplement which contained two anabolic steroids which were, of course, not listed on the "all natural" "all organic" product labels.  But what I find most egregious about this second case is that the manufacturer is refusing to admit any wrongdoing or harm, much less remove its product from grocery store shelves, thus continuing to place the (uninformed) public at risk.  Caveat emptor.

Dietary Supplements: Part 5



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Friday, July 12, 2013

Q&A Session at HealthTap.com

Can i take my marvelon pills even if i stop it for 2 days? Coz i thought it cant be take together with duphaston?



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Q&A Session at HealthTap.com

17yeards old. Hard to gain weight. No beard/no body hair. Had prevention surgery because I tended to have testicular torsion. Do I have low testoster?



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How do you know how healthy your lungs are?any simple way to know?



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Quantity of Life vs Quality of Life: That Is The Question!

I made a house call yesterday and met an elderly lady who'd fallen, broken her arm, spent some time in rehab, and then returned home independently.  Obviously, she is a success story in that she has regained a relatively high level of function.  Interestingly, she did not make the connection between an elective hip replacement for chronic ongoing pain vs urgent repair of broken hip.  Granted, both lead to loss of function but she kept referring to having had a hip replacement despite being fully functional, running even, prior to her fall.  When I pressed further, she finally admitted that she'd broken her hip.  So I tried to explain why she hadn't had a hip replacement per se.

In any case, she'd been without a physician for the last several months as her primary care provider had retired.  She insisted that she needed her Temazepam 30mg nightly for sleep, which she'd taken for the last 15-20yrs after failing Dalmane & Ambien.  On the other hand, she had a bottle or two of Norvasc which she wasn't taken despite an elevated blood pressure.  Now, she was a well educated person, who was aware that hypertension is a silent killer.  Yet, when pressed, she couldn't explain why she was taking something that would reduce her risk for stroke while insisting on something that might increase her risk of falls & fracture (she insisted that her 2 falls had nothing to do w/her benzodiazepine).

I bring up this vignette because an analysis of the Global Burden of Disease was published 2 days ago in JAMA looking specifically at the state of our country's health from 1990 to 2010.  What's striking is that while all-cause mortality has decreased over this 2 decade period of time w/concomitant 3yr increase in healthy life expectancy, the number of years lived w/disability actually increased.  In other words, while our quantity of life has increased, our quality of life has decreased.  Even more striking is that while US life expectancy has increased, increase in life expectancy in other countries has outpaced ours such that we're slipping backwards on a global scale.

Which brings me back to my new patient who is well aware of hypertension's reputation as a silent killer.  And despite this knowledge in a well educated patient, she couldn't explain why she wasn't doing more to maintain her current level of function & quality of life.  This is why our national health is circling the proverbial drain.  We know what we need to do but we don't have the collective conscience to act upon our knowledge.



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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Q&A Session at HealthTap.com

85y male, low BP 80/50 past week, sudden presyncope, RHR 39, BP 140/86. No chest discomfort. Hx of triple bypass. Is it likely to be a heart attack?



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Q&A Session at HealthTap.com

For an obstetrician for ur fist time delivering would a male or female be more sympathetic? I want a need a new OB and want them to care about me.



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Q&A Session at HealthTap.com

Is there any new drugs for erectile disfunction?



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Statins: Are They Cost Effective?

Yesterday, we discussed a new study demonstrating the safety of statins and the low risk for potential side effects.  On that same day, a re-analysis of data from WOSCOPS was published early online in the European Heart Journal, in which the authors concluded that 5 years of primary prevention w/statins in middle-aged men was cost-effective in reducing healthcare expenditures related to cardiovascular events & healthcare utilization.  Of note, there was no link w/all-cause mortality.

As a quick refresher, WOSCOPS is the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study in which 6,595 participants 45-54yo were randomized to 5yrs of pravastatin vs placebo.  The participants were then followed out to 15yrs for this publication.  Even after taking into account cost of medications, use of pravastatin accounted for decrease rate of cardiovascular events, fewer hospital admissions yet short inpatient stays, plus less heart disease, heart failure & stroke plus less need for revascularization.

So bottom line, statins are safe to use and even cost effective in lowering risk for cardiovascular & cerebrovascular events, even in those who've yet to suffer such an incident.  However, as I noted yesterday, despite this study, statins, like all other medications, are not w/o risk.  Thus, we should not reach out to make use of them unless the patient has failed maximal non-pharmacologic therapy, eg nutrition & physical activity.



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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Q&A Session at HealthTap.com

Can advanced testo boost be taken if you have had a kidney tranplant?



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Q&A Session at HealthTap.com

I have HPV i think my life is over-no one will want 2 be with me- i need to live in constant fear of cancer, and its permanent?



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Q&A Session at HealthTap.com

What can I do totreat bv naturally I have no insurance. Im not sexually active,I dont douche, and I use none scented soap I even wear cotton underwear?



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Statins: Are They Safe or Not?

Depending upon to whom you listen, medications are either poison or miracles.  Personally, I think the truth is somewhere in between.  I believe there's a large but misguided attempt to label anything natural as better for you than something manufactured by Big Pharma.  After all, as I noted in a recent post earlier this week, would you wipe your behind w/poison oak or poison ivy just because it's natural?  Along those lines, there are those who believe red yeast rice is better & safer than dangerous statins as promulgated by those uninformed lackeys of Big Pharma, us physicians.  But if you read some of the recent literature on red yeast rice, you'll find that its manufacture leaves much to be desired in terms of safety & contaminants (which isn't to say that Big Pharma and even compounding pharmacies are blameless).

While I believe that physicians too easily pull out their pen or tablet/laptop these days to (electronically) prescribe medications, I also believe that some of the onus for the need for stronger & more powerful statins lies at the dinner table in front of the patient.  After all, we didn't become a nation of overweight & obesity by eating healthy.  Yet, when faced with the evidence before us that we need to change our lifestyles, too many of us would rather take the easy way out and pop a pill.  And those of us in busy practices too often find it easier to "treat 'em & street 'em", rather than take the time to explain (over & again) the impact of nutrition & physical activity on our health, cholesterol & atherosclerotic disease risk.

Of course, this makes us easy targets for others to point out the side effects of the poisonous statins we're prescribing: diabetes, elevated liver functions, muscle soreness/breakdown, memory loss, etc.  And so whenever there's an outcry about some new side effect, many patients stop their statins just like that, rather than considering whether the risk is worth the benefit (prevention of some cardiovascular, cerebrovascular or peripheral vascular event).  So it's good to the some good news come out of the statin camp in the form of a review & meta-analysis published online yesterday in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, in which the authors concluded that side effects of statins are not at all common.

In fact, the safety profile of simvastatin & pravastatin rank above the rest.  This isn't some small rinky dink study but rather the analysis of data from 55 placebo-controlled trials and 80 active-comparator trials involving 246,955 participants.  Admittedly, use of statins was linked to an increase risk of diabetes, liver function abnormalities and increase in liver functions.  But the overall benefit in terms of clinical outcome from this drug class outweighed the potential for adverse events.  As with all medications, take them as directed if you need them.  But if you can get away w/nutrition & physical activity, why not focus on lifestyle, save your money, & reduce your risk for side effects.



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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Q&A Session at HealthTap.com

Whats wrong when i have pain using the rest room but i do not have a std?



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6wks progressive worse left arm, neck sholder severe nausea . SOB when gardening, or after meal. EKG is clear 2wks ago. embarrassed to bother MD?



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Q&A Session at HealthTap.com

Why if B12 injections are given for "weightloss" did it cause a rapid heart rate and eating 3x more than normal to be satisfied?



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FDA Approves Low Dose Paroxetine for Hot Flashes

Estrogen remains the gold standard which we have to offer women suffering from menopausal symptoms.  That's why the Women's Health Initiative was arranged to compared women 10 years post-menopause such that they were unable to tell if any decrease in menopausal symptoms was due to estrogen or placebo.  Fine but what about those women can't/shouldn't use Estrogen to control their menopausal symptoms?  Well, many physicians have been recommending off-label use of Paroxetine to control the hot flashes.

So perhaps it should come to some as relief that the FDA just approved a low 7.5mg dose version of Paroxetine, branded as Brisdelle, to be used to manage hot flashes.  After all, it's a relief that we have other options.  Yet, the Food & Drug Administration went against the strong recommendations of its Advisory Panel which did not find adequate proof of benefit (just one less hot flash per day).  Which raises the question, if you're going to ignore your Advisory Panel, why convene them in the first place?



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Monday, July 8, 2013

Q&A Session at HealthTap.com

Can I take Kava Kava while on citoprolam hbr?



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Q&A Session at HealthTap.com

Am hypothyroid. Take med in morning. Can I switch to bedtime? Just read should not be taking med and having coffee within an hour. Thank you.



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Q&A Session at HealthTap.com

A verterinarian told me they give B12 injections to animals to gain weight? why then are B12 injections given to lose weight in humans?



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Fish (Oil) vs Breast Cancer

You are what you eat.  How many times have you heard that phrase?  Chances are you won't turn into a hot dog or potato chip but study after study demonstrates the impact of good nutrition on our health.  Most observational studies demonstrate benefit to making better choices and even a recent randomized controlled trial was able to demonstrate cause & effect benefit from the Mediterranean diet.  In general, the studies looking at fish (oil) have suggested heart disease & memory benefit.  But what about cancer?

Well, in a meta-analysis of 21 prospective cohort studies published less than 2 weeks ago in the British Medical Journal, the authors arrived at a rather interesting conclusion: while fish (and alpha linolenic acid for vegans) consumption was not linked to breast cancer risk, total intake of marine omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids was inversely linked to breast cancer, such that every 0.1g/d of fish oil was linked to 5% risk reduction in breast cancer.

Sure, they looked at 687,770 participants regarding fish intake, 527,392 regarding omega 3 PUFA intake, and 405,592 regarding ALA intake.  So just how does marine-derived omega 3 PUFA get linked to lower breast cancer risk while fish intake doesn't?  Let's remember that the devil is in the details.  Not every fish is chock full of omega 3 PUFA.  Unfortunately, a meal comprised of fish & chips won't help.  And my guess is that farm-raised salmon won't either.  You need the wild-caught salmon that's been feasting naturally in order to get your fill of omega 3 PUFA.  Think about that the next time you look for fish in your grocery store.



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