Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Elder Abuse on the Rise, Accordingly Death more Imminent

Seniors are at risk of abuseSelf-neglect by seniors increases their risk of death by nearly sixfold.  And those who are abused physically, emotionally, financially or through withdrawal of care don’t live much longer. Their risk for dying more than doubles, the researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago report.

Self-neglect includes inadequate food, water, clothing, shelter or necessary medications. Also simply not following basic hygiene practices falls under the experts’ definition of self-neglect which could increase the chances of an imminent fatal decline.

“Whether it was some decline in medical function that led to self-neglecting behavior, or the other way around, these people are in crisis, and social services and medical services need to have more communication and interaction,” the researcher said.

Signs of self-neglect include a sudden change in weight, hygiene, or worsening medical conditions. More difficult to detect are signs of abuse, but unexplained bruises or sudden change in doctors could be clues.  An older person who starts running out of money, when they never did before, frequently signals impending trouble. Items suddenly missing from their home is a familiar red flag social workers see in abuse cases. 

Financial abuse and exploitation are probably getting worse in the recession experts say.

The incidence of elder abuse, in general, is on the rise.  The 500,000 to 1,000,000 reports of elder abuse recorded by authorities every year are only the tip of the iceberg, according to 

The Administration on Aging, broadly defines abuse as: 

  • Emotional Abuse - Inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts. Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by spouses or caregivers are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.
  • Exploitation - Illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a vulnerable elder.
  • Neglect - Refusal or failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care or protection for a vulnerable elder.
  • Physical Abuse - Inflicting, or threatening to inflict, physical pain or injury on a vulnerable elder, or depriving them of a basic need.
  • Sexual Abuse - Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
  • Abandonment - The desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.

“In every state, physical, sexual, and financial abuses targeting elders that violate laws against assault, rape, theft, and other offenses are punishable as crimes. With some variation among states, certain types of emotional elder abuse and elder neglect are subject to criminal prosecution, depending on the perpetrators’ conduct and intent and the consequences for the victim,” according to

If you suspect abuse, neglect or explotation:

Sources: XinQi Dong, M.D., associate professor, medicine, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago; Karin Ouchida, M.D., assistant professor, medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, and medical director, Montefiore Medical Center Home Health Agency, New York City; Aug. 5, 2009, Journal of the American Medical Association

Sources: “Elder Abuse, Neglect Make Early Death Far More Likely”, HealthDay, August 4, 2009  


Full Extent of Swine Flu in U.S. is Not Known

Laboratory testing of swine flu is inadequate in the U.S. The ongoing outbreak of swine flu (H1N1) continues to grow in the United States and internationally.  Currently the CDC continues to report only 400 cases confirmed, with another 700 probable cases in 44 states.   But does the CDC’s running tally truly represent the number of swine flu cases in existence? 

Apparently not.  Some state labs are ramping up testing but reports are surfacing that authorities are far from having enough resources to test everyone.  In fact some labs are limited to testing as few as 2 swabs per day while the remaining specimens are put on hold, adding to the backlog of untested samples.  The Federal Government is working to expand capacity for testing around the country, but at this point the full extent of the outbreak is not being reported.

The Federal Government and manufacturers have begun developing a vaccine against the H1N1 swine flu virus.  Making a completely new influenza vaccine can take five to six months, according to the WHO.

Source:  “Reporter tries to get tested for swine flu“, Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2009
Source: CDC Press Briefing May 5, 2009 1:30pm

Swine Flu Outbreak Continues to Grow

The World Health Organization has raised the global alert level for swine flu to Phase 4, indicating that theA fever is characteristic of the flu virus is becoming more adept at spreading among humans. The increase in the pandemic alert phase indicates that the likelihood of a pandemic has increased.

The CDC has issued a travel warning recommending that people avoid non-essential travel to Mexico. Health officials are urging people to follow important, common sense preventive measures:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze, before eating or touching your face, mouth or nose.   Flu viruses can survive for two hours or longer on surfaces, such as doorknobs and countertops.
  • Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective. Carry a small bottle with you at all times to use when a sink is not available.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.  It is not spread by eating pork because cooking to an internal temperature of 160 F (71 C) kills the virus. So eating properly cooked pork is safe. Swine flu is spread like any other respiratory disease, via droplets from sneezes and coughs. You can breathe in these droplets or become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes or mouth.

If you get sick, the CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.  Call your doctor or health care provider for further recommendations.  An important note for children, always check with your pediatrician before giving your child any cold medicines. Do Not Give Aspirin To a Child or Teenager Who Has the Flu or Flu-like symptoms.

Read more:

Source:  CDC, April 28, 2009 


Weight Gain Associated with Injectable Contraception

Bathroom scalesWomen who use the injectable contraceptive DMPA (depot medroxyprogesterone acetate) are more likely to experience a significant increase in body weight and fat, according to a recent study from the The University of Texas Medical Branch.   In this study, the weight gain appeared to be somewhat reversible if nonhormonal contraception was used after discontinuation, but not if oral contraception was chosen.

Source: Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2009;200:329.e1-329.e8.

Dizziness Linked with Poor Bone Health

A woman with osteoporosisLow bone mineral density may be associated with a disorder that causes dizziness, according to Korean researchers.  Benign positional vertigo is an inner ear disorder that results in the sudden onset of dizziness, spinning, or vertigo when moving the head.  In this recent study, people with osteopenia had double the risk of benign positional vertigo, and those with osteoporosis had triple the risk of the condition, which was unrelated to head trauma or other known causes.

Osteoporosis is a major public health threat for 44 million Americans and is known as the “silent disease”. It is a silent disease in that it progresses insidiously and painlessly up until the first symptom, which is usually a broken bone.  Unfortunately by then, most of the damage has been done.  Early detection and prevention of osteoporosis is vital. (Image courtesy of Merck

Both men and women over age 50 are at risk. One-half of all women and one-fourth of all men over age 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their remaining lifetime. This occurs despite the fact that osteoporosis can be prevented and treated.  

Read more about the prevention, detection, and treatment of Osteoporosis

Source: Jeong S-H, et al “Osteopenia and osteoporosis in idiopathic benign positional vertigo” Neurology 2009; 72: 1069-1076.

Source: “Dizziness Linked to Bone Health” MedPage Today, March 23, 2009


Carbon Monoxide — Silent but Lethal

Carbon monoxide detectorEach year unintentional CO poisoning, not linked to fires, kills about 450 Americans and poisons at least 20,000, according to the CDC. A recent warning from the CDC says to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home, have your fuel-burning appliances serviced annually and install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector. Check or change its batteries each time you change your clocks. To learn about common exposure locations in your home, download a video from the CDC. 

Men More Likely Than Women to be Alcoholics

Alcoholic drinksA recent study found that men have a 1 in 5 lifetime risk of developing alcohol abuse or dependence, compared with only a 1 in 10 risk for women. However, the majority of both men and women do well after therapy for alcohol abuse, according to University of California researchers. 

Source: “Men More Than Twice as Likely as Women to Develop Alcohol Dependence”, The Lancet, January 23, 2009 


Energy Bars and Dog Biscuits Recalled Over Salmonella Concerns

Salmonella cases in the U.S.

Certain dog biscuits, and granola, energy and nutrition bars, have been added to the growing list of product recalls because they contain peanut paste from Peanut Corporation of America.  This Blakely, Ga., processing facility has been identified as the source of the Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak, according to the FDA. A significant association has recently been found between infection and prepackaged peanut butter crackers with Austin and Keebler brand crackers. 

As of January 20, 2009, the following products have been withdrawn or recalled, even though there has not been any known illnesses related to them:

  • NutriSystem Inc. has withdrawn its peanut butter granola bars carrying lot codes TC08158A, TC08188A, TC09158A, TC09168A, TC09178A, TC11148A, and TC11178A. The products were not available for retail purchase.
  • Evening Rise Bread Co. of McCall, Idaho, has recalled peanut butter cookies and peanut butter bars sold throughout Idaho.
  • Nature’s Path Organic Foods of Richmond, British Columbia, has withdrawn peanut butter-flavored Optimum Energy Bars, which carry the UPC code 058449777151 and are marked with a “best before” date of Oct. 1, 2009.
  • Country Maid Inc. has recalled two-pound packages of Classic Breaks peanut butter cookie dough, which were distributed through fundraising organizations from Oct. 6, 2008 through Jan. 9 and carry the lot numbers 26208, 26308, 29808, 33808, 36508.
  • Ready Pac Foods Inc. has recalled certain celery with peanut butter products sold under the Ready Pac, Trader Joe’s, and Eating Right brands and apple with peanut products sold under the Eating Right brand.
  • Premier Nutrition has recalled some of its Twisted and Titan brand nutrition bars in vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, and chocolate peanut crunch flavors.

On January 19, 2009, the FDA issued an advisory that any product containing peanut butter, such as cookies, crackers, cereal, and ice cream, should not be eaten at the current time until it can be cleared in the ongoing nationwide salmonella outbreak. The recommendation does not apply to name-brand jars of peanut butter available in grocery stores, which have not been implicated in the rash of infections.

Illustration courtesy of the CDC

via  “NutriSystem Announces Nationwide Voluntary Recall of Peanut Butter Granola Bar Due to Possible Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) Contamination and Potential Health Risk“, FDA, January 21, 2009

via “PetSmart Voluntarily Recalls Grreat Choice® Dog Biscuits“, FDA, January 20, 2009

via “PetSmart Dog Biscuits Recalled Over Salmonella Concerns“, MedPage Today, January 21, 2009 


Salmonella found in King Nut peanut butter

Peanut butter sandwichThe likely source of the national salmonella outbreak has been identified in a container of peanut butter at a Minnesota nursing home.  The 5-pound container of King Nut peanut butter, which tested positive, appears to be manufactured for sale in large containers to institutions such as nursing homes, cafeterias, etc.

Salmonella Typhimurium has been reported in 43 states since Sept. 3. The infections have been linked to 400 illnesses and three deaths — two in Virginia and one in Minnesota.

The distributor of King Nut peanut butter has taken voluntary action to withdraw its peanut butter products from the marketplace. The FDA, CDC, and state health agencies are continuing to investigate whether these products are the source of the national outbreak. 

via FDA, January 12, 2009 

Gulf War illness is from exposure to toxic chemicals

SoldiersOften dismissed as a psychosomatic disorder, Gulf War illness is actually due to exposure to toxic chemicals affecting at least 25 percent of the 700,000 U.S. veterans who took part in the 1991 Gulf War, according to a recent federal panel of scientific experts and veterans. The main causes are pesticides that were often overused during the war, and a drug given to U.S. troops to protect them from nerve gas.

Gulf War illness is frequently described as a pattern of symptoms that includes memory and concentration problems, chronic headaches, fatigue and widespread pain. Other symptoms often include persistent digestive problems, respiratory symptoms and skin rashes. There are also much higher rates of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in this group of veterans, and soldiers who were downwind from large-scale munitions demolitions in 1991 have died from brain cancer at twice the rate of other Gulf War veterans.

The panel presented the 450-page report to Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake. No effective treatments have been found for the disorder. The committee reported that overall federal funding for Gulf War research has declined substantially in recent years.  In conclusion, the group urged lawmakers to devote $60 million annually to such programs.

In an article by Health Day News, James Binns, chairman of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses said,”It took 20 years to admit that Agent Orange, a defoliant used in the Vietnam war, caused illness. It’s now coming up to 17 years on Gulf War illness. Troop exposures [to these chemicals] were a serious but honest mistake. Covering it up rather than trying to help them has been unconscionable.”

via Health Day News, November 17, 2008