Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pneumococcal Vaccine Might Increase the Risk for Heart Attacks and Strokes

A small protective effect of flu vaccine on the incidence of heart attacks and strokes has been reported, and a similar preventive action has been suggested for the most common pneumonia vaccine. However, Dr. Hung Fu Tseng of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California managed care group looked at 84,000 men who had been vaccinated and reported no protective effect. Their conclusion that there was no protection, however, appeared to be politically motivated. Their findings actually showed a 3-4 times higher incidence of strokes and heart attacks in patients that received this common vaccine. That risk should have hit the headlines, and instead was swept under the rug. Pneumococcal vaccine is still recommended for everyone over the age of 65, children and people who have come down with at least one episode of pneumonia. We need to take a long, hard look at what is going on, after this important study.

See Family Practice News (click here), June 1, 2010, p. 17.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

High-Dose Flu Shot on its Way

Last December, the FDA approved a new high-dose flu shot that is four times as strong as previous seasonal flu shots. This new shot is designed to increase the antibody response for older adults, who are more susceptible to the respiratory flu. Research has shown higher antibody titres, but there is no evidence that this shot will translate into fewer patients getting the flu. Complication rates and mercury levels used as preservatives in the shots are not clear at this time. Caution is suggested for now.

See Family Practice News (click here), June 1, 2010, p. 15 and the FDA report on Fluzone High Dose (click here).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Blood Clots are a Common Reason Why Hospitals Can be Dangerous

About 900,000 venous thromobembolisms (VTE—blood clots) occur in the US annually, mostly after a hospitalization and sometimes with a fatal outcome. There are published guidelines on how to prevent VTEs, but physicians and hospital personnel tend to underestimate the risk and to often do not carry out effective preventive measures. If you or a loved one requires hospitalization, ask about early ambulation, anti-coagulant medication, compression stockings and various devices such as intermittent pneumatic pressure. When traveling, get up and change positions every hour, and do not sit for long periods with your legs crossed. These measures really work and can be life-saving.

See Family Practice News (click here), June 1, 2010, p. 13, the American Society of Hematology, and the Center for Disease Control.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Excess Overtime Work is a Good Way to Die Early of a Heart Attack

European researchers looked at men and women who regularly worked more than 11 hours a day. They found a 1.6 increase risk of heart attacks, angina, and premature death. Lack of exercise, poor diet, alcohol intake and hypertension did not seem to be factors, but a Type A personality and sleep deprivation were possible causes. Apparently, one can live a full life in about 2/3 the time just be working oneself to death. Rest and relaxation are important parts of a healthy lifestyle.

See Family Practice News (click here), June 1, 2010, p. 12.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Risk of Endometriosis is Reduced with Fish Oils

Harvard’s women’s health initiative showed that the incidence of endometriosis is reduced up to 48% with a higher intake of omega 3 fatty acids. The incidence was much higher with a diet high in trans fatty acids. The same findings have been found for cardiovascular and auto-immune diseases. Common sources of trans fatty acids are French fries, margarine, and crackers. The risk was slightly higher for those who ate diets very high in animal fats. The total amount of fat was not a factor.

See Family Practice news (click here), May 15, 2010, p. 44.