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Newsletter Archives > Monthly Health Newsletter: March 2013 Health Newsletter

March 2013 Health Newsletter

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» April Newsletter
» Obesity Linked to Chronic Back Pain
» Patients Rarely Advised of CT Scan Risks
» Beat Insomnia With More Exercise
» Drug-Resistant Bacteria On The Rise, Often Fatal in U.S.

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Author: RRW
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Obesity Linked to Chronic Back Pain

In a study published in the January 2013 issue of Spine, researchers in Norway have established a positive link between obesity and chronic lower back pain. The study was backed by census data of nearly twenty thousand men and women, aged 30-69 years and collected over a decade. Participants were divided into two groups; people without chronic back pain and those already experiencing chronic back pain. For the purposes of the study, 'chronic back pain' was defined as pain persisting for at least three months continuously over a year. The results, adjusted for age, physical activity levels, and other health factors indicated that the subjects who were 30 or more pounds overweight were 28 percent more likely to experience chronic lower back pain. The researchers pointed out that while the obesity may lead to the lower back pain, it is also possible that the lower back pain may lead to an increase in the subjects' obesity, due to decreased physical activity.

Source: Spine: 15 January 2013 - Volume 38 - Issue 2 - p 133–139.
Copyright: LLC 2013

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Patients Rarely Advised of CT Scan Risks

High powered x-rays, commonly referred to as CT scans, provide doctors with much clearer images and can lead to better accuracy when making a diagnosis. However, the scans also can expose a patient to up to 100 times more radiation than a standard x-ray. A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, indicates that patients are rarely advised of the possible health risks involved when receiving a CT scan, including increased risk of cancer. The majority of patients also believed that the final decision to have the scans belonged to their doctors. The JAMA study involved nearly 300 patients who received CT scans at the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center from November through December 2011. Results of the survey indicated that only 35 percent of the patients had discussed the risks of a CT scan with their physicians. 62 percent of the patients reported that the final decision to have the scan was made by their doctor. Only 17 percent reported being involved in the decision making process. The numbers are alarming when compared to the health risks posed by the scans. An unrelated study by the National Cancer Institute estimated approximately 29,000 future cancers related to CT scans done in 2007. In that year alone, there were nearly 72 million total CT scans performed in the U.S.

Source: JAMA Internal Medicine, online March 4, 2013.
Copyright: LLC 2013

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Beat Insomnia With More Exercise

For the nearly half of Americans who experience occasional insomnia, and the 22 percent who suffer from the condition nightly, a new survey by the non-profit National Sleep Foundation suggests the key to restful sleep is vigorous exercise. The survey of 1,000 people, conducted by phone and over the internet, indicates that people who exercise regularly have less problems getting to sleep and enjoy a better quality of sleep than those who do not. More than 75 percent of the respondents who reported themselves as working out regularly reported sleeping well, as compared to just over half of the people who reported not exercising at all. Interestingly, both groups reported getting the same amount of sleep; an average of just under seven hours a night during the work week. However, respondents who were physically active reported falling asleep more quickly, experiencing less sleeping problems and needing less sleep to function during the day. The sedentary people reported problems falling asleep at night, staying asleep, keeping awake during the day, taking more naps and exhibiting more symptoms of sleep apnea, a condition that causes breathing problems while sleeping. The experts concluded that even ten minutes of exercise a day could have a significant impact on the duration and quality of sleep.

Source: National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 Sleep in America® poll. March 4, 2013.
Copyright: LLC 2013

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Drug-Resistant Bacteria On The Rise, Often Fatal in U.S.

The rate of bacterial infections resistant to even the strongest antibiotics are rising in the U.S. and leading to untreatable and often fatal illnesses. In a recent press conference, officials from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2012 nearly four percent of patients in all U.S. hospitals were infected with the drug-resistant bacteria; the rate in specialty hospitals was nearly 18 percent. The officials called for doctors, hospitals and public health workers to come together to stop the infections from spreading. The last decade has seen an explosion in the rate of hospitalized patients contracting Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE’s. The name refers to the bacteria’s lack of response to carbapenems, a class of drugs currently regarded by experts as ‘last resort’ antibiotics. CRE’s are fatal to over half of patients who get bloodstream infections from them and include over 70 known species that occur naturally in water, soil and the human digestive system. The majority of CRE infections occur in patients receiving medical care for serious conditions in hospitals, long-term acute-condition care facilities and nursing homes. Patients in these facilities often receive antibiotics; the antibiotics wipe out susceptible bacteria but also clear the ground for CRE infections. While only one state reported CRE infections in 2001, they have since spread to 42 states. In 2011, an outbreak of a CRE strain of pneumonia at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Maryland killed seven patients, including a 16-year-old boy. The CDC is hoping to raise public awareness of the drug-resistant germs, as their spread can be controlled with better practices such as as washing hands, grouping patients with CRE together, dedicating staff, rooms and equipment to the care of patients with CRE and limiting the use of antibiotics.

Source: Reuters. March 6, 2013.
Copyright: LLC 2013

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