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HealthNews RoundUp - 1st Week of April, 2019



I’m Dr. Howard Smith, PENTA Medical Network,  reporting from NYC with the Health News Roundup for the 1st week of APRIL, 2019.  This is Health News You Should Use, the latest medical discoveries and commonsense advice from me that you can use in a practical way to keep yourself and your family healthy.  


Here are this weeks stories:

You CAN Prevent Childhood Drownings

Pregnancy Illness Triggers Preventable Childhood Brain Ills

ACL Repair Improved By Reducing Blood Flow

Gut Bacteria Wreck Your Arteries

Traffic Lights Halt Poor Food Choices

3D Mammography Eliminates Breast Biopsies

Smart Toilet Seat Diagnoses Heart Disease

Childhood Team Sports Prevent Later Depression For Men

Creative Productivity Soars When Dollars Drive Brainstorming Followed By Reflection

Losing Weight May Stop Migraines

Working Nights Triggers Miscarriage

Virtual Reality Cures Fear of Heights

Compression-Only CPR Can Save Lives

Dirtiest Air During Evening Commute

Heavy Drinking Stops Brain Growth


#Drowning #parenting #Choline #neuropathy #ADHD #pregnancy #ACL #sportsmedicine #Atherosclerosis #microbiome #TMAO #yogurt #oliveoil #fiber # dieting #Mammography #tomosynthesis #3Dmammography #breastbiopsy #Heartfailure #CHF #toiletseat #telemetry #readmissions #homemonitoring #Sports #teams #hippocampus #depression #music #art #Creativity #brainstorming #motivation #Migraines #obesity #Nightshift #miscarriage #highriskpregnancy #melatonin #Acrophobia #heights #VR #selfhelp #CPR #chestcompression #rescuebreathing #mouthtomouth #cardiacarrest #Pollution #commuting  #bicycling #walking #Alcoholism #teens #dementia #ulcer #cirrhosis



For more information#you’ll find all the references for the stories and a copy of show notes on my website at:


Let’s look at the news:


Preventing Childhood Drownings

With the coming of ever warmer weather, the news here is bad news.  At least 1000 children perish due to preventable drownings every year, and accidental drowning is the single leading cause of injury-related death for kids 1 to 4 years of age.  These tragedies occur because naturally-curious kids gain unexpected access to water.  Those children also at a high risk of drowning are teens who tend to be overconfident about their swimming skills.


These drownings are all preventable, and the American Academy of Pediatrics reminds parents about a few simple rules:

  • Teach your child to swim after the first birthday if your pediatrician agrees he or she is developmentally ready.

  • Never leave children alone or with another child near any water: pools, bathtubs, spas, or any open water including toilets.

  • When infants and toddlers are around water, an adult who is a good swimmer should be within arm’s reach.

  • An adult with lifesaving skills should supervise teen swimming.


Drownings can occur in an instant!  Keep vigilant and keep your kids safe and alive.


#Drowning #parenting #infants toddlers #teens #swimming #bathrooms #pools

Drowning, parenting, infants toddlers, teens swimming, bathrooms, pools



Pregnancy Illnesses May Trigger Preventable Childhood Brain Ills

Pregnant women will suffer colds and may get the flu despite receiving the flu vaccines.  When that occurs, the babies they are carrying are more likely to develop excessive neural sensitivity.  That in turn leads to agitation for infants and toddlers and attention deficits and even serious psychosis such as schizophrenia later in life.


A study by University of Colorado pediatricians and psychiatrists reveals that this problem may be prevented by sufficient levels of the essential B vitamin choline.  Choline is necessary for the synthesis of the cell membranes of neurons and the sheaths of nerves.


While choline is found in some foods including eggs, red meat, and liver, 75% of pregnant women fail to consume the recommended daily 450 milligrams of this nutrient.  Unfortunately, prenatal vitamins do not contain choline.


Pregnant women should take a 500 mg choline supplement daily for at least the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.  Choline may be obtained from most drugstores and online.


Robert Freedman, Sharon K. Hunter, Amanda J. Law, Brandie D. Wagner, Angelo D'Alessandro, Uwe Christians, Kathleen Noonan, Anna Wyrwa, M. Camille Hoffman. Higher Gestational Choline Levels in Maternal Infection Are Protective for Infant Brain Development. The Journal of Pediatrics, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2018.12.010


#Choline #neuropathy #agitation #ADHD #psychosis #schizophrenia #pregnancy

Choline, neuropathy, agitation, ADHD, psychosis, schizophrenia



ACL Repair Improved By Reducing Blood Flow

The knee takes a beating in many athletic contests, and anterior cruciate ligament repair is a frequent operative event in the world of sports medicine.  During recovery, though, there tends to be a loss of muscle mass and bone density despite good rehabilitation therapy.


Orthopedic surgeons at Houston’s Methodist Hospital report to the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine that precise and cyclic limitation of blood flow to the healing limbs during postoperative rehabilitation exercises reduced if not eliminated the loss of both muscle and bone mass.  An automated tourniquet was used to reduce the blood flow by about 80% on an intermittent basis.


Researchers across the country and around the world are now studying this phenomenon to better understand the underlying reasons for the benefit.  If you are contemplating an ACL repair, ask your orthopod about this tourniquet technique.


American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. "Blood flow restriction therapy may protect against bone loss following ACL reconstruction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 March 2019.


#ACL #anteriorcruciateligament #sportsmedicine #musclewasting #osteoporosis

ACL, anteriorcruciateligament, sportsmedicine, musclewasting, osteoporosis



Gut Bacteria Can Wreck Your Arteries

As the search continues to understand why our arteries self-destruct as we age, it appears that the bacteria in our gastrointestinal systems may play a key role along with, of course, cholesterol.  Physiologists at the University of Colorado report that aging leads to more pathologic bacteria in the gut and more inflammatory metabolites like trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) in the body to foster atherosclerosis-driven coronary artery disease and stroke.


The investigators used a mouse model and found that eliminating pathogenic gastrointestinal bacteria reduced circulating inflammatory substances such as TMAO and improved the health of the animals blood vessels.  


To apply this information for human benefit, they suggest that foods with beneficial bacteria such as yogurt, kefir, and kimchi as well as the consumption of fiber-rich foods will eliminate accumulations of harmful bacteria.  They also mention that olive oil, vinegar, and red wines are rich in dimethyl butanol, an agent blocks that production of the inflammatory TMAO.


Once again, we have proof that you are what you eat.  The reward at the end of the rainbow is a long, healthy life.


Vienna E. Brunt, Rachel A. Gioscia-Ryan, James J. Richey, Melanie C. Zigler, Lauren M. Cuevas, Antonio Gonzalez, Yoshiki Vázquez-Baeza, Micah L. Battson, Andrew T. Smithson, Andrew D. Gilley, Gail Ackermann, Andrew P. Neilson, Tiffany Weir, Kevin P. Davy, Rob Knight, Douglas R. Seals. Suppression of the gut microbiome ameliorates age-related arterial dysfunction and oxidative stress in mice. The Journal of Physiology, 2019; DOI: 10.1113/JP277336


#Atherosclerosis #microbiome #TMAO #yogurt #oliveoil #fiber

Atherosclerosis, microbiome, TMAO, yogurt, oliveoil, fiber



Traffic Lights Halt Poor Food Choices

A green light over the salad bar and a red light over the burgers and fries triggers healthier and environmentally more responsible food choices.  Experimental psychologists at London’s Queen Mary University set up a lunchtime canteen and studied the choices of over 400 subjects.


They conducted two experiments.  In the first, one group of subjects saw traffic signals over the food reflecting its caloric content and healthfulness.  In the second experiment, two traffic signals were present: one again representing the health rating of the food; the second signal revealed the environmental friendliness and carbon emission quotient of the food.  The control groups saw no lights.


Even though the investigators presupposed that multiple lights would be confusing, the group choosing food while exposed to the one signal for calorie count but also the group exposed to indicators for both calories and carbon emissions choose healthier options.  The bonus was that the group also exposed to the environmental signals also chose meals representing fewer carbon emissions.


The traffic light is the ubiquitous signal that governs our behavior both walking and driving.  It turns out that the intuitive nature of this graphic also works at the dining room table.


Magda Osman, Katie Thornton. Traffic light labelling of meals to promote sustainable consumption and healthy eating. Appetite, 2019; 138: 60 DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2019.03.015


#Trafficlight #calories #carbonemissions # dieting #graphics

Trafficlight, calories, carbonemissions,  dieting, graphics



3D Mammography Eliminates Breast Biopsies

Digital breast tomosynthesis, better known as 3D mammography, provides such precise imaging that many women can be saved from needing breast biopsies.  The procedure captures multiple images of the breast from varying angles and a computer synthesizes them into a 3D image allowing the radiologist to examine each image layer by itself.  Conventional mammography captures only two images: top to bottom and side to side.


The UK’s National Health Service Breast Screening Programme surveyed nearly 31,000 women who were imaged with both conventional mammography or 3D mammography.  The data showed that use of 3D mammography along with conventional mammography would have cut the percentage of women referred for biopsy nearly in half from 69% to 36%.   This enhanced technique also reduced the percentage of biopsies that turned out benign and therefore unnecessary from 75 to 52%.


Three-D mammography is particularly helpful for women with very large, dense, or scarred breasts.  It is becoming increasingly available in most cities.


If you are facing your annual mammogram, ask your doctors if the 3-D technique might be a good fit for you.


Nisha Sharma, Michelle McMahon, Isobel Haigh, Yan Chen, Barbara J. G. Dall. The Potential Impact of Digital Breast Tomosynthesis on the Benign Biopsy Rate in Women Recalled within the UK Breast Screening Programme. Radiology, 2019; 180809 DOI: 10.1148/radiol.2019180809


#Mammography #tomosynthesis #3Dmammography #breastbiopsy

Mammography, tomosynthesis, 3Dmammography, breastbiopsy



Smart Toilet Seat Diagnoses Heart Disease

Soon to enter the commercial market is a high-tech toilet seat that can monitor the performance of the heart and help to guide therapy for congestive heart failure.  This bionic bathroom throne was developed by bioengineers at the Rochester Institute of Technology.


This very smart crapper topper can periodically measure the electrical and mechanical activity of the heart including EKG, heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, and the amount or blood pumped out with every beat of the heart, better known as the stroke volume.  The seat takes all this data as well as the patient’s weight and transmits it back to the patient’ s medical team to help them plan therapy.


The seat will be marketed to hospitals for connection to their telemetry systems and then given to patients.  The seats will more than pay for themselves by significantly reducing a hospital’s 30 day readmission rate and eliminating the penalty fees the hospital will owe Medicare.


The seat doesn’t play music or clean your bottom, but, for congestive heart failure patients, it may be lifesaving.


Nicholas J Conn, Karl Q Schwarz, David A Borkholder. In-Home Cardiovascular Monitoring System for Heart Failure: Comparative Study. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 2019; 7 (1): e12419 DOI: 10.2196/12419


#Heartfailure #CHF #toiletseat #telemetry #readmissions #homemonitoring

Heartfailure, CHF, toiletseat, telemetry, readmissions, homemonitoring 



Childhood Team Sports Prevent Later Depression For Men

Playing organized team sports grows the hippocampus, the brain’s emotion and memory center, while reducing the incidence of adult depression.  This is the finding by neuroscientists at the Washington University-St. Louis.  


They studied a nationwide sample over over 4000 children 9 to 11 years of age using questionnaires to determine their participation in sports and their emotional outlook.  Each underwent MRI brain imaging to measure their hippocampal volumes. 


Participation in regular, organized team sports but not casual pickup games or non-sport activities such as music or art triggers hippocampal growth in both boys and girls.  The sports-playing boys but not the girls showed a notably reduced incidence of clinical depression later in life.


The authors caution that this observation is merely an association and not proof of cause and effect.  Even so, it underscores the value of participation in after-school athletics as long as they don’t trigger head injuries.


Lisa S. Gorham, Terry Jernigan, Jim Hudziak, Deanna M. Barch. Involvement in Sports, Hippocampal Volume, and Depressive Symptoms in Children. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.bpsc.2019.01.011


#Sports #teams #hippocampus #depression #music #art

Sports, teams, hippocampus, depression, music, art


Creative Productivity Soars When Dollars Drive Brainstorming Followed By Reflection

Paying creatives for every idea they churn out led to optimal results.  The alternatives, paying for idea quality or offering no motivational reward at all, fell flat according to studies by business school researchers at The University of Texas-Austin and the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign.


Their data also demonstrated the most interesting finding that true creativity has an incubation period.  The greatest creative productivity occurred when the idea kids spewed out rough ideas, took at least a 20 minute break, and then returned to their initial thoughts and refined them into very practical plans.


The bottom line?  When you need creative solutions throw as many ideas up on the board as you can, and don’t be cheap about paying the brainstormers or yourself.  Then go out for a walk and return to fine-tune the initial ideas many minutes or days later.


Steven J. Kachelmeier, Laura W. Wang and Michael G. Williamson. Incentivizing the Creative Process: From Initial Quantity to Eventual Creativity. Accounting Review, March 2019


#Creativity #brainstorming #motivation #mindbreak 

Creativity, brainstorming, motivation, mindbreak



Losing Weight Stops Migraines

If you’re overweight and suffering from migraine headaches, dropping those extra pounds will literally take a load off your mind.  This conclusion comes from a new study by Italy’s University of Padova recently presented to the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society.


Researchers there conducted a meta-analysis of 10 studies covering more 473 migraine sufferers.  They found that any weight loss in obese subjects led to significant improvement including fewer migraines, shorter and less intense headache spells, and less disability.


The improvement did not depend upon the degree of obesity, the numbers of pounds lost, or how subjects achieved the weight reduction.  Dieting and surgery both worked, and the effects were similar in adults and children.


If you’re popping pills, getting shots, having psychotherapy, using biofeedback, enjoying therapeutic massages, getting acupunctured, or wolfing down exotic herbs all to prevent or control your migraines and you are overweight, you will help yourself by making an honest effort to knock off those pounds.


The Endocrine Society. "For migraine sufferers with obesity, losing weight can decrease headaches." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 March 2019.


#Migraines #obesity #overweight #dieting

Migraines, obesity, overweight, dieting



Working Nights Triggers Miscarriage

If you’re pregnant and work two night shifts in any given week, you significantly increase your chances of suffering a miscarriage.  Danish occupational medicine specialists reviewed the data from nearly 23,000 pregnant women a for a study recently published online.


The data revealed that, after the 8th week of pregnancy, women who worked two or more night shifts in any given week had a 32% higher risk of miscarriage by the following week.  The risk of miscarriage escalated as the number of night shifts and the number of consecutive night shifts increased.


Again, this study only unearths an association, and the cause of this phenomenon is unproven.  The investigators do add that night work disrupts the body’s circadian rhythms and diminishes melatonin release.   Melatonin is known to be a factor in normal placental function.


If you are on the night shift and considering becoming pregnant, ask your managers if you can join the day crew.  This is crucial if you have a history of miscarriages or high-risk pregnancies.


Luise Moelenberg Begtrup, Ina Olmer Specht, Paula Edeusa Cristina Hammer, Esben Meulengracht Flachs, Anne Helene Garde, Johnni Hansen, Åse Marie Hansen, Henrik Albert Kolstad, Ann Dyreborg Larsen, Jens Peter Bonde. Night work and miscarriage: a Danish nationwide register-based cohort study. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2019 DOI: 10.1136/oemed-2018-105592


#Nightshift #miscarriage #highriskpregnancy #pregnancy #obstetrics #circadianrhythm #melatonin

Nightshift, miscarriage, highriskpregnancy, pregnancy, obstetrics, circadianrhythm, melatonin



Virtual Reality Cures Fear of Heights

Do you cringe at the thought of looking down from bridge or tall building, going up in a balloon, or parasailing?  Are you afraid of falling even if you are only up on a chair?  Some caution makes sense, but if you have a pathologic fear that limits your life choices then you probably suffer from acrophobia or the extreme, irrational phobia about height.   


From 2 to 5% of us have acrophobia, and twice as many women as men suffer from it.  It can be extremely dangerous if an affected person develops a panic attack and becomes so agitated that she or he cannot safely get down.


Dutch researchers developed a VR app to help acrophobics control their fears using cognitive behavioral therapy without the use of formal psychotherapy.  The app called ZeroPhobia, available on the iOS and Google Play app stores for $14, works with your smartphone and cardboard goggles.


The neuroscientists studied this app in a trial involving nearly 200 subjects.  Half were treated with 6 animated modules over 3 weeks and half were not.  The treated group experienced a significant reduction in their fears.


The app provides individual self-help at home for a reasonable price.  The theory behind this type of exposure therapy is that it triggers hippocampal extinction neurons which suppress undesirable memories.


If you have fear of heights, you may want to try the VR app.  If you want save a few bucks, check out the wonderful high altitude 2D YouTube videos that will also help you fight your fears!


Tara Donker, Ilja Cornelisz, Chris van Klaveren, Annemieke van Straten, Per Carl-bring, Pim Cuijpers, Jean-Louis van Gelder. Effectiveness of Self-guided App-Based Virtual Reality Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Acrophobia. JAMA Psychiatry, 2019; DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.0219


Anthony F. Lacagnina, Emma T. Brockway, Chelsea R. Crovetti, Francis Shue, Meredith J. McCarty, Kevin P. Sattler, Sean C. Lim, Sofia Leal Santos, Christine A. Denny, Michael R. Drew. Distinct hippocampal engrams control extinction and relapse of fear memory. Nature Neuroscience, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41593-019-0361-z


#Acrophobia #heights #VR #selfhelp

Acrophobia, heights, VR, selfhelp



Hands-Only CPR Can Save Lives

Every year, more bystanders are saving lives by applying CPR.  The latest Swedish study emphasizes that pushing on the chest alone without also breathing for the patient using either mouth-to-mouth or a breathing tube can save just as many lives.


The Swedes reviewed more than 30,000 cardiac arrest patients and showed that those lucky 68% that received CPR of any type from bystanders were twice as likely to survive the first 30 days following the incident.  The statistics showed that chest compressions alone can be very effective.  There was no outstanding benefit for those who also received rescue breathing as well as chest compressions.


If you find someone on the ground without a pulse, call 911.  Then begin chest compressions at about two per second.  


Check to see if you can remove any obstructing material from the victim’s mouth.  If you are capable of adding rescue breaths, do so.  If not, keep up the chest compressions until the EMTs arrive.


Gabriel Riva, Mattias Ringh, Martin Jonsson, Leif Svensson, Johan Herlitz, Andreas Claesson, Therese Djärv, Per Nordberg, Sune Forsberg, Sten Rubertsson, Anette Nord, Mårten Rosenqvist, Jacob Hollenberg. Survival in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest After Standard Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation or Chest Compressions Only Before Arrival of Emergency Medical Services: Nationwide Study During Three Guideline Periods. Circulation, 2019; DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.038179


#CPR #chestcompression #rescuebreathing #mouthtomouth #cardiacarrest

CPR, chestcompression, rescuebreathing, mouthtomouth, cardiacarrest



Dirtiest Air During Evening Commute

If you bicycle or walk home from work, go out of your way to use the side streets.  Urban scientists at England’s University of Surrey collaborated with colleagues in England, the Netherlands, and Brazil to measure air pollution during the morning and evening commutes.


The scientists studied black carbon levels in these 3 cities on both the most heavily trafficked routes and on alternative byways.  The data revealed twice has high pollution levels on the main routes in all three cities.  In London, the levels of toxic carbon were twice as high in the evening as they were in the morning.


If you don’t fancy sucking carbon monoxide and diesel dust during your commute, walk and cycle on the less-traveled routes.  Those streets are also safer for you overall.  If you do drive, keep your windows and sunroofs closed.


Veronika Sassen Brand, Prashant Kumar, Aline Santos Damascena, John P. Pritchard, Karst T. Geurs, Maria de Fatima Andrade. Impact of route choice and period of the day on cyclists' exposure to black carbon in London, Rotterdam and São Paulo. Journal of Transport Geography, 2019; 76: 153 DOI: 10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2019.03.007


#Pollution #commuting #London #Rotterdam #São Paulo #bicycling #walking

Pollution, commuting, London, Rotterdam, São Paulo, bicycling, walking




Heavy Drinking Stops Brain Growth

Chugging those 6 packs and downing those jelly shots depresses the growth of the developing brain.  The skyrocketing alcohol consumption by teens and young adults may well be sapping the collective brainpower of our country.


Neuroscientists at the Oregon Health and Science University studied this phenomenon in 71 rhesus monkeys allowed to binge on alcoholic beverages and monitored for brain growth using MRI scans.  The study found that the equivalent of 4 beers per day on a consistent basis reduced brain growth and development by 0.25 milliliters per year.


This adverse effect of a young person’s brain development and likely their powers of thought and problem-solving can be added to the other dangers of alcohol abuse.  These are: liver rotting, stomach ulcers, and all those goes along with serious substance addiction.  


If you find that your teen is drinking more than occasionally, and you will have to actively look, intervene to get them the help they need.


Tatiana A. Shnitko, Zheng Liu, Xiaojie Wang, Kathleen A. Grant, Christopher D. Kroenke. Chronic alcohol drinking slows brain development in adolescent and young adult non-human primates. eneuro, 2019; ENEURO.0044-19.2019 DOI: 10.1523/ENEURO.0044-19.2019


#Alcoholism #teens #dementia #ulcer #cirrhosis

Alcoholism, teens, dementia, ulcer, cirrhosis



That’s health news you should use.  Thanks for listening and special thanks to my followers on social media.  Until we next speak, I’m Dr. Howard Smith, reminding you to keep a smile on your face, your brain active, and your body in motion....these are the best medicines!

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