Yes – more research declares a bit of caffeine is okey-dokey

❝ Many clinicians advise patients with atrial or ventricular arrhythmias to avoid caffeinated beverages, but recent research has shown that coffee and tea are safe and can reduce the frequency of arrhythmias…

Arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythms, cause the heart to beat too fast, slow or unevenly. While some arrhythmias may be harmless or even go unnoticed in patients, others can increase risk for sudden cardiac arrest. Atrial fibrillation (AFib), the most common heart rhythm disorder, causes the heart to beat rapidly and skip beats, and if left untreated, can cause strokes.

A single cup of coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine and acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system. Once in the body, caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, a chemical that can facilitate AFib…

❝ “Caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea may have long term anti-arrhythmic properties mediated by antioxidant effects and antagonism of adenosine,” Dr. Peter Kistler said. “In numerous population-based studies, patients who regularly consume coffee and tea at moderate levels have a lower lifetime risk of developing heart rhythm problems and possibly improved survival.”

One of those cultural questions I try to stay up-to-date with. Over the past 40 years, a bit of caffeine consumption seems to be staying well ahead of the abstinence crowd.

‘Complaining’ now an Official Vital Sign in Patient Care

❝ After extensive deliberation, the American Medical Association (AMA) has decided to make complaining a vital sign…According to Merriam-Webster, to complain is “to say or write that you are unhappy, sick, uncomfortable, etc., or that you just don’t like something.”

The research that led to the AMA’s change demonstrated that 100% of patients (within a margin of error of 0%) meet the criteria for complaining. “The prevalence is astounding,” said lead researcher Mike Weber, PhD. “It’s amazing we didn’t add complaining to the vital sign lexicon before.”…

❝ Healthcare providers report hearing complaining even when they can’t assess other vital signs. “Sometime I can’t hear any reparations or a heartbeat, but I don’t even need a stethoscope to hear the complaining,” explained Jodie Marcus, RN.

Complaining is even more prevalent than the controversial former fifth vital sign, pain. The data reflect that patients often forget they’re in pain, but they never forget to complain.

Patients are thrilled with the recent designation.

Of course.

AI diagnosis to make medical decisions is just about here


AP Photo/M. Spencer Green

❝ The US Food and Drug Administration approved this week the first software powered by artificial intelligence that replaces the need for a specialized doctor to interpret medical imagery.

The software is called IDx-DR, made by diagnostic AI startup IDx, and specifically analyzes images of the retina to detect whether a person with diabetes has a complication from the disease called diabetic retinopathy…

❝ Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes where blood sugar damages the back of the eye, according to the FDA, and is the main cause of the loss of vision for those with diabetes…

By allowing this software to be marketed in the US, the FDA is setting a bar for the accuracy needed in order for AI to take over for human doctors. When validating that the AI system worked, the FDA used images from 900 US patients. The software correctly detected more than mild diabetic retinopathy 87.4% of the time, and identified when patients did not have more than mild retinopathy 89.5% of the time. Accuracy for humans naturally varies from doctor to doctor, but for the FDA to approve the technology it “must provide for more effective treatment or diagnosis of a life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating disease or condition.”

No doubt a predictable percentage of Americans will demonstrate fear of this technology to a greater degree than any other educated nation. Part of that education and, more important, political processes, electoral politics, religious folderol, come together to work harder than anywhere else – to keep citizens from modernizing their lives and thinking. Why – we might even question authority.

Was our healthcare system created to enrich Big Pharma?

❝ An Irish drugmaker has jacked up the price of a painkiller to nearly $3,000 a bottle. The drug is 22 times more expensive than when the company acquired it in late 2013.

The sticker shock for Horizon Pharma’s Vimovo drug is magnified by the fact that the painkiller’s two main ingredients can be purchased separately — for just $36.

❝ Although patients typically pay just a fraction of the price for Vimovo, the dramatic price increase underlines what critics describe as a murky and wasteful system that ultimately leads to higher health care costs for all Americans.

Everything from corporate taxes to transport to insurance hustles are constructed around optimizing profits for pharmaceutical companies. We shouldn’t call this “healthcare” — it’s “profitcare”!

The Unrelenting American Disease

❝ The U.S. is big, and getting bigger. Since the 1980s, American adults’ obesity is at epidemic proportions, and there does not seem to be an end in sight…

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey…which takes various measures of the health and nutrition of children and adults in the U.S…using interviews and physical exams.

❝ The CDC results were mixed: in the young, the prevalence of obesity was 16.8 percent in 2007; it was 18.5 percent 10 years later.

There were no significant differences when looking at age or gender, but that’s still nearly 2 out of every 10 kids weighing in as obese. Our youth aren’t in the clear just yet.

For adults, it was a more stark story: obesity increased from 33.7 percent to 39.6 percent over 10 years — it stood out most in women, and in adults over 40. That’s a shocking 2 out of 5 adults.

If you can find the right switch to turn on in your personality, I believe you can turn this around. Yes, you need all the tools: better nutrition, exercise – many levels and qualities of exercise – support from folks most important to your personal life [my wife makes more difference than anything]. But, if I can make changes at my advanced age, anyone can. I took off 60 lbs in the last 16 months. I now weigh what I did in 1955.

Yes, my iPhone, iPad, Apple’s Health Kit – along with linked software and a Bluetooth scale all helped. I’ve always been a geek. 🙂

Is Trump about to go off the Deep End?

❝ Last fall, prominent psychiatrists broke with the American Psychiatric Association to warn that President Trump is dangerous and mentally unstable…

With reports that a giddy commander in chief is running around the White House like a kid freed of any adult supervision, having dispatched every moderate who hasn’t resigned in hopes of saving a shred of his integrity, Donald Trump now appears to be in a state of mania as he escalates his efforts to bolster his fragile ego before he goes into the cage with special counsel Robert Mueller—or fires him…

❝ This was exactly what the contributors to the book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump warned about six months ago. The psychiatric professionals who contributed to the book have monitored and come to know Trump’s character better than most clients they have treated or people they have interviewed. As the special prosecutor’s noose tightens around the president and his cultish family, it is increasingly clear that he is an imminent danger to the public, and this impinges on professionals’ duty to society…

The authors of the book warned that the Trump effect was creating a “malignant normalcy,” a collective psychological anesthesia in the face of people’s free-floating fears about the stability of this president. Last fall, it was the kind of hush that falls before an impending hurricane or an October Surprise. The book warned that the worst was ahead.

RTFA. Anyone imagine things in the White House will be “getting better” – whatever that might mean?

Canada Wants Junk Food Warnings — Trump Using NAFTA to Stop Them


Health Canada down to 4 choices for warning labels

According to a leaked document shared with Vox, US trade representatives are seeking to override national food labeling policies in Mexico, Canada — as well as in the US — through the NAFTA renegotiation.

Specifically, the US is proposing a provision about packaged food and non-alcoholic beverages that suggests that countries involved in the trade deal should not adopt front-of-package symbol warnings that “inappropriately denotes that a hazard exists from consumption of the food or non-alcoholic beverages.”…

On Wednesday, in a House Ways and Means Committee meeting about America’s trade agenda, the United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, confirmed that he is indeed pursuing this provision, arguing that national food labeling policies are “protectionist.”

Predictably, Trump and his GOP pimps oppose protectionism if it’s profits that may be harmed.

Shkreli gets 7 years in the slammer!


Ars Technica — NEPA Scene/Flickr/Aurich

❝ The smirk wiped off his face, a crying Martin Shkreli was sentenced to seven years in prison for securities fraud Friday in a hard fall for the pharmaceutical-industry bad boy vilified for jacking up the price of a lifesaving drug.

Shkreli, the boyish-looking, 34-year-old entrepreneur dubbed the “Pharma Bro” for his loutish behavior, was handed his punishment after a hearing in which he and his attorney struggled with limited success to make him a sympathetic figure. His own lawyer confessed to wanting to punch him in the face sometimes…

❝ Shkreli, the boyish-looking, 34-year-old entrepreneur dubbed the “Pharma Bro” for his loutish behavior, was handed his punishment after a hearing in which he and his attorney struggled with limited success to make him a sympathetic figure. His own lawyer confessed to wanting to punch him in the face sometimes…

❝ Shkreli became the face of pharmaceutical industry evil in 2015 when he increased by 5,000 percent the price of Daraprim, a previously cheap drug used to treat toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can be fatal to people with the AIDS virus or other immune system disorders.

Wonder if our Fake President will give him a pardon.

Opioids are killing thousands of veterans and the VA played a role in that

❝ Opioids, mostly illegally obtained counterfeit pills and heroin, now account for 63 percent of all drug deaths in the U.S., with fatalities climbing at an astounding rate of nearly 20 percent a year. In fact, the estimated number of drug deaths in 2016 topped the total number of soldiers killed in the Iraq and Vietnam wars. There’s a grim irony in that statistic, because the Department of Veterans Affairs has played a little-discussed role in fueling the opioid epidemic that is killing civilians and veterans alike. In 2011, veterans were twice as likely to die from accidental opioid overdoses as non-veterans. One reason…is that for over a decade, the VA recklessly overprescribed opiates and psychiatric medications. Since mid-2012, though, it has swung dangerously in the other direction, ordering a drastic cutback of opioids for chronic pain patients, but it is bungling that program and again putting veterans at risk…

❝ Today, the number of patients affected by the VA’s swinging opiate pendulum is staggering: 60 percent of veterans who fought in the Middle East and 50 percent of older veterans have chronic pain. Since 2012, though, there has been a 56 percent drop to a mere 53,000 chronic pain VA patients receiving opioids—leading to swift, mandated cutoffs regardless of patient well-being and with virtually no evidence that it’s a safe approach…

RTFA. The VA stumbles from one side of the wrong-way highway to the other. Crippled by the fake president and tame bureaucrats relying on positions already corrupt and ineffectual – our veterans’ medical treatment is on the way to being as useless as any Republican-designed healthcare system.