Tag Archives: Physicians

HEALTH VIDEO: ‘SURGEON GENERAL HYPERTENSION REPORT’ (JAMA NETWORK)

The US Surgeon General’s office has released a report emphasizing the importance of making hypertension control a national public health priority. Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, MD, MPH, the 20th US Surgeon General, discusses the report’s background and recommendations.

Recorded October 7, 2020.

INFOGRAPHIC: “PHYSICIANS ADOPTING TELEMEDICINE”

Diagnostics World (June 30, 2020): The shift from face-to-face patient visits to remote medical appointments is a worldwide phenomenon, but most especially in the U.S., finds a recent global survey conducted by the doctors-only social networking platform Sermo. Unsurprisingly, Zoom tops the list of most-mentioned technologies. About one-fifth of surveyed doctors say they expect to be using telehealth tools “significantly” more post-pandemic than before COVID-19 upended business as usual.

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SURVEY: 67% OF PENN MEDICINE PATIENTS AND PHYSICIANS VIEW VIDEO & PHONE VISITS AS POSITIVE

From Penn Medicine (June 24, 2020):

After surveying almost 800 gastroenterology and hepatology patients and their physicians at Penn Medicine, 67 percent of both viewed their video and telephone appointments held during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic as positive and acceptable substitutes to in-person appointments.

From March 16 to April 10, 2020, 94 percent of gastroenterology and hepatology appointments at Penn Medicine were performed using telemedicine in order to mitigate risks of COVID-19 spread while continuing to advance care as patients self-isolated at home. A telemedicine visit meant either a video visit (similar to FaceTime or Skype) or one via phone in which clinicians largely performed routine and non-urgent care. 

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DR. C’S MEDICINE CABINET: “WHY PATIENTS TAKE ELIQUIS”

Eliquis nicely illustrates my contention in the Overview of Metabolism, that the body is a vast collection of pathways, or “supply chains”. Eliquis blocks a critical enzyme in the pathway leading to coagulation, or clotting” as the product.

Why in the world you want to block clotting? The staunching of blood flow, clotting, has saved countless hordes of early, Paleolithic humans, and continued useful through the bloody Roman and Medieval times, right through the violent 20th Century.

Recently, however, wars are becoming somewhat less popular, and eating excessively more popular, leading to a strange situation. Our evolutionarily-preserved CLOTTING mechanism is now leading to MORE problems than it is solving.

Obesity and type 2 Diabetes are leading to the production of so much fat, that it has to be stored in our arterial walls, clogging the blood flow to our Hearts and Brain, among other areas. This, and the somewhat surprising trend towards longer lives has led to an increase in a variety of age-related illnesses.

When I reached 80 years of age I developed Atrial Fibrillation, a condition leading to a tendency to form clots in my quivering atria, the upper chambers of my heart. To decrease the likelihood of clots getting into my blood stream, lodging in my brain and causing STROKE, my cardiologist started me on Eliquis, an anti-coagulant/blood thinner.

Drugs have three names. The proprietary name, Eliquis in this case, is given by the patenting company to be memorable; q,z,and x are popular letters. The second is the FDA drug name, Apixaban. The drug name often gives the doctor a clue as to its type: xaban refers to inhibiting (banning) of factor 10a (Xa). The third name is a chemical name of interest to biochemists and drug researchers.

When I started the Eliquis, at first unknown to me, I started to bleed internally, leading to a drop in my hemoglobin down to 8.6. I will go into this story when I start going through “how to read your laboratory report”.

I found that reducing my Eliquis from 5mg. to 3.75 mg. allowed me stabilize my hemoglobin by taking extra iron, which I will discuss later.

The doseage selected when the drug company markets a drug is fairly arbitrary, and usually involves round numbers. Interestingly, there is a 2.5mg. Eliquis, which is given if you meet 2 out of 3 criteria. I meet only one and am only 5 pounds shy of the second, in case you think (like my cardiologist does) that I’m taking a risk.

I believe that, whenever you are given a medication, you should be educated about the medicine, and the problem it is intended to benefit. Today’s physician often does not have the time to do this. The internet, including this website, offers a corrective.

I am trying my best to be helpful to you as a Patient Advocate. You and I both must have a doctor to rely upon. But to get the most out of our care, WE MUST BE INFORMED.

–Dr. C

DOCTORS CALL: “CHRONIC COUGH – DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT” (MAYO CLINIC)

On the Mayo Clinic Radio program, Dr. Kaiser Lim, a Mayo Clinic pulmonary and critical care physician, explains chronic cough and how it can be treated.

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COMMENTARY

If you have had a cough for more than 8 weeks, the good news is that you don’t have Covid 19. The bad news is that you need a Medical evaluation, tests and imaging to find out what is going on.

COUGH is not a disease, but is a manifestation, a SYMPTOM of a disease.

Your Primary Care Doctor will do a Medical History, an examination and a chest X-Ray which may allow her to DIAGNOSE what disease or problem Is causing the cough, and allow her to treat it.

If you continue to cough, you will be referred to a specialist, such as an Allergist or a Pulmonologist. ENT (sinusitis) and Gastroenterology (GERD) are 2 other medical fields often involved.

Usually blessed relief comes when Chronic Cough is properly diagnosed and treated, but a few Patients continue to suffer, challenging the best of medical care. 2 of my friends continue to cough after Medical School Level evaluations.

Nature continues to hide some of her secrets from Medical Science.

—Dr. C.

THE HEALING POWERS OF YOUR POSITIVE ATTITUDE

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

From “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas

My brother recently sent me a video  featuring a confident man with a famous last name and a winning message: You beat Covid by fighting it. I would like to comment on several recommendations in his inspiring speech.

It is usually best to approach a problem with a POSITIVE ATTITUDE and a PLAN (1). This is particularly true with the ravages of old age (my area of expertise). Memory loss? Try to memorize poems. Balance loss? Practice standing on one leg. However………….

One person’s good experience is not a medical study. Medicine calls it a testimonial. This applies to my individual experiences as well. Going forward, I will be recounting many personal experiences with common diseases and conditions. Be careful about applying my solutions to your condition.. EXERCISE CRITICAL THINKING.

Be especially careful not to equate fame with medical expertise.

Mr. Cuomo’s result, if indeed the outcome was changed by his efforts, was most likely influenced by a powerful PLACEBO effect (2) which can be associated with striking outcomes, as we know from countless inspiring testimonials  of “hopeless” cancer and other terminal conditions.

Even if we KNOW a treatment is likely due to the placebo effect, it remains effective. I don’t believe I’m doing harm with my speculations.

A couple of generations ago, confidence in doctors was much greater than it is now. We had fewer effective treatments, but surprisingly good results. As medical information of various quality proliferates and medicine loses prestige, it it is losing a valuable tool. Still, we have the placebo effect.

Mr. Cuomo was fortunate to have a good, positive doctor, and to believe in him. Positive affect is powerful.

FEVER is not the virus incarnate, but the bodies RESPONSE to the virus. Fever survived the culling of evolution because it confers a survival advantage, and is helpful.(3) Viruses replicate less rapidly at higher body temperatures.

I always told my patients: “ if you are stuck with the infection, enjoy the fever”. Of course high fevers, above 104 degrees F should be reduced.

I’m not sure that Covid patients should hold their breaths to “fight the virus”, although the length of time you can hold your breath is a good measure of breathing difficulty.  Blood CO2, the main driver of dyspnea (shortness of breath), must not be allowed to accumulate. The accompanying hypoxemia (low blood oxygen ) is not desirable either.

I agree with most of the advice quoted by Mr. Cuomo. Lying on the back has proven dangerous in severe Covid. Taking deep breaths (even if painful) will help keep the alveoli (air sacs) expanded. Change of position is important for the same reason,  and adequate fluids, including water, is always beneficial.

So educate yourself as much as you can about your condition. Pick out the best doctor you can find (the subject of a future opinion piece) and place yourself in her care. Enjoy a sense of relief and confidence. Even physicians need the objectivity and support of their own doctor.

Finally, armed with a positive attitude, make the most of whatever placebo effect you are accorded.

—Dr. C.

CARDIOLOGY PODCAST: “ATRIAL FIBRILLATION – A COMPREHENSIVE OVERVIEW”

Atrial fibrillation is chaotic and irregular atrial arrhythmia, the prevalence of which increases progressively with age. It causes significant morbidity and death. Many patients are asymptomatic or have symptoms that are less specific for cardiac arrhythmias, such as mild dementia or silent strokes. 

Gregory Lip, Price-Evans Chair of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Liverpool, gives us an overview of the condition.

Read more on Atrial Fibrillation at BMJ

PHYSICIAN’S CORNER: NEJM “COVID-19 PRIMER – VIRTUAL PATIENT SIMULATION” (2020)

CLICK ON PATIENT BELOW TO LAUNCH “VIRTUAL PATIENT SIMULATION”

COMMENTARY

This interactive simulated case of Covid 19 (SARS CoV-2) is remarkable: a unique opportunity to stand in the shoes of a ER Doctor without any risk, except to our egos.

This is meant for doctors, but the intellectually curious  Guests of this site might enjoy the experience, especially Doctor Lisa Sanders fans.
The vocabulary is full Medical, and will give a foretaste of the words I will slowly be exploring. I believe that patients should not be intimidated by their lab reports.

I’ll start the vocabulary journey with FERRITIN which is a marker for IRON STORES in the body. You can have too much iron, which is dangerous (iron overload), in which case the ferritin is high.

There was a time when I had too little iron ( was anemic, with a hemoglobin of 8.6, and felt terrible) and my ferritin was low. I now check my ferritin every 6 months to make sure I am taking enough iron to offset my blood loss, which is another story I will tell when I start go through my medicine cabinet and discuss the Meds one at a time.

The reason for testing ferritin in our interactive Covid 19 case was because ferritin is markedly elevated in cases of inflammation/ infection. It is an “acute phase reactant”, and may reflect the “cytokines storm” that may be a contributor to the lethality of Covid 19.

There is another way to benefit from this simulation: the train-wreck of a patient serves as a cautionary tale of what you wish NOT to become. Our present medical profession is so DISEASE oriented. How much better if our society and our medical profession were HEALTH oriented instead.

—Dr. C.