new study about physical activity, obesity, and mortality has been propagating so many headlines and so much commentary, it's pretty much a given that if you are seeing this, you have seen something like: "Inactivity kills more than obesity." As is generally true in such cases, few of the people opining about the study seem to have actually read it. I suppose that's understandable -- once you get to particulars ...

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Mr. Dwyer isn't my patient, but today I'm covering for my partner in our family practice office, so he's been slipped into my schedule. Reading his chart, I have an ominous feeling that this visit won't be simple. A tall, lanky man with an air of quiet dignity, Mr. Dwyer is eighty-eight. His legs are swollen, and merely talking makes him short of breath. He suffers from both congestive heart failure and renal ...

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Recently a friend of my husband’s in San Diego had a mammogram that showed some suspicious microcalcifications in her right breast.  She underwent a stereotactic biopsy which revealed ductal carcinoma in situ, the earliest form of breast cancer also known as stage 0 breast cancer.  This type of cancer is non-invasive and does not metastasize, however, if untreated it can progress or recur as a more serious type of breast ...

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When babies are born prematurely, they often lack surfactant: a soapy substance produced in the lungs that helps to keep the air sacs open. Without surfactant, these tiny babies fight to breathe, a condition known as infant respiratory distress syndrome. Within the past 50 years, the delivery of artificial surfactant therapy has revolutionized neonatal care, saving many lives that previously would have had no chance at survival. As a neonatal intensive ...

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Her heart was failing; her ejection fraction was unmeasurable.  Her hip was broken, and she developed a pulmonary embolism post-operatively.  She was painfully close to death.  Yet at some point, the hospital finished and spit her out at the nursing home. She was confused. I tried to take the best history that I could.  Her answers where usually no more than a single word.  Her physical exam revealed a desperately weak woman, ...

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As part of the increasing push for health care quality improvement, a lot of energy is being focused on improving our communication with patients and making sure that patient-centered care is more than just a buzz phrase. Gone are the days when the doctor-patient interaction was a wholly paternalistic one, where the doctor’s word was taken as final and absolute, and patients weren’t encouraged to ask questions or raise concerns. Although we’ve moved on ...

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medpagetodayFrom MedPage Today:

  1. U.S. Seniors Losing Grip on Muscle Strength. The first national survey on grip strength in older adults found that 5% of those over 60 had weak muscle strength, and 13% had intermediate strength.
  2. Low MI Risk in Patients With Non-MI Chest Pain. Patients treated in emergency departments (EDs) for ...

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Flossie Marks used to complain now and then about shortness of breath on exertion. She never had chest pain and, after all, she carried firewood from the basement to feed the wood stoves and fireplaces in her large Victorian house. At 81, who wouldn’t be a little short of breath doing that? Last summer, she finally sold the house where she and Eli had raised four children and hosted nine grandchildren ...

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We all went into medicine to save lives. Deep within even the most cynical of us, is still that pre-med hopeful that believes we can and should restart each non-beating heart, make the non-breathing breathe and fill with blood those who’ve bled, filling them back with life. We expect that a patient’s condition will improve while under our care, or at least not worsen. Intellectually, we know we’ll not be ...

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Patients admitted to the hospital ward sometimes get sicker instead of getting better right away.  Often this can happen acutely. Depending on the circumstances, ranging from a "rapid response" for unstable vital signs to a cardiac arrest (a "code”), previously uninvolved hospital staff might be called on to help.  Despite the commotion, these events are a period of time for the health care team to shine.  At inpatient emergencies, ...

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