There is a long tradition in folklore, one shared by shamans and occultists, that knowing the true name of something gives you power over it. Many years ago I had a very sick patient in the PICU who one morning, totally out of the blue, broke out in a bright, red rash all over his body. The boy had many critical problems already and, although the rash didn’t seem to be causing ...

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With the obesity crisis in America, one of the major reasons for increasing health costs, the issue of the causes inevitably arises. There seem to be two sets of causes postulated by a growing crowd of experts. Unfortunately, each set is aligned in our current polarized political climate with the right or the left.  Each set of causes has some basis in reality, but neither fully explains the problem. On one ...

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The last post in this series discussed new advances in cardiology – the two themes of genetically informed therapy and technical advances. I will continue with three additional themes – regenerative medicine, minimally invasive approaches and prevention. The third of the five themes is regenerative medicine. One major area of investigation is whether stem cells can heal the damaged heart. Perhaps the field is “more glamour than fact” just now ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 72-year-old woman is evaluated for fatigue and decreased exercise capacity. The patient has severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which was first diagnosed 10 years ago, and was hospitalized for her second exacerbation 1 month ago. She is a former smoker, having stopped smoking 5 ...

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Breast cancer may be the most common cancer among women. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t do something to help prevent it. Researchers have found certain risk factors that increase a woman’s chances of getting breast cancer. We can’t change some of these factors, like age or race. But we can try to control others, like weight gain and alcohol use. And, taking responsibility for the things you can control may ...

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Sadly, recent news reports described two food allergy-related deaths in a single week.  Although the details are scant, the victims were a 15 year old and a 20 year old, who apparently ingested unsafe foods and were not treated promptly. These preventable tragedies behoove us to learn how to better manage our food-allergic patients and advocate for them as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that approximately ...

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Whether you are a physician, nurse, physician assistant, pharmacist, or someone else who cares for sick or disabled people, your job as a healthcare professional is an important one. Healthcare professionals are expected to provide services to individuals in need and to do so with quality and care. One way we can help ensure that we are doing our job the best way possible is to get our annual flu ...

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The Cholera outbreak in Haiti reminded us that this is not simply a disease of the distant and unsanitary past. The outbreak was both unique and typical. Caused by a disease that has a long and devastating history, this Haiti outbreak has much in common with the outbreaks of the nineteenth century and twentieth century. History helps us keep in mind five key factors. 1. The role of media coverage ...

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According to a recent study, depression causes an 23% drop in productivity at work. The drop is almost 45% for treatment resistant depression, defined in that study as depression that has not responded to 2 adequate trials (i.e. adequate dosage for adequate duration) of antidepressants. My gut, based on clinical experience, tells me that even when depressed, people devote lot more of their emotional resources to trying to not let ...

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Susan Freinkel is the author of the new book, Plastic: A Toxic Love Story. She was kind enough to answer some health related questions about plastic based on her research for her book. Is all plastic toxic? There are lots of different kinds of plastic and some may pose more of a health hazard than others. The two experts are most worried about are: Polycarbonate, a hard, clear plastic ...

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