Monday, November 29, 2010

New Tool To Help Georgians Quit Smoking

On July 1, the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health, will be launching a 12-month , pilot Nicotine Replacement Therapy program for clients of the Georgia QuitLine to decrease tobacco use among the state’s residents. DHR is collaborating with Free %26amp; Clear Inc. to offer the NRT program to Georgia QuitLine clients who reside in one of the following five public health districts: Northwest (Rome), North Georgia (Dalton), South (Valdosta), Southeast (Waycross) and Coastal (Savannah/Brunswick). These public health districts were selected as participants based on their high prevalence of tobacco use.
%26quot;Almost one in four persons living in the participating health districts use tobacco products which, in turn, have a significant impact on their overall health,%26quot; said Dr. Sandra Elizabeth Ford, acting director of the Division of Public Health. %26quot;In an effort to better the lives of Georgians, we have combined Georgia QuitLine services with the pilot NRT program. It is our hope that we will significantly decrease tobacco use in these areas with these services.%26quot;
Adults who are 18 years of age and older and resident in one of the participating health public districts may be eligible for the NRT pilot program. Residents must be enrolled in the QuitLine Multiple Call Program and must not be experiencing any medical exclusions. Three choices of NRT will be available to participants, including: nicotine patch, nicotine gum and nicotine lozenge. All three choices will be provided at no cost for a total of eight weeks and medical overrides will be in place for those contraindicated for the program, including pregnant women.
New educational materials will be developed and distributed to health promotion coordinators in each public health district to help promote the NRT component. Partnerships with the school systems, which were developed through the passage of the Tobacco Free School policy, will also enable the pilot program to be promoted in the school systems in the target areas. The Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) will support the program’s efforts through newsletters and conference calls.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Use of CT and MRI Scans Almost Triple in Emergency Departments

Researchers form John Hopkins University have found the use of computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imagine (MRI) scans in emergency departments has almost tripled over the past ten years.
Frederick Kofi Korley, MD, of Johns Hopkins University, and colleagues have reported their findings in the Oct. 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The widespread availability of advanced radiology CT and MRI scans have become widely available and are often considered the standard for evaluation of injuries in patients presenting to emergency departments.
Korley and colleagues sought to evaluate the use of CT and MRI scans during emergency department visits for injury-related conditions as approximately 70% of injury-related visits are by persons who are younger than 45 years. These younger patients are at the greatest risk for potential long-term oncological effects of ionizing radiation exposure.
The researchers analyzed data from the CDC's National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, which collects information on outpatient (including emergency department) visits at a nationwide sample of 370 nonfederal hospitals. The data covered visits for injury related conditions in 1998 (5,237) and in 2007 (6,567).
Use of CT or MRI increased markedly over the same period, after adjusting for potential confounding variables including age, insurance status, pain severity, and the immediacy of when patients should be seen.
Analysis of the data revealed the prevalence of CT or MRI use during emergency department visits for injury-related conditions increased from 6% (257 of 5237 visits) in 1998 to 15% (981 of 6567 visits) in 2007.
This increase use of scans greatly outpaced the increase in life-threatening conditions which only increased from 1.7% in 1998 (59 of 5237 visits) to 2.0% in 2007 (142 of 6567 visits).
The researchers found no change in prevalence of visits which resulted in the patient being admitted to the hospital (5.9% in 1998 and 5.5% in 2007) or to an intensive care unit (0.62% in 1998 and 0.80% in 2007).
Interestingly, the visits during which a CT or MRI scan was obtained lasted 126 minutes longer than those for which CT or MRI was not obtained.
Korley and colleagues comment, "Further work is needed to understand the patient, hospital, and physician factors responsible for this increase and to optimize the risk-benefit balance of advanced radiology use."
The researchers did identified certain factors associated significantly with greater likelihood of CT or MRI use. These include severe pain (1.4 increase), teaching hospital (1.52 increase), and patient age at least 60 (2.57 increase).
The increased radiation exposure relative to conventional x-rays as well as reactions and other adverse effects related to contrast agents need to be considered.
CT and MRI are better than conventional x-rays for diagnosing certain injuries, such as cervical spine fractures.
Limitations to the study, including the absence of detail on injury nature and severity, the lack of data on incidental findings that might have improved patients' overall outcomes, and the database's reliance on retrospective chart review.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Parents, don’t panic: Fair Oaks’ ‘Lice Lady’ can help

For parents with school-age children the word alone might hatch a wave of panic, or at least trigger an involuntary scratch of the head.
Head lice, insects that thrive on the scalp and feed off human blood, are a never-ending problem at schools.
The bugs are about an eighth of an inch long and aren’t difficult to comb out. But the nits – the eggs – look like tiny sesame seeds, as small as the period at the end of this sentence. Mother lice lay nits near the hairline and glue them to strands of hair, making removal a challenge familiar to many parents.
Enter Deanna Fox, the “Lice Lady.”
Charging $80 an hour she visits homes throughout the Sacramento region, picking out every last nit and louse, guaranteed.
Anonymity is also guaranteed – to Fox’s clientele, that’s as important as eradication.
Fox is a lice specialist for Nitpik, a company co-founded by Latika Alqarwani of Fair Oaks, a marriage counselor and mother of two. Alqarwani and her cousin started the company in 2007 to provide natural, alternative lice treatments.
Alqarwani said she was inspired by ancient, pesticide-free lice remedies from India.
“In India, we always have different home remedies, so we said, why don’t we put these remedies to the test and see if they work?” she said.
Over-the-counter products are “basically pesticides,” Alqarwani said.
Lice around the world also have developed resistance to pesticides. Chemical remedies now have a 50 percent success rate, said Terri Meinking, whose Miami-based company tests lice products.
For a year, Alqarwani and her husband, an Intel employee, worked on recipes. The final product is a mix of essential oils from India and France. It smells lightly of lavender and rosemary.
The product kills lice through suffocation and unsticks nits, making them easy to comb out, Alqarwani said.
Nitpik guarantees clients will be lice-free after two treatments.
A year ago Fox started the mobile lice clinic.
First, she screens each head of hair in the household. Infested hair is saturated with the essential oils. Fox then meticulously combs through the hair, over and over, with a thin-pronged lice comb.
“Our treatment is very soothing and relaxing,” Alqarwani said. “It doesn’t tear the hair out and it’s even comforting.”
Of greater comfort to many is Fox’s hush-hush promise. Although lice attacks are common, it’s an affliction many people don’t want to admit to.
Fox arrives at a client’s house in an unmarked vehicle. She carries the tools of her trade in an anonymous box.
“We don’t announce to the neighbors that we’re coming,” she said.
Social stigma has driven a recent revolution in school lice policies. Schools traditionally practiced a no-nit policy, sending home children with any nits in their hair.
In 2005, the California Department of Public Health moved to a no-lice policy, similar to that of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Kids with nits are not automatically sent home.
“Nits are often confused with other particles such as dandruff, and just because you see nits doesn’t mean the child will get lice,” said Dr. Vicki Kramer, chief of vector-borne disease at the California Department of Public Health.
The Folsom Cordova Unified School District changed its no-nit policy in 2007. Nits are less of nuisance today. When kids are found with live lice, parents are notified by the end of the day. Kids are re-checked 10 days later.
“Several families were having a very difficult problem dealing with lice, and their children were losing a lot of school days, meaning their academic progress was affected,” said Mary Ann Delleney, the district’s health coordinator.
“It is an amazingly horrible experience to go through,” said Jill Lillie, a Los Altos resident whose daughter wrote the book, “Natalie’s Lice Aren’t Nice!”
Natalie Lillie got lice when she was 8 years old and missed a week of school. Her favorite stuffed animals had to be bagged for two weeks. Her clothing, sheets and blankets were thoroughly laundered. Even worse, she wasn’t sure her friends were still her friends.
“One of the hardest things about having lice is telling others you have it,” she said. “I wanted to share my message with other kids and tell them even though it’s a bummer, it can happen to anyone and it will go away.”

Monday, November 15, 2010

Stand Tall on This 11th World Osteoporosis Day

Osteoporosis means “porous bone.” Bones that are osteoporotic are less dense and weaker than normal bones. This makes them fragile and easily broken. A person with osteoporosis is most likely to break a bone in the hip, spine or wrist often from a fall, but all the body’s bones may be affected by the disease.
According to WHO osteoporosis as a cause of disability and mortality in people is at fourth place after infectious diseases. Women are four times more likely than men to develop the disease, but men can also suffer from osteoporosis.
There are risk factors for osteoporosis which can’t be changed by the individual. These include age, sex, and family history. Osteoporosis is much more common in older people, especially women over 50. If either of your parents had osteoporosis or a history of broken bones, then you are more likely to develop osteoporosis.
Risk factors for osteoporosis the individual can change include inactive lifestyle, intake of tobacco/alcohol, low calcium and vitamin D intake, and poor sun exposure.
Fractures of the hip and spine are of special concern. These will make you “bend to osteoporosis.” A hip fracture almost always requires hospitalization and a major surgery. It can impair a person's ability to walk unassisted and may cause prolonged or permanent disability or even death. Spinal or vertebral fractures also have serious consequences, including loss of height, severe back pain and deformity.
“Don’t bend to osteoporosis,” prevent it.
Preventing osteoporosis begins with a healthy diet, rich in calcium and vitamin D (dairy products, green leafy vegetables, pulses, grains are good sources of calcium). Sensible sun exposure to aid your body in making vitamin D. Keep one’s weight close to ideal body weight. Coffee and beverages containing caffeine should be taken in moderation.
To “not bent to osteoporosis” one must stand tall and be physically active. Do aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, cycling) for at least 30 minutes three to four times a week. Weight-lifting is good for the bones.
Tobacco and alcohol should preferably be avoided. Talk with the family doctor about bone health is necessary.