Tag Archives: LifeSaving
FRIDAY Dec. 30, 2011 — Doctors diagnosed Ronda Keys with type 2 diabetes when she was 19 years old and a student at the University of Maryland.
Now 38 and living in Montgomery Village, Md., Keys had been suffering the classic symptoms before her diagnosis — fatigue, extreme thirst, frequent urination. “That prompted me to just go to the doctor,” she recalled. “That’s when I found out.”
But the news wasn’t completely out of left field. Her father was diabetic, as were her grandmother and several aunts and uncles.
“There’s a long line of it in my family,” Keys said. “It wasn’t really a surprise once I was told that I had it, but I guess I had never thought of myself as getting it, especially that young.”
Nonetheless, Keys admits, she took the diagnosis with a small amount of resentment. “I was a little taken aback,” she said. “I didn’t do anything to go out and get this. I thought it was kind of unfair. You’re just told you have this, and oh, by the way, there’s no cure.”
Keys’s doctor put her on oral medication and encouraged her to exercise more and eat a healthy diet. But she was young and at college and found it hard to reconcile her diabetes treatment with her lifestyle.
“The issue for me was just being different from my friends,” she said. “I didn’t want to be the odd ball out. I just wanted to fit in with everyone else.”
Those college years established a pattern for Keys. She would half-heartedly pursue self-treatment for her diabetes, and then get serious about it when she began to feel really sick. “I would try for a while, and then I would fall off the wagon and stay off,” she said.
Things continued that way until three years ago, when Keys was hospitalized with a serious infection. Her body didn’t respond to treatment, which she was told was due to her diabetes.
“My blood sugar was fighting against the medicines the doctors were giving me,” she said. “I was very, very sick. As a result, I had to go on insulin, which I had been fighting.”
Keys was hospitalized for 14 days. The insulin helped save her life, but she hated having to resort to it. “It just felt like failure,” she said. “Insulin equals failure. You didn’t do what you were supposed to do, and now you have to take insulin.”
That feeling didn’t last long, though.
“I found out it was the best thing that could have happened to me,” Keys said. “I love to travel, and I’m very active, and I didn’t feel well. I was getting sick. I was having trouble with my kidneys. After going on insulin, it was an immediate turnaround for me.”
Since then, Keys also has become more serious about her exercise and diet, getting to the gym three times a week and practicing moderation when she eats.
“I’m doing a lot better than three years ago,” she said. “I feel better. I’m able to do everything I want to do. I’m very active. Diabetes is not stopping me now.”
A companion article offers more on the link between childhood obesity and diabetes.
Posted: December 2011
THURSDAY, April 5 — Checking the hearts of teenagers, athletes and non-athletes alike, could save thousands of lives, a new study suggests.
The heart check recommended is an electrocardiogram (ECG), which records the electrical activity in the heart and identifies those at risk for sudden cardiac arrest.
“I think we should do this testing and find the kids who are at risk for sudden death and potentially save their lives,” said the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Joseph Marek, founder and medical director of the Midwest Heart Foundation in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.
ECGs are especially important for teens who are going to take part in sports, he said.
“To me as a parent, this is a no-brainer,” Marek said. “I think doctors should be recommending ECGs to their teen patients.”
Not everyone agrees, however. One of the main objections to doing extensive ECG testing has been cost, but Marek said the tests in his study cost less than $ 10 each. For the study, his team raised money for the testing through community donations.
Marek said that some also feared that testing teens would swamp the medical system because the rate of abnormal heart rhythms among young adults was thought to be in the 10 percent to 40 percent range. But, he said, “our study shows that number is well under 3 percent,” so that idea “doesn’t hold water.”
“ECG testing of young adults is certainly feasible,” he said.
Each year in the United States, more than 250,000 people die from sudden cardiac arrest, including an estimated 2,000 young adults, according to the study.
But, according to Marek, “sudden cardiac death in young adults can be identified before they have a catastrophe in a cost-effective manner by doing ECG testing.”
For an ECG test, small patches called electrodes are put on the skin in several places on the body and attached by wires to a machine that will print out wavy lines that indicate the heart’s electrical activity, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. The person lies very still for the test, which usually takes only a few minutes.
Between 2006 and 2010, Marek’s research team gave ECGs to 50,665 teens, 14 to 18 years old, including athletes and non-athletes. The screening was done in 32 schools in suburban Chicago during the regular school day.
Screening identified 1,096 teens with abnormal ECGs, indicating a heart irregularity that could result in sudden cardiac death. Of those teens, 150 were found to have left ventricular hypertrophy, which can lead to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the most common cause of sudden cardiac death. Another 145 had a condition called prolonged QTc, which could indicate long QT syndrome, also linked to sudden cardiac death.
The findings were to be presented Thursday in San Francisco at the Heart Rhythm Society’s annual scientific sessions. Experts note that research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary because it has not been subjected to the rigorous scrutiny given to research published in medical journals.
A similar study done in Italy over a 26-year period found that ECG screening cut the number of cardiac deaths by 89 percent, Marek said.
Dr. Gregg Fonarow, the associate chief of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, medical school said that “sudden cardiac death in the young can have devastating impact on families, care providers and the community.”
Though some of the abnormalities that cause these deaths can be detected by screening ECGs, Fonarow said, “the routine use of screening ECGs in the young is controversial.”
“Further studies of ECG screening are needed to evaluate the resource requirements, reliability, reproducibility, effectiveness of preventing sudden cardiac arrest and potential harmful effects of screening,” he said.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more on sudden cardiac arrest.
Posted: May 2011
TUESDAY, May 3 — Women are less likely than men to receive lifesaving surgical interventions if they have a heart attack, according to a new study that finds large disparities in the treatment and outcomes of female and male patients in U.S. hospitals.
HealthGrades researchers analyzed more than five million Medicare patient records from 2007 to 2009, and focused on 16 of the most common procedures and diagnoses among women. HealthGrades is an independent source of hospital quality ratings.
The most significant gender differences were in the area of cardiovascular care. Only 33.5 percent of female heart attack patients received lifesaving surgical interventions, compared with 45.6 percent of male patients. Women who did have heart surgery or angioplasty had a 30 percent higher death rate than men, the researchers found.
When women treated at lower-rated hospitals were compared with women treated at hospitals awarded the HealthGrades Women’s Health Excellence Award, female patients at the top-rated facilities had a 40 percent lower risk of death for nine cardiac, pulmonary and vascular-based diagnoses and procedures, and a 16 percent lower risk of complications for five orthopedic procedures.
During the study period, an additional 41,025 women over age 65 might have survived their hospitalization and 8,558 might have avoided major complications if all hospitals had performed at the level of the top-rated hospitals.
The study also found that women account for a higher percentage of hospital admissions for hip fracture than men — 74 percent vs. 26 percent. This remained unchanged from 2005 to 2009.
“Much work remains to be done to better understand the differences between men’s and women’s health. But many providers are successfully implementing systems of care to more accurately diagnose and treat disease in women,” report co-author Dr. Rick May, vice president of clinical quality services, said in a HealthGrades news release.
National Women’s Health Week in the United States is May 8 to 14.
WomensHealth.gov has more about National Women’s Health Week.
Posted: May 2011
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