Blood and Treasure: Cheap Drug Saves Both

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A hospital in Canada has been using a cheap drug to reduce the number of red blood cell transfusions its surgery patients need, and research shows it has been a big success. Orthopedic surgery patients are often at risk for high blood loss during procedures, and oftentimes need transfusions to make up the loss. The excellent results at the Canadian Hospital, St. Michael’s, means more hospitals will likely adopt the practice soon.

The cheap drug in question is called tranexamic acid, known as TXA, and prevents excessive blood loss during surgeries. It has a track record of effectively treating orthopedic, trauma, and cardiac patients. There was a shortage of the cheap drug for a time in 2013, but after it became widely available again, anesthesiologists started giving TXA to every eligible patient undergoing hip or knee replacement surgery. In total, 402 patients received the drug. Dr. Greg Hare is an anesthesiologist at St. Michaels and he explained, “We wanted to optimize TXA’s use in patients undergoing hip or knee replacements because these procedures often result in high blood loss and frequently require transfusions. The drug costs about $10 per patient, while the average cost of transfusing one unit of blood is $1,200.”

The mandatory use of TXA for eligible patients undergoing hip or knee replacement surgery at the hospital reduced its transfusion rate from 8.8 percent to 5.2 percent—a more than 40 percent reduction. Even more important, patients who received TXA did not have increased adverse effects, like heart attack, stroke, or blood clots. The hospital reports no different in mortality rates or increased length of hospital stays. Dr. Hare says, “Other hospitals and surgical centers should consider making TXA mandatory for similar surgeries because it can improve quality of care, decrease the need for blood transfusions and even save money. Making TXA mandatory for eligible patients has made care more efficient, ensuring the best possible care for our patients.”

Our team at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey is also committed to ensuring the best possible care for our patients. If you’re considering any sort of orthopedic surgery—or you’ve already undergone the procedure and are in the process of recovering—call your doctor at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey to discuss any concerns or questions you have on your road to recovery. We can find you the answers, and help, you need for your healthiest and happiest life.




Can Beta Blockers do Double Duty?

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Beta-blockers are a type of medication typically used to reduce high blood pressure. However, a new study published in Cancer suggests that there may be a new way to use beta-blockers to treat patients. Drugs oftentimes have multiple treatment options and this discovery could be a coup for ovarian cancer research. The study discovered that beta-blockers may help women with ovarian cancer survive longer.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Anil Sood from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center said, “we found that patients taking a broad, or nonselective beta blocker were the ones who derived the most benefit compared with those who were not taking a beta blocker or those who were taking a beta-1 selective medication.” Previous research suggested that stress hormones could play a big role in the cancer’s development. While beta-blockers are typically prescribed to treat heart-related conditions, they can also impact the body’s response to stress.

In another study, “the effect of epinephrine in increasing the invasive potential of ovarian cancer cells was negated by a nonselective beta-blocker called propranolol.” While some studies investigating the use of beta-blockers have conflicting conclusions, many researchers attribute this fact to small patient numbers.

The new study under Dr. Snood analyzed 1,425 women from 2000-2010 who received treatment for ovarian cancer. Of those patients, 193 women were taking beta-1 adrenergic receptor (ADRB1) selective agents beta-blockers and 76 were receiving nonselective beta antagonists beta blockers. The median survival time for patients who did not receive beta-blockers was 42 months. Patients who received any form of beta-blocker survived 47.8 months. Among patients who received nonselective beta-blockers though, the median survival time was 94.9 months—significantly higher than the median survival time for patients receiving ADRB1 at 38 months.

Researchers also found that patients with hypertension typically survived for less time than patients without hypertension. However, even patients with hypertension had a longer median survival time among nonselective beta-blocker users compared to the nonusers. Dr. Sood explained that, “To our knowledge, the current study is the first to examine the relationships with patient outcomes based on specific types of beta-blockers.” There are currently two clinical trials underway to investigate the combination of chemotherapy and variable doses of propranolol on cancer biology alongside the impact that nonselective beta-blockers have on stress modulators in patients with diagnosed ovarian cancer.

While researchers continue to test the potential success of beta-blockers for ovarian cancer patients, your team at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey is committed to helping you now. If you, or someone you love, is battling ovarian cancer, call your doctor at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey today to discuss their treatment plan and ways to manage some symptoms.







Trying to Get Fit? Wearable Devices are a Game Changer

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Our team at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey advocates diet and exercise as part of a healthy regiment for any person. The combination of nutritious food and fitness can keep your body in shape and healthier, resulting in a happier you overall. But for those of you who are looking for ways to boost your health at home, new technology like apps and wearable devices could be just the thing to keep you on track.

As wearable devices like the Apple Watch and health tracking apps become the norm in our everyday lives, here are some ways to embrace the new technology in your routine. Of course, wearable devices are only a facilitator of better health and fitness. To guarantee your overall wellbeing, make sure you raise any concerns with a doctor before starting your fitness journey.

Some of these wearable devices cater to ultra athletes who are already in really excellent shape. For example, the Timex Sport by Ironman. The Timex Sport is able to track times, fitness, speed, and distance.

Another interesting wearable device is the TICKR Heart Rate Monitor by Wahoo Fitness. The TICKR uses Blue Tooth to connect with your phone and measure heart rate. The memory analytics assesses your fitness over time. There are also accompanying programs that have workouts you can follow.

Other devices, like the FitBit Surge, come with an array of abilities like heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, and estimated calories burned during a workout. For runners, the TomTom Runner Cardio GPS helps you track your run and stay on course. The GPS option allows you to find your way home in case you ever get lost.

The combination of tracking and logging enables individuals to really monitor their fitness. No matter what level of athlete you are, or your preferred fitness routine, logging and monitoring your progress can help you see a real difference. If you are just beginning your fitness journey and have questions or concerns, feel free to contact your doctor at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey. Our team can help make sure you get started on the right foot and help you find the best fitness options for you! For more suggestions on wearable devices, follow the link at the bottom of this article.

Source: https://www.wearable-technologies.com/2015/04/smart-health-and-fitness-wearable-devices-for-2015/

Obesity Gene Discovery

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Obesity Gene Discovery

The western world continues to wrestle with an obesity epidemic. The rate of those with obesity has grown, and the highest estimates suggest that more than two thirds of Americans are either overweight of obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the estimated annual medical cost to treat obesity is between $147-210 billion a year. While the debate as to what causes obesity and how to treat it continues, a new genome study suggests there may be an underlying genetic factor to consider in the obesity fight.

The largest ever genome-wide study on obesity was conducted this year and a group of scientists discovered that over 100 regions of the human genome had an influence on the development of obesity, such as the, “regulation of the feeling of hunger and the distribution of fat in the body.” Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada began investigating the 14-3-3 family of proteins. This family of proteins is the most common component if the unhealthy fat tissue of obese patients.

One particular gene encodes a protein called 14-3-3zeta. This particular gene is found in every cell of the body and scientists silenced the gene in mice. The end result was a dramatic reduction in white fat or white adipose tissue. White fat is traditionally linked to obesity, heart disease and diabetes because it stores calories in contrast to brown fat that burns calories to generate heat.

The study’s author, Gareth Lim, explained that, “people gain fat in two ways: through the multiplication of their fat cells and through the expansion of individual fat cells. This protein affects both the number of cells and how big the are, by playing a role in the growth cycle of these cells.”

Despite the fact that the mice in the study were eating exactly the same food as before their gene was silenced, they saw a 50 percent reduction in white fat. Additionally, mice that were bred to have higher levels of 14-3-3zeta protein were rounder and averaged 22% more white fat when fed the high-calorie diet.

This new obesity gene discovery that links the protein and fat production opens the possibility for new drug therapies to treat obesity. Scientists hypothesize that by blocking the protein or suppressing the gene, like the mice in the study, excess fat accumulation in people who are at risk of obesity can be prevented.

If you or your family struggles with maintaining a healthy weight, contact your doctor at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey today. We can help you find the right options for weight loss and a healthier, happier you.

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/297991.php


Blood Pressure Fluctuations: What to Watch

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A new study from the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that large variations in blood pressure readings from one doctor’s appointment to another are associated with cardiovascular disease. Researchers used data from more than 25,000 people participating in a study of medicines for hypertension. Seven blood pressure readings were taken during months six to twenty-eight of the study, and patients were tracked for 2.8 years on average.


Comparing patients in the lowest 1/5 of the study to those in the highest 1/5 of the study for blood pressure variability, the highest variability group were 30 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular disease or have a nonfatal heart attack, 46 percent more likely to have a stroke, 25 percent more likely to have heart failure, and 58 percent more likely to die from any cause. The study controlled for age, sex, race, smoking, diabetes, and other related factors. The association is important but not definitive proof of cause and effect, researchers warn.


The study’s lead author, Paul Muntner is a professor of epidemiology at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. He explained, “We usually use average blood pressure as a measure, because reducing that has led to reduced risk. The fluctuations get dismissed. But variability in blood pressure appears to be a strong risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and it may be an important thing for doctors to look at.”


If you have noticed changes in your blood pressure over a series of visits to our offices, feel free to alert your doctor at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey so we can monitor it more closely. Our doctors and staff are committed to preserving and enhancing your overall health and happiness!





Chronic Lack of Sleep has its Side Effects

It is unclear whether you can make up a long-term sleep debt, because most studies have looked at the effects of sleep loss and recovery only over a few nights or weeks, said Dr. Matt T. Bianchi, the chief of the division of sleep medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. Simulated driving performance and reaction times are affected by just one sleepless night, research has shown.There’s no doubt that sleeping just four hours a night catches up to people within a few nights, leading to impairments of attention, learning and memory and worse performance in school and at work.

And making up for lost sleep over the weekend doesn’t work. Five brief nights quickly add up to a shortfall of 20 hours, but people don’t sleep more than five to 10 extra hours to compensate, Dr. Bianchi said.“The interpretation has been you can’t pay off your sleep debt, you just carry it with you,” though it’s also possible that people don’t sleep an extra 20 hours because they don’t need it, Dr. Bianchi said. He cited research by Jim Horne of Loughborough University in Britain showing that a timely nap of less than 20 minutes can equate to an extra hour of nighttime sleep.

Different people need somewhat different amounts of sleep, but anything less than six hours a night is definitely not enough, said Dr. Charles Czeisler, a professor of sleep medicine at Harvard.

In one sleep study, people were brought into a lab and required to stay in bed for 14 hours a day. They slept 10 to 12 hours a night at first, Dr. Czeisler said. Then they gradually slept less over the next few weeks until they stabilized at about 8.4 hours per night, which helps explain why an eight-hour night is considered standard. Chronic lack of sleep has been associated with a host of physical ailments, including heart disease, diabetes and memory loss.

People who sleep less than five hours a night have a 300 percent increased risk of hardened arteries, Dr. Czeisler said. Once arteries are damaged, returning to a healthy sleep pattern is unlikely to heal them. But a better sleep pattern can improve blood pressure in just a few weeks, he said. “The best thing to do is start getting enough sleep,” Dr. Czeisler said.

If you are suffering from chronic lack of sleep, contact your doctor at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey  Today.


It is Important to Keep Blood Pressure Low, Early

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Higher blood pressure in young adulthood increases the risk for coronary heart disease, a new study found. Researchers followed almost 3,500 men and women for 25 years with periodic physical examinations beginning in 1985, when all were healthy and 18 to 30 years old. They calculated their cumulative exposure to high blood pressure over the years.

The scientists, writing in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, studied left ventricular dysfunction — damage to the part of the heart that pumps blood to the entire body except the lungs. Left ventricle impairment is a main cause of heart failure. They found the higher the blood pressure, the greater the damage to the left ventricle. In addition, even after adjusting for other risk factors, chronic high blood pressure in young adulthood increased coronary calcium in middle age to a degree similar to that of the initial stages of atherosclerosis.

“This paper highlights that in the first half of adult life, it’s very important to keep blood pressure as low as one can,” said the lead author, Dr. João A.C. Lima, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins, adding that “130/80 or 130/70 should be the goal for people under 50.”

Current guidelines advise treatment at 140/90 for people ages 30 to 59.

If you are suffering from high blood pressure, contact your doctor at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey Today.

Reversing Alzheimer’s

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A small study out of UCLA has discovered a glimmer of hope in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. 9 out of 10 patients involved in their study say their symptoms were reversed after their partaking in an arduous program, which included measuring things such as Vitamin D levels in blood, using DHA supplements to bridge broken brain connections, optimizing abdominal health, and strategic fasting to normalize insulin levels.

9 of 10 patients aged 55 to 75 noticed their cognition had improved or normalized only a few months after the program, only one patient in the very final stages of dementia had noticed a decline. Dr. Dale Bredesen, who led the study, says that addressing the many contributing factors of dementia as a group instead of individually could potentially reverse the diseases early progression. Bredesen said that most participants had between 10 to 24 problems that needed to be corrected in order to neutralize the dementia.

One specific participant noticed a steady decline in his cognitive abilities and was implemented into the program, he began by eliminating simple carbs and processed foods from his diets, taking probiotics and coconut oil, rigorously exercising, and sleeping as close to eight hours as he could. He also added herbs and supplements to his diets, along with other changes. Around 5 months later he began to revive his cognitive abilities, and even was able to return to work.

Bredesen considers taking the study lightly because of its small sample size but, believes they are on the right track to eliminating Alzheimer’s. He says engaging in nutritional changes, physical activity, brain training, social activities, and management of risks factors for heart problems with improve cognitive performance. However, identifying the culprit must be based on a patient’s specific deficits and imbalances.

If you or a loved one is suffering from signs of dementia contact your doctor at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey today.

Sugary Drinks and Their Toll

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Consumption of sugary drinks results in some 184,000 deaths worldwide each year, a new analysis found. To reach their conclusions, scientists pooled data from dozens of dietary surveys and large prospective studies of the effect of sugar-sweetened beverage intake on body mass index and Type 2 diabetes, and of the effect of B.M.I. on cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. They used data on sweetened drink consumption from 62 national dietary surveys, which included more than 600,000 people in 51 countries surveyed between 1980 and 2010. The study is online in Circulation.

For confirming disease-specific causes of death, researchers used the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors 2010, an international analysis that is periodically updated. Worldwide, they estimate that sweetened drinks cause 133,000 deaths from diabetes, 45,000 from cardiovascular disease, and 6,450 from cancers. Deaths linked to sugary drinks as a percent of all deaths from these causes varied widely by age and country, from less than 1 percent among Japanese people older than 65 to 30 percent in Mexicans under 45. In the United States, about 25,000 deaths a year are caused by sweetened drinks.

“There’s no need to drink these beverages,” said the senior author, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts. “They’re causing tens of thousands of deaths, and we should eliminate them from the food supply.”


Exercise and Injury Prevention

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A recent study has found that exercise and vitamin D help prevent older adults from sustaining injuries from falls. Finnish researchers took a study of 409 women, living at home, ranging from the age of 70 to 80. They were randomly assigned to one of four groups; the first group was a placebo without exercise, then a daily vitamin D supplement without exercise, the third group was a placebo with exercise, and lastly a vitamin D supplement with exercise.

The exercises were done at a regular pace for the length of two years. They concentrated on balance, weight bearing, strength, and agility. Although neither the vitamin D supplement nor exercise reduced amount of falls those who took vitamin D alone were 16 percent less likely to sustain an injury, those who were in the placebo with exercise were 54 percent less likely, and those who took both the vitamin D and exercise were 62 percent less likely to sustain an injury from the fall than from the placebo without exercise group.

The researchers suggest that taking vitamin D and physical conditioning increases bone density, which helps in preventing injury. However, as for Vitamin D if you have sufficient levels taking more vitamin D will not help you.

If you have sustained an injury from falling contact The Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey today!