HEALTH November 2016
A Healthy Age
By Amy Abbott
Mildly Obese Diabetes Easier Access to Bariatric Surgery
More than 415 million people globally have diabetes. Of that number, most have Type 2 diabetes mellitus. Fewer than half of adults with Type 2 diabetes can control blood sugar with medication and lifestyle changes, according to Diabetes Care.
Cleveland Clinic, in conjunction with the American Diabetes Association, recently published the results of a new clinical trial. When Body Mass Index (BMI) is reduced, diabetics are better able to manage their disease. The new guidelines help physicians understand the role of bariatric surgery in patients with diabetes and a high BMI.
The study analyzed 11 randomized, controlled trials to compare the success of surgery versus medication intervention and lifestyle improvement. The new guidelines drop the eligibility threshold from a BMI of 35 to 30, which according to Cleveland Clinic, opens up the possibility of bariatric surgery to more than three million Americans.
The official Medicare site (Medicare.gov) noted that Medicare pays for some weight loss surgery for morbidly obese patients. Some commercial insurance plans pay as well. Consult your doctor and insurance plan for more information.
However, Doctor, I Was Struck by Lightning!
The National Weather Service reports that more people in the United States have been killed by lighting this year than tornadoes. By September 12, 2016, according to the NWS, 35 people died from lightning strikes. In contrast, 12 individuals died from storms during the same period.
“This year seems to be unusually high,” said John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine. “That is because of the totals have been in the 20s for quite some years now, since 2009.”
Has lightning increased or are we more cavalier to nature’s ultimate light show?
The NWS reports there are 25 million clouds-to-ground lightning strikes per year. While your chances are probably as good as winning the lottery, why take the chance?
Golfers and football players know the secret. If there is lightning in the area, get indoors. If you are in a car, make sure it has a hard top.
“When you are struck, you have electricity moving through your body,” Jensenius told the magazine Live Science. “The electricity typically goes through either the cardiovascular or the nervous system.” Cardiac arrest is the usual cause of death.
Disagreement on Osteoporosis Coverage
Osteoporosis is pervasive among seniors and causes weakened bones that lead to fractures. Many women have stopped taking medication that may help them avoid the condition, reported a recent New York Times article.
Use of the most popular prescribed osteoporosis drugs fell by 50 percent from 2008 to 2012, according to the article.
Earlier this summer, the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, the National Osteoporosis Foundation, and the National Bone Health Alliance, asked physicians for more aggressive treatment for patients at highest risk.
“Ninety percent of patients, when you talk to them about starting one of these drugs, won’t go on,” said Dr. Paul D. Miller, medical director of the Colorado Center for Bone Research, Lakewood, Colorado.
Fueled by media stories, the fear for patients is cracked thighbones or rotting jawbones. While the FDA provides a warning in the package insert, these side effects have been rare. Many physicians feel the benefit of the drugs in preventing fractures outweigh the slight risk of the unusual side effects.
The medical community knows that often a fracture may be the start of a slippery slope of bad health for an older individual.
Potential Glaucoma Treatment May Eliminate Daily Drops
Science Daily noted that 3 million people with glaucoma in the U.S. could benefit from a new device that slowly releases eye medication. The promising research by Dr. James D. Brandt, director of the University of California Davis Medical Center Glaucoma Service focuses on a silicone ring resting on the eye. A time release, the ring released medication slowly over six months.
As a person with glaucoma for more than a decade, I fight the daily battle to remember my eye drops. We only have two eyes, so one would suspect the motivation is high. Seniors all have tricks to remember our medication; pills may be easier than drops. This new technology could provide vision-saving technology to individuals like me.
Glaucoma remains a leading cause of blindness. People with glaucoma have increased intraocular pressure, and the drops are taken daily lower the pressure and, in turn, permanent damage to the optic nerve.
This new technology requires a visit to the ophthalmologist every six months for a replacement and does not involve surgery.
The UC Davis study showed a well-tolerated device and a high retention rate of 89%.
“In making effective treatments easier for patients, the hope is that we can reduce vision loss from glaucoma, and possibly other diseases,” said Dr. Brandt.