Archive for November, 2012

Generic vs. Brand Name Drugs

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The use of prescription medicine has increased over the years.  Also increasing are the use of generic drugs versus their brand name counterparts.  In fact, nearly 8 in 10 prescriptions filled in the US are for generic drugs.  Many people question the safety of generic drugs, but the FDA concludes that generics provide the same quality and performance as brand name drugs:

  • Generics must have the same active ingredient, strength, dosage form, and route of administration as the brand-name drug
  • Generic manufacturers have to prove that the drug is the bioequivalent as the brand-name drug
  • Generic manufacturers must pass the same quality standards as the brand-name drug manufacturer

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Interesting Fact:  Many generic drugs are made in the same manufacturing plant as the brand-name drug!

Millions of dollars are saved annually when patients convert to generic drugs.  The FDA estimates that generics saved patients $158 billion dollars in just one year.  Paying significantly lower prices for a generic doesn’t sacrifice quality or effectiveness.  When a brand-name drug becomes generic, they no longer need to repeat the costly clinical trials.  Furthermore, they usually do not pay for expensive advertising, marketing and direct promotion to physician offices and hospitals.  Lastly, there is usually more than one manufacturer that is producing the generic drug and the competition further decreases the drug price.

Discuss the use of generic drugs versus brand name drugs with your physician to see if generics are a cost saving option for you.

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Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.

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Type 2 Diabetes and White Rice Link

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Many people are consuming white rice every day.  Whether it be visiting Asian and Latino restaurants or adding it to home cooked meals, white rice use has increased.  It’s a common food in soups, entrées, desserts and sides and the taste and low cost make it a convenient choice.  Additionally, much of the rice today is more processed in order to decrease the cooking time.  Recent research suggests this high-starch grain may be linked to type 2 diabetes.
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In a recent study by the British Medical Journal, researchers examined data of an estimated 353,000 people. They looked at the data to measure white rice consumption and cases of type 2 diabetes. The research found that those individuals that ate the most amount of white rice (four servings per day) were 27 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who ate the least amount of white rice.  The researchers also found that for every large bowl of white rice (5.5 ounces) a person ate per day, the risk for type 2 diabetes rose 10 percent.

Health advisors address these research findings by explaining how glycemic index is the main cause:  white rice is rapidly converted to sugar in your blood stream.  White rice isn’t the only culprit with a high glycemic index, other high-starch carbohydrates (and highly processed food) include white bread, white pasta and white potatoes.  Essentially, eating high glycemic foods that are quickly converted to sugar can leave you feeling hungry thereby increasing the probability of overeating and developing type 2 diabetes.

Diabetics typically have a fasting blood glucose level higher than 126 mg/dl.  This is done by testing the blood after fasting for 12 or more hours and taking a blood glucose test.  A better indicator is the hemoglobin A1c test that provides the average blood glucose levels during the previous 8-12 weeks.  When blood sugar gets this high, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to convert glucose into energy.

People at risk for developing type 2 diabetes can improve their ability to regulate blood sugar by

  • losing weight,
  • exercising, and
  • modifying diet.

If their blood sugar levels remain high, despite behavior modification, medication may be necessary.

White rice is popular, tasty, but may not be the best dietary choice.  The good news is there are healthy alternatives that are just as tasty and easy to make.  For instance, brown, rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa and other grains.  These types of grains have more bran and fiber than white rice, and contain additional nutrients.  Naturally, we all know that eating more fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains combined with regular exercise can also prevent diabetes and help regulate blood sugar levels.   Just another friendly reminder to try an establish good habits.
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Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.

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Osteoporosis in Men

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Women take the headlines when addressing age related bone loss, but men are subject to the threat of bone loss as well. It is estimated that 1 in 4 men over the age of 50 will have an osteoporosis related fracture during their lifetime. There are two main types of the disease:

  1. Primary osteoporosis which is due to age
  2. Secondary osteoporosis which is caused by medical conditions, certain drug usage and other lifestyle factors.

Routine laboratory testing may reveal the underlying cause of osteoporosis in men whose bone loss was thought to have no known cause.  Based upon a study in the October 2012 Osteoporosis International Journal, both men and women are diagnosed using bone mineral density (BMD) testing by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (Dexa scan). Dexa scan measures bone density in hips and spines. In addition, blood tests are conducted to assist with the diagnosis of osteoporosis. It is recommended that the following blood test be performed:

  1. Vitamin D
  2. Testosterone
  3. Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
  4. Follical Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
  5. Thyroid Panel
  6. Complete Blood Count (CBC)
  7. Creatinine
  8. Calcium
  9. Phosphorus

The study of osteoporosis in men found that the overwhelming majority of subjects’ osteoporosis was caused by low testosterone levels, vitamin D deficiency, the body’s inability to absorb calcium, mildly underactive thyroid, or overactive thyroid.

Osteoporosis blood testing

Osteoporosis can be effectively treated if it is detected before significant bone loss has occurred. Unfortunately, since men are not routinely tested or questioned about bone health, diagnosis often doesn’t take place until after a fracture occurs or a man complains of back pain. Men should be sure to discuss with their doctors all their medications as some medications are known to cause bone loss, such as glucocorticoids – typically prescribed to transplant patients or those with autoimmune diseases.

Again, men are susceptible to osteoporosis and should be vigilant about their bone health.

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Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.

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BMI and Heart Disease

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It’s been proven that being overweight is a major risk factor for heart disease.  A recent research study in Denmark studied the link between excess body weight and the increased risk of ischemic heart disease (IHD): Body Mass Index (BMI) and Heart Disease.  The researchers used the BMI as a means to determine excess body weight.

Lab tests for heart disease

What is Ischemic Heart Disease?

Ischemic heart disease is caused by an accumulation of fat and cholesterol in the artery they can restrict the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart.  When the supply of blood and oxygen decreases, pain (angina) can occur and the risk of a heart attack, due to the lack of oxygen (ischemia) can occur.

In this particular study, researchers found that for every four-point increase in an individual’s BMI, there was a 26 percent increased risk of IHD. For example, an obese person with a BMI of 32 would be 52 percent more likely to develop IHD, than someone with a BMI of 24.

What are other Risk Factors?

There is increased risk for mortality when the following are present:

The majority of these risk factors are attributed to being overweight.  The research shows that maintaining a healthy weight and BMI can reduce the risk of IHD.  A person who is 5’8″tall and weighs 180 pounds has a BMI of 27.4. A weight loss of lost 25 pounds would drop his or her BMI to 23.6, an almost-four-point drop, and reduce the risk of a heart attack by 25 percent.

Other Lifestyle Modifications to Reduce Risk

  1. Eat more fruits and vegetables
  2. Add exercise – it can be as simple as walking briskly for 30 minutes or more at least 5 times per week
  3. Minimize consumption of red meat
  4. Consume three or more servings of whole grains daily
  5. Introducing small quantities of nuts into your diet (Omega 3 and other nutrients
  6. Not smoking

Take Control of Your Health!

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.

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It’s hard to believe that almost 1.5 million people per year have to be hospitalized for a urinary tract infection (UTI).   Women are the most susceptible to UTIs due to female anatomy.  UTIs are typically limited to the bladder which leaves the patient with pain.  Serious consequences occur when the UTI spreads to the kidneys; hence it is important to get care as soon as possible.

What causes UTI

Almost everyone has some risk of getting a UTI but some people are more prone to getting UTIs than others:

  • Anyone with an abnormality of the urinary tract that obstructs the flow of urine such as a a kidney stone or enlarged prostate
  • People with diabetes or problems with the body’s natural defense system
  • Sexual activity that can move microbes from the bowel or vaginal cavity to the urethral opening.
  • Use of catheters, or tubes, placed in the urethra and bladder. Catheters interfere with the body’s ability to clear microbes from the urinary tract.
  • People with spinal cord injuries or other nerve damage near the bladder may have a difficult time emptying their bladder completely and bacteria can grow and stay in the bladder.

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How are UTIs diagnosed?

Typically, your health provider will ask about your urinary symptoms and then they will test a sample of urine to see if bacteria is present and to see if white blood cells are present.  If white blood cells are present it is because they are being produced to fight infection. Bacteria can be found in the urine of healthy individuals also, so a UTI is diagnosed by symptoms and laboratory tests.  The person will be asked to give a “clean catch” urine sample by washing the genital area and collecting a “midstream” sample of urine in a sterile container. This method of collecting urine helps prevent bacteria around the genital area from getting into the sample and confusing the test results.  Those people who have recurring infections may need to have the urine cultured.  The urine sample is put in a dish and the bacteria is encouraged to grow.  This assists with identifying the type of bacteria and may help determine the appropriate antibiotics to treat the infection.

How are UTIs treated?

Most UTIs are caused by bacteria so the treatment of choice is antibiotics or antimicrobials.   Which type of medication and the length of taking the medication is dependent on the type of bacteria, patient history and other causes of infection.

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Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.

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Lower Your Risk of Pancreatitis

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What is the Pancreas?

The pancreas is a large gland behind the stomach and close to the duodenum, the very first part of the small intestine. The pancreas secretes enzymes into the duodenum through a tube called the pancreatic duct. Pancreatic enzymes join with a liquid produced in the liver, bile, and stores it in the gallbladder to digest food. The pancreas also releases the hormones insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream. These hormones help the body regulate the glucose it takes from food for energy.

What is Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed. In the United States, about 178,000 people a year seek medical treatment for pancreatitis.  With pancreatitis, sometimes the enzymes become activated and begin to digest the pancreas itself. Treatment can be very painful and usually requires hospitalization. If it’s not caught early, it can turn into a life-threatening illness.

The most common cause of acute pancreatitis is the presence of gallstones which are small, stone like substances made of hardened bile that can cause inflammation in the pancreas as they pass through the common bile duct.  Heavy alcohol consumption is another common cause.  Acute pancreatitis can occur within hours or as long as 2 days after consuming alcohol. Other causes of acute pancreatitis include abdominal trauma, medications, infections, tumors, and genetic abnormalities of the pancreas.

Researchers studied the problem of pancreatitis and learned that eating vegetables can lower the risk of developing pancreatitis.   The study found that people who ate at least four servings of vegetables a day lowered their risk of developing pancreatitis by 44 percent compared to people who seldom ate vegetables.
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Lower Your Risks of Developing Pancreatitis:

1. Limit your intake of alcohol.

2. Keep your triglycerides in a healthy range (less than 150 mg/dL).  Triglycerides are included as part of the Lipid (Cholesterol) Panel.

3. Eat four or more servings of vegetables each day.

 

Take Control of Your Health.

Medical Disclaimer:  The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.  The writer is not a physician or other health provider.

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