Paula Span writing in the New York Times reported on “an ongoing and vexing public health problem: People once vigilant about vaccinating their children aren’t nearly as careful about protecting themselves as they age, even though diseases like influenza, pneumonia and shingles…are particularly dangerous for older people.” Carolyn Bridges, MD, Associate Director for Adult Immunization at the CDC, said, “Trying to prevent these common and often debilitating conditions is incredibly important for older adults.”
Comment: Shame on you if you aren’t getting your shots.
Not sleeping? That’s not healthy!
Too little sleep takes a toll on your heart, according to a new study presented at the 2016 annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), Nov. 27-Dec. 1 in Chicago.
Alexandra Sifferlin reports, about twenty healthy radiologists had their hearts imaged before and after a 24-hour shift where they got an average of three hours of sleep. The also had their blood pressure and heart rate measured, and they provided blood and urine samples. Comparing the two images showed increases in heart strain, which can be a precursor for heart problems. The doctors also showed increases in blood pressure, heart rate and thyroid hormones, which are released in response to stress.
Comment: Make sure you get your sleep… you life might depend on it!
Drowsy driving almost as bad as being drunk… maybe
AAA Study: Drowsy Driving As Risky As Drunk Driving
Scot Pelley reporting for CBS News stated a new AAA study suggested “that getting behind the wheel on four or five hours’ sleep is just as dangerous as driving drunk.” According to the broadcast, a little over one in three drivers in the US does not get “the recommended seven hours of sleep daily,” and those who do get “just five or six hours” are “almost twice as likely to be involved in an accident.” As a driver’s hours of sleep decreased, the risk of an accident increased exponentially, with “teenagers, older adults, and people who have a sleep debt” at “the highest risk.”
Comment: Not surprising at all.
A breakthrough therapy… next
Tocilizumab Receives Breakthrough Designation for GCA
The FDA granted the designation of breakthrough therapy to tocilizumab (Actemra) for treating GCA (Giant Cell Arteritis). This autoimmune disease causes inflammation of arteries both medium and large in size, predominantly in the head, but also in the aorta and branches of the aorta.1
To date, GCA treatment has been limited to high-dose steroids, which are used as an emergency treatment to prevent vision loss and other damage. Long-term, flare-free remission cannot always be maintained with steroids. Because of the variety of symptoms, GCA patients are usually seen by myriad specialists, including rheumatologists.
The FDA gives a breakthrough designation to expedite the development and review of treatments that show early evidence of potential clinical benefit in serious diseases to ensure patients receive access to medication as quickly as possible. Positive results of tocilizumab use in patients with GCA were seen in the Phase 3 GiACTA study. Patients treated with tocilizumab, initially as combination therapy for six months with glucocorticoids, had sustained remission though one year of treatment compared with patients who received only glucocorticoids for six to 12 months.
Comment: GCA is a serious condition and this is great news.
How much weight does wearing a fitness tracker help you lose? Next
Wearable Activity Trackers Don’t Improve Weight Loss
Dr. Jack Cush writing in Rheum now reported that an article in JAMA has reported the results of a 24-month trial showing that obese individuals on a long-term healthy diet and exercise program do not have significantly more weight loss from using a wearable device that tracks their activity.
In a randomized clinical trial conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, 471 adult participants (with a BMI between 25-40) enrolled between 2010 and 2012. All subjects were placed on a low-calorie diet, prescribed increases in physical activity, and had group counseling sessions.
Patients randomized to the intervention group were given wearable device and accompanying web interface to monitor diet and physical activity – BodyMedia Fit Core, a wearable activity tracker worn on the upper arm. The Fit Core tracks steps, hours slept and calories burned and costs about $100.
After 24 months, people who used wearable activity trackers lost 2.4 kilograms (5.29 pounds) less than a group on a similar program but using a website to track their progress.
Both groups had improved their body composition, fitness, physical activity and diet, according to the report in JAMA.
The value and impact of wearable technology remains to be proven, especially with regard to weight loss.