Health and Fitness

Doctors Accepting Medicare Patients Decline In Rural Arizona

News outlets report on rural health issues including the decline in the number of doctors accepting Medicare patients in Arizona and the search for low-cost health solutions in Mississippi. The Arizona Republic reports that a growing number of doctors in rural Arizona are refusing to see new Medicare patients and notes it is a problem that other parts of the country are reporting also. "Medicare, some doctors say, pays too little, and the red tape is too much. ... Medical professionals say the Prescott area may serve as a valuable lesson for the nation as Congress seeks to expand health care: Even if most Americans are covered under some form of insurance, many still may not find a doctor willing to see them." The situation is worsened by the shortage of primary care doctors and the sustainable growth rate payment system, which reimburses doctors less for Medicare patients (Alltucker, 1/24). The Los Angeles Times reports on Dr. Aaron Shirley, a 77-year-old Mississippi pediatrician who thinks a key to reducing infant mortality may come from Iran: "In May, Shirley and two colleagues flew to Iran for 10 days to study a low-cost rural healthcare delivery system that, according to the World Health Organization, has helped cut infant deaths by 70% over the last three decades.

Phosphagenics Announces Positive Results From Phase 1B Study Of Transdermal Oxycodone Patch

Phosphagenics Limited ("Phosphagenics") (ASX: POH; OTCQX: PPGNY) today announced positive results from a Phase 1B clinical study using the Company's patented TPM™ (Targeted Penetration Matrix) for the transdermal delivery of oxycodone. The results of the successful trial demonstrate that daily application of a TPM™ patch delivers therapeutic levels of oxycodone into the blood stream in a reproducible, consistent and sustained manner. "The ability to reach therapeutic oxycodone plasma concentrations from a transdermal patch is a major achievement and the sustained drug profile appears very suitable for chronic pain management, " said Professor Guy Ludbrook, Principal Investigator for the study and Head of Discipline, Anaesthesia & Intensive Care, at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. "After a dose of oral oxycontin, pain relief is provided for only a matter of hours. The use of Phosphagenics' oxycodone patch may provide sustained drug delivery for a matter of days, thus removing some of the peaks and troughs of pain relief associated with oral treatment.

Allergan, Inc. Announces FDA Approval Of JUVEDERM R XC Dermal Filler Formulated With Lidocaine

Allergan, Inc. (NYSE:AGN) announced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval of JUVEDERM(R) XC, a new formulation of the currently FDA-approved JUVEDERM(R) dermal filler and the latest advancement1 in hyaluronic acid (HA) dermal fillers. Allergan's new JUVEDERM(R) formulation contains the local anesthetic lidocaine to provide patients with enhanced comfort during treatment of moderate to severe facial wrinkles and folds, such as the nasolabial folds (or "parentheses") that appear around the nose and mouth. JUVEDERM(R) is the first and only hyaluronic acid dermal filler approved by the FDA to last up to one year from initial treatment2 and number-one selling hyaluronic acid dermal filler.3 "As the global leader in medical aesthetics, Allergan is committed to providing the latest scientific advancements in facial aesthetic products to meet patients' demands and further optimize their experiences, " said Robert Grant, Allergan's Corporate Vice President and President, Allergan Medical.

King Launches PainBalance reg;: Educational Initiative To Help Reduce The Burden Of Pain

King Pharmaceuticals® , Inc. launched PainBalance® , a new educational initiative which provides quality information, practical tools, and essential resources to healthcare professionals and others, helping them provide optimal, appropriate care for all patients with pain. An estimated 50 million Americans live with chronic pain, 1 more than the number of people with diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined.2-5 Chronic pain is a serious, undertreated public health problem, and uncontrolled pain costs an estimated $100 billion in the U.S. each year.6 "Patients with chronic pain often needlessly suffer because they are not getting appropriate treatment, " said Dr. Lynn Webster, Co-Founder and Medical Director of Lifetree Clinical Research® in Salt Lake City, Utah. "It is time to change that by helping healthcare professionals better understand the proper pain management that can allow more patients to enjoy quality, pain-free lives." At the heart of the PainBalance®

Researchers Identify Racial Differences In Pain Treatment Outcomes

Findings from a retrospective analysis of a three-week treatment program for chronic pain revealed African Americans experienced worse outcomes compared to a matched group of Caucasians. The research was presented at the American Academy of Pain Medicine's 26th Annual Meeting in San Antonio. "Our research showed important differences in treatment outcomes exist among African Americans with chronic pain, " said Michael Hooten, MD and assistant professor of anesthesiology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota. "The next step in this line of research will be to determine how treatment of chronic pain can be modified and targeted to achieve equal outcomes regardless of culture or race." Previous research in chronic pain has shown cultural differences exist African Americans are more likely to report greater impairments performing the activities of daily living (physical functioning) and increased distress and depression (emotional functioning) along with suffering pain.

Study Examines Smoking Practices And Attitudes Among Anesthesiologists In China, The Country With The Highest Population Of Smokers

The statistics are frightening: one-third of the world's smokers (300 million) live in China, and chronic diseases caused by smoking are a growing burden to public health there. Current projections estimate that the number of tobacco-related deaths in China will increase to 2 million annually by 2025. A new study in the February issue of the journal Anesthesiology looks at whether Chinese anesthesiologists are willing to help their patients quit smoking, and ultimately help reduce these projected tobacco-related deaths. Because patients in the U.S. are advised to abstain from smoking for as long as possible both before and after surgery, the study's lead author believes it represents a golden opportunity for people to take action to quit, and he is committed to supporting the campaign across the globe. "Every year, in the United States, we care for up to 10 million smokers in surgery. (1, 2 ) We continue to work to reduce the number of patients who enter surgery as smokers. There's a tremendous need in China to do the same.

New Nanoscopic Material Enables Cartilage To Do What It Doesn't Do Naturally

Northwestern University researchers are the first to design a bioactive nanomaterial that promotes the growth of new cartilage in vivo and without the use of expensive growth factors. Minimally invasive, the therapy activates the bone marrow stem cells and produces natural cartilage. No conventional therapy can do this. The results will be published online the week of Feb. 1 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). "Unlike bone, cartilage does not grow back, and therefore clinical strategies to regenerate this tissue are of great interest, " said Samuel I. Stupp, senior author, Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science and Engineering, and Medicine, and director of the Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine. Countless people - amateur athletes, professional athletes and people whose joints have just worn out -- learn this all too well when they bring their bad knees, shoulders and elbows to an orthopaedic surgeon. Damaged cartilage can lead to joint pain and loss of physical function and eventually to osteoarthritis, a disorder with an estimated economic impact approaching $65 billion in the United States.

Stopping Pain Without Affecting Motor Function

One of the holy grails of local anesthesia is the ability to achieve a long-lasting nerve block that eliminates pain sensation while not affecting motor function. Now, researchers at Children's Hospital Boston have discovered an anesthetic approach that seems to do just that. If it proves to work in humans as well as it did in rats, it could be useful in a variety of medical applications, providing, for example, a local anesthetic for childbirth that would block pain without interfering with the mother's ability to push, or for musculoskeletal disorders in which it is important to maintain mobility. The discovery was reported in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week of February 1. The researchers, led by Daniel Kohane, MD, PhD, of the Division of Critical Care Medicine at Children's, originally sought only to find an agent that would prolong the anesthetics' effects. They focused on surfactants, a subclass of so-called "chemical permeability enhancers" that enable drugs to spread more easily throughout a tissue.

Immune Protein Fends Off Exotic Virus

A study published online on February 1 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine shows that antiviral proteins called type I interferons (IFNs) are needed to fend off infection with an exotic mosquito-borne virus called Chikungunya virus. This pathogen, which causes high fevers and severe joint pain, triggered a recent epidemic in Southeast Asia, infecting more than 30% of the population in some areas. A team led by Marc Lecuit and Matthew Albert at the Pasteur Institute in Paris found that individuals infected with Chikungunya virus had increased levels of type I IFNs in their blood. But the source of the virus-fighting IFN proteins came as a surprise. Viruses related to Chikungunya trigger type I IFN production mostly from immune cells. But during Chikungunya infection, immune cells neither produced nor responded to type I IFNs. Rather non-immune cells called fibroblasts - the main target of virus infection - provided the essential type I IFN. This unique feature should be taken into consideration in future efforts to develop therapeutic strategies for controlling Chikungunya virus infection.

Acetaminophen Protects Kidneys After Muscle Injury

Severe muscle injuries - such as crush injuries suffered in earthquakes, car accidents and explosions, and muscle damage from excessive exercise or statin drug interactions - can cause life-threatening kidney damage. Treatment has been limited to intravenous fluids and dialysis, but a new study suggests that the commonly used pain reliever acetaminophen may protect the kidneys from damage. An international research team led by investigators at Vanderbilt University Medical Center reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that acetaminophen prevented oxidative damage and kidney failure after muscle injury in a rat model. The findings support further investigation of the drug's effects in patients with severe muscle injuries. "This is a novel application of acetaminophen, " said the study's lead author, Olivier Boutaud, Ph.D., research associate professor of Pharmacology. The idea "came from two groups working on different things and getting together to create something new, " he said.

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