“Changes in diet, especially for the mother during pregnancy, may be a crucial factor,” agreed Walter Rocca at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. In addition, Rocca pointed out that people born in 1929 or after would have been teenagers or younger at the end of World War II, and thus their developing brains may have particularly reaped the benefits of the societal and medical changes that occurred at that time (see full comment below).
Interesting approach. Undermines the standard approach of pharmacy companies to view each drug as a separate profit center....
Approximately one in three Americans has high blood pressure, but only about half of those who do have the condition under control. One common reason: they stop taking their medications, often because of troublesome side effects such as weakness, fatigue, or a dry cough. However, taking smaller doses of several different blood pressure drugs may be a good way to address these issues, a new analysis suggests.
Researchers found that taking a quarter-dose of a two-drug combination was just as effective at lowering blood pressure as taking a full dose of one drug. Taking a quarter-dose of a four-drug combination was even more effective (although it's important to note that this finding came from a single, small trial). People who took smaller doses of multiple drugs had fewer side effects than those taking a single drug at the full dose. In fact, their side effects were similar to those of people who took placebos. The study was published in the July 2017 issue of Hypertension.
Iowa might resume direct oversight of care for people with serious disabilities instead of having private Medicaid-management companies continue doing it, the state’s human-services director said Wednesday.
Many of the most serious complaints about Iowa’s privatized Medicaid system have come from disabled Iowans and their families. Numerous families have reported having their services cut and their hassles multiplied by the management companies. Their plight has sparked a federal lawsuit against the state.
“We are examining patients that may not be the right mix” for managed care-companies to oversee, Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven told an advisory council for his agency Wednesday.
Foxhoven, who recently became the department’s director, said the Medicaid management companies could succeed at saving money by helping many other Iowans improve their health, such as by encouraging them to quit smoking. “But somebody who’s a quadriplegic and is on a ventilator, there’s probably not much you’re going to do to improve their health or bring costs down,” Foxhoven told the Council on Human Services.
Iowa shifted last year to having three private companies manage its Medicaid program, which covers health care for nearly 600,000 poor or disabled Iowans. The change has been intensely controversial, especially in regards to how it has affected care for Iowans with serious disabilities.
With funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) nearing its expiration at the end of September, Senate Finance Committee leaders have announced a bipartisan proposal to reauthorize funding for the program for five years. Formal legislation has not yet been released, but Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) have committed to help move the proposal through Congress this month. An identical proposal must also pass the House and be signed by President Trump.
HISTORY OF CHIP
A program with bipartisan support, CHIP currently provides affordable, comprehensive health coverage to roughly 9 million children and pregnant women who do not qualify for Medicaid, but whose families cannot afford other forms of health insurance. Since CHIP’s inception in 1997, the uninsured rate of children from ages 0 to 17 dropped from 13.9 percent that year to 4.5 percent in 2015. CHIP is currently funded in part by states, who receive federal funds at specific matching rates, much like Medicaid.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the federal match rate for CHIP was increased by 23 percent to help incentivize states to expand their coverage programs for children. The current federal match for CHIP is set to expire after September 30, which would leave states with limited funds to continue administering the program if no deal is reached.
THE ROAD FORWARD FOR CHIP
When patients who have been discharged from inpatient care refuse home health care services, they may experience higher rates of readmission to the hospital and a lower quality of life. This issue is not well studied or understood, and in December 2016 UHF’s Families and Health Care Project and the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation sponsored a roundtable examining it. This report summarizes the discussion and findings of that roundtable.
The report also contains a number of recommendations, among them interventions that improve communication about care challenges and home health care services, qualitative and quantitative research on all aspects of home health care refusals, policy changes to increase access and coordination, and continuity across providers and care settings.
Read the press release.
FDA-approved arthritis drug may work in new ways to fight itch.
The roots of chronic itching have long remained a mystery. Meanwhile, those with the condition suffer from an unrelenting and sometimes debilitating urge to scratch. Now, new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has identified immune signaling molecules that are essential for activating neurons in the skin to cause chronic itching.
In a small study, the researchers also discovered that people with a type of itch from an unknown cause, a condition called chronic idiopathic pruritus, improve when given tofacitinib (Xeljanz), a drug approved for rheumatoid arthritis. Earlier attempts to treat their itching with other anti-inflammatory drugs had not been successful, but within one month of taking tofacitinib, all five patients in the study experienced marked relief from severe itching.
The findings are published Sept. 8 in the journal Cell.
“These patients often itch day and night, and for some of them, the urge to scratch never goes away,” said senior investigator Brian S. Kim, MD, an assistant professor of medicine and co-director of Washington University’s Center for the Study of Itch. “Although this was a small study, the patients taking tofacitinib experienced dramatic improvements in terms of their itch, allowing them to sleep, stop scratching and return to living more productive lives. Obviously, we’ll need to do a larger study, but the early results are very encouraging.”
The findings also explain why an earlier study found that itching dissipates dramatically in eczema patients treated with the new drug dupilumab (Dupixent). Eczema patients have itchy, scaly rashes. The Washington University researchers found that drugs such as tofacitinib and dupilumab work so well, where many other drugs have failed, because they act directly on the nerves rather than only on the immune system.
We are writing to provide our perspectives in response to a recent interview by Steven Nissen, MD, in MedPage Today that we hope will be useful to its readers. We have great respect for Nissen and honor his many contributions to the field.
However, Nissen's statement that, "There is no diet that's been shown to reverse heart disease" is not supported by the data.
Used appropriately, statins can be useful, and other medications can be lifesaving, but so are comprehensive lifestyle changes. Informed physicians will optimize all of these for their patients. Even pharma companies recommend that if one can achieve optimal reductions in LDL-cholesterol by diet and lifestyle, that should be the first step.
The problem is that many physicians do not recommend diet and lifestyle changes intensive enough to have an effect. In our randomized, controlled trials, we found a 40% average reduction in LDL (i.e., comparable to statins) in patients who were asked to consume a whole foods plant-based diet low in both fat and refined carbohydrates (along with moderate exercise, meditation/yoga, and social support).
A new study led by researchers from Michigan State University in Grand Rapids found that people treated with tricyclic antidepressants were less likely to require drug treatment for Parkinson's disease.
On further investigation, the researchers found that rats treated with the tricyclic antidepressant nortriptyline demonstrated a reduction in levels of abnormal alpha-synuclein (a-synuclein) protein in the brain.
Lead study author Tim Collier, of the Department of Translational Science and Molecular Medicine at Michigan State University, and colleagues recently reported their findings in the journal Neurobiology of Disease.
Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological disorder characterized by tremors, limb stiffness, and problems with movement and coordination.
Around 60,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Parkinson's every year, and up to 1 million people in the U.S. are living with the disease.
A buildup of the protein a-synuclein is considered a hallmark of Parkinson's disease. Though this protein is present in the healthy brain, in the brains of people with Parkinson's, it can form toxic clusters that destroy nerve cells.