Is C-reactive Protein a Villain or an Innocent Bystander?

C-reactive protein or CRP is a blood marker of inflammation. First identified in the 1930s, CRP has been intensively studied in the hopes of imbuing it with some predictive power: the higher the CRP level, the higher the risk of cardiovascular disease would be one way of crystalizing a looked for relationship, with clear cause and effect the ideal. Sadly, such a relationship has had a bit of an on-again, off-again character, and in this week's JAMA, two studies further erode CRP's clinical utility.

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MediterraneanWhy Does the Mediterranean Diet Result in Longer Life?

We've all been hearing it for years: eat more like our Mediterranean cousins do (read that Greeks) and you'll live longer. Such a diet, dubbed the 'Mediterranean diet,' should include olive oil as the main oil consumed, lots of fruits and veggies, and wine, judiciously quaffed. But what exactly about this diet is most important in prolonging life? Investigators at Harvard took a stab at it and published their results this week.

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A New Do It Yourself Screening Test for Dementia

The British Medical Journal has reported a new self-administered screening test for Alzheimer's dementia: Self administered cognitive screening test (TYM) for detection of Alzheimer’s disease: cross sectional study. Just like so many other tests like HIV status, pregnancy, and blood sugar measurements, now people can take 15 or so minutes and in the privacy of their own home, determine if there's sufficient evidence of a problem to seek further evaluation.

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blood-zThe big story this week was a recommendation by an international body of experts, including the American Diabetes Association, to use a test called hemoglobin A1C, often abbreviated HbA1C, or even simply A1C, to diagnose diabetes.

Continue reading “June 14, 2009” »

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smoking_ceilingComputers Can Help People Quit Smoking

It's no surprise to anyone that smoking is the number one cause of preventable death worldwide. I've said a number of times in our podcast that if some universal authority empowered me to make just one decision to benefit everyone's health I would immediately abolish cigarettes. That said, and in an attempt to avoid a rant, this week Rick and I talked about the use of computer-based programs to assist people in their efforts to quit smoking: Effects of Web- and Computer-Based Smoking Cessation Programs in this issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Continue reading “June 7, 2009” »

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NFLweightliftingGuys who play football professionally are probably in great shape, right? They work out all the time, pay close attention to what they eat and get regular physical exams. Turns out though, that the majority of professional football players have either high blood pressure or the condition that precedes it known as prehypertension. That's in this week's JAMA, Prevalence of Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors Among National Football League Players

Continue reading “May 29, 2009” »

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arthritisGood news came this week from Annals of Internal Medicine, http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/short/360/21/2165, to those of us who have arthritis in our hands, specifically in the thumb joint. Not rheumatoid arthritis, the one that often causes deformed joints and is the result of the immune system gone awry, but osteoarthritis, that very common condition usually affecting knees and hips. Turns out that the very simple intervention of using a splint to immobilize the thumb, worn only at night, resulted in significant pain reduction and increased ability to use the thumb joint over time.

Continue reading “May 22, 2009” »

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