Top Stories Archive

CrossFit is amassing an army of doctors trying to disrupt health care

CEO Greg Glassman believes his program could end chronic disease — and he wants doctors to help him. After 12 years of practicing family medicine in Wellesley, Massachusetts, Ronda Rockett was losing faith in her ability to help the majority of her patients. Patient after patient would stream into her clinic with diabetes, weight problems, and heart disease. Rockett followed the medical guidelines, recommending healthier diets and more exercise. But despite her best efforts… Read at Vox

The Electronics Industry Sees Money In Your Health

If the scores of personal health care devices at the Consumer Electronics Show last week are any indication, it’s clear that the Apple Watch has kicked off a rush by high-tech companies to capitalize on people’s worries about their health.The latest version of the watch, which was announced last fall, detects a fibrillating heart and a propensity for falls. What other manufacturers learned…
Read at KHN

An Epidemic Is Killing Thousands Of Coal Miners. Regulators Could Have Stopped It

Greg Kelly’s grandson, Caden, scampers to the tree-shaded creek behind his grandfather’s house to catch crawdads, as Kelly shuffles along, trying to keep up. Kelly’s small day pack holds an oxygen tank with a clear tube clipped to his nose. He has chairs spaced out on the short route so he can stop every few minutes, sit down and catch his breath, until he has enough wind and strength to start out again for the creek… Read at NPR

Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong

For decades, the medical community has ignored mountains of evidence to wage a cruel and futile war on fat people, poisoning public perception and ruining millions of lives. It’s time for a new paradigm. From the 16th century to the 19th, scurvy killed around 2 million sailors, more than warfare, shipwrecks and syphilis combined. It was an ugly, smelly death, too…
Read at The HuffPost

Health Insurers Are Vacuuming Up Details About You — And It Could Raise Your Rates

To an outsider, the fancy booths at a June health insurance industry gathering in San Diego, Calif., aren’t very compelling: a handful of companies pitching “lifestyle” data and salespeople touting jargony phrases like “social determinants of health.” But dig deeper and the implications…
Read at NPR

These Guatemalan women save mothers and babies. Why are they treated so badly?

Juana Cac Perpuac sits on the grass outside the health centre in her town with a look of desperation and disbelief in her eyes. She whispers: “I’m attending to one woman who is eight months pregnant and very thin. I told her to come here to get help, but the staff wouldn’t see her. She’s due soon and I think she’s going to have problems.” Cac Perpuac adds that doctors and nurses often don’t take women like her seriously…
Read at The Guardian

The Astonishingly High Administrative Costs of U.S. Health Care

It takes only a glance at a hospital bill or at the myriad choices you may have for health care coverage to get a sense of the bewildering complexity of health care financing in the United States. That complexity doesn’t just exact a cognitive cost. It also comes with administrative costs that are largely hidden from view but that we all pay. Because they’re not directly related to patient care…
Read at NYTimes

Cavity Country

Lynnel Beauchesne’s dental office hugs a rural crossroads near Tunnelton, W.Va., population 336. Acres of empty farmland surround the weathered one-story white building; a couple of houses and a few barns are the only neighbors. But the parking lot is full. Some people have driven hours to see Beauchesne, the sole dentist within 30 miles. She estimates that she has as many as 8,000 patients. Before the office closes at 7 p.m., she and her two hygienists will see up to 50 of them, not counting emergencies…
Read at The Washington Post

How 'Bad Medicine' Dismisses And Misdiagnoses Women's Symptoms

When journalist Maya Dusenbery was in her 20s, she started experiencing progressive pain in her joints, which she learned was caused by rheumatoid arthritis. As she began to research her own condition, Dusenbery realized how lucky she was to have been diagnosed relatively easily. Other women with similar symptoms, she says, “experienced very long diagnostic delays and felt …
Listen at NPR’s Fresh Air

Can Buddhist Practices Help Us Overcome The Biological Pull Of Dissatisfaction?

Are human beings hard-wired to be perpetually dissatisfied? Author Robert Wright, who teaches about the interface of evolutionary biology and religion, thinks so. Wright points out that evolution rewards people for seeking out pleasure rather than pain, which helps ensure that human beings are frequently unsatisfied: “We are condemned to always want things to be a little different, always want a little more,” he says. “We’re not designed by natural selection to be happy.” But all is not lost. In his new book, Why Buddhism is True, Wright makes the case…
Listen at NPR’s Fresh Air

My Sister’s Cancer Might Have Been Diagnosed Sooner — If Doctors Could Have Seen Beyond Her Weight

My older sister, Jan, visited me in San Francisco last spring. “You look great,” I told her, noticing that her clothes were hanging loose; she’d been heavy most of her life. “I’ve lost 60 pounds,” she said, and I automatically congratulated her. “I wasn’t trying,” she replied. It hit me then that something was very wrong, first with her health, but also with the way I assumed that her weight loss was a sign of well-being. My own judgments and shame associated with being fat got in the way of seeing my sister. Looking closer, her face seemed strained, and despite the constant smile she turned on, she wasn’t well…
Read at STAT

A Comprehensive Guide to the New Science of Treating Lower Back Pain

Cathryn Jakobson Ramin’s back pain started when she was 16, on the day she flew off her horse and landed on her right hip. For the next four decades, Ramin says her back pain was like a small rodent nibbling at the base of her spine. The aching left her bedridden on some days and made it difficult to work, run a household, and raise her two boys. By 2008, after Ramin had exhausted what seemed like all her options, she elected to have a “minimally invasive” nerve decompression procedure. But the $8,000 operation didn’t fix her back, either. The same pain remained, along with new neck aches…
Read at VOX

High-Intensity Workouts May Be Good at Any Age

In the fall of 1994, the Clinton Administration’s much debated comprehensive, and complicated, health-insurance bill—known derisively as Hillarycare—died quietly on Capitol Hill. It was a moment that, the Princeton sociologist Paul Starr later argued, would “go down as one of the great lost political opportunities Abbreviated, intense workouts may help people of any age become healthier, a new study of old mice that ran on treadmills suggests. Although the experiment involved rodents, not humans, the study found that old mice can tolerate high-intensity interval training and rapidly gain fitness and strength, even if they start off frail and exercise for only a few minutes a week. In recent years, high-intensity interval training has generated considerable attention among exercise scientists and practitioners…
Read at www.nytimes.com

Opioids, a Mass Killer We’re Meeting With a Shrug

Despite three warnings and a multimillion-dollar fine a few years ago, Kaiser Permanente still fails to provide members with appropriate access to mental health care, according to a recent survey of the HMO by the state of California. The routine survey, released by the state Department of Managed Health Care, found that Kaiser Foundation Health Plan did not provide enrollees with “timely access” to behavioral health treatment…
Read at nytimes.com

What This 76-Year-Old Man Can Teach About Healing

“I never lock my door; if people show up at night, I will wake up,” said I Gusti Mangku Sasak, a holistic Usada Bali healer. I Gusti Mangku Sasak, a 76-year-old Balinese healer, begins and ends each day by meditating: He focuses on his third eye, the tip of his nose, the tip of his tongue and his throat. He then goes to the rice fields, where he works with his son. When he returns home, around dusk, patients come from his village…
Read at NYTimes

Breakthroughs In Heart Health

Dr. Haider Warraich talks about advancements in treating and preventing heart failure, and explains how the understanding of healthy blood pressure and good cholesterol continues to evolve. His book is ‘State of the Heart.’ … Listen at NPR

Workers Overdose On The Job, And Employers Struggle To Respond

Despite the growing epidemic of Americans misusing opioids and overdosing on the job, many employers turn a blind eye to addiction within their workforce — ill-equipped or unwilling to confront an issue they are at a loss to handle. Jimmy Sullivan prepared for his job as a bricklayer the same way every morning for years…
Read at KHN

Why exercise alone won’t save us

Sedentary lifestyles are killing us – we need to build activity into our everyday lives, not just leave it for the gym. This is the time of year when trainers are mined from under beds and gym kits are disinterred from the bottom drawer. Google searches relating to… Read at The Guardian

100 million Americans have chronic pain. Very few use one of the best tools to treat it.

Chronic pain often has no physical cause. Psychotherapy can reduce the suffering.
When pain settled into Blair Golson’s hands, it didn’t let go. What started off as light throbbing in one wrist 10 years ago quickly engulfed the other. The discomfort then spread…
Read at Vox

The Startling Link Between Sugar and Alzheimer's

In recent years, Alzheimer’s disease has occasionally been referred to as “type 3” diabetes, though that moniker doesn’t make much sense. After all, though they share a problem with insulin, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, and type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease caused by diet. Instead of another type of diabetes, it’s increasingly looking like Alzheimer’s is another potential side effect of a sugary, Western-style diet. In some cases, the path from sugar to Alzheimer’s leads through type 2 diabetes, but as a new study and others show, that’s not always the case…
Read at The Atlantic

Can Your Hip Replacement Kill You?

When Stephen Tower’s right hip gave out in 2006, he asked his surgeon to implant an artificial one — specifically, a metal-on-metal hip called the ASR XL, made by Johnson & Johnson. He knew what he was talking about: As an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Tower specializes in complex hip replacements. But what he knew wasn’t enough to protect him from a defect in the device…
Read at NYTimes

Nurse practitioner growth changes patient care in Minnesota

There was no doctor in the house when Sam Talbot arrived at his clinic for a recent physical, but then that was the plan. The 30-year-old ecology researcher chose for his primary care the state’s first clinic staffed solely by nurse practitioners — who have the training beyond registered nurses to diagnose patients, order tests, prescribe drugs, stitch wounds, and perform most tasks traditionally ascribed to family doctors. “I don’t particularly like going to the doctor,” Talbot said. “Nurse practitioners feel a little bit less threatening.” Nurse practitioners, or NPs, are becoming vital…
Read at Star Tribune

Utopic Wellness Communities Are A Multibillion-Dollar Real Estate Trend

Thirty minutes from the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport lies a countryside oasis that resembles a fancier, modern-day version of Little House on the Prairie. Imagine 40,000 acres of forest surrounding newly built Craftsman and Victorian homes–each with sweeping Southern-style wraparound porches sprinkled with lemonade-sipping residents, old and young. Behind each house lie “alleyways” of forest trails–there, athleisure-clad grandmas go on runs while clusters of unaccompanied kids forage for secret treehouses strewn throughout the landscape. Nestled behind a communal organic farm…
Read at Fast Company

Mind Over Body: A Psychiatrist Tells How To Tap Into Wisdom And Grow With Age

We’ve all seen it happen: An older friend or family member retires, is diagnosed with a serious illness or loses a spouse. Suddenly, this individual’s world is altered, sometimes seemingly beyond recognition. He has reached a fork in the road; will he get stuck or find a way to regroup and move on? In a new book, “The End of Old Age,” Dr. Marc Agronin, a geriatric psychiatrist, calls this moment an “age point” — an event that…
Read at KHN

Opioids, a Mass Killer We’re Meeting With a Shrug

Despite three warnings and a multimillion-dollar fine a few years ago, Kaiser Permanente still fails to provide members with appropriate access to mental health care, according to a recent survey of the HMO by the state of California. The routine survey, released by the state Department of Managed Health Care, found that Kaiser Foundation Health Plan did not provide enrollees with “timely access” to behavioral health treatment…
Read at nytimes.com

On Health Care, We’ll Have What Congress Is Having

In the fall of 1994, the Clinton Administration’s much debated comprehensive, and complicated, health-insurance bill—known derisively as Hillarycare—died quietly on Capitol Hill. It was a moment that, the Princeton sociologist Paul Starr later argued, would “go down as one of the great lost political opportunities in American history.” But, before the end, talk of another approach kept bubbling up…
Read at www.newyorker.com

An Ancient Cure for Alzheimer’s?

In 2011, Ben Trumble emerged from the Bolivian jungle with a backpack containing hundreds of vials of saliva. He had spent six weeks following indigenous men as they tramped through the wilderness, shooting arrows at wild pigs. The men belonged to the Tsimane people, who live as our ancestors did thousands of years ago…
Read at www.nytimes.com

Analysis: Mitch McConnell Plans To Hide Trumpcare’s Pain Until After Midterms

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is well aware of the political peril of taking health benefits away from millions of voters. He also knows the danger of reneging on the pledge that helped make him the majority leader: to repeal Obamacare. Caught between those competing realities, McConnell’s bill offers a solution: go ahead and repeal Obamacare, but hide the pain for as long as possible…
Read at californiahealthline.org

Health Care’s ‘Upstream’ Conundrum

At the heart of America’s vaunted health care system is a frustrating puzzle. The United States pays three times as much per citizen as the average of other wealthy nations—far more than even the second-highest spender, Switzerland, adding up to $3 trillion a year. Yet for all that enormous expenditure, we come in dead last among those nations in lifespan. And as the bills climb, our life expectancy is actually shrinking. What’s going so wrong? …
Read at The Agenda

A mobile clinic is helping low-income students to see clearly — one pair of glasses at a time

Ja’karri Green can’t see mosquitoes when they land on his arm, and sometimes he has trouble reading his Japanese comic books. So it was no surprise when the optometrist who came to his Boys & Girls Club camp last week told him he needed to wear glasses…
Read at The Washington Post

Creating While Clean

This is a story about sober musicians—about the life that has led them here, and about the life that they live now—but there is no single story here. Some drank, some used drugs, some did more or less everything, and they did so to very different degrees. Some found themselves at the edge of the precipice, or worse; others simply re-routed from a path or trajectory that…
Read at GQ

Oliver Sacks: The Healing Power of Gardens

This is an excerpt from “Everything in Its Place,” a posthumous collection of writings by Dr. Sacks.

As a writer, I find gardens essential to the creative process; as a physician, I take my patients to gardens whenever possible. All of us have had the experience of wandering through a lush garden or a timeless desert, walking by a river or an ocean, or climbing a mountain and finding ourselves simultaneously calmed and reinvigorated, engaged in mind, refreshed in body and spirit. The importance of these physiological states… Read at NYTimes

Blood, Sweat And Workplace Wellness: Where To Draw The Line On Incentives

Workplace wellness programs that offer employees a financial carrot for undergoing health screenings, sticking to exercise regimens or improving their cholesterol levels have long been controversial. Next year, they may become even more contentious. Two recent court rulings have cast uncertainty over what is the appropriate limit for financial incentives that employers can offer…
Read at KHN

What The Tests Don’t Show

Doctors are surprisingly bad at reading lab results. It’s putting us all at risk.
The man was 66 when he came to the hospital with a serious skin infection. He had a fever and low blood pressure, as well as a headache. His doctors gave him a brain scan just to be safe. They found a very small bulge in one of his cranial arteries, which probably had nothing to do…
Read at The Washington Post

Anxiety Relief Without The High? New Studies On CBD, A Cannabis Extract

As more states legalize marijuana, there’s growing interest in a cannabis extract — cannabidiol, also known as CBD. It’s marketed as a compound that can help relieve anxiety — and, perhaps, help ease aches and pains, too. Part of the appeal, at least for people who don’t want to get high…
Read at NPR

Finding Homeless Patients A Place To Heal

After they amputated the second toe on John Trumbla’s right foot last summer, doctors sent him to a nursing home because he still needed medical care — but not necessarily a hospital bed. The proud, burly Army veteran resisted at first, but he didn’t have a choice. Before his hospitalization at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, Trumbla, 56, and his wife had been homeless, crashing…
Read at KHN

Nine Rights Every Patient Should Demand

Dr. Rosenthal was an emergency room doctor before becoming a journalist.
Ever since the American Hospital Association created its first Patient Bill of Rights in the early 1970s, medical centers, professional associations and states have been adapting it or creating their own. They are featured on websites and included in admissions packets, and adorn hospital walls. But most of these documents are relics, responding to the concerns of a bygone era…
Read at NYTimes

The Shorter Your Sleep, The Shorter Your Life: The New Sleep Science

Matthew Walker has learned to dread the question “What do you do?” At parties, it signals the end of his evening; thereafter, his new acquaintance will inevitably cling to him like ivy. On an aeroplane, it usually means that while everyone else watches movies or reads a thriller, he will find himself running an hours-long salon for the benefit of passengers and crew alike. “I’ve begun to lie,” he says. “Seriously. I just tell people I’m a dolphin trainer. It’s better for everyone.” Walker is a sleep scientist…
Read at The Guardian

The Poison We Pick

This nation pioneered modern life. Now epic numbers of Americans are killing themselves with opioids to escape it.
It is a beautiful, hardy flower, Papaver somniferum, a poppy that grows up to four feet in height and arrives in a multitude of colors. It thrives in temperate climates, needs no fertilizer, attracts few pests, and is as tough as many weeds. The blooms last only a few days and then the petals fall, revealing a matte, greenish-gray pod fringed with flutes. The seeds…
Read at New York Magazine

The Shorter Your Sleep, The Shorter Your Life: The New Sleep Science

Matthew Walker has learned to dread the question “What do you do?” At parties, it signals the end of his evening; thereafter, his new acquaintance will inevitably cling to him like ivy. On an aeroplane, it usually means that while everyone else watches movies or reads a thriller, he will find himself running an hours-long salon for the benefit of passengers and crew alike. “I’ve begun to lie,” he says. “Seriously. I just tell people I’m a dolphin trainer. It’s better for everyone.” Walker is a sleep scientist…
Read at The Guardian

The Disappearing Doctor: How Mega-Mergers Are Changing the Business of Medical Care

Is the doctor in? In this new medical age of urgent care centers and retail clinics, that’s not a simple question. Nor does it have a simple answer, as primary care doctors become increasingly scarce. “You call the doctor’s office to book an appointment,” said Matt Feit, a 45-year-old screenwriter in Los Angeles who visited an urgent care center eight times last year. “They’re only open Monday through Friday from these hours to those hours, and, generally…
Read at NYTimes

Kaiser Permanente Cited — Again — For Mental Health Access Problems

Despite three warnings and a multimillion-dollar fine a few years ago, Kaiser Permanente still fails to provide members with appropriate access to mental health care, according to a recent survey of the HMO by the state of California. The routine survey, released by the state Department of Managed Health Care, found that Kaiser Foundation Health Plan did not provide enrollees with “timely access” to behavioral health treatment…
Read at khn.org

The Smart-Medicine Solution to the Health-Care Crisis

The controversy over Obamacare and now the raucous debate over its possible repeal and replacement have taken center stage recently in American politics. But health insurance isn’t the only health-care problem facing us—and maybe not even the most important one. No matter how the debate in Washington plays out in the weeks ahead, we will still be stuck with astronomical and ever-rising health-care costs. The U.S. now spends well over $10,000 per capita on health care each year. A recent analysis in the journal Health Affairs by the economist Sean P. Keehan and his colleagues at the federal Centers for Medicare and…
Read at www.wsj.com

What Cookies and Meth Have in Common

As a psychiatrist, I have yet to meet a patient who enjoys being addicted to drugs or compulsively overeating.
Why would anyone continue to use recreational drugs despite the medical consequences and social condemnation? What makes someone eat more and more in the face of poor health? …
Read at nytimes.com

ricky@rickyfishman.com www.rickyfishman.com
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