Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Baby Boomers: Maybe a Hepatitis C test?

My regular readers know I am not enthused with exhaustive testing--who would have time for anything else?

Baby Boomers are more likely than other age groups to have the viral infection called Hepatitis C.

This attacks the liver, can be fatal, and is easily acquired--even by sharing a razor at the gym.

Kristin Gourlay, writing on the USC Annenberg website,, says people born before 1945 and 1965 are more likely to have this for various reasons.  More drugs were  injected in the 1970s and 1980s. The blood supply was not screened for this until 1992. Unsafe tattooing and piercing could also spread it.

Go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to see if you are at risk.

Why get tested now? Because the disease can hide out in the body and do damage before you get symptoms.

There is a cure--but it's scary expensive--$84,000 for 12 weeks.

Will this lead to rationing? Probably. Won't everything? Better to get in line early.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New go-to site on cancer

The American Association for Cancer Research ( has started a new website called CANCER RESEARCH Catalyst.

Go to

Samples from an early issue:

The challenge of pancreatic cancer

New info on Tamoxifen

Click through to new issue of Cancer Today

Be sun sensible

You get the idea. If you have this disease or know someone who does, this might be a valuable touchpoint.

You never know what you will pick up.

You know my favorite saying: "So much has been written about everything, it's hard to find anything out about it."

This true of cancer--but the AACR is a good place to check.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Crowdfunding for cures

I always get incensed when I hear about people who hold bake sales to get money for a transplant. There has to be a better system!

Now, according to Ed Silverman, WSJ, July 15, 2014, the new approach of crowdfunding is being applied to early stage research on drugs or tests.

Early stage because you need to know yes or no on the promise of something without spending a ton--crowdfunding doesn't raise tons.

They did a study of 97 campaigns for cancer and other disease research and concluded that the approach could lead to more visibility, preliminary findings, and maybe more money from other sources.

These campaigns raised in the range of $45K on average (Drug Discovery Today).

It's a start, is how researchers, parents, and patients look at it.

Friday, July 25, 2014

How does seven hrs of sleep sound?

Get your eight hours! Or maybe nine! Now, sleep researchers say people are sleeping less and this may be OK.

Seven hours is becoming a popular amount.

In fact, too much sleep is associated with the usual roster of horrors--diabetes, obesity, heart disease, you know the list.

All this is included in Sumath Reddy's story in the WSJ, July 22, 2014. You can find the studies in there.

How much do you--personally--need? While on vacation, turn off the alarm clock, don't drink alcohol or caffeine close to bedtime, and see how long you stay asleep.

That can't be right--it isn't even technical!

I can tell you when you get older and maybe take diuretics, sleep is naps--two hrs at a time.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Let nurses nurse us

Anyone who's been in the hospital knows that it's not the monosyllabic inhouse doctors or the regular doctors (if you can get them to come over) that really help you, it's the nurses.

Laura Landro wrote in the WSJ (July 22, 2014) about efforts to free up nurses for more bedside time. Instead, they are often chasing test results, calling people, arranging tests, getting meds--sometimes walking as  much as 5 miles a shift around the hospital to round up things for their patients.

Talking with patients and family, evaluating pain, taking complaints, comforting, remaking soiled beds, and maybe just chatting a second--all these take short shrift. One study showed that in a 12-hour shift, nurses spent 2.5 hrs at the bedside.

The more time at the bedside, the fewer the falls, bathroom accidents, infections, medication errors, and the higher the satisfaction. I remember very clearly one time I have been "stuck" so much they got the nursing supervisor--a great sticker--to come in and do it. Years later, I was in the same hospital and remembered her because of her skill and kindness.

My daughter remembered a nurse's kindness in the ER and sent a letter about it--and the nurse got an award at a ceremony.

This time with patients and family is needed as stays grow shorter and more must be done at home--this needs explaining.

Steps some hospitals are taking include bringing the meds to the floor and storing supplies in the patients' rooms. Computers are also in the patients' rooms. One program is called Care at the Bedside. One nurse uses the in-room computer to show patients their images and x-rays.

Another change is to hand over the patients at shift's end in the rooms, not the hall. They ask patients specific questions about how things went in the last shift.

Hospitals are also letting licensed practical nurses and certified nurse assistants render more care at the bedside.

All this is good--not that I want to test it out soon.