Posts Tagged ‘Blogfinger medical report’


CDC reports 2,900 deaths in current flu season

ABC News (1/10, Schumaker) reported that influenza cases and deaths caused by influenza continue to increase across the U.S., according to the CDC. The agency says that 2,900 people have died and 55,000 have been hospitalized so far this season.

NBC News (1/10, Edwards) reported that “this season’s flu continues to hit children and young adults particularly hard,” according to the CDC. The article said “that there have been twice as many pediatric flu deaths so far this year than at the same time last year.”

CNN (1/10, Cohen) reported that flu activity in the U.S. decreased last week, but health officials warned that it would be premature to conclude that the season has already peaked.


BLOGFINGER MEDICAL COMMENTARY:  Paul Goldfinger, MD, Editor Blogfinger.net

Children have been hit hard this flu season.  The peak has not yet been reached.

The CDC says,  “It’s going to be really important to see in the next couple of weeks, do we start going back up again as the children go back to school,” said Lynnette Brammer, team lead of the CDC’s domestic influenza surveillance team.

It’s not too late to get a flu shot. Don’t forget, those over age 65 may have diminished immune responses and a greater risk of getting Influenza and then having complications.

Children also have decreased immunity, and over age 6 months, flu shots should be given, and for babies, two shots may be recommended by pediatricians.

Complications of influenza can be awful and can cause deaths.

The articles linked above by the AMA  are short but very informative. Take a look.

–Paul @Blogfinger.


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Study finds bottled water has more plastic than tap water or beer

TIME (5/29) reports on “a study published last year in Frontiers in Chemistry” finding that 93% of samples taken of bottled water “contained ‘microplastic’ synthetic polymer particles.”

Author Sherri Mason, a sustainability researcher at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, said, “These plastic particles are in our air, in our water and in our soil.” Mason “says focusing on bottled water is worthwhile for two reasons.” First, “most of the particles her study found in plastic water bottles turned out to be…the type of plastic used to make bottled water caps,” and second, bottled water samples had “about twice as much” plastic as tap water or beer.

Medical Comment by Paul Goldfinger, MD, FACC

I think this TIME report is important to read.  I have no personal expertise with this subject, but I will  continue to watch for significant  medical information that I can share with our readers.

The link is below.  There is a brief video as well.

plastic particles in bottled water

This report is scary, but I must emphasize that ingesting liquids with such microplastic particles has not (?yet) been proven to cause specific medical issues.  However there are some indicators that suggest a variety of risks.

The TIME article begins with , “Plastic contamination is rampant in bottled water. That was the unsettling conclusion of a study published last year in Frontiers in Chemistry that analyzed samples taken from 259 bottled waters sold in several countries and found that 93% of them contained “microplastic” synthetic polymer particles.”

“These plastic particles are in our air, in our water and in our soil,” the study’s author says.

The piece also says, “Based on the existing data, we know enough to recognize that we should change how we interact with—and dispose of—plastics. ‘A lot of this is a consequence of dumping literally billions of pounds of plastic into the environment.’ “

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Cup-a-joe at Nagle’s. Paul Goldfinger © Note the OG ads under the glass.



Reuters  (11/23)  reported researchers found that “people who drink three to four cups of coffee a day are more likely to see health benefits than harm,” according to a paper published in the British Medical Journal.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (11/24) reported the researchers also found that people who drink three to four cups per day appear to be at lower risk for “diabetes, liver disease, dementia and some cancers,” including endometrial, liver, prostate, and skin.

The researchers “examined 201 observational studies analyzing the health of coffee drinkers.” Forbes (11/24) reported the researchers also found that coffee consumption was linked to lower risk for Parkinson’s disease, metabolic syndrome, kidney stones, and gout.

The Telegraph (UK) (11/22) reported the researchers found that drinking up to seven cups of coffee per day was linked to a lower risk of early death.



We have posted two articles in recent years about the health aspects of coffee drinking.  The link below is good discussion. This AMA post above brings us up to  date.

My advice is, as before, do not fear coffee drinking except remember that caffeine can be addictive and can cause cardiac dysrhythmias, fast heart beat, tremors, nervousness, and insomnia.

Regarding insomnia, some people are especially sensitive, so some experts say that  they should not drink coffee after 2 PM.  And if you are a regular drinker of coffee, and then you don’t have any, consider that as a cause of an unexplained headache.  Also, coffee can increase alertness due to its effects on the brain; that is why people like me really need that morning Joe. (And I don’t mean Scarborough)

Some drink coffee to stay awake, such as during exams, driving and doing careful tasks.  Whenever I had to show up at the coronary care unit in the middle of the night, the nurses greeted me with coffee. In fact my office supplied free coffee for that unit so that they all could stay awake.  But when I got home, I could fall asleep instantly despite the caffeine.  The same was true of a phone call from the hospital while I was asleep.

BF medical article about coffee 8/15


BERTIE HIGGINS    “Key Largo”   Do you think that Bogie  (“Here’s lookin’ at you kid..”) and Bacall were drinking coffee that winter in the Keys?



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Diagnosis using fasting blood glucose test.

Diagnosis of diabetes mellitus using fasting blood glucose (sugar)  test.


Diagnosis of diabetes mellitus using the glycated hemoglobin blood test (A1C)

Diagnosis of diabetes mellitus using the glycated hemoglobin blood test (A1C) Note: over 6.5% is diabetes; 5.7% to 6.5% is pre-diabetes;




As a cardiologist, I am no expert in diabetes mellitus, but because of the markedly increased risks of  “macrovascular” complications of cardiovascular disease (heart attacks)  and strokes and death in diabetes patients, I have always had peripheral vision—–watching for advances in diabetes treatment.

As a prevention oriented cardiologist, I was always worried about my maturity onset (type 2) diabetes patients because we thought that sugar control did not prevent those cardiovascular complications.  Sugar control in those cases would be beneficial for  other reasons such as preventing  microvascular complications including kidney disease, retinal involvement and neuropathy.

The drugs which we used in type 2 patients worked mainly by reducing insulin resistance in the body’s tissues.  But for preventing  atherosclerotic complications such as heart attacks, we focused our attention on cardiovascular risk factor modification including blood pressure and cholesterol control coupled with heart healthy eating.  We concerned ourselves with “bad” cholesterol levels, particularly  the LDL variety and we tried to get all our diabetic patients on statins.

Our diabetes patients would often see nutritionists to help them learn the complicated exchanges of “diabetes diets.”  We encouraged weight loss, stop smoking and exercise.

Type 2 diabetics usually don’t take insulin, and their doctors follow the success of treatment with a blood test: glycated hemoglobin  (A1C).

Recently we posted a piece on the national effort to identify individuals with pre-diabetes.  https://blogfinger.net/2016/01/25/national-public-awareness-campaign-launches-for-prediabetes/

We expressed a bit of skepticism about that effort since nearly half of the US adult population would be found to have pre-diabetes or diabetes.

Here are the diagnostic criteria  (Forbes Magazine Sept. 2015  see graphic above.) :

“Investigators in the study defined undiagnosed diabetes as those persons having a fasting blood sugar greater than 126 mg/dl or a hemoglobin A1C > 6.5 %, a measure of long term glucose control. Pre-diabetes was defined as having a fasting blood sugar 100-125 mg/dl, or a hemoglobin A1C of 5.7-6.4%.

It is thought that about 30%- 40% of those with pre-diabetes wind up with actual diabetes, so how we diagnose diabetes goes to the numerical impact of the disease.  There are financial issues that are affected by how many Americans are considered to have diabetes or prediabetes having to do with how much the government will spend on research, prevention, and education.   Pretty soon we will be painting the town yellow  (for those glucose- laden urines)

But now I want to acquaint you with 2 new developments:

a.  Diabetologists are getting away from “diabetes diets.” Instead they suggest, with some modification, heart healthy eating as found in the Mediterranean diets.  They have their patients counting grams of carbohydrate daily, and each patient is given a carb quota.  The patient can “spend” their carb grams any way they want, although high fiber, low sugar and low animal fats are still emphasized, and weight reduction is a major goal. Yet flexibility improves compliance, and you can even have a brownie once in a while.

Below is a link on this subject from the world-famous Joslin Diabetes Center , a Harvard Medical School affiliate, in Boston.  I urge you to read it if you have diabetes or know someone who does.


b. New research using a new class of drugs  (SGLT-2 inhibitors) shows that these drugs are not only effective in lowering blood pressure and sugar levels, but significant reductions in cardiovascular complications (heart attacks and  strokes) have been documented with one of these agents: empagliflozin.

The European trial which found the cardiovascular  benefits has resulted in many doctors, including endocrinologists, prescribing  empagliflozin.  But, as with all new discoveries, they spin off new questions such as which diabetic patients should receive this very expensive drug.

Insurance companies will not readily agree to pay for empagliflozin; they will only consider its use after other treatments have been tried to get glucose blood levels down.  But sugar control may be a side issue, since the cardiovascular benefits may have nothing to do with sugar.  The drug works on the kidneys, and, paradoxically, causes urine glucose levels to go up, not down—–don’t ask!

The cardiac benefit may be tied into lowered BP or some other yet to be defined mechanisms of action.  The other two SGLT-2 agents are assumed to offer the same cardiovascular benefit, but only empagliflozin has been proven to do so.


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