Medical Assistant

Say sayonara to SAD


Seasonal affective disorder correlates with the winter months for some. Consumer Reports on Health recommends these tips:

Catch a sunrise and boost your serotonin for a feel-good start to the day.

Eat breakfast as it improves energy, curbs cravings, and helps regulate your circadian rhythm.

Sweets are craved more during the winter, but can cause glucose levels to spike and crash. Munch on goodies with a combination of protein, fiber and healthful fat.

Acts of kindness can lift your spirits, so be nice to someone.

Develop a ritual in the hours before bed to put you in sleep mode. After dinner, take a hot bath, have a warm cup of caffeine-free tea, or meditate for 10 minutes. Good nights mean better days.

Depression Quiz

Critics Applauding Story, Performances of Still Alice

Sony Pictures’ Still Alice is based on Lisa Genova‘s 2007 bestselling novel of the same name and stars Julianne Moore in the role of Alice, a Columbia cognitive psychologist diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The film follows Alice and her family as she struggles to maintain her identity through the disease’s progression.
Moore’s performance is already being lauded by critics and like the source material, the film has been widely praised for its accurate and sensitive portrayal of the impact of Alzheimer’s on a family. Currently in limited release, Still Alice will open widely on January 6, 2015.


Watch the trailer

Purchase the Book via Amazon Smile, and a portion of proceeds will go to the Alzheimer’s Association. Search ‘Alzheimer’s’ when prompted.

Homework for good health


Cap your total added sugar intake at 20 grams a day. 1 teaspoon equals about 4 grams. Research shows that eating too much sugar can raise your risk of heart disease.

Track your tech time: logging lots of hours in front of a screen is linked to a variety of health issues, including heart disease and depression.

Take a CPR class because 4/5 cardiac arrests happen at home so knowing this lifesaving procedures is crucial.

Get a mole check from a dermatologist. It is important to catch early-stage cancers.

Determine how much sleep you need. Constant lack of shut eye raises your risk for many conditions, including diabetes and heart disease. Adults need seven to nine hours, but everyone is different.

Visit the dentist. Periodontal disease is linked to a higher risk of heart disease.


Better Homes and Gardens September 2014

Pre-diabetes: What Is It?


Pre-diabetes means that blood glucose levels are higher than normal but aren’t high enough to be called diabetes. You can have this condition and not know it.

If you have pre-diabetes it means you might get type 2 diabetes soon or sometime down the road and you are also more likely to get heart disease or have a stroke.

You can delay or prevent Type 2 Diabetes with regular physical activity, such as walking almost every day and weight loss. Other ways to boost your activity is to go dancing, try an exercise class on television, walk around while on the phone, take stairs instead of an elevator, try a water exercise class at a pool, as you watch television lift cans of food to build muscle or play with your kids.

If you’re overweight, any weight loss, even 5 or 10 pounds, will lower your chances of getting type 2 diabetes. Small steps add up to big rewards and include adding a fruit or vegetable with each meal or snack. If you have seconds, reach for vegetables, salad and fruit. Cut back on regular soft drinks and juice and have water or calorie-free drinks instead. Take a little less than usual. When dining out, order the smallest portion or split entrees. Make lower-fat versions of favorite recipes. Use less fat in cooking. Bake, broil or grill and use nonstick pans and cooking sprays. Use small amounts of butter, margarine, oil or salad dressing. Try lower-fat dairy products. Eat lean meats such as the round or loin cuts or chicken without the skin. Be sure to check food labels because some foods with lower fat, contain more calories.

Risk factors for diabetes include:

  1.  age over 45

  2. being overweight, especially around the waist

  3. low physical activity level

  4. parent, brother or sister with diabetes

  5. African American, Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islander or Hispanic American

  6. had a baby weighing more than 9 pounds or if you have had gestational diabetes

  7. high blood pressure (over 140/90), low HDL cholesterol (40 or lower), or high triglycerides (150 or higher)

Get your blood glucose level checked and get moving!

American Diabetes Association

Concussions Clarified


There are currently 40 definitions of concussion. No wonder it is difficult to diagnose and manage head injuries in clinical and research settings.

The Congress of Neurological Surgeons has published evidence-based concussion guidelines. There are four “prevalence indicators” of concussion:

  1. observed and documented disorientation or confusion immediately after the event
  2. impaired balance within one day after injury
  3. slower reaction time within two days after injury
  4. impaired verbal learning and memory within two days after injury


Stress: Don’t let it make you sick


New research reveals the links between stress and disease.

1. Common cold: in a study, those experiencing chronic stress exposed to a cold virus were cortisol resistant and more likely to get sick.

2. Weight gain: stress hormones stimulate a preference for foods that are full of sugar, starch and fat. New studies show that the link between stress and weight gain is more complex. In addition to triggering changes in metabolism, the stress response produces a rise in insulin levels and a fall in fat oxidation, a dual process that promotes fat storage. Other research has revealed a correlation between excess cortisol and abdominal fat.

3. Slower healing: excess cortisol slows wound healing and lowers vaccines’ effectiveness in older people who are caring for sick family members. This study showed that for those caring for relatives with dementia took about 10 days longer to heal than a non caregiver; the longer the stress goes on, the longer the immune system is disrupted.

4. Sleep dysfunction: older adults already experience a natural decrease in the amount of deep sleep and an increase in nighttime wakefulness. Stress  may aggravate these sleep deficits, making it especially hard for older people to get back to sleep when they wake up at night. To compound the problem, people with troubled sleep may find it harder to handle the stress in their lives.

5. Heart disease: blood samples taken from those enduring high levels of stress contained a surplus of disease-fightin white blood cells. Previous research suggesting that cortisol actually changes the texture of WBCs, encouraging the cells to attach themselves to blood vessel walls was confirmed. The result is plaque which is a key marker of this disease.

6. Depression: stress throws several brain neurotransmitters systems like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine out of balance, negatively affecting mood, appetite, sleep and libido. Some severely depressed people have permanently elevated cortisol levels which can alter the hippocampus and permanently damage brain cells.

7. Ulcers and stomach problems: stress can be a critical factor in irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, heartburn, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease which is characterized by chronic inflammation.

8. Back, neck and shoulder pain: stress can intensify both the severity and duration of the pain

November 2013



In August, the FDA approved the first DNA test used to screen individuals who are at an average risk for colon cancer.

Cologuard reportedly finds 92% of all colon cancers, is noninvasive, requires no change in diet or medication and can be done in the privacy of your own home.

Cologuard is a test from Exact Sciences who partnered with the Mayo Clinic for the clinical trials. This test is the first to be approved by the FDA and by CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) simultaneously. CMS plans to cover the new test once every three years for people ages 50 to 85 who have a normal risk of developing colon cancer. The coverage proposal is not yet final. At this time, no other insurance plans cover this test.

colon cancer screening tests

Entira Family Clinics November 2014November 2014 Volume 2 Issue 3        , Issue 3

Study: Eye color may affect pain tolerance


Pain is the main motivator for a visit to the hospital. New research has shown women with dark (brown and hazel) eyes respond differently to pain than those with light (blue and green) eyes. The study consisted of 58 healthy pregnant women. 24 were placed in the dark group and 34 were placed in the light group.  Responses to pain before and after birth were measured through a variety of quantitative standard testing, questionnaires and surveys. The results indicated women in the dark group experienced more dramatic response to pain with increases in anxiety and sleep disturbances than those in the light group. Identifying eye color as a genetic biomarker for pain thresholds may be advantageous for the medical community.

The goal is to use the study data to help identify those patients who need to be treated for pain post op and those that are in need of chronic pain control.

Multiple studies have correlated red hair to resistance to pain blockers and requirements for higher doses of anesthesia. Further research is planned to expand this study to men and children.

by Campbell North Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 8/10/14

A half-dozen reasons why you can’t beat eggs


1. Did you know that eggs have 6 grams of high quality protein? And did you a protein packed breakfast helps sustain mental and physical energy throughout the day?

2. Eggs are rich in choline which promotes normal cell activity, liver function and the transportation of nutrients throughout the body.

3. Eggs contain zero carbs and no sugar.

4. Eggs have 9 amino acids and these are essential (luceine, lysine, methionine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, histidine, valine, threonine and isoleucine).

5. Eggs contain one ingredient and at 15¢ a serving eggs are the least expensive source of high quality protein.

6. Eggs are naturally gluten-free

New formula for baby formula


The FDA announced the finalization of a rule that sets standards for infant formula manufacturers that will go into effect on September 8, 2014.

Pathogens testing is required for harmful pathogens Salmonella and Cronobacter.

Physician growth support- manufacturers must demonstrate that the formula supports this.

Nutrient check- infant formulas must be tested for nutrient content in the final product stage.

CMA Today Sept-Oct 2014