Medical Assistant

Stroke Therapy


Magnetic Brain Stimulation

New hope for better recovery for patients who survive a debilitating stroke comes in the form of magnets that stimulate the brain.


Alzheimer’s Biomarkers


Alzheimer’s researchers are focusing their efforts on trying to detect the disease in its earliest stages. They are finding a number of biomarkers for the process that reflect what is going on in the brain and that can be measured while a person is still alive. Approaches include detecting Alzheimer’s in the brain, inn cerebrospinal fluid and in blood samples.

Current biomarkers for Alzheimer’s include plaques and tangles, patterns of brain volume loss and other measurable substances related to the disease process. Some of the testing methods being investigated include-

  1. PET imaging- several tracers have been developed to show amyloid plaques in the living brain. These compounds are administered as an intravenous drug, readily stick to plaques, which light up during PET imaging.
  2. MRI- people with Alzheimer’s show an abnormal loss of brain nerve cells, enough to cause measurable shrinkage of certain parts of the brain. MRI may be used to check for a smaller than normal hippocampus which is the part of the brain that is essential for memory.
  3. CSF biomarkers- lower levels of amyloid protein in cerebrospinal fluid samples means more of the protein is staying n the brain, increasing the risk of amyloid plaque development and the possibility of Alzheimer’s. Elevated levels of tau protein- the chief component of tangles are also an indication of disease changes in the brain.
  4. Blood-based biomarkers- a number of inflammatory proteins in blood serum with levels that appear to reflect inflammatory Alzheimer’s related processes in the brain have been identified.  Unlike the three aforementioned screening, this last form has not been shown to be accurate enough for use in research. November 2015

Overactive overeating


Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are more likely to have an eating disorder similar to binge eating. According to a stud published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, children with ADHD were 12 times ore likely to have a loss of control eating syndrome. Children with this condition exhibited significant trouble with impulse control.

Nov-Dec 2015 CMA Today


What to look for when choosing Hospice Care


To quality for hospice through Medicare or private insurance, one must have two physicians certify that there is a life-altering condition with an expected prognosis of six months or less. If you start hospice, you can quit. The goal of pain management in hospice is to enable you to live well-not sedate you. Hospice is for the entire family. Hospice continues after death with optional follow-up grief support for 12 months under Medicare rules.

Is the hospice accredited? They are not required to be but those that are have demonstrated  an interest in making a special commitment to quality care. Some state agencies certify hospices.

Has the hospice been surveyed by a state or federal oversight organization? If so, when? What were the results? The Affordable Care Act now requires hospices that accept Medicare to complete surveys and provide data about several measures, including how well they manage  patients’ pain.

Is the medical director board certified? 

How many patients does the hospice program care for? Smaller ones may have more personalized services where as larger ones may have more resources. 

What is the typical caseload? Ideally there should be no more than 12 patients.

November 2015

What you should know about the Shingles Vaccine


In 2006, the FDA approved the shingles vaccine for people 60 and over. In 2011, after reviewing new data on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in the 50-59 age group, the FDA amended its approval to include people 50 to 59.

The CDC, which establishes official public health guidelines, has concluded that vaccinating after 60 prevents most cases of shingles. CDC concluded that waiting until age 60, would prevent more cases an complications, including a condition called postherpetic neuralgia, which causes chronic and often intense burning pain from nerves damaged by the virus. Medicare and most insurance plans follow the  CDC’s recommendations.

Each year about 1 million Americans get shingles, and most of them are over 50. Most carry the varicella zoster virus, which causes chicken pox and herpes zoster or shingles. Immune systems keep it in check until aging occurs and the immune systems weaken known as immune senescence and the virus can break out causing shingles.

The single best reason to get the shot at 50 is to protect yourself when the risk of shingles and its complications first begins to climb. The vaccine works by stimulating the immune system which increases its strength and offers more protection. Typically when given at the earlier age, the vaccine is more effective. In people who were 60 too 69 other research showed the vaccine was about 51 percent effective. Another issue is researches don’t yet know exactly how long protection from the vaccine lasts. The current suggestion is 8 years. There is currently no evidence that a booster will  work.

Signs of shingles include:

Pain, burning, numbness or tingling, usually in one location on one side of the body.

A red rash that leads to clusters of tiny, fluid-filled blisters typically around one side of the torso, but can also occur around one eye or on one side of thee face and neck.

Less commonly, headache, fever and sensitivity to light.

Novmber 2015

Breath threats


Cigarette smoke exposure isn’t the only threat to lung health. The American Lung Association has updated its list of top public health issues affecting lung health:

Outdoor air pollution and climate change- the effects of the ozone, particle pollution and other outdoor air pollutants pose special risks to the health of vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly and people with certain lung diseases.

Indoor air quality- every home should be tested for radon, the second leading cause of lung cancer.

Obesity epidemic- Obesity is a risk factor for asthma, obstructive sleep apnea and sleep disordered breathing.

Missed opportunities for disease prevention including vaccinations. Despite readily available influenza and pneumonia vaccines, millions of people at increased risk for these deadly yet preventable, respiratory diseases fail to get vaccinated.

CMA Today Sept-Oct 2015

Outta there


Good time to sweep out the sources ripe for unsanitary conditions is autumn. Health magazine offers these tips for tossing:

Mascara and old lip gloss can harbor a lot of bacteria in a mist, room-temperature environment. Keeping these products until drained is cost-effective, but also effectively unhygienic. Toss out mascara two to three months after opening and toss out lip gloss no more than six months after opening.

Dirty contact lens case is a risk factor for eye infections. Replace the case every three months, at least.

The kitchen sponge is often labeled the germiest thing in the house. Use aa washcloth instead and switch it our for a new one every few days. Being thinner than a sponge it dries quicker, significantly lowering bacterial growth.

Plastic cutting boards. Cuts and slashes are the  marks of a well-used cutting board, but provide fertile ground for bacteria to thrive, despite cleaning attempts. Wooden cutting boards are a better bet: wood contains resins that are naturally antimicrobial.

Mean muggin’


A research investigation found that your office coffee mug warrants a mug shot. It may be harboring bacteria! Out of 90% of the office mugs containing harboring bacteria; 20% were of fecal origin. As the mug sits unwashed, germs are reproducing immediately even when it contains nothing but a ring. So take your mug home for daily washing. Also don’t cradle the cup longer than an hour.

CMA Today Sept-Oct 2015

Resist drug-resistant Shigella


Shigellosis is a contagious diarrheal disease that can spread quickly.  Symptoms include diarrhea which may be bloody, fever or abdominal pain. Complications include post-infectious arthritis, blood stream infections, seizures, and HUS.

These infections are becoming increasingly resistant to the antimicrobial agents (ciprofloxacin and azithromycin) commonly used to treat shigella.

Recent outbreaks of multidrug-resistant Shigella sonnei infections have appeared in three forms. The CDC recommends vigorous and meticulous hand washing among other hygiene practices and see a health care provider if symptomatic!

CMA Today Sept-Oct 2015


Mediterranean Made Easy


Fruits and Vegetables: loaded with antioxidants, which fight the inflammatory chemicals that can damage the body’s cells.

Veggies like onions, garlic, an shallots contain allium which may help fend off enzymes that eat away at joint cartilage. The richer the color of fruit, the more antioxidants it has. Good choices with anti-inflammatory properties include berries, purple grapes, tart cherries and dark red apples.

Whole grains: numerous studies confirm that the emphasis of high-fiber, slow-digesting grains help keep blood sugar stable.

Fish: should be consumed at least twice a week. The inflammation fighting effects of eating seafood rich in omega-3 oils can benefit heart and joint health; and may even lower dementia risk. Best sources include fatty fish like salmon and tuna.

Legumes, nuts and seeds: These plant based foods are the diet’s main source of protein. All are packed with nutrients and fiber shown to lower inflammation in the body; especially the omega-3 fats in walnuts and flaxseeds.

Dairy and poultry: Keep meat portions small; sauté leftover chicken or meat with veggies in olive oil and add a tomato-based sauce.

Herbs, spices and olive oil: the diet is low in saturated fat and processed foods, but still packs a flavor punch with heart-smart ingredients like basil, rosemary and the health fats in olive oil.

Sweets are used sparingly. Try to mix the sweet with nuts to reduce the rise in blood sugar that sweets cause.