Health Updates 25 July 2012

  • Olympic doctors ready to treat Team USA“While the world watches elite athletes like Michael Phelps and Hope Solo go for Olympic gold, the athletes’ team physicians will be watching them too, but with a different perspective.  Orthopedic surgeon Damion Valletta, DO, has been working with US women’s soccer since 2008 and is currently with the team in Glasgow as the players get ready for their first match — against France at Hampden Park on Wednesday.  ‘Each player has their own primary care physicians who’s worked to get them as able as they can be for the games,’ Valletta told MedPage Today from his hotel in Scotland.  ‘But once they come into camp, it’s our responsibility to take their [medical] information and best prepare them for match day’.  That means taking care of injuries and optimizing exercise regimens, as well as treating any minor issues that crop up – from coughs and colds to upset stomachs.   The US Olympic Committee has 80 medical professionals on hand to care for its 525 athletes.  Practitioners of allopathic and osteopathic medicine will work side by side with chiropractors and massage therapists to help their athletes stay at the top of their game.  Their efforts are coordinated by Cindy Chang, MD, a sports medicine specialists at the University of California at Berkeley, who was selected to be Chief Medical Officer for the 2012 London games — the first woman and the first Asian American to hold the position.  Almost all physicians are assigned to specific teams, but many will also serve in the US team’s medical clinic within the Olympic Village.  It’s a full-service walk-in clinic for athletes, coaches and staff, equipped to handle most issues, from lacerations to fractures.  Athletes from every nation also will have access to the Olympic Village Polyclinic, set up by the London Olympics organizing committee and stocked with major equipment, including MRI and x-ray machines.” In addition to treating illness and injury, physicians also serve as advocates for athletes during drug testing.  This means they have to stay current with lists of banned substances, which change year-to-year as new drugs are added.  “‘We need to understand which medications are allowed and which aren’t so that we only use appropriate ones,’ [one  orthopedist noted.]  For instance, there’s no treating those coughs and colds with pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) — the over-the-counter medication would turn a positive on a drug test.” (Kristina Fiore, MedPage Today)
  • 33 sickened by salmonella linked to ground beef: CDC “A salmonella outbreak that has sickened 33 people in seven states appears to be linked to recalled ground beef produced by Cargill Meat Solutions, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The numbers of illnesses reported in each states are: Maine (1), Massachusetts (3), New Hampshire (2), New York (14), Virginia (2), and Vermont (10).  Eleven people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported.  The ages of the patients ranged from 12 years to 101 years, the CDC said, and illnesses arose between June 6 and June 26.  According to the agency, it takes an average of two to three weeks between the time a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported, which means that illnesses that occurred after June 29 might not be reported yet.  Federal and state investigators were able to link illnesses in five patients with ground beef products produced by a single Cargill Meat Solutions facility.  Only July 22, Cargill recalled nearly 30,000  pounds of fresh ground beef products.  The products carry the establishment number “EST. 9400” inside the USDA mark of inspection.  The use-by dates of the product have passed and they are no longer available in grocery stores.  Officials are concerned, however, that some of the recalled products may still be in consumers’ freezers.  Consumers should check their refrigerators and freezers for the recalled products, which were sold under different brand names and may not bear the “EST 9400” on the labeling.  The only grocery-store chain known to have the contaminated meat is Hannaford Supermarkets, which operates about 180 stores across the northeastern United States…”. (HealthDay)
  • The 10-minute workout, times three: “‘Every four years, the summer Olympics get people excited to exercise,’  says Glenn Gaesser, a professor and director of the Healthy Lifestyle Research Center at Arizona State University, who oversaw a new study about exercise and high blood pressure that was inspired in part by the coming games in London.  The streets and gyms fill with people who, fueled by stories of Olympic success, ‘run or work out for an hour or more’, Dr. Gaesser says.  But ‘within a few weeks, most people have quit’ and resumed their sedentary lives.  ‘We wanted to see if there were approaches to exercise that would fit more easily into people’s lifestyles, but still be effective’ in terms of improving health, he says.  Specifically, he and his colleagues hoped to determine whether breaking up exercise into small, manageable segments performed throughout the day would work as well as one longer, continuous  bout.  So he and his colleagues gathered a group of adult volunteers. Each was generally healthy, except for some early symptoms of high blood pressure, a condition called prehypertension.  High blood pressure, is, of course, one of the primary risk factors for heart disease and stroke, and prehypertension is one of the primary risk factors for full-blown high blood pressure.  Almost 70 million Americans have prehypertension….Encouragingly, prehypertension is known to respond well to exercise.  But many studies of exercise and blood pressure have employed moderate exercise sessions lasting for an uninterrupted 30 minutes or so per day, which is the commonly recommended standard for improving health.”  Dr. Gaesser’s volunteers worked out in the tradition 30-minute sessions as well as in three ten minute sessions..  They also went one day without any exercise.  “As it turned out, exercise was helpful in controlling blood pressure, but breaking up the workout into three short sessions was significantly more effective than the single half-hour session.”  Overall, Dr. Gaesser was very encouraged: “‘For people who think that 30 minutes of exercise is too hard or takes up too much time, we can say, just do 10 minutes’ three times a day.  And, conversely, if someone is tempted to dismiss a mere 10 minutes of walking as too meager to be meaningful, ‘it seems clear that, at least for blood pressure control, fractionalized exercise is actually more effective’ than a single 30-minute bout.” (NY Times)
  • Young cancer patients often lack support: “Many teens and young adults diagnosed with cancer aren’t receiving the social, psychological and informational support they require, new research suggests.  Cancer patients aged 14 to 39 have different needs and issues than younger and older patients, the researchers explained.  ‘When patients in this age group are diagnosed with cancer, they face issues — premature confrontation with mortality, changes in physical appearance, disruptions in school or work, financial challenges and loss of reproductive capacity — that can all be particularly distressing,’ study lead author Bradley Zebrack, associate professor of social work at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said in a university news release.  ‘Whether it’s mental health care, information for topics like infertility or other aspects of care like camps or retreat programs, this study shows that many of these patients aren’t getting the care they need to address these unique challenges,’ he added.  Zebrack and colleagues surveyed 215 newly diagnosed teen and young adult cancer patients.  Those in their 20s were much less likely than teens or patients in their 30s to use mental-health services and were more likely to report an unmet need for information about cancer, infertility and diet.  Young adults who were treated in adult, rather than pediatric, cancer facilities were more likely than teens who were treated in pediatric facilities to report an unmet need for age-appropriate websites, mental-health services, camp and retreat programs, transportation assistance and complementary and alternative health services.  The study was published online recently in the journal Cancer.” (

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