Author Archive: susannawong1

Changing hospital lighting to help hospitalized patients

Published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, preliminary research suggests hospital lighting may affect the comfort of hospital stay. The study was performed on 23 women and 17 men and measured the effects of lighting on patients’ mood, sleep, and pain. Patients who had lower lighting for 24 hours slept poorly, experienced more fatigue, and experienced more pain. The investigators hypothesize that changing the lighting patterns in the hospital may regulate sleep-wake cycles and ultimately have better patient outcomes. An inexpensive way to bring comfort to a hospitalized patient, adjusting lighting patterns may make the hospital stay less disconcerting. How does natural or artificial lighting affect your mood? What specific devices do you recommend to your patients to regulate your sleep/wake cycle and their mood?

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Looking at stressors “in a positive light” only helpful in some

If you have ever looked a situation in a “more positive light”, you have practiced cognitive reappraisal. According to a study published in Psychological Science, cognitive reappraisal is beneficial in improving depression but only in situations that are uncontrollable. In the study, Allison Troy and colleagues recruited subjects who had a recent stressful life event. The subjects’ cognitive reappraisal ability (CRA) was measured by having them watch sad films and using cognitive reappraisal amongst other tests. Troy found that despite having high CRA, people in stressful situations that were controllable (i.e. poor performance at work) had higher level of depression compared to those who have uncontrollable situations. Troy also adds that cognitive reappraisal may negatively impact these situations because people would be “less inclined to attempt to change the situation.” What are some other methods/coping mechanisms to reduce depression from different life stressors?

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Beauty over health? Decorative contact lenses

A consumer update provided by the FDA warns consumers to be cautious when purchasing decorative contact lenses. These contact lenses change how your eye appears with different colors and designs and are not meant to correct your vision. It may be surprising to some that contact lenses are considered medical devices per the FDA so selling them as cosmetics without a prescription is illegal. An eye specialist should measure your eyes so the contacts fit properly to prevent infections, decreased vision, and corneal scratches. The FDA warns to never buy lenses from street vendors, halloween shops, or beauty supply stores. How often do you see questionable uses of medical devices or cosmetics? What are some other potentially harmful use of medical devices or cosmetics?

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New approach to keep brain from aging: a step away from word puzzles

New research published in Psychological Science showed that elderly patients who participate in more mentally challenging activities showed greater mental improvement. The 221 participants in the study were between the ages of 60-90 and were selected to perform different activities such as learning digital photograph and/or quilting or word puzzles/other social events for 3 months. The patients who participated in unfamiliar activities like digital photography were able to challenge their memory and cognition and achieve more mental “sharpness” compared to those who participated in less mentally challenging activities. The authors concluded that to maintain cognition, one needs to find activities that are not only engaging but mentally stimulating too.  What are some other activities to keep the mind young?

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Cinnamon’s potentially promising role in infertility

According to a small study at Columbia University Medical Center (New York City), women who suffered from polycysticovary syndrome (PCOS) and took cinnamon were able to regulate their menstrual cycle. The nature of PCOS causes disruption of the ovulation cycle so women may have difficulties getting pregnant. Women in the study who received cinnamon supplementation had about twice as many menstrual cycles compared to those who received placebo. After 3 months of supplementing, 2 women had spontaneous pregnancies. What natural medicines do you currently recommend to enhance fertility?

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TV watching linked to decreased heart health

Watch TVRecent study published in British Journal of Sports Medicine found that long hours of TV watching and sedentary life style in general can damage your arteries. The study included adults in their 30’s who filled out questionnaires regarding their TV watching and exercise habits. The results showed that participants who watched longer hours of TV had stiffer arteries a few years later. The changes can increase the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, exercise did not reverse the effects from a sedentary life style. The research recommends no more than 2 hours of sitting in front of the TV or laptop. What activities can you incorporate while watching TV? Have you evaluated if your lifestyle is sedentary?


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Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria not shown to prevent antibiotic associated diarrhea

According to a recent study published in the Lancet, administration of lactobaccilli and bifidobacteria was not effective in preventing diarrhea associated with broad spectrum antibiotic use. About 3,000 elderly inpatients were included in the study and those who received the lactobaccili and bifidobacteria had similar rates of diarrhea compared to the placebo counterparts. Although the study did not support routine use of these strains of probiotics, the authors believe more research on the pathophysiology of antibiotic associated diarrhea is needed. The causes of diarrhea can be caused by multiple factors including type of antibiotic used, patients’ different disease states, diets, and age. What are your personal /professional experiences as their relate to probiotic use for antibiotic-induced diarrhea?

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Loud aircraft noise raise health concerns

In a recent study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), researchers found that people exposed to loud aircraft noise were at an increased risk of experiencing fatal cardiovascular events. The residents who lived closer Heathrow Airport (London) where the aircraft noise was the loudest had higher rates of hospital admissions and/or death from cardiovascular events. Dr. Anna Hansell, one of the researchers, suggests that it may be the startling aspect of the noise that may be negatively affecting health by raising blood pressures and disturbing sleep. The authors reminded readers that the aircraft noise is definitely not a top offender for cardiovascular events compared with smoking, diet, and low exercise activity. How often do you discuss disease risk factors related to the living environment with your patients? How can we minimize these disturbances?

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Famous athletes promoting unhealthy foods

A study conducted by Marie Bragg from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University (New Haven, CT) found that some of the advertisements promoted by athletes were unhealthy food and drinks. Out of the all the brands supported by athletes in 2010, about one quarter included food/drinks such as burgers, cookies, cereal, and sugary beverages. Not only is it misleading that fit and healthy sports stars encourage consumption of such foods, the fact that they are role models may further influence teenagers. Bragg and colleagues note that parents may teach their children that not all ads supported by athletes may be healthy, but top companies know that such advertising works. Do you think adults are influenced as much as teenagers? How can we stay educated about food advertisements?

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Could Midlife Stress be Responsible for Alzheimer’s Disease Later?

According to a 38-year long longitudinal study published in the British Medical Journal,  stressed middle-aged women are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease later in life. Researchers surveyed 800 Swedish women who were at least 38 years old from 1967 until 2005 evaluating their mental health and wellbeing at least once every decade. The women would report stressful life events such as divorce, widowhood or illness and how distressed they felt by those events. Researchers found that for each additional stressor women reported, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease increased by about 20 percent. What are your thoughts about the study? What do you normally recommend to patients who are stressed?

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