According to MedlinePlus, you should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. You may be more familiar with that rule of thumb to sing the “Happy Birthday” song at least two times through before turning off that faucet.
But while we’re admonished to do so, it’s difficult to say what’s actually put into practice even while we know it helps stop the spread of germs. In fact, it can even help stop the spread of superbugs!
How else is it important? The Center for Disease Control has put together some fast facts (and citations) on the importance of handwashing:
- It is estimated that washing hands with soap and water could reduce diarrheal disease-associated deaths by up to 50%.
- Researchers in London estimate that if everyone routinely washed their hands, a million deaths a year could be prevented.
- A large percentage of foodborne disease outbreaks are spread by contaminated hands. Appropriate hand washing practices can reduce the risk of foodborne illness and other infections.
- Handwashing can reduce the risk of respiratory infections by 16%.
- The use of an alcohol gel hand sanitizer in the classroom provided an overall reduction in absenteeism due to infection by 19.8% among 16 elementary schools and 6,000 students.
Read more and find additional resources on the Germs and Hygiene MedlinePlus topic page.
Researchers have been working on an experimental blood test that could point out autism in children. So far, the test is 98 percent accurate in children ages 3 to 10 in diagnosing if they have autism.
“The test was able to predict autism, regardless of where on the spectrum an individual was,” according to study co-author Juergen Hahn in the MedlinePlus article. The test was also able to indicate the severity of the autism-related condition with good accuracy.
This new test is a stark contrast to the current approach of diagnosing autism, which entails a consensus from a group of medical professionals. The blood test, on the other hand, looks for key metabolism markers in the child.
The study was small, with less than 200 participants, so more research is planned to follow-up on the claims.
To read more about the study, please visit “Could a Blood Test Spot Autism in Childhood?”
According to the 2016 America’s Health Rankings report conducted by the United Health Foundation, Louisiana is the second most unhealthy state in the nation, just behind Mississippi. The report uses a number of factors to create these rankings, but it has become increasingly clear over the years that the state’s high diagnoses of new HIV cases is one factor.
According to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report leading up to World AIDS Day in 2016, Baton Rouge ranks number one for newly diagnosed HIV cases; New Orleans ranks number three. In Baton Rouge, 44.7 out of every 100,000 people is diagnosed with HIV; in New Orleans, it’s 36.9.
HIV is a virus that weakens a person’s immune system by destroying the cells that fight infection and disease. There is no cure for it. AIDS is a condition that is considered the final stage of HIV. It is most commonly transmitted sexually or through sharing syringes, but can also be spread from mother to child through pregnancy as well as several other less common ways.
To combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic prevalent in the state, the Louisiana Department of Health launched the STD/HIV Program, designed to prevent transmission, ensure the availability of medical services and track the impact.
Unfortunately one of the biggest barriers health officials face is the stigma around the disease and an unwillingness to seek out treatment and report it. Timothy Young, head of the HIV/AIDS Alliance in the Baton Rouge area told The Advocate in a 2015 article “fear of being associated with HIV is so pronounced that more than 25 percent of those who are newly diagnosed with the disease in Louisiana have already progressed to AIDS.”
It’s important for these people to know that HIV/AIDS treatment has only continued to get better and it’s no longer the death sentence it used to be, if you get tested.
To read more about the SHP program, please visit the Louisiana Department of Health’s website.
To read more general information about HIV/AIDS, please visit the CDC’s website.
When considering applying for a funding opportunity it is often helpful to know what types of projects that have been funded in the past. Every RML in the NNLM includes listings of the Past Funded Projects on their website for this reason. But did you know that you can also find this information for NIH, HHS, and all of the US government? These databases can be particularly helpful for postdoctoral students, junior faculty, and anyone who is beginning to search for external funding.
The NIH RePORTER database allows the user to search for funded grants throughout all of NIH. One interesting feature is the Matchmaker function. In this function, you can actually enter an abstract and the database will return a list of similar projects.
However it is not uncommon for health researchers to need to be aware of what other federal agencies outside of NIH are funding. To search funding throughout all of HHS you can search the TAGGS database. To expand even more you can search the Federal RePORTER or USA Spending.
These resources can not only help a potential applicant determine if a particular funding opportunity is a good fit for a project, but it can also help applicants know which agencies to watch for future funding. Federal health related funding can come from some unexpected sources and it is helpful to know which agencies are funding the types of projects that you want to do.
The study suggested that poor diets are caused not only by not avoiding certain things–like trans fat and salt–but also not incorporating other foods, like vegetables, nuts and seeds. Cardiovascular disease is the number one leading cause of death in the U.S., and a poor diet is the top risk factor, according to Dr. Ashkan Afshin, lead researcher from the University of Washington.
“The study results suggest that nearly half of heart disease and stroke (cardiovascular disease) deaths in the United States might be prevented with improved diets,” according to Afshin in the MedlinePlus article.
The study results stress that a healthy diet is not only avoiding certain foods–you have to take care that you are making sure to eat others. The study was even able to estimate what percent of the deaths were from too much or too little of certain foods, like 12 percent of the deaths probably could have been avoided had the people eaten more vegetables.
The good news is it’s never too late to change your diet.
To read more about the study, please visit “Bad Diets Tied to 400,000 U.S. Deaths in 2015.”
This week is Patient Safety Awareness Week hosted by the National Patient Safety Foundation! And while this week awareness is particularly high, the National Patient Safety Foundation encourages all healthcare professionals to treat every day like Patient Safety Day.
Patient safety is a public health issue according to the National Patient Safety Foundation’s United for Patient Safety campaign–1 in 10 patients will develop a health care acquired condition during hospitalization, and 44,000 to 98,000 patients per year will die due to a medical error.
National Patient Safety Week is the start of a yearlong effort highlighting important patient safety issues through information dissemination, discussions and events. One initiative during this week is for healthcare professionals to wear a patient gown in order to step into the role of a patient. You can also tune in tomorrow at 2 p.m. PST for a complimentary webcast of “The Voice of the Patient and the Public.”
SCR’s Brian Leaf wrote a post on the importance of patient safety and questions to ask a doctor; read it here.
To find out more about Patient Safety Awareness Week, please visit United for Patient Safety’s website.
Recently, I taught a class on how to help older adults find health information. One of the issues that came up during the class was patient safety, which has been a trending topic for us this past year.
Unlike the patient-doctor relationship of the past, patients today are encouraged to be active partners in the healthcare team in order to, in part, reduce the errors that occur in routine processes. According to Sir Liam Donaldson, named by the World Health Organization as the Envoy for Patient Safety, these errors occur in 10% of hospital admissions and sometimes lead to fatal outcomes.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “develops the knowledge, tools, and data needed to improve the health care system and help Americans, health care professionals, and policymakers make informed health decisions” as stated on their profile.
One of these tools is a set of questions that patients can ask their doctors. They also have additional information on what one might ask pre- and post-appointment, along with a guide on building your own set of questions. The basic set includes:
- What is the test for?
- How many times have you done this procedure?
- When will I get the results?
- Why do I need this treatment?
- Are there any alternatives?
- What are the possible complications?
- Which hospital is best for my needs?
- How do you spell the name of that drug?
- Are there any side effects?
- Will this medicine interact with medicines that I’m already taking?
One of the participants in the course suggested an additional question to ask the doctor that resonated with the other professionals in the class:
“What happens if I do nothing?”
Asking the right questions is an important part of taking care of one’s health. Find more on AHRQ’s Questions to Ask Your Doctor.
According to a recent study by Johns Hopkins Medicine, hearing loss among the U.S. population could jump from 44 million in 2020 to 73.5 million by 2060; the 2060 number would comprise 23 percent of the adult American population, compared to 15 percent in 2020. And in 2060, 55 percent of adults with hearing loss will be over 70.
This sort of growth for this health condition is unprecedented, according to Neil DiSarno, chief staff officer of audiology at American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
The most common cause of hearing loss is exposure to loud noise. To prevent this, it is recommended that people should lower their earphone volume and to limit exposure to firearms, fireworks and loud noises you may hear at work.
And besides just not being able to hear as well, hearing loss has other effects on a person as well. Older adults who have hearing loss are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, and have a higher risk of falling. There also appears to be evidence between hearing loss and mental decline.
To read more about hearing loss increasing, please visit “Hearing Loss May Double in United States by 2060.”
Are you putting your best fork forward this month? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is encouraging you to! National Nutrition Month is a campaign hosted annually by the Academy focusing on the importance of informed food choices and healthy eating and physical activity habits to in turn help you lead a healthier lifestyle.
This year’s National Nutrition Month theme is “Put Your Best Fork Forward” reminding everyone that making just small changes in your diet habits can add up over time. Some easy recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are eating:
- Lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free milk products
- Lean meats, poultry and fish
- Foods low or without saturated fats, trans fats and added sugar.
To begin partaking in a healthier diet, one of the most important things to do is ensure you understand nutrition labels; the Academy has written an article that explains just that as well as shares what daily value is considered low or high.
To get children interested in nutrition, check out these games from ADNA by visiting “National Nutrition Month Games.”
To read more about National Nutrition Month, please visit the Academy’s website.
Executive Director Lisa Smith kicks off the 2017 Annual Outreach Librarian training session.
The NNLM SCR was excited to host its annual Outreach Librarian training session at the UNT Health Science Center campus in February. Outreach Librarians from the eighteen (18) Resource Libraries within the NNLM SCR participated in the two day training session. Practitioners in the field of Geriatrics and Community Outreach shared information with the group to increase librarian awareness of issues facing the elderly community. Educational sessions included practical tools and suggestions for providing programming to the Aging community. Dr. Jennifer Severance, Assistant Professor, Center for Geriatrics and Program Administrative Director for the Workforce Enhancements in Health Aging and Independent Living Program (WE HAIL) assembled the team of experts and coordinated the training program. An expert panel was also convened to describe services offered by several community based agencies and the United Way.
Insights shared by our presenters included an overview of trends in aging demographics. The increased number of the U.S. population that will be age 65 or older by 2050 (1 in 5 individuals) and the rapid increase in the growth of individuals that are 85 or older were highlighted as trends that will shape the face of healthcare in the coming years. Additionally, the role caregivers play to support their loved ones and the support that may be provided to this community were explored. An introduction to the Aging Network was provided to encourage partnerships between libraries and these agencies. National, State and local agencies were featured including the Area Agency on Aging, Sixty & Better, Alzheimer’s Association, and the North Central Texas Chapter and Meals on Wheels, Inc. of Tarrant County. Featured services and programs that were discussed included: benefits counseling, Medicare training, nutrition education, legal services, transportation, respite care and home meal delivery.
Presentations were provided by:
Dr. Janice Knebl, DO, MBA, the Director for the UNTHSC Center for Geriatrics, HRSA GWEP WE HAIL PI, provided training in trends and issues facing the aging patient and trends in the field of geriatrics.
Don Smith, Director, Tarrant County Area Agency on Aging, VP Community Development Health Initiatives United Way of Tarrant County
Christina Bartha, Director of Programs for Sixty and Better (formerly Senior Citizens Services, Inc.)
Susanna Luk-Jones, Director of Programs and Services, Alzheimer’s Association – North Central Texas Chapter
Sherry Simon, Vice President of Nutrition and Health Programs, Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County
The NNLM SCR Staff would like to extend a special thanks to the practitioners and agencies who shared their time and expertise with our Outreach team!
Recently, the Arkansas Department of Health announced it had discovered two diagnosed cases of tickborne diseases, which meet the surveillance definition for Lyme disease–this is the first time the state has had cases that meet this definition in 10 years.
Arkansas is generally considered a low-incidence state for Lyme disease, but several other tickborne diseases are more prevalent in the state, including tularemia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Ehrlichia, all of which can be fatal.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans by infected blacklegged ticks. The symptoms are similar to flu and include fever, headache, and fatigue as well as a bullseye rash. If you observe any of these symptoms and have recently had a tick bite, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control encourages you to visit a doctor.
To prevent tick bites and in turn tickborne diseases, avoid wooded, brushy, or high-grass areas, use trails, and use repellents that contain 20 to 30 percent DEET.
To read more about Lyme disease in Arkansas, please visit “Tickborne Diseases in Arkansas.”
To read more general information about Lyme disease, please visit the CDC’s website.
Currently, many health agencies recommend about five servings of fruits and vegetable per day, but a new analysis suggests eating 10 servings per day could add years to a person’s life.
The analysis found that more servings of fruits and vegetables lead to decreased rates of heart attacks, stroke, cancer and early death. Researchers even went so far as to estimate that if everyone at 10 servings per day, 7.8 million premature deaths would be avoided every year.
Researchers did note that there is no direct cause-and-effect link between eating more fruits and vegetables and a longer life.
“Most likely it is the whole package of beneficial nutrients you obtain by eating fruits and vegetables that is crucial in health,” said Dagfinn Aune, study author.
Aune stressed the importance of eating whole plant foods as opposed to taking vitamin or antioxidant supplements.
To read more about the study, please visit “10 Daily Servings of Fruits, Veggies a Recipe for Longevity.”
In the midst of flu season, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has announced the flu has become “widespread” in the state, meaning the disease has been reported in all areas of the state. As of Feb. 17, 19 people had died from flu-related illnesses, 11 more than the 2015-2016 flu season.
ADH is urging those who have not already gotten this season’s flu vaccine to get it–it is not too late. The vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older, particularly those with higher risk for complications like young children or adults over the age of 65.
To find out where the closest location to get a flu vaccine is to you, please visit healthy.arkansas.gov.
To learn more about this season’s flu, including what the current vaccine protects against and symptoms of the illness, please visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
To learn more about the flu in Arkansas, please visit “Flu Cases on the Rise.”
In the Pacific Ocean near the equator and just west of the international dateline, there is a small country known as the Marshall Islands, which has a population of 53,000 inhabitants. Somewhat similarly, if you head to Springdale, Arkansas, located in the northwest corner of the state, you will find not only the Consulate of the Marshall Islands, but the largest community of Marshallese Americans in the continental U.S., with an estimated population between 6,000 and 14,000.
The Marshall Islands have become a place of despair and great poverty. It was the site of 67 nuclear tests that occurred over a 12-year period; in 1956, the Marshall Islands was called “the most contaminated place on Earth” by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.
In 1986, after the war had ended, the Marshall Islands became their own fully sovereign nation, but also became a U.S. Associated State, receiving assistance from the U.S., and also allowing Marshallese to travel and work within the U.S. without a visa. Springdale, Arkansas became the best immigration option after the first Marshallese to arrive, John Moody, sent back word about jobs available at Tyson Foods, where the company is headquartered.
And while 1,000s of Marshallese traveled halfway across the world to to escape the poverty and health issues, they are still plagued by diseases including diabetes, heart disease and cancer, some of which stem from the nuclear tests, but others that occurred after the fact; like how U.S. food aid to the Marshall Islands came in the form of processed items, which have contributed to the diabetes among the population as well as obesity.
Besides having a general distrust for health professionals, causing them not to seek medical treatment, many Marshallese also have no way to afford it, as the U.S. rescinded Medicaid and Medicare following the original 1986 agreement, leaving many without any form of health insurance.
But there is some hope for the Marshallese in Springdale, Arkansas. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Library has begun a program to assist those displaced Marshallese, in part through funding by NNLM SCR. By teaching classes to Marshallese health workers and raising awareness for the health literacy information available, UAMS hopes to be able to eventually improve the overall health of the Marshallese of Northwest Arkansas. It will just take time.
To read more about the Marshallese population in Springdale, please visit “For Pacific Islanders, Hopes and Troubles in in Arkansas.”
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month; New Mexico Proclaims February is Children’s Oral Health Month
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, raising awareness for parents and children about how to keep their smiles white and their teeth clean. Recognizing the importance of oral health, especially among children who need to create good habits, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez proclaimed February 2017 as Children’s Oral Health Month for the state.
New Mexico’s Office of Oral Health has been working with dental providers throughout the state to be able to ensure treatment for low-income and/or uninsured individuals.
The New Mexico Department of Health does have several recommendations to help keep your teeth clean:
- Help kids develop good brushing and flossing habits
- Eat healthy foods
- Limit consumption of sugary beverages (the American Dental Association recommends only consuming these beverages with meals)
- Limit snacks
- Schedule regular dental visits
To read more about New Mexico’s Children’s Oral Health Month, please visit “The Importance of Good Dental Health.”
To read more about National Children’s Dental Health Month, please visit the American Dental Association’s website.
You may often see a warning not to drink on a painkiller’s prescription label—but what exactly can happen if you do drink alcohol while taking painkillers? Well when strong opioid painkillers are mixed with alcohol, it can cause a serious, potentially deadly respiratory response.
One common side effect, that can be fatal, of opioids is respiratory depression, which is when a person’s breathing becomes shallow and can even temporarily stop. A new study findsthat alcohol can exacerbate this effect.
The study looked at 24 volunteers, half in their 20s, and half over the age of 65 who had not taken opioids previously. They mixed oxycodone (a common prescription drug used to treat chronic pain) and alcohol, and the results showed that older adults were more likely to have repeated episodes of temporarily stopped breathing than the younger participants.
“We hope to increase awareness regarding the dangers of prescription opioids, the increased danger of the simultaneous use of opioids and alcohol, and that elderly people are at an even greater increased risk of this potentially life-threatening side effect,” said Dr. Albert Dahan, study author, in a journal news release.
For more information, please visit “Opioids and Alcohol a Dangerous Cocktail.”
The All of Us Research Program is a large part of the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) from the NIH. While many of the research and engagement grants have already been awarded, a new funding opportunity have been opened for community groups to assist with outreach efforts. This opportunity allows nonprofits, other community- and faith-based organizations, minority-serving institutions and school districts, and local governments to apply for funding to create community engagement activities and provide feedback to the research program about community needs and perspectives.
This grassroots engagement could make a huge difference in recruiting populations that have traditionally been excluded from biomedical research. Additionally, priority will be given to applications that reach into geographic target areas. The geographic priority areas include our entire SCR region. Priority 1 geographic areas include Houston, TX; Louisiana; and New Mexico. Priority 2 geographic areas include Arkansas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Applications are due on March 24, 2017.
For the full NIH press release please go here: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/all-us-research-program-announces-funding-opportunity-community-partners
For the funding announcement please go here: http://go.usa.gov/x9seA
Note: The informational webinar about the opportunity is Feb 10th. Register here
A heart means more than just love this February—this month, the United States recognizes American Heart Month, shedding light on heart disease, the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S.; heart disease affects 1 in 4 Americans, and 1 in 3 American women.
The New Mexico Department of Health is just one organization that hopes it can raise awareness for the disease and the risks associated with it. In New Mexico, 4,000 people die annually from heart disease or stroke.
What’s important to know about heart disease is that it can be prevented. Well-known risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, low physical activity, a poor diet, and obesity, among others. Additionally, heart disease risk increases with age, specifically if you’re over the age of 45, or if you have a family history of it.
To kick off American Heart Month, you can wear red tomorrow, Feb. 3 in honor National Wear Red Day.
To read more about American Hearth Month, please visit healthfinder.gov.
To read more about New Mexico’s initiatives for American Heart Month, please visit “New Mexicans Encouraged to Listen to Their Heart.”
Making fun of a person’s weight, often called “fat shaming,” is probably not going to motivate a person to lose weight. In fact, it will most likely raise their risk of heart disease and other health problems.
Rebecca Pearl, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and study leader, said that the more self-blame and devaluation a person feels when stigmatized, the more likely they are to have health issues.
Previous research has linked weight stigmatization with weight gain and emotional stress but this study found weight stigmatization can go much deeper.
The study looked at 159 obese adults and found out how much they blamed and devalued themselves for their weight. They also looked at how many of them had been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that are linked with higher risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and more health problems.
The study found that those who felt the most devaluation and self-blame were three times more likely to have metabolic syndrome than the those with the lowest.
Dr. Rebecca Puhl, deputy director at the University of Connecticut Center for Food Policy & Obesity who co-wrote a commentary that accompanied the study, said to try to avoid self-blame as well as try to avoid blaming friends and family for struggling with weight.
To read more about the study, please visit “The Shame of ‘Fat Shaming.’”
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is the most common form of non-invasive breast cancer and is non-life-threatening. However, DCIS can actually be a precursor to worse breast cancer later on. It can increase the risk of developing invasive breast cancer; patients are at a higher risk of developing a new breast cancer than a patient who has never had any breast cancer before.
The study, conducted in the Netherland on more than 10,000 women for an average of 10 years, found that those who were treated for DCIS had a 10 percent less chance of dying from any cause than the general population. That may sound confusing—if you were treated for DCIS, you are 10 percent more likely to live a longer life than someone who never had DCIS, and therefore never received treatment for DCIS.
Specifically, researchers found that women who were treated were much less likely to die from digestive, respiratory, and circulatory diseases, and other types of cancer. This study is particularly important because DCIS treatment includes radiotherapy, which can cause damage to nearby organs
More and more people are becoming aware they have DCIS because it is something that shows up in breast cancer screenings—so more women are able to get treated if they have this form of cancer.
For more information on the study, please visit “Women treated for precursor of breast cancer can expect to live as long as other women.”