Before reaching for tests like EKGs to screen teen athletes, we should first ask ourselves if we’ve taken a careful history:
The new study consisted of Madsen and his fellow researchers sending out surveys to every pediatrician and family practice doctor in Washington State. They received a good response–surveys were returned by 72 percent of pediatricians and 56 percent of family practitioners.
The results were disheartening:
- 28 percent of doctors surveyed failed to always ask if a teen experienced chest pain during exercise.
- 22 percent of doctors surveyed failed to Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*
A 47-year-old Chicago man died after trying to remove his own pacemaker. He’s not the first to try self-surgery, as it turns out.
The Chicago Tribune described this most recent attempt at self-surgery:
“Chicago Fire Department paramedics were called after the man told a worker in the home that he was experiencing chest pains and asked them to call an ambulance.
“The man returned to his room, where he remained until paramedics arrived, police said. When they did, he complained to them about chest pains and was taken to the ambulance where he fell unconscious, police said.
“As paramedics were trying to revive him, they discovered Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*
Whether caused by injury, surgery or a toothache so bad it slams you awake in the middle of the night, acute pain is difficult. Receiving prompt and helpful treatment can make all the difference in the world. But lack of care or inadequate care means that the acute pain may develop into chronic agony.
Fortunately, acute pain is not always long lasting or overwhelming, such as when you have a short severe cramp or multiple bee stings that can be handled with time, over-the-counter medication and other home remedies [See: Pain Treatment Options].
Since individuals’ tolerance for pain varies widely, the question of when pain itself requires urgent medical attention is difficult to answer. Chest pain should prompt a visit to the emergency room, of course—but other types of pain are trickier to call. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Prepared Patient Forum: What It Takes Blog*
A good friend of mine and Whistleblower reader contracted the sniffles and received a prescription for antibiotics at a local urgent care center. Nothing newsworthy here. So far this quotidian event sounds like a ‘dog bites man’ story. Had antibiotics been denied, this would have been ‘man bites dog’, as this denial would be a radical departure of standard medical practice, particularly in the urgent care universe.
No doubt, my friend was not assigned the dismissive diagnosis of ‘the sniffles’, but was likely given a more ominous diagnosis of ‘acute upper respiratory infection’, a term that sounds so serious that he might have feared that a 911 call had already been made.
Why are antibiotics prescribed so casually and so frequently? Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at MD Whistleblower*
News that tennis star Serena Williams was treated for a blood clot in her lungs is shining the spotlight on a frightfully overlooked condition that can affect anyone — even a trained athlete who stays fit for a living.
Williams had a pulmonary embolism. That’s doctor speak for a blood clot that originally formed in the legs or elsewhere in the body but that eventually broke away, traveled through the bloodstream, and got stuck in a major artery feeding the lungs. (To read more about pulmonary embolism, check out this article from the Harvard Heart Letter.) Pulmonary embolism is serious trouble because it can prevent the lungs from oxygenating blood — about one in 12 people who have one die from it.
“No one is immune from pulmonary embolism, not even super athletes,” says Dr. Samuel Z. Goldhaber, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and one of the country’s leading experts in this clotting disorder.
Pulmonary embolism tends to happen among people who have recently had surgery, been injured, or been confined to bed rest for some time. It can also strike after long-haul flights.
Signs of a PE
How do you know if you’re experiencing a pulmonary embolism? The most common symptoms include shortness of breath when you aren’t exerting yourself, along with chest pain and coughing up blood. If you experience any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately. Other worrisome signs include:
- Excessive sweating
- Clammy or bluish skin
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
The tennis star’s pulmonary embolism could have been the result of the perfect storm. After having a cast removed from a foot she cut at Wimbledon, Williams flew from New York to Los Angeles. It was in LA, after an appearance at the Oscars ceremony on Sunday, that she underwent emergency treatment at Cedars Sinai Hospital for a blood clot in her lungs.
A call to action by the U.S. Surgeon General says that pulmonary embolism and a related condition — deep-vein thrombosis — affect an estimated 350,000 to 600,000 Americans each year. Together, they account for somewhere between 100,000 and 180,000 deaths each year.
To learn more about pulmonary embolism, check out this information from the North American Thrombosis Forum.
- P.J. Skerrett, Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*