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Latest Posts

Study Looks Into New Afib Treatment: It’s Not All Good News

The news wires for atrial fibrillation were abuzz this last week. The vigor and speed with which health news travels is striking.

Since 2.6 million Americans live with AF, my guess is that many are looking at the release of the Medtronic-sponsored TTOP-AF trial with anticipation. Here is a link to the press release. The trial purported to show benefits of Medtronic’s novel phased RF ablation system in treating persistent AF.

The study was small and released at a relatively small symposium in Venice, Italy. The TTOP-AF trial randomized 210 patients with persistent AF (including flutter) to either ablation with Medtronic’s ablation system or conventional therapy with drugs and cardioversions.

They found, not surprisingly, that AF ablation reduced AF burden. AF ablation significantly reduced AF burden in 55.8% percent of patients versus only 26% of those treated with conventional medical treatment. Editorial comment: That kind of data is pretty typical.

The problem with the study Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

The Athletic Heart: How It Functions

It may seem a little formal to say this, but I would like to start by stating my goals for today’s post:

  • Introduce the concept of the athletic heart;
  • Touch upon the notion of sudden death of the athlete;
  • Explain what an ECG really is, and how it may help diagnose heart disease;
  • Review a recent study about the common ECG variant seen in athletes…Early repolarization.

Intro: The adaptations of the human heart never cease to amaze me. Physical training transforms our hearts into high performance engines. Repeated sessions of interval training, combined with longer aerobic efforts, and sprinkled with adequate rest maximize our ability to keep pressure on the pedals, or run the sixth mile of the 10k at the same pace as the first, or for you swimmers, to keep getting back to the wall on the 1:15 mark.

Fitness also brings measurable changes in things we can observe. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

Mind Speller: Communicate Through Your Thoughts

Belgian researchers from the European nanoelectronics and nano-technology research center Imec, Holst Centre, and Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven developed an EEG based writing system that may be helpful for people with severe disabilities.

The Mind Speller, though, seems very similar to University of Wisconsin-Madison’s communication tool we wrote about a year ago that flashes rows and columns of characters and monitors when the brain notices the character it wants to type.

It detects and interprets P300 event-related potentials in the EEG-signals of a person that is selecting characters from a display presenting alternate rows and columns of characters. P300 potentials are often used as metrics of cognitive function in decision making processes. However, currently available P300 devices are large, expensive and uncomfortable in use. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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