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Brush Up On Heart Health

The British Medical Journal reported on a study of toothbrushing and found that people with poor oral hygiene had an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack.

We’ve known for the last two decades that inflammation plays an important role in atherosclerosis. Markers of low-grade inflammation like C-reactive protein are also shown to be higher in heart disease.

The Scottish Health researchers looked at the general population and followed a large subset with questions about their oral health. They asked about frequency of dentist visits, toothbrushing, and controlled for many co-variables such as general activity, hypertension, smoking, height and weight. They also collected blood for studies of C-reactive protein as a marker of inflammation. They removed from the analysis participants who had no natural teeth (edentulous) and those with existing cardiovascular disease.

This elaborate and lengthy study showed that toothbrushing is associated with cardiovascular disease, and that subjects who brushed their teeth less than once a day had a 70 percent increase in heart disease compared with people who brushed twice a day. The inflammation that periodontal disease causes is directly related to increased C-reactive protein and increased heart attacks.

Leave it to the Scotts and the Brits to remind us to brush and floss every day.

REFERENCE: British Medical Journal, 2010; 340: c2451.

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

I’m Your Doctor, And I’m Worth It

Rx Vending MachineI saw the note on the patient’s chart before I opened the door: “Patient is upset that he had to come in.”

I opened the door and was greeted by a gentleman with his arms crossed tightly across his chest and a stern expression. I barely recognized him, having only seen him a handful of times over the past few years. Scrawled on the patient history sheet in the space for the reason for his visit were the words, “Because I was forced to come in.”

My stomach churned. I opened his chart and looked at his problem list, which included high blood pressure and high cholesterol –- both treated with medications. He was last in my office in November — of 2008. I blinked, looked up at his scowling face, and frowned back. ”You haven’t been in the office for over 18 months. It was really time for you to come in,” I said, trying to remain calm as I spoke.

He sat for a moment, then responded with very little emotion. “I’m doing fine. You could’ve just ordered my labs and called in my prescriptions. I don’t know why I had to be seen.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

Can High Blood Pressure Be Controlled With Diet?

Do a search on the Internet for “high blood pressure” or “hypertension” and you’ll find that nearly every health website recommends the DASH diet to control blood pressure. It makes some sense: If sodium and saturated fat cause high blood pressure, then removing them from your diet should make it come back down.

But changing your eating habits is easier said than done. It’s easy to say you want to cut down on fat and sodium, but it’s hard to resist a hot slice of Chicago-style pizza piled high with sausage and cheese. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Daily Monthly*

New Sandwich To “Start Killing People” Next Week

4344334.jpgPrimary care doctors and nutritionists will soon have a new threat in the fight against obesity. KFC is going national with its new “Double Down” sandwich on April 12.

This 540 calorie, 32g of fat, 1380mg of sodium “sandwich” replaces the bread or bun with two pieces of fried chicken.

In a somewhat hyperbolic article at Consumerist.com, its predicted that the new fast-food sandwich will “start killing people” nationwide next week.

Product page: Double Down…

More: Introducing The Vegan Double Down!

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Potassium And Exercise: Sports Drink Or Orange Juice?

As I stutter through recovery from LungMutiny2010, I’m paying more attention to my diet. So as I try to go out for my 10-minute walk everyday, I still drink some sports drink — usually Gatorade made from the massive vat of powder you can buy at Costco.

We tend to get plenty of sodium in our diet — far too much in the U.S. actually — but I always worry about potassium when I’m sweating (Disclaimer: I am not an exercise physiologist or a cardiovascular or nephrology physician.)

I always thought that the widely-sold sports drinks were the best sources of potassium outside of eating bananas or some dried fruits. I was surprised to learn that an 8-ounce serving of orange juice contains 18-fold more potassium than an 8-ounce serving of Gatorade® (450 mg vs. 25 mg). Who knew? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Terra Sigillata*

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Latest Book Reviews

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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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