End of life – “The Conversation”

end of life the converstation angelo volandesI’ve been AWOL on the blog for a couple of weeks because my 93-year-old father has been hospitalized with multiple health issues. Each day brings us a mixed bag of improvement and decline.

As a family, we are in agreement that we don’t want Dad to suffer. We don’t want him to linger with a low quality of life. Although he is confused and unable to communicate with us, we know he doesn’t want that for himself, either.

With good communication and constant re-assessing of Dad’s condition and options, we will make it through this period in our lives. I … Continue reading

The overuse of statins

abilify oversprescribedI love John Abramson’s work. He’s a physician and kind of the original whistle-blower on Big Pharma. He wrote a brilliant book, Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine, in which he outlined how the aggressive marketing techniques and biased medical research of the giant pharmaceutical companies have led to the overuse of many prescription drugs.

The pervasive use of statins is one of his (and my) pet peeves.

And recently the American Heart Association (AHA) came out with cholesterol guidelines that will lead to a huge increase in prescribing statins to people with a low risk of … Continue reading

Fast food ban doesn’t work

I didn’t know this, but apparently in 2008 South Los Angeles enacted an ordinance to regulate or limit fast food sales. It was an attempt to lower obesity rates in some of the poorest and unhealthiest neighborhoods.

Now, seven years later, a study has been published that says the intervention didn’t work. It not only didn’t work, but the obesity rates were higher.

As for the health of the residents, according to the survey, obesity and being overweight increased in all areas from 2007 to 2012, and the increase was significantly greater in the regulated area. Consumption of

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ICD 10 and crazy diagnosis codes

I posted the other day about health care’s trend to “medicalize” or give everything under the sun a diagnosis.

And every diagnosis has to have a unique “code” that is found in the bible of diagnosis codes, the ICD 9 manual. Without an ICD 9 code, your doctor won’t get paid by your insurance company.

For example, the code for acute appendicitis is 540.

Well, later this year a new code book, the ICD 10, will be published, and the number of diagnoses will explode from 13,000 to 68,000.

In honor of today’s being April Fools’ Day, here are some … Continue reading

Healthism, medicalization and overdiagnosis

Healthism is a term coined in the early 1990s that describes the government’s use of propaganda and coercion to establish norms of health” and its attempts “to impose norms of a ‘healthy lifestyle.’”

Think about the cities that have chosen to ban smoking or trans-fats or super-sized sodas.

Or the new federal school lunch program’s rather rigid nutrition standards.

Or the Affordable Care Act. It mandates coverage of multiple “essential benefits” such as annual “wellness visits” and screening exams of debatable value. It also requires health care providers to document that they’ve talked to every patient about weight … Continue reading

Sleepless? Watch less TV

I’ve always had difficulty getting a good night’s sleep, and over the years I’ve learned what a delicate mechanism our brain’s “sleep center” is.

For optimal sleep, our brains crave routine and reduced stimulation.

Related posts:

A sleep physician explains how TV can disrupt our sleep: Television ruins your sleep. Here are 5 ways how

Here are the highlights, but read his entire post for more information.

  1. Watching television makes you go to bed later. But our brains have a predetermined amount of sleep they need to
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The Age of Abilify

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the disturbing statistic that Abilify—an antipsychotic drug—is the best-selling prescription medication in the US.

Crazy, right?

I recently read another blog and a psychiatrist agrees with me: What does it mean to live in the age of Abilify?

Antipsychotics are powerful drugs with considerable risks and side-effects.  But psychosis and mania are powerful too….If Abilify keeps psychosis at bay and prevents hospitalization, the risks are worth it.  The cost is worth it too — if a less expensive generic atypical won’t do.  

As I wrote in 2009, the manufacturer

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