Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Statin Drugs May Lead to a Less Healthy Lifestyle

It is said that the use of the new automobile safety equipment has led to a great reduction in the automobile death rate. But the new equipment, some say, may encourage people to drive less safely, since people can feel that the safety equipment will protect them from injury in an automobile accident. Statin drugs can lower cholesterol, which can reduce heart attacks and stroke risks. But, like automobile safety equipment, a new study indicates that statins may encourage people to live less healthy lives. For example, people may consume more calories and fat because they feel the statins will protect them from bad health.

There is no doubt that statins can improve health. According to a Medline article,  " Studies show that, in certain people, statins reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and even death from heart disease by about 25% to 35%. Studies have also shown that statins can reduce the chances of recurrent strokes or heart attacks by about 40%." Further, according to the article,  "Estimates are that in addition to the people already taking them, another 15 to 20 million people should be taking statin drugs based on their risk factors for heart disease."

But if more people take statins, it could, potentially, make things worse. A ten-year study determined that “People who take statin drugs to lower their cholesterol appear to have developed a false sense of security that could lead to heart disease and other obesity-related illnesses.” The researchers suggest that statin users might not "feel the urgency to reduce their caloric and fat consumption or to lose weight the way statin users 10 years ago did..."
Since statins may encourage people to live less healthy lives, healthcare providers should continually stress to their patients the importance of making lifestyle changes in addition to taking statins. These lifestyle changes should include a healthy diet and exercise. Counseling is the tool commonly employed in helping the patient make these changes. And if the patient is obese, under the Affordable Care Act, some of the counseling is reimbursable.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Obesity Can Complicate Organ Transplants

Because overweight and obesity continue to be worldwide problems, measures to deal with overweight and obesity are eagerly sought.  Obesity is associated with high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and some forms of cancer. In the future, obesity, no doubt, will be found to be associated with many more diseases. It is now known that obesity can complicate medical treatments -- including organ transplant procedures. Obesity may cause problems for both the donor and the transplant patient.
With respect to the transplant donor, a New York Times article entitled "WELL; Transplant Centers Struggle With Donors' Obesity," suggested that "Rising obesity has spurred a small but growing effort to pay closer attention to the health of obese donors, whose risks are still incompletely understood." Some potential donors are too heavy to be donors, since they violate the usual BMI limit of 35, or, in some cases, even the lower limit of 30.
In the case of the obese transplant patient, when that person is obese, complications can arise. In fact, "Being overweight and obese has been shown to have significant effects on both short- and long-term complications as well as patient and graft survival."
As a way to help potential transplant donors reach a qualifying weight, and to help transplant patients maintain a healthy weight after the operation, obesity medicine providers can work with the transplant team, the potential donor, and the transplant patient to apply evidence-based weight loss and weight maintenance methods.  Applying these methods can enable the donor and the transplant patient to achieve a more healthy weight prior to the transplant operation, and after the operation. 
If an obesity medicine provider works with the transplant team, the donor, and transplant patient, this collaboration could prove beneficial for the transplant donor, the transplant patient, the transplant team, and the obesity medicine provider.  This type of collaboration could produce future referrals for all of the involved health providers.
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