5 Commonly Misdiagnosed Disease

September 27, 2007

Just thought this was interesting. It is 5 of the most commonly misdiagnosed diseases. Some seem understandably hard to detect while others seem hard to miss. It just goes to show why it is important to ask questions and take your health seriously. Being proactive about health is the best way to avoid misdiagnoses for you and your family. I know a lot of you out there have aging parents (myself included) and it is important to be there as they get older and doctors tend to push them aside. I worked in the geriatric portion of a hospital and saw it first hand, doctors sometimes make quick assumptions/decisions and don’t think it is worth their time to discuss it with the patient or the family in sufficient detail. It also points to the need for doctors to be more thorough when examining patients. The 5 specifically mentioned in the article are:

1. Aortic dissection

2. Cancer

3. Clogged arteries

4. Heart attack

5. Infection:

Check Out CNN for the full story

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TB and Me

September 26, 2007

Tuberculosis is a disease that I have always found fascinating. It is one of the oldest document diseases. There is evidence of it in animals almost 20,000 years ago. They had it in ancient Egypt, Rome, and pretty much throughout the whole world at some point or another. Historically it has been called different names, but its characteristics are usually identifiable in written history. It was believe to be linked with vampirism, because of the pale appearance and coughing blood. Growing up I only knew about it in passing conversation and in novels. I thought it was a disease like small pox that had been eradicated. It wasn’t until middle school or high school even when I discovered just how prevalent it still is. In college I had to have the PPD test for TB, which is basically a skin test to see if you have been exposed to it. A positive result doesn’t mean you have it, just that you have been exposed, usually it is followed up with a chest x-ray. I actually have a TB skin test for pharmacy school next week. Like most hospitals, you can’t work at Temple without the test.

TB rarely gets the attention it deserves in our world. I think that is because the subset of the population it generally affects is not the upper class. Most middle and upper class Americans will never get TB, unless an outbreak occurred in a retirement home or somewhere like that. Because poor communities and immigrant communities are more often in smaller living spaces with more people around, they naturally are more susceptible. According to Wikipedia the following communities are most likely to be exposed: “include people in areas where TB is common, people who inject illicit drugs (especially when sharing needles), residents and employees of high-risk congregate settings, medically under-served and low-income populations, high-risk racial or ethnic minority populations, children exposed to adults in high-risk categories, patients immunocompromised by conditions such as HIV/AIDS, people who take immunosuppressant drugs, and health care workers serving these high-risk clients. It is so insane to me that a treatable and generally preventable disease still claims so many lives. More shocking is that inadequate control programs have led to a resurgence of the disease in recent years. Now there is also the added concern of drug resistant TB which has evolved over last 20 years. But there is always hope, the global initiative “Stop TB Partnership” is setting ambitious goals and is dedicated to ridding the world of TB.

Anna Cataldi, who served as UN Messenger of Peace from 1998 to 2007, has joined the global fight against tuberculosis (TB). Ms Cataldi, who was appointed as an Ambassador of the Stop TB Partnership, will raise awareness worldwide about the unfair burden of TB on refugees, migrants, people living in poverty and other disadvantaged groups. The Stop TB Partnership’s goal is to eliminate TB as a public health problem worldwide. In 2005 there were 8.8 million new cases of TB. The disease kills 4400 people every day, even though it has been treatable and preventable for more than half a century. “Anna Cataldi has an extraordinary track record of galvanizing people to confront issues that cause human suffering,” said Dr Marcos Espinal, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership. “She will be a strong voice calling for access to TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment as a human right.” The Stop TB Partnership has set out an ambitious plan: The Global Plan to Stop TB (2006-2015). Launched by the Stop TB Partnership in January 2006, the plan is a roadmap for treating 50 million people for TB between now and 2015 and save about 14 million lives. It aims to halve TB prevalence and deaths compared with 1990 levels by 2015.

TB Article


Pfizer’s new HIV drug

September 25, 2007

After the unfortunate failure of the Merck HIV vaccine, I figured I should share a promising development in the battle against HIV/AIDS.


LONDON, Sept 24 (Reuters) – Pfizer Inc., the world’s largest drugmaker, said on Monday the European Commission had approved its AIDS drug Celsentri, the first in a new class of oral HIV medicines. The drug — which is known generically as maraviroc and as Selzentry in the United States — is the first designed to keep the HIV virus that causes AIDS from entering healthy immune cells. Older AIDS medicines attack the virus itself. It works by blocking the CCR5 co-receptor that serves as a main doorway for the HIV virus into immune cells. The green light from the European authorities had been expected after a panel of EU experts recommended the product in July. The medicine was also cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month. Celsentri is approved for use in patients who have tried other medicines and for whom a diagnostic test has confirmed their HIV strain is linked to the CCR5 receptor. New York-based Pfizer is counting on new medicines such as Celsentri to help drive profits as several blockbusters lose patent protection and its top-selling Lipitor cholesterol treatment faces strong competition. Industry analysts have projected annual Celsentri sales of about $500 million by 2011.


9/11 Rescue Workers

September 14, 2007

This is a follow up post to my September 11th entry. The entry was about a photojournalist’s chronicle of the illnesses that many “first responders” are suffering from. It seems that through really the blogging circles and news sites, the topic is getting some more of the attention it deserves. Even on my little blog it was my most popular article so far. CNN is running a well articulated article that explains the situation. The last post was to get the topic out there and to share a piece of relevant art.


WASHINGTON (AP) — Doctors treating sickened ground zero workers offered Congress a detailed diagnosis Wednesday of the ailments still affecting thousands after the September 11 attacks, but warned that there’s no way to determine how many more may become afflicted with life-threatening illnesses. Workers at ground zero were hit with an “incredible assault” on their health, a health official told Congress. Dr. Philip Landrigan of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine described three months of recent medical treatment to a House panel examining how many of those who toiled on the toxic debris pile are still sick — or may get sick. Thousands of people “are still suffering,” Landrigan said a day after the sixth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Their ailments range from runny noses to laryngitis to lung disease, he said.

“Respiratory illness, psychological distress and financial devastation have become a new way of life for many,” he told the House Education and Labor Committee. He advocated leaving September 11-related medical programs in place to try to determine how many workers might develop long-term diseases. Patricia Clark, a regional official with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said workers who were exposed to ground zero toxins in the first 48 hours after the attacks were hit with an “incredible assault” on their health. Still, she defended her agency’s air sampling, which found little evidence of dangerously high levels of asbestos and other contaminants. The figures offered Wednesday further define the medical problems found by a 2006 Mount Sinai study, which said 70 percent of ground zero workers suffered new or worsened respiratory problems after their exposure to the debris of the World Trade Center.

Landrigan offered new specifics of the most prevalent symptoms among the police officers, firefighters, construction workers and volunteers examined. Between April and June of this year, doctors in the 9/11 workers health program overseen by Mount Sinai saw 2,323 patients.

They found:

  • Lower respiratory problems in 40 percent of patients. Asthma and asthma-like reactive airways disease were found in 30 percent. Smaller portions of patients had chronic cough — 7 percent — or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — 5 percent.
  • Upper respiratory conditions in 59 percent. The most common condition was runny nose, in 51 percent of the workers, and chronic sinusitis, in about a fifth of them.
  • Mental health problems, the most common being post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, in 36 percent of patients.

Landrigan said it is still unclear how many of those patients will continue to experience such symptoms, or how many may develop new diseases like cancer many years after their exposure. Lingering 9/11-related illnesses — and deaths of some first responders years after the attacks — have led to calls in Congress for a federal program to fund long-term health programs for those workers. So far, the government has paid for piecemeal screening and treatment of emergency personnel, construction workers and volunteers, but advocates want such programs expanded to include lower Manhattan residents, students and tourists

Source: 9/11 Rescue Workers


Less “junk” in the trunk than originally thought

September 14, 2007

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I highly recommend this article to anyone interested in the sciences, it is too complex to summarize without going into the background of DNA research.  But if you ever had an intro bio course you can follow the article.  New research is basically flipping what scientists thought about DNA and transcription on its head.  The two major differences between the initial 2001 genome discoveries and the newer genome are:

  • “Junk DNA” is actually involved in disease states and protein encoding and the gene encoding regions were only the tip of the iceberg
  • RNA may be the most important molecule to study in the future, it plays a much bigger role than simple transcription/translation

Check it out:

http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20070908/bob9.asp