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Donya Currie is the editor of The Free Lance-Star's Healthy Life section and Healthy Life Virginia newsletter.

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Odds and ends

Dr. Patrick Neustatter, medical director of the Moss Free Clinic in Fredericksburg, sent in a few observations this morning:

LONG-DISTANCE MEDICINE

My brother in law Olly tells me he has kidney stones, and when we all get back from his sons wedding in Spain he’s going to have them ablated – that business where they put you in a bath and zap you with ultrasound to break them up.

They presented as severe abdominal pain (or “abominable” pain to use the schoolboy howler), and he finished up at the local hospital. Having a penchant for the bizarre, he was amused that, because the radiologist wasn’t available at the hospital, his films were sent to Australia to be read.
The joys of digital radiology.

NEW THINKING ON DEMENTIA

There’s nothing more galling as a doctor than to find out you are wrong.

One of the (many) clever maxims I always quoted to my patients was that dementia usually messes up your self-awareness so that you don’t see that you are losing it. You might not be aware, for example, that putting you sneakers in the microwave is an inappropriate thing to do.

So “if the patient is worrying they are getting Alzheimer’s, they’re not,” I always told my patients or their families. And I wasn’t the only one. On the whole in the profession many who thought they might have dementia were blown off as “the worried well.”

Now a study, reported by Rebecca Amariglio, a neuropsychologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, that asked people about subtle lapses of memory found those that have them were 56 percent more likely to be diagnosed with early stage dementia.
So another of my pearls down the tubes.

WE ALL NEED A MORNING MEAL
Here’s one for all you non-morning people who can’t stand breakfast and get through with coffee and a cigarette.

A study by Harvard School of Public Health that followed the eating habits of 27,000 subjects for 16 years found that those who regularly skipped breakfast were nearly 30 percent more likely to have a heart attack or die of heart disease.

And it’s no good making up for it late at night. Previous research has shown eating late at night is associated with a 55 percent increase in risk of heart disease.

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