Exercise a “vital sign”
A LOW fitness level is a better predictor of mortality than obesity or hypertension, even though these health risk factors are given far greater emphasis than fitness by the media and most health professionals, according to an article in The Lancet. The authors said doctors could influence patients through brief interventions that promote physical activity. Encouraging participation in sport for some physically inactive patients qualified as evidence-based therapy, they said. “Exercise might also be considered as a fifth vital sign and should be recorded in patients’ electronic medical records and routine histories”, they wrote.

Vitamin D dose for fractures
RESEARCHERS have found that a high daily dose of vitamin D (800 IU or more) was “somewhat favourable” in preventing hip and any non-vertebral fracture in those aged 65 years or older. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at data from 11 double-blind randomised controlled trials of oral vitamin D supplementation. The researchers said the data also suggested that at the highest intake level of vitamin D, a smaller amount of calcium supplementation (<1000 mg per day), compared with ≥1000 mg per day, might be more beneficial in reducing the risk of fracture.

Bipolar disorder suicide predictors
PERSISTENT depression, mixed presentations, and active substance use disorder signal imminent risk for suicidal behaviour among youth with bipolar disorder, research published in Archives of General Psychiatry has found. The researchers said interviewed 413 youths, with a mean age of 12.6 years, with bipolar disorder every 9 months for 5 years. They said factors such as intake depressive severity and family history of depression should be considered in the assessment of suicide risk among this population.

Coffee cuts skin cancer risk
CAFFEINE intake from all dietary sources is inversely associated with the risk of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) of the skin, according to a study published in Cancer Research. The authors, using data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, found a significant inverse association between caffeinated coffee consumption and BCC risk. Women who consumed more than three cups of coffee a day had the lowest risk compared with individuals who consumed caffeinated coffee less than one cup per month. The caffeine intake was not found to be inversely associated with risks of squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma.

More surgery admissions
A QUARTER of the 8.9 million Australian patients hospitalised in 2010–11 required surgery, according to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report. There were 1 million episodes of surgery in public hospitals and 1.4 million in private hospitals. Between 2006–07 and 2010–11, hospitalisations involving surgery increased by an average of 2.4% for public hospitals and 4.1% for private hospitals each year. The most common reasons for emergency surgery admission were appendicitis, hip fractures, heart attacks and leg fractures. For elective admissions, the most common surgeries were cataracts, skin cancers, knee disorders and procreative management, including IVF.

Delirium linked to postoperative decline
DELIRIUM is associated with a significant decline in cognitive ability during the first year after cardiac surgery, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The researchers found the trajectory was characterised by an initial decline and prolonged impairment. They studied 225 patients aged 60 years or older planning to undergo coronary-artery bypass grafting or valve replacement. The authors said identifying patients at high risk for delirium and promoting the development of interventions to prevent delirium in patients undergoing cardiac surgery may reduce the rate of long-term cognitive impairment in this population.

Posted 9 July 2012

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