Posts Tagged ‘nutritionist’

Are Short People Predisposed to Heart Disease?

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Finnish study links height to likelihood of heart disease.Petite people may be getting the short end of the health stick.  A new study reveals that men under 5′ 5″ and women under 5′ tall may be 50 percent more likely than taller people to suffer heart attacks, according to a report in the European Heart Journal.

“Older people are shorter,” according to the study’s lead author, Tuula Paajanen, M.D., a researcher at Finland’s University of Tampere.  “Also, you have to remember that height is at least a combination of genetics, socioeconomic status, and nutritional status.  So when using heights, we are also thinking about some confounding factors.”  Paajanen and her research team analyzed data from 52 quality studies of more than three million individuals.  Literally hundreds of studies – some dating back to the early 1950s – have investigated the possible link between height and heart disease.  The current study is the first systematic examination and analysis of the earlier studies on the subject.

Dr. Michael Lauer, director of the cardiovascular sciences division at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, cautioned that the study’s “major limitation is a failure to take into account confounding factors.  It’s much easier to measure somebody’s height than it is to measure lots of other fundamental factors that could affect height.”  He noted that nutrition is a vital environmental factor that impacts height and heart health alike.  Jaako Tuomilehto, M.D., a professor in the public health department at the University of Helsinki, says that children who received inadequate nourishment before and after birth, tend to grow more slowly.

While acknowledging the study’s limitations, Paajanen says “People have no control over their height or genetics, but they can control their weight and lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking and exercise.  All of these together affect heart disease risk.  The more risk factors you have, the more effort you should concentrate to reduce the risk factors you can.”

“Positive Deviants” Will Revitalize the Healthcare System

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

The solution to America’s healthcare crisis might just lie in deviant thinking.  This is the message of Dr. Atul Gawande, this year’s commencement speaker at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine.  Gawande is a general and endocrine surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, an associate director of their Center for Surgery and Public Health, an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and at Harvard Medical School.

050102_Gawande_Atul_3.jpgHis concept of positive deviants identifies those communities and physicians who discover innovative ways to reduce costs and improve care  to deliver better outcomes.

Gawande cites a nutritionist who spent his career attempting to reduce hunger in Vietnamese villages.  This man asked villagers to identify which families had the best-nourished children to determine a “positive deviance” from the norm.  The answer was that those children’s mothers did not act in accordance with accepted village wisdom had the best outcomes.  Rather, they fed their children even when they had diarrhea; fed them several small meals daily rather than one or two large ones; and fed their children foods that others considered low class but were nutritious such as sweet potato greens.

In the American healthcare system, the positive deviants resist the tendency to view patients primarily as revenue streams – but as human beings.  Rather, these physicians deliver high-value healthcare without focusing too strongly on their practices’ bottom lines; they neither over-treat nor under-treat their patients with extraneous but profitable tests and procedures.

To quote Gawande, “Look for those in your community who are making healthcare better, safer and less costly.  Pay attention to them.  Learn how they do it.  And join with them.”