August 2016 Health and Wellness Tips

A health app gapNewswise — DALLAS – Aug. 1, 2016 – Relying on readings from smart phone health apps may not be a smart idea.Examining 100 healthy volunteers, Dr. John Alexander, Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and Pain Management at UT Southwestern Medical Center, compared vital signs readings from four smart phone apps with readings from a standard medical monitor and found worrisome differences.

The four routine measurements taken were heart rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and oxygen saturation. Researchers found substantive differences in all four types of readings by the apps.

“The lack of correlation suggests that the applications do not provide clinically meaningful data,” Dr. Alexander said.

Particularly concerning was the fact that the gap between app-reading and standard monitor-reading for blood pressures widened as blood pressure numbers increased, suggesting that hypertensive patients who need to monitor their blood pressure more frequently are also the most likely to get inaccurate readings from apps. “It’s not surprising that these apps did not perform as well as standard medical equipment,” Dr. Alexander said. “When you think about it, in a clinical setting you wrap a blood pressure cuff around the arm and you are actually measuring the pressure of the blood flowing through the arm, so you would expect that to be more accurate than touching your finger to a phone.”

The study appeared in the Journal of Clinical Monitoring and Computing.

Essential oils a poisoning danger for young childrenDALLAS – Aug. 1, 2016 – Essential oils, popular home remedies for everything from digestive ailments to insomnia, increasingly are being accidentally ingested by small children, sending them to emergency care, a new study found.

A study of calls to the Texas Poison Control Center Network found more than 1,200 calls concerning exposure to essential oils during a recent 10-year period, with the incidence continuing to rise, according to Dr. Kurt Kleinschmidt, Professor of Emergency Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Health & Hospital Systems. The oils, which are highly concentrated “essence” of the flowers, herbs, and trees they are extracted from, have pleasant aromas that can be alluring to children. “The oils often smell very nice – they may even smell like food – which can lead kids to drink them. But then the taste is bitter so they often choke and aspirate them into their lungs,” Dr. Kleinschmidt says.

Taking these liquids into the lungs can lead to pneumonia.

There are scores of essential oils, and while some may be relatively harmless when swallowed, many can have serious consequences, including agitation, hallucinations, liver damage, and seizures. Even skin exposure can, in some cases, be harmful to children, who have thinner skin than adults and may absorb them more easily into the blood stream.

To be safe, Dr. Kleinschmidt says, treat essential oils as you would medicine. Refrain from using essential oils on children and, most important, store them safely in a place where young children cannot get to them. Phosphates in processed foods may hike blood pressure

DALLAS – Aug. 1, 2016 – A diet high in phosphates, which are often present in large quantities in processed foods and cola drinks, may lead to increases in blood pressure, especially during exercise.Dr. Wanpen Vongpatanasin, a hypertension specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, said the typical American diet includes about double the amount of phosphate as recommended. “Inorganic phosphates are added in large quantities to processed foods as preservatives and flavor enhancers,” says Dr. Vongpatanasin, Professor of Internal Medicine. Phosphates occur naturally in many foods, including dairy products, meat, fish, and baking powder, but it is the consumption of fast foods, processed foods, and bottled drinks that can push phosphate levels up, she says. For example, a block of Parmesan cheese contains phosphates, but when Parmesan is sold in a grated or shredded form, additional phosphates may be added to keep it from sticking.

When examining food labels, look for anything that contains “phos,” such as calcium phosphate, disodium phosphate, or monopotassium phosphate. Dr. Vongpatanasin holds the Norman and Audrey Kaplan Chair in Hypertension

Gotta wear shadesDALLAS – Aug. 1, 2016 – Ophthalmologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center remind everyone to protect their eyes from the sun. The surface of the eye and the cornea are particularly vulnerable to the sun’s rays.

“Excessive exposure may increase the risk for the formation of a fleshy tissue over the cornea, some forms of cataract, and possibly macular degeneration,” says Dr. V. Vinod Mootha, a specialist in cornea and external disease, as well as refractive and cataract surgery. “Sunglasses should be used by adults and children when outdoors for prolonged periods of time. For eyeglass wearers, polycarbonate lenses, which are thin and shatterproof, offer protection from ultraviolet radiation.”

UVB exposure is higher on sunny days (especially at noon) and low-ozone days. UT Southwestern is spreading sun safety awareness with sunglass photos on Facebook. To join, snap a selfie wearing your favorite pair of sunglasses and post it with the hashtag ‪#‎utswshades.‬‬‬

6 Ways to save summer skinDALLAS – Aug. 1, 2016 – As temperatures peak this summer, UT Southwestern cancer specialists remind you to protect your skin.Skin cancer, caused by damaging ultraviolet radiation from the sun, is the most common of all cancers in the U.S. Fortunately, it’s also one of the most preventable forms of the disease.

“Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer, but skin cancer’s incidence rates continue to rise,” says Dr. Rohit Sharma, a surgeon at UT Southwestern Medical Center who specializes in melanoma and soft-tissue sarcoma.

To be safe in the sun, Dr. Sharma recommends:• Generously apply sunscreen to all exposed skin using a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays and has a SPF of at least 30. • Be sure to use enough sunscreen for adequate protection. The skin should be reasonably saturated to assure an adequate amount has been applied—typically a shot glass full for lotions.• Pay attention to the water resistant profile of the individual sunscreen. When exercising or swimming, you will need to observe this time frame for reapplication. At a minimum, reapply every two hours, even on cloudy days. This applies to both lotions and sprays.• Avoid tanning outdoors and tanning beds indoors. Ultraviolet light from tanning beds and the sun causes skin cancer and wrinkling. Use a sunless self-tanning product instead.• Wear protective clothing, including long sleeves, sunglasses, and a hat that shades the face.• Seek shade and remember that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

About UT Southwestern Medical CenterUT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty includes many distinguished members, including six who have been awarded Nobel Prizes since 1985. The faculty of almost 2,800 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in about 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients and oversee approximately 2.2 million outpatient visits a year.


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