Items in AFP with MESH term: Risk Assessment

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Screening for Cancer: Evaluating the Evidence - Article

ABSTRACT: Many patients expect to undergo screening tests for cancer. In evaluating screening procedures, physicians must take into account the known effects of lead time, length and screening biases, all of which can result in an overestimation of the benefits of screening. The gold standard by which a screening test is evaluated remains the prospective, randomized controlled trial, demonstrating reduced morbidity and mortality. The magnitude of benefit from screening is best expressed in terms of the number of patients needed to screen. This value ranges from approximately 500 to 1,100 for proven screening interventions. These concepts are illustrated by controversies in current screening recommendations for cancers of the cervix, lung, colon, breast and prostate, which together account for more than 50 percent of cancer deaths in the United States.


Detection, Education and Management of the Asplenic or Hyposplenic Patient - Article

ABSTRACT: Fulminant, potentially life-threatening infection is a major long-term risk after splenectomy or in persons who are functionally hyposplenic as a result of various systemic conditions. Most of these infections are caused by encapsulated organisms such as pneumococci, Haemophilus influenzae and meningococci. A splenectomized patient is also more susceptible to infections with intraerythrocytic organisms such as Babesia microti and those that seldom affect healthy people, such as Capnocytophaga canimorsus. Most patients who have lost their spleens because of trauma are aware of their asplenic condition, but some older patients do not know that they are asplenic. Other patients may have functional hyposplenism secondary to a variety of systemic diseases ranging from celiac disease to hemoglobinopathies. The identification of Howell-Jolly bodies on peripheral blood film is an important clue to the diagnosis of asplenia or hyposplenia. Management of patients with these conditions includes a combination of immunization, antibiotic prophylaxis and patient education. With the increasing prevalence of antibiotic-resistant pneumococci, appropriate use of the pneumococcal vaccine has become especially important.


Benefits and Risks of Psychiatric Medications During Pregnancy - Article

ABSTRACT: Traditionally, psychiatric medications were withheld during pregnancy because of fear of teratogenic and other effects. The emergence of evidence of the safety of most commonly used psychiatric medications, the availability of this information in the form of online databases, and the documentation of the adverse effects of untreated maternal mental illness have all increased the comfort of physicians and patients with respect to the use of psychiatric medications during pregnancy. The tricyclic antidepressants and fluoxetine (Prozac) appear to be free of teratogenic effects, and emerging data support similar safety profiles for the other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The mood stabilizers appear to be teratogenic. With the exception of the known risk for depression to worsen in the postpartum period, there is little consistent evidence of the effects of pregnancy on the natural history of mental illness. Decisions regarding the use of psychiatric medications should be individualized, and the most important factor is usually the patient's level of functioning in the past when she was not taking medications.


Preoperative Cardiac Risk Assessment - Article

ABSTRACT: Heart disease is the leading cause of mortality in the United States. An important subset of heart disease is perioperative myocardial infarction, which affects approximately 50,000 persons each year. The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA) have coauthored a guideline on preoperative cardiac risk assessment, as has the American College of Physicians (ACP). The ACC/AHA guideline uses major, intermediate, and minor clinical predictors to stratify patients into different cardiac risk categories. Patients with poor functional status or those undergoing high-risk surgery require further risk stratification via cardiac stress testing. The ACP guideline also starts by screening patients for clinical variables that predict perioperative cardiac complications. However, the ACP did not feel there was enough evidence to support poor functional status as a significant predictor of increased risk. High-risk patients would sometimes merit preoperative cardiac catheterization by the ACC/AHA guideline, while the ACP version would reserve catheterization only for those who were candidates for cardiac revascularization independent of their noncardiac surgery. A recent development in prophylaxis of surgery-related cardiac complications is the use of beta blockers perioperatively for patients with cardiac risk factors.


Counseling for Physical Activity in Overweight and Obese Patients - Article

ABSTRACT: Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. More than 60 percent of U.S. adults are now overweight or obese (defined as at least 30 lb [13.6 kg] overweight), predisposing more than 97 million Americans to a host of chronic diseases and conditions. Physical activity has a positive effect on weight loss, total body fat, and body fat distribution, as well as maintenance of favorable body weight and change in body composition. Many of the protective aspects of exercise and activity appear to occur in overweight persons who gain fitness but remain overweight. Despite the well-known health and quality-of-life benefits of regular physical activity, few Americans are routinely active. Results of research studies have shown that physician intervention to discuss physical activity (including the wide array of health benefits and the potential barriers to being active) need not take more than three to five minutes during an office visit but can play a critical role in patient implementation. This article describes elements of effective counseling for physical activity and presents guidelines for developing physical activity programs for overweight and obese patients.


Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome: Importance of the Long QT Syndrome - Article

ABSTRACT: In approximately 5 percent of sudden cardiac deaths, no demonstrable anatomic abnormality is found. Some cases are caused by sudden arrhythmia death syndrome. A prolonged QT interval is a common thread among the various entities associated with sudden arrhythmia death syndrome. A number of drugs are known to cause QT prolongation (e.g., terfenadine), as are hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia, myocarditis, and endocrine and nutritional disorders. Recently, attention has focused on a group of inherited gene mutations in cardiac ion channels that cause long QT syndrome and carry an increased risk for sudden death. Some of the highest rates of inherited long QT syndrome occur in Southeast Asian and Pacific Rim countries. The median age of persons who die of long QT syndrome is 32 years; men are predominately affected. In addition to a prolonged QT interval, which occurs in some but not all persons with long QT syndrome, another characteristic electrocardiographic abnormality is the so-called Brugada sign (an upward deflection of the terminal portion of the QRS complex). Most cardiac events are precipitated by vigorous exercise or emotional stress, but they also can occur during sleep. Torsades de pointes and ventricular fibrillation are the usual fatal arrhythmias. Long QT syndrome should be suspected in patients with recurrent syncope during exertion and those with family histories of sudden, unexpected death. Unfortunately, not all persons with long QT syndrome have premonitory symptoms or identifiable electrocardiographic abnormalities, and they may first present with sudden death. Beta blockers, potassium supplements, and implantable defibrillators have been used for treatment of long QT syndrome. Identifying the specific gene mutation in a given patient with long QT syndrome can help guide prophylactic therapy.


Vertebral Compression Fractures in the Elderly - Article

ABSTRACT: Compression fracture of the vertebral body is common, especially in older adults. Vertebral compression fractures usually are caused by osteoporosis, and range from mild to severe. More severe fractures can cause significant pain, leading to inability to perform activities of daily living, and life-threatening decline in the elderly patient who already has decreased reserves. While the diagnosis can be suspected from history and physical examination, plain roentgenography, as well as occasional computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging, are often helpful in accurate diagnosis and prognosis. Traditional conservative treatment includes bed rest, pain control, and physical therapy. Interventional procedures such as vertebroplasty can be considered in those patients who do not respond to initial treatment. Family physicians can help patients prevent compression fractures by diagnosing and treating predisposing factors, identifying high-risk patients, and educating patients and the public about measures to prevent falls.


Health Care Screening for Men Who Have Sex with Men - Article

ABSTRACT: Men who have sex with men often do not reveal their sexual practices or sexual orientation to their physician. Lack of disclosure from the patient, discomfort or inadequate training of the physician, perceived or real hostility from medical staff, and insufficient screening guidelines limit preventive care. Because of greater societal stresses, lack of emotional support, and practice of unsafe sex, men who have sex with men are at increased risk for sexually transmitted diseases (including human immunodeficiency virus infection), anal cancer, psychologic and behavioral disorders, drug abuse, and eating disorders. Recent trends indicate an increasing rate of sexual risk-taking among these men, particularly if they are young. Periodic screening should include a yearly health risk and physical assessment as well as a thorough sexual and psychologic history. The physician should ask questions about sexual orientation in a nonjudgmental manner; furthermore, confidentiality should be addressed and maintained. Office practices and staff should be similarly nonjudgmental, with confidentiality maintained. Targeted screening for sexually transmitted diseases, depression, substance abuse, and other disorders should be performed routinely. Screening guidelines, while inconsistent and subject to change, offer some useful suggestions for the care of men who have sex with men.


Travel Immunizations - Article

ABSTRACT: Advising travelers on vaccine-preventable illnesses is increasingly becoming the responsibility of primary care physicians. The approach to vaccine recommendations should be based on a thorough assessment of the risks for travel-related diseases, the time available before trip departure, and current knowledge of the epidemiology of vaccine-preventable diseases. Routine childhood vaccinations should be reviewed in all travelers and updated as necessary. Yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry by countries that lie within a yellow fever zone or for travelers coming from an endemic area to prevent introduction of the disease. Immunization against hepatitis B virus should be considered in travelers who expect to have close contact with local populations that have high rates of hepatitis B transmission. Japanese encephalitis vaccine should be offered to travelers who plan prolonged trips to rural areas in southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent during the transmission season. Typhoid fever immunization is recommended for travelers who may be exposed to potentially contaminated food and drink. Preexposure rabies vaccination should be considered in travelers who plan a prolonged duration of stay in a remote area or who engage in activities that might involve working near animals or that could attract animals. Physicians should be aware of the adverse events and contraindications associated with each travel vaccine.


Management of Pregnancy Beyond 40 Weeks' Gestation - Article

ABSTRACT: A post-term or prolonged pregnancy is one that reaches 42 weeks' gestation; approximately 5 to 10 percent of pregnancies are post-term. Studies have shown a reduction in the number of pregnancies considered post-term when early ultrasound dating is performed. Maternal and fetal risks increase with gestational age, but the management of otherwise low-risk prolonged pregnancies is controversial. Antenatal surveillance with fetal kick counts, nonstress testing, amniotic fluid index measurement, and biophysical profiles is used, although no data show that monitoring improves outcomes. Studies show a reduction in the rate of cesarean deliveries and possibly in neonatal mortality with a policy of routine labor induction at 41 weeks' gestation.


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