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ABSTRACT: Coronary heart disease remains a leading cause of mortality in the United States, with 84 percent of persons 65 years or older dying from this disease. Secondary preventive measures, including lifestyle modification and pharmacotherapy, are important for elderly patients because of the variable impacts on morbidity and mortality rates and quality of life. Participating in light to moderate activities significantly decreases mortality rates in elderly patients. Smoking cessation translates into a reduction in overall mortality and morbidity rates at least equal to that of other preventive measures such as aspirin or beta-blocker therapy. Recent studies on the effects of lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels to below 100 mg per dL have shown a substantial reduction in coronary heart disease mortality and nonfatal myocardial infarction rates, with a persistent effect in patients older than 75 years. Hypertension, manifesting mostly as isolated systolic blood pressure elevation, also should be treated aggressively. Conventional medical therapies for hypertension (e.g., diuretics, beta blockers) and newer agents (e.g., calcium channel blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors), together with sodium restriction, have had a positive effect on cardiovascular mortality and morbidity rates in older patients. With the increasing prevalence of obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes, interventions targeting weight reduction and glucose control should be emphasized. Whereas weight-loss strategies are poorly defined in this population, the management of diabetes through dietary modification, exercise, and medications is similar across age groups. The target hemoglobin A1C level is less than 7 percent. Elderly patients are prone to depression and social isolation, and they are more likely to have a lower socioeconomic status than younger patients, which may negatively affect participation in rehabilitation programs and compliance with medical advice and therapy. Strategies aimed at these factors have shown variable results and remain ill-defined.
ABSTRACT: A combination of aerobic activity, strength training, and flexibility exercises, plus increased general daily activity can reduce medication dependence and health care costs while maintaining functional independence and improving quality of life in older adults. However, patients often do not benefit fully from exercise prescriptions because they receive vague or inappropriate instructions. Effective exercise prescriptions include recommendations on frequency, intensity, type, time, and progression of exercise that follow disease-specific guidelines. Changes in physical activity require multiple motivational strategies including exercise instruction as well as goal-setting, self-monitoring, and problem-solving education. Helping patients identify emotionally rewarding and physically appropriate activities, contingencies, and social support will increase exercise continuation rates and facilitate desirable health outcomes. Through patient contact and community advocacy, physicians can promote lifestyle patterns that are essential for healthy aging.
ABSTRACT: The leading causes of adolescent mortality are accidents (death from unintentional injury), homicide, and suicide. Additional morbidity is related to drug, tobacco, and alcohol use; risky sexual behaviors; poor nutrition; and inadequate physical activity. One third of adolescents engage in at least one of these high-risk behaviors. Physicians should specifically target these risk factors with preventive counseling, although adolescents may be reluctant to initiate discussions about risky behaviors because of confidentiality concerns. The key to providing relevant and useful preventive counseling for adolescent patients is developing the trust necessary to discuss the specific issues that impact this age group.
ABSTRACT: In 2004, the National Guidelines Clearinghouse placed eight guidelines from the National Health Care for the Homeless Council on its Web site. Seven of the guidelines are on specific disease processes and one is on general care. In addition to straightforward clinical decision making, the guidelines contain medical information specific to patients who are homeless. These guidelines have been endorsed by dozens of physicians who spend a large part of their clinical time caring for some of the millions of adults and children who find themselves homeless each year in the United States. In one guideline, physicians are prompted to keep in mind that someone living on the street does not always have access to water for taking medication. Another guideline points out the difficulty of eating a special diet when the patient depends on what the local shelter serves. As the number of homeless families and individuals increases, family physicians need to become aware of medically related information specific to this population. This can help ensure that physicians continue to offer patient-centered care with minimal adherence barriers.
ABSTRACT: The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure recommends lifestyle modification for all patients with hypertension or prehypertension. Modifications include reducing dietary sodium to less than 2.4 g per day; increasing exercise to at least 30 minutes per day, four days per week; limiting alcohol consumption to two drinks or less per day for men and one drink or less per day for women; following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension eating plan (high in fruits, vegetables, potassium, calcium, and magnesium; low in fat and salt); and achieving a weight loss goal of 10 lb (4.5 kg) or more. Alternative treatments such as vitamin C, coenzyme Q10, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids have been suggested for managing hypertension, but evidence for their effectiveness is lacking.
ABSTRACT: Although type 1 diabetes historically has been more common in patients eight to 19 years of age, type 2 diabetes is emerging as an important disease in this group. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 8 to 45 percent of new childhood diabetes. This article is an update from the National Diabetes Education Program on the management of type 2 diabetes in youth. High-risk youths older than 10 years have a body mass index greater than the 85th percentile for age and sex plus two additional risk factors (i.e., family history, high-risk ethnicity, acanthosis nigricans, polycystic ovary syndrome, hypertension, or dyslipidemia). Reducing overweight and impaired glucose tolerance with increased physical activity and healthier eating habits may help prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes in high-risk youths. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend population-based screening of high-risk youths; however, physicians should closely monitor these patients because early diagnosis may be beneficial. The American Diabetes Association recommends screening high-risk youths every two years with a fasting plasma glucose test. Patients diagnosed with diabetes should receive self-management education, behavior interventions to promote healthy eating and physical activity, appropriate therapy for hyperglycemia (usually metformin and insulin), and treatment of comorbidities.
Management of Hypertriglyceridemia - Article
ABSTRACT: Hypertriglyceridemia is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events and acute pancreatitis. Along with lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and raising high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lowering triglyceride levels in high-risk patients (e.g., those with cardiovascular disease or diabetes) has been associated with decreased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Although the management of mixed dyslipidemia is controversial, treatment should focus primarily on lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. Secondary goals should include lowering non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (calculated by subtracting high-density lipoprotein cholesterol from total cholesterol). If serum triglyceride levels are high, lowering these levels can be effective at reaching non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol goals. Initially, patients with hypertriglyceridemia should be counseled about therapeutic lifestyle changes (e.g., healthy diet, regular exercise, tobacco-use cessation). Patients also should be screened for metabolic syndrome and other acquired or secondary causes. Patients with borderline-high serum triglyceride levels (i.e., 150 to 199 mg per dL [1.70 to 2.25 mmol per L]) and high serum triglyceride levels (i.e., 200 to 499 mg per dL [2.26 to 5.64 mmol per L]) require an overall cardiac risk assessment. Treatment of very high triglyceride levels (i.e., 500 mg per dL [5.65 mmol per L] or higher) is aimed at reducing the risk of acute pancreatitis. Statins, fibrates, niacin, and fish oil (alone or in various combinations) are effective when pharmacotherapy is indicated.
ABSTRACT: There are more than one half million cancer deaths in the United States each year, and one third of these deaths are attributed to suboptimal diet and physical activity practices. Maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active throughout life, and consuming a healthy diet can substantially reduce the lifetime risk of developing cancer, as well as influence overall health and survival after a cancer diagnosis. The American Cancer Society's Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines serve as a source document for communication, policy, and community strategies to improve dietary and physical activity patterns among Americans. In 2006, they published updated guidelines for the primary prevention of cancer and guidelines for improving outcomes among cancer survivors through tertiary prevention. These two sets of guidelines have similar recommendations, including: achievement and maintenance of a healthy weight; regular physical activity of at least 30 minutes per day and at least five days per week; a plant-based diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in saturated fats and red meats; and moderate alcohol consumption, if at all. Physicians are encouraged to find teachable moments to impart appropriate nutrition, physical activity, and weight management guidance to their patients, and to support policies and programs that can improve these factors in the community to reduce cancer risk and improve outcomes after cancer.
Management of Dyslipidemia in Adults - Article
ABSTRACT: The importance of treating dyslipidemias based on cardiovascular risk factors is highlighted by the National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines. The first step in evaluation is to exclude secondary causes of hyperlipidemia. Assessment of the patient's risk for coronary heart disease helps determine which treatment should be initiated and how often lipid analysis should be performed. For primary prevention of coronary heart disease, the treatment goal is to achieve a low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol level of less than 160 mg per dL (4.15 mmol per L) in patients with only one risk factor. The target LDL level in patients with two or more risk factors is 130 mg per dL (3.35 mmol per L) or less. For patients with documented coronary heart disease, the LDL cholesterol level should be reduced to less than 100 mg per dL (2.60 mmol per L). A step II diet, in which the total fat content is less than 30 percent of total calories and saturated fat is 8 to 10 percent of total calories, may help reduce LDL cholesterol levels to the target range in some patients. A high-fiber diet is also therapeutic. The most commonly used options for pharmacologic treatment of dyslipidemia include bile acid-binding resins, HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, nicotinic acid and fibric acid derivatives. Other possibilities in selected cases are estrogen replacement therapy, plasmapheresis and even surgery in severe, refractory cases.
ABSTRACT: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic, relapsing condition with associated morbidity and an adverse impact on quality of life. The disease is common, with an estimated lifetime prevalence of 25 to 35 percent in the U.S. population. GERD can usually be diagnosed based on the clinical presentation alone. In some patients, however, the diagnosis may require endoscopy and, rarely, ambulatory pH monitoring. Management includes lifestyle modifications and pharmacologic therapy; refractory disease requires surgery. The therapeutic goals are to control symptoms, heal esophagitis and maintain remission so that morbidity is decreased and quality of life is improved.