Public health collaboration online conference 2021

Sam Feltham has done it again. This year’s conference is now available on you tube right now.

Last weekend there were many contributors from diverse fields including members of the public, doctors, academics, and the scientific journalist Gary Taubes who gave the opening talk about ketogenic diets.

The courses that particularly interested me were about the experiences of type one diabetics who had adopted the low carb approach, how to achieve change, and how to increase your happiness.

There are talks about eating addiction and eating disorders, statins, and vegetable oil consumption.

Much of the material will be familiar to readers of this blog. There are some new speakers and topics which do indicate that a grassroots movement in changing our dietary guidelines is gaining ground.

Blood pressure difference between arms can be a risk factor for cognitive decline…as well as other things.

From Systolic inter-arm blood pressure difference and cognitive decline in older people, a cohort study. Christopher E Clark. BJGP July 2020

 

A prospective study was done in 1,113 Italians whose average age was 66.4 years. Even a difference of only 5 degrees between the arms was associated with a greater level of cognitive decline.

My comment: In UK GP practices, only one arm is used to check the blood pressure. In my case, it was the arm that was nearest to the desk. Perhaps we should check both ? Inter-arm BP differences are both associated with cardiovascular disease, and this in turn affects dementia. Then of course, is the question, what can you do about it? For a further discussion of the subject here is Pharmacist Antonio Bess from Diabetes in Control.

Cognitive Decline: Just Life, or a Preventable Disease?
Feb 22, 2020

Editor: David L. Joffe, BSPharm, CDE, FACA

Author: Antonio Bess, Pharm D Candidate, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University School of Pharmacy

Cognitive decline is associated with many diseases and medications, but the exact mechanisms are not clearly understood.
Diabetes, obesity, and declining cognitive function are all associated with increased prevalence with increasing age.

Diabetes is a known risk factor for eye, kidney, neurological and cardiovascular diseases, but its effect on declining cognitive function has been in question. Previous studies have found associations between patients who have diabetes and poor glycemic control and significantly faster cognitive decline. Other studies have demonstrated a pattern in which diabetes, high blood pressure, and high body mass index in midlife predict dementia in late life.

In this prospective study, individuals were followed for up to ten years to find associations between indices in diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity, inflammation, and blood pressure with cognitive decline. The indices of interest were measured separately among those with and without central obesity.
The Monongahela‐Youghiogheny Healthy Aging Team is a population‐based cohort of participants recruited randomly from 2006 to 2008, who were 65 and older, and were from a group of small towns in southwestern Pennsylvania. The study is focused on the epidemiology of cognitive decline and dementia in an area that still has not recovered economically from the collapse of the steel industry in the 1970s.

Participants were analyzed at study entry, and annual follow up. To measure cognitive function, participants were given a panel of neuropsychological tests tapping the domains of attention/processing speed, executive function, memory, language, and visuospatial function. At study entry and annually, BP, BMI, waist‐hip ratio, and depressive symptoms  were measured.
Key variables at the time of blood draw, including age, sex, race (white vs. nonwhite), education (high school [HS] or less vs. more than HS), APOE*4 allele carrier status, mCES‐D score, BMI, WHR, systolic BP (SBP), and the following laboratory assay variables: CRP, glucose, HbA1c, insulin, HOMA‐IR, resistin, adiponectin, and GLP‐1 were all reviewed to identify predictors of cognitive decline.
Among 1982 participants who were recruited and underwent full assessment at baseline from 2006 to 2008, only 478 individuals were able to provide fasting blood samples. Of this group of individuals, the median age was 82 years; 66.7% were women; 96.7% were white, and 49.0% had more than HS education.

Compared to the 1504 original participants without fasting blood data, at baseline, these 478 were significantly younger (74.6 vs. 78.6 years; P < .001); more likely to be women (66.7% vs. 59.2%; P = .004); more likely to be of European descent (96.7% vs. 94.1%; P < .001); more likely to have at least HS education (49.0% vs. 38.6%; P < .001); but about equally likely to be APOE*4 carriers (19.3% vs. 21.5%; P = .350).
In unadjusted analysis in the sample as a whole, faster cognitive decline was associated with greater age, less education, APOE*4 carriage, higher depression symptoms (mCES‐D score), and higher adiponectin level. HbA1c was significantly associated with cognitive decline.

After stratifying by the median waist-hip ratio, HbA1c remained related to cognitive decline in those with higher waist-hip ratios. Faster cognitive decline was associated, in lower waist-hip ratio participants younger than 87 years, with adiponectin of 11 or greater; and in higher waist-hip ratio participants younger than 88 years, with HbA1c of 6.2% or greater. Higher adiponectin levels predicted a steeper cognitive decline in the lower waist-hip ratio group.
Abdominal obesity plays a crucial role in cognitive decline in those with diabetes. The microvascular disease may play a more significant role than macrovascular disease. Midlife obesity contributes to cognitive decline but there was no midlife data in this study. Future studies should include a large minority, midlife population. Adiponectin levels need to be carefully assessed as well.

Practice Pearls:
In individuals younger than 88 years old, central obesity can lead to faster cognitive declines.
Obesity, diabetes, and aging contribute to cognitive decline, so it’s hard to distinguish the most significant risk.
Adiponectin may be a novel independent risk factor for cognitive decline and should be reviewed.

Ganguli, Mary, et al. “Aging, Diabetes, Obesity, and Cognitive Decline: A Population‐Based Study.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Feb. 2020, p. jgs.16321, doi:10.1111/jgs.16321.
Ganguli, Mary, et al. Aging, Diabetes, Obesity, and Cognitive Decline: A Population-Based Study. 2020, pp. 1–8, doi:10.1111/jgs.16321.
Tuligenga, Richard H., et al. “Midlife Type 2 Diabetes and Poor Glycaemic Control as Risk Factors for Cognitive Decline in Early Old Age: A Post-Hoc Analysis of the Whitehall II Cohort Study.” The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, vol. 2, no. 3, Elsevier Limited, Mar. 2014, pp. 228–35, doi:10.1016/S2213-8587(13)70192-X.
Cukierman, T., et al. “Cognitive Decline and Dementia in Diabetes – Systematic Overview of Prospective Observational Studies.” Diabetologia, vol. 48, no. 12, Springer, 8 Dec. 2005, pp. 2460–69, doi:10.1007/s00125-005-0023-4.

Antonio Bess, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University College of Pharmacy

Should you get tested for coeliac?

From Allergy and Autoimmune Disease for Healthcare Professionals October 9 2019

Apparently 70% of people who have coeliac have yet to be tested for it.

Who may have it?

4.7% of those with irritable bowel syndrome.

20% of those with mouth ulcers.

8% of infertile couples.

16% of type one diabetics.

7.5% of first degree relatives of people with coeliac.

About 50% of people who are diagnosed have iron deficiency diagnosis  at the time of coeliac diagnosis.

Other people who need to be tested may have:

Pancreatic insufficiency

Early onset osteoporosis or osteopenia

vitamin and mineral deficiencies

gall bladder malfunction

secondary lactose intolerance

peripheral and central nervous system disorders

Turner’s syndrome

Down’s syndrome

Dental enamel defects

persistent raised liver enzymes of unknown cause

peripheral neuropathy or ataxia

metabolic bone disorders

autoimmune thyroid disease

unexplained iron, vitamin D or folate deficiency

unexpected weight loss

prolonged fatigue

faltering growth

second degree relative with coeliac disease

My comment: I had years of  the mouth ulcers, iron deficiency anaemia and irritable bowel symptoms which all resolved completely on a wheat free diet. The problem is that if I did want tested I would need to go back on wheat for a minimum of six weeks to give my antibodies a chance to build up sufficiently to test positive.  Thus, best to get a test BEFORE you go on a wheat free diet.

 

 

Younger women more likely to get urine infections with Flozins

From Univadis Nakhleh A et al. Journal of Diabetes Complications 18th April 2020

It is well known that patients on Flozins are much more prone to urine infections and thrush due to the extra sugar in the urine which is excreted by taking these drugs, also known as SGLT2 inhibitors.

An Israeli study of over 6 thousand women with type two diabetes sought to clarify who was more or less likely to be affected by this very annoying problem.

They found that those most likely to get urine infections were:

Women who had existing gastro intestinal problems

Pre-menopausal women

Women who had been taking oral oestrogen in the form of the contraceptive pill or HRT

Women less likely to be affected:

were older (over 70)

had prior existing chronic kidney disease

My comment: From my GP experience I found that these drugs were highly effective and generally well tolerated. A few patients were indeed badly affected by recurrent urine infections and thrush and had to discontinue the drugs.

 

 

NICE: Blood Pressure Update

From Diagnosis and management of hypertension in adults. NICE guideline update 2019

BJGP Feb 2020 by Nicholas R Jones et al.

The last update by NICE was in 2011. The key changes are explained in this article.

High blood pressure is blood pressure over 140/90 if measured in the clinic.

Home measurements can be more reliable due to a natural rise in blood pressure in the clinic setting. Ambulatory monitoring can be done, but it is not always available or tolerated. My comment: The machine can be very uncomfortable and disrupts sleep. 

To take your blood pressure at home, take two readings, one minute apart, twice a day for 4 to 7 days.  Don’t count the first days readings. Then take the average of the others.

Hypertension is diagnosed if the average of home or ambulatory monitoring is over 135/85.

The BP should be taken standing for those people over 80, who have type two diabetes and if you have postural hypotension. You need to stand for at least a minute before taking the blood pressure and it is best to avoid talking. 

A blood pressure difference between the arms of over 15 mmHg is a marker for vascular disease. Thereafter the arm with the highest measurements should be chosen for monitoring.

Urgent admission is needed if the bp is over 180/110.

Target organ damage is assessed with looking at the retina, urine testing, U and E and eGFR, ECG and a cardiovascular risk score such as QRISK. Check up should be annually.

Lifestyle advice should be emphasised as this can result in taking fewer drugs.

People with blood pressures over 140/90 at the clinic or 135/85 who are aged 60 to 80 are currently advised to have treatment for their blood pressure. People over the age of 80 are fine with blood pressure targets lower than 150 systolic.

The treatment target for people with diabetes is now 140 systolic which is now the same as the general population.

The drugs to treat hypertension are:

ACE or ARB if type 2 diabetes, age under 55 or African or Caribbean origin.

The next step is to add a calcium channel blocker or thiazide like diuretic.

The next step is a combination of ACE or ARB, CCB and Thiazide.

If the potassium is less than 4.5, Spironolactone can be added as a next step.

If the potassium is over 4.5 then an alpha or beta blocker.

For all other patients the first step is a CCB or Thiazide. 

The next step is an ACE, ARB or Thiazide.

Then any combination of these.

If the potassium is under 4.5 then spironolactone can be added.

If the potassium is over 4.5 then an alpha or beta blocker can be added.

 

Fitter, better, sooner

From BJGP May 2020 by Hilary Swales et al.

Having an operation is a major event in anyone’s life. There is a lot a patient can do to improve their physical and mental health before surgery that will improve their recovery and long term health.

Fitter, better, sooner is a toolkit was produced by the Royal College of Anaesthetists with input from GPs, surgeons and patients.

The toolkit has, an electronic leaflet, an explanatory animation and six operation specific leaflet for cataract surgery, hysteroscopy, cystoscopy, hernia, knee arthroscopy and total knee joint replacement.

These can be seen at: https://www.rcoa.ac.uk/patient-information/preparing-surgery-fitter-better-sooner

The colleges want more active participation with patients in planning for their care.

The most common complications after surgery include wound infection and chest infection. Poor cardiorespiratory fitness worsens post op complications. Even modest improvement in activity can improve chest and heart function to some extent.  Keeping alcohol intake low can improve wound healing. Stopping smoking is also important for almost all complications. Measures to reduce anaemia also reduce immediate and long term problems from surgery and also reduce the need for blood transfusion. Blood transfusion is associated with poorer outcomes particularly with cancer surgery. HbA1Cs over 8.5% or 65 mmol/mol causes more wound complications and infections.  Blood pressure needs to be controlled to reduce cardiovascular instability during the operation and cardiovascular and neurological events afterwards.

This toolkit is already being used in surgical pre-assessment clinics but access to the materials in GP practices will also help. After all, the GPs are the ones who are initially referring the patients for surgery, and improving participation early can only be helpful.

It is hoped that this initiative will result in patients having fewer complications, better outcomes from surgery but also from their improved lifestyle.

 

Do you have a chronic disease or a long term condition?

Adapted from BMJ 23rd Nov 19. A chronic problem with language by Dr Helen Salisbury

Helen is a GP in Oxford she writes…..

Some years ago I was told the term “chronic disease” had been replaced by “long term condition”. When I asked my non medical friends about it, they thought that both “chronic” and “acute” both meant “severe”.  My comment: whereas they mean something more like “long lasting” and “short lasting” to a doctor.

So a chronic disease sounds like one likely to harm or kill you, whereas a long term condition sounds like something you live with but not die from. As doctors now copy patients into their letters, then perhaps we need to be more responsive to their beliefs?

Impaired renal function, from natural ageing is one of the problems that has arisen from the misunderstanding of the term “chronic kidney disease”.  It can cause people real worry because they imagine that they are a candidate for dialysis or death, yet they are unlikely to be affected symptomatically, nor is it likely to hasten death. Heart failure is another term that causes a lot of distress.

Sometimes doctors need to be precise in their speech and letters to each other so we can’t abandon all technical language.  Copying clinic letters to patients is good practice, even if patients sometimes struggle to understand them completely, because they have a record of the consultation and a chance to clarify the decisions made.

Sometimes we could use more lay terms to reduce confusion. Abandoning “chronic disease” is a good start.

 

 

Dr Chris Palmer: Ketogenic diet now being used in mental health

Dr Chris Palmer from Harvard has been using the low-carbohydrate and ketogenic diets in practice for over 15 years now mostly for weight loss. Recently, he has found an anti-psychotic and mood stabilizing effect from specific types of the ketogenic diet. Now he is pursuing clinical research in this area to better understand the topic. As a result, he has also been speaking at national and international conferences.

Here area few of his podcasts/interviews:

http://lowcarbmd.com/episode-49-dr-chris-palmer-treating-schizophrenia-with-lifestyle

https://www.chrispalmermd.com/ketogenic-diet-psychology…/ and keto putting schizophrenia into remission.

https://www.chrispalmermd.com/ketogenic-diet-remission…/

https://www.chrispalmermd.com/keto-naturopath-by-karl-goldcamp-interview-christopher-palmer/

My comment: It is a very good idea for those people with schizophrenia to be on a low carb diet, mainly due to the side effects of the anti-psychotics which give people metabolic syndrome and diabetes. It is even better to hear that there conditions are improved so they are less reliant on these drugs.

Diet doctor: free online course with credit for medical professionals

This is a message from dietician Adele Hite:

I am thrilled to announce that Diet Doctor is now offering a free CME activity to all interested clinicians, patients and carers: Treating metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and obesity with therapeutic carbohydrate restriction.

Thanks to the support of our members, we can offer this CME at no cost to clinicians.

This fully referenced, evidence-based CME activity is certified for three AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. It is jointly provided by Postgraduate Institute for Medicine (PIM) and Diet Doctor and is intended for physicians, physician assistants, registered nurses, and dietitians engaged in the care of patients with metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

The course was designed by clinicians for clinicians. As this course outline shows, it covers all clinicians need to know about dietary carbohydrate restriction and how to implement it safely and effectively with patients for whom it is appropriate. In keeping with Diet Doctor’s mission to “make low carb simple,” the course also comes with supplemental materials for clinicians and their patients to make it easy to translate evidence into practice.

We hope that this course will help reaffirm the scientific and clinical support for this approach and — along with other efforts by LowCarbUSA and expert clinicians — act as another step in solidifying a standard of care around low-carb nutrition. We would love it if you would share the news about this course with colleagues. You can forward this email to them or use this flyer to share or post.

Diet Doctor also has some new resources to help make low carb simple for patients and clinicians alike. For patients, we have:
‒ a sample menu
‒ shopping list
‒ a meal planning guide
‒ a substitutes for favorite foods handout
‒ simple meals and planned leftovers, and
‒ information about target protein ranges

For clinicians, we have handy one-pagers on:
‒ monitoring ketones
‒ fasting insulin and HOMA-IR ranges
‒ lab tests and follow-up schedule
‒ type 2 diabetes medication reduction, and
‒ a 5-day food diary for patients who need to monitor their intake

Of course, for those on the list who are not clinicians, anyone can register for and view the course. You just won’t be eligible for CME credits.

For clinicians, please let us know if we can help you help your patients in other ways. And if you are interested in supporting us as we continue to develop materials to make low carb easy for clinicians and patients, please think about becoming a Diet Doctor member yourself.

Finally, we are happy to hear suggestions for improvements moving forward. If you take the time to view the course, we’d love to hear what you think.

Best regards,
Adele

Nina’s plea: Would you write to Congress and change USA food guidelines?

This is a message from Nina Teicholz, writer and low carb activist:

My highest concern about the existing USA Food Guidelines is for the people who have no choice but to eat the food that they are given, which is based on what is thought of as “a healthy diet”. There are many essentially ‘captive’ populations in schools, hospitals, and prisons. Many of these people are the most disadvantaged among us. Native Americans on reservations have no choice about the food assistance they receive.

I’ve spoken with the Native American woman who for years has been trying to change the USDA food they get, and she cannot get even the tiniest change. They desperately need the food, yet it’s more than 50% carbs, and something like 40% of the kids on these reservations have diabetes.

The same is true for poor people, education programs, and feeding programs for the elderly. These people have no choice.  No other food  is given to them. Many doctors also say they have no choice, because  they are required to teach the guidelines to patients. It is the same thing in most federally funded institutions.

Thus, my hope is, if we have to have Guidelines for the time being, that they do as little harm as possible. The Guideline is coming up for review, but the committee have already decided not to review the evidence on low carb diet studies.  We are seeking to change this, and there is already some support for our position, that these studies should be included in the evaluation. Could we get in a low-carb option? Could we force them to consider all the science on saturated fats? This next set of Guidelines will come out by the end of this year, and I think there is still time to try to force change. Our actions now would build awareness around the issue that there is something wrong with the Guidelines. There is so little awareness of the problems. And actually I’m hopeful,  because in the last few months, we’ve worked with a number of groups to raise awareness to a level it’s never been before.

Here’s what I would suggest for now.
Both my group, The Nutrition Coalition and the group Low-carb Action Network,  have webpages that make it very easy for you (if American) to write/call your Members of Congress. This is super important and I urge everyone to do this. USDA is not budging. Congress is really the only body of power interested in change, and they need to hear from people. So I would urge everyone to contact their members of Congress. It can take just a few min.

Thank you,

Nina

My comment: If the USDA food guidelines are changed, it would make it so much easier for the UK to follow. The photograph shows the breakfast given to a diabetic patient in a US hospital who had just had a heart attack. The UK also dishes out abysmal food to its patients. Wouldn’t it be great if they had a low carb option?