Medicine and Pharmaceuticals

Dr. Henry Heimlich, thoracic surgeon and creator of the famed maneuver that saves people from choking to death, died at the age of 96.  

In his own words, he best elucidates the profound nature of this triumph: 

“What makes the Heimlich Maneuver particularly special is this: it is accessible to everyone.  Because of its simplicity—and the fact that it works when performed correctly—just about anyone can save a life.  Each of us can save the life of a stranger, a neighbor, a spouse, or a child.  And it can happen anywhere—in restaurants, homes, ballparks—you name it.  You see, you don’t have to be a doctor to save a life.  You just have to have knowledge and the instinct to respond in a  crisis.”


It is a longstanding myth that suicides surge during the holiday season.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics, the suicide rate reaches its lowest of the year in the month of December.  

The Spring and Fall apparently reflect peak times— a rather consistent finding in recent years.  Regardless of this nuance, suicide is a major public health threat impacting all ages, careers and socioeconomic strata prompting a rippling devastation of families and communities throughout the calendar year.  

Spurred by the Germanwings Flight 4U 925 crash last year, the journal ...

Donald Trump. The Pharmaceutical Industry. If those terms two don't get you into a fight at a cocktail party, nothing will.

But, they need to be discussed, because there could be some big changes coming in both the manner and speed with which new drugs navigate the arduous US Food and Drug Administration pathway from lab bench to pharmacy.

Just one example to provide some context. Media have been making much of the fact that Jim O’Neill, a libertarian with a free-market mindset, has been floated as one possible candidate to head the FDA. Some of his prior statements are troubling but his philosophy could also be helpful, since he is "pro-biotech."

Either way, in talking about one even...

Finally, some worthwhile data.  

In our current culture —especially in the medical sphere, acquiring data for data’s sake has become its own illness whose insidious contagion serves further to fracture and fragment our health care delivery.  

Though I don’t routinely find good news in the topic of death, being the skeptical optimist that I am enables me to see the potential in a new study published in JAMA detailing the mortality rates for major causes of death from 1980-2014.  

Why the cheer?  Because the report is documenting United States county-level trends.  Recognize it is a tempered one, but cheer nonetheless.  Until we start to recognize that policy decisions and implementation...

Babies inside the womb, as they exit and once out into the world —especially if breastfed—are influenced to varying degrees by their mother’s exposures, albeit illicit or prescription drug intake, food ingestion or smoking, to name a few.  

If a pregnant mother is chronically using opioids, for example, then birth with subsequent severing of the umbilical cord enacts an abrupt cessation of the substance to the baby.  The result is a newborn in withdrawal.  This is called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).  It can be mild or happen upon a wide array leading to severe.

A new research letter in JAMA Pediatrics...

There is an ever-growing body of evidence that reinforces the health benefits of animals.  The cardiovascular and mental health ones are known and well-documented.  

A new study published in BMC Psychiatry sought to explore the role pets had in support, self-management and personal networks of those suffering from long-term significant mental illness (e.g. bipolar disorder, schizophrenia).  It concluded “pets should be considered a main rather than a marginal source of support in the management of long-term mental health problems, and this has implications for the planning and delivery of mental health services.”

The qualitative research involved interviews of 54 individuals...

This is clearly the week of me being triggered, given I am no fan of the “trigger warning.” Inside-the-box thinking triggers me. Putting arbitrary limitations on human potential triggers me. Labels that attempt to stifle innovation or possibility trigger me.

Dr. Ben Carson, former Republican presidential candidate and pediatric neurosurgeon, was nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Immediately, a firestorm of political pushback ensued.

The following is part of Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s statement regarding this decision:

“Dr. Ben Carson is a disconcerting and disturbingly unqualified choice to lead a department as complex and consequential as Housing and Urban Development. There is no...

Welcome to the conclusion of my two part series where I delve further into high altitude illnesses, prevention and management.  

In Part I, At High Altitude with Buzz Aldrin, I addressed the 86 year old American hero-moon-walking icon’s recent medical evacuation from the South Pole, my prior personal experience with him in Vail, Colorado and discussed my own bout with altitude sickness which mainly manifested as an intolerable headache.

As Dr. Aldrin recuperates in New Zealand, he issued this statement about his clinical course after arrival to Antarctica:  “I started to feel a bit short of breath so the staff decided to check my vitals.  After some examination they noticed congestion in my...

Dr. Buzz Aldrin — American hero, fighter pilot, astronaut who walked on the moon, engineer, author, adventurer, explorer or, more appropriate, living legend — was medically evacuated from Antarctica during his recent visit to the South Pole.

He has ventured to the Titanic.  Conquered air and space.  The North Pole.  He considers this South Pole excursion to be “the capstone of his personal exploration achievements” as his expressed purpose for the trip was to “experience conditions akin to Mars.”

At 86 years of age and when speaking about Buzz, this sounds about right.  It’s like any other mere mortal —of which category I place myself— taking a difficult work out class or completing a half-marathon for the first time at any life stage...

For someone who is not a fan of the “trigger warning,”  I can report —upon opening my medscape email which contained a Reuter’s Health press release— even I was triggered.  It’s just my definition incites annoyance and frustration, not fear or anger. 

Triggered by redundant studies of things we already know.  Triggered by work that has been repeatedly learned, understood and implemented in actual medical practice.  Triggered by an understanding when such studies are performed resources are diverted away from greater risk, greater reward endeavors.  Triggered by written language that tends to mischaracterize what practicing physicians know and knew before the publication of said study.  Triggered by a narrative that, if accurate, further perpetuates the notion that there exists—...