Space Coast Daily Healthcare Headlines of the Week
By Dr. James Palermo // August 30, 2014
Topics Include: Colorblindness; Sleepy Teens and School Start Time; Physiologic Response To ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ – and More
On the PseudoIsochromatic (Ishahara) Plate (PIP) Color Vision Test (see video below) I only saw a number in 5 of 24 plates, so I am considered to have a certain degree of “colorblindness.” My deficiency has been diagnosed as anomalous trichromacy (where vision is based on three functioning cone types, but one or more cone types are atypical), is by far the most common form of colorblindness, and in many senses it is the least severe.
In fact, despite my inability to identify the pattern of dots which form a number or shape clearly visible to those with normal color vision in many of the Ishahara plates, I have no trouble ascertaining the red, green and yellow of street lights, or enjoying the pink, purple and orange of a late fall Florida sunset.
Actually, it’s the subtle differences of certain shades of gray, green and brown, especially when trying to choose a pair of socks to match my trousers, that I run into a little trouble.
I can certainly vouch for the fact that people who are colorblind don’t live their lives in a black and white world, as U.S. News and World Report’s Anna Medaris Miller concludes in her article titled, “5 Things People Who are Colorblind (and Their Doctors) Want You to Know.” (Medaris-Miller, U.S News & World Report, 8/20)
Central Florida is home to a myriad of “thrill” and “diving” coaster amusement rides, which push the edge of our physiological threshold.
Health News Florida’s Mary Shedden asks the medical director of Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel and emergency room physician, Dr. Michael Longley, what is actually happening inside those bodies brave enough to be strapped into massive body harnesses and hurled around against gravity at speeds up to 60 miles per hour.
Dr. Longley elaborates on how best to prepare for the experience that causes an adrenaline rush pushing the cardiovascular envelope causing higher heart rates, tosses internal organs, and results in a dizzying array of visual images that the brain struggles to process. (Shedden, Health News Florida, 8/21)
Part of the government’s push to computerize healthcare information includes incentives for providers to develop patient portals, which allow patients to view their lab results online.
However, researchers at the University of Michigan’s schools of Public Health and Medicine question whether lay patients, especially those with low literacy skills, will be able to decipher the often times complicated reporting language or actually use the data to decide whether to call their healthcare provider.
The study points out that one of the primary objectives of giving patients access to the data is to help them become partners in managing their own care. But, ensuring online access to test results that are frequently reported in a complex, non-comprehensible format will not afford many patients the tools to really engage in their own care, and, in fact, may cause confusion and frustration. (Smith, Medical Economics, 8/22)
In a policy statement, the American Academia of Pediatrics’ (AAP) Adolescent Sleep Working Group and Council on School Health recommended that middle and high schools delay the start of class to 8:30 a.m. or later to align school schedules to the biological sleep rhythms of adolescents, whose sleep-wake cycles begin to shift up to two hours later at the start of puberty.
Lead author of the policy statement, pediatrician Dr. Judith Owens said, “The research is clear that adolescents who get enough sleep have a reduced risk of being overweight or suffering depression, are less likely to be involved in automobile accidents, and have better grades, higher standardized test scores and an overall better quality of life.”
Presently, an estimated 40 percent of high schools in the U.S. have a start time before 8 a.m., with only 15 percent starting at 8:30 a.m. or later. The median middle school start time is 8 a.m., and more than 20 percent of middle schools start at 7:45 a.m. or earlier.
The compelling scientific evidence that supports school start time delay as an important public health measure provides support and encouragement to school districts around the country to comply with the AAP recommendations. (Fischetti, Scientific American, 8/26)
In a new report, the World Health Organization is calling for a regulatory crackdown on e-cigarettes, citing their direct health effects as well as their potential to lure youths into lifelong tobacco use.
Also, the American Heart Association recently issued a policy statement recommending stricter regulations on e-cigarette use, manufacturing, marketing and distribution to include a federal government ban on sales of e-cigarettes to minors just as it does for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products.
Additional warnings about e-cigarette use among adolescents come from a study published by the center for Disease Control (CDC), which found that youths who had never smoked but who used e-cigarettes were twice as likely to report an intention to begin smoking as those who did not use e-cigarettes. (Nebehay and Hirschler, Reuters, 8/26; Yurkiewicz, Med Page Today, 8/25)
The social media phenomena called the “ice bucket challenge” has now raised $94 million for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), but is also linked to two deaths.
A Scottish teenager, 18-year-old Cameron Lancaster, drowned after jumping into a flooded quarry, and a 40-year-old man,Willis Tepania from New Zealand, had a heart attack after rapidly consuming a large quantity of bourbon within minutes after he took the “challenge.”
These deaths were indirectly related to the effect of the ice water, but, as reported in this Forbes article, being suddenly doused with ice-cold water may elicit a dangerous combination of conflicting physiological responses that could create an abnormal heart rhythm and can occasionally lead to the most dangerous outcome of cold water immersion: sudden cardiac death. (Chamary, Forbes, 8/25)