Daily Rounds: Let The Monkeys Eat; Doc Won’t Treat The Obese; Protecting Patient Dignity; Whooping Cough RIsing

Severe Diet Doesn’t Prolong Life, At Least In Monkeys (The New York Times) — “It turns out the skinny monkeys did not live any longer than those kept at more normal weights. Some lab test results improved, but only in monkeys put on the diet when they were old. The causes of death — cancer, heart disease — were the same in both the underfed and the normally fed monkeys. Lab test results showed lower levels of cholesterol and blood sugar in the male monkeys that started eating 30 percent fewer calories in old age, but not in the females. Males and females that were put on the diet when they were old had lower levels of triglycerides, which are linked to heart disease risk. Monkeys put on the diet when they were young or middle-aged did not get the same benefits, though they had less cancer. But the bottom line was that the monkeys that ate less did not live any longer than those that ate normally. Rafael de Cabo, lead author of the diet study, published online on Wednesday in the journal Nature, said he was surprised and disappointed that the underfed monkeys did not live longer. Like many other researchers on aging, he had expected an outcome similar to that of a 2009 study from the University of Wisconsin that concluded that caloric restriction did extend monkeys’ life spans.”

Doctor Turns Away Obese Patients (Everyday Health) — “A primary care physician in suburban Boston is feeling the backlash of her decision to turn away patients weighing more than 200 pounds. Dr. Helen Carter of Shrewsbury, Mass., told patient Ida Davidson, she would have to weigh 200 pounds or less to be treated by her practice. Davidson, who is in her early 60s and lives in Shrewsbury, sought out Dr. Carter for a routine check-up, reported WCBV-TV, a Boston-based broadcast affiliate. “I’ve never heard of anything like that,” Davidson told the reporter at the television network. “She didn’t care about my health that day. I think she just cared that I was a liability to her and too much work.” Dr. Carter says she didn’t turn away Davidson, but will be happy to take her on as a patient once she’s lost some weight.”

Big Grants Aims To Help Patients Maintain Dignity (The Wall Street Journal) — “A large health-care grant unveiled Tuesday is aimed at tackling an often overlooked side effect of hospital care: the loss of dignity that afflicts particularly sick patients. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, created by the Intel Corp. founder and his wife, plans to award $500 million to hospitals over the next decade with the lofty aim of eliminating all preventable harms done to patients in acute-care settings. The targets include the infections patients pick up inside the hospital and other complications that could have been avoided through more systematic monitoring of patients. What’s notable is that the foundation has included in the list of preventable harms the loss of dignity and respect that patients and families experience during long hospital stays. “We believe that the loss of dignity and respect is a heretofore unrecognized harm,” said George Bo-Linn, chief program office for the patient-care program at the Palo Alto, Calif., foundation. Fewer than half of all patients report feeling a part of and respected by the health-care system that serves them, according to the foundation. One way to help correct that is to give patients sophisticated tools to track how they feel and better communicate with their caretakers.”

State, Federal Health Regulators: Whooping Cough Cases Rise Significantly (The Boston Globe) — “Massachusetts has seen a three-fold increase in the number of reported whooping cough cases so far this year. Some of the increase may be attributable to more awareness of the infection, but state and federal officials say the bacterial disease, also called pertussis, is on the rise. “There really is a true increase, and we can’t always identify the reason behind it,” said Dr. Larry Madoff, director of the state Department of Public Health Division of Epidemiology and Immunization.”

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