Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a dominantly inherited genetic disorder that affects about one in 250 individuals. Persons with this disorder have markedly elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C or “bad” cholesterol) and accelerated rates of heart disease. Families with this disorder often have adults who have died of heart disease in their 40’s or 50’s. Persons with FH have a 2.5- to 10-fold increased risk of heart disease as compared to controls, but when FH is diagnosed and treated early in life, the risk is greatly reduced, often by as much as 80 percent. Unfortunately however, most people with FH have never been diagnosed or treated. Recently a new method of finding and treating those with FH has been

Inflammation is a well-known cause of atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries” and heart disease. There are many causes of inflammation in humans including obesity, cigarette smoking, cancer, and diabetes. A few months ago, a very interesting study was published in The American Journal of Medicine. The authors looked at another potential source of inflammation, namely dental plaque and poor dental hygiene.     Although the study was small, the authors divided the volunteers into two

Asthma affects about 7.5 percent of adults in the U.S. and is responsible for 1.8 million hospitalizations and 10.5 million physician office visits per year. It is more common in black people (8.7 percent) and Puerto Rican Hispanics (13.3 percent) than in white people (7.6 percent). Asthma presents as episodic or persistent symptoms of wheezing, shortness of breath, air hunger, and cough. Symptoms may be precipitated or worsened by exposure to allergens and irritants, viral upper respiratory

Chronic (lasting > three months) low back pain is a common health problem. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil, Aleve, etc. are often used to help relieve the pain, as is a sub-class of NSAIDs called COX-2 inhibitors (Mobic, Celebrex). NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors are among the most prescribed medications. Most clinical practice guidelines recommend short-term use of these medications for pain relief in patients with low back pain, however their effectiveness remains

Syncope (a sudden loss of consciousness) is a common challenging and non-specific problem that may require medical intervention, especially in older individuals. Causes range from transient, benign, self-limited problems to life-threatening conditions. Patients who are evaluated in the emergency department for syncope are often admitted to the hospital. Nationally, about one percent of those evaluated in the ER are there for syncope, while up to about 35 percent of those patients are admitted

 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) draws a distinction between direct-to-consumer advertising for pharmaceutical products, which it regulates, and advertisements meant to create disease awareness, which it does not regulate. Most other countries ban direct-to-consumer advertising because it can be misleading and may interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. Challenges arise when disease awareness efforts are made for a condition for which there is only one drug available for

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a devastating complication for people with diabetes and can cause decreased vision and blindness. The retina, which is located on the back part of the eye globe, converts visual images to nerve signals that are sent to the visual cortex, located in the back of the brain. The visual cortex then converts the nerve impulses into images that the brain reads as sight. The retina has small arteries and veins in it. The retina is also rich in long-chain omega-3

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