OnCentral | Reporting on health and quality of life in South LA

Telemedicine: One way to keep high blood pressure at bay, suggest heart experts

Patients who took their own blood pressure at home and sent the results to doctors for advice and health tips saw their condition improve more than other blood pressure patients who went for regular, in-person check-ups.
Adam Berry/Getty Images

Telemedicine may be an important tool in the effort to treat the estimated 67 million Americans with high blood pressure, many of whom live in low-income communities like South L.A., according to a new study.

Telemedicine is a way of providing care remotely – whether it's through a provider videoconferencing with a patient or a patient submitting medical information or photos to a provider to get diagnosed.

That doesn't work for all patients or cases, of course. But in the instances it does work, it can be considerably cheaper and give health care access to people who normally wouldn't have it. It's been used in rural communities for a long time because there, the nearest doctor's office can be hours away – but recently providers have begun using telemedicine to extend care to people living in underserved urban centers. With the swell in care demand expected to come with the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion and insurance exchange program next year, overworked providers in low-income areas need all the advantages they can get.


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Emotional health isn't just a 'first-world issue', matters even more in low-GDP countries

The relation between positive emotion and physical health in 142 countries. Higher values on the y-axis indicate greater positive feelings, and higher values on the x-axis indicate greater self-reported physical health. Countries represented by smaller and bluer circles have a lower gross domestic product (GDP), whereas those represented by larger and greener circles have a higher GDP.
Psychological Science/Association for Psychological Science

In the U.S., it's become clear that positive emotions – feeling good – are considered a crucial component of people's overall well-being. But does the emotion-health relationship only hold in wealthy, industrialized countries?

In other words, do people living in poorer countries have more important things to worry about – basic needs like food, shelter, a lack of health care access – than their emotional health?

A new study appearing in Psychological Science says "no" – and adds that emotional health may be even more important to well-being in low-income countries than it is in the States:

Emotions matter to health everywhere … against our expectations, results indicated that the emotion-health connection is not a first-world issue, and that the link between [positive emotions] and health is in fact strong in countries with weaker [gross domestic products].


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Success in the child obesity fight and how tooth loss may affect the heart: In health news today

A patient has six bad teeth removed at a health care clinic in Virginia in 2008. A new study suggests that poor oral health, tooth loss in particular, is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
John Moore/Getty Images

In today's health news:

The fight against child obesity is seeing some progress, according to a new report that says more than 1,700 U.S. cities have promoted exercise and gotten nearly 3 million children off their feet. Reuters says the report also notes that 141 grocery stores have been either built or renovated in food deserts, helping more than 500,000 people.

Being overweight at a young age can lead to a bigger heart later in life – and not in the good way. That's according to research being presented at the American College of Cardiology's 62nd Annual Scientific Session (press release), which said an enlarged heart could indicate serious cardiovascular problems and can even be fatal. People who had been overweight for a long time were found to be much more likely to have a heart that got bigger – and, said researchers, timing is everything: The earlier someone is overweight, the more time their heart has to grow.


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Cash is king for dieters who need an incentive to lose weight

A new study found that people are more likely to lose weight (and more of it) if they have a financial incentive.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Dieting is hard! Of course, if you drop a few pounds, you'll feel better and you'll improve your overall health.

Still, the hope of good feelings and better health might not quell those urges to gobble down donuts and french fries.

But maybe cash will.

According to a study from the Mayo Clinic, people who got money for losing weight shed more pounds than those without a financial incentive. The paid dieters also were more likely to stick to a weight loss program than those who weren't.

Lose weight, make money

The study was conducted using 100 Mayo employees and their family members. Every participant had to be ages 18-to-63 and considered obese by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) standards.

The test pool was split into four groups; two received money for dieting, while the other two didn't.


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Please (don't) pass the salt: Too much may be a trigger for autoimmune disease, study finds

Too much salt could work as a trigger for autoimmune disease, said researchers who conducted tests on mice.
prescottjohnson/Flickr Creative Commons

Careful with the salt – eat too much of it and your body may revolt.

That's what researchers writing for the journal Nature are saying, suggesting that a diet that's heavy in salt content could act as a trigger for certain autoimmune conditions.

There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases – multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes are some of the more well-known conditions. They occur when the body's immune system, which attacks disease and infection, turns on itself and attacks healthy cells instead.

Experimenting with mice, researchers found that adding salt to their diets resulted in the production of a type of cell that was known to play a role in autoimmune attacks. They're called Th17 cells, and it's when they come into contact with salt that's potentially the problem.


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