“Bariatric surgery is much safer and much more regimented than it used to be,” says Dr. Michael A. Snyder of Denver Bariatrics. “The results are phenomenal in treating weight problems and the conditions that accompany them. Not treating weight issues aggressively if a patient has high blood pressure really means not fully treating the high blood pressure.”

Patients often feel frustrated because their doctors want them to try yet another diet. Some primary care doctors may not be giving bariatric surgery proper recognition and recommending it to their patients for consideration, Dr. Snyder says. That may be because they are basing their decision on out-of-date information.

Stroke Rehabilitation | HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Colorado Springs has earned certification for Disease-Specific Care in stroke rehabilitation. The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval™ was awarded to the hospital for its compliance with the organization’s national standards for healthcare quality and safety for stroke rehabilitation.

Avoid Sugar - Things That Make Sugar Not So Sweet

Contributed by Tony Isaacs author of Cancer's Natural Enemy

Refined sugar is the number one cause of health problems in the world. The following list is taken from the Article126 Reasons Sugar Is Ruining Your Health by Nancy Appleton, Ph.D. If you have a thing for sugar, you might want to copy this list and put it on your refrigerator or underneath your sugar bowl.

1. Sugar suppresses the immune system.

2. Sugar upsets the minerals in the body.

3. Sugar can cause hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and crankiness in children.

4. Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides.

5. Sugar contributes to the reduction in defense against bacterial infection.

6. Sugar causes a loss of tissue elasticity and function, the more sugar you eat the more elasticity and function you lose.

Prescription Drug Abuse| Prescription medications relieve all sorts of ills, but they are increasingly being abused for recreation or addiction. In 2002, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that an estimated 29.6 million Americans had used pain relievers non-medically; by 2005, the number had risen to 32.7 million.1

In 2009, 45 percent of the nearly 4.6 million drug-related emergency room visits nationwide were attributed to abuse of pharmaceuticals.2 The Drug Abuse Warning Network estimates that of the 2.1 million drug abuse visits, 27.1 percent involved non-medical use of medications.3 Prescription drug abuse means taking a prescription medication that is not prescribed for you, or taking it for reasons or in dosages other than as prescribed. Abuse of prescription drugs can produce serious health effects, including addiction. Commonly abused classes of prescription medications include opioids, central nervous system depressants and stimulants.

Dosage Calculations| Within the next several weeks, the hospital’s Emergency Department should receive a new scale. It’s not just any scale; it will be used to weigh stroke and other patients who need potentially lifesaving but also risky blood-thinning medications.

It’s a much-needed solution. A patient’s weight, after all, determines the precise dose a stroke or heart patient needs for life-saving clot-buster drugs. But, pressed to shave seconds off their responses to these patients, emergency room clinicians everywhere have long estimated the patient’s weight, and based their dosage calculations and orders on it.

A small UCH study, however, found 77 percent of the estimates are incorrect, so the wisdom of purchasing a scale to ensure a true reading seems indisputable.

Cancer Center Research has been funded for two diabetes drugs taken by millions of Americans and believed to prevent lung cancer in some patients but could speed up cancer metastases in others, according to researchers at the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

The National Institutes of Health has just awarded these researchers a $1.4 million, five-year RO1 grant to learn why the same drug could have seemingly opposite effects.

Public Health Colorado| The El Paso County Board of Health unanimously appointed Jill Law to the position of El Paso County Public Health Director, and welcomed Dr. Bill Letson as the agency’s Medical Director.

Both Law and Letson come to their new roles with decades of public health experience.

There is much wisdom in the saying, “You are what you eat,” and most health care practitioners agree that good health starts with a good diet. What you put in your body can influence whether or not you’ll develop heart disease, type-2 diabetes, cancer, or have a host of other health problems. Every meal is an opportunity to improve your health, but most people don’t realize just how simple healthy eating can be. Once you understand that the foundation for good health is dependant on supporting the body with an optimal amount of nutrients through whole, natural foods, and then learning how to combine those foods to get the most nutritional value, you can build the groundwork to support a healthy and vibrant life. It is simpler, less time-consuming, and tastier than you might think.

Ytttrium - 90 | Interventional radiologists at Memorial Hospital are treating liver cancer patients with yttrium-90 (Y-90) radioembolization, an outpatient procedure that targets tumors with a high dose of radiation while sparing healthy liver tissue.

For patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) or liver tumors from metastatic colorectal carcinoma, Y-90 radioembolization is “an exciting form of therapy that’s very well tolerated by the patient and can prolong the time to progression and survival,” says Dr. Steven Wegert, one of two radiologists at Radiology & Imaging Consultants, P.C., trained to do the procedure at Memorial.

Gluten Sensitive | Dr. Scot Lewey says gluten disorders are far more widespread than many realize including being gluten sensitive.

Full-blown celiac disease affects 1 in 100 people, yet it is frequently missed or misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome. That is unfortunate, Dr. Scot Lewey says, because celiac disease is contributing to the rising tide of autoimmune conditions: type I diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, early-onset osteoporosis in women and osteoporosis in men. It causes untold misery for patients, who may suffer infertility, recurrent miscarriages, unexplained loss of sensation in the hands or feet, fibromyalgia, rashes, malnutrition, and chronic fatigue, as well as gas, bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Some celiac sufferers are so sensitive to gluten that they can go into shock and die after ingesting even a small amount. They must stringently follow a gluten-free diet.

Two historically independent hospitals told the region’s patients June 22 that they hope to become partners in the near future.

The boards of directors of both University of Colorado Hospital and Poudre Valley Health System (PVHS) signed a non-binding letter of intent – meaning a final deal is not inevitable – to form what would be one of the largest hospital systems in the state.

More significantly, it would also be the only system trying to tie together two different approaches to patient care: the community care focus of Poudre Valley and the academic medicine of UCH and its partner at the CU School of Medicine.

UCH President and CEO Bruce Schroffel says he’s energized by the challenge. “I am very excited about the possibility of a very different kind of health system for the region.

Gamma Knife | After months of discussion, planning and other heavy lifting – both literally and figuratively – the Rocky Mountain Gamma Knife Center opened its doors in the Anschutz Outpatient Pavilion on Monday, Jan. 9.

Those doors lead into a 4,700-square-foot addition built just for a center to house the 42,000-pound Leksell Gamma Knife Perfexion, which has spent the better part of a month in transit from its former St. Anthony Central Hospital home, and then in testing here at UCH. The Gamma Knife focuses cobalt-60 radioactive sources into 192 guided beams, which converge in precise patterns to destroy tumors and other malformations deep inside a patient’s brain noninvasively and with minimal collateral damage. Patients usually go home the same day.

Pain in the neck or down an arm, or numbness in the fingers is enough to send many people over 50 to the doctor. It’s obvious something is wrong, especially if the pain has been going on for a while.

But sometimes, more subtle symptoms can signal a condition called cervical myelopathy, which occurs when a degenerative condition or arthritis of the small joints in the neck are narrowing the spinal canal and pressing on the spinal cord.

“Myelopathy can cause generalized weakness, poor balance, difficulty walking, difficulty with tasks that require precise use of the fingers,” says Dr. Mark Santman, an orthopaedic surgeon with Front Range Orthopaedics of Colorado Springs. “The patient just starts to feel clumsier. It’s so gradually progressive that often it gets chalked up to just getting older.”

Patients typically don’t associate some of these symptoms with a cervical spine problem.

Lung Transplant| They were a mere 13 steps up an ordinary staircase. But they symbolized, ironically, how steeply a man’s life can decline because of illness.

Less than a month ago, it took Mark Tomes five minutes to ascend those steps in his home. He suffered from severe emphysema, the result of a nearly four-decade, two-pack-a-day smoking habit. He routinely required six liters of oxygen to breathe. Physical exertion that most of us think nothing about – like climbing a short flight of stairs, washing pots and pans or even taking a shower – forced him to increase the flow to nine or 10 liters.

By Colorado HealthStory

Theresia, previously gainfully employed, shares her story about losing her job and the affect it had on managing her chronic health issues. She describes needing assistance and the impact of a safety net clinic.

“I’ve just kind of learned to be honest, say that there was a need and hold my head up high because I didn’t do anything to cause this to happen and it’s been a very humbling experience. I’m used to giving, not receiving.”

Hip and knee replacements are improving.

Better surgical techniques and new materials are speeding patients’ recovery.

Ten years ago, patients seeking total hip and knee replacement faced lengthy hospital stays, painful recoveries, and the possibility that the joint would wear out in 10 to 15 years.

Improvements in surgical technique, better pain management at the time of surgery, and new technology enable faster recoveries with less pain and the promise that the new joint will last, says Dr. Eric Jepson, a total joint specialist with Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group.

“We are able to mobilize patients earlier than we did even five years ago. The plastics, metals, and ceramics we are using make the biggest difference in long-term outcomes,” Dr. Jepson says.

Better surgical techniques

Physician Performance| Physician Recognition Program Linked to Improved Health and Spending Savings

Physician Performance| In 2006, a number of Colorado health plans and employers joined together in a national program called Bridges to Excellence (BTE). Under the leadership of the Colorado Business Group on Health (CBGH), these groups agreed to recognize physicians who voluntarily applied to this national organization and who could demonstrate that most of their patients could meet rigorous standards for metrics on blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and other vital statistics. BTE recognizes and rewards physician performance to those who deliver superior patient care. With a special emphasis on chronic conditions, the BTE collaboration among employers, health plans and physicians is designed to spur continuous improvements in the quality of health care.

According to the American Diabetes Association, one in four people with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer during their lifetime. Because people with diabetes lose many of their defensive mechanisms and may develop numbness in their feet, unnoticed or neglected foot sores can become infected. The consequences can be drastic: About 66,000 Americans with diabetes will have a lower extremity amputation this year; others will be disabled, and some will die.

“Foot care for people with diabetes is the single most important step toward preventing infection, deformity, and amputation,” says Dr. Nicholas Sol, Podiatrist-Pedorthist at The Walking Clinic, P.C. of Colorado Springs. “In the majority of patients who suffer amputations, their problems began with a sore on the foot caused by ill-fitting shoes or an area subjected to repetitive pressure and rubbing.”

Pulmonary Hypertension: David Badesch has spent more than 25 years chasing a disease, one so elusive that many physicians have trouble even recognizing it, much less knowing how to treat it.

It’s pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), a relatively rare, but extremely debilitating and even deadly disease that increases pressure in the blood vessels in the lungs, making the right side of the heart work harder. Patients suffer from shortness of breath, fatigue, heart palpitations, and limb swelling. Left untreated, it leads to right-side heart failure.

Aortic Valve Replacement | Replacing a heart valve – one of the trickiest, most difficult and most dangerous things a human can do to strengthen the structure of a heart – is about to become a minimally invasive procedure. The procedure, transcatheter aortic valve replacement surgery, or TAVR (pronounced TAY-ver), is coming to UCH as soon as March, and the hospital’s Valve Clinic will be the first – and for a time the only – hospital in the state to offer it.

When should student athletes return to the playing field after a concussion?

It’s a question that has concerned Dr. Mitchell Seemann of Panorama Orthopedics & Spine Center for several years.

Traditionally, Dr. Seemann says, coaches looked at symptoms like headache and disorientation to determine how severe a concussion might be and when a player was capable of returning. In many cases, players have been allowed back onto the field if they seemed relatively normal.

But when they return to sports after a concussion, young athletes are particularly vulnerable to what’s known as Second Impact Syndrome, when an individual has a second injury before the first one has healed. The second injury may seem relatively mild at first, and the athlete might just appear to be dazed. But in fact, the athlete’s brain can quickly swell, and the consequences can range from cognitive impairment to death.

Occlusion and TMJ…do you have them?

If you have natural or replacement teeth (most of us), the answer is yes! The term “occlusion” refers to the relationship between upper and lower teeth when they are held together. More commonly it could also be called a person’s “bite.”

Sustainable Growth Rate

Why does Congress continually wait until the last minute to prevent cuts to the sustainable growth rate?

There is a canyon between the conversations going on in Washington and the ones happening in Colorado and the rest of the country. The dysfunction in Washington continues to get worse. Congress is legislating by crisis. It seems the only way to get things done is to come up against a deadline or for the next crisis to strike.

As you might know, on December 15, 2010, President Obama signed into law an SGR extension that averted a 23 percent cut in the Medicare physician reimbursement rate. I am pleased that we were able to prevent those devastating cuts, and that the one year fix was fully paid for and did not add to the deficit.

However, we found ourselves in the same situation again this past December. Congress backed up against another 11th hour deadline.

Quit Smoking Program: for those Coloradans receiving Medicaid benefits there are free resources to help quit tobacco. This population has smoking rates that are more than twice the general adult population and many don’t know about QuitLine’s free quit smoking program or that Medicaid offers two 90-day free or low-cost tobacco medication treatments each year.

In addition, the Colorado QuitLine now has a special tobacco cessation program designed specifically for pregnant women. The quit smoking program gives women the option of working with the same personal coach throughout her entire quit smokingprocess. She can receive up to nine calls, specifically designed to meet her needs during pregnancy and after delivery. With each completed call, she earns rewards that she can use to buy things for her baby. And, she can also choose to receive text messages that support her in the quitting process.

Improve Public Health | The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment identified 10 Winnable Battles that are key public health and environmental issues where progress can be made to improve public health in the next three-five years.

Chris Urbina, executive director and chief medical officer for the department, said, “We selected these 10 Winnable Battles because they provide Colorado’s greatest opportunities for ensuring the health of our citizens and visitors and the improvement and protection of our environment. All partners and stakeholders are needed and welcomed in helping address these Winnable Battles. With collective efforts, we can make a difference.”

The identified 10 Winnable Battles for public health and the environment are:

Functional Electric stimulation can commonly help with the difficulty moving following a stroke or brain injury. Therapists help persons with weak muscles to move better is through functional electric stimulation.

A healthy muscle contracts when an electrical signal from the brain travels along a nerve to a muscle and stimulates that muscle to move. Therapists can also stimulate muscles to move by using functional electrical stimulation (FES). FES works by electrically stimulating the muscle through an electrode that is placed on the skin.

Few patients enter our health care system prepared for the unexpected and embarrassing circumstances that can routinely happen.

Most can accept it when we’re treated with modesty and respect. But not many are prepared for those times when you might be unnecessarily exposed or treated rudely. The possibilities for embarrassment are endless and it is usually unexpected. When avoidable incidents do happen, most patients are not prepared to speak up. Many regret their inability to speak at the time of the incident.

Colon cancer screening can save your life.

If you’re over 50, talk with your doctor about colonoscopy.

When Katie Couric had a colonoscopy, America watched it on TV. Couric had her colonoscopy broadcast because she knew that colon cancer screening and polyp removal save lives.

“Colon cancer death rates are declining thanks to improved awareness and screening,” says Dr. Austin Garza of Associates in Gastroenterology, P.C. When detected early, the prognosis for colon cancer is more favorable. Yet only about half of the people who are at risk due to age or family history are being screened.