April Quick Medical Hits

Benefits of Walking

In case you needed any additional motivation for getting outside and walking this spring, there is new research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that even small amounts of physical exercise can significantly lower the risk of hospitalization and death due to cardiovascular disease in people between the ages of 39 and 79. Even a modest amount of exercise was far better than no exercise at all for all ages groups, even when adjusting for common risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, body mass, and cholesterol levels. In yet another study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, just taking a walk can reduce the all-cause mortality rate by 26% compared to those who were not active. Study participants who walked more than the slightly active group, clocking 2-6 hours per week further reduced their mortality risk by another 20%. For participants who walked more than 6 hours per week, this drop in mortality rate hit 22%.

Physical Therapy for Low Back Pain

A study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine that included 454 Medicaid enrollees treated by a primary care physician for low back pain found that for the 215 participants who received an order for physical therapy, this group had lesser chance of being ordered opioid prescriptions later on over the course of care for their low back pain. The number was 35% fewer opiod prescriptions in patients who were ordered physical therapy right away for their acute back pain than the group that was not ordered physical therapy. This number held true even if a person was given an order for physical therapy but never scheduled a visit, likely reflecting the beliefs and management style of the initial provider who sees the patient with acute low back pain. For the patient, being given an order for physical therapy versus strong medications was reassuring tand sent the message that low back pain is treatable and can be managed conservatively for the overwhelming majority of patients.

Vitamin D and Calcium Supplement Update

In an update from multiple sources including peer reviewed major research journals , supplemented Calcium and Vitamin D, especially when taken by post-menopausal women, are not able to reduce the risk or rate of osteoporosis-related fractures. The best advice to prevent fractures is to eat more foods rich in Calcium and Vitamin D, as these are more likely to be absorbed and influence the body in a positive way than supplements. Also, regularly working out with strength training and weight bearing exercise are always effective at improving bone calcium and reducing the risk of osteoporosis-related fractures.