By Kate Lunau - Thursday, December 2, 2010 - 5 Comments
England and Australia methodically track artificial joints. The U.S. is launching a registry. And Canada?
On the evening of Aug. 27, Lincoln Bryant, a Presbyterian minister in Kingston, Ont., was watching the news. A report came on that left him stunned: DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., a U.S. company, had announced a global recall of two implants used in hip replacement surgery. Bryant, 53, suffers from hip dysplasia, an instability in the joint. In January 2008, after years of managing the pain, he had hip resurfacing surgery, a type of hip replacement that preserves more bone. Since then, the pain has gotten worse; he can’t be on his feet more than a few hours at a time. “I didn’t know what I had in my body,” he says, but he suspected it might be a DePuy implant.
The next day, feeling increasingly worried, he phoned his surgeon, but was unable to reach him, playing phone tag with a secretary for a few days. (Kingston General Hospital, where Bryant says he had the surgery done, couldn’t confirm details of his story for privacy reasons.) His situation was complicated: unrelated to the recall, in January he’d filed a complaint against his surgeon with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), which regulates doctors in the province, and was awaiting his hearing.
By Charlie Gillis, Julia Belluz, and Josh Dehaas - Monday, August 16, 2010 at 10:37 AM - 37 Comments
An exclusive Maclean’s poll shows that an increasing number of Canadians don’t
After five miscarriages, and with the odds of ever having children stacked against her, Lee Dix was glad to get a second opinion. It was the summer of 2000, and the Toronto woman had been referred to a gynecologist based at Scarborough Hospital, Dr. Richard Austin, whom she hoped would eventually deliver her first baby. But far from feeding her optimism, Austin told Dix she had a benign tumor called a fibroid in her uterus, and made a provisional diagnosis of endometriosis, a painful disorder where cells on the uterine wall grow out of control. Between 2002 and 2005, the greying physician performed two operations on Dix—one a total abdominal hysterectomy, the other to remove her remaining ovary (she’d had one taken out in a previous operation). “I just went with what he said,” Dix now recalls. “I trusted doctors, and I thought that if anyone is going to work on me, they must have the proper schooling and knowledge.”
By Cathy Gulli - Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 2 Comments
An exclusive survey reveals that ‘layoff survivors’ avoided pink slips, but inherited more work—and illness.
For doctors such as Elaine Chin, a troubling condition has plagued her patients ever since the recession started: “layoff survivor syndrome,” as it’s known. These individuals are simultaneously lucky and unlucky—they avoided getting a pink slip from their employer, but inherited the responsibilities and stress previously dispersed among several colleagues. Now, “they have more work than ever,” says Dr. Chin, the chief medical ofﬁcer and co-founder of Scienta Health, a private clinic in Toronto specializing in personalized medicine. Long hours spent hunched over a desk, worrying about job security, or cramped on an airplane en route to yet another trade show or meeting is, ironically, doing these people in, warns Chin: “They are killing themselves” with work.
The recession’s negative impact on the health of Canadians is evident in the latest results of the Q-GAP test, an online questionnaire developed by Scienta. It allows individuals to determine which of more than 150 symptoms they exhibit, information that may provide clues to underlying or future medical problems.
By John Geddes - Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at 2:34 PM - 26 Comments
A new report from Britain on the ineffectiveness of homeopathic medicine should set off alarm bells in Canada. The MPs on the British House of Commons science and technology committee issued a report this week that says homeopathic remedies don’t work.
Having studied the available research, the committee takes aim at Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency for licensing homeopathic treatments—giving consumers the misleading impression they are somehow comparable to approved drugs backed by science.
Lest Canadians imagine that putting a government seal of approval on imaginary cures is an amusing example of English eccentricity, I’m sorry to have to point out that Health Canada’s Natural Health Products Directorate does the same thing.
By Kate Lunau - Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 10:19 AM - 7 Comments
The opposite of Red Bull, these ‘anti-energy’ drinks claim to provide instant relaxation
At the end of a hectic day, people in need of some relaxation might curl up with a good book, listen to soft music, or maybe stretch out in a yoga class. For those in search of “extreme relaxation,” though, there is Drank, an “extreme relaxation beverage” on sale in the U.S. and about to come to Canada. Just as time-strapped individuals might chug coffee or Red Bull to stay alert, those seeking the opposite effect should take note: calm now comes in a can.
A fizzy, berry-and-lavender-flavoured concoction, Drank promises to “slow your roll.” To accomplish this, it contains a “calming blend” of melatonin, rosehips and valerian, supplements meant to fight anxiety and promote restfulness. (“Warning! This beverage may be extremely relaxing and calming,” the website cautions.) According to a food blogger at About.com, it really does the job: “Not long after I had my can, I noticed a pretty strong desire to go take a nap,” the reviewer writes. “It really did mellow me out.” The flavour of Drank got top marks, too, though it tasted surprisingly sweet, quite a lot like an energy drink.
Peter Bianchi, the Houston-based CEO of Innovative Beverage Group and Drank’s creator, compares indulging in a can to “putting your feet up in a recliner on a cold winter day.” Available in the U.S. for over a year, Drank’s popularity has exploded, Bianchi says, adding that it’s coming to Canada because “consumers have been screaming for it.” (They’re in need of some extreme relaxation, by the sounds of it.)
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 3:41 PM - 54 Comments
An official statement from Health Canada.
Health Canada apologizes for the error that was made in the number of body bags that were ordered for the Wasagamack First Nations. We regret the alarm that this incident has caused.
The Department is working with First Nations in the development of Pandemic Plans for their communities. In addition, our Nursing Stations are actively involved to ensure adequate provisions are in place.
The Department would like to provide some context to the concerns raised about pandemic preparedness in First Nations communities.
Health Canada delivers services in remote areas through Nursing Stations. We routinely stock commonly required medical materials such as personal protective equipment, pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies such as body bags.
These stocks are replenished on an as-needed basis. A location’s stock size is determined by several factors, including total population, utilization and geographic location. Another important consideration is that some of these communities are unreachable by road, water or air during the winter months. In other words, we wouldn’t be able to bring these supplies into some of these communities, should they become necessary.
It is unfortunate that this has been linked exclusively with H1N1. Whether it’s a nursing station in a remote First Nations community in northern Manitoba, or a hospital in downtown Vancouver, supplies are constantly being re-stocked to prepare for unknown and unforeseen events, whether it be a plane crash, environmental disaster or pandemic.
Given the unknown severity of a potential outbreak, and the existing vulnerabilities of northern isolated communities, Manitoba region recently completed a re-stock of supplies for the upcoming three to four month period in a number of First Nations Communities in which we provide primary health care services. The number of bags sent to this community clearly does not correlate with the current scientific evidence that PHAC has provided with respect to the severity of illness that we expect to see in the fall.
Again, Health Canada apologises. We all regret the alarm caused by the stocking of this particular item. It is important to remember that our nurses are focussed entirely on providing primary health care services under often-trying circumstances. We value the excellent work they perform.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 11:03 AM - 15 Comments
The Alberta senator insists on applying fact to the great cigarillo debate.
So, what exactly are the facts behind Bill C-32? Proponents of the bill insist that smoking cigarillos leads children to increase their cigarette addiction. Yet Health Canada’s own research fails to support their allegation. According to the latest Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey, the trend line for cigarette smokers under 18 has remained virtually flat over the past four years … As to cigarillo consumption … the latest survey clearly demonstrates that most Canadians who buy and consume flavoured tobacco products are of legal age to do so…
Call me a level-headed legislator, if you like, but I must say I prefer to base my decisions on evidence.
By Katie Engelhart - Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 3:40 PM - 4 Comments
A new cardiac arrest treatment all but raises the dead. Why isn’t it used more?
Medical wisdom has long held that when treating cardiac arrest, speed is of the essence. “The thinking in cardiac arrest was that when blood ﬂow stops, the chances of resuscitation is very low and can only be done if a patient is aggressively treated within several minutes,” explains Dr. Benjamin Abella, clinical research director at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Resuscitation Science. But what if what we actually need is to slow things down? Abella’s work shifts from a traditional focus on time toward the less explored terrain of temperature. He and his partners are pioneering the use of “therapeutic hypothermia”: the controlled cooling of cardiac-arrest patients to 32-34° C, to slow hearts and save lives.
Dr. Dan Waters, a cardiovascular surgeon in Des Moines, Iowa, was among the ﬁrst to witness how useful hypothermia can be. Fifteen years ago, a man who had fallen through the ice was brought into his ER. “He met all the criteria for being dead,” Waters says: no heartbeat, no spontaneous respiration, no blood pressure, and presumably no brain activity. But, although the patient had been without a heartbeat for an hour or two, he wasn’t dead at all. The case was meaningful, says Waters, because it demonstrated, albeit accidentally, “the power of the cold.” Continue…
By Martin Patriquin - Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 10:00 AM - 5 Comments
In Quebec’s quest to please Big Pharma, has it become more industry cheerleader than watchdog?
The bulk of Project AON-P7-304 took place in a large, windowless room located in an equally featureless building in Park Extension, a working-class neighbourhood in the northern part of Montreal. At 9 p.m., the 48 test participants were in their assigned seats facing a glass wall, behind which several medical technicians, who work for Montreal-based contract research organization (CRO) Algorithme, milled about in white lab coats. The test participants—always referred to as volunteers, though they certainly weren’t sitting there for free—behaved as strangers do when forced to socialize: they chatted politely, obsessed over their cellphones, read magazines, cast an eye to the TV in the corner.
When the technician yelled out “numéro 34”—the number written on the plastic bracelet around his arm and pasted on his chair—number 34 got up, walked into the laboratory, sat down in a chair and rolled up his sleeve. A technician then applied a tourniquet and extracted three millilitres of blood from a spot just below number 34’s right bicep. Number 34—actually a Maclean’s reporter participating in the study—will have 26 such extractions over the next three days, during which 89 ml of his blood will be harvested. Continue…
By Cathy Gulli - Friday, May 15, 2009 at 12:17 PM - 10 Comments
Manufacturers may gain the power to fortify products with nutrients
If you think that “nutritious chocolate bar” sounds like an oxymoron, you may be surprised to learn of a controversial proposal Health Canada is reviewing that would give the food industry “discretionary” authority to fortify junk food with vitamins and minerals such as iron and calcium.
In its latest issue, the Canadian Medical Association Journal describes the debate. On the one hand, critics say that this is a cheap way of making junk food seem healthy. They worry that it will encourage consumption and further aggravate Canada’s rising obesity problem. Supporters, on the other hand, argue that if people are going to eat junk food anyway then it might as well contain nutrients.
By Alex Shimo - Monday, February 9, 2009 at 12:52 PM - 961 Comments
Using magnetic fields to treat depression is gaining favour
Lying back in a spacious, pleather armchair, Barbara Kwasniewski seems relaxed, especially given the nature of the medical treatment she’s just received. The 53-year-old has undergone repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), which essentially rearranges the pathways of the brain by using magnets.
The therapy was approved by Health Canada in 1997, and by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2008. It’s used to treat everything from strokes to depression, anorexia, migraines, obsessive-compulsive disorder, chronic pain and Parkinson’s. It’s one of a handful of therapies gaining popularity that use electricity to help rewire the brain. Deep brain stimulation is another, where wires are surgically implanted into a patient’s grey matter to excite the neurons with electronic pulses. Electro-shock therapy has also made a comeback.
By Michael Friscolanti - Monday, February 9, 2009 at 12:49 PM - 10 Comments
Every year, 2,000 die from radon exposure. Is it in your home?
Your life savings are vanishing, your job is in jeopardy, and the repo man has already visited some of your friends and relatives. Now here’s the really bad news: your beloved home—the one you’re desperately trying to save from foreclosure—may actually be killing you (and not because of the mortgage payments).
The culprit? Radon: a tasteless, odourless, invisible gas that lurks in cellars and crawl spaces and is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, next to smoking. Every year, up to 2,000 Canadians die a premature death because their homes—unbeknownst to them —are loaded with tiny radioactive particles.
By selley - Friday, June 20, 2008 at 12:57 PM - 0 Comments
Stand by for the cockfight…
Stéphane Dion has established himself a very brave, valorous,
Stand by for the cockfight
Stéphane Dion has established himself a very brave, valorous, principled gentleman who trusts Canadians’ intelligence. And it only took 18 months!
“No really serious attempt to use price to change behaviour over time can be complete without applying the tax to the fuel used to power most vehicles,” says The Globe and Mail‘s Jeffrey Simpson. And allowing the “greatest impact” of the carbon tax to fall “on home heating fuels … is a bit backward in a cold climate such as ours.” Nevertheless, he argues, by bravely adopting the emissions-reduction approach that everyone from the economists to the oil companies agrees is the right one, Dion has “showed himself to be a really serious politician about climate change, almost,” and Stephen Harper’s “not-at-all-serious” position on the matter has been underlined. Sadly for Dion, Simpson predicts the media “will concentrate on the political cockfight rather than examining the policy’s substance, thereby inhibiting public understanding.”
“Dion is not just offering a new approach to taxation and climate change,” the Ottawa Citizen‘s Susan Riley rhapsodizes. “He is also offering a different style of political leadership, based on respect for voters,” which is “consistent with his approach since becoming leader.” We take issue with that last part—witness Dion’s reference to “Republican-style attack ads” yesterday, continuing the Liberals’ wearisome insistence of equating Stephen Harper to George W. Bush when he’s offensive enough on his own—and we don’t think “more decisive than Paul Martin” is quite the compliment Riley intended it to be. But in principle we agree. We’ll back a more-or-lest honest, politically risky, potentially helpful policy proposal over proudly wanton stupidity any day of the week.
By Cathy Gulli - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 5:24 PM - 0 Comments
Researchers at the University of Delaware in Newark have found that vitamin D deficiency…
Researchers at the University of Delaware in Newark have found that vitamin D deficiency among older women is often accompanied by back pain.
The study is published in the May 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The team analyzed the blood levels of vitamin D in 958 people over age 64. More than half of the women studied had pain somewhere in their body compared to more than a quarter of the men.
Vitamin D levels had no connection to pain for men. For women, low levels had no connection to pain either—except when it came to back pain. In that case, women with D deficiency had double the chance of back pain.