Savvy Parents, Gut Microbes and Other News of the Week

Health and medical picks from around the Web

Flu Shot

Here is this week’s round-up of stories from around the Web featuring Cleveland Clinic experts that we know you won’t want to miss.

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Quick study

Parents can quickly become quite knowledgeable about their children’s health and medical condition, with online medical literature and information-sharing just a few taps and clicks away. That becomes even more apparent when it comes to rare diseases. Determined parents can rapidly amass large quantities of specialized information.  Should parents take the lead in decisions regarding diagnosis and treatment? While some pediatricians and specialists resist the idea, others see the value in knowledgeable, involved parents. When the Diagnosis Is Rare, Parents May Know More Than Professionals (

Heart failure from the gut

Microbes in your gut help to break down and digest the foods you eat. But a new study shows that the way gut microbes metabolize foods that are high in fat and cholesterol may play a role in the development of heart failure. When those bacteria digest carnitine, which is almost exclusively found in red meat, and choline, found in high-fat dairy products and egg yolks, they produce a metabolite called trimethylamine N-oxide, or TMAO. Earlier animal research found that TMAO helps transport cholesterol to the arteries, where it forms dangerous plaques that can lead to heart disease. A Gut Bacteria Compound Is Linked To Heart Failure (

Focus on the flu

Cleveland area hospitals and public health agencies are collaborating to raise public awareness about the dangers of influenza, the importance of flu vaccinations and where to find flu shots or the nasal spray vaccine. Between 5 percent and 20 percent of the U.S. population get the illness every year, while more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications. The campaign is making printed material available, has launched its own website,, and has created its own Twitter hashtag, #FocusOnFlu. Focus on Flu campaign: Hospitals, health officials urge residents to get shots (

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Post-chemo heart problems

Doctors have known for a long time that certain chemotherapy drug combinations and radiation can lead to a variety of heart problems. While most women will not experience serious cardiovascular problems after cancer treatment, it’s not yet understood exactly why some women do. Heart problems have resulted from an anthracycline chemo regimen, and trastuzumab, although the latter doesn’t usually result in permanent heart damage. It’s important that patients and doctors understand the potential heart issues before cancer therapy begins. Heart damage from chemotherapy drugs can remain long after cancer treatment ends (WEWS-TV).

Herb is the word

Traditional Chinese medicine is gaining acceptance in the United States, though still largely to complement western mainstream medical treatment. As alternative treatments gain traction and the demand for Chinese herbs grows, farmers in Appalachia are responding. Farmers need to meet the quality standards demanded by clinical practitioners, most of whom buy their herbs from China. Fresh From Appalachia: Chinese Medicinal Herbs (

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