Annals of Internal Medicine, tip sheet, November 4, 2003

Vulnerable Older Adults Need Special Geriatric Care to Remain Independent

Vulnerable older adults estimated at one-third of all adults over 65 are getting generally good treatment for medical conditions, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, a new study finds (Article, p. 740). But care for important geriatric conditions (e.g., bedsores, falls, incontinence) and end-of-life care need improvement. Vigilance and treatment for such conditions help the elderly continue to remain independent. Researchers studied 420 vulnerable elderly patients, living in the community (not in nursing homes or hospitals), enrolled in one of two health organizations. Vulnerable adults were those whose lives were compromised by advanced age, impaired mobility, frailty and disease. (NOTE: This article is the subject of a video news release. Call for coordinates.) An editorial writer notes that many older adults prefer to minimize disability and maximize mobility and quality of life, rather than postpone death (Editorial, p. 696).

Leeches Relieved Pain in Arthritic Knees, But More Research Is Needed

A week after receiving one treatment of leech therapy, 24 patients reported less pain than 27 patients receiving a topical treatment for pain from knee osteoarthritis, a new randomized study found (Article, p. 724). Both groups reported similar pain after the first week, but patients who received leech therapy reported fewer overall arthritis symptoms throughout the 13-week study period. The researchers say that leech therapy holds promise to treat osteoarthritis, a condition that currently has limited options for long-term therapy. Larger randomized studies are needed to determine the effectiveness and safety of the therapy, especially when applied repeatedly, and to understand the pharmacologic properties of leech therapy and/or saliva.

Study Looks at 3 Ways to Measure Blood Pressure for Insight Into Mortality


Contact: Penny Fuller
American College of Physicians

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