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Terminally ill patients need frank conversation about prognosis, cancer group says
January 24th, 2011
07:14 PM ET

Terminally ill patients need frank conversation about prognosis, cancer group says

 In an effort to improve the communications between doctors and patients, the American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) just released a new policy statement and a patient guide for conversations about the time when treatment options run out.

"While improving survival is the oncologist's primary goal, helping individuals live their final days in comfort and dignity is one of the most important responsibilities of our profession," says ASCO president, Dr. George W. Sledge, Jr.   The organization is urging its members to make the first move and initiate these very difficult conversations.

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Electronic health records no cure-all
January 24th, 2011
05:34 PM ET

Electronic health records no cure-all

Electronic medical records,  also known as EHRs, often touted as a powerful antidote for uncoordinated and ineffective medical care, do little to help patients outside the hospital, according to a new study.

Researchers from Stanford University analyzed federal data on more than 255,000 patients, about a third of whom had health information carried electronically. The researchers compared the care of those patients to the care of patients without EHRs, on 20 different measures of quality – for example, whether proper medication was prescribed for patients with asthma or simple infections, or whether smokers were counseled on ways to quit. On 19 of the 20 measures, there was no benefit from having an EHR. The one exception was dietary advice: Patients at high-risk for illness were slightly more likely to receive counseling on a proper diet.

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Did Chopin have epilepsy?
January 24th, 2011
04:30 PM ET

Did Chopin have epilepsy?

Frédéric François Chopin may have died in 1849, but he's still picking up credits for music in movies, such as the rebooted "Karate Kid" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." And, even more surprising, doctors are still trying to diagnose his condition.

Chopin, who had bad health throughout his life, had some kind of pulmonary illness that led to his death at age 39, and whatever that was is still up for debate. Was it cystic fibrosis? Tuberculosis? The world may never know, but doctors and music enthusiasts are still guessing.

Now, two Spanish researchers are tackling a different side of Chopin's health: The strange behavior and visions he reportedly saw on several occasions. They report in the journal Medical Humanities that Chopin may have had temporal lobe epilepsy, a condition that hadn't yet been described in medical literature during the composer's lifetime. Dr. John Hughlings Jackson is credited with advancing the understanding of epilepsy and epileptic seizures in the 1870s.

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Cost of treating heart disease projected to triple
January 24th, 2011
02:57 PM ET

Cost of treating heart disease projected to triple

The cost of treating heart disease is projected to triple by 2030, according to a new study from the American Heart Association.

Researchers predict the cost of medical care for heart disease will rise from $273 billion to $818 billion between 2010 and 2030. "The fact that it would go up threefold over the course of 20 years was unexpected," says lead study author Dr. Paul Heidenreich. "We can take steps to reduce it, if we take steps to prevent cardiovascular disease."

The American Heart Association estimates more than 80 million people in the United States have one or more forms of cardiovascular disease.

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January 24th, 2011
08:42 AM ET

What could be causing my jaundice?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

Question asked by Elizabeth of South Carolina:

I have been sick for two weeks and my doctor said I have jaundice from mono. I got my belly button pierced on spring break in Mexico and I'm worried. Could my jaundice be from hepatitis C or HIV instead?

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Catching up on Z's could curb kids' weight
January 24th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Catching up on Z's could curb kids' weight

Recent studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can affect your waistline. Less shuteye means more pounds. This also applies to children, which is tough for some. School, extracurricular activities and busy schedules can keep a child up at night. But research published in the journal Pediatrics finds that when youngsters are given the opportunity to make up for lost sleep by staying in bed longer on weekends and holidays, that extra time cuts down the negative effects of irregular sleep during the week. And that's especially true when it comes to weight gain.

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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