Dentists might be able to screen for diabetes

admin   •   March 6, 2015   •   2244

A man receives dental care from a volunteer dentist during a free medical clinic organized by non-profit group Remote Area Medical at O.Co Coliseum in Oakland, California March 24, 2012.
CREDIT: REUTERS/STEPHEN LAM

(Reuters Health) – Dentists may be able to screen patients for diabetes while cleaning their teeth, a small study suggests.

Researchers found that testing for diabetes using blood that appears on the gums during a routine oral cleaning might be just as accurate as a standard screening that gets a blood sample by pricking the finger with a tiny needle.

“There are more than 8 million people in this country who have diabetes and don’t know it, and many of these people see a dentist much more regularly than they see a primary care provider,” said lead study author Sheila Strauss.

“If dentists can screen for diabetes, it may help people get treated sooner when we can get better results managing their disease,” said Strauss, an associate professor of nursing and co-director of the Statistics and Data Management Core for New York University’s colleges of nursing and dentistry.

Worldwide, nearly one in 10 adults had diabetes in 2014, and the disease will be the seventh leading cause of death by 2030, according to the World Health Organization.

Most of these people have type 2, once known as adult-onset, diabetes, which is associated with obesity and aging and happens when the body can’t properly use or make enough of the hormone insulin to convert blood sugar into energy.

Strauss and colleagues focused their research on testing hemoglobin A1c, a protein in red blood cells that gets coated with sugar over time, making it a gauge of average blood sugar levels for the past two or three months.

The researchers collected blood samples taken from the gums and the fingers of 408 people treated at dental clinics in New York City. They tested for diabetes, when A1c is at least 6.5 percent, and for elevated “prediabetic” A1c levels of at least 5.7 percent.

To make sure they got enough blood from the gums, they only included people in the study who said that their gums bled when they brushed or flossed their teeth.

The study team also limited participation to people at greatest risk for diabetes. To be included, people had to be at least 45 years old. Or, if they were younger, they had to be overweight and have at least one other risk factor such as an immediate family member with diabetes, a daily routine with little or no exercise, or an ethnicity or race with high diabetes risk, including Latino, black, Native American and Pacific Islander.

The oral-blood and finger-prick test results matched in 97.8 percent of cases diagnosing diabetes, and in 92.9 percent of cases finding prediabetes. And, the oral blood test was able to accurately rule out diabetes 99.1 percent of the time, according to the results published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Because the sample for the study wasn’t random, and participants were instead selected based on their expected risk for diabetes, it’s possible that the results might not apply to a wider population of people, Strauss said.

One advantage of the selection criteria, though, is that many people with bleeding gums have periodontal disease or gingivitis – both oral health problems that are more common among diabetics, she said.

While the screening approach tested in the study would need to be proven effective by additional research, the possibility of dentists doing oral screenings for diabetes has the potential to help many undiagnosed people get treatment, said Betul Hatipoglu, an endocrinologist and clinical associate professor of medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

To be sure, dentists would need training on how to explain the test results to patients who are positive for prediabetes or diabetes, and they would also need a plan in place to refer these people to specialists who can treat the disease, added Hatipoglu, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“If the test in this study proves effective with more research, it is going to help get many individuals, especially young adults, who are not going to see a primary care provider unless they are sick,” Hatipoglu said.

“I can also see this helping men in their 30s who don’t see anybody except to get their teeth cleaned, or women who only go to the OB-gyn to get an annual checkup or prenatal care and don’t think about anything else,” she said.

SOURCE: bit.ly/1EmSzr4 American Journal of Public Health, online February 25, 2015.

Trump urges U.S. to halt most social activity in virus fight, warns of recession

UNTV News   •   March 17, 2020

President Donald Trump urged Americans on Monday (March 16) to halt most social activities for 15 days and not congregate in groups larger than 10 people in a newly aggressive effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.

Announcing new guidelines from his coronavirus task force, the president said people should avoid discretionary travel and not go to bars, restaurants, food courts or gyms.

As stocks tumbled, Trump warned that a recession was possible, a development that could affect his chances of re-election in November. The Republican president said he was focused on addressing the health crisis and that the economy would get better once that was in line.

The task force implored young people to follow the new guidelines even though they were at lesser risk of suffering if they contract the virus. Older people, especially those with underlying health problems, are at the greatest risk if they develop the respiratory disease.

Reporters staggered their seating, sitting in every other seat in the White House briefing room, to follow social distancing measures.

Trump said the worst of the virus could be over by July, August or later. He called it an invisible enemy.

The president has taken criticism for playing down the seriousness of the virus in the early days of its U.S. spread. On Monday, when asked, he gave himself a good grade for his response.

“I’d rate it a 10. I think we’ve done a great job,” he said.

Trump said a nationwide curfew was not under consideration at this point.

Normally a cheerleader for the U.S. economy, he acknowledged the possibility of a recession while brushing off another dramatic decline on stock markets as investors worried about the virus.

“We’re not thinking in terms of recession, we’re thinking in terms of the virus. Once we stop, I think there’s a tremendous pent up demand, both in terms of the stock market and in terms of the economy,” Trump said. The president has long considered soaring stock markets to be a sign of his administration’s success.

Trump said the administration had talked regularly about domestic travel restrictions but hoped not to have to put such measures in place.

He said he thought it would still be possible for G7 leaders to meet at the Camp David retreat in Maryland in June. Trump upset European countries, which make up a large part of the G7, by instituting travel restrictions from European countries without consulting with them first. (Reuters)

(Production: Katharine Jackson)

Streets deserted in Milan during coronavirus lockdown

UNTV News   •   March 11, 2020

A handful of people were seen on the streets of Milan on Wednesday morning (March 12) following stringent measures imposed to contain the coronavirus.

Shops and restaurants closed, hundreds of flights were cancelled and streets emptied across Italy on Tuesday (March 10), the first day of an unprecedented, nationwide lockdown imposed to slow Europe’s worst outbreak of coronavirus.

Just hours after the dramatic new restrictions came into force, health authorities announced the death toll had jumped by 168 to 631, the largest rise in absolute numbers since the contagion came to light on Feb. 21.

The total number of confirmed cases rose at a much slower rate than recently seen, hitting 10,149 against a previous 9,172, but officials warned that the region at the epicentre, Lombardy, had provided incomplete data.

The government has told all Italians to stay at home and avoid non-essential travel until April 3, radically widening steps already taken in much of the wealthy north, which is the epicentre of the spreading contagion. (Reuters)

(Production: Marissa Davison)

Russian parliament backs changes allowing Putin to run again for president

UNTV News   •   March 11, 2020

The Russian lower house of parliament on Wednesday (March 11) gave its definitive approval to constitutional changes that allow Vladimir Putin to run for president again in 2024, something the current constitution forbids.

The 450-seat State Duma, the lower house of parliament, voted in favour of the changes in a third and final reading by 383 votes.

Nobody voted against, but 43 lawmakers abstained. Twenty-four lawmakers were absent.

Putin told parliament in televised comments on Tuesday he believed a constitutional amendment that would allow him to run for president again could be adopted if Russia’s Constitutional Court did not object.

Putin is required by the constitution to step down in 2024 when his second sequential presidential term ends. (Reuters)

(Production: Mikhail Antonov, Anton Derbene)

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