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Considerations in the Management of Epilepsy in the Elderly

Considerations in the Management of Epilepsy in the Elderly

Teaser: 

Warren T. Blume, MD, FRCPC, London Health Sciences Centre, University Campus, Epilepsy Unit; Professor, University of Western Ontario, London, ON.
David J. Harris, LRCP(Lond), MRCS(Eng), FRCPC, MRCPsych, London Health Sciences Centre, South Street Campus, Geriatric Mental Health Program; Associate Professor, University of Western Ontario, London, ON.

Management of epilepsy in an elderly person requires accurate classification of seizures, a sufficient neurologic assessment to define etiology, and awareness of the patient's health and social situation. Treatment with an antiepileptic drug requires an understanding of the general health of the patient and the nature of all medications being given to the patient by other physicians. Effective communication with the patient, spouse, any adult children or other caregivers aims to ensure that all understand the goals of treatment, medication side effects and monitoring methods. Concomitant illness such as neurological, psychiatric, metabolic or cardiac disorders will require individualization of treatment plans.
Key words: epilepsy, elderly, differential diagnosis, management.

Recent Developments in the Assessment and Management of Hypertension: CHEP, ALLHAT and LIFE

Recent Developments in the Assessment and Management of Hypertension: CHEP, ALLHAT and LIFE

Teaser: 

Kelly B. Zarnke, MD, MSc, Departments of Medicine, Epidemiology & Biostatistics, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, and on behalf of the Canadian Hypertension Education Program (CHEP).

Poor blood pressure control, particularly among the older Canadian population, remains an important cause of preventable cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. It behooves Canadian health care workers to identify, treat and control hypertension. Recent trials, including ALLHAT and LIFE, add to the information clinicians need to achieve these targets. ALLHAT establishes the central role of thiazide-like diuretics for many hypertensive patients. ALLHAT demonstrates that good blood pressure control can be achieved in the majority of hypertensive patients if a systematic effort is maintained. LIFE adds important information regarding angiotensin receptor blockers as an effective alternative to the other commonly used classes of antihypertensive drugs, particularly among patients with diabetes or isolated systolic hypertension. Finally, the Canadian Hypertension Education Program will continue to produce and disseminate annually updated systematic reviews and recommendations related to the assessment and management of hypertension.
Key words: hypertension, recent clinical trials, clinical practice guidelines.

Management of Premalignant Gastrointestinal Lesions

Management of Premalignant Gastrointestinal Lesions

Teaser: 

Clarence K.W. Wong, MD, FRCPC, Gastroenterologist and Clinical Lecturer, Division of Gastroenterology, University of Alberta; Consultant, Cross Cancer Institute, Alberta Cancer Board, Edmonton, AB.

Introduction
Gastrointestinal malignancies collectively account for the greatest number of cancer deaths in Canada.1 This is particularly evident in the elderly population in which 90% of all new cancers are diagnosed in individuals over the age of 45.2 Of these new cancers, one in five are gastrointestinal cancers. As these malignancies are often lethal, improved survival depends on preventive strategies to effectively detect and manage the associated precursor conditions. This paper will review the premalignant conditions associated with three common gastrointestinal cancers. Effective management of conditions leading to esophageal, gastric and colon cancers can greatly reduce the burden of disease among the geriatric population.

Esophageal Cancer
Cancers of the esophagus are lethal, with a death to case ratio of 1.11.1 Although this estimate is high due to incomplete registration of new cases, it underscores the lack of effective treatment for this disease. Until recently, squamous cell carcinomas were the most common type of esophageal cancer. However, in the last few decades the incidence of esophageal adenocarcinomas has increased exponentially. It is likely that this increase is linked to a rise in incidence of its only known risk factor, Barrett's esophagus.

Evaluation and Treatment of Constipation

Evaluation and Treatment of Constipation

Teaser: 

Marisa Battistella, BScPhm, Pharm D, Education Coordinator & Hemodialysis Pharmacist, Pharmacy Department, University Health Network, Toronto, ON.
Shabbir M.H. Alibhai, MD, MSc, FRCP(C), Staff Physician, University Health Network, Toronto, ON.

Constipation is a common symptom in patients of all ages, but its occurrence is highest among persons 65 years of age or older.1,2 Constipation has been shown to diminish both quality of life and feeling of well-being.3-5 Although constipation can have many causes, it is most often functional or idiopathic.5,6 Furthermore, constipation can lead to serious complications such as malnutrition, fecal impaction, fecal incontinence, colonic dilation and even perforation of the colon.7

Definition
Constipation has different meanings to patients and physicians. A patient's perception of constipation may include not only the objective observation of infrequent bowel movements but also subjective complaints of straining with defecation, incomplete evacuation, abdominal bloating or pain, hard or small stools or a need for digital manipulation to enable defecation. Because the definition of constipation can be subjective, an international committee has recommended an operational definition of chronic functional constipation in adults.

Tricuspid Valve Disease in Older Adults: Diagnosis and Management

Tricuspid Valve Disease in Older Adults: Diagnosis and Management

Teaser: 

Mercè Roqué, MD, Cardiovascular Institute, Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, Spain.

Ernane D. Reis, MD, Department of Surgery, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, U.S.A.

Introduction
Tricuspid valve disease is rarely an isolated condition. Most cases are associated with other valvular or myocardial disease, pulmonary hypertension or systemic disorders. The tricuspid valve is located in the outflow tract of the right ventricle, and is the largest heart valve with an area of approximately 11cm2. The valvular apparatus includes the fibrous annulus, the leaflets (anterior, septal and posterior), the tendinae chordae and the papillary muscles. Given that the tricuspid valve's main function is to regulate inflow to the right ventricle, conditions affecting the tricuspid valve generally have an impact on the right atrium and the venous circulation. Similarly, disorders affecting the left or right ventricle or the pulmonary arterial system can impair tricuspid valve function.

This review focuses on the most common causes of tricuspid stenosis (TS) and regurgitation (TR) in older adults. In these patients, functional tricuspid regurgitation is by far the most frequent tricuspid disorder. In the evaluation of tricuspid valve disorders, a thorough physical examination is essential to provide information for a correct diagnosis. An overview of the most useful ancillary tests and treatment options is also presented.

Management of Diabetic Foot Ulcers -- June 2002

Management of Diabetic Foot Ulcers -- June 2002

Teaser: 


Prevention is the Best Form of Care

Madhuri Reddy, MD, Dermatology Day Care (Wound Healing Clinic) Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Care Centre, Toronto, ON, Associate Editor, Geriatrics & Aging.

R. Gary Sibbald, BSc, MD, FRCPC (Med), FRCPC (Derm), MACP, DABD,
Associate Professor and Director of Continuing Education
Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.

Introduction
The most common reason for hospitalization of individuals with diabetes is a foot wound. Persons with diabetes are forty times more likely than are non-diabetics to have a non-traumatic amputation, and the most common precipitating events are infection in a non-healing ulcer and gangrene. Those who undergo a lower-extremity amputation have a 50% chance of amputation in the contralateral limb within five years.1

The systemic nature of diabetes requires a team approach, involving wound care specialists (e.g. physicians, nurses) and foot care specialists (e.g. chiropodists, podiatrists, occupational therapists, pedorthists). Prevention of ulcers is the best form of care for the diabetic foot. Teaching prevention should occur in the setting of comprehensive diabetic care.

Hallucinations in Patients with Parkinsonism: Clinical Features and Management

Hallucinations in Patients with Parkinsonism: Clinical Features and Management

Teaser: 

David J Burn, MD, MA, FRCP, Consultant & Senior Lecturer in Neurology, Regional Neurosciences Centre, Newcastle General Hospital, Westgate Road Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Ian G McKeith, MD, FRCPsych, Professor of Old Age Psychiatry, Department of Old Age Psychiatry, Institute for Ageing and Health Wolfson Research Centre, Newcastle General Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Introduction
Parkinsonism is a common problem, particularly in the elderly. One percent of the population over the age of 65 has Parkinson's Disease (PD), rising to 2% over the age of 80. Parkinsonism is also a core feature of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), the second most common cause of neurodegenerative dementia, after Alzheimer disease (AD). To differentiate patients with PD who develop cognitive impairment from DLB, Consensus Criteria stipulate that parkinsonism must be present for 12 months or less for a patient with dementia to qualify for a diagnosis of DLB.1 If the extrapyramidal features are present for longer than this before the dementia develops, the diagnosis is referred to as PD with dementia.

Although parkinsonism occurs in numerous other neurodegenerative diseases, including multiple system atrophy, progressive supranuclear palsy and corticobasal degeneration, as well as AD, hallucinations are less common.

Ovarian Cancer in Older Women: Management and Treatment Options

Ovarian Cancer in Older Women: Management and Treatment Options

Teaser: 

Natalie S. Gould MD, Fellow and Clinical Instructor
D. Scott McMeekin MD, Assistant Professor Section of Gynecologic Oncology,
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
University of Oklahoma Medical Center, Oklahoma City, OK, USA.

Ovarian cancer is a disease of older women, with 48% over the age of 65 at diagnosis.1 It is also the most deadly of gynecologic malignancies, accounting for more deaths than cervical and endometrial carcinoma combined in the US. An estimated 23,400 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in 2001 with 13,900 deaths in the US.2 As our population ages, the number of women affected by ovarian cancer will increase. Cancer limited to an ovary is typically silent and discovered incidentally on exam or at surgical exploration for other reasons. Patients with disease that has spread beyond the ovaries may present with vague gastrointestinal symptoms, bloating, diarrhea, pain and changes in bowel or bladder habits. On physical exam, patients will have a pelvic mass and often ascites. Due to the absence of symptoms until the malignancy has spread beyond the ovaries, and the lack of good screening tests, approximately 70% of patients present with advanced disease and overall survival is poor.3 (Table 1).

Initial management involves cytoreductive surgery aimed at removal of the greatest volume of tumour (Table 2).

Non-Pharmacological Management of Pain

Non-Pharmacological Management of Pain

Teaser: 

Jane Oshinowo, RNEC, Primary health care Nurse Practitioner,
York Community Services, Toronto, ON.

Introduction
Pain is more than the perception of a nociceptive stimulus in the peripheral or central nervous system. It is "what the person says it is."1 Ferrell1 developed a conceptual model that identifies four dimensions of pain and their impact on a person's quality of life (Figure 1). This model can be used to enhance the caregiver's understanding of the patient's experience of pain. Pain can be acute, chronic or chronic malignant in nature. In the elderly, illness tends to be chronic and the pain is often related to a degenerative condition. However, the elderly do experience acute pain. Whether acute or chronic, pain is more difficult to assess in the cognitively impaired elder. Despite our recognition of the global impact of pain on the individual, and the morbidity and mortality associated with inadequately managed pain, 25-50% of community dwelling elders are living in pain.2

Chronic pain management today is multidimensional. Analgesics tend to be the mainstay of therapy. However, non-pharmacological therapies are currently under investigation and in practice as complementary or alternative therapies to medications. This field is very large and continues to expand. For the purposes of this article, only the more commonly used and better-researched therapies will be discussed.

Management of Dysarthria in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Management of Dysarthria in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Teaser: 

Kathryn M. Yorkston, Ph.D., BC-NCD, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
David Beukelman, Ph.D., Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Munroe-Meyer Institute for Genetics and Rehabilitation, University of Nebraska, Omaha, NE.
Laura Ball, Ph.D., Munroe-Meyer Institute for Genetics and Rehabilitation, University of Nebraska, Omaha, NE.

Summary
This article describes intervention for dysarthria associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Five critical periods are presented including a stage with normal speech, detectable speech disturbance, behavioural intervention, use of augmentative communication, and loss of useful speech. Intervention strategies at each of these stages are outlined with the goal of maintaining functional communication regardless of the severity of dysarthria.

ALS is a rapidly progressive degenerative disease of unknown etiology involving the motor neurons of both the brain and spinal cord.1 The symptoms characteristic of ALS are generally classified by site of involvement (that is, upper motor neuron versus lower motor neuron) and by whether spinal nerves (those innervating the arms and legs) or bulbar nerves (those innervating the muscles of speech and swallowing) are involved.