Health Scan

New medical journal focuses on Arab-Israeli health.

For the first time, an Israeli medical journal has been developed referring to the health of a sector that represents 20 percent of the population. The first issue of The Arab Population Health Medical Journal  has just been published by Medical Media Publications (
It is edited by Dr. Bashara Basharat, director-general of the Scottish Hospital in Nazareth, who is a graduate of Hebrew University, has a master’s of public health degree from Harvard and teaches at the University of Haifa’s School of Public Health. The publisher of the private company that issues the journal for medical personnel is Yoel Shamos.
One of the articles in the premiere edition, written by Dr. Muhamad Omri of Basharat’s hospital, is about the fact that heart attacks occur at a younger age among Arabs than among Jewish Israelis. Clogging of the arteries (atherosclerosis) begins earlier among Arabs because of their unhealthful lifestyles – smoking, overweight and inadequate awareness of how to promote health, Omri writes. They are also more likely to have Type II diabetes. This was concluded from an analysis of the Acute Coronary Syndrome Israel Survey, carried out every year since 1992 in 26 cardiac departments around the country. According to the survey in 2006, 35% of the Arabs who had heart attacks and were treated at the Nazareth hospital were under 50, compared to only 15% in other Israeli hospitals. The average age when Arabs have their first heart attacks is 57, compared to 65 for Jews. 
Another article in the unusual journal was written by Dr. Tawfiq Abu Nasra of Safed’s Ziv Medical Center about suicide in the Arab community. This phenomenon is becoming much more common, especially among younger people. And while 22% of the Jewish population suffering from suicidal thoughts seek psychiatric help, the figure is only 7% in the Arab Israeli population.
He concludes that Arab youths suffer from more mental stress than their Jewish counterparts, apparently due to social, economic and family problems. The changes in modern life, such as Westernization and globalization; the lack of education about mental health; the late identification of psychological and psychiatric problems; and the use of drugs and alcohol intensifies the problem, Abu Nasra concludes.
Sometimes, silly accidents can be a hair’s-breadth away. In a rare incident, an eight-month-old baby had to be treated for an injured big toe whose blood supply had been cut off by a hair from his mother’s head that accidentally got wound around the digit. Doctors at Rehovot’s Kaplan Medical Center gave the baby antibiotics after removing the hair to stop the swelling of the toe, which was blue from lack of oxygenated blood. The mother said it was so swollen that she was unable to remove the hair. If it had been left there much longer, gangrene would have set in and the toe might have had to be amputated.
Not getting enough sleep does more damage than making you feel tired in the morning. It can cause fat to accumulate around your organs – especially if you’re under 40. Researchers who published a paper on this in the March issue of Sleep say visceral fat is more dangerous than jiggly thighs or even a protruding stomach.
A new study by researchers at North Carolina’s Wake Forest University School of Medicine reveals how extremes of sleep – both too much and too little – can be hazardous to your health. The findings also indicate that there’s more to “fat” than what we choose to eat – social factors such as the need to work three jobs in a bad economy could be causing dangerous fat deposits around vital organs.
“We put a lot of stock in diet,” said endocrinology and metabolism Prof.  Kristen Hairston, lead author of the study. “But this study brings up some interesting questions about the way we live. We may need to start looking at other behaviors – besides daily food choices – that could be contributing to the obesity epidemic in younger age groups.”
In those under 40, the study showed a clear association between sleeping an average of five hours or less each night and large increases in visceral fat. Of the study participants under 40, Hispanic men and black women were the largest groups to report getting such little sleep. Getting seven or eight hours of sleep nightly is best.
Inadequate sleep has become more common in the US, and minorities are disproportionately affected, said Hairston. They are also more prone to metabolic conditions, including increased rates of obesity, insulin resistance and Type II diabetes. The study suggests that part of the explanation for higher rates of metabolic disease in this population may lie in the association between sleep duration and fat. But sleeping the day away won’t do much to better one’s health, either. The researchers found that getting more than eight hours of sleep on average per night has a similar – though less pronounced – affect, and is a problem most commonly seen in Hispanic women of all ages.
Surprisingly, the connection between extremes of sleep and the accumulation of visceral fat was seen only in patients under 40, Hairston said. He didn’t have an explanation for this.
Diabetics are twice as likely to have hearing loss as those who do nothave the metabolic condition, according to a US audiologist writing inthe Annals of Internal Medicine.Dr. Cindy Beyer, a senior vice president of HearUSA – a hearing careand hearing aids company – told UPI  that all men and women withdiabetes should have their hearing tested.
Untreated hearing loss is serious, she said. Studies have linked suchloss to fatigue, stress and depression, avoidance of social situations,reduced job performance and earning power, and diminished health. Sheestimated that five million Americans living with diabetes haveundetected hearing loss.