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Introduction: Overuse of acute care services, particularly emergency department (ED) use, is an important topic for healthcare providers and policy makers within Canada and abroad. Prior work has shown that frail elderly patients with complex medical needs and limited personal and social resources are heavy users of ED services and are often admitted when they present to the ED. Updated information on the most effective strategies to avert ED presentation and hospital admission focused specifically on elderly patients is needed. Methods: This systematic review addressed the question: what interventions have demonstrated effectiveness in decreasing ED use and hospital admissions in elderly patients? Comprehensive literature searches were conducted in databases including Ovid Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials with no language or date restrictions. Citations were limited to interventional studies. Grey literature and reference list searches, as well as communication with experts in the field were performed. Consensus or a third reviewer resolved any disagreements. Original research regarding interventions conducted in populations 65 years or older with acute illness, either living in community or facility-living were included. Primary outcomes were ED visits and hospital admissions. Secondary outcomes included: mortality, cost, and patient-reported outcomes such as health-related quality of life and functional status. Results: Forty-three relevant studies were identified including 22 randomized controlled trials (RCT), 2 cluster-RCT, 2 trials with non-random allocation, 4 before-after studies, 6 quasi-experimental studies, and 7 cohort studies. Intervention settings included: home visits (22), long-term care (7), outpatient or primary care clinics (8), and ED (3) or inpatient (3). Data characterization revealed that home-based, outpatient and/or primary care-based strategies reduced ED visits and hospitalizations, particularly those which included comprehensive geriatric assessments, home visits or regular face-to-face contact and interdisciplinary teams. Hospital-based models generally showed no difference in ED or inpatient service utilization. There was, however, considerable variability across individual studies with respect to reporting of outcomes, statistical analyses performed, and overall risk of bias. Conclusion: Various interventional strategies have been studied to avert ED presentation and hospital admission for frail elderly patients. More rigorous methodology and standardization of outcome measures is needed to quantitatively assess the effects of these programs.
The consequences of sub-optimal nutrition through alterations in the macronutrient content of the maternal diet will not simply be reflected in altered neonatal body composition and increased mortality, but are likely to continue into adulthood and confer greater risk of metabolic disease. One mechanism linking manipulations of the maternal environment to an increased risk of later disease is enhanced fetal exposure to glucocorticoids (GC). Tissue sensitivity to cortisol is regulated, in part, by the GC receptor and 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11β-HSD) types 1 and 2. Several studies have shown the effects of maternal undernutrition, particularly low-protein diets, on the programming of GC action in the offspring; however, dietary excess is far more characteristic of the diets consumed by contemporary pregnant women. This study investigated the programming effects of moderate protein supplementation in pigs throughout pregnancy. We have demonstrated an up-regulation of genes involved in GC sensitivity, such as GC receptor and 11β-HSD, in the liver, but have yet to detect any other significant changes in these piglets, with no differences observed in body weight or composition. This increase in GC sensitivity was similar to the programming effects observed following maternal protein restriction or global undernutrition during pregnancy.
Epidemiological and animal studies have demonstrated that early-life nutrition alters the metabolic responses and generates structural changes in complex tissues, such as the kidneys, which may lead to a reduction in the offspring lifespan. Independently, obesity induces a spontaneous low-grade chronic inflammatory response by modulating several of the major metabolic pathways that ultimately compromise long-term renal health. However, the combined effects of maternal nutrition and early-life obesity in the development of renal diseases are far from conclusive. Previous results, using the ovine model, demonstrated that the combination of a reduction in fetal nutrition and juvenile obesity induced a series of adaptations associated with severe metabolic syndrome in the heart and adipose tissue. Surprisingly, exposure to an obesogenic environment in the kidney of those offspring produced an apparent reduction in glomerulosclerosis in relation to age- and weight-matched controls. However, this reduction in cellular apoptosis was accompanied by a rise in glomerular filtration rate and blood pressure of equal intensity when compared with obese controls. The intention of this review is to explain the adaptive responses observed in this model, based on insights into the mechanism of renal fetal programming, and their potential interactions with some of the metabolic changes produced by obesity.
Metabolic programming and metabolic imprinting describe early life events, which impact upon on later physiological outcomes. Despite the increasing numbers of papers and studies, the distinction between metabolic programming and metabolic imprinting remains confusing. The former can be defined as a dynamic process whose effects are dependent upon a critical window(s) while the latter can be more strictly associated with imprinting at the genomic level. The clinical end points associated with these phenomena can sometimes be mechanistically explicable in terms of gene expression mediated by epigenetics. The predictivity of outcomes depends on determining if there is causality or association in the context of both early dietary exposure and future health parameters. The use of biomarkers is a key aspect of determining the predictability of later outcome, and the strengths of particular types of biomarkers need to be determined. It has become clear that several important health endpoints are impacted upon by metabolic programming/imprinting. These include the link between perinatal nutrition, nutritional epigenetics and programming at an early developmental stage and its link to a range of future health risks such as CVD and diabetes. In some cases, the evidence base remains patchy and associative, while in others, a more direct causality between early nutrition and later health is clear. In addition, it is also essential to acknowledge the communication to consumers, industry, health care providers, policy-making bodies as well as to the scientific community. In this way, both programming and, eventually, reprogramming can become effective tools to improve health through dietary intervention at specific developmental points.
The maternal nutritional and metabolic environment is critical in determining not only the reproductive success but also the long-term health and viability of the offspring. Changes in maternal diet at defined stages of gestation coincident with different stages of development can have pronounced effects on organ and tissue function in later life. This includes adipose tissue for which differential effects are observed between brown and white adipose tissues. One early, critical window of organ development in the ruminant relates to the period covering uterine attachment, or implantation, and rapid placental growth. During this period, there is pronounced cell division within developing organelles in many fetal tissues, leading to their structural development. In sheep, a 50% global reduction in caloric intake over this specific period profoundly affects placental growth and morphology, resulting in reduced placentome weight. This occurs in conjunction with a lower capacity to inactivate maternal cortisol through the enzyme 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 in response to a decrease in maternal plasma cortisol in early gestation. The birth weight of the offspring is, however, unaffected by this dietary manipulation and, although they possess more fat, this adaptation does not persist into adulthood when they become equally obese as those born to control fed mothers. Subsequently, after birth, further changes in fat development occur which impact on both glucocorticoid action and inflammatory responses. These adaptations can include changes in the relative populations of both brown and white adipocytes for which prolactin acting through its receptor appears to have a prominent role. Earlier when in utero nutrient restricted (i.e. between early-to-mid gestation) offspring are exposed to an obesogenic postnatal environment; they exhibit an exaggerated insulin response, which is accompanied by a range of amplified and thus, adverse, physiological or metabolic responses to obesity. These types of adaptations are in marked contrast to the effect of late gestational nutrient restriction, which results in reduced fat mass at birth. As young adults, however, fat mass is increased and, although basal insulin is unaffected, these offspring are insulin resistant. In conclusion, changes in nutrient supply to either the mother and/or her fetus can have profound effects on a range of metabolically important tissues. These have the potential to either exacerbate, or protect from, the adverse effects of later obesity and accompanying complications in the resulting offspring.
Improving clinicians' understanding of effects nutrition can have on maternal health and fetal and neonatal development can have considerable impact on achieving a healthy pregnancy and reducing childhood morbidity. This book defines the nutritional requirements with regard to each stage of fetal development and growth, placing scientific developments into a clinical context. Clinicians and scientists discuss: how the fetus grows and what macro- and micronutrients it requires; what happens when there is nutrient deficiency and when placental development is abnormal; aspects of infant feeding, both with breast milk and formula milk. Specific problems encountered in pregnancy that pose a nutritional challenge are also considered, including pregnancy in teenagers, multiple pregnancies and pregnancy in those who are vegetarians or vegans. All doctors, health-care workers or scientists who either care for women, their newborn and growing infants, or who are involved in research in these areas, will find this to be essential reading.
It is now apparent that one key factor determining the current obesity epidemic within the developed world is the extent to which adipose tissue growth and function can be reset in early life. Adipose tissue can be either brown or white, with brown fat being characterised as possessing a unique uncoupling protein (uncoupling protein 1) that enables the rapid generation of heat by non-shivering thermogenesis. In large mammals this function is recruited at approximately the time of birth, after which brown fat is lost, not normally reappearing again throughout the life cycle. The origin and developmental regulation of brown fat in large mammals is therefore very different from that of small mammals in which brown fat is retained throughout the life cycle and may have the same origin as muscle cells. In contrast, white adipose tissue increases in mass after birth, paralleled by a rise in glucocorticoid action and macrophage accumulation. This process can be reset by changes in the maternal nutritional environment, with the magnitude of response being further determined by the timing at which such a challenge is imposed. Importantly, the long-term response within white adipocytes can occur in the absence of any change in total fat mass. The present review therefore emphasises the need to further understand the developmental regulation of the function of fat through the life cycle in order to optimise appropriate and sustainable intervention strategies necessary not only to prevent obesity in the first place but also to reverse excess fat mass in obese individuals.
Leptospirosis is one of the most commonly encountered zoonoses in both Australia and the rest of the world. The incidence of leptospirosis in Queensland over the 7-year study period (1998–2004) was 3·1/100000 population. Enhanced surveillance questionnaires were used to collect patient data and facilitate an epidemiological investigation of leptospirosis in Queensland. Farming occupations comprised the majority of occupational exposure cases, however, recreational exposure accounted for 18% of the 883 cases. Rainfall and the presence of animal hosts had the most influence on the incidence of leptospirosis. Several trends in serovar numbers over this period are noted, in particular the emergence of L. borgpetersenii serovar Arborea, which accounted for 22% of all leptospirosis cases in Australia and 68% of South-East Queensland cases in 2004. Assessment of epidemiological trends in leptospirosis is important to obtain directed public health intervention and outcomes in the reduction of leptospirosis cases.
Studies have shown that the risk of hypertension in adulthood can be affected by the in utero environment. It is established that hypertension is linked to compromised kidney function and that factors affecting organogenesis can increase the risk of later disease. Prostaglandins (PG) and growth factors are known to play an important role in regulating kidney function and renal organogenesis. The extent, however, to which global energy restriction (where all nutrients are reduced) of the mother can programme later blood pressure control or renal PG and growth factor status is unknown. A study is described that aimed to examine the long-term effects of maternal nutrient restriction (NR) and elucidate their relationship with compromised kidney development. First, it was necessary to establish animal models. A sheep model of 50% NR during specific stages of gestation was used to investigate fetal renal development, whilst a rat model of 50% NR throughout pregnancy was used to investigate postnatal kidney development and adult functioning. Molecular analysis has shown that expression of the growth hormone–insulin-like growth factor (GH–IGF) axis is affected by NR in the fetal sheep kidneys, and that changes are dependent on the timing of NR and whether the fetus is a singleton or a twin. Analysis of the kidneys from the rat model has shown nutritional differences in the expression of PG receptors and the enzymes responsible for PG synthesis and degradation that persist into adulthood. In conclusion, NR does affect the GH–IGF and PG axes, and these changes may be important in the nutritional programming of renal functioning and adult blood pressure control.