Urmila Parlikar

Urmila Parlikar is a senior content editor at Harvard Health Publications. She first joined Harvard as a staff writer in 1998. She wrote articles for the Harvard Health newsletters, revised and updated Special Health Reports including Stroke and The Aging Eye, and served as the editor of the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide Online. More recently, Urmila has worked closely with Dr. Anthony Komaroff on the Ask Doctor K newspaper column. She also develops patient education materials for other HHP projects. She was also Managing Editor at HealthGate Data Corporation where she supervised the creation and updating of online patient education resources. Urmila began her career in the Office of Public Affairs at The Rockefeller University in New York City after earning a master’s degree in science journalism at Boston University.


Posts by Urmila Parlikar

Tight blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes linked to fewer heart attacks and strokes

Urmila Parlikar
Urmila Parlikar, Senior Content Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Diabetes damages every part of the body, from the brain to the feet. High blood sugar, the hallmark of diabetes, wreaks havoc on blood vessels. It makes sense that keeping blood sugar under control should prevent diabetes-related damage — but how low to push blood sugar is an open question. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) provides reassuring evidence that so-called tight blood sugar control is good for the heart and circulatory system. A 10-year follow-up of the Veterans Affairs Diabetes Trial showed that participants who aimed for tight blood sugar control had lower blood sugar and fewer heart attacks and strokes than participants whose blood sugar was allowed to float a bit higher. Although tight blood sugar control can help prevent diabetes-related damage, it can have drawbacks such as bouts of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which can be dangerous. Current guidelines from the American Diabetes Association recommend tight blood sugar control, but also recognize there’s no one-size-fits-all rule.

Surgery still trumps “antibiotics first” approach to appendicitis

Urmila Parlikar
Urmila Parlikar, Senior Content Editor, Harvard Health Publications

When appendicitis strikes, an operation to remove the appendix has long been the route to recovery. But a new strategy called “antibiotics first” could help some people avoid surgery for appendicitis. A clinical practice article in today’s New England Journal of Medicine explores the idea of antibiotics first for appendicitis. The main advantage is that it could eliminate the need for surgery in some people with appendicitis. The drawbacks are that it leaves open the possibility of repeat bouts of appendicitis, with an appendectomy still down the road. It could also lead to lingering symptoms and a sense of uncertainty that could affect quality of life. Although immediate surgery is the standard of care for appendicitis, an antibiotics first approach could be appropriate now for individuals who prefer not to have surgery, aren’t healthy enough for surgery, or aren’t near a medical center that routinely does laparoscopic appendectomy.

No “best” treatment for common uterine fibroids

Urmila Parlikar
Urmila Parlikar, Senior Content Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Fibroids are noncancerous tumors that grow in the uterus. They may be smaller than a seed or bigger than a grapefruit. Depending on their size, number, and location, fibroids can cause heavy bleeding and long menstrual periods (which can, in turn, cause anemia), pelvic pain, frequent urination, or constipation. Fibroids can also cause infertility and repeated miscarriages. About 7 in 10 women will develop this condition at some point. Given how common uterine fibroids are, it’s surprising how few randomized trials have been done to compare treatment options. A clinical practice article in today’s New England Journal of Medicine lays out the options for treating uterine fibroids and discusses the factors women and their doctors should consider when making treatment decisions.

Shingles can strike twice. Will the shingles vaccine help?

Urmila Parlikar
Urmila Parlikar, Senior Content Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Getting the viral infection known as shingles doesn’t give everyone life-long immunity from it. Shingles can strike twice, or rarely, even a third time. A shingles vaccine can reduce the chances of a recurrence.