Review Category : Health

Hospitals Going Overboard on Dispensing Antibiotics

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — If one antibiotic is effective in knocking out an infection, can several at once do the job even better?

That seems to be the prevailing attitude in a lot of hospitals these days but a new first-of-its kind study warns that doctors should pull back from prescribing multiple antibiotics because they might wind up being useless overkill.

According to Dr. Arjun Srinivasan of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other researchers, about 75 percent of 500 hospitals studied kept patients on more than one antibiotic for more than two days even when additional medications are supposed to be dropped once an infection is identified.

The study also pointed to almost two dozen antibiotic combinations that should be rarely if ever used, even before doctors start them on patients.

Among the drawbacks of needless multiple antibiotics are side-effects such as diarrhea, not to mention that they all drive up hospital costs.

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Fat Shaming Has No Upsides

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — Just the term “fat shaming” alone should tip people off that it’s not the right thing to do around those who are overweight or obese. Yet, some people will go ahead anyway and make those with weight problems feel bad about themselves under the mistaken impression that it will somehow motivate them to go on a diet.

Jane Wardle, director of the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Centre at University College London, says that five percent of the 3,000 participants she interviewed for her study have experienced fat shaming. In fact, some were even berated by their own physicians.

Tracking their attempts at losing weight, Wardle found that those who dealt with discrimination gained an average of two pounds over a four-year period while others who escaped harassment shed a pound-and-a-half.

Study researcher Sarah Jackson adds that fat shaming can lead to constant eating and a lack of interest in exercising due to embarrassment.

While there was no definitive cause-and-effect linking fat shaming to weight gain, a 2013 study showed that people who are discriminated against because of their girth are two-and-a-half times more likely to become obese.

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Children from Wealthy Families Also Have a Tough Time with Divorce

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Marital break-ups certainly have an effect on children but as a Georgetown University study points out, divorce can have a bigger impact on youngsters from wealthier families than those struggling to make ends meet.

Rebecca M. Ryan and her staff looked at children ages three to 12 with behavioral problems in families living well above, well below and hovering around the federal poverty line.

What they noticed was that youngsters five and younger from the higher income households tended to be more aggressive and defiant than their peers who weren’t as well off.

Ryan explains that it might be related to a sudden shift in economic fortunes compared to poorer families whose incomes aren’t affected nearly as much by the departure of a spouse.

However, children ages six and up seem to handle break-ups better, particularly when a new stepmother or stepfather is introduced into the equation, according to Ryan, because that tends to also improve financial status.

Nevertheless, the researchers say parents should keep a close watch on their children’s behavior during a split and try to remain in close contact with their kids. Parent education programs that teach coping skills are also recommended.

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CDC: Enterovirus 68 Confirmed in Seven States, Concern over Emergency Room Overcrowding

Credit: James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed Enterovirus 68 in seven states, with at least 84 individuals infected.

On Thursday, the CDC confirmed the presence of the disease in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and Montana. Confirmation of the disease’s presence in a state is helpful in that it allows doctors to more quickly diagnose who is critically ill. The number of cases, however, does not reflect the true spread of the disease, as testing is not done on every child who appears to have the disease.

Among the greatest threats posed by Enterovirus 68 is the flood of patients with even mild symptoms who are overwhelming emergency rooms around the country.

Nancy Burke, an administrator in the Emergency Department at Advocate Christ Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois, said that there has been a jump in the number of people arriving at the emergency room due to fear. The hospital, Burke says, is at full capacity, which strains resources and resource management.

Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, Director of Infectious Diseases at Mercy Children’s Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, said that she feels the rush of children being brought to the emergency room with Enterovirus 68 symptoms has slowed in recent days.

Many of the children who have been brought to emergency rooms around the nation, hospitals say, do not test positive for the virus.

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Researchers Say Enzyme May Hold Key to Targeting Cancer Cells

Photokanok/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Researchers say they may have discovered a way to target cancer cells to more effectively treat leukemia.

In a study published in the journal Cell, researchers at Harvard University found that cancer cells are particularly dependent on one particular enzyme to survive. In laboratory mice who were genetically altered to avoid the presence of that enzyme in their systems, cancer cells failed to grow.

Researchers say that the elimination of the enzyme did not impact normal cells, as they were able to utilize a different enzyme for energy.

The study remains in the very preliminary phase, as testing has only been conducted on mice. Still, researchers believe that it may help them by pointing out that the way that cells metabolize energy could help in targeting cancer.

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Couple Completes Bucket List for Unborn Child

Courtesy Dan Haley(NEW YORK) — When you find out you’re pregnant, it’s not unusual for parents to start dreaming of all the places and experiences you want to share with your bundle of joy once they’re born.

Jenna and Dan Haley, of Philadelphia, had to get started on those plans much earlier than expected. At only 13 weeks, their unborn son, Shane, was diagnosed with anencephaly, a birth defect in which babies are born without parts of their brain and skull.

“We learned of his condition on April 10,” Dan, 25, told ABC News. “We were shocked and devastated. It’s definitely not something anyone ever expects to hear. As we learned more about his diagnosis we experienced pretty much every emotion you could imagine.”

Over time, however, the disheartened couple “accepted his condition for what it was, and decided to give Shane all the love we could while we have him with us,” the father said.

The Haleys learned the life expectancy for infants born with anencephaly is extremely short — generally ranging from mere hours to a few days — so their time with Shane would not only be precious, but limited.

“When we found out that Jenna was expecting, we would often talk about all of the places that we wanted to go as a family after Shane was born,” Dan recalled. “After his diagnosis and understanding that almost 100 percent of babies with anencephaly die shortly after birth, we decided to start visiting the places we had wanted to go with him while he was living in his mother’s womb.”

The couple made a bucket list of significant activities and locations they still wanted to share with Shane, from going to a Phillies game, visiting the Statue of Liberty and Times Square in New York City, to even taking their unborn son to enjoy a famous cheesesteak from Geno’s in Philadelphia, all while Jenna was pregnant.

“He’s still our little boy and even though he’s been given such a short life expectancy because of anencephaly, we wanted to make sure that we gave him a lifetime worth of adventures and love while he’s with us,” said Dan.

The proud parents-to-be have been chronicling their bucket list adventures on their Facebook page, Prayers for Shane, for the nearly 175,000 followers who’ve joined in to witness their journey and provide support, something for which the Haleys are so incredibly thankful.

“One thing we would want people to take away is that each human life is so valuable and that it’s so important to live each day to its fullest potential,” Dan explained. “Whether we live one hour or 100 years, our time here is limited. Make sure to enjoy the little things in life and hug those who mean the most to you. Choose to make the most of the hand you’re dealt and always look on the bright side of every situation and the world will be a better place because of it.”

And as for their growing boy who is due on Oct. 12, he can rest assured his parents are over the moon to meet him.

“We honestly just can’t wait to hold Shane in our arms and show him how much we love him,” said Dan. “It’s all in God’s hands and we will accept His will, but we just can’t wait to finally hold and hug our little man!”

As of early September, the Haleys had completed their entire bucket list for Shane.

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US Ebola Patient Gets Serum from Recovered Victim to Fight Virus

iStock/Thinkstock(OMAHA, Neb.) — Dr. Rick Sacra, the third American missionary to become infected with Ebola in Liberia, received a blood transfusion from Dr. Kent Brantly, one of the other victims who was successfully treated for the disease, doctors said Thursday.

“Convalescent transfusion plasma was taken from a donor who had recovered, therefore presumably had antibodies against the virus that Rick had not yet had time to develop and two separate transfusions were harvested and given with no difficulties whatsoever,” explained Dr. Phil Smith at a press conference from Nebraska Medical Center, where Sacra is being treated. Smith is the director of the hospital’s bio-containment unit.

Dr. Angela Hewitt, the associate medical director of NMC’s bio-containment unit, elaborated: “[Sacra] received two doses of convalescent serum from Dr. Kent Brantly. He’s received an experimental drug every night actually for the last several days since his arrival.”

Doctors, however, don’t know how much of a role the transfusion played in Sacra’s condition, which has improved from stable to good.

“I don’t how much of his recovery is due to the drug, how much is due to the convalescent serum and how much is due to aggressive IV fluids and other medications to help him,” Smith said.

Sacra, a missionary with the group SIM, contracted Ebola while treating pregnant patients in Liberia. He was transported to Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha on Friday for treatment.

Sacra is the third American missionary to become infected in Monrovia, Liberia, following Ebola survivors Nancy Writebol and Brantly, who were treated and released from Emory University Hospital in August. A fourth American who became infected in Sierra Leone while working for the World Health Organization arrived in Atlanta for treatment at Emory University Hospital Tuesday.

So far, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed at least 2,296 people and sickened 1,997 more, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization.

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Some Infertile Women More Prone to Mental Illness

iStock/Thinkstock(CARDIFF, Wales) — Infertility can be devastating for a couple trying but failing to have a child and it’s a fact of life for about 15 percent of couples in the U.S.

Dr. Sofia Gameiro at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom says the psychological side-effects from the inability to conceive include depression, anger, and frustration.

Based on a study of more than 7,100 women in the Netherlands who underwent fertility treatments over a five-year span, Gameiro learned that those who were not able to have children and refused to accept that reality were 2.8 times more likely to develop problems associated with mental illness than women willing to move past their problem.

Even women who previously gave birth but couldn’t expand their families were 1.5 times at greater risk of mental illness if they were unable to let go of their desire to have more kids.

Although each case is different, Gameiro suggested that attempting to give up the idea of having children might help women in the long term for their own psychological well-being. She suggested that focusing on other goals, such as a career, might help relieve some of the angst of infertility.

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ER Visits for High Blood Pressure Increase Dramatically

iStock/Thinkstock(KALAMAZOO, Mich.) — It’s possible that hearing about all the risks of having high blood pressure could actually be giving Americans high blood pressure.

Certainly it’s a problem with as many as 76 million adults believed to have hypertension, some going for years without it ever being diagnosed.

What’s more, the number of people visiting emergency rooms for high blood pressure with no known cause rose 25 percent between 2006 and 2011 while visits for hypertension with complications and secondary hypertension also increased by 19 percent during that time span.

The upside, according to Sourabh Aggarwal, M.D. at Western Michigan University School of Medicine, is that admissions for these conditions have dropped. Of those admitted, deaths fell by more than a third from 2006 through 2011, likely because doctors are better equipped at treating the disease.

Just the same, Aggarwal says that people need to have a better handle on treating hypertension before it sends them to the hospital. The American Heart Association recommends adults get themselves to an ER if their blood pressure is 180/110, otherwise known as hypertensive crisis.

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After a Can of Soda, Walk It Off

iStock/Thinkstock(SYRACUSE, N.Y.) — Sweetened soda is losing its popularity in the U.S. but not soon enough for health officials who believe that high-fructose corn syrup is a serious threat to Americans’ health.

One of the chief problems with the ingredient is that transforms into fatty acids, some of which stay in the liver while the rest of it filters into the blood stream. Either way, fructose is a health menace.

Amy Bidwell, currently a researcher at SUNY Oswego in New York, conducted a small study at Syracuse University to determine if physical activity could lessen then detrimental effects of fructose when included in soda.

Among 22 students who volunteered for the experiment, half moved around half as much as they normally did on a daily basis while the other participants doubled their activity, namely walking about 12,000 steps a day. Meanwhile, everyone drank two fructose-laden sodas daily for a total of 500 calories.

Bidwell also conducted metabolic and health tests before and after the two-week experiment and found, to some dismay, that the group who didn’t walk as much experienced higher concentrations of very-low-density lipoproteins, a type of bad cholesterol that builds up on the walls of arteries.

Naturally, Bidwell believes that cutting out high-fructose corn syrup is the best option but if people feel the need to drink soda, she recommends plenty of exercise to help offset its effects.

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