Review Category : Health

Report: Falls Are Top Cause of Injury and Death in Older Americans

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Do you have an older loved one you’re doing your best to keep safe and healthy? Then do whatever you can to eliminate their chances of falling.

A new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds falls are the number-one cause of injuries and deaths from injury among older Americans. They experienced 29 million falls in 2014 alone, causing seven million injuries.

It’s costly to taxpayers, too — annual Medicare costs to treat fall-related injuries are an estimated $31 billion.

And it’s only going to get worse as more than 10,000 Americans turn 65 each day.

Increased inactivity, more severe chronic health conditions, reduced muscle strength and increased use of prescription medications are risk factors for falls among older Americans.

The CDC recommends a few common-sense steps to take to reduce the risk of falls, including eliminating obvious fall hazards. But some medications can also increase the risk of falling, so a chat with your doctor is also in order. Same goes for your eyes — get them checked at least once a year, to ensure you can see where you’re going.

And lastly, exercise as much as you can. The stronger you are, the less likely you are to fall, or to be injured if you do.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Your Body: Nasal Flu Vaccine Not Recommended for Kids

iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Unfortunately for children and parents, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has announced it is not recommending the nasal mist form of the flu vaccine for kids this flu season.

This comes on the heels of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that found the mist form of the vaccine was not effective in preventing influenza.

To be crystal clear here, the AAP is still recommending that every child above the age of 6 months gets the injectable form of the flu vaccine.

My medical take on this: It’s a good thing that our country’s top doctors are always reevaluating data. In doing so, we can continue to learn in medicine and in science.

Please talk to your children’s pediatrician about the flu vaccine for this season.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Cafeteria Manager Sheds 100 Pounds Eating Kids’ Menu

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A nutrition manager at a Texas elementary school lost more than 100 pounds by simply eating the same foods she encouraged her students to consume for breakfast and lunch.

“I was 260 pounds and I got a job as a nutrition manager but then I realized I wasn’t very nutritious so I decided to make a change,” Tammy McRae said Monday on Good Morning America. “That’s what made me want to lose the weight — for my kids that I had to inspire to eat better.”

She added, “I thought, well, let me join them.”

McRae said she started eating breakfast and lunch from the cafeteria menu at Carver Elementary School in Baytown, Texas, every single day.

“I just stuck to the menu at our school,” McRae said when asked if she made any other lifestyle changes to lose the weight.

McRae started out as a dishwasher at the school before being promoted to a manager. It took her around one year to lose the weight and she said it is life-changing.

“I am now part of my own life,” she said. “I go fishing. I mow my own lawn.”

McRae’s advice to others looking for weight loss inspiration?

“I just say, for anyone else out there that is thinking of making a change, go for it,” she said. “Be a part of your own life.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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‘Anti-Vaxxer’ Mom Changes Mind After Her Three Kids Fall Ill

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — Kristen O’Meara chose not to vaccinate her young daughters as she was a big believer in anti-vaccination research. That changed when all three were stricken with a case of rotavirus, which causes acute stomach distress.

“It was awful and it didn’t have to happen because I could have had them vaccinated. I felt guilty, I felt really guilty,” she told ABC News.

O’Meara and her husband also fell ill.

O’Meara, a teacher living outside Chicago, added that she had “scoured everything” about why vaccines might be harmful and had become “pretty convinced.” She chose not to vaccinate based upon the results of her research, but had only read the materials that cast doubt.

“I put my kids at risk,” she said. “I wish that I had taken more time to research from both sides before my children were born.”

Her three children — all under the age of seven — are now fully vaccinated after an aggressive regimen to bring them up to date on recommended shots.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends vaccinations for practically every child, but in a study published last month the group says the number of parents who are refusing to vaccinate their children appears to be on the rise. In 2013, 87 percent of pediatricians surveyed had encountered patients who refused a vaccine for their child, up from 75 percent in 2006, according to their research

Among the most common reasons cited by parents for their refusal to vaccinate their children was their belief that vaccinations were unnecessary, the report said. Parents also cited a purported link between vaccinations and autism — a link that has been repeatedly disproven because the research it was based on was proven fraudulent.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and dozens of other public health groups have stressed for years that vaccines are safe and necessary. They also say that the large majority of children must be immunized from diseases such as measles, mumps and chicken pox in order to protect both individuals and communities with so-called “herd immunity.”

After her frightening wake-up call, O’Meara is now encouraging others to vaccinate their children.

“I’m here because I wanted to share my personal story … and if it does help someone change their mind, then that’s great,” she said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Multi-State E. Coli Outbreak Likely Linked to Beef Products

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Federal and state health officials are investigating an outbreak of E. coli that has sickened at least seven people across four states.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
says that evidence indicates the outbreak likely derived from contaminated beef, veal and bison products produced by Adams Farm Slaughterhouse in Athol, Massachusetts. The company issued a recall on Saturday — you can see the full list of affected products here.

The ill people range in age from 1 to 74, according to the CDC. The cases stem from Connecticut and Massachusetts to Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Five of the seven people infected have been hospitalized.

Consumers are urged to throw away any of the affected products or return them to where they were purchased.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Kim Zolciak-Biermann Reflects on How Having a Stroke Changed Her Life

Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — One year after Kim Zolciak-Biermann suffered a stroke, the former “Dancing With the Stars” contestant is opening up about what she’s learned from the health scare.

While flying home from Los Angeles to Atlanta after a rehearsal with her professional partner, Tony Dovolani, Zolciak-Biermann suffered a transient ischemic attack, also known as a mini-stroke, on Sept. 23, 2015.

It forced the reality star to drop out of the ABC reality competition. Zolciak-Biermann tried to return to the ballroom, even launching a petition to be reinstated, to no avail.

On Instagram, Zolciak-Biermann, 38, shared a throwback photo of her with Dovolani competing on the ballroom floor and another photo of her in the hospital following the stroke.

“1 year ago today my life changed. Having a stroke has changed me in so many ways. At 37 I thought I was invincible ..boy was I wrong,” she started in a caption.

“I thank God everyday that I’m still here on this planet,” Zolciak-Biermann continued. “I didn’t know that would be my last dance however I wasn’t feeling that good that day, even @tonydovolani noticed something was off but rather than listen to myself I pushed through. Not smart.”

The mother of six then opened up about what she learned from the health incident.

“We have to listen to ourselves, especially us women,” she said. “We put our husband and children before us often times and we need to really listen to our bodies. There is (usually) warning signs.”

Zolciak-Biermann concluded, “[L]isten to your body, it can happen at any age. Love you guys and appreciate all your support! Maybe someday Tony & I will make it back to an All Star [edition].”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Dentist Accused of Harming Child Patients While Making Millions of Dollars

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Dr. Howard Schneider has worked for years as a pediatric dentist, catering to children of low-income parents on Medicaid.

But Schneider’s reputation is now clouded over claims that many of those same kids were harmed in his clinic. More than 100 families have accused the Jacksonville, Florida, dentist of harming their children and making millions of dollars while wrecking their mouths. Parents say Schneider extracted healthy baby teeth from their children.

In 2014, Brandi Motley brought in her daughter Bri-el, then 6 years old, for an appointment with Schneider.

Motley said Schneider told her that he needed to extract one of Bri-el’s baby teeth. After waiting three hours in the lobby, Motley said a nurse assistant came to get her.

“She said, ‘There’s been an accident.’ That’s when I see the blood,” Motley recalled. “Blood on the floor and everything. She [Bri-el] was hyperventilating…and she was face-first on the floor.”

Motley said Bri-el had scratches, bruises and a mouthful of bloody gauze, and her daughter told her a different story of what happened in the dentist chair.

“She says, ‘Mommy, they’re lying to you … he was choking me while he was pulling my teeth,'” said Motley.

And when Bri-el took her gauze out, Motley saw that Schneider had taken out all eight of her front teeth even though Motley said her daughter was scheduled to go in for only one extraction.

Motley wanted to sue Dr. Schneider — but the attorney she called, John Phillips, didn’t take the case. “It’s the worse he-said-she-said you’d ever want to be part of,” he said.

So Motley turned her mini-van into a rolling billboard attack on Schneider, and in April of last year, she posted her grievances and photos of Bri-el after the procedure on Facebook. The post was shared over 350,000 times.

Realizing she was not alone, Motley and several other moms who said their children had similar experiences to Bri-el began protesting with signs outside of Schneider’s clinic every day.

ABC News met with some of Schneider’s alleged victims.

“He [doesn’t] care about people. He definitely [doesn’t] care about innocent children who can’t even defend themselves,” Sherraine Christopher told ABC News.

Christopher said that when Zion, then 3 years old, began screaming during his treatment, she pulled out her cellphone and recorded what was happening.

Zion was hysterical while Schneider continued grinding down the first of 16 teeth that he would eventually fit with metal crowns. Christopher said she never received an explanation for the 16 caps in Zion’s teeth.

Some dentists, who perform the same procedure as Zion’s on other children, argue that it can prevent serious problems, especially among some poorer kids who eat more sugar and brush less.

Christopher shared the video she recorded of Zion at the clinic — and it went viral.

Seeing the video, John Phillips, the attorney who was initially reluctant to take on Motley’s case, eventually took on 131 individual cases of families against Schneider.

After weeks of protests, Schneider closed his clinic and voluntarily surrendered his license to practice dentistry, allowing him to avoid a full dental board investigation.

In November 2015, the state attorney general arrested Schneider and charged him with 11 counts of Medicaid provider fraud. Schneider pleaded not guilty. In only five years, Schneider had collected nearly $4 million in payments from the government program.

Schneider still faces a possible criminal trial on the Medicaid fraud charges. He will be back in court in November for a hearing on a defense motion to avoid a trial by having him declared mentally incompetent.

Meanwhile, he has settled 104 of Phillips’ total 131 lawsuits, including those brought by the families of Zion and Bri-el, without any admission of wrongdoing.

“I think he’s just an old, greedy, selfish man,” Motley told ABC News.

Schneider maintains the allegations against him are false and that giving up his medical practice was in no way an admission of guilt. He insists he used anesthesia and that he was a great dentist, practicing for over 50 years.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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How Clinton and Trump’s Health Plans Would Affect Costs and the Uninsured

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are proposing fundamentally different approaches to health care reform, and their proposals would have dramatically different effects for the uninsured, out-of-pocket costs, and the federal deficit, according to a new analysis by the RAND Corporation, a non-partisan policy think tank.

Researchers examined the insurance coverage and financial implications of maintaining the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as Clinton hopes to do, versus fully repealing the law, as Trump has proposed.

They further analyzed the projected effects of four of Clinton’s central health policy proposals, and three proposals from Trump using RAND’s COMPARE microsimulation model, which has been used extensively after passage of the ACA to estimate the effects of health care reform.

The study was sponsored and released by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation devoted to improving health care access and quality, especially for low-income and minority Americans.

By repealing the ACA, Trump would eliminate many of the law’s key protections, including those that reduce the cost-sharing burden for people in the individual market, prevent insurers from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, and prohibit insurers from increasing premiums based on sex or health status. In addition to repealing the ACA, Trump has proposed several new reforms, including allowing individuals to deduct insurance premiums from their tax returns, converting Medicaid into a block grant program, and letting insurers sell across state lines.

Researchers analyzed each of these policies in turn and estimated that they would increase the uninsured population by approximately 15 million to 25 million people with disproportionate losses in coverage for low-income individuals and those with pre-existing conditions.

In a statement to ABC News, the Trump campaign argued that it would aim to maintain coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, though did not provide further details.

Repealing the ACA itself would cause the number of uninsured people in fair or poor health to nearly triple, from 2.1 million to 5.8 million, according to the study. Implementing a Medicaid block grant program, in which the federal government gives states a fixed amount of money to fund Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, would further increase this number, the study found.

The Trump campaign said the RAND study used an out-of-date baseline funding number to come to this conclusion about the effects of block-grants, but did not offer a different baseline.

People buying insurance in the individual market would face higher out-of-pocket costs, and the federal deficit would increase approximately $0.5 billion up to $41 billion, depending on the policy initiative pursued, according to the report.

“The policies proposed by Donald Trump would reduce the number of insured,” said Professor Christine Eibner, the study’s lead author and senior economist at RAND. “But surprisingly, they also seem to increase the deficit.”

This is largely because while repealing the ACA would reduce spending on insurance and cost-sharing subsidies, it would also eliminate the ACA’s revenue-generating mechanisms, like changes to Medicare payments and taxes on health plans and medical devices. This could change as the proposals become more specific, Eibner said.

“Neither Clinton nor Trump have put their proposals into legislative language,” Eibner noted. “It’s possible that when they put a bill forward, there would be additional provisions that could make up lost revenue.”

Trump campaign officials vehemently disagreed with the report’s findings, arguing that the study “models an imaginary plan.”

“Our health care team in fact never spoke with anyone at either RAND or Commonwealth,” a campaign spokesman told ABC News. “We asked them to delay their report until they spoke with our health care team, but they declined to do so — preferring to continue based on incorrect information. Their ludicrous claim that 20 million now covered would lose their coverage following a repeal is immediately disproven by the fact that any replacement we would adopt would ensure that those now receiving ‘premium support’ would be given subsidies or other forms of support to purchase health insurance in the private market through Health Savings Accounts.”

Researchers estimate that selling insurance across state lines, one of Trump’s best-known proposals, would lower premiums on the individual market and insure an additional 2 million people. But overall, the number of insured would drop, since millions would lose insurance due to repeal of the ACA, according to the report.

Without requirements for insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions, the state line policy would also result in 200,000 additional people in poor health losing health insurance, the report found.

With regard to out-of-pocket costs, Trump’s proposed tax deductions tend to benefit those with higher incomes compared to the ACA income-based tax credits, which preferentially help lower-income families and individuals.

“I think this suggests that the ACA has made a lot of headway,” said Dr. Anupam B. Jena, a physician and an economist at Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the study. “To think about repealing it, you have to be really careful. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t policies to control costs and expand coverage worth entertaining from both parties.”

Clinton has advocated for maintaining the ACA and has further proposed four policies to limit consumers’ out-of-pocket spending. These include introducing cost-sharing tax credits that offset spending above 5 percent of income for everyone with private insurance; reducing the maximum premium contribution for those buying insurance in the marketplaces; giving more families enrolled in employer-sponsored coverage access to tax credits; and creating a government-funded public option to compete with private insurers in the marketplaces.

Each of these policies is likely to increase the number of insured individuals and reduce out-of-pocket spending for consumers, though with variable effects on the federal deficit, according to the analysis.

Unsurprisingly, policies with the largest coverage gains also result in the biggest increases in the federal deficit. For example, Clinton’s proposal to institute cost-sharing tax credits of $2,500 per individual or $5,000 per family for health spending exceeding 5 percent of their annual income would lead to more than 9 million additional people being insured. But the policy would increase the federal deficit by an estimated $90 billion. By contrast, adding a government-funded public option would insure about 400,000 more people and is estimated to decrease the deficit by $0.7 billion.

“Hillary Clinton will build on the health care progress we’ve made by expanding coverage to millions of Americans who need it and addressing the costs that families face,” a Clinton campaign spokesman said in a statement today. “On the other hand, Donald Trump’s proposals would strip coverage away from many more people, including low-income families and those who are already struggling with health problems. That said, there were clearly some faulty assumptions made in this analysis that over-inflated the cost of the plan. Other independent estimates have set the cost vastly lower.”

The study authors themselves emphasize that their model makes a number of assumptions and may need to be updated as additional policies are introduced or existing ones become more specific.

“The microsimulation model used in this study is generally very well respected,” Jena said. “There are, however, caveats you have to make with any model when you’re trying to predict the outcome of extremely complex policies. There’s a lot of uncertainty around each input. But broadly, this is probably correct. The numbers may not be exact, but the direction of the estimates is reliable.”

Furthermore, several health policy proposals of both candidates were not included in the analysis because they lack specific details, were introduced later in the campaign, or do not directly impact insurance coverage and consumer spending.

“It’s important to know that these policies evolve over time,” Eibner said. “At this stage, things are still preliminary. Policies will crystallize and sharpen, and so will our estimates. Our goal here was to start a conversation.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Real-Life ‘Fault In Our Stars’ Couple Die 5 Days Apart

The Proger Family/Facebook(FLEMINGSBURG, KY) –Katie Prager, the wife in the real-life ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ marriage, has died from cystic fibrosis just five days after her husband, Dalton, passed away from the same disease. She was 26 years old.

“Early this morning she gained her wish of being at home, in her bed, surrounded by her mom, dad, brother and her dogs, dying peacefully away from the hospital, tubes, IVs,” Katie’s mother, Debra Donovan, wrote Thursday morning on the Facebook page chronicling the couple’s lung transplant journey.

Katie had been in hospice care in her Flemingsburg, Kentucky, home since September 7. Her husband, Dalton Prager, died just days earlier, on Saturday, after suffering from the same disease. He was 25.

The couple met online and were married in 2011. They both had lung transplants, but neither of the transplants were successful for long.

Dalton Prager moved back to Missouri after a lung transplant in 2014, so his parents could care for him.

Katie Prager received a lung transplant last year and then developed lymphoma and had kidney failure. She was in hospice care in Flemingsburg, Kentucky, when her husband died.

The couple used Facetime to talk last weekend as Dalton Prager was dying, Donovan told CNN.

“She told him that she loved him,” said Donovan. “We don’t know if he heard her.”

The young couple garnered worldwide attention last year after CNN wrote about Katie’s fight to get a lung transplant.

They were known as the real “Fault in Our Stars” couple, as their love story bore a resemblance to the 2012 book and 2014 movie “The Fault in Our Stars,” in which teenage cancer patients fall in love.

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Allergists Warn Against Using ‘DIY EpiPen’

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The rising cost of EpiPens has driven some families to search for ways to save money on the expensive devices. Online tutorials that teach people how to make their own EpiPens have been watched by tens of thousands, but experts warn that using a homemade injector could be dangerous.

While these devices are a seemingly low-cost solution for those with allergies, allergists point out there are a host of other issues with making a DIY epi-injector. Among these risks are potentially dangerous effects of wrong dosage, reliability of a DIY device and risks of non-sterile handling of the device.

EpiPens are by far the most popular ephinephrine autoinjector on the market, but the cost for a two-pack has risen dramatically. In 2009, a two-pack of EpiPens cost $100, but today it costs approximately $600, according to medical literature and various pharmacies.

However, Dr. Lolita McDavid, pediatrician and medical director of child advocacy and protection at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, said even as a trained physician she would never use a DIY epi-injector on a family member.

“There’s a lot of problems with it,” she told ABC News. McDavid pointed out that in one video online the instructor didn’t even sterilize the vial before filling the syringe, meaning it could possibly cause infection if used.

“I can’t imagine a school would allow a parent to bring that in for their kids,” said McDavid. She pointed out that for these devices, patients would have to prefill the syringe, which could be dangerous if they over or underfill the syringe with the wrong dose of medication. Additionally, to prep the DIY epi-injector a person would have to pre-calibrate the injector so that the needle reaches a specific point in the muscle about 11 to 15 millimeters deep. A miscalculation could mean injecting the drug into a dangerous area like a vein.

“This is a serious drug, you can die,” McDavid said of epinephrine. “[Overdose] symptoms include worsened breathing trouble sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body, buzzing in the ears, confusion and shortness of breath.”

It can also cause extremely high blood pressure, which can be dangerous for a patient.

Dr. Scott Sicherer, Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe professor of pediatrics, allergy and immunology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said in a previous interview that technically parents could use a syringe and vial of epinephrine to stop an anaphylactic reaction, but that it was better to leave that up to medical professionals.

“We know in emergency situation it can be hard to draw up, there might be problems with under-dosing or overdosing and it’s not practical for most people,” he said. “It is hard to do that and expect people to do that in an emergency situation.”

This week, the CEO of Mylan Pharmaceuticals, which makes EpiPens, addressed Congress about the price hike.

“Price and access exist in a balance, and we believe we have struck that balance,” Mylan CEO Heather Bresch said at the hearing, explaining that, under Mylan, access to the EpiPen product had expanded dramatically. The company announced this month it will offer a generic version of the drug for $300 and said it has given away 700,000 EpiPens to schools for free.

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