Review Category : Health

American Stroke Rates Decline, Study Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Stroke rates among Americans have dropped in the last 20 years, according to a new study, with the number of stroke-related deaths on the decline as well.

Researchers followed 14,357 participants in four different U.S. communities from 1987 to 2011 and found significant stroke decrease in those 65 and older. Still, there was a necessity to lower the number of incidences in younger groups, according to the report.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found a 24 percent overall decline in first-time strokes in the past two decades, along with a 20 percent drop per decade in deaths.

The decreases can be linked to smoking cessation and hypertension medications, researchers concluded.

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Phone App Helps E-Smokers Track Their Habit

Smokio(NEW YORK) — A new app claims to turn your e-smoking device into a smart cigarette.

The free app, by the makers of Smokio Electronic cigarettes, is designed to connect its e-smoking device to any smartphone, allowing the user to keep track of “vaping” activity, the word e-smokers use to describe puffing out vapor on an electronic cigarette.

“This free app tracks where you vape, when you vape and the equivalent consumption of those nasty cigarettes you used to smoke,” a promotional video for the app on the company’s website says.

Smokio CEO and co-founder Alex Prot said the app and e-smoke device combo are meant to motivate smokers to quit the same way fitness trackers like Fitbit and Jawbone motivate exercisers to move.

“The purpose of the app is to help people know how much they’re smoking which is the first step towards cutting back or quitting,” he said.

But that assertion may skim the edges of a Food and Drug Administration rule that forbids sellers from marketing e-cigarettes as a way to kick the habit.

An FDA spokeswoman said that the agency does not comment on specific products but any e-cigarette seller representing their product as a smoking cessation method without FDA approval could be subject to FDA enforcement action. She added that most apps used by consumers for “wellness” purposes are not regulated.

Prot claims that the app takes some of the same information the American Cancer Society uses to encourage people to quit smoking and features it in a series of graphs intended to show health improvements such as the “heart rejuvenation” and “increased lung capacity” that come from smoking fewer cigarettes.

The assertions, however, may be misleading.

“The benefits noted in the app are based on not using any tobacco products,” explained Lee Westmaas, director of Tobacco Control Research for the ACS.

Westmaas added that the potential long-term harms of e-cigs are still unknown.

An estimated 4 million Americans now use e-cigarettes, according to the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association.

Prot said that a few thousand people have downloaded the app since it went live last year. The compatible e-smoking device costs around $80.

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Yahoo Japan Will Make Sure Users’ Digital Lives Die When They Do

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Yahoo is offering an appropriately named “Yahoo Ending” service in Japan that will help users “solve problems in the last moments of life,” according to a translated news release.

The service is a bit like a digital undertaker — but with everything prearranged by the person before they die.

It will delete any messages stored in a user’s account and terminate any billing connected to Yahoo. It even allows users to create a memorial tribute site for themselves where they can leave a farewell message for family and friends. The site will only be published once their death is confirmed, according to the company.

Yahoo Ending also allows people to make their own funeral arrangements and offers help for writing a will.

There’s no word yet on whether the service will be introduced outside of Japan.

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Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic Tops List of Best US Hospitals

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The US News and World Report on Tuesday released its annual ranking of the nation’s top hospitals, sprinkled from coast to coast.

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, took the No. 1 spot — for the first time — followed by Boston’s Mass General; Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins; the Cleveland Clinic; and the UCLA Medical Center.

To see how your area hospital measured up, click here for the report’s complete list.

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Mystery Stomach Bug Shuts Down Washington Lake

Photodisc/Thinkstock(BREMERTON, Wash.) — A mysterious stomach bug has shut down a lake in Kitsap County, Washington, where at least 20 weekend swimmers are coping with cramps, nausea and diarrhea.

Health officials are calling the outbreak at Horseshoe Lake “norovirus-like” as they await test results, according to a statement from the Kitsap Public Health District. The lake has been close until further notice.

“Although there is no laboratory confirmation of a specific virus or bacteria responsible for the illnesses at this time, Public Health and Kitsap County are issuing the temporary closure as a precautionary measure while they investigate and to protect the public and prevent any additional illnesses,” the statement reads.

Norovirus is highly contagious, spreading through food, liquid and surfaces that are contaminated with infected feces or vomit, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There’s no specific treatment, so the CDC recommends staying hydrated for the duration of symptoms, which is usually one to three days.

Kitsap County health officials are asking people who visited Horseshoe Lake between July 10 and July 13 to report any symptoms to the Public Health District and seek medical attention if they persist for more than 24 hours. They’re also urging “diligent and frequent hand-washing with warm water and soap” to prevent the spread of the illness.

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Kristin Cavallari Drops 20 Pounds Two Months After Giving Birth

Jonathan Clay Harris/E!(LOS ANGELES) — Kristin Cavallari gave birth to her second son, Jax, in May. However, she’s already dropped 20 pounds and is close to reaching her pre-pregnancy weight.

“I’m still a couple of pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight, but it took a solid three months with [my 23-month-old son] Camden and I think it will be the same this time,” the former reality TV star told E! News. “I’ve really been focusing on my legs and butt. My stomach needs the most work but that takes time more than anything and diet plays a huge role.”

Cavallari, 27, who married NFL quarterback Jay Cutler last year, said that her workout regimen includes four to five workouts at home each week, including squats, lunges and weight lifting. In the next few weeks, she’ll begin taking Pilates classes.

Meanwhile, her diet, chock full of organic veggies, chicken, beef, bison and fish, has remained the same.

“I either make a smoothie, oatmeal or eggs for breakfast and a salad or turkey sandwich for lunch. I have a snack in the afternoon — usually nuts with dried cherries, chips with hummus, or an apple and almond butter,” she said. “I also love avocados with olive oil and sea salt and I put coconut oil in or on everything.”

While getting in shape has helped her maintain the energy required to keep up with two growing boys, the former reality TV star also gushed that she was excited to fit into non-maternity clothes again.

“I couldn’t wait to wear this…romper,” she gushed. “Anything with a waist!”

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Why Americans Refrigerate Eggs and Europeans Don’t

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Why is it that European eggs are stored on supermarket shelves while American eggs chill in the cold section? The difference, experts say, has to do with the egg production process.

Unlike European eggs, American eggs are washed and sprayed with a sanitizer immediately after collection, then placed into a cooler. Bringing the eggs back to room temperature would increase the chance of bacterial growth, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s egg grading manual.

Bottom line: Americans have to refrigerate their eggs because their egg distributors do.

But even eggs that are clean on the surface can harbor unsafe bacteria, said Marianne Gravely, a technical expert with USDA’s food safety hotline.

“Up until about 20 years ago, we thought inside the egg was safe. But then we discovered that the chicken can pass salmonella infection through its ovaries to the egg,” she said, explaining that refrigerating eggs is any easy safeguard against bacteria wherever you live. Cooking eggs thoroughly also reduces the risk of foodborne illness, according to the USDA.

Though American eggs need to chill, these four foods are probably taking up space in your fridge when they can be stored safely on the counter:

Butter

Some people prefer to keep butter at room temperature because it spreads more easily. Gravely said that’s OK, though it might spoil more quickly.

There are two types of foodborne bacteria: those that cause illness and those that spoil food but don’t make you sick. Butter is more prone to the spoiling variety, Gravely said. She recommends keeping half a stick out on the counter and storing the rest in the fridge.

Whole Grain Flours

Processed white flour doesn’t spoil at room temperature, Gravely said. Whole grain flours, on the other hand, do spoil because they contain more oil, she said.

Tomatoes

Keeping tomatoes out of the fridge is not only safe, it makes them tastier, too.

French researchers recently found that the tomato’s flavor results from a complex mix of sugars acids and aroma-producing compounds called volatiles. Chilling tomatoes causes volatiles to breakdown and damages the texture, rendering the fruit flavorless and pulpy.

Most fruits and veggies are perfectly safe to eat when left at room temperature, Gravely said.

Condiments

Refrigerating your mustard and ketchup will prevent them from going rancid for longer, but leaving them out won’t put you at risk for foodborne illness, Gravely said.

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Widowhood Might Delay Dementia’s Onset

iStock/Thinkstock(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) — As strange as it seems, there may be a hidden benefit to becoming a widow.

Dr. Bryan Woodruff, an assistant professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, says that elderly women who lose their husbands may actually stave off the onset of dementia considerably longer than their married counterparts.

Woodruff studied 3,800 married men and women who began to show some brain decline and was astounded to learn that widowed women progressed to full-blown dementia at age 93, about a decade later than women who hadn’t lost a spouse.

More research will be necessary to explain and verify the findings, but Woodruff espouses at least one theory as to why this occurs. He suggests that the support and attention widows receive “trumps the widowhood effects we see in other conditions,” such as depression and the so-called “broken heart” syndrome.

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Holly Robinson Peete on Her Daughter’s ADHD

David Livingston/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Holly Robinson Peete is helping spotlight attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in girls with a new public service announcement with her daughter Ryan.

The 21 Jump Street actress and her daughter appear in the PSA, as part of a campaign to raise awareness about ADHD in girls. According to the campaign Keep Momming, girls are more likely than boys to experience inattentiveness as a symptom of ADHD than the more noticeable hyperactive and impulsive symptoms, sometimes making it more difficult to diagnose.

Peete, a mother of four, was one of those parents who initially mistook her daughter’s lack of attentiveness for something else.

“I was trying to fix all the things that were going on, especially when it came to Ryan’s daydreaming and inability to focus on her homework,” Peete says in the PSA. “There were tears — a lot of tears.”

Adds Ryan in the PSA, “It was really frustrating to get my mom to understand really what I was going through.”

Peete then says, “That’s when I thought there must be something else going on. So that’s when we talked to a doctor and she was diagnosed with ADHD.”

Since then, things have gotten “a lot easier,” Ryan says in the PSA.

Peete, who has openly shared about the challenges of raising her autistic son RJ, Ryan’s twin brother, said that in some ways, she was harder on her daughter.

“With mothers and daughters it’s a very different dynamic,” she said in behind-the-scenes footage. “We see ourselves in our daughters. We want them to be a certain way. We get more frustrated with our girls if they’re not acting a certain way.”

She added, “You have to stop and listen and take these esoteric moments and look your daughter in the eye and say, ‘Sweetie, what are you feeling? What’s going on in your life?”

Said Peete, “As a mom, all we want to do is provide answers for our kids.”

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Calorie Info on Menus Mostly Seen But Often Not Heeded

Jamie Rector/Getty Images(ATLANTA) — Mandated calorie information on menus is meant to help diners make more informed decisions about their food selections, preferably steering them toward healthier choices.

The good news, according to a poll conducted by the government of 10,000 people in 17 states, is that 97 percent of restaurant goers actually either see or look for this crucial data on menus.

However, about 43 percent of respondents to the survey published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report admit they ignore calorie information when ordering a meal.

Meanwhile, women are far more apt to actually use calorie info than men in restaurants, 67 percent to 47 percent, the survey found.

It was in 2010 that the government mandated that restaurants with 20 or more establishments feature caloric information on their menus.

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