Review Category : Health

Traffic Deaths Continue to Rise in First Half of 2016

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The upward trend of motor vehicle deaths that began in late 2014 has continued to surge through the first half of 2016, according to preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council.

The non-profit group, using data from state authorities, said deaths on U.S. roadways since January have increased 9 percent from the same period last year and 18 percent from two years ago.

The council estimates that 19,100 people have died and 2.2 million people were injured in motor vehicles from January to the end of June.

2015 marked the largest year-over-year increase in vehicle-related deaths in 50 years, according to the council.

The council warns that the grim trend is not showing any signs of improvement.

“Our complacency is killing us,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “One hundred deaths every day should outrage us. Americans should demand change to prioritize safety actions and protect ourselves from one of the leading causes of preventable death.”

U.S. roadways have seen a spike in the number of drivers since gasoline prices and unemployment rates have fallen, likely contributing to more drivers on the road and more accidents.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Teen Becomes Fourth Person to Survive Brain-Eating Amoeba in 50 Years

iStock/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) — A Florida teen has become only the fourth person in the last 50 years to survive an infection from “naegleria fowleri” — also commonly known as the “brain-eating amoeba.”

Sebastian DeLeon, 16, continues his recovery after contracting the infection earlier this month.

DeLeon was taken to Florida Children’s Hospital in Orlando, Florida, with a severe headache on Aug. 8. Doctors believe the teen, a camp counselor, was exposed to the amoeba at a freshwater lake earlier in the week.

Immediately after arriving in the emergency room, DeLeon’s doctors suspected a serious infection, especially since the teen had early signs of meningitis. Tests of DeLeon’s spinal fluids found evidence of the amoeba, an infection that is fatal in 97 percent of cases.

“He presented on Friday and had a worsening headache on Saturday,” Dr. Humberto Liriano, who treated DeLeon, told reporters Tuesday. “The boy was hospitalized on Sunday, 30 hours after first developing a headache.”

Doctors took quick action to save DeLeon, lowering the teen’s body temperature and putting him in an induced coma.

Doctors at Florida Children’s Hospital were also able to get quick access to a rare medication currently being investigated by the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention called “miltefosine,” which has shown some promise in killing the amoeba. Since the medication may not work quickly enough to stop the damage from the amoeba, the doctors made the decision to put DeLeon in an induced coma and lower his overall body temperature to just 33 degrees in order to keep the amoeba still.

“The amoeba loves warm water and you cool it and the amoeba becomes a cyst,” Liriano explained.

The amoeba is naturally occurring in fresh water lakes and ponds. It can cause a fatal infection when it travels up the nasal passage to the brain.

DeLeon remained in an induced coma for days with medical staff monitoring his vital signs.

“We watched and waited for Sebastian while he was in the coma,” Liraino said.

A few days later doctors woke him up and removed his breathing tube. According to Liraino, DeLeon was speaking hours later.

“He’s walking, talking. It’s a miracle,” said Liraino.

DeLeon’s mother thanked the “wonderful team” at the hospital that treated her son.

“God has given us a miracle for having our son back and having him full of life,” she said. “We are so thankful for the gift of life.”

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Synthetic Marijuana Suspected in Mass LA Overdose

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — At least 18 people were evaluated and 14 people were transported to hospitals after a suspected mass overdose in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles Monday. Health officials said they believe the overdoses were caused by the synthetic marijuana drug known as “spice.”

Symptoms of the overdoses include violent behavior, seizures and altered levels of consciousness, according to Los Angeles Fire Department press officials.

“We don’t have toxicological confirmation, but it’s presumably spice, which is a synthetic type of cannabis or marijuana,” Dr. Marc Eckstein, the Los Angeles Fire Department medical director and EMS bureau commander, told reporters on the scene. “Because it’s synthetic, nobody for sure knows what active ingredients are in there, the strength is variable.”

Last Friday the LAFD responded to another incident where 50 people were evaluated for overdose symptoms and 38 people were transported to a local hospital for suspected overdoses related to spice, according to an LAFD spokesman. He confirmed to ABC News the drug has become a growing problem for officials.

“The drug use here is very widespread amongst the homeless population here in the Skid Row area,” Eckstein told ABC News station KABC-TV. “People would use or smoke spice at their own peril, they’re taking their lives into their own hands.”

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American Heart Association Issues New Recommendations for Kids and Sugar

DigitalVision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Children and teens from the ages of 2 to 18 should consume no more than 25 grams of sugar a day, according to new guidelines issued by the American Heart Association (AHA).

The AHA is also recommending that children younger than 2 should consume no foods or drinks with added sugars.

“Strong evidence supports the association of added sugars with increased cardiovascular disease risk in children through increased energy intake, increased adiposity and dyslipidemia,” the AHA said in its scientific statement released Monday.

The guidelines mean that these children and teens can have roughly 6 teaspoons of added sugar daily, amounting to around 100 calories.

Translated to every day foods, kids’ sugar intake should not exceed what is found in two bowls of spaghetti with tomato sauce or four corn dogs or three cheeseburgers.

“We’re talking about added sugar, not the naturally occurring sugars found in dairy products or fruit and really there is mounting evidence that sugar is the major culprit, probably more so than fat and salt, in our diets,” said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News’ senior medical contributor, who has a master’s degree in nutrition.

“We know it triggers addiction centers in the brain. It triggers inflammation in our body, the stimulation of fat around our organs,” Ashton said of added sugar. “All of that puts on a pathway to heart disease.”

The AHA also advised that children should have no more than one sugar-sweetened beverage per week.

Ashton recommends making children a smoothie made with low-fat milk and berries instead of buying them a sugary drink.

She said the AHA is targeting “future heart patients” with the new guidelines.

“American Heart Association [is] taking the lead in targeting future patients that they don’t want to have heart disease,” she added.

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Lagree Fitness Method Founder Leads Live-Stream Workout on “GMA”

Courtesy Sebastien Lagree(NEW YORK) — Sebastien Lagree is the creator of the patented Lagree Fitness Method, inventor of the patented Megaformer and Supra tilting-axes resistance workout machines, owner of Lagree Fitness Studio in Los Angeles and a celebrity fitness trainer. Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens and Sofia Vergara are just some of the A-list stars who are devotees of Lagree’s training method.

Lagree will lead a live-streamed workout Wednesday on ABC News’ Good Morning America for “Workout Wednesday.” The workout will incorporate all the elements of physical fitness and some elements of Lagree Fitness to develop strength, endurance, core, cardio, balance and flexibility.

Tune in Wednesday starting at 8 a.m. ET, for “Workout Wednesday.” In the meantime, here are some of Lagree’s workout tips:

SLOW and CONTROLLED MOVEMENT: The entire Lagree Fitness Method is based on slow and controlled movements. We teach in at least four second counts on the positive and four second counts on the negative contraction. Slow movement or reduced speed movement forces your body to recruit more muscle fibers and activate the slow twitch (ST) muscle fibers.

COMPOUNDED MOVEMENT: Because our classes focuses on efficiency, we keep as many muscles engaged in a same movement as possible. We integrate upper and lower body together in each exercise. In addition to being extremely time efficient, it will automatically trigger the core.

RANGE OF MOTION: Stay in the range of motion where you only feel the muscles you are supposed to work. Avoid big or “excessive” range of motion. Big range of motion can put too much stress on the joints and connective tissues. Lagree Fitness is high intensity but low impact on the joints.

CONSTANT TENSION: The objective of the class is to effectively stimulate your ST muscle fibers to get that tone and well defined physique. The fibers need at least 60 seconds of constant and continuous tension, so it’s important to “stay” in the movement for as long as possible and avoid taking breaks (unless you must absolutely need to).

TIMING: Try to do each exercise for at least 60 seconds to stimulate the ST muscle fibers, which is the endurance/fat burning fiber.

WORKOUT AT YOUR OWN PACE: Each body will adapt differently, so it’s very important to go at your own pace.

FLOW: The sequences are organized to keep working on the same group of muscles. This will also keep the heart rate up.

And here are his tips to maximize your workout burn:

YOU CAN’T OUT-TRAIN A BAD DIET: If you really want to be lean, then you must stop eating junk food. No matter how often and how long you train, as long as you eat junk food, you will have a hard if not impossible time burning the extra fat.

IT’S NOT HOW LONG YOU WORKOUT, IT’S HOW YOU WORKOUT: Focus on form and intensity, not on how much time you are actually spending at the gym. The body responds to stimulation, not time. If there is not enough stimulation, the body is just burning calories. You must force the body to adapt.

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Your Body: Discussing Sexual Orientation with Your Doctor

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

It looks like emergency room doctors and nurses are more nervous than they need to be.

A national survey of ER patients, doctors and nurses found that 80 percent of doctors and nurses are worried patients may feel offended if their sexual orientation is questioned and, therefore, may avoid asking about it.

However, according to the survey, only 11 percent of patients say they would feel offended.

It’s important for doctors to know your sexual orientation because it helps them use appropriate and respectful language. It can also be important in helping to counsel patients on risk-reducing practices, testing and treatments.

Knowing a patient’s sexual orientation also helps healthcare providers know the whole person, not just a symptom or diagnosis.

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Couple Celebrates 61 Years of Marriage by Eating Their Original Wedding Cake BEACH, Fla.) — This Satellite Beach, Florida, couple certainly has their cake and eats it, too!

After 61 years of marriage, Ann and Ken Fredericks still celebrate their anniversary by eating a piece of their original wedding cake.

“It’s finally gotten down to a pretty small piece,” Ann told ABC News of the cake that’s dwindled away over the years.

However, it’s a tasty tradition they hope to continue for years to come — if it lasts.

“We’re beginning to think we may outlive the tradition,” she laughed. “I’m 82 and my husband is 86 and this year was our 61st wedding anniversary. The cake is only like 3 inches by 4 inches, what we have left of it. So we both enjoyed a very small piece. I’m torn between eating and having it over with or making it last. And then we said, ‘You know, it would be fun if we outlive it.’ That would be a goal for us.”

The happy couple wed on Aug. 19, 1955, and claim the dark fruit cake made by Ann’s grandmother is just as tasty now as it was then — although the coloring is a bit different.

“It tastes fine. It’s never been in the refrigerator or the freezer,” Ann explained. “I keep it wrapped in saran wrap. When we started the tradition it used to be wax paper because that’s all we had back then. It doesn’t spoil. Dark fruit cake is made with brandy and it’s made with enough alcohol in it so it doesn’t spoil. But let me tell you — it looks black. It’s that dark now after all these years.”

It’s been preserved for generations thanks to her grandmother’s recipe, which Ann wishes she had to this day.

“The caterer at the reception gave my mother the top tier of our cake. My grandmother made it,” she recalled. “She used her recipe and I wish I had that recipe. It hung in her cellar in cheesecloth to age and then it was taken to a baker and sealed with an almond glaze. Dark fruit cake is moist and it will bleed through regular white frosting. It was glazed with almond glaze then topped with white icing.”
Each year, the Fredericks pour a shot of brandy over the slice of cake to re-moisten it. It’s safe to say that’s one of their ingredients to such a healthy marriage.

“Here we are in our 80s and we still love each other. We still go to bed at night and we snuggle,” said Ann.

“We’ve raised three children, put them all through college and we’ve got nine grandchildren. We’ve had a really fortunate life,” she added.

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EpiPen Price Rise Hurting Parents Getting Ready for School Year, Experts Say YORK) — The skyrocketing price of EpiPens in recent years is putting added pressure on parents as they get ready to send kids back to school prepped for allergic reactions, according to experts.

The EpiPen, which is the last remaining epinephrine injector on the market, has seen a dramatic cash price increase over the past decade, according to Consumer Reports.

The website Good Rx, which Consumer Reports cites and which finds drug prices, currently lists EpiPens as costing around $600 at multiple drug stores.

In 2007, when Mylan Pharmaceuticals took over producing the drug from Merck, the cash price of the pens was about $50, according to a study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The device holds $1 of epinephrine, according to Bloomberg.

EpiPens are covered by Medicaid, but private insurance requires patients to hit a deductible before insurance kicks in.

Allergy experts and organizations are concerned that the price spike could have serious health consequences as some parents struggle to pay for the medication before sending children back to school.

Dr. James R. Baker, CEO and chief medical officer of the patient advocacy group Food Allergy Research & Education, said it’s not low-income families that are the are likely to suffer but families with high-deductible health plans that may require them to pay thousands out of pocket.

“These patients are faced with a bill for several thousand dollars for several epinephrine auto-injectors if they have not already fulfilled their out-of-pocket requirement under their health plan,” Baker told ABC News. “This can be devastating for many families who do not have financial reserves.”

Baker said his group has started to hear reports of families taking extreme steps of “stretching” EpiPens to save money.

“Anecdotal reports to us suggest that for some families it’s not unusual to split two-packs of auto-injectors, keep epinephrine auto-injectors past their expiration dates, or delay or ultimately not refill their prescriptions,” said Baker. “This is an enormous patient safety issue.”

Mylan Pharmaceuticals said in a statement to ABC News that it has provided 700,000 free EpiPens to schools and has given coupons to families who have trouble paying for the medication.

Officials from the company said they realize more needs to be done to help patients with high-deductible plans.

“With changes in the healthcare insurance landscape, an increasing number of people and families are enrolled in high deductible health plans, and deductible amounts continue to rise,” company officials said in a statement. “This shift has presented new challenges for consumers, and they are bearing more of the cost. This change to the industry is not an easy challenge to address, but we recognize the need and are committed to working with customers and payors to find solutions to meet the needs of the patients and families we serve.”

The company has declined to comment on the price increase, according to the New York Times.

For allergists prepping families for back to school season, the price increase has resulted in a flurry of calls from concerned parents. Dr. Scott Sicherer, Professor of Pediatrics and a researcher at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai in New York, said he recommends parents have at least two EpiPens on hand for children with severe allergies at all times.

It can be especially burdensome for the families with younger children since doctors recommend making sure extra EpiPens are available at places where the child spends much of their time such as school, camp or a relatives home.

“Patients depend on it and we want our patients to carry two units with them at all times,” said Sicherer. “For children, they will need more than two units since they will be in different places so they need to keep it in camp or school. We also recommend watching for the expiration date and to renew it when it comes time to.

“It does become a financial burden when they are so expensive.”

Sicherer said that there are not many good options for families to save money. While he offers coupons to patients to help out with cost, he said another option is getting a syringe and vial of epinephrine to use in an emergency. But he said that is likely not a good option for many patients, especially for young children.

“We know in emergency situation it can be hard to draw up, there might be problems with underdosing 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.”

Sicherer said he hoped legislative action will be taken to help bring down the cost of the drug for patients and families, as well as, further research to see if EpiPens can be used past their current expiration dates.

Multiple members of congress are now also calling on Mylan Pharmaceuticals to explain their pricing.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether Mylan has violated antitrust laws — noting that her own daughter carries an EpiPen for her nut allergy.

“Many Americans, including my own daughter, rely on this life-saving product,” she wrote. “Although the antitrust laws do not prohibit price gouging, regardless of how unseemly it may be, they do prohibit the use of unreasonable restraints of trade to facilitate or protect a price increase.”

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Breast Density Matters for Cancer Screening, Study Finds

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — For some women over 50, the density of their breasts could affect how often they should be screened for breast cancer, based on a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Current recommendations from different health organizations, including the American Cancer Society and National Comprehensive Cancer Network, are mixed. Generally these recommendations advise the average woman to start mammograms somewhere between the ages of 40 and 50, and at intervals between every one to two years.

In the study published Monday, researchers from the Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network attempted to understand which groups of women could benefit from more screening and which groups of women could benefit from less screening.

While their simulations found high-risk women with dense breast tissue would benefit from yearly screenings, women at average risk without dense breast tissue could benefit from less frequent screening. They suggested these women could get screened every three years, a departure from all current recommendations in the U.S., which generally recommend annual or biannual screening.

The researchers used simulation data, meaning that they did not conduct the study on living patients, but ran computerized models based on a large database from the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium.

Women can be at higher risk for breast cancer due to their genetics, environment or lifestyle according to the American Cancer Society. Almost 250,000 cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2016 for U.S. women, with over 40,000 deaths from breast cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening every other year after 50, while the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and the American College of Radiology recommends annual screening starting at 40. The American Society of Breast Surgeons has a hybrid approach, encouraging conversations about risks and benefits with a doctor and encouraging some women to start earlier and others later.

In the new study, researchers found annual screening prevented approximately 15 to 20 breast cancer deaths per 1,000 high-risk women with dense breasts screened. In average-risk women without dense breast tissue, there was not a major change in cancer deaths averted if they switched from annual to triennial screening (4.7 deaths averted during annual screening compared with 3.4 deaths averted), but there was a large decrease in false positives. False positives can mean increased cost, anxiety and unnecessary procedures for patients.

The authors say these low-risk women could consider screening less frequently — once every three years — so there are fewer false positives leading to fewer unnecessary biopsies and lower costs.

Dr. Sheldon Feldman, a practicing breast surgeon and chief of breast surgery division of New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, as well as the president of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, said the study was interesting but the findings were too preliminary to lead to recommendations.

“Whether it should be every three years or two years, I would question,” said Feldman.

“Certainly less frequent screening based on this data would be reasonable,” said Feldman; however as far as making specific recommendations, “it’s not ready for prime time.”

He said the different recommendations have been confusing for both doctors and patients.

“There have been different recommendations from different groups, which change quite frequently,” said Feldman. “It is difficult to have consistent screening recommendations as the technology and landscape shifts with time.”

Despite technological gains in screening, Feldman said, it is “extremely difficult to study and to prove that the benefits outweigh potential risks” and to determine what the optimal screening interval should be.

“The goal, of course, is to find disease early without subjecting patients to unnecessary diagnosis and biopsies,” he said.

The study authors said more research is needed to affect current guidelines, but that their findings suggest that it is important to look more closely at the association between breast density and the benefit as well as harm of screening.

Dr. Wendie Berg, a professor of radiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, and one of the co-authors of the BI-RADS system, the widely-used standard for breast imaging classification, said she was concerned that women with less-dense breasts but over all high risk could be misclassified and not be screened as much as they should be, if these preliminary findings affected recommendations.

Berg said that risk models work great for a population, but are less effective for a specific patient.

“At the population level, we can identify women at high risk, but at the individual level they [data models] are not that great,” she said. “I think at the end of the day, a woman needs to advocate for herself to get the best screening possible to find breast cancer early.”

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Report: Trying to Eat Healthy Can Lead to More Eating Disorders

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Trying to eat healthy can actually lead to eating disorders, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The report, giving guidance to pediatricians on the topics of obesity and eating disorders, focuses on ways that Pediatricians can help, and according to the report, “the lifetime prevalence of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder in adolescent females are 0.3 percent, 0.9 percent, and 1.6 percent, respectively.”

Teenage obesity continues to be the third most common chronic disease within this age group with no significant change between 2003 and 2012.

For prevention, the report’s recommendations include discouraging “dieting” and skipping meals, promoting a positive body image and monitoring any weight loss among teens, eating frequent family meals, and asking the teen about bullying.

Even though counseling about weight or weight loss can be a sensitive topic and requires more time, pediatricians are again reminded of the importance.

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