Review Category : Health

Post-Menopausal Women Should Add Blueberries to Their Diets

iStock/Thinkstock(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — Post-menopausal women can reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by going blue.

Researchers at the Center for Advancing Exercise and Nutrition Research on Aging say blueberries are the key to keeping blood pressure down while relieving arterial stiffness that often accompanies menopause.

The best part about the finding is that women don’t have to consume large amounts of the fruit to enjoy its unique medicinal effects. About a cup of blueberries a day ought to do the trick.

Since cardiovascular disease kills more Americans than any other preventable condition, lead author Sarah A. Johnson says it’s imperative that post-menopausal women add this food to their daily diet regimen.

If a pint of blueberries isn’t available, 22 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder will suffice.

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Another Woe of the Digital Age: iPhone Separation Anxiety

iStock/Thinkstock(COLUMBIA, Mo.) — If you feel a little anxious and lost without your Apple iPhone, congratulations: you’re more dependent on the device than you probably realized.

Separation anxiety from iPhones definitely exists, according to University of Missouri researchers who claim it can lead to substandard psychological and physiological performance in mental tasks.

As proof, study author Russell Clayton first had 40 people complete a word search puzzle, first with their iPhones within easy reach. The second time, the iPhones were taken away but remained close enough so the participants could still hear their phones ringing.

Overall, when the iPhones were missing, people complained of feeling nervous and unsettled while trying to do the puzzle.

On top of that, Clayton reports that when people are separated from a device that has become an integral part of their everyday lives, they experience a lessening of self and a negative physiological state.

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Universal Flu Vaccine Soon a Reality, Scientists Say

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A flu vaccine that works against all flu viruses and provides protection for at least two decades is getting closer to reality, according to scientists at Mount Sinai Health System.

The organization’s vaccine would offer better, broader and longer-lasting protection against seasonal influenza viruses as well as novel influenza viruses, Dr. Peter Palese, the chair of the department of microbiology of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told ABC News Monday.

“It could potentially protect someone for a whole lifetime,” Palese said.

For example, this year’s flu vaccine was not well-matched for the dominate strain of the virus currently circulating, Palese said. It is only 33 percent effective, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because the virus “drifted” from its original form after the vaccine went into production. The production process has to start several months before the flu season begins.

The number of people who have the flu in the U.S. is at epidemic levels, according to the CDC, with widespread activity reported in at least 43 states. With this year’s strain especially virulent, 26 children have died from flu complications so far this season. The agency is also part of another group working on a universal vaccine, a CDC spokeswoman told ABC News.

A universal shot would prevent this year’s scenario from reoccurring by targeting the part of the influenza virus that remains unchanged from year to year, explained Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

Schaffner described the influenza virus as a sphere with “a bunch of lollipops on stems sticking out of it.” The “sucker” part of the lollipop changes from year to year but the stem parts do not, Schaffner said. The universal vaccine would attack the stem portions of the virus, theoretically protecting against all strains, he said.

“A universal vaccine is the Holy Grail and the prospects of what this could do for medicine is staggering,” Schaffner said, adding that while hopeful, questions remain about how effective such a vaccine will be.

“So far no one has been able to develop a vaccine that works against every type of flu,” said Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News chief health and medical editor. “I’d urge caution until scientists present data showing they’ve really been able to achieve this.”

Palese said the Mount Sinai team was hopeful the vaccine would work.

“We really hope it will be effective on humans — but of course the jury is still out,” he said.

Palese said the team’s universal vaccine will go into clinical trials later this year.

Learn how the flu spreads and how to protect you and your family. Join ABC News Health tweet chat Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET. Here’s how.

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Does Your Computer Know You Best?

vasabii/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — You may stop and take pause the next time you “Like” something on Facebook.

A new study by researchers at the University of Cambridge and Stanford University reveals that your computer may know you better than your friends— maybe even better than your spouse—simply by analyzing your Facebook “Likes.”

In the study, 86,000 volunteers were asked to complete a 100-question personality test that assessed participants’ personalities based on the “big five” traits: conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, openness, and neuroticism.

The volunteers were then invited to ask friends and family to judge their personalities with a shorter ten-question survey.

The 17,622 participants were judged by one friend or family member, while 14,410 were judged by two people.

Surprisingly, a computer could more accurately predict the participants’ personalities than their co-workers if they had as little as 10 “Likes,” and better than their family members or spouse with 70 “Likes” and 300 “Likes,” respectively.

The results reveal much about our social-media crazed world— and our privacy, or lack thereof, in it.

The upside? Facebook “Likes” can be our guide in many important life decisions: who to marry, who to hire, or even, as the co-author of the study, Dr. David Stillwell, said, who to “elect as president.”

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Patient at Colorado Hospital Being Tested for Ebola

Fuse/Thinkstock(DENVER) — Health officials in Colorado are now testing a sick patient for Ebola.

The patient is in isolation at Denver Health Medical Center.

The person recently returned to Colorado from affected areas in Africa and was going to be tested for Ebola, but then it was decided the patient was low risk and it wasn’t necessary.

However, late on Monday, the hospital announced that it will test the person for Ebola.

The hospital says the patient’s condition has not deteriorated, but because doctors can’t figure out what the person has, they will test for the virus.

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Patient at Colorado Hospital Being Tested for Ebola

Fuse/Thinkstock(DENVER) — Health officials in Colorado are now testing a sick patient for Ebola.

The patient is in isolation at Denver Health Medical Center.

The person recently returned to Colorado from affected areas in Africa and was going to be tested for Ebola, but then it was decided the patient was low risk and it wasn’t necessary.

However, late on Monday, the hospital announced that it will test the person for Ebola.

The hospital says the patient’s condition has not deteriorated, but because doctors can’t figure out what the person has, they will test for the virus.

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Devon Still’s Heartbreaking Update on His Daughter’s Cancer Battle

Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images(CINCINNATI) — Cincinnati Bengals player Devon Still delivered some heartbreaking news on his Instagram account this weekend: His daughter’s battle with cancer is not yet over.

“I wanted to hear so bad that my daughter’s cancer was gone and when I didn’t it hurt me bad,” Still wrote Sunday. “I couldn’t even bring myself to tell my family the results without breaking down. I honestly just wanted to shut down from every one.

“But I understand that blessing don’t happen when I want them to, they happen when they’re suppose to. So we are going to keep faith and keep fighting no matter what. #LeahStrong #BeatCancer.”

Still, 25, a defensive tackle, had originally been cut from the Bengals roster, but once the team learned his daughter had stage 4 cancer, they re-signed him to their practice squad. He was later placed on the active roster.

Leah underwent surgery and chemotherapy after doctors found a cancerous growth in her abdomen in June, according to ABC News affiliate WCPO-TV.

That look when the doc says you can leave after an unexpected stay at the hospital because of a fever

A photo posted by Devon Still (@man_of_still75) on Jan 11, 2015 at 10:09am PST

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Devon Still’s Heartbreaking Update on His Daughter’s Cancer Battle

Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images(CINCINNATI) — Cincinnati Bengals player Devon Still delivered some heartbreaking news on his Instagram account this weekend: His daughter’s battle with cancer is not yet over.

“I wanted to hear so bad that my daughter’s cancer was gone and when I didn’t it hurt me bad,” Still wrote Sunday. “I couldn’t even bring myself to tell my family the results without breaking down. I honestly just wanted to shut down from every one.

“But I understand that blessing don’t happen when I want them to, they happen when they’re suppose to. So we are going to keep faith and keep fighting no matter what. #LeahStrong #BeatCancer.”

Still, 25, a defensive tackle, had originally been cut from the Bengals roster, but once the team learned his daughter had stage 4 cancer, they re-signed him to their practice squad. He was later placed on the active roster.

Leah underwent surgery and chemotherapy after doctors found a cancerous growth in her abdomen in June, according to ABC News affiliate WCPO-TV.

That look when the doc says you can leave after an unexpected stay at the hospital because of a fever

A photo posted by Devon Still (@man_of_still75) on Jan 11, 2015 at 10:09am PST

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Man Allegedly Keeps Crowdsourced Funds Raised in Sick Baby’s Name

Courtesy Rachel Knickerbocker(MILWAUKEE) — The Knickerbockers’ 5-month-old son Noah had been awaiting a heart transplant for almost his entire life, so when a family friend offered to set up a GoFundMe page for him, they were grateful for the help.

But then the page disappeared. And apparently so did the money.

“I went to check the dollar amount, and it told me that…this page no longer exists,” Rachel Knickerbocker told ABC News. “Then, you know, my stomach dropped. So what does that mean?”

She said she logged into Facebook a short time later and saw that the friend who created the account — her husband’s godfather, Ken Wills — posted images of three checks for donations to organizations that helped Noah and his family. At first, Knickerbocker wondered where he got the money to do such a nice thing.

“Then, it clicked,” Knickerbocker said, realizing that the money was from the GoFundMe site.

They’d been planning on using the $6,500 raised toward a few months’ rent on an apartment near the Wisconsin Children’s Hospital, where Noah has been receiving care for five months. The Knickerbockers have been staying at the Ronald McDonald House across the street from the hospital with their 3-year-old, Nathan, because their home is an hour away from the hospital.

The Knickerbockers said they took turns pleading with Wills to let them decide how to allocate the money raised in their son’s name. They have health insurance, but left their jobs in Huntley, Illinois, to relocate to Milwaukee for Noah, Knickerbocker said.

“The day prior, he told my husband he would have it sent to him,” Knickerbocker said. “It’s just kind of upsetting. We have so much going on already. Do we really need that, too?”

Knickerbocker said she learned that Noah had a congenital heart problem when she was about 22 weeks pregnant with him. He underwent his first heart surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital before he was born, but three days after his birth in Milwaukee, he was placed on the heart transplant waiting list.

Noah has critical aortic valve stenosis, causing the left side of his heart to be underdeveloped and rendering it nearly useless, said Dr. Steven Zangwill, who directs the heart failure and heart transplant program at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. As a result of his heart failure, Noah has other health issues, including breathing problems, Zangwill said.

In early December, Noah was intubated because his heart worsened, and Wills tweeted a photo of the baby the Knickerbockers say he’s never met, writing to celebrities’ Twitter accounts with messages including “you can make miracles happen this holiday season. Plz retweet. #HelpNoah. Thanks.”

On Christmas, he did the same thing with a photo of the sick child in a Santa costume, tweeting “Merry Christmas. My only Christmas wish is for you to donate and retweet.”

In a screen grab of the GoFundMe page provided to ABC News by Knickerbocker before it was deleted, Wills stated that he would be auctioning off autographs he’d collected over the years to raise money for Noah, and “this is not a scam.”

“PLEASE help and join Noah on his journey to a heart transplant,” he wrote.

After closing the account, he posted images of the checks to his Facebook page, for $2,500 to the Ronald McDonald House, $2,500 to the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and $1,000 to Boston Children’s Hospital.

Boston Children’s Hospital said it received no donation at all from Wills in Noah’s name as of Jan. 6. The Ronald McDonald House Charities’ global office said it received a $125 donation on Dec. 29 and hadn’t received anything further as of Jan. 5. And the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin said it received a smaller donation than the $2,500 check Wills posted, but policy prevented it from disclosing the exact amount without Wills’ permission. He hasn’t called them back to give that permission, they said.

Wills did not respond to requests by ABC News for comment.

Knickerbocker said Wills sent her family a copy of a thank-you note addressed to him from the Ronald McDonald House for his donation, but after speaking with Ann Petrie, the CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities Eastern Wisconsin, Knickerbocker learned it was a fake.

Petrie told ABC News that her chapter did not receive a donation from Wills and the thank-you note wasn’t on the official Ronald McDonald House Charities letterhead.

“It clearly looks like some language is probably taken from a Ronald McDonald House Charities letter and then manipulated into a letter to give to this family, making them think a significant donation was made,” she said. “I feel bad for anyone who donated hard-earned money not making it to the charity or the family as a gift.”

The Ronald McDonald House Charities global office said the note looked like one of its thank-you responses to an online donation, but it didn’t mention the dollar amount of the contribution, which is normally included in such messages.

“Without reviewing the original communication from Mr. Wills the Global office of RMHC can neither confirm nor deny its legitimacy,” the organization said in a statement to ABC News.

The family has another GoFundMe page and hopes to restart their fundraising effort.

GoFundMe gave the following statement to ABC News:

“Anytime that GoFundMe is able to place a hold on accounts that receive complaints, and refund donors, we do so. Unfortunately, we did not actually receive any complaints from the family about this campaign, and the full balance of the campaign in question has already been withdrawn by the account holder. At this point, we would strongly encourage the family to contact their local authorities to resolve this matter.”

“Because crowdfunding creates such a robust paper trail of account holder activity, fraud on GoFundMe is extremely rare,” the statement added.

Knickerbocker said her husband filed a complaint with the Colorado Attorney General’s office. The office told ABC News it could neither disclose the filing nor handling of a complaint.

Though the Knickerbockers’ funding issues are far from over, they got some good news on Monday: doctors found a heart for Noah. He underwent heart transplant surgery early Monday morning, his mother told ABC News, and his family is eager to see him in recovery.

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Expert Tips for Writing the Perfect, Prompt Thank You Note

RTimages/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — If you still haven’t written a thank you note for a gift you got last month, you’ve broken one of the rules of thank-you note etiquette already.

There’s still opportunity to redeem yourself, however — but it’s not by email, text or even phone.

Jacqueline Whitmore, an internationally-recognized etiquette expert, author and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, says while an email or text message is nice and a phone call is fine, nothing conveys heartfelt thanks better than a handwritten note.

“A handwritten note is a tangible and personal expression of your appreciation. It signifies that you took the time to focus solely on the giver, that you cared enough to express your gratitude,” Whitmore said. “Letter writing is a lost art and when you write a personal note, you are creating something that will last, both on a piece paper and in a person’s memory.”

Here are Whitmore’s seven tips on how to write the perfect thank-you note:

1. Keep it short and simple. “A thank-you note doesn’t have to be long, it just has to say thank you.” The average thank-you note contains 4-5 lines, Whitmore said.

2. Write by hand. Don’t worry if you think your handwriting is illegible. “Your handwriting will hold allure for the reader because it is an extension of yourself,” she said.

3. Start with a salutation. Begin by writing, “Dear Paul, or Hello Paul.” This makes it more personal than just launching into the note, Whitmore advised.

4. Express your gratitude. Be specific by mentioning the gift. “Instead of saying, ‘Thank you for the pottery.’ Try, ‘Thank you for the handmade ceramic bowl from New Mexico.'”

5. Mention how you plan to use the gift or how much the gift means to you. For example, “’The bowl goes perfect with my décor and I plan to proudly display it on my coffee table,”’ Whitmore said. “If you receive money or a gift card, allude how you intend to use it by saying something like, ‘Now I can buy that new pair of shoes I’ve always wanted.'” Even if you don’t like the gift, a simple thank-you will suffice, she said.

6. Reiterate your gratitude. Close your letter by saying, “Thank you again for your generous and thoughtful gift.”

7. Send it promptly. “It’s best to send your thank-you note within a week of receiving a gift,” Whitemore said. “If more time passes or you simply forget to write a note, send the note as soon as you remember. After all, it’s better to send it late than never.”

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