Review Category : Health

The Devastating Effects Heroin Has on the Body and Mind

ABC News(NEW YORK) — In search of euphoria, heroin users devastate their bodies and minds. Twenty-three percent of people who try it at least once become addicted, according to Dr. Charles O’Brien of the University of Pennsylvania.

“For most, addiction is a lifelong disease,” said O’Brien, a professor of psychiatry at the Penn Medicine Neuroscience Center.

Heroin’s most vicious attack is on the brain. The powerful narcotic activates the brain’s natural opioid receptors that regulate pain, reward and pleasure and highjacks their pathways. That euphoric high leads to physical changes in brain molecules, Dr. Joshua Lee of the NYU Langone Medical Center said.

O’Brien says heroin also “creates memories.” For recovering addicts, just smelling or seeing heroin can trigger intense memories with uncontrollable cravings.

And there is always the chance of a deadly overdose. “On too much heroin, breathing slows down or stops completely,” said Lee.

During heroin withdrawal, the “brain typically registers high stress, anxiety and sleeplessness,” said Lee. On heroin, blood pressure and heart rate slow down, but they race up during withdrawal, O’Brien said.

Users also report feeling intense aches, muscle pain, restless leg, bone pain and skin crawling sensations during withdrawal. On heroin, pain is suppressed, but afterward the pain control system becomes hyper-sensitive, amplifying every discomfort, O’Brien added.

Finally, heroin activates millions of natural opiate receptors throughout the body. For example, heroin paralyzes the gut, which then becomes hyperactive during withdrawal causing nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, O’Brien said.

Lee said heroin also triggers a histamine release that leads to tears, runny nose, sweating and itchiness.

Probably the greatest danger of heroin, say experts, is physical dependence. “While a typical dose doesn’t directly destroy your brain, overall the addiction can destroy your life,” said Lee.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Birth of a Sibling Could Mean a Healthier Body Weight for the First-Born

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Younger siblings can be annoying, but a new study suggests they may be good for your health.

In the longitudinal study that tracked nearly 700 children across the U.S., researchers found that kids who did not have a sibling by the time they were in first grade were more often obese at that age compared to children who gained a sibling between ages three and four.

Essentially, the birth of a sibling a few years into a child’s life was associated with a healthier body mass index trajectory for that first child. The study was published Friday in the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers emphasized they are not claiming the birth of a sibling directly causes weight loss but that there is an association, and these findings need to be studied further. The surprisingly robust association led the study’s authors to wonder what factors might be at play.

“The possibility that seems most compelling,” said Dr. Julie Lumeng, a pediatrician at the C.S. Mott Hospital at the University of Michigan and an author on the study, “is that if you have a younger sibling, you’re more likely to run around.”

Simply put, having a younger sibling is like having a built-in playmate: at any given time, the siblings are more likely to engage in some kind of active play.

Another theory that is a little harder to prove is that once a second child arrives, parents tend to loosen up, which means less restrictive feeding practices for children. Somewhat counter-intuitively, previous research has shown that the more a parent restricts a child’s eating, the higher the risk of obesity. It may be that parental control prevents kids from learning to listen to their own hunger cues, thus promoting unhealthy eating habits.

Keith Ayoob, a nutrition expert and associate clinical professor in pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said family dynamics may play an important role in determining whether a child develops sound eating habits and a healthy BMI.

“There’s a tendency for parents to constantly feed, whether the child is hungry or not,” he said. “Children can be silenced with food — and that really ends up leading to a dysfunctional relationship with food. It’s a very quick fix.”

While reflecting on his 30-plus years working with children and families, Ayoob noted that parents often lack patience.

“I think technology has convinced parents, and everybody, that solutions come instantly, and with kids they just don’t,” he said.

Parents must practice consistency and discipline, and never reward tantrums, he said. But be sure to make it clear to your little one that it’s the bad behavior, not the child, you don’t like.

Both physicians emphasized that no one is recommending having a second child purely for the sake of affecting the first child’s weight.

Instead, Lumeng encourages parents to consider setting up a play date this weekend, or enjoying a day out in the park, to promote healthy habits.

“This study might be a trigger for people to reflect on their family rhythms and what the family dynamic is,” she said. “If there were a younger sibling in the family, how might the rhythms change in a way that might be protective against obesity?”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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How Raising California Smoking Age Could Save Lives

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — A California bill that could potentially raise the smoking age to 21 could have a wide-ranging effect on young adult health in the state, according to experts.

Many smokers start as teens, even before they are legally of age to purchase cigarettes, but experts say if the age is raised to 21, it could help stop some teens from becoming addicted to cigarettes.

“This is California’s chance to make history by drastically reducing Big Tobacco’s ability to target and poison our youth. We will no longer stand idly by while they continue to get generation after generation addicted,” said Sen. Ed Hernandez in a statement. “We need to make this happen for the sake of our children and the overall health of our state.”

Although it remains unclear if Gov. Jerry Brown will approve the measure, members from the vaping industry issued a statement that they were disappointed that their products were lumped in with other tobacco products in the bill, which they were urging Brown to veto.

“Treating vapor products like tobacco opens the door to unfair and unwarranted tobacco tax-related implications that will discourage smokers from switching to what science says is an effective and significant alternative to combustible tobacco,” said Cynthia Cabrera, president of Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, which represents the vape industry.

One 2015 report by the Institution of Medicine attempted to break down how raising the age to buy tobacco products would translate into lives saved. The report said that 90 percent of smokers start before they are 19.

They found that raising the legal age to buy tobacco products would help cut teen smoking, since an 18-year-old high school senior would no longer be able to legally buy cigarettes for their friends.

“The majority of underage users rely on social sources — like family and friends — to get tobacco,” the report noted.

The report estimates that if the age to buy tobacco products was raised to 21 nationwide it would mean a 12 percent decrease in adult smokers and an estimated 223,000 fewer premature deaths. These results include an saving an estimated 50,000 people from lung cancer deaths. In total raising the legal age to 21 could mean “4.2 million fewer years of life lost” for people between 2000 and 2019. The researchers acknowledge it would take decades for these results to become clear.

Stanton Glantz ,a professor of tobacco control at the University of California San Francisco, said the legislation as a whole was “stunning” and could have major impacts if it’s approved.

“The industry, the way they do their marketing is they target the youngest legal age they and in a way that will spill down,” said Glantz of the tobacco industry. “By moving the age up to 21 it will make it much harder for the tobacco companies to reach teenagers.”

“Very few people start smoking after they’re 21,” he said.

Glantz pointed out that many teens experiment with smoking but that the years between 18 and 21 are crucial, since it’s when these smokers become fully addicted.

“It changes the way the brain develops when adolescents smoke in ways that are permanent or nearly permanent,” Glantz said. “To the extent that this measure reduces the amount of nicotine use by adolescents is going to have tremendous long term smokers.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Ailing Teen’s Stunned Reaction to Finding a Heart Donor

Tina Turner(BURLINGTON, N.C.) — After 99 days of lying in a hospital bed, fighting every day to survive, a 13-year-old Burlington, North Carolina, boy got a life-saving heart transplant.

A video of Albert Jeffries IV finding out this week that a heart was available for transplant was posted to a Facebook page by his mother, and his stunned reaction to the good news has helped the post go viral.

Albert was born with dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart disease that causes the heart’s main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, to be enlarged and weakened, decreasing its ability to pump blood.

“He almost passed out,” his mother, Tina Turner, told ABC News Friday about the moment Albert first found out late Wednesday of the organ’s availability. “He could not believe the news.”

“What’s going on? What’s going on?” he says in the video that his doctor filmed of the moment his mother told him he had a heart available. “They got my heart? They got my heart?”

Turner, a nurse at UNC Hospital, where her son was staying, had found out earlier in the day that the hospital finally had a heart transplant available for her son. She was at the nail salon, as per her son’s request to give him some space, when she got a call from her son telling her the nurses weren’t giving him food.

She called to figure out what was going on and the nurses told her they stopped Albert from eating because he was prepping for heart surgery. “When she said ‘he’s prepping,’ I lost it. I knew he had a heart,” Turner said.

A woman at the nail salon sitting next to her filmed her reaction to the phone call.

“I was screaming and crying. People who saw me were screaming and crying,” she said. “I was so overwhelmed with emotions.”

In that moment, all the doctor’s appointments, the sleepless nights and the holidays spent in the hospital meant nothing to Turner, because they were not going to “stop until he got that heart.”

At several times in Albert’s life, it appeared that the odds were against him — going into ICU when he was 6 and 10, and going into heart failure around Christmas in 2014 — but Turner described how his positivity helped him fight on.

“I always tell my kids not to have fear, to be strong,” she said. “This kid is the one who kept me strong.”

During this last lengthy span he was in the hospital, for 101 days and counting, he contracted double pneumonia and his kidneys started failing, but he was able to persevere, Turner said.

“All these years he took the disease like a champ,” she said.

Before the surgery on Wednesday night, Albert listened to his heart beating one last time. He underwent surgery late Wednesday night into early Thursday morning. The next morning his mother recorded him waking up and saying, “I feel like a new person.”

Albert is on the road to recovery and “his heart is fully working now,” Turner said. He should be out of the hospital in the next couple of weeks, she added.

She said Albert is looking forward to going back to school, and finally getting the chance to run and play sports that he was never able to do before.

“He is my hero,” she said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Tips for Surviving the Switch to Daylight Saving Time

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — If you’re dreading the start of Daylight Saving Time this weekend, here are a few tips from experts on how to ease into your new schedule without wanting to break your alarm clock:

Eat Dinner Early

Our sleep cycle is impacted by our appetite, so try eating earlier if you want extra shut-eye before the start of Daylight Saving Time.

Dr. Alcibiades Rodriguez, assistant professor in the Neurology Department at the New York University Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy Center-Sleep Center, said finishing dinner an hour earlier than normal will help prime you to expect bed earlier.

“We have a circadian rhythm [that] is coinciding with the time we eat,” he explained. “We need to coincide our sleep pattern with our eating pattern.”

Use a Light Box to Ease into the Day

Shifting an hour will mean more light at the end of the day, but also waking up when it’s a little darker outside. Rodriguez explained that sunlight primes the body to wake up.

“It’s going to be more difficult for people to wake up,” Rodriguez said of the days immediately after Daylight Saving starts.

People who have extreme difficulty getting out of bed can try a specially designed alarm that slowly brightens as you wake up, Rodriguez said, noting it can help mimic the feeling that it’s daylight outside.

Take an Afternoon Nap

If you’re unlikely to be able to go to bed early the night when Daylight Saving kicks in, you can take a nap so that you’re not exhausted the following day. Dr. Charles Czeisler, chief of sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said many people are not going to be able to get to bed too early.

“Many people they go to bed at usual time and they lose an hour of sleep and many different physiological systems are affected by that loss of sleep and the shift of circadian rhythm,” he explained. “It’s harder to reset to earlier hours.”

He pointed out that even though Daylight Saving Time means losing just one hour, it has large health consequences. Czeisler said that heart attack risk goes up 5 percent and motor vehicle crashes go up 17 percent immediately after Daylight Saving Time starts.

Avoid Screens Before Bedtime

Experts have advised the sleep-deprived to avoid screens before bed for years, but the advice is even more important when Daylight Saving Time kicks in. Czeisler points out reducing time in front of the TV, computer or smartphone will help restless sleepers get extra shut-eye before losing an hour.

“You can turn down intensity in screens or ideally turn them off and just be mindful,” Czeisler said.

He said losing sleep puts extra stressors on different points of the body so it’s extra important to be proactive when Daylight Saving starts.

“The systems that are affected by sleep loss are affected by inflammation,” he said, pointing out the immune system, cardiovascular system and appetite hormones can all go haywire without enough sleep.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Two US Service Members Diagnosed with Zika Virus

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Two male military servicemen have been diagnosed with the Zika virus, according to Adm. Kurt Tidd, commander of U.S. Southern Command.

One military service member was deployed in Colombia and the other in Brazil, Tidd told reporters on Thursday, noting that both men have recovered from their illness and have returned to duty.

In addition, a pregnant female service member stationed in a Zika-affected country was allowed to leave her station early over concerns that she could become infected with the virus, Tidd said.

In other related news, Florida reported on Thursday six new cases of the Zika virus in just 24 hours, bringing its total case number to 54 people diagnosed in the state.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has already declared a state of emergency in 12 counties where the cases have been diagnosed.

All of the Zika infections except one is believed to have been contracted outside the U.S. One case is believed to have been from sexual contact with a person infected with the Zika virus.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Kids to Parents: Don’t Post About Me on Social Media

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Before you post that photo of your child on Facebook, be sure to ask for their permission.

According to a new survey investigating families and technology, that’s the social media rule kids want their parents to follow.

Alexis Hiniker led the research and heard from kids and their parents from 249 families across 40 states.

“They weren’t necessarily saying that parents shouldn’t be posting about them at all, they just wanted to have some control over their online image,” Hiniker, a doctoral student at the University of Washington, told ABC News.

The joint survey from the University of Washington and the University of Michigan, while not a scientific poll, found that children are embarrassed and frustrated about the content their parents are posting about them on social media.

New York City mother of three, Wendy Bradford, said she does her best to respect her children’s wishes when it comes to hitting the post button.

“I do ask my kids for permission most of the time,” said Bradford, author of the parenting blog mamaonetothree.com. “Because they’re so aware and they will say, ‘Is this going on Facebook?’ It is a topic of conversation.”

The rules are ever-changing on social media and its role in the family evolving and in a world where the majority of parents are on social media.

“I think it’s great that parents share pictures of their families. I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” Bradford said. “I think it’s a changing thing. As my children have become aware of social media, they have voiced their opinions and I can’t ignore that.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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WATCH: History of Heroin in America

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Approximately 29 Americans die from heroin overdoses every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But when heroin was first marketed to the public in 1898 by the Bayer Pharmaceutical Company, it was initially marketed as a cough suppressant.

Watch the video below to learn more facts about the history of heroin in America, and tune in to Breaking Point: Heroin in America, a special edition of ABC News’ 20/20 with ABC News World News Tonight anchor David Muir on Friday, March 11, at 10 p.m. ET.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Your Body: Blacklegged Ticks More Prevalent in US than Believed

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

The blacklegged tick, or ixodes scapularis as it’s scientifically known, is the primary source of Lyme disease in the eastern U.S. And now, data show that they live in far more counties than previously thought.

A new study found the ticks in a total of over 1,500 counties across 43 states. That represents nearly half of the counties in the U.S.

So how do you protect yourself?

Cover up with high socks and long pants when going outdoors. After you come back inside, inspect yourself in all areas, especially the ones covered by hair. And make sure to check your pets, too.

If you find an attached tick, save it in a plastic bag after removing it to show your health care provider.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Prince William and Duchess Kate Tackle Suicide Prevention in Latest Mental Health Campaign Initiative

TOBY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) — Prince William and Duchess Kate are lifting the veil on one of the most difficult and vexing subjects young people are struggling with as they grow up: suicide.

The future king and queen are continuing their mental health campaign, which has become the number one priority in their charitable endeavors.

The royal couple Thursday comforted mental health patients at St. Thomas Hospital in London, where a suicide prevention program strives to provide a safe place for young people contemplating suicide.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met with Jonny Benjamin, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 20. Benjamin felt so lost that he attempted to take his life by jumping off a bridge in London six years ago.

A passerby saw Benjamin and talked him off the ledge. Benjamin started a campaign to find the good Samaritan called Neil Laybourn, who changed his life and gave him the courage to survive and deal with his disease.

The campaign went viral. William and Kate visited the two men and other young people struggling with mental disease.

“Someone told me five people a day try and kill themselves,” William told the two men. “I was just blown away by the statistics.”

With Kate at his side, he added: “For both of us, the mental health piece has got lots of aspects. It’s such a big issue that we need to do something about it.”

William’s job as an air ambulance pilot has exposed him to several young men who felt hopeless and wanted to end their lives. As a result, William was struck by the lack of resources for young men struggling with suicidal thoughts.

William, Kate, and Prince Harry are making a renewed commitment to raise awareness on this issue. William plans to focus on male suicide and his brother, Harry, is committed to raising awareness of veterans who’re struggling with mental health issues and invisible injuries.

Kate has been highlighting children’s mental health and has stressed repeatedly that mental health is often the root cause of more significant problems later in life, like addiction, homelessness, crime and abuse.

“We see through the work we do with addiction, homelessness and crime that a lot of it stems back to childhood,” she said.

Benjamin said he hoped to encourage young people who had feelings of hopelessness.

“I wanted to let people know it’s OK to have suicidal thoughts and feelings,” he said. “When you’re in a place where you want to end your life, you’ve got no hope left and no belief left in yourself.”

William and Kate later returned to Kensington Palace where people screened a documentary about Benjamin’s suicide attempt and quest to find the man who saved his life.

William encouraged the young people who had been invited to the palace to feel comfortable taking about their concerns and feelings.

“I really feel that we don’t listen and we don’t talk enough so I hope that, if anything, you take away from today is to talk amongst yourselves, to share your problems and communicate and be there for each other,” he said. “Thank you all for being here today and sharing.”

The duchess has made the mental well-being of young people her priority. Just last month she issued a public service announcement on mental health. She also turned Kensington Palace into a makeshift newsroom to participate as guest editor of a special blog on mental health awareness.

Earlier in the day Thursday, William and Kate made a private visit to a charity providing a residential care center for suicidal young people.

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