Review Category : Health

Latest American Ebola Patient Arrives in Nebraska for Treatment

iStock/Thinkstock(OMAHA, Neb.) — The latest American doctor to be infected with Ebola in West Africa has arrived in the United States for treatment, authorities said.

Dr. Rick Sacra, 51, arrived in Nebraska on Friday, with his plane landing at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha. He will receive treatment at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Sacra was treating pregnant women in the ELWA Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, when he became infected with the deadly virus, according to SIM, an international, interdenominational Christian organization based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“I just had a call from the doctor who put Rick on a plane to come to the United States,” his wife, Debbie Sacra, said at a news conference, her voice breaking. “He said that Rick is clearly sick, but that he was in very good spirits.”

“He walked onto the plane, so we are really encouraged by that news and looking forward to reuniting with him,” she added.

Sacra, an assistant professor at University of Massachusetts Medical School, was not treating Ebola patients in the hospital’s separate Ebola isolation facility, the group said, adding that it was unclear how he contracted the virus. All infected U.S. health workers were working at the ELWA hospital when they contracted the virus.

He was isolated in the ELWA Ebola ward after becoming infected.

Sacra specializes in family medicine and practices in Worcester, Massachusetts, but he traveled to Liberia in August.

“I knew he needed to go,” Debbie Sacra said, adding that he knew there was a risk he would contract Ebola but he wanted to help people with malaria and pregnant women amid the outbreak.

“He is not someone who can stand back when there is a need that he can take care of,” she said.

Sacra is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Medical School and spent nearly two decades working in Liberia, according to the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Sacra’s colleagues at the medical school called him a “gifted physician” who took on extra work to treat pregnant women in the rural country.

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Potassium-Rich Foods May Lower Stroke, Death Risk in Older Women

William Brady/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Women who eat foods high in potassium may be less likely to suffer from strokes, according to new study from the American Heart Association.

Researchers looked at more than 90,000 post-menopausal women ages 50 to 79 over the course of 11 years, analyzing their potassium intake and medical history.

Participants who ate the most potassium were 12 percent less likely to have a stroke and 16 percent less likely to suffer from an ischemic stroke (an instance when blood is not supplied to the brain).

The study also found that the same women were 10 percent less likely to die than those who ate the least.

“Our findings suggest that women need to eat more potassium-rich foods. You won’t find high potassium in junk food,” said study senior author Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Ph.D. “Some foods high in potassium include white and sweet potatoes, bananas and white beans.”

The World Health Organization recommends a daily potassium intake of 3,510 milligrams, while the U.S. Department of Agriculture calls for 4,700 mg a day. Still, experts say patients should consult their doctors.

More studies are needed to determine whether the same effect is found in men and younger individuals. Researchers added that sodium intake was not considered, highlighting the importance of a balance between sodium and potassium.

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Study: Disparities Remain in US Obesity Rates

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Obesity rates in children and adults may be tapering off after rising for years, according to a new study, but economic and ethnic disparities remain.

The “State of Obesity,” from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, shows that trends are stabilizing, though rates still remain high.

Figures have topped 30 percent in 20 states, with most of them in the South. Mississippi and West Virginia are tied for the highest adult obesity rate at 35.1 percent — the first year that any state has had a rate over 35 percent, according to Ginny Ehrlich, director of the foundation’s Childhood Obesity Portfolio.

Adult numbers increased in six states since last year: Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Wyoming. No state experienced a decline in rates.

Two out of three American adults are obese or overweight, though figures for African-Americans came at the top of the list at 40 percent in 10 states, and those for Latinos exceeded 35 percent in five states.

“We are continuing to see troubling racial and ethnic disparities in this epidemic,” Ehrlich said. “Obesity rates remain higher among African-Americans, Latinos and people who are living on limited incomes.”

Outlooks are more promising for children, according to the report. Nearly 17 percent of American children are obese, and 31 percent are obese or overweight, but the numbers are decreasing in areas with access to healthy food options and exercise opportunities.

“In cities and states that have taken comprehensive steps to address this epidemic, their hard work’s paying off and we’re seeing rates going down in a number of places,” Erlich added.

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Latest American Ebola Patient Headed to Nebraska Hospital for Treatment

iStock/Thinkstock(OMAHA, Neb.) — The latest American doctor to be infected with Ebola in West Africa is on his way to the United States for treatment at Nebraska Medical Center.

Dr. Rick Sacra, 51, was treating pregnant women in the ELWA Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, when he became infected with the deadly virus, according to SIM, an international, interdenominational Christian organization based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“I just had a call from the doctor who put Rick on a plane to come to the United States,” his wife, Debbie Sacra, said at a news conference, her voice breaking. “He said that Rick is clearly sick, but that he was in very good spirits.

“He walked onto the plane, so we are really encouraged by that news and looking forward to reuniting with him,” she added.

Sacra, an assistant professor at University of Massachusetts Medical School, was not treating Ebola patients in the hospital’s separate Ebola isolation facility, the group said, adding that it was unclear how he contracted the virus. All infected U.S. health workers were working at the ELWA hospital when they contracted the virus.

Sacra was expected to arrive in Omaha, Nebraska, on Friday morning. He has been isolated in the ELWA Ebola ward.

Sacra specializes in family medicine and practices in Worcester, Massachusetts, but he traveled to Liberia in August.

“I knew he needed to go,” Debbie Sacra said, adding that he knew there was a risk he would contract Ebola but he wanted to help people with malaria and pregnant women amid the outbreak.

“He is not someone who can stand back when there is a need that he can take care of,” she said.

Sacra is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Medical School and spent nearly two decades working in Liberia, according to the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Sacra’s colleagues at the medical school called him a “gifted physician” who took on extra work to treat pregnant women in the rural country.

SIM is the same missionary group for which Nancy Writebol had been working when she contracted Ebola in July. Writebol and fellow U.S. Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly, who worked for the aid group Samaritan’s Purse, were evacuated from Liberia to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for treatment. They were declared virus-free after spending a few weeks in its isolation unit.

Writebol was discharged Aug. 19 and Brantly went home two days later.

Since March, the deadly virus has sickened more than 3,700 people, killing nearly 1,900 of them, according to the latest numbers from the World Health Organization.

The virus has sickened at least 240 health workers, half of whom have died, according to WHO.

“Ebola is taking its toll in many ways. It directly kills many who it infects, but indirectly it’s killing many more,” said ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser, who just returned from reporting in Monrovia, Liberia.

Emergency rooms in the Ebola zone have been closed, as are many hospital wards, leaving people who are sick with heart disease, trauma, pregnancy complications, pneumonia, malaria and other everyday health emergencies with nowhere to go.

“I worry that this latest case, an American doctor contracting Ebola while caring for a maternity patient, will lead overseas groups that are providing non-Ebola support to question whether they can safely do so,” Besser said. “These countries need more medical support. Any further reduction would be disastrous.”

The Sacra family warned in its statement that, without doctors, the lack of health care in West Africa could become a crisis.

“There are many people in Liberia who are suffering in this epidemic and others who are not receiving standard health care because clinics and hospitals have been forced to close,” the statement read. “West Africa is on the verge of a humanitarian crisis and the world needs to respond compassionately and generously.”

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Diplomat Who Fled Quarantine at Center of Second Ebola Cluster in Nigeria

iStock/Thinkstock(LAGOS, Nigeria) — A Nigerian diplomat who fled quarantine is at the center of a second cluster of Ebola cases in Nigeria’s main oil hub.

The first cluster emerged in July, when an infected Liberian-American man named Patrick Sawyer flew into Lagos. Sawyer died within days of arriving and Nigerian officials tried to prevent an outbreak by quarantining his close contacts. But Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health has confirmed that a diplomat with the Economic Community of West African States ignored that quarantine and traveled from Lagos to Port Harcourt after developing symptoms of the deadly disease.

The diplomat was treated at a hotel in Port Harcourt between Aug. 1 and Aug. 3, according to the World Health Organization. A doctor who treated him developed symptoms of the infection roughly 10 days later but continued to interact with family, friends and patients for two days, the agency said.

As his symptoms progressed, the doctor rested at home, where he was visited by friends and relatives to celebrate the birth of a baby. He was hospitalized on Aug. 16 but continued to be seen by dozens of community members, including church members who performed a “laying on of hands,” according to WHO. He was also visited by a majority of the hospital’s medical staff before he died on Aug. 22.

Officials with WHO and the Nigerian government are now monitoring more than 200 people that had contact with the doctor. At least 60 of those people are considered to have had high risk or very high risk exposure, including two patients that he operated on. The doctor’s wife and another patient at the hospital where he was treated have already tested positive for the disease, according to WHO.

The diplomat survived and returned to Lagos, where he remains in quarantine to ensure he’s no longer contagious, according to the country’s Federal Ministry of Health. Local reports suggest he could face manslaughter charges for evading quarantine and exposing others to Ebola.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical School, said the new cluster could represent a major setback in the fight to stop the outbreak.

“You’ll never be successful unless the population [understands,] unless they’re collaborating with the public health effort,” he said. “This is exactly the kind of thing that everyone is on tenterhooks about.”

Schaffner said this kind of cluster makes it more likely the virus will continue to spread throughout the region.

“The greatest concern is [not only] that this outbreak is going to continue in the three major countries already affected, but that the longer it goes on, the likelier [they are to] export the disease,” he said.

The virus has already killed at least 1,841 and infected a total of 3,685 people in West Africa, according to the latest numbers from WHO. Nearly all of those infected were in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

While government and aid agencies including WHO and Doctors Without Borders have deployed to Nigeria to fight the epidemic, public fear of Ebola is hampering aid efforts. According to the WHO, military escorts are being used to transport people in and out of isolation and treatment centers.

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Seniors Who Volunteer Are Happier and Live Longer

iStock/Thinkstock(TORONTO) — Retirement is the dream of so many people who slaved at their jobs for years, but when that time finally comes around, many are left wondering what to do next.

Researchers from the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care in Toronto have one word of advice for retirees: volunteer.

Besides the obvious benefits of doing something that’s worthwhile, Dr. Nicole Anderson says seniors improve both their physical and mental well-being when they do volunteer work.

According to Anderson, “A moderate amount of volunteering has been shown to be related to less hypertension and fewer hip fractures among seniors who volunteer compared to their matched non-volunteering peers.”

That leads to a longer life as well as one that is potentially devoid of depression.

The best part is that seniors don’t have to set aside a lot of time to volunteering. Anderson says that two or three hours a week should do the trick.

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Use of Seatbelts Drops Among Obese in States with No Mandates

Photos.com/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — Sure, seatbelts in cars aren’t particularly comfortable but they have been shown to save lives.

However, even as states enact and enforce mandatory seatbelts laws, a disturbing phenomenon is occurring in states with no such requirement in place.

It seems that the more obese Americans get, the less apt they are to get strapped in, either when they drive or are a car passenger.

Sheldon Jacobson, a professor of computer science and of mathematics at the University of Illinois, and other researchers analyzed data from 2006 to 2011 to determine if seatbelt use decreased when obesity rates rose.

Sure enough, it has been happening but even more disturbing is that the decrease in seatbelt use was nine times greater in states that don’t ticket drivers or passengers who won’t buckle up.

The answer to the problem, according to Jacobson, is pretty elementary: make seatbelt laws mandatory is all states, adding, “As obesity rates grow, this impact on highway safety will be even more pronounced.”

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Aisha Tyler Opens Up About Infertility and Her ‘Choice’ Not to Have Children

Michael Buckner/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Aisha Tyler, the host of The Talk and the former Friends star, told HuffPost Live earlier this week about her infertility problems and the “choice” she and her husband made not to have children.

The actress and comedian gave a couple main reasons for revealing her infertility issues earlier this year on her talk show, saying she wanted to get the message out that it was a choice she made with her husband, Jeff Tietjens.

“I have been a professional woman my entire life,” she told HuffPost Live. “I think this is a relatively new issue for women who have chosen work over family, which is a completely valid choice and no one should ever feel embarrassed or regretful about that.”

“It’s one that I’ve embraced fully,” she added. “I never wanted kids.”

She added that she and her husband got to a place where they felt like, “We’re gonna run out of road soon, so if we are going to do it, we should try now.'”

They did try and “when we found out it was going to be difficult to impossible [to conceive], it really was a choice to stop.”

“Once we decided not to get pregnant, I snapped back into work mode and now I have just been really enjoying my career,” she said. “There’s a clock ticking on the pregnancy thing, but not a clock ticking on adoption.”

Tyler wanted couples to know it was a valid choice, that she didn’t want to spend tens of thousands of dollars on IVF, and go on the “crazy merry go round” of drugs to help her get pregnant.

She wanted to get her story out because, “People who do what I do for a living can afford that stuff, but most people can’t. They mortgage their homes and they break themselves. And, by the way, most of them don’t get pregnant. We only focus on the Cinderella stories.”

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Officials Investigating NYC Clinic Where Joan Rivers Went Into Cardiac Arrest

Brian Bowen Smith/E!(NEW YORK) — The clinic where Joan Rivers was undergoing a procedure prior to her hospitalization is now under investigation.

The New York State Health Department told ABC News that it has opened a “full investigation” into Yorkville Endoscopy in New York City to determine whether the clinic would be cited for violations.

Investigators have already visited the clinic.

There are certain types of incidents that must be reported to the state and the events surrounding Rivers’ emergency was one of those, though health officials declined to elaborate what specifically triggered the investigation.

Rivers, 81, was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital on Aug. 28 after an emergency call reported she was in cardiac arrest at the clinic, a source told ABC News.

Rivers has been unconscious and sedated since her arrival at Mount Sinai Hospital.

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Cincinnati Bengals Re-Sign Devon Still to Help Pay for Daughter’s Cancer Treatment

iStock/Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) — The Cincinnati Bengals player who was cut from the team and then brought onto the practice squad in order to help pay for his daughter’s cancer treatments says he sees the move as a “blessing in disguise.”

Defensive tackle Devon Still found out Saturday that he had been cut from the Bengals’ roster but then found out he had been given a second chance for his daughter, 4-year-old Leah, who was diagnosed with stage 4 pediatric cancer in June.

“I completely understand where the Bengals were coming from when they cut me because I couldn’t give football 100 percent right now,” Still, 25, told ABC News.

“They could have washed their hands with me and said they didn’t care about what I was going through off the field,” Still said. “It’s like a blessing in disguise for me.”

As a member of the Bengals’ practice squad, Still will receive medical insurance and a weekly salary of $6,300.

He will also be able to travel less, giving him more time to spend at home with Leah as she completes her chemotherapy treatment.

“We’re going to go to battle with cancer,” Still said. “She’s willing to put up a fight to beat it.”

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