Review Category : Health

NYC Doctor Who Contracted Ebola Recounts Scare, Criticizes Public Response

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Craig Spencer, the New York doctor who contracted Ebola while treating Ebola patients in West Africa last year and later recovered from the disease, has written an essay in which he denies all of the labels he was given — “fraud,” “hipster,” and “hero.”

Spencer’s essay, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, notes that he kept a journal while in West Africa to help assess his “perceived level of risk of being infected with the deadly virus.” In that journal, he marked how much risk each day’s work had put him at, checking off “minimal risk” every day. Still, he was checked into Bellevue Hospital with Ebola in October 2014.

While working in West Africa, Spencer says he “was fueled by compassion and the immense challenge of caring for patients with Ebola.” After returning, the 33-year-old said he felt “depressed for the first time in my life,” citing the suffering he had seen and exhaustion.

“The morning of my hospitalization,” Spencer wrote, “I woke up knowing something was wrong. I felt different than I had since my return — I was more tired, warm, breathing fast.”

“My activities before I was hospitalized were widely reported and highly criticized,” Spencer continued. “People feared riding the subway or going bowling because of me…I was labeled a fraud, a hispter, and a hero.”

“The truth is I am none of those things,” Spencer says. “I’m just someone who answered a call for help and was lucky enough to survive.”

Spencer also said that he understood the “fear that gripped the country” in the wake of his illness. Still, he says he criticized the media, which he says “sold hype with flashy headlines…abdicating their responsibility for informing public opinion and influencing public policy,” and politicians who “took advantage of the panic to try to appear presidential instead of supporting a sound, science-based public health response.”

“When we look back on this epidemic, I hope we’ll recognize that fear caused our initial hesitance to respond — and caused us to respond poorly when we finally did,” Spencer concluded. “I know how real the fear of Ebola is, but we need to overcome it. We all lose when we allow irrational fear…to supersede pragmatic public health preparedness.”

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NYC Doctor Who Contracted Ebola Recounts Scare, Criticizes Public Response

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Craig Spencer, the New York doctor who contracted Ebola while treating Ebola patients in West Africa last year and later recovered from the disease, has written an essay in which he denies all of the labels he was given — “fraud,” “hipster,” and “hero.”

Spencer’s essay, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, notes that he kept a journal while in West Africa to help assess his “perceived level of risk of being infected with the deadly virus.” In that journal, he marked how much risk each day’s work had put him at, checking off “minimal risk” every day. Still, he was checked into Bellevue Hospital with Ebola in October 2014.

While working in West Africa, Spencer says he “was fueled by compassion and the immense challenge of caring for patients with Ebola.” After returning, the 33-year-old said he felt “depressed for the first time in my life,” citing the suffering he had seen and exhaustion.

“The morning of my hospitalization,” Spencer wrote, “I woke up knowing something was wrong. I felt different than I had since my return — I was more tired, warm, breathing fast.”

“My activities before I was hospitalized were widely reported and highly criticized,” Spencer continued. “People feared riding the subway or going bowling because of me…I was labeled a fraud, a hispter, and a hero.”

“The truth is I am none of those things,” Spencer says. “I’m just someone who answered a call for help and was lucky enough to survive.”

Spencer also said that he understood the “fear that gripped the country” in the wake of his illness. Still, he says he criticized the media, which he says “sold hype with flashy headlines…abdicating their responsibility for informing public opinion and influencing public policy,” and politicians who “took advantage of the panic to try to appear presidential instead of supporting a sound, science-based public health response.”

“When we look back on this epidemic, I hope we’ll recognize that fear caused our initial hesitance to respond — and caused us to respond poorly when we finally did,” Spencer concluded. “I know how real the fear of Ebola is, but we need to overcome it. We all lose when we allow irrational fear…to supersede pragmatic public health preparedness.”

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Study Warns Heart Attack Survivors of Risks of Taking Painkillers

Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Suffering a heart attack is bad but having another one is much worse.

And yet, a new study says that some heart attack survivors may be putting themselves at risk for a second myocardial infarction or possibly a stroke by taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve the pain of muscle discomfort and arthritis.

Dr. Charles Campbell, chief of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Tennessee Erlanger Health Systems in Chattanooga, wrote an editorial for the Journal of the American Medical Association arguing that drugs, such as ibuprofen, naproxen and Celebrex, may be unsafe to use days, weeks or even months after a heart attack.

While he’s not telling patients to just and grin and bear pain, he nevertheless recommends they scale back on NSAIDs as much as possible.

The goal now, according to Campbell, is finding safer solutions to these common painkillers that will lessen the risk of internal bleeding that can lead to another heart attack or stroke.

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How a Researcher Is Trying to Turn Tattoos Into Medical Devices

Analytical Chemistry, 2015(NEW YORK) — A California researcher is trying to turn “tattoos” into tiny “medical labs” — with early prototypes able to monitor a person’s workout or measure a diabetic’s blood-glucose levels.

A team led by Dr. Joseph Wang, chairman of nanoengineering at the University of California San Diego, first developed the fitness-tracker temporary tattoo designed to measure a key chemical on the skin that can give insight into a person’s workout.

The sticker-like “tattoo” was able to correctly measure 10 people’s lactate levels through their skin using a special sensor in a small study published in Analytical Chemistry in 2013. The lactate chemical is excreted during exercise and, basically, the more intense a workout the higher the levels.

A newer version also will be able to tell if an athlete is hydrated, Wang said.

The tattoo fitness tracker is being developed for commercial use through the company Electrozyme, which claims it will be able to alert users if they need to re-hydrate or take in more electrolytes, or are in danger of overheating.

“The hydration level will tell you the level of fitness and lactate will tell you muscle fatigue,” Wang said of the new tracker.

The product has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

More recently, Wang has been working to introduce another, more complex tattoo that could help diabetics accurately read their blood-glucose levels without using a needle.

In a small study of seven people between the ages of 20 to 40, Wang and his team were able to correctly measure glucose with the tiny sensors. In the recent study, which was published in Analytical Chemistry, the volunteers ate a carb-heavy meal and then their glucose or blood sugar was monitored every 10 minutes for the next hour.

To measure blood-sugar levels, the two tiny electrodes are able to use small electrical currents to pull out glucose from under the skin without breaking the skin.

“The goal is to replace the finger stick blood [for] all the diabetics,” Wang told ABC News.

Wang said more work and research is needed, but the tattoo could provide a less invasive way for diabetics to read their glucose levels.

Wang added that his team wants to incorporate fun imagery in the tattoos so that even young children won’t mind wearing a small tattoo sensor.

“In children, they don’t like finger stick…[so] we put Mickey Mouse over them,” Wang said of the thin sensors. “They really like to play with this.”

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Millions More Americans Can Now Afford Their Medical Bills

Andre Blais/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK ) — More Americans under the age of 65 — 2.9 million more to be exact — are no longer facing the same difficulties paying their medical bills as they were a year ago, according to a new CDC report released Thursday.

All told, nearly 8.8 million have achieved this level of financial security with regard to their medical bills since 2011.

There are still 47.7 million Americans that have problems with paying their medical bills, according to the CDC report. That’s roughly 17 percent of the American adult population overall.

Children are more likely than adults to be in families having problems paying medical bills, according to researchers.

The researchers also found that Americans with private insurance have less trouble paying medical bills than those with public insurance, and they experience far less trouble than uninsured Americans.

Racial disparities, however, have not improved. Non-Hispanic black Americans still fare worse than Hispanic Americans, and Hispanics still do worse than non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic Asians in the new report.

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Peanut Allergy Study: Three Questions Parents Have

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — In what could be a game changer, a new study finds that feeding peanut products to infants early may cut their risk of developing allergies.

“Every once in a while a study comes out and you just say, ‘Wow, this goes against everything I was taught as a pediatrician and what I’ve been telling parents,’” Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical editor, said Tuesday on ABC’s Good Morning America.

The study, published in Monday’s New England Journal of Medicine, found that children younger than 1 who avoided peanuts were 80 percent more likely to develop full-blown peanut allergies than those who didn’t.

Besser said this is important information because the number of children living with peanut allergy has tripled since 1997, according to the advocacy group Food and Allergy Research and Education.

Parents definitely have questions about the study, Besser said. Here are some of the questions they’ve been asking, along with what the study suggests.

@DrRichardBesser @kellyg377 Yes, But why the increase?What are the theories pointing to?Are Environ factors or changing genetics driving it?

— Daddy (@daddyblr) February 24, 2015

“One of the thoughts is that we’ve made the world too clean for children,” Besser explained. “Our children need to be exposed to things early in life so that they’re immune system tones down.”

This so-called “hygiene hypothesis” proposes that when the immune system is introduced to possible allergens early on, it does not develop severe reactions when subjected to them later on.

@DrRichardBesser breastfeeding, noticed rash on 8week old after I ate cashews. Do I stay away from all nuts?

— Tricia Williams (@tricianw) February 24, 2015

“If your child already has food allergies or is at high risk, they need to be skin-tested before you do anything,” Besser said, adding that it’s important to discuss any diagnosed or potential allergies with your child’s doctor.

@GMA @DrRichardBesser peanuts yes/peanuts no coffee yes/coffee no wine yes/wine no … what/who are we to believe? #trust #drknowsbest

— rose howe (@howe_rose) February 24, 2015

Besser said he understood parents’ frustration with changing health information but every new, well-designed study helps us learn. The current thinking is that any child not at high risk for allergies should be exposed to a wide variety of foods as a baby.

“No milk, no honey but everything else is good to go for babies in the first year of life,” he said.

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Same-Sex Couples May One Day Have Biological Children, Researchers Say

Pekic/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A stem cell research breakthrough might someday allow same-sex couples to have their own biological children.

Researchers at Cambridge University in England have taken the first steps towards creating artificial sperm and eggs by reprogramming skin cells from adults and converting them into embryonic-like stem cells. The team then compared the engineered stem cells with human cells from fetuses to confirm they were in fact, identical.

The researchers published their findings in the journal Cell earlier this week, stressing that it’s early days for this type of research.

“We have succeeded in the first and most important step of the process,” Dr. Jacob Hanna, an investigator with the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, told ABC News.

Hanna said the team will now attempt to complete the process by creating fully developed artificial sperm and eggs, either in a dish or by implanting them in a rodent. Once this is achieved, the technique could become useful for any individual with fertility problems, he said, including couples of the same sex.

“It has already caused interest from gay groups because of the possibility of making egg and sperm cells from parents of the same sex,” Hanna said.

However, the prospect of creating a baby by these artificial means alone is probably a long way off, Hanna said.

“It is really important to emphasize that while this scenario might be technically possible and feasible, it is remote at this stage and many challenges need to be overcome,” he said. “Further, there are very serious ethical and safety issues to be considered when and if such scenarios become considered in the distant future.”

The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership.

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Same-Sex Couples May One Day Have Biological Children, Researchers Say

Pekic/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A stem cell research breakthrough might someday allow same-sex couples to have their own biological children.

Researchers at Cambridge University in England have taken the first steps towards creating artificial sperm and eggs by reprogramming skin cells from adults and converting them into embryonic-like stem cells. The team then compared the engineered stem cells with human cells from fetuses to confirm they were in fact, identical.

The researchers published their findings in the journal Cell earlier this week, stressing that it’s early days for this type of research.

“We have succeeded in the first and most important step of the process,” Dr. Jacob Hanna, an investigator with the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, told ABC News.

Hanna said the team will now attempt to complete the process by creating fully developed artificial sperm and eggs, either in a dish or by implanting them in a rodent. Once this is achieved, the technique could become useful for any individual with fertility problems, he said, including couples of the same sex.

“It has already caused interest from gay groups because of the possibility of making egg and sperm cells from parents of the same sex,” Hanna said.

However, the prospect of creating a baby by these artificial means alone is probably a long way off, Hanna said.

“It is really important to emphasize that while this scenario might be technically possible and feasible, it is remote at this stage and many challenges need to be overcome,” he said. “Further, there are very serious ethical and safety issues to be considered when and if such scenarios become considered in the distant future.”

The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership.

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The Tooth Fairy Was Particularly Generous Last Year

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — For those who constantly complain that kids have it better than we ever did, here’s some more ammunition: Delta Dental’s “The Original Tooth Fairy Poll” says that youngsters today get an average of $4.36 for every tooth they shove under the pillow.

That’s a considerable increase from the $3.50 left in 2013. Overall, it works out to something like $255 million for all the teeth collected in 2014.

In all, the Delta Dental poll says that the Tooth Fairy showed up at just over eight in ten of the homes where a tooth dropped out, with first-timers generally getting the biggest cash amount — an average of $5.74 — in 40 percent of the cases.

However, being somewhat pragmatic, the amount deposited by the Tooth Fairy is generally determined by how much spare cash is around and the age of the child.

Meanwhile, the best cash rewards are made in the South — a whopping $5.16 on average — while the situation in the Midwest is much leaner with just $2.83 left per tooth.

As for how appreciative the kids are, about 17 percent will complain they expected more money while 11 percent will want a gift in addition to or instead of the cash.

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How a Motorist Can Pass Out from Cigarette Smoke

iStock/Thinkstock(LEICESTER, England) — A lot of smokers in England aren’t particularly happy with a new law going into effect this October that will make it illegal to smoke inside cars where children are passengers.

Naturally, it comes down to the eternal conflict between civil liberties and public health although science seems to have won this argument based on studies that show the harm that can be caused to others by second- and even third-hand smoke.

Some of the most ardent opponents of smoking also point to the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning since the smoke from cigarettes contain that toxic gas.

So in the interest of science, students from the University of Leicester Department of Physics and Astronomy developed a model to determine how much one would have to smoke inside a sealed car before they become unconscious by CO.

The results of the study probably give smokers some measure of satisfaction because the students figured out it would take a person smoking 15 cigarettes over the course of 75 minutes to pass out from carbon monoxide. Even the most addicted chain smoker would probably get sick before reaching that point.

Still, the study doesn’t let smokers off the hook entirely because CO molecules linger in cars even when the windows are open, meaning they pose a health threat to anyone riding inside a smoky vehicle.

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