Review Category : Health

Gina Rodriguez Discusses Battle with Weight, Hashimoto’s Disease

Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS(NEW YORK) — Gina Rodriguez is openly discussing her battle with Hashimoto’s disease in the September issue of Health magazine.

The autoimmune disease can lead to an underactive thyroid and weight gain.

“It’s always been a battle for me with weight,” the Jane the Virgin star said. “Keeping weight off is very difficult because my metabolism is pretty much shot, which to me felt like a curse when I was 19.”

Working in an industry that puts so much emphasis on looks has made that battle even tougher for the 32-year-old.

“As an actress, I was like, ‘Seriously?! In a world that’s so vain, I have to deal with the disease that makes you not keep weight off?'” she adds. “But it actually became a blessing because then I got to represent not only women and Latinas, but also women who are dealing with this disease.”

Rodriguez is winning that weight battle with a combination of a gluten-free diet and plenty of exercise.

“If I can at least walk for 30 minutes a day, it’s extremely helpful for my thyroid gland,” she says. “Running, boxing, jump rope and hitting the heavy bag are my workout constants.”

Rodriguez even manages to squeeze in some exercise while she’s on set.

“I like to do videos of me dancing,” she says. “And I’ll do squats. I’ll drop into a squat any day of the week, even mid-scene.”

Jane the Virgin returns for its third season in October on The CW Network.

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Four New Zika Virus Cases Reported in Florida Outbreak

iStock/Thinkstock(MIAMI) — Four new Zika infections acquired locally through mosquitoes have been reported in northern Miami, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday.

The new cases brings the total infected by the Zika outbreak, which was first detected last month in Miami, to at least 21 people. The Florida Department of Health said it continues to focus on a 1-square-mile area in northern Miami where they believe the infections are ongoing.

All of the new infections were reported in that area.

The Miami outbreak is the first time the Zika virus has been spread through infected mosquitoes in the continental U.S. Officials from the Florida Department of Health have continued to go door to door to test subjects for Zika and to spray areas where the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the species that spreads Zika, could be hiding.

“Today, we have learned that there are four new individuals that have local transmissions of Zika in our state, likely through a mosquito bite,” Scott said in a statement Tuesday, calling on the federal government to pass a bill to allot funds to fight Zika. “This is not only an issue affecting us here in Florida — this is a national issue. Florida is just at the head of it with the first cases of local transmission of Zika.”

The new infections were reported the same day that Texas reported its first Zika-related death. An infant with Zika-linked microcephaly died soon after being born. The infant’s mother contracted the disease while in Latin America and the virus had affected the child in utero.

Scott said the federal government had not yet fulfilled his request for an additional 10,000 Zika prevention kits and called on Congress to come back into session to resolve the issue over the Zika funds.

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Fertility Rates Drop to Lowest Level Measured in the US, Says the CDC

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Fertility rates in America –- the number of babies born per woman between ages of 15 and 44 -– are at the lowest levels ever recorded, according to researchers in a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The findings are based on population data from the CDC that is released every quarter and tracks birth and fertility statistics dating back to 1909. This does not indicate there are more infertile women; rather it means that fewer babies are being born to women of likely childbearing age in the U.S. Measuring the fertility rate is viewed as a more accurate data compared to overall birthrate which measures the rate of babies born compared to the total U.S. population.

Today the fertility rate has decreased from 60 births per thousand women in the first quarter of 2015 down to 59.8 per thousand in the first quarter of 2016. This means there are on average less than 6 babies born for every 100 women in this age group. In 2010 there were 6.4 births for every 100 women in the group. This follows a trend in recent years of declining birth rates in the U.S. with general fertility rates declining more than 10 percent since 2007.

The report is the first time the CDC is releasing the fertility rate data quarterly instead of annually in an effort to understand more trends from this data and provide better information to public health and other medical officials.

The “report is trying to give us a picture of what is happening to fertility among U.S. women by specific characteristics, in particular by age,” Donna Strobino, a professor of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins University told ABC News.

The report also found a continued decline in birth rates for women between the ages of 15 and 29 and an overall drop in teen birth rates. The birth rate for those between 15 to 19 declined from 22.7 per births per thousand women to 20.8 births per thousand.

While teen pregnancy is decreasing, pregnancy rates among older women between the ages of 30 to 44 are increasing. Birth rates increased the most for women between the ages of 30 to 34 rising from 95.6 to 97.9 per thousand women, part of an ongoing trend.

Strobino pointed out that the findings reflect demographic changes in general.

“The good news is that infertility treatment has allowed women to extend the age of childbirthing, going along with a lot of trends we are seeing in increasing age of marriage, increasing education levels and increasing labor force participation,” she said. “The bad news is the complications associated with aging that have to do with an increase in chronic diseases as women age, increase in pregnancy induced complications and increase in complications for the fetus and newborn.”

Lauren Rossen, Senior Service Fellow at National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and lead statistician for this CDC report, said they hoped by releasing the information quarterly for a first time it will help surveillance.

“We have focused on indicators that are important for public health surveillance and to public health practitioners, public health researchers, and the broader community,” Rossen said.

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DC Hospital Evacuates NICU After Dangerous Bacteria Found

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — A hospital in Washington, D.C., has started to move patients from its neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) after bacteria was found on three of the patients, hospital officials said.

Officials from the Prince George’s Hospital Center made the announcement Tuesday after a bacteria called Pseudomonas was found on the patients. The patients had no symptoms of infection, according to a statement by the Prince George’s Hospital Center.

The bacteria is found naturally in the environment, but can be dangerous or even deadly for people with weakened immune systems.

“Infections of the blood, pneumonia, and infections following surgery can lead to severe illness and death in these people,” according to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

Sickened infants in a NICU would likely have a weakened immune system and be at increased risk for developing serious complications if infected by the bacteria.

The hospital is working with the Prince George’s County Health Department, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the University of Maryland School of Medicine to identify the source of the outbreak. The Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission issued a statement reporting that water samples at a station near the hospital were clear and showed no signs of the bacteria that were present on the NICU patients.

“Our highest priority is the safety and well-being of all of our patients and their families, as well as our valued team of caregivers,” officials from the hospital said in a statement Tuesday. “We realize that this situation is a source of concern to families, staff and the community. All parties should be assured of our commitment to manage this transfer process and concurrent investigation as smoothly as possible, and to provide many layers of support.”

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Texas Links Infant’s Death to Zika-Related Birth Defect

iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) — A Texas infant has died after being born with birth defects linked to microcephaly, according to the Texas Department of Health.

The infant’s mother contracted Zika while in Latin America before delivering the child in Texas. The baby was born with microcephaly, a birth defect characterized by an abnormally small head. This is the first Zika-related death in Texas.

“Zika’s impact on unborn babies can be tragic, and our hearts are with this family,” Dr. John Hellerstedt, the Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner, said in a statement Tuesday. “Our central mission from the beginning has been to do everything we can to protect unborn babies from the devastating effects of Zika.”

There have been 97 Zika cases in Texas, all of which were acquired during travel. Two infants in the state have been born with Zika-related microcephaly. In the U.S., there have been at least 1,825 people diagnosed with Zika and 479 pregnant women are among the infected, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The virus is mainly transmitted by infected mosquitoes, although in rare cases it has been transmitted by sexual contact. There have been 17 cases of locally-acquired Zika in southern Florida, where health officials have been battling an outbreak.

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2-Year-Old Who Lost All Four Limbs Gets Doll with Matching Body

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A little girl from England was all smiles last week after receiving a new best friend that looks just like her.

Harmonie-Rose Ivy Allen, 2, of Bath, was gifted an “American Girl” doll named Rebecca on July 31. Like Harmonie, Rebecca is a quadruple amputee.

“She just said, ‘Mummy, she’s just like me,'” Harmonie’s mother, Freya Hall, told ABC News. “She loves to take the arms and the legs off and they love to sit next to each other without the prosthetics on.”

Harmonie fell ill with meningitis B when she was 11 months old. Despite doctors giving her a less than 10 percent chance of survival, the toddler persevered. But Harmonie had to have her arms and legs amputated 10 days after she took her first steps, her mother said.

“The doctors were unsure what her future would be like and if there was any brain damage, but right now Harmonie seems to show no brain damage,” Hall said.

“I love her inside and out. There’s nothing you can’t love about her. She’s beautiful, funny, smart and she never gives up. She is just so loving. She is quite upfront, too. I have seen her introduce herself to another child by saying, ‘I’m Harmonie and I have no hands,'” she said.

With her daughter’s third birthday approaching in November, Hall enlisted the help of a friend in New York to arrange for Harmonie to have a doll from the “American Girl” store in Manhattan. But when Hall’s friend brought Rebecca the doll back to England, Hall decided she couldn’t wait to give it to Harmonie.

“Harmonie has never seen another quadruple amputee, so it’s amazing to show her that she’s not the only one,” Hall said. “I’m hoping it will encourage her to go on her prosthetic legs a little more too. At the moment, Harmonie sees her legs more as a hindrance rather than something that will help her.”

She added: “I think Harmonie and Rebecca will be the best of friends.”

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Your Body: Protecting Yourself Against Brain-Eating Amoeba

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

Every year in the United States, there are up to eight infections from parasitic amoebas — and nearly all are fatal.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people to take steps to avoid getting water up their noses when out in freshwater lakes or ponds. Swimmers can keep their heads above water, use nose clips or hold their nose shut when going underwater.

My prescription:

  • Check online or ask staff personnel about any recent water testing before going swimming in any public facility.
  • If you have a weakened immune system or open wounds, avoid swimming at these places.
  • Remember that millions of Americans enjoy summer swimming each year, and tragedies such as these are incredibly rare.

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‘Workout Wednesday’ on “GMA”: BJ Gaddour Leads Olympics-Inspired Workout

BJ Gaddour(NEW YORK) — BJ Gaddour is a bodyweight exercise and metabolic training expert who was named fitness director of Men’s Health in 2015. Gaddour, the creator and star of the 21-Day MetaShred DVD, is a self-described “former fat guy” who once weighed 275 pounds and wore size 44 pants.

Now weighing 225 pounds and wearing size 32 pants, Gaddour said he uses his past struggles with weight to fuel his current lifestyle, which also includes starring in more than 1,000 workout videos shared online and via social media.

Gaddour will lead a live-streamed workout Wednesday on ABC News’ Good Morning America for “Workout Wednesday.” In the series, top fitness personalities lead workouts that are live-streamed on GoodMorningAmerica.com every Wednesday morning.

Read below for some of Gaddour’s workout tips:

Annihilate Body Fat With Alternating Sets: Instead of doing straight sets of the same exercise with long rest periods, alternate between non-competitive exercises with shorter rest periods instead. Not only will you get more work done in less time, but you’ll also burn more calories both during and after your workout.

The 10-Minute Finisher that Will Transform Your Fitness: Finish your workout with 5-10 minutes of non-stop walking lunges or step-ups. You’ll fry fat, turbo-charge your metabolism, improve hip mobility, and sculpt your legs and butt. It may just be the single most effective 10-minute fitness investment you can make. If you’ve never done it before, start with just five minutes and add a minute each week until you’re doing 10 straight minutes by week six.

No Missed Days: When it comes to fitness, consistency is king and queen. Commit to doing 10-minutes of mobility work and 20-30 minutes of non-exercise activity (walking the dogs, playing with the kids, etc.) every day without fail. Consider this your baseline level of activity to optimize overall health, performance and body composition. Top that off with two to three high-intensity workouts per week and you’ll have a sustainable blueprint to get into the best shape of your life.

And here are some of his tips to maximize your workout burn:

Emphasize Protein and Produce at Every Meal to Burn Belly Fat: If your goal is to burn fat, build muscle and boost metabolism, then every meal should focus on protein and produce. Mix up your protein sources at each meal for best results. And get most of your carbs from nutrient-dense, high-fiber fruits and veggies. Limit other starchy and sugary carbs to post-workout or on a designated “cheat day” to ensure you get those treats in moderation without sabotaging your weight loss efforts.

#NetflixAndStretch at Night to Improve Health, Recovery, and Performance: Most people never stretch their muscles or mobilize their joints because it requires “extra time” outside of their workouts and busy schedules. That’s why I recommend multi-tasking your mobility work by doing it while watching your favorite shows or movies at night. Do a couple key moves for 2-5 minutes each or during commercial breaks.

Leg Elevation and Deep Belly Breathing for the Win: Finish every workout by elevating your legs with your hips as flush against a wall or door as possible. Then perform deep belly breathing for 5-10 minutes. This relaxes your entire body, resets your hip and spine, and dramatically accelerates your recovery from intensive exercise. It may just be the most important part of your training.

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Self-Defense Expert Shares Tips to Protect Yourself While Jogging

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The grim news of two female joggers murdered while running in broad daylight has many women and men alike looking for information that could help them survive a potentially violent situation.

Karina Vetrano, 30, was found dead after going for a run near her parents’ home in Queens, New York, while Vanessa Marcotte, 27, was found dead after going for a run near her mother’s home in Princeton, Mass.

Self-defense expert Avital Zeisler spoke to Good Morning America to share tips on avoiding would-be attackers.

“[T]hese reports give us the opportunity to learn lifesaving tactics,” said Zeisler, a world-renowned hand-to-hand combat expert, women’s empowerment coach, creator of The Soteria Method, and author of “Weapons of Fitness: The Women’s Ultimate Guide to Fitness, Self-Defense, and Empowerment.”

According to Zeisler, survival has two prongs: violence prevention and survival training.

“You need to be on guard and prepare your mind to transition to survival mode,” she said. “You need a survival mindset and to make your mind and body a tactical weapon that can be adaptive to what you are facing.”

Zeisler’s Jogging Safety Tips

  • Know Your Path
  • Jog in Safe Location
  • Buddy Up
  • The Best Routine is No Routine
  • Tell Someone Your Route
  • Use Improvised Weapons
  • Do Not Listen To Music

Zeisler also encourages women to invest in learning situational awareness, to be aware of their surroundings in a tactical way, to use peripheral vision, to scan the surrounding area, and to cut out distractions like listening to music on headphones.

However, if all else fails, Zeisler says that women can learn a few simple techniques that could save their lives.

Zeisler’s Surefire Self-Defense Moves

  • Push Kick
  • Palm Strike
  • Hammer Fist
  • Ground Defense
  • Arm Grab Defense
  • Bear Hug Defense

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Patients with Two Different Cancers, Without Insurance Had Higher Death Risk, Studies Find

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The importance of health insurance for cancer patients was again made clear in two new studies, which found those battling two different types of cancers had an increased risk of dying from the disease when they lacked health coverage.

Both studies highlighted how preventative care, which people with health insurance receive more often, can affect overall survival rates for cancer patients. If the disease is caught early, a patient will likely have a far better chance of survival.

“As much as we are making advances in understanding biology and improving treatment for these cancers, early diagnosis and early management is still key, and far more important, as this can cure patients,” Dr. Christopher Sweeney, Senior Physician at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and co-author of a study examining how medical coverage affected outcomes among testicular cancer patients told ABC News. “What we can do to improve access to healthcare is a very important part of the strategies we need to implement.”

Researchers at the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer center looked at 10,211 patients in the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program who had a testicular cancer between 2007-2011, for the first study published in the medical journal Cancer. They focused on patients under 65 and found, of the total patients studied, 10 percent were uninsured and 13 percent had Medicaid insurance.

The researchers saw a pattern: uninsured or Medicaid patients had larger tumors or more advanced disease. They found 44 percent of men with Medicaid, and 44 percent of men without insurance were diagnosed with metastatic disease (stage II or III disease) when the disease was first found. Ultimately, after controlling for variables, they found that men without any insurance had a “26 percent increased risk of being diagnosed with metastatic disease in comparison with men with insurance, and those with Medicaid had a more than 60 percent increased risk.”

These patients also had fewer treatments compared to men who had insurance.

Another study in the same journal showed that 558 brain cancer patients without insurance or with Medicaid insurance also had larger tumors when they got to the doctor, and, not surprisingly, shorter survivals. In this study, researchers from the Department of Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University studied a total of 13,665 patients enrolled in the SEER database who were diagnosed with the form of brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme between 2007 and 2011.

For patients who had insurance, they found that the survival rate each year improved — a 19.6 percent two-year survival rate in 2007 and a 23.9 percent two year survival in 2011. In contrast, no insurance and Medicaid insurance were seen as independent predictors of a shorter survival.

Some patients in these studies who were classified as having Medicaid may have received it after their cancer diagnosis; they may have been “uninsured” at the time of their diagnosis.

The timing of having health coverage could also be important. Even when newly-diagnosed cancer patients were quickly enrolled in Medicaid coverage, it was often after the disease had progressed and worsened their health outcomes before they even received treatment, Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, said.

“People who have Medicaid, who have cancer, overwhelmingly get Medicaid within a week of being diagnosed,” he said. “They don’t have Medicaid when they need the preventative health, they don’t have it when they have the early symptoms of cancer.”

Brawley pointed out that the studies ended before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which requires Americans to have health insurance or face a fine, was in place. An increase in the amount of people who have insurance could change the treatment plan for those with cancer.

“When they have early symptoms and might be able to go to the doctor…with early disease, rather than when they are so catastrophic that they have to go to the emergency room,” patients fare better, he said.

Aside from finding new cures for cancer, scientists and medical professionals “need to do research on how to get the treatments that already exist to the patients that need them,” Brawley said.

Brawley said he hoped the findings would spur the public to demand more help getting health coverage.

“I wish society would listen to these results,” he said, noting that action was also needed to help patients get coverage before catastrophic diagnoses. “We don’t need more studies to show a lack of health insurance means that you have lack of health care and lack of health care, including preventative health care, (and that it) means that you die sooner and die in greater distress.”

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