Review Category : Health

Atheists Unwelcome in Many Families

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — People who don’t believe in God might not believe they’re the least desirable future in-law. But they are, according to findings of a Pew Research Center poll.

Apparently, nearly one in two Americans say they would not be happy if an immediate family member was engaged to marry an atheist.

In particular, that view was held by an overwhelming majority of people who consider themselves “consistently conservative” as well as white, non-Hispanic evangelical Protestants, Republicans and Roman Catholics.

Only 41 percent of Democrats or Democrat-leaning adults would be unhappy about an atheist becoming part of the family.

Meanwhile, just nine percent of the respondents would not welcome a “born again” Christian into their brood.

Around that same number expressed a negative view about a family member marrying someone of another race or an immigrant born and raised in another country.

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Why Stress Increases Risk of Heart Attack or Stroke

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Researchers at Harvard University believe they have discovered the reason why stress increases an individual’s risk of heart attacks or stroke.

A study, published in the journal Nature Medicine showed that stress actives stem cells, leading to increased inflammatory cells and plaque buildup. Researchers conducted the study using both human and mice as subjects. The human phase of the study looked at 29 medical residents who had completed seven days of work in the intensive care unit, a stressful experience, and found that those subjects had increase inflammatory cells — monocytes and neutrophils.

Researchers then worked with the mice to determine what caused the increase in inflammatory cells. In the course of the study, researchers determined that the mice, when stressed, had accelerated stem cell production and increased plaque formation in vital arteries.

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Why Viewers Remember Gore-Filled Movie Scenes

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — If you’ve seen the movies The Godfather, Fargo or Psycho, chances are you remember one scene from each of those flicks so vividly that it seems like you watched it just yesterday.

A horse’s head, a wood chipper, and a shower might refresh your memory, but you probably don’t need any help.

However, the scenes just before or immediately afterward probably faded a long time ago.

That’s likely one reason movie producers like to cram their films full of gory violence and disgusting scenes, because we can’t forget them.

But scientists who have been studying bloodshed in the movies find it’s more complex than that. Violence grabs us by the throat, and it overwhelms our memory of other scenes.

Psychologists at Vanderbilt University found a few years ago that gore — and even erotic images — cause temporary “blindness” in the moments following the scene, and researchers at the University of Central Florida and Indiana University have just released a study showing those scenes also wipe out our memory of what happened just before the blood hit the walls.

But, they insist, we still love it.

“Disgust, it is argued here, makes us feel bad — but it has functionally evolved over time to compel our attention, thus making it a quality of entertainment messages that may keep audiences engrossed and engaged,” researchers Bridget Rubenking and Annie Lang argue in a study published in the current issue of the Journal of Communication.

So no matter how repugnant the scene is, we sit on the edge of our seats, sweating and biting our fingernails, as our pulse soars and then drops, unwilling to miss a single, bloody moment.

Scientists who studied 482 people in Germany and the United States concluded last year that we like gory scenes because it reinforces our hope that, in the end, good will triumph over evil.

Feel better now?

Of course, we don’t need scientists to tell us that we aren’t going to give up our passion for the darker side of life anytime soon. Box office receipts make that pretty clear.

But they are telling us those same scenes can play hardball with our memories, and that raises questions about the reliability of eyewitness accounts of violent events.

The study by Rubenking and Lang focuses on things that “are quintessentially gross.” They include a closeup of a woman whose torso is cut open, and a man whose throat is slit, and vomit and feces. The latter had an interesting effect.

The participants didn’t have as much trouble dealing with either of those, unless a human “does something disgusting” with the vomit or feces.

They also looked at “sociomoral disgust,” like racism and child abuse, which evoked a slower response, suggesting the participants were trying to think through the situation, not just witness it.

The participants, all of whom are college students, had electrodes attached to various areas of their bodies to measure heart rate and other physiological indicators as they watched a movie on a large screen TV set.

The data from the sensors revealed that the more disgusting the scene, the more involved the participant became.

If the scene showed death, the participants could recall it vividly, but perhaps surprisingly, they had “incredibly poor memory for what preceded it,” the study says.

So if someone sees a violent attack, either in a movie or on a city street, can the testimony about what led up to the attack be trusted? Maybe that explains why eyewitness accounts can differ so much.

Again, suggesting more cognitive involvement, memory came through loud and clear if the situation involved racism or child abuse.

“Recognition memory for sociomoral content — before, at, and after disgust onset remains very high,” the study concludes.

This suggests the participants were more intellectually and emotionally involved if the issue concerned something like racism, and they processed and retained that information. Their disgust over the situation grew stronger as time passed, so they were thinking about it.

But throughout the experiments, scenes of gore commanded absolute attention.

The rise and fall in heart rate, as well as other physiological indicators, clearly show that the participants paid more attention to what was on the screen after disgust began to set in, so those movie producers know us pretty well.

Violence and gory scenes, no matter how disgusting, are among the reasons we go to see their products. And maybe, in the end, good really will triumph over evil.

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Children from Illegal Adoption Clinic Seek Relatives Through DNA Tests

iStock/Thinkstock(DUCKTOWN, Tenn.) — Adoptees from the 1950s and 1960s are on a mission to find their genetic relatives after being relocated through an illegal adoption clinic.

Some of the 200 adults, nicknamed “Hicks babies,” will undergo free cheek-swab sampling at a Tennessee motel Saturday. The individuals were part of a group involved in off-the-books adoptions through Dr. Thomas Hicks’ McCaysville clinic in northern Georgia.

Ohio-based DNA Diagnostics Center will offer Saturday’s services to those participants. The cells will be dried onto cotton swabs and sent off to a laboratory for testing, according to Dr. Michael Baird with the DDC.

“We’re really excited here at DDC just to be part of this project, and hope that we can get a lot of people that are involved and interested in pursuing this and hope we can bring some closure to this,” Baird added.

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Woman Delivers Baby While Undergoing Open-Heart Surgery

iStock/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) — Edita Tracey likes to describe her infant daughter as her miracle baby. The name seems appropriate due to the girl’s delivery — she was delivered in just 30 seconds while Tracey was being treated for a deadly cardiac condition.

When Tracey was 36 weeks pregnant, she started to feel some pressure on her back. Initially she didn’t think much of it as she was nearing her ninth month of pregnancy.

“I was close to nine-months pregnant. It’s normal to feel tired and have some pain in the back,” said Tracey, 35.

However, Tracey called for help as the pain felt different. The doctors who ran tests and scanned her chest found a potentially catastrophic condition called aortic dissection. The aorta artery, which runs directly from the heart, was rupturing due to high blood pressure.

Tracey was rushed to emergency surgery, where doctors performed a Cesarean section in just 30 seconds and safely delivered her daughter.

Doctors then performed a nine-hour open-heart surgery on Tracey to repair the tear. When she woke up, she had no idea of the ordeal she had just gone through.

“I was just happy that I was alive and our daughter was alive,” she said. “I think that the baby saved my life.”

Both mother and baby are now at home as Tracey gets used to caring for her 6-week-old daughter.

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Dad Waltzes with Disabled Daughter in Pageants

Randy Faris/Fuse/Thinkstock(DALLAS, Ga.) — Mike Carey, of Dallas, Georgia, never imagined that he would be participating in pageants. But as dancing partner to his 12-year-old daughter McKenzie, Carey has spent a good amount of time on stage.

McKenzie has mitochondrial disease, which affects the 12-year-old’s ability to speak and move and has left her in a wheelchair.

The disease results from the failure of mitochondria, which are responsible for 90 percent of the body’s energy. As the mitochondria fail, so do the cells. According to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, mitochondrial disease usually damages cells in heart, liver and skeletal muscles and respiratory systems, as well as the brain.

McKenzie’s mother, Tammy Carey, started putting her daughter into pageants at age 5 as a way to bond with her daughter and to help McKenzie meet new friends.

“We’re trying to figure out ways to help our daughter and help her enjoy life, and pageants give her an opportunity to be like other children,” said Tammy Carey, who noted that McKenzie can’t speak but understands those around her.

However, McKenzie’s condition confined her to a wheelchair, creating a problems for the competition.

Since Tammy Carey refused to enter her daughter only in pageants for special needs children, she had to figure out a plan for McKenzie when she was needed to perform onstage. Eventually during a particularly hectic pageant day, Mike Carey had an idea.

“You leave it up to me,” Mick Carey told his wife before taking the stage with his daughter. “I wheeled her up on the stage and I did a wheelie across the stage and I picked her up [to dance]. … I made up a dance in my head. The crowd went crazy.”

The pair has been performing together in pageants ever since and Mike Carey estimates he’s planned out seven dances for his daughter. McKenzie has won about 20 pageants, according to her mom.

At a recent pageant, Carey’s son taped the pair’s latest performance and put it online to raise awareness about the disease as the family raises money online to fund medical treatments for McKenzie. In just two days the video has already gotten more than 220,000 views with people as far as New Zealand chiming in.

“I’m like ‘Holy cow where did this come from?’” said Mike Carey.

The pair aren’t stopping now. They’re already planning to attend a national pageant in Nebraska. McKenzie’s mom is working on the outfits and make-up and her dad is already choreographing his next dance.

“If I get one person [inspired], it made the whole song and whole thing worthwhile,” said Carey. “It’s like an unspoken message. This dance is alike an unspoken testimony and shows bond and love between a father and daughter.”

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Kids Attempt to Break Guinness Record with World’s Largest Swimming Lesson

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Thousands of children participated in coordinated swimming lessons around the world Friday as organizers attempted to set a Guinness record and raise awareness on drowning.

Nearly 50 states and 26 countries took part in the “World’s Largest Swim Lesson,” in an effort to beat the old record of 13 countries.

Drowning is the number cause of unattended childhood death in the United States, according to experts, and Friday’s attempt sought to draw attention to the issue.

“Roughly 400 kids drown in pools and spas and unfortunately that number is not going down,” said Bob Adler, commissioner at the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

11-year-old Micah Smith participated in a D.C.-area event, citing the value of learning to swim for safety reasons.

“I think it’s important for me to learn how to swim because if you ever, i think if you ever get stuck in a situation and like if you’re older, it always comes back to you,” Smith said.

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FDA: Testosterone Products Must Warn About Clot Risk

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is calling for manufacturers to include a general warning in the drug labeling of all approved testosterone products, drawing attention to the risk of vein blood clots.

The potential for venous blood clots is already included on labels for products as a possible consequence for the condition polycythemia, or an abnormal increase in the number of red blood cells, the agency announced Thursday.

As a result of increased reports of polycythemia, the FDA is requiring a change to “ensure this risk is described consistently” in all approved products.

Such products are approved for use in men who lack or have low testosterone levels associated with medical conditions, including genetic problems and chemotherapy.

The FDA adds that officials are continuing an evaluation of the possible risk of stroke, heart attack, and death in patients taking such drugs in relation to blood clots in patients’ arteries.

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Pulmonary Embolism After Hit-and-Run Kills Capitol Hill Staffer

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Lisa Radogno, a congressional staffer on Capitol Hill, was talking on the phone with a friend from her Washington, D.C., home on Tuesday when she suddenly had difficulty breathing.

The friend called 911, but when rescuers arrived, Radogno was already unconscious and not breathing.

“Just seeing that and me being just down the hall, it’s very alarming,” her neighbor, Nakia Leggett, told ABC News’ Washington affiliate WJLA. “I had no idea something like this had happened.”

Radogno died of a massive pulmonary embolism — a blood clot in her lung — on Wednesday, according to a statement from her mother, Illinois State Sen. Christine Radogno. She was 31.

About a month before her death, Lisa Radogno had been crossing the street when she was struck by a car in a hit-and-run accident, according to WJLA. She injured her arm and legs, and had been recovering in her home state of Illinois before recently returning to D.C.

Blood clots tend to form in the legs after trauma and then travel up to the lungs, where they prevent blood flow, said Dr. Robert Schilz, the chief of pulmonary and critical care at UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland. But other risk factors include things like smoking, taking oral contraceptives and being obese.

“We know that damage to an arm or a leg or so forth can lead to the body’s attempt to heal that,” Schilz said. “Our body tries to stop the bleeding and damage. … That can also lead to the formation of blood clots.”

But it’s not uncommon to have a pulmonary embolism long after trauma, said Dr. Rashid Ahmad, a cardiac surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. One of his patients was on a transatlantic flight three months before he needed medical attention.

“It can vary,” Ahmad said. “It can be a week before, a month before or 3 months before.”

Still, the clot could have formed during Radogno’s recovery, especially if she was immobile for long stretches of time, Schilz said.

Radogno’s travel history could have also played a role, too, Ahmad said. Though the hit-and-run may have been the inciting incident for her embolism, he said the clot could have grown during her immobile recovery, and trips to and from Illinois.

“So keep in mind that even if she had a small pulmonary embolism after the first one, that can then grow,” Ahmad said. “These clots can be 20 centimeters long. … When you see this, you’re like, ‘My god, how can that be in there?’ The patient is walking around with a clot size of a thumb and 18 centimeters long inside the pulmonary artery.”

In young patients like Rodogno, the heart will compensate for the clot, minimizing the effects, Ahmad said. Shortness of breath often gets ignored.

Things to look out for include unexplained pain or swelling in the legs, which can be a sign of a blood clot, Schilz said. Sharp pain in the chest or difficulty breathing are signs of a pulmonary embolism and require immediate medical attention.

Once caught, doctors may treat the clot with anticoagulants, clot-busting drugs or emergency surgery.

“The lag between symptoms and death can be very rapid sometimes,” Schilz said.

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Anthrax Scare Is Latest CDC Lab Security Lapse

James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(ATLANTA) — An anthrax scare is the latest in a string of security lapses at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal agency charged with preventing the spread of infectious diseases.

Roughly 84 workers at CDC’s Atlanta headquarters may have been exposed to the deadly bacterium, Bacillus anthracis, after a breach at the agency’s Bioterrorism Rapid Response and Advanced Technology Laboratory, the agency confirmed Friday. The number of workers being monitored for anthrax was revised from 75 when the lab breach was announced Thursday.

“We are devastated. It is unacceptable. This is what we do best,” Paul Mecham of CDC’s Environment Health and Safety Compliance Office told ABC News. “Our people are our number one resource. We are going to find out what went wrong and we are going to fix it.”

At least three different incidents between 2007 and 2012 also called into question the CDC’s laboratory security system, which is designed to keep dangerous pathogens like smallpox, monkey pox and SARS from escaping into the general population.

No illnesses were reported in connection with the incidents, all three of which involved malfunctioning airflow and ventilation systems.

The possession, use and transfer of dangerous biological select agents and toxins, including Bacillus anthracis, are overseen by the Federal Select Agent Program, which is operated by CDC in conjunction with agents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The program, which essentially allows CDC to conduct self-inspections, was called into question in 2008, when a door to a CDC lab housing Coxiella Burnetii was found to be sealed with duct tape after a ventilation system malfunction.

“Laboratory safety is not an area where you want to have this much self-policing,” said ABC News’ chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser. “There is clearly an appearance of conflict of interest in having the inspection program at CDC given the number of laboratories housed within the agency. This has been a long-standing problem.”

Calls to the CDC regarding their laboratory safety procedures and oversight were not immediately returned.

The 84 workers involved in the anthrax scare have been offered antibiotics and vaccination, CDC officials said, adding that at least 54 of the workers have been examined and 27 have been vaccinated. So far, none have shown signs of illness, but symptoms can take two months to appear, according to the agency.

Left untreated, the inhaled form of anthrax can be deadly in 85 percent of cases, according to the CDC. Even with treatment, the fatality rate is as high as 45 percent.

Anthrax is not contagious and the general public is not at risk, CDC officials said.

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