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Tying the Knot Is Tied to Longer Life Span, New Data Shows

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Oct. 10, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Married folks not only live longer than singles, but the longevity gap between the two groups is growing, U.S. government health statisticians report.

The age-adjusted death rate for the married declined by 7% between 2010 and 2017, according to a new study from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Not only is the rate for married lower, but it’s declining more than any other group,” said lead author Sally Curtin, an NCHS statistician.

Statistically, death rate is the annual number of deaths for every 100,000 people. It’s adjusted so that a 26-year-old and an 80-year-old married or widowed or divorced are on equal footing.

The new study reported that the death rate for never-marrieds declined only 2%, while that for divorced people hasn’t changed at all.

Worst off were the widowed, for whom the death rate rose 6%. They have the highest death rate of all the categories, researchers said.

Married men in 2017 had an age-adjusted death rate of 943 per 100,000, compared to 2,239 for widowers. The death rate was 1,735 per 100,000 for lifelong bachelors and 1,773 for divorced men.

Married women had a death rate of 569 per 100,000, two-and-a-half times lower than the 1,482 rate for widows. The death rate was 1,096 for divorcees and 1,166 for never-married women.

Part of the marriage benefit could be explained by the fact that people in good health are more likely to marry, said Katherine Ornstein, an associate professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

Once you’re in a marriage, there are a host of tangible and intangible benefits that give you a health advantage, experts said.

Married people are more likely to have health insurance, Ornstein said, and therefore, have better access to health care.

Being married also means you have someone looking out for you and reinforcing healthy behaviors, said Michael Rendall, director of the Maryland Population Research Center at the University of Maryland.

Continued

“Having somebody there who’s your spouse will tend to promote positive health behaviors — going to the doctor, eating better, getting screened,” he said.

This is particularly true of men, who previous studies have shown derive more health benefits from marriage than women.

“Men tend to have fewer skills than women in terms of looking after themselves,” Rendall said.

Finally, the companionship of marriage staves off health problems associated with loneliness and isolation, Ornstein said.

“Social support and the social engagement that comes with being married is a huge benefit for mental health and physical health,” she said.

All these benefits also explain why widowed people tend to do so badly after the death of their spouse, Ornstein said.

Widows and widowers have to deal with heartache, loneliness and financial stress, she said. They no longer have a partner looking after them, so they are more likely to neglect their health.

The study found some gender differences in trends.

While the death rate for married men and women declined by the same 7%, women’s overall death rate was much lower.

But the death rates among men in all other marital categories remained essentially the same between 2010 and 2017, researchers found.

On the other hand, the death rate for widowed women rose 5%, while the rate for never-married women declined by 3% and remained stable for divorced women.

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Sources

SOURCES: Sally Curtin, M.A., statistician, U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Hyattsville, Md.; Katherine Ornstein, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor, geriatrics and palliative medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City; Michael Rendall, Ph.D., director, Maryland Population Research Center, and sociologist, University of Maryland, College Park; NCHS’sHealth E-Stats, Oct. 10, 2019

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NYC Sues Flavored Online E-Cigarette Sellers

Oct. 10, 2019 — Twenty-two online sellers of flavored e-cigarettes are being sued by New York City for allegedly targeting young people through social media.

The defendants created “a public nuisance” by selling e-cigarettes to people under 21 even though such sales have been illegal in the city since 2013, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday, CNN reported.

“Preying on minors and hooking them on a potentially lethal, lifelong nicotine addiction is unconscionable,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “This lawsuit sends a message: we will do whatever it takes to protect our kids and the health of our city.”

Nationwide, state and local governments have taken action to limit children’s access to e-cigarettes, CNN reported.

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Nurse Pens Powerful Post About Flu Shot

Oct. 11, 2019 — “The flu shot is NOT always about you. It’s about protecting those around you, who cannot always protect themselves.”

A nurse’s Facebook post is going viral after she penned a powerful statement urging everyone to get a flu shot.

Amanda Bitz writes that we shouldn’t just get vaccinated to keep ourselves healthy. Instead, it’s “for the grandparents, whose bodies are not what they used to be, and they just can’t kick an illness in the butt like when they were young. For the 30 year old, with HIV or AIDS, who has a weakened immune system. For the 25-year-old mother of three who has cancer. She has absolutely zero immune system because of chemotherapy.”

Bitz goes on to build her case, citing heart-wrenching example after example, before concluding that everyone needs to do their part to keep others safe. “I have been in the room as a patient has passed away, because of influenza. I have watched patients struggle to breathe, because of influenza,” she writes. “Herd immunity is a thing. Influenza killing people is a thing. You getting the flu shot, should be a thing.”

As of Friday afternoon, the post had been shared more than 82,000 times and had more than 1,200 comments.

The flu can be deadly and cause serious illness, but vaccination rates remain low. Last season, 45.3% of adults 18 and older received flu vaccinations, according to the CDC. The rate was higher among children 6 months through 17 years: 62.6%.

A recent CDC study found that roughly two-thirds of pregnant women in the U.S. don’t get vaccinated against the flu — which puts them and their babies at risk. When pregnant women get the flu shot, it reduces their newborns’ risk of being hospitalized due to the virus by an average of 72%.

The agency recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months get vaccinated — if their health allows — and says vaccination is especially important for people with a high risk for serious complications, including young kids, adults over the age of 65, people with underlying medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease, and pregnant women.

Last year’s flu season lasted a whopping 21 weeks — the longest in a decade. But health officials aren’t sure how long this one will last or how bad it will be. Each flu season varies, but it usually starts in October, peaks between December and February, and lasts as late as May.

While flu activity is still low in the U.S., the CDC warns that Australia experienced an early start to its 2019 flu season and that, because influenza is unpredictable, circumstances can change very quickly.

Sources

Facebook, Amanda Catherine Bitz, Ocober 7, 2019.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Flu Symptoms & Diagnosis.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Update: Influenza Activity — United States and Worldwide, May 19–September 28, 2019, and Composition of the 2020 Southern Hemisphere Influenza Vaccine.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Flu Treatment.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Low Rates of Vaccination During Pregnancy Leave Moms, Babies Unprotected.”

CDC, “Update: Influenza Activity in the United States During the 2018–19 Season and Composition of the 2019–20 Influenza Vaccine.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “The Flu Season.”

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By Mid-Century, Heat Waves Could Cover Far Bigger Areas

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Oct. 10, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Climate change could trigger much bigger heat waves by mid-century, U.S. researchers report.

Previous research has predicted that the number and intensity of heat waves will increase, but this study is the first to examine changes in their potential physical size.

“As the physical size of these affected regions increases, more people will be exposed to heat stress,” said lead author Brad Lyon, an associate research professor at the University of Maine in Orono.

“Larger heat waves would also increase electrical loads and peak energy demand on the grid as more people and businesses turn on air conditioning in response,” he added.

The statistics are alarming.

With medium greenhouse gas emission levels, the average size of heat waves could grow 50% by mid-century, according to the study. With high emission levels, their average size could increase 80%, and more extreme heat waves could more than double in size, it predicted.

The study, published Oct. 7 in the journal Environmental Research Letters, was partly funded by the Climate Observations and Monitoring Program of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Program Office.

Predictions about the growing size of heat waves could help utilities plan for the future, according to the researchers.

“Heat wave size is another dimension of extreme heat that people don’t necessarily think of,” Lyon said in a NOAA news release. “It’s a different vantage point from which to view them and assess their impacts.”

The study also found that the length and severity of heat waves could increase substantially, which came as no surprise to the researchers.

“An increase in attributes like magnitude and duration is consistent with expectations of a warming climate,” Lyon said. “What is new in our study is the way we calculated them, which allowed us to consider size as a new heat wave dimension.”

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Sources

SOURCE: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, news release, Oct. 7, 2019

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Pet Turtles Linked to Salmonella Outbreak: CDC

Oct. 10, 2019 — A salmonella outbreak linked to pet turtles has sickened 21 people in 13 states, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Seven people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported, the CDC said in an update about the ongoing investigation.

Any turtle can carry salmonella, even it if appears clean and healthy. Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after touching, feeding, or caring for a turtle or cleaning its habitat, the CDC advised.

Salmonella can cause diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria. The illness typically lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.

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Standard Memory Tests for Seniors Might Differ by Gender

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 9, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Are some tests designed to measure memory declines missing signs of trouble in women?

New research suggests that might be the case.

More women than men were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) when sex-specific scores were used on memory tests, researchers report.

They explained that women generally score higher on verbal memory tests than men, even when they have the same levels of brain changes. Therefore, memory scores based on gender, rather than averages for both men and women, may be more revealing for women with possible brain issues.

People with MCI have problems with memory and thinking skills, and the condition is a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

“If women are inaccurately identified as having no problems with memory and thinking skills when they actually have mild cognitive impairment, then treatments are not being started and they and their families are not planning ahead for their care or their financial or legal situations,” said study author Erin Sundermann, from the University of California, San Diego.

“And for men who are inaccurately diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, they can be exposed to unneeded medications, along with undue stress for them and their families,” Sundermann explained.

In this study, researchers analyzed memory test scores from hundreds of U.S. women and men and found that 10% more women were diagnosed with MCI and 10% fewer men were diagnosed with the condition when sex-specific scores were used.

The researchers also found that early Alzheimer’s disease-related brain changes such as amyloid plaque deposits were more advanced among women whose diagnosis changed from normal to MCI when the sex-specific scores were used.

In men whose diagnosis changed from MCI to normal when the sex-specific scores were used, their brain changes closely resembled healthy older adults.

These findings suggest that the use of sex-specific scores on memory tests for MCI and Alzheimer’s disease improves the accuracy of diagnoses, according to the study published online Oct. 9 in the journal Neurology.

“If these results are confirmed, they have vital implications,” Sundermann said in a journal news release.

The findings may also benefit research into treatments.

“When the typical average cutoff scores are used for diagnosis, women might respond less to treatments in a clinical trial than men because they are at a more advanced stage of the disease, while men might not respond because some of them do not actually have MCI,” Sundermann said.

“These combined factors would result in research that reduces the estimate of how well treatments work for both men and women,” she explained.

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Sources

SOURCE:Neurology, news release, Oct. 9, 2019

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You’ve Lost the Weight — Now Keep It Off to Keep Diabetes at Bay

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 9, 2019 (HealthDay News) — The health of people with type 2 diabetes often improves dramatically with a 5% to 10% weight loss — but to sustain the benefits, you need to keep the weight off, new research claims.

After losing weight with a yearlong intervention, blood sugar and blood pressure levels go down and cholesterol results improve. People who kept at least 75% of that weight off for another three years retained or had even greater health benefits, the study reported.

“A lot of times, the emphasis is put on weight-loss programs, but it’s just as critical to help people maintain their weight loss,” said study senior author Alice Lichtenstein. She’s director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts University’s Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston.

“People tend to think of diets as short-term, but it’s really something that has to be lifelong. If you’ve found a successful way to lose weight, don’t revert to old habits. Figure out how to incorporate the changes you made to lose weight,” Lichtenstein suggested.

Excess weight is a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that losing weight can improve the symptoms of type 2 diabetes. And shedding around 10% of your body weight may even put the disease into remission, a recent study from Diabetic Medicine found.

The current study — published Oct. 9 in the Journal of the American Heart Association — included more than 1,500 people with type 2 diabetes who were recruited for an intensive lifestyle intervention that lasted one year.

After losing weight, participants entered a three-year maintenance phase that included monthly group meetings. They were encouraged to get regular physical activity and to use a single meal replacement product each day.

Lichtenstein and her team looked at blood pressure and levels of blood sugar, triglycerides (a type of blood fat linked to heart disease), and HDL (or “good”) cholesterol. They checked just after the weight loss and again after three years of maintenance.

The researchers tried to find the specific point where people started to lose the benefits of weight reduction, but couldn’t find one. But they did find that when people who lost 10% or more of their initial weight regained about one-quarter of the lost pounds, the health benefits began to wane.

Continued

“The more weight loss that is maintained, the better people will be in terms of [heart and metabolic] health. There’s a long-term benefit from maintaining weight loss,” Lichtenstein said.

Dr. Berhane Seyoum, chief of endocrinology at Detroit Medical Center, reviewed the study and said keeping weight off is no easy feat.

“Maintaining weight loss is the most difficult part as the body tries to bring back the weight that has been lost. Weight loss and maintenance is a lifetime struggle. You have to watch what you’re eating and exercise,” he said.

For type 2 diabetes patients who struggle with hunger, medications can help keep hunger at bay, Seyoum said.

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Sources

SOURCES: Alice Lichtenstein, D.Sc., lab director and senior scientist, Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, and professor, nutrition science and policy, Tufts University, Boston; Berhane Seyoum, M.D., M.P.H., chief, endocrinology, Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State University, Detroit; Oct. 9, 2019,Journal of the American Heart Association

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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$8 Billion Award in Risperdal Lawsuit

A lawsuit over the antipsychotic drug Risperdal has led to an $ 8 billion punitive damages award against Johnson & Johnson and one of its subsidiaries.

The award was handed out Tuesday by a Philadelphia jury. The plaintiff’s attorneys argued that the drug is linked to abnormal growth of female breast tissue in boys, the Associated Press reported.

In a statement, attorneys Tom Kline and Jason Itkin said Johnson & Johnson used an organized scheme to make billions of dollars while illegally marketing and promoting the drug.

Johnson & Johnson said the award is “excessive and unfounded” and that it would take immediate action to overturn it, the AP reported.

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Passengers May Have Been Exposed to Hepatitis A

Passengers on several American Airline flights in the U.S. may have been exposed to hepatitis A by a flight attendant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

The CDC said the flight attendant had diarrhea on several flights during the period in which he was considered infectious, so it is investigating and notifying passengers who may have been affected.

One of those flights was between San Francisco and Charlotte on Sept. 21, according to the Mecklenburg County Public Health Department in North Carolina, which told ABC News that it’s contacted 18 local passengers, all of whom received hepatitis A vaccinations.

American Airlines would not confirm that one of its flight attendants had hepatitis A or another disease, ABC News reported.

Hepatitis A — which affects the liver — is usually contracted by ingesting fecal matter or contaminated food or water.

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Bill Would Limit Nicotine in E-Cigarette Products

Oct. 8, 2019 — A bill to limit the amount of nicotine in e-cigarette products was introduced Monday by U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi in a bid “to make them significantly less addictive and appealing to youth.”

The bill would restrict nicotine content to a maximum of 20 milligrams per milliliter, which matches regulations in the European Union, and would give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to reduce the cap if necessary, CNN reported.

Currently, there is no national limit in the U.S., and some brands have nicotine levels several times higher than 20 milligrams per milliliter.

Experts say high nicotine concentrations have contributed to what they say is a vaping epidemic among U.S. youth, CNN reported.

“Capping the concentration of nicotine in e-cigarettes is integral to ending the youth vaping epidemic by making these products less addictive, less appealing to youth, and less harmful to public health,” Krishnamoorthi said in a statement.

He’s leading a congressional investigation into youth vaping.

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Aspirin, Antihistamines: Kids Often Use OTC Drugs in Suicide Attempts

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 7, 2019 (HealthDay News) — More teens are attempting suicide by overdosing on drugs, and new research suggests they are often turning to over-the-counter (OTC) medications like ibuprofen and aspirin in their efforts.

Antidepressants, antipsychotics and antihistamines were also common choices, the researchers added.

“What we were seeing was youth increasing suicide attempts using medications readily available in the home,” said study author John Ackerman, suicide prevention coordinator at the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

“People think that youth are thinking deeply about which medicine to take, but when someone is in crisis, it’s what’s in the medicine cabinet. These drugs are having very serious medical outcomes for young people,” Ackerman added.

Girls were much more likely than boys to attempt suicide by what is known as “self-poisoning,” and suicide attempts by self-poisoning in children and teens were higher in rural communities. These types of suicide attempts occurred more often during the school year, the study found.

When people survive a self-poisoning suicide attempt, they may have heart problems or seizures afterwards. Ackerman said that the drugs may have an impact on brain function as well.

“This paper is a call to action for parents to increase their safe storage practices and talk to kids about their mental health concerns,” he added. “Ask your kids how they’re doing.”

Parents may think it’s impossible to keep kids away from all medicines. “But, if you’re adding barriers — like a lock box or safe, and counting medication — those seemingly simple tasks can help. They can be a bridge to a child or teen seeing other options,” Ackerman explained.

From 2000 to 2018, more than 1.6 million young people between the ages of 10 and 25 attempted suicide by self-poisoning. The rates of these suicide attempts in young people aged 10 to 18 started to increase in 2011, the study found.

Almost one-quarter of those attempts resulted in a serious medical outcome. The drugs most used in these attempts were OTC pain relievers, antidepressants, antihistamines and antipsychotics. Opioids were only involved in 7% of cases with a serious medical outcome.

Continued

ADHD medications were more commonly used in the younger group — 10- to 15-year-olds.

Less densely-populated states were more likely to have reported cases ending in serious medical outcomes.

“Rural communities are more at risk. It might be social isolation, lack of access to mental health care and economic factors,” Ackerman suggested.

In kids 18 and younger, suicide attempts by self-poisoning occurred more during the school months of September through May. This pattern wasn’t seen in the 19- to 21-year-old age group. The 22- to 25-year-old group had an increase in the summer months.

“Younger people seem to be more vulnerable during the school year,” Ackerman said. Although the study didn’t look at causes behind the findings, he said that school stress, peer behaviors, bullying and social media likely play a role.

Daniel Reidenberg, executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, reviewed the study and said, “In an acute suicidal crisis, people turn to the quickest, most easily available means.”

He said there are usually signs before someone reaches a crisis level. “People might be struggling with sleep; their appetite might be off; they might talk about aches and have other complaints about physical problems. They don’t want to go to school. They don’t want to interact with their friends,” Reidenberg said.

Of even greater concern is when someone talks about being a burden or says they have no hope for the future. They might start to look for ways to die or talk about suicide.

Reidenberg said a huge red flag is if someone just can’t sleep for a few days. “Anxiety and agitation become worse as someone gets sicker. It’s very, very important that anyone who might be at risk of suicide be monitored for sleep. It can be hard to notice disrupted sleep patterns in teens, but if there’s one, two or three days without sleep, you need to have a conversation, and hopefully get some professional help.”

Reidenberg added that connections are crucial: “The more connections that people have, the better off they are. A sense of aloneness increases the sense of distress and the risk of suicide.”

Continued

If you find your child has attempted self-poisoning, Ackerman said it’s important to get them to the ER immediately. The sooner they get help, the better the chances for a good outcome.

The findings were published Oct. 7 in Clinical Toxicology.

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Sources

SOURCES: John Ackerman, Ph.D., suicide prevention coordinator, Center for Suicide Prevention and Research, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio; Daniel J. Reidenberg, Psy.D., executive director, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, and managing director, National Council for Suicide Prevention, and general secretary, International Association for Suicide Prevention; Oct. 7, 2019,Clinical Toxicology

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Cause of Paralyzing Illness in Kids Remains Elusive

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 7, 2019 (HealthDay News) — There is still no clear cause for a mysterious paralytic condition that has been striking U.S. children over the past five years, government health officials report.

Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suspect that a virus of some kind is the culprit. But the specific germ causing the outbreaks remains unknown, according to the report published online Oct. 7 in the journal Pediatrics.

For several years, the CDC has been investigating the condition, called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM). It’s a rare disease that attacks tissue in the spinal cord, causing muscles and reflexes to weaken.

AFM mainly affects the arms and legs but can also impair muscles needed for breathing, and some patients end up on a ventilator. At least half of AFM patients do not fully recover, the CDC has said.

Sporadic cases of AFM — sometimes linked to various viral infections, but not always — have long been recognized. The CDC began closely monitoring the condition in 2014, after an unexpected surge in cases: 120 people in 34 states over a few months.

Since then, the United States has seen AFM outbreaks in a clear pattern — every two years, between August and October, almost entirely among children. In 2018, the CDC said that 235 cases were reported; so far this year, 20 are confirmed — in line with the pattern.

Based on what’s known about all three seasonal “surges” so far, the leading hypothesis is that a virus is to blame, according to Dr. Janell Routh of the CDC’s division of viral diseases.

One virus, called enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), has been considered a prime suspect, Routh noted. It’s one of a large group of viruses that are usually harmless or cause only cold symptoms. However, in 2014, the United States saw an outbreak of more-severe respiratory illnesses caused by EV-D68, coinciding with the first AFM surge.

As of now, though, there’s no “smoking gun,” Routh said.

In the new report, she and her colleagues describe the cases of 193 U.S. children who had confirmed cases of AFM between 2015 and 2017.

Continued

Most children had samples of spinal fluid taken, but only one showed evidence of a virus — coxsackievirus A16. Blood samples from another child showed evidence of EV-D68.

The CDC researchers found more microbes when they looked at mucus and stool samples, but there was no clear single cause. Overall, 28% of those samples tested positive for an enterovirus or rhinovirus (another cause of the common cold).

Many of the respiratory samples — 69% — did turn out to be positive for EV-D68, though.

“I think it’s fair to say it’s still the leading suspect in the biennial surges we’re seeing,” said Dr. Samuel Dominguez of Children’s Hospital Colorado and the University of Colorado School of Medicine, in Aurora.

Dominguez wrote an editorial published with the study.

Like other viruses, EV-D68 has a season, circulating in the summer to fall. In addition, there are year-to-year shifts in the types of enteroviruses in circulation in the United States, Dominguez explained. That fits the every-other-year pattern of AFM surges.

It’s not clear why the surges began — or, at least, were first recognized — in 2014, Routh said.

Researchers are looking into other questions, too: If a viral infection is driving the AFM outbreaks, how does it cause the condition? Is it through a direct assault on nerve cells, or does the virus trigger an abnormal immune response that damages nerve cells? And what makes some children vulnerable to developing AFM, while most do not?

If EV-D68, or another virus, is pinpointed as the cause, that would raise the question of what comes next.

Dominguez said, “If you know what the pathogen is, and this (AFM) is becoming more common, would it be worth developing a vaccine?”

For now, he and Routh said that while AFM remains relatively rare, parents should be aware of the signs: sudden weakness in the arms or legs; loss of muscle tone; and, in some cases, a “droop” on one side of the face or the eyelids.

“If you notice those symptoms, see a doctor right away,” Routh said.

And, she added, it’s always wise to avoid contracting or spreading any viral infection. Some preventive steps include regular hand-washing, staying home when you’re sick, and coughing or sneezing into your arm rather than your hand.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Janell Routh, M.D., M.H.S., medical officer, division of viral diseases, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; Samuel Dominguez, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine, and medical director, clinical microbiology lab, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Aurora; Oct. 7, 2019,Pediatrics, online

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders Leaves Hospital; Doctors Confirm He Had Heart Attack

By Margaret Farley Steele
HealthDay Reporter

SATURDAY, Oct. 5, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Senator Bernie Sanders left a Las Vegas hospital on Friday after being admitted with chest pains on Tuesday; his presidential campaign is now saying the 78-year-old suffered a heart attack.

Sanders experienced chest pain at a campaign event and received two stents to open a blocked artery. He has cancelled public events for the time being, The New York Times reported.

Sanders waved to onlookers and gave a fist pump as he left Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center and was taken away in a waiting vehicle. Later, after dropping off bags at his hotel, he was seen taking a walk in a nearby park with his wife, Jane.

“After two and a half days in the hospital, I feel great, and after taking a short time off, I look forward to getting back to work,” Sanders said in a statement.

His doctors in Las Vegas, Arturo Marchand and Arjun Gururaj, said the senator’s “hospital course was uneventful with good expected progress,” the Times added.

Although his campaign is not saying when he will resume a normal schedule, on Thursday it was announced that Sanders does plan to take part in the next Democratic debate, scheduled for Oct. 15 near Columbus, Ohio.

Dr. Steven Nissen, a cardiologist and chief academic officer at Cleveland Clinic’s Heart & Vascular Institute, said that stenting should allow Sanders to resume normal activities.

“We don’t know all the details, but this is a common, safe procedure, and with contemporary stents, it generally comes with a short recovery time,” said Nissen, who wasn’t involved in Sanders’ care. “The purpose of modern medicine is to let people continue pursuing their passions, and for this procedure, patients can generally get back to that relatively quickly.”

Dr. Satjit Bhusri, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said Sanders suffered the classic signs of heart attack and was promptly sent to emergency services.

“All heart attacks present differently. In women, for example, they typically present as a sudden shortness of breath. Mr. Sanders had the textbook symptoms of chest pain that was successfully treated,” Bhusri noted.

Continued

“If not recognized and treated early, the outcome would have been more ominous,” Bhusri added.

According to the American Heart Association, stents help keep coronary arteries open and reduce the chance of a heart attack. Doctors insert the stent — a tiny mesh tube — into the clogged artery with a balloon catheter. When they inflate the balloon, the stent expands and locks in place. This allows blood to flow more freely.

Did Sanders’ hectic schedule contribute to his heart attack? One expert isn’t sure, but said the politician’s example should be a wake-up call to many Americans.

“Lack of sleep, exercise, and increased stress can certainly lead to acute coronary events,” said Dr. Benjamin Hirsh, who directs preventive cardiology at Northwell Health Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.

“Whether or not these factors contributed to Bernie Sanders’ heart condition, we continue to learn vital lessons from this and other similar stories,” he said. “Coronary disease is on the rise, regular medical evaluation is necessary, and prioritizing healthy living is essential to keep your heart safe.”

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Benjamin Hirsh, M.D.,  director, preventive cardiology, Northwell Health Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital, Manhasset, N.Y.; Steven Nissen, M.D., cardiologist and chief academic officer, Cleveland Clinic’s Heart & Vascular Institute; Satjit Bhusri, M.D., cardiologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City;The New York Times

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Twins Are Becoming Less Common in U.S., for Good Reasons

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, OCT. 3, 2019 (HealthDay News) — No, you’re not seeing double as often these days: After decades of rising, twin births are declining in the United States.

Twin birth rates had been on the rise for 30 years, but dropped 4% between 2014 and 2018, health officials said in a new U.S. government study. That’s the lowest level in more than a decade. In 2018, there were 32.6 twins for every 1,000 U.S. births.

So what’s going on? Experts suspect the decline probably stems from improved techniques for assisted reproduction.

“We know from other sources that there have been improvements in fertility-enhancing therapies, in particular in reproductive technologies,” said Joyce Martin, an epidemiologist for the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With these new methods, fewer women are having more than one embryo implanted, she explained. It used to be that several embryos were implanted, leading to the surge in twins and triplets.

“So you’re seeing the decline among older moms, who are more likely to have these therapies, and among white moms, who are also more likely to have these therapies,” Martin said. She’s the lead author of the study published Oct. 3 in the CDC’s NCHS Data Brief.

Between 2014 and 2018, the number of twins born in the United States dropped about 2% a year, the study found. Nearly 124,000 twins were born last year.

Though twin birth rates fell by 10% or more for mothers starting at age 30, the decline was greatest among women 40 and older, and it was only seen in white women, the researchers found. Twin birth rates for black and Hispanic women were unchanged.

Despite these declines, the birth rate for twins is still way above what it was in 1980, when 1 in every 53 births was a twin.

Having twins can be problematic, Martin said. Many are born preterm, so they weigh less.

“Twins are seven times more likely to be born too early and three times more likely to die within the first year of life,” she said.

Continued

Martin predicts the twins’ birth rate will continue to decline as assisted reproductive technologies improve.

For the study, her team used data from the U.S. National Vital Statistics System.

It revealed that twin births nationwide peaked in 2007 at nearly 139,000.

Between 2014 and 2018, the data showed significant declines in twin birth rates in 17 states and significant rises in three: Arizona, Oklahoma and Idaho.

In 2018, twin birth rates ranged from 24.9 per 1,000 in New Mexico to 36.4 in Michigan and Connecticut. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia had twin birth rates of 30 per 1,000 (3%) or more.

Dr. Rahul Gupta, chief medical health officer at the March of Dimes, agreed that better reproductive technology explains the trends.

“Fewer embryos transferred result in fewer multiple births,” he said. “I hope that one of the reasons is that we are getting to the point where a single embryo is transferred.”

Gupta said the decline in multiple births among older women is a positive development. He noted that women in their 30s and 40s are more likely to develop complications during pregnancy such as high blood pressure, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.

These problems, along with chronic health conditions such as obesity, can increase the risk to both mother and baby, Gupta said. To reduce the chances for a bad outcome, he recommends women should be in their best physical shape before they get pregnant.

Gupta advised women who are considering assisted reproduction to ask their doctor about single embryo implantation and other updated technology to improve their odds for a healthy outcome.

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Sources

SOURCES: Joyce Martin, M.P.H., epidemiologist, National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Rahul Gupta, M.D., M.P.H., chief medical health officer, March of Dimes; CDC’sNCHS Data Brief, Oct. 3, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Mind-Controlled ‘Exoskeleton’ Restores Movement to Totally Paralyzed Man

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 4, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Unable to move either their arms or their legs, quadriplegics are almost completely paralyzed. But in a major breakthrough, a team of French researchers has given one patient the ability to move all four limbs.

How? With the assistance of a whole-body exoskeleton controlled by a patient’s brain waves.

“For the first time, a quadriplegic patient was able to walk and control both arms using this neuro-prosthetic, which records, transmits and decodes brain signals in real time to control an exoskeleton,” said project chief Guillaume Charvet. The experiment was launched by the biomedical research center Clinatec in Grenoble, France.

At the heart of the two-year investigation was a single patient: Thibault, a 30-year-old man from Lyon who does not want his surname used. Four years ago, Thibault lost the ability to move any of his limbs following an accident that caused him to fall more than 40 feet.

But in 2017, two small wireless sensors (each containing 64 electrodes) were implanted on opposite sides of his brain, in an area central to both movement and sensation control.

The sensors would record and wirelessly convey brain signaling to the exoskeleton, which could then turn it into machine-enabled movement.

To facilitate that process, Thibault spent more than three months working with a high-tech computer simulation program to learn how to control an on-screen representation — much like a video-game avatar — of his appendages.

With his sensor-read thoughts, Thibault eventually learned to manipulate those digital arms and legs, so he could virtually walk and pick up virtual objects.

Those skills were then attempted on the exoskeleton, which looks like a high-tech suit of white armor split in half and fitted to the patient from behind, like a rigid cape.

Outfitted with 14 joints and 14 degrees of freedom, the exoskeleton is designed to enable movement in about 14 unique ways, the researchers noted.

To see how many of those moves he could actually make, Thibault underwent a series of arm and leg movement tests. After 45 sessions in the exoskeleton, the study team deemed the final results a success.

Continued

Over six sessions, Thibault was able to walk 73% of the time, although always with the assistance of a ceiling-mounted suspension harness for balance. When tallied with the 33 sessions he spent getting his on-screen avatar to walk, the scientists calculated that Thibault was able to complete 480 steps and move roughly 475 feet.

Thibault was also able to get both hands moving at the same time in an effort to touch targets. He scored a 71% success rate in five execution attempts.

“It was like [being the] first man on the moon,” Thibault told BBC News. “I didn’t walk for two years. I forgot what it is to stand, I forgot I was taller than a lot of people in the room.”

No complications occurred, and the exoskeleton-sensor system only needed to be recalibrated once every seven weeks.

Despite the encouraging findings, Charvet and his colleagues stressed that the exoskeleton is not a cure, and Thibault’s status remains the same. They further caution that there is little chance that the investigational technology, as it stands, could be widely deployed anytime soon.

Still, both Thibault and Charvet hope that the research will ultimately lead to technological innovations — such as mind-controlled wheelchairs — that can improve quality of life for immobilized patients. And the investigation continues, with three new patients set to participate.

“This proof-of-concept will open the door to new applications for use of this neuro-prosthetic at home by patients in their everyday lives,” said Charvet, whose team reports on its work in the Oct. 3 issue of Lancet Neurology.

But in an accompanying editorial, Tom Shakespeare, a professor of disability research with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said such lofty ambition may need to be tempered by more mundane needs.

“While it is exciting to have developments like this in computer/brain interface, for the vast majority of quadriplegic and paraplegic people, the keys to a better life are good nursing care and good assistive technology,” Shakespeare said. “Sip/blow controls and other existing interfaces allow people to operate their chairs, and environmental controls — not the least voice-operated systems — allow people to control their environments.

Continued

“The hard work is to make sure all these technologies are available to all the people who might benefit from them,” which is, he added, “currently far from the case.”

This video supplied by The Lancet Neurology further explains the technology:

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Guillaume Charvet, project chief, Brain Computer Interface, Clinatec, Grenoble, France; Tom Shakespeare, Ph.D., professor, disability research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; Oct. 3, 2019,Lancet Neurology; BBCNews

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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