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Health Tip: What to Expect When Your Eyes Are Dilated

— When dilating your eyes, your doctor will put a small amount of eye drop solution into each of your eyes, says the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Within 30 minutes, your pupils should fully open.

Your vision will be blurry, and focusing on close objects will be difficult. And you will be extra sensitive to bright light.

The effects of dilating eye drops last up to several hours, so the academy recommends having someone drive you home after your appointment.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019

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A Drink a Day Might Be Good for Diabetics’ Health, Study Suggests

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 17, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Chinese researchers may deserve a toast for their new findings that suggest light to moderate drinking may be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes.

The review found that people who had a bit of alcohol daily had lower levels of a type of blood fat called triglycerides. But alcohol didn’t seem to lower blood sugar levels in people who already had type 2 diabetes, the review found.

The research did show lower levels of insulin and improved insulin resistance in people who drank light to moderate amounts of alcohol, study lead author Yuling Chen said. Chen is a medical student at Southeast University in Nanjing, China.

That finding suggests that “light to moderate alcohol consumption might protect against type 2 diabetes,” Chen said.

But Chen cautioned that you can have too much of a good thing: “High alcohol consumption is reported to be a risk factor for diabetes.”

The authors said light to moderate drinking is about 20 grams of alcohol daily. That’s about 1.5 cans of beer, a large glass of wine (almost 7 ounces), or a generous shot (1.7 ounces) of distilled spirits.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that people who drink alcohol do so in moderation — no more than one drink per day for adult women and no more than two drinks per day for adult men.

Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, said those are the levels he recommends to his patients with type 2 diabetes.

“A little alcohol can be good for you, and that’s no different in patients with type 2 diabetes,” he said.

One caveat, Zonszein said, is that people with type 1 diabetes and anyone with type 2 who is taking insulin or other medications that can cause low blood sugar levels must be more cautious with alcohol. It can sometimes lead to dangerously low levels of blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

But not all type 2 diabetes medications are a concern with alcohol. For example, he said, it’s OK to have a drink if you’re taking a commonly used type 2 diabetes drug called metformin.

Continued

Zonszein shared Chen’s concern about too much alcohol.

“Excessive drinking is a problem,” he said, noting that too much alcohol can raise triglycerides and lead to serious health concerns, such as pancreatitis.

For the new research, Chen and colleagues reviewed 10 previous randomized controlled trials on people with type 2 diabetes. Those studies had a total of 575 volunteers.

A number of factors related to diabetes and health were measured, including blood sugar control, insulin levels, insulin resistance, cholesterol and triglycerides.

Across the studies, researchers found a drop of nearly 9 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) in average triglyceride levels. A normal triglyceride level is less than 150 mg/dL, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. A high level of triglycerides is associated with a higher risk of heart disease.

Researchers also saw decreases in insulin levels and in a measure called HOMA-IR that assesses insulin resistance. Chen said these findings suggest “relieved insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes patients.”

The authors are scheduled to present the findings Tuesday at a meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, in Barcelona, Spain. Findings presented at meetings are typically viewed as preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Yuling Chen, medical student, Southeast University, Nanjing, China; Joel Zonszein, M.D., director, Clinical Diabetes Center, Montefiore Medical Center, New York City; Sept. 17, 2019, presentation, European Association for the Study of Diabetes, Barcelona, Spain

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Groupons For Medical Treatment? Welcome To Today’s U.S. Health Care

By Lauren Weber

Friday, September 06, 2019 (Kaiser News) — Emory University medical fellow Dr. Nicole Herbst was shocked when she saw three patients who came in with abnormal results from chest CT scans they had bought on Groupon.

Yes, Groupon — the online coupon mecca that also sells discounted fitness classes and foosball tables.  

Similar deals have shown up for various lung, heart and full-body scans across Atlanta, as well as in Oklahoma and California. Groupon also offers discount coupons for expectant parents looking for ultrasounds, sold as “fetal memories.”

The concept of patients using Groupons to get discounted medical care elicited the typical stages of Twitter grief: anger, bargaining and acceptance that this is the medical system today in the United States.

But, ultimately, the use of Groupon and other pricing tools is symptomatic of a health care market where patients desperately want a deal — or at least tools that better nail down their costs before they get care.

“Whether or not a person may philosophically agree that medicine is a business, it is a market,” said Steven Howard, who runs Saint Louis University’s health administration program.

[khn_slabs slabs=”790331″ view=”inline” /]

By offering an upfront cost on a coupon site like Groupon, Howard argued, medical companies are meeting people where they are. It helps drive prices down, he said, all while marketing the medical businesses.

For Paul Ketchel, CEO and founder of MDsave, a site that contracts with providers to offer discount-priced vouchers on bundled medical treatments and services, the use of medical Groupons and his own company’s success speak to the brokenness of the U.S. health care system.

MDsave offers deals at over 250 hospitals across the country, selling vouchers for anything from MRIs to back surgery. It has experienced rapid growth and expansion in the several years since its launch. Ketchel attributes that growth to the general lack of price transparency in the U.S. health care industry amid rising costs to consumers.

“All we are really doing is applying the e-commerce concepts and engineering concepts that have been applied to other industries to health care,” he argued. “We are like transacting with Expedia or Kayak while the rest of the health care industry is working with an old-school travel agent.”

Continued

A Closer Look At The Deal

Crown Valley Imaging in Mission Viejo, Calif., has been selling Groupon deals for services including heart scans and full-body CT scans since February 2017 — despite what Crown Valley’s president, Sami Beydoun, called Groupon’s aggressive financial practices. According to him, Groupon dictates the price for its deals based on the competition in the area — and then takes a substantial cut.

“They take about half. It’s kind of brutal. It’s a tough place to market,” he said. “But the way I look at it is you’re getting decent marketing.”

Groupon-type deals for health care aren’t new. They were more popular in 2011, 2012 and 2013, when Groupon and its then-competitor LivingSocial were at their heights. The industry has since lost some steam. Groupon stock and valuation have tumbled in recent years, even after buying LivingSocial in 2016.

Groupon did not respond to requests for comment on how many medical offerings it has featured or its pricing structure.

“Groupon is pleased any time we can save customers time and money on elective services that are important to their daily lives,” spokesman Nicholas Halliwell wrote in an emailed statement. “Our marketplace of local services brings affordable dental, chiropractic and eye care, among other procedures and treatments, to our more than 46 million customers daily and helps thousands of medical professional[s] advertise and grow their practices.”

Lauren Weber discussed using Groupons for medical treatment on KCBS Radio on Sept. 9.

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to download.

In Atlanta, two imaging centers that each offered discount coupons from Groupon said the deals have driven in new business. Bobbi Henderson, the office manager for Virtual Imaging Inc.’s Perimeter Center, said the group had been running the deal for a heart CT scan, complete with consultation, since 2012. Currently listed at $ 26 — a 96% discount — more than 5,000 of the company’s coupons have been sold, according to the Groupon site.

Continued

Brittany Swanson, who works in the front office at OutPatient Imaging in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta, said she has seen hundreds of customers come through after the center posted Groupons for mammograms, body scans and other screenings around six months ago.

Why did the company choose to make such discounts available?

“Honestly, we saw the other competition had it,” she said.

A lot of the deals offered are for preventive scans, Swanson said, providing patients incentives to come in.

But Dr. Andrew Bierhals, a radiology safety expert at Washington University in St. Louis’ Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, warned that such deals may be leading patients to get unnecessary initial scans — which can lead to unnecessary tests and radiation.

“If you’re going to have any type of medical testing done, I would make sure you discuss with your primary care provider or practitioner,” he cautioned.

Appealing To Those Who Fall Into The Insurance Gap

Because mammograms are typically covered by insurance, Swanson said she believes OutPatient Imaging’s $ 99 Groupon deal is filling a gap for women lacking insurance. The cost of such breast screenings for those who don’t have insurance varies widely but can be up to several hundreds of dollars without a discount.

Groupon has long been used to fill insurance gaps for dental care, Howard said. He himself often bought such deals over the years to get cheaper teeth cleanings when he didn’t have dental insurance.

But advanced medical scans involve a higher level of scrutiny, as Chicagoan Anna Beck learned. In 2015, she and her husband, Miguel Centeno, were told he needed to get a chest CT after a less advanced X-ray at an urgent care center showed something suspicious. Since her husband had just been laid off and did not have insurance, they shopped online for the cheapest price. They ended up driving out to the suburbs to get a CT scan at an imaging center there.

“I knew that CT scans had such a wide range of costs in a hospital setting,” Beck said. “So going in knowing that I could price-check and have some idea of how much I’d be paying and a little more control” was preferable to going to the hospital.

Continued

On the drive back into the city, the center called and told them to go straight to the hospital — the scan had discovered a large mass that turned out to be a germ-cell tumor.

Fortunately, Centeno’s cancer is now in remission, Beck said. But their online shopping cost them more money than if they’d gone straight to the hospital initially. The hospital gave them charity care. And although Beck took along a CD of the scans Centeno had found online, the hospital ended up taking its own scans, as well.

“You’re trying to cut cost by getting a CT out of the hospital,” she said. “But they’re just going to redo it anyway.”

WebMD News from Kaiser Health News

©2013-2018 Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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Fewer Americans Have Health Insurance: Report

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 11, 2019 — The percentage of Americans living in poverty declined in 2018, but the rate of those without health insurance increased, according to a Census Bureau report.

It found that 11.8% of people lived in poverty last year, the lowest level since 2001. Median household income in 2018 was $ 63,200, essentially the same as 2017 after adjusting for inflation, The New York Times reported.

Meanwhile, about 27.5 million people (8.5% of the population) lacked health insurance for all of 2018, up from 7.9% in 2017, which was the first increase since the Affordable Care Act took full effect in 2014.

That increase was at least partly due to the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine that law, according to experts.

“In a period of continued economic growth, continued job growth, you would certainly hope that you wouldn’t be going backwards when it comes to insurance coverage,” Sharon Parrott, senior vice president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told The Times.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Health Highlights: Aug. 30, 2019

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

‘Rhoda’ Star Valerie Harper Dead at 80

Valerie Harper, star of two iconic TV sitcoms of the 1970s “The Mary Tyler. Moore Show” and her own spinoff hit, “Rhoda,” died Friday from cancer at age 80.

Harper’s passing was confirmed to CNN by Harper’s daughter Cristina Cacciotti and Deanna Buskey, a family friend.

Buskey told CNN that the family was not “providing details at this time,” but Harper had made no secret of her long struggle against cancer. First diagnosed with lung cancer, in 2013 Harper was also found to have another form of cancer, leptomeningeal carcinomatosis.

In July, husband Tony Cacciotti posted on Facebook that he would not follow the advice of Harper’s doctors and place her into hospice care. Even though her condition was worsening, Caccioti said he would “do my very best in making Val as comfortable as possible.” Buskey and other family members also launched a “Go Fund Me” campaign to help pay for Harper’s care.

Born in New York, Harper started out as a dancer in the 1950s before joining the renowned comedy troupe Second City. She shot to fame in the 1970s after being cast as Mary Richard’s wisecracking friend Rhoda Morgenstern, playing a more caustic foil to Mary Tyler Moore’s character.

That character became so popular that it led to the “Rhoda” spinoff, and Harper earned four Emmys for the role.

Harper’s career faltered in the 1980s when NBC cast her in “Valerie,” about a mother raising kids. But contractual issues led to her dismissal from that show. After that she remained active as an actress, appearing in guest roles on many TV series and even appearing in a 2000 movie, “Mary and Rhoda,” which reunited the two actresses and characters.

—–

More Than 1,000 People Now Sickened by Salmonella from Live Poultry

An outbreak of Salmonella linked to backyard poultry flocks has now sickened more than 1,000 people in 49 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A CDC advisory said 235 cases have been reported since July 19 and 175 people have been hospitalized. Two people have died in the outbreak — one in Ohio and one in Texas.

Nearly 200 of those sickened are under age 5.

Contact with backyard poultry, such as chicks and ducklings, is the likely source of the disease, which causes diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps, CDC said.

Those sickened reported getting poultry from several sources, including farm stores, websites and hatcheries.

Six of the strains making people sick have been identified in samples from backyard poultry areas at homes in California, Minnesota and Ohio and from retail stores in Michigan and Oregon, CDC said.

The current outbreak is the largest linked to backyard poultry since 2017, when a record 1,120 people were sickened and one died.

As the CDC explained, you can get Salmonella after touching poultry or places where they live and roam. Birds carrying the bacteria can appear healthy and clean.

To prevent illness, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching poultry or anything in their environment, CDC advised. If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer.

Never let backyard poultry inside your home. Take care to keep them away from areas where food or drink are prepared, served, or stored, including outdoor patios, the CDC added.

Salmonella infections usually last four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment, the CDC said. If you’re concerned about symptoms such as a fever over 102 degrees, blood in your bowel movements or frequent vomiting, see a doctor.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: August 2019

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For NFL Players, Career Length, Role Affect Future Health Risks: Study

FRIDAY, Aug. 30, 2019 — Pro football players who had long careers at key positions are more likely to have concussion-related problems such as confusion, memory loss, depression and anxiety, a new study finds.

In a survey of nearly 3,500 former NFL players (average age 53), 1 in 8 (12%) reported serious cognitive problems. That compares to about 2% of the general U.S. population.

Age didn’t appear to be a factor. Former players younger than 52 had a rate (13%) of problems similar to that of other ex-players.

Even those 45 and younger had an increased risk. In fact, 30% of those 45 and younger who suffered the most serious concussions had severe problems with thinking and mental health, the study found.

Those who played 10 or more seasons were twice as likely to have severe problems than those who played just one season (12.6% versus 5.8%). The risk rose with each season played, and every five seasons of play was associated with a nearly 20% increase in risk.

Kickers, punters and quarterbacks had the fewest concussion symptoms per season, followed by wide receivers, defensive backs, linemen and tight ends. Running backs, linebackers and special teams players had the most.

The risk of serious problems was twice as high among former players with the most concussion symptoms (15%) than in those with the fewest (6%).

Those with the most concussions also had sharply higher rates of depression and anxiety (25% and 27%, respectively) than those with the fewest concussions (15% and 16%).

Compared to former players with the fewest concussion symptoms, those with a mid-range number of symptoms had a 75% higher risk of cognitive problems and a 40% higher risk of depression and anxiety.

About 1 in 4 former players reported anxiety (26%) or depression (24%), and nearly 1 in 5 (18%) reported both.

Career length was also associated with depression risk, with a 9% increase for every five seasons played. The number of seasons played was not linked with increased risk of anxiety.

Unlike previous studies, the Harvard University researchers did not find a link between starting football at a young age and problems with thinking and memory in adulthood.

The study — published Aug. 30 in The American Journal of Sports Medicine — was supported by the National Football League Players Association. It is part of Harvard’s ongoing Football Players Health Study.

“Our findings confirm what some have suspected — a consistently and persistently elevated risk for men who play longer and who play in certain positions,” said lead investigator Andrea Roberts, a research scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“Our results underscore the importance of preventing concussions, vigilant monitoring of those who suffer them and finding new ways to mitigate the damage from head injury,” she added in a university news release.

Ross Zafonte, head of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School, is principal investigator on the Football Players Health Study.

“Clearly, not everyone who sustains a concussion is destined for cognitive trouble,” he said in the news release, “But the results of the research highlight just how critical it is to continue to find ways to prevent head injuries from occurring in the first place because of the many downstream and long-lasting effects on physical, cognitive and mental health.”

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on concussion.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: August 2019

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Health Tip: Mental Illness Warning Signs

— Determining if a child’s troubling behavior is “part of growing up” or a sign of a mental health problem can be difficult.

Parents should contact a mental health professional if symptoms last weeks or more and interfere with the child’s daily life, says the National Institute of Mental Health.

Warning signs of a mental illness may include:

  • Minimal interest in things that the person once enjoyed.
  • Low energy.
  • Too much or too little sleep.
  • Self-harming behaviors.
  • Smoking, drinking or drug use.
  • Excessive exercise or diet.
  • Thoughts of suicide.
  • Risky or destructive behavior.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: August 2019

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5 Awesome Health Benefits Of Vaping Cannabis

The benefits of using cannabis for a variety of purposes has been increasingly accepted everywhere. There are now 33 states that have medical marijuana programs and 11 that allow for recreational use of cannabis. There’s no arguing the facts any longer. Cannabis is something that benefits a lot of people and isn’t going to be going away.

The ways to consume cannabis are often the more debated topics that come up now that the general population is more accepting of marijuana use. Everyone has a favorite way to use cannabis and sometimes it’s more about personal preference than anything else. While there are benefits to be had with any consumption method, vaping is quickly gaining traction as one of the most beneficial methods out there.

Unlike a few years ago there are many devices to select from that have a variety of functions and forms. It is key to pick a reputable manufacturer of THC or CBD vape cartridges and vape pens, which we will elaborate on below.

If you haven’t looked into the health benefits of vaping cannabis now is a good time to learn more. It is easy to lose sight of the big picture, with the vast variety of CBD vape pens out there, but vaping has a lot of positive research and anecdotal evidence proving it to be a highly effective way to use cannabis (THC or CBD) both medicinally and recreationally. We will reference some of the research below, but for now, here are five health benefits you can expect to experience while vaping cannabis.

1. More Immediate Symptom Relief

Depending on what you’re using cannabis to treat, the amount of time it takes to feel its effects can make a huge difference. If you’re treating sudden onset symptoms like severe pain or panic attacks the faster you get relief the better. Smoking cannabis can give you a pretty fast result in the way of relief but it’s not the fastest option out there any longer.

Vaping can give you a faster and more effective way to relieve your symptoms which can make a world of difference to anyone suffering and needing relief. In fact, medical researchers at Johns Hopkins were able to do a study and determine that THC levels were higher in participants immediately after vaping than smoking.

The results showed that with “10 milligrams of THC, blood levels of THC reached an average of 7.5 nanograms per milliliter in vapers, compared with 3.8 nanograms per milliliter in smokers 10 minutes after they inhaled the drug.”

While not all participants in the study wanted stronger or faster effects, it does make a great treatment option for anyone needing extremely strong and fast relief. If you’re experiencing strong and sudden symptoms, vaping is a better option to alleviate them in comparison to other methods that take longer to start working. There are of course some innovative cannabis accessories that can help with smoothing the vapor with water or ice.

2. Reduced Risk Of Respiratory Harm

If you are worried about smoking cannabis and what it might do to your lungs then vaping is the better option for you. People who have chosen to start vaping their cannabis instead of smoking it have found that their lungs are less irritated after vaping than they were after smoking. Cannabis has never been directly linked to lung cancer but smoking anything still comes with risks.

This anecdotal evidence reported by vaping enthusiasts has been backed but scientific studies that have found fewer toxins emitted in vapor than are present in the smoke associated with burning the plant to smoke it. Since vaping doesn’t burn the plant studies are finding it’s a safer option for anyone concerned about lung irritation.

In one study of cannabis consumption, participants who had reported at least two bronchitis related symptoms were asked to switch to vaping for one month. After a month of vaping, 73% of the participants in the study reported an improvement in their previous respiratory symptoms.

Research is still ongoing to determine exactly how harmful smoking cannabis is to your respiratory system but there’s clear evidence that vaping has fewer negative respiratory side effects. This is great news for anyone who already may have lung issues and still want to use cannabis to treat another condition.

5 Awesome Health Benefits Of Vaping Cannabis

3. More Predictable Dosages

For some cannabis patients, the amount of THC they’re getting is something they want a solid answer for. With vaping, you’re able to choose from a variety of ways to vape cannabis. If you choose a concentrate or prefilled cartridge they are tested and the potency is verified before you buy it. This gives you more information about what you’re consuming than smoking would.

It’s helpful to know exactly how potent something is before you use it if you’re especially concerned about side effects that might change how you go about your daily life. If you already know that higher amounts of THC make you way too anxious you can change up what you vape to accommodate that reaction.

4. Less Risk From Pesticides & Heavy Metals

Recently there have been some reports of contaminants in black market vape pens, putting users into the hospital. It is important to distinguish between black market and regulated market. In Canada and states like California regulations are strict, so one can have peace of mind when purchasing THC or CBD vape pens and the safety of it.

You can vape dry herb and still get a lot of the health benefits of vaping you’ve already read about. However, one thing you can’t be sure of is what kinds of pesticides may be on the plant itself. For some people, this is a serious concern. There are issues like a compromised immune system that could make inhaling certain pesticides riskier.

Since vaping offers you the chance to vape concentrate or oils instead of dry herb you have the chance to bypass possible pesticide issues. While cannabis growing procedures are still not regulated yet, using oils means you aren’t heating the plant itself. Since you aren’t heating the plant you don’t have to worry about what might’ve been used on it while growing.

5. Increased Ease Of Use

This is both a health and overall general benefit to vaping over smoking. While cannabis may be legal where you live there are still going to be issues with pulling out a joint and smoking it in front of others. There are many ways to cover up the smell and enjoy the flavour with some of the top dry herb vaporizers, but vape pens do the trick a little more discreetly. Some people just haven’t accepted that cannabis is a beneficial treatment option and others are opposed to being around the smoke or smell associated with smoking it.

Vaping gives you the chance to still get your symptoms under control while you’re not at home, without drawing much attention. Vapes are easy to bring with you and most of the time no one is going to bother you when you’re using one in a public setting. They’re more discreet and “public friendly” than smoking would be in the same setting.

5 Awesome Health Benefits Of Vaping Cannabis

Conclusion

Vaping has a lot of benefits that are worth heavily considering when you’re deciding how you’re going to use marijuana. Recreationally or medically there are reasons to vape instead of using other consumption methods. It’s always up to you and what you think is best for your body but if you haven’t given vaping a try there are clear reasons you should at least test it out. Your body and your lungs may just appreciate the change.

Shane Dwyer
Author: Shane Dwyer
Shane Dwyer is a cannabis advocate who isn’t afraid to tell the world about it! You can find his views, rants, and tips published regularly at The 420 Times.

Marijuana & Cannabis News – The 420 Times

Backpacks Shouldn’t Be a Back-to-School Burden on Health

SATURDAY, Aug. 24, 2019 — Books, tablets, lunch: Stuff can really start to weigh heavily in your kid’s school backpack.

And so experts at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) are offering tips on backpack safety to parents as a new school year begins.

That’s because heavy and improperly worn backpacks can trigger back, neck and shoulder-related pain in children, the group says. In fact, in 2018, almost 51,000 people were seen for backpack-related injuries at emergency departments, doctors’ offices and clinics, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“Back pain due to improperly wearing and overloading a backpack is a common symptom,” AAOS spokesperson Dr. Afshin Razi, an orthopedic spine surgeon, said in an academy news release. “To limit injuries or back pain, encourage your children to limit the load and utilize both padded straps for proper posture and weight distribution.”

Ideally, healthy children with a normal body weight should not carry more than 10%-20% of their body weight in a backpack.

Always have kids use both shoulder straps when carrying a backpack, so that the weight is distributed more evenly across the back. Tighten backpack straps to keep the load closer to the back, as well. The bottom of the backpack should sit at waist level, the AAOS said.

Kids should carry only items that are required for the school day, and heavier items should be packed low and towards the center of the pack.

If you see that your child is struggling to put on or remove a backpack due to weight, have them remove some books and carry them in their arms.

It might also be necessary to talk to the school about lightening the book load the students have to carry in their backpacks. Getting other parents involved in that effort could help convince schools to make changes, the AAOS said.

School lockers are a good resource, of course, so encourage kids to stop at their lockers whenever possible, to drop off or exchange heavier books.

When lifting a backpack, bend at the knees.

Back or neck issues could still arise, and parents should encourage children to alert them about any numbness, tingling or discomfort in the arms or legs, which may indicate a poor backpack fit or too much weight.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on backpack safety.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: August 2019

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Just One Pill for All Your Heart Health Needs? It’s On the Way

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 22, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Imagine a single pill loaded with a battery of heart medications that you take once a day to cut your chances of heart attack, stroke and heart failure.

A new clinical trial has turned that idea into reality.

The “polypill” reduced the risk of life-threatening heart health problems by more than one-third during a five-year period in a group of more than 3,400 people aged 50 to 75.

What’s more, the risk decreased by more than half when researchers narrowed their focus to just participants who faithfully took the pill as directed.

The polypill in the study contained two common blood pressure drugs, a cholesterol-lowering statin and aspirin, the researchers said.

“The results of our study suggest that the polypill is effective in preventing cardiovascular disease,” said researcher Tom Marshall, a professor of public health and primary care with the University of Birmingham, in England. “This suggests that it should be considered as part of a strategy to prevent cardiovascular disease.”

However, this one-size-fits-all approach to heart disease prevention likely would work better in less-developed countries than the United States, said Dr. Ron Blankstein. He’s an associate physician of preventive cardiology with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

U.S. patients often are reluctant to take cholesterol or blood pressure drugs, even after risk assessments are used to dial in the specific medications that would best protect their health, Blankstein noted. A single pill loaded with meds might be even less appealing.

“It’s something I could see as a combination that’s offered and available in the U.S., but whether that would change adherence or if the patients would find it that much more attractive to be on such a combination is still uncertain,” Blankstein said. “I think this is an approach that is going to work well in a low- to middle-income country, in a rural population.”

Heart patients aren’t very good at sticking with the medications they’ve been prescribed, the study authors said in background notes. About one-third of patients stop taking their meds as early as 90 days after having a heart attack.

Continued

The polypill is a concept that has knocked around for two decades now, offering a simpler cost-saving approach that would make it easier for people to take their heart medications.

However, evidence supporting the use of polypills to prevent heart disease in people who haven’t suffered a heart attack or stroke is lacking, the researchers noted.

To provide more evidence, the investigators recruited more than 6,800 participants from Golestan, a province in Iran.

Half of the people were randomly chosen to take the polypill, and the rest were provided lifestyle advice for lowering their risk of heart disease.

Overall, participants showed high adherence to their prescription. About 63% took the polypill as recommended, at least 70% of the time.

Polypill patients experienced an overall 34% decrease in their risk of major heart events over five years, compared with those who just received lifestyle advice. These heart events included acute coronary syndrome, heart attack, sudden heart death, heart failure, stroke, and procedures to reopen clogged arteries.

Benefit increased to a 40% reduction in risk among people with no history of heart disease, and up to 57% in people who stuck with the polypill as recommended.

The researchers estimated that 35 people would need to be treated with the polypill to prevent one person from having a life-threatening event. In patients with high adherence, the number needed to treat was 21.

“This clinical trial shows that the concept of a polypill, when applied to a large rural population in a low- to middle-income country, actually works,” said Blankstein, a member of the American College of Cardiology’s Prevention Section and Leadership Council.

Instead of carefully assessing individual risk, the researchers assigned people to the polypill solely based on age — a move that greatly simplifies distribution of heart meds, Blankstein noted.

Because of that, Marshall said, the intervention can be very low-cost, as little as a few cents a day in Iran.

It’s not clear whether an American polypill would be as affordable, Blankstein said.

“In the U.S., if someone creates this and they try to market it under a trade name, it would be a scenario where this could cost more, and that’s not the purpose,” Blankstein said. “The purpose is for it to cost less, especially if the whole point is to reduce cost and lower risk.”

Continued

The formulation of an American polypill would require a bit of discussion, as well. For example, it’s not clear that aspirin would be included in the pill, given recent clinical trial data and changes to U.S. prevention guidelines, Blankstein said.

“The perfect combination of what to put in a polypill I think is something that is very much up for debate,” Blankstein said. “If you made a simple polypill that was just one agent to lower cholesterol and one agent to lower blood pressure, I think there would be many populations that would benefit from that approach.”

The new study was published Aug. 22 in The Lancet.

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Sources

SOURCES: Tom Marshall, Ph.D., professor, public health and primary care, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom; Ron Blankstein, M.D., associate physician, preventive cardiology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston; Aug. 22, 2019,The Lancet

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However the World Health Organization also noted that more research is needed into how microplastics may impact human health and the environment, the Associated Press reported.

THURSDAY, Aug. 22, 2019 — Levels of microplastics in drinking water don’t appear to be a health risk, according to the World Health Organization.

However the U.N. health agency also noted that more research is needed into how microplastics may impact human health and the environment, the Associated Press reported.

Microplastics — tiny particles smaller than about one-fifth of an inch — are “ubiquitous in the environment” and have been found in drinking water, including tap and bottled, the WHO said in the report released Wednesday.

“But just because we’re ingesting them doesn’t mean we have a risk to human health,’ said Bruce Gordon, WHO’s coordinator of water, sanitation and hygiene, the AP reported.

“The main conclusion is, I think, if you are a consumer drinking bottled water or tap water, you shouldn’t necessarily be concerned,” according to Gordon.

However, he noted that available data on microplastics is “weak” and said more research is needed. He also called for increased efforts to reduce plastic pollution, the AP reported.

Microplastics in water don’t appear to be a health threat at the moment, but “I wouldn’t want people to go away with the idea that microplastics are no longer important,” said Andrew Mayes, a senior lecturer in chemistry at Britain’s University of East Anglia who wasn’t involved in the WHO report.

Microplastics might be damaging the environment and stronger measures to reduce plastic waste are needed, he told the AP.

“We know that these types of materials cause stress to small organisms,” Mayes said. “They could be doing a lot of damage in unseen ways.”

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When Does Heart Health Return to Normal After Quitting Smoking?

TUESDAY, Aug. 20, 2019 — When you stop smoking, your heart starts to rebound right away, but a full recovery can take as long as 15 years, a new study suggests.

“The benefit of quitting smoking cannot be overstated — the cardiovascular system begins to recover quickly, with some physiologic changes happening within hours,” said lead researcher Meredith Duncan, of the division of cardiovascular medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

Duncan and her team found that within five years after quitting, your risk of heart disease is significantly lower than that of people who continue to puff away. But it takes 10 to 15 years before your risk is similar to that of someone who never smoked.

Experts have long thought that an ex-smoker’s risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure or death from heart disease returns to normal within five years.

Given this new finding, Duncan said doctors should consider that heavy smokers who stop will have a higher-than-normal risk for heart problems for at least a decade.

“Full recovery may take several years, so today is a great day for current smokers to quit smoking, and make a doctor’s appointment to plan for successful long-term cessation and to discuss other steps toward heart health,” she said.

For the study, her team collected data on nearly 8,800 men and women who took part in the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term, ongoing study of factors that contribute to heart disease.

Among the study participants, nearly 2,400 were heavy tobacco users, meaning they smoked at least one pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years, or an equivalent.

During an average follow-up of 26 years, more than 2,400 participants had a heart attack, stroke, heart failure or died from heart disease. Of these, nearly 1,100 were heavy smokers, the researchers found.

Dr. Gregg Fonarow, director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center in Los Angeles, said nearly every study of former smokers finds that their risk for heart events is lower than that of those who continue to smoke.

“It’s never too late, from a cardiovascular risk standpoint, to stop smoking,” he said, no matter how much you smoke or how long you’ve done so.

Fonarow pointed out that smoking is a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, peripheral vascular disease and premature death. “Quitting significantly lowers this risk,” he said.

But the length of time when the risk is reduced to the same level as people who never smoked has been estimated to be anywhere between two and 20 years, he said. It’s usually pegged at five years, he added. This new study among heavy smokers doubles that time.

“It is best to never start smoking,” Fonarow said. “For those who do smoke, it is important to completely quit as soon as possible.”

The report was published Aug. 20 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

More information

To learn more about smoking and cardiovascular disease, head to the American Heart Association.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: August 2019

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Trans Students More at Risk of Mental Health Ills

By Robert Preidt        
       HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 16, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Transgender college students are two to four times more likely than their classmates to have mental health problems, researchers say.

       

They analyzed data from more than 1,200 gender-minority students on 71 U.S. campuses who took part in an annual nationwide survey. Gender-minority means their gender identity differs from the sex assigned to them at birth.

       

About 78% of the students met criteria for one or more mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-injury and suicide risk, the survey found.

       

Besides transgender individuals, gender minorities include people who are gender nonconforming, genderqueer and nonbinary.

       

Nearly 60% of them screened positive for clinically significant depression, compared to 28% of students whose sex assigned at birth aligns with their current gender identity (cisgender).

       

“There has never been a more important time for colleges and universities to take action to protect and support trans, genderqueer and nonbinary students on campus,” said lead author Sarah Ketchen Lipson, an assistant professor of health law, policy and management at Boston University.

       

Researchers also found that transgender men and genderqueer students (those who identify with neither, both or a combination of male and female genders) are particularly vulnerable. That requires further study, Lipson said in a university news release.

       

Previous research has shown that transgender college students experience near-constant discrimination and harassment and have higher dropout rates. Campus bathrooms and housing are among the most stressful issues for transgender students, who have a sharply higher suicide risk when they lack access to gender-appropriate facilities.

       

“Reports that more than 40% of transgender people have attempted suicide in their lifetimes suggested, to me, that there is a large and disproportionate burden of disease among [people in the gender minority] that public health research can contribute to addressing,” study co-author Julia Raifman said in the news release. Raifman is also an assistant professor of health law, policy and management at BU.

       

“Mental health outcomes, as well as negative educational outcomes like dropping out, are preventable,” Lipson said. “The most effective way to prevent them would be, from my perspective, through policy changes. Inclusive policies are necessary to advance equity. And that’s what I really want these data to speak to.”

       

The study was published Aug. 16 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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Sources

SOURCE: Boston University, news release, Aug. 16, 2019

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5 Health Tips to Promote Back-to-School Success

SATURDAY, Aug. 17, 2019 — Healthy kids do better in school — something parents need to think about as they prepare for a new academic year.

“As a parent and grandparent, I know that back-to-school time is a busy time. Yet, I encourage parents and students to be mindful of some health essentials to add to your to-do lists,” said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Getting a flu shot this fall, frequent hand-washing, and staying active all contribute to a healthier and more productive academic year,” he said in a CDC news release.

Hand-washing with soap and water is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid illness and prevent the spread of colds, flu and other diseases to others. At school, students should wash before eating; after using the toilet; and after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing.

Healthy eating and physical activity are also important. Most children consume nearly half their calories at school, making it an important place to learn and practice healthy eating habits.

Physical activity can ease anxiety and help kids focus in school. Experts say children should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. They point out that nearly 20% of U.S. kids are obese, making them more likely to have health problems such as asthma and high blood pressure, and to be shunned, depressed and have lower self-esteem.

Vaccinations are one of the most important ways to protect your child’s health. Getting immunized also protects classmates, friends, relatives and others in the community.

Electronic cigarettes are a growing problem among American youth. In 2018, more than 3.6 million young people — including 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students — had vaped in the past month.

The nicotine in e-cigarettes can harm a youngster’s developing brain, especially areas responsible for learning, memory and attention.

Parents and teachers should explain why e-cigarettes are harmful for kids and set an example by being tobacco-free. Schools should adopt tobacco-free-school policies that include e-cigarettes.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on school health.

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Posted: August 2019

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