AHA News: 5 Scary Health Facts to Spook You This Halloween

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 23, 2019 (American Heart Association News) — Spooky, scream-inducing characters whose health has clearly taken a turn for the worse – skeletons and ghosts, for example – are as much a part of Halloween fun as pumpkins and candy.

But once the creepy decorations are put away, some frightening health facts can haunt us year-round – and should prompt us to take action.

“There’s been a lot of thought about how you motivate people to change,” said Mercedes Carnethon, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “Sometimes scare tactics do work, like the anti-tobacco ads that showed the person smoking through a hole in her neck.”

Dr. Tyler Cooper, president and CEO of Cooper Aerobics, a comprehensive health and wellness center in Dallas, said no single strategy works for everyone.

“Everybody has a different motivator,” said Cooper, a preventive medicine physician. “If that’s fear, OK. But some people have this belief that if something hasn’t happened to them yet, it’s not going to happen. The best thing we can do is present the information about what they can expect if they continue down the path they’re on.”

If you’re not scared yet, here are some terrifying health statistics:

Most Americans spend more time in the kitchen than in the gym.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculated in 2018 that just 23.2% of U.S. adults meet the federal recommendations for weekly exercise: at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as a brisk walk) or at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity (such as running), and two sessions of muscle-strengthening activity. That figure was down slightly from the year before.

By comparison, a 2018 survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found people spend an average of more than four hours per week cooking and cleaning up the kitchen.

“People think that it requires some type of herculean effort to improve their health and that’s not true,” Cooper said. “If you’re not doing anything, start something. Just go for a walk around the block.”

Vaping among teenagers has soared.

In 2011, only 1.5% of high school students had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey. The figure in 2018 was 20.8%.

That increase, the CDC warned in a report earlier this year, “has erased recent progress in reducing overall tobacco product use among youths.”

E-cigarettes, which typically contain addictive nicotine, may damage blood vessels, raise blood pressure and increase the risk of clots. Beyond that, the CDC is investigating a nationwide outbreak of lung injuries linked to vaping that has resulted in a growing number of deaths.

Because the vaping phenomenon is still new, Carnethon said, “We don’t even know the effects on long-term cardiovascular health.”

Fewer than half of people who have a cardiac arrest outside a hospital get bystander CPR.

Immediate CPR can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival, according to the American Heart Association.

That means when someone suffers a cardiac arrest, bystanders are crucial until trained lifesavers arrive. Whether the reason is lack of CPR training or a reluctance to get involved, experts say doing something is always better than doing nothing.

There are 9.4 million American adults with diabetes who don’t know they have it.

Diabetes left untreated can lead to damage in nearly every organ in the body, with complications ranging from heart problems and strokes to vision loss, nerve damage and even amputation.

“If you don’t know you have it, you can’t treat it,” Carnethon said.

More than 14 million U.S. households are food insecure.

The term refers to people who can’t afford enough food for themselves or their families, or who may not have access to healthy foods to ensure a proper diet. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 14.3 million households were food insecure at some point during 2018, representing 11.1% of the nation’s households.

Even if people are not personally affected, Carnethon said, the national problem should alarm all of us.

“Social determinants like food insecurity contribute to health outcomes,” she said. “These are issues that as a society we can promote policy changes to improve the health of everyone.”

At Halloween and throughout the year, Cooper said, the message is the same: “Take charge of your own health. If you do your best to make even some minor changes, you’ll see the benefits.”

And if the facts and figures don’t scare you, Carnethon said, think about people.

“It seems data doesn’t motivate people, but personal stories and personal connections do,” she said. “We need to put a personal face on good health and make it as relatable as possible.”

So have a happy, healthy Halloween, she said. “And go easy on the candy.”

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019 – Daily MedNews

Scary Diagnosis:’ Two Stories of Vaping Illness

Sept. 20, 2019 — Lincoln Rennie says he is known as a dedicated employee, not the type who would call in sick to play hooky. So in late August, when he woke up feeling ill, the 23-year-old welder from Orange, CA, went to work anyway. But once he got there, his stomachache worsened and his fever climbed.

He headed home, and his fiancé, Viri Alvarado, became concerned when his body temperature kept rising. When it got over 103 F, Alvarado talked him into seeing a doctor. He went two different times, but each time, he was told it was ”probably just a fever.”

Still, it didn’t break. Then it rose to more than 104, and he was beginning to ”talk crazy,” says Alvarado, 20. Rennie admits: “I was definitely losing some cognitive function. I woke up saying everything was a scam and the pillow was my internet.”

That was it for Alvarado, who insisted he go to the emergency room that day — August 31.

Rennie was admitted to the hospital from the ER. While doctors first thought he had a urinary tract infection, the final diagnosis was acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

“The diagnosis about vaping-related illness came about the third day,” Rennie recalls.

He stayed in the hospital 11 days, losing 22 pounds.

“I was on oxygen for 8 days,” he says. He was prescribed corticosteroids, and he is still taking them.

Rennie is among more than 500 cases of vaping-related illnesses in the U.S. Like many of the vapers stricken, he is young and male. Nearly three-quarters of patients are men; more than half are under age 25.

And while public health officials have yet to pinpoint one substance or product as the cause, Rennie was vaping THC — an ingredient linked to many of the cases — before he got sick.

Rennie says he’s used medical cannabis for years to help him sleep. He began vaping nicotine about 10 years ago and then tuned to vaping THC about 5 years ago. He would do them as separate vapes, he says.

In June, he gave up the nicotine vape and vaped THC only. Costs were becoming an issue, as he would typically spend $ 50 for about a gram — about a week’s supply for him, he says.

About a month before he got sick, Rennie started buying off-market vaping cartridges, which he says cut his costs in half. These are cartridges (which are also called “carts”) not sold in legitimate retail stores, but often bought from friends or associates. He noticed the taste and effect differed between the brand-name carts and the bootleg products.

‘They Couldn’t Believe I Was Still Breathing’

Nathan Fagundez, 28, says he also bought bootleg cartridges before he got sick. After a few weeks of using them, “I couldn’t breathe,” says Fagundez, an agricultural pest control technician in Hanford, CA. In mid-August, he saw a report about vaping on TV, and right away, he knew what he had.

He headed to the hospital on August 13, and they found his oxygen levels so low, ”they couldn’t believe I was still breathing.”

His doctor told him it was acute lung injury due to vaping. “I was on the verge of being ventilated,” or put on a machine to help him breathe, he says. But he improved enough to avoid that.

After 16 days in the hospital, on steroids and oxygen, he was released. He continues to take the steroids and use the oxygen.

“I have a plug-in oxygen” for use at home, he says. “And I have a portable tank to wheel around. I bring it for emergencies, if I exert too much.”

Fagundez, a regular marijuana user, says he started vaping it about a year ago because when he used regular marijuana, the odor annoyed people he worked with.

He’d buy about 2 grams a week. “It was always off market,” he says. That would knock the usual $ 100 price down to about $ 40, he says.

He relies on the vaping for his anxiety.

In the weeks before he got sick, he says, “I went with a buddy to pick up carts from LA.” The seller, he says, ”had a whole lab in his garage.”

Fagundez says he later tried to confront the seller, who denied doing anything wrong.

‘I Was Too Trusting’

Rennie says that looking back, there were signs of problems with the off-market carts. The difference, in taste and effects, was obvious.

Although none in his circle of friends got sick, he says his immediate friends weren’t buying from the same source.

”I was too trusting. I believe there are safe options,” Rennie says, and regulating the industry more would make it safer. “The scariest part of the bootleg [market] is, they look the same. They will take a brand-name cart, refill it, and say it’s the same brand.”

His doctors told him firmly: No more vaping. He agrees. “It was enough of a wake-up call, I wouldn’t chance it again,” he says. Alvarado says she, too, is giving up vaping.

But Rennie doesn’t want to give up marijuana entirely. “It’s always been a positive medicine in my life.” He hopes to go back to ”regular cannabis,” as he calls it, as does Alvarado. And perhaps they will keep testing edibles to see if they could help.

Fagundez says he, too, has stopped vaping. His experience has also inspired friends to drop the habit, he says. “As soon as I hit the hospital, and they found out it was due to vaping, about 10 people stopped.”

After his release, his doctor prescribed an anti-anxiety medication, he says. “It zonked me out.” He fell asleep for hours. So he’s decided edibles are better to help calm him. His current favorite are chocolate and THC gummies.

“Edibles take longer to metabolize. I’d say it’s a little more intense than vaping. [But] it gets the job done, and it helps with anxieties.”

Back to Work: Uncertain Timetable

Rennie and Fagundez hope to return to work soon, but they’re not strong enough yet. Rennie isn’t sure when his return date will be. “I still get really tired.”

Fagundez tried to go back, but the hot weather worked against him. “Even when I walk the dogs, I become short of breath,” he says. And that’s only going about five blocks. He says it will probably take 3 more months to be able to return to work.

Both men are still being monitored closely. And they both wonder what’s in store for their health. As Rennie says: “It’s a scary diagnosis. It was definitely not something I expected to go through at 23.”


Nathan Fagundez, 28, Hanford, CA.

Lincoln Rennie, 23, Orange, CA.

Briefing, CDC, Sept. 19, 2019.

CDC: “Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with E-Cigarette Use, or Vaping. For Healthcare Providers; Recommendations for Clinicians,” Sept. 19, 2019.

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Bathing a Baby Less Scary Than It Sounds

FRIDAY, Aug. 9, 2019 — Every parent remembers the first time they bathed their newborn, terrified they might accidentally drop or harm their tiny bundle of joy.

But one dermatologist says the task is easy if parents follow some basic steps.

“While it may seem intimidating at first, bathing your baby is simple and only needs to happen two to three times a week, as long as the diaper area is thoroughly cleaned during each diaper change,” according to Dr. Kalyani Marathe, a dermatologist in Washington, D.C.

“The first thing to remember is to start off with sponge baths until your baby’s umbilical cord stump falls off and heals,” Marathe said in an American Academy of Dermatology news release.

For a sponge bath, you’ll need a bowl of lukewarm water, a washcloth and a mild, fragrance-free baby soap. Lay your baby down on a comfortable, flat surface. Keep your baby warm by wrapping him or her in a towel and only exposing the part of the body that you’re washing. Keep one hand on your baby at all times.

Dip the washcloth into the water and gently wipe your baby’s face and scalp. It’s safe to gently clean over the baby’s soft spots. Remember to wash neck creases and behind the ears, Marathe said.

Clean the rest of your baby’s body. Soap is needed only when washing dirty areas, typically the diaper area and the neck. Rinse off soap afterwards.

“Once your baby’s umbilical cord stump falls off, switch to traditional bathing,” Marathe said. “However, start slow — if your baby seems to hate getting a regular bath, revert to the sponge bath method for another week or longer.”

For a traditional bath, you can use a sink or small plastic tub. Use lukewarm water and place your baby into the water feet first. Most of the baby’s body should be well above the water. Use a washcloth to gently wash your baby’s face and scalp. Use baby shampoo once or twice a week to clean your baby’s hair.

Clean the rest of your baby’s body and use soap only in dirty areas.

“After bathing, immediately wrap your baby in a towel for warmth and consider applying a bland, fragrance-free moisturizer, such as petroleum jelly,” Marathe said.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics outlines how to prepare for the arrival of your newborn.

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Posted: August 2019 – Daily MedNews

Hospital Privacy Curtains Attract Some Scary Germs

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, April 12, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Privacy curtains in hospital rooms might offer patients some personal dignity, but they can also harbor dangerous, drug-resistant bacteria.

That’s the claim of a new study where researchers took more than 1,500 samples from privacy curtains in 625 rooms at six skilled nursing facilities in Michigan. The samples were collected from the parts of the curtains touched most often. Samples were also gathered from patients.

Sampling was done when patients were admitted, and again after 14 days and 30 days, and then monthly up to six months, when possible.

The findings showed that 22% of the samples from the privacy curtains tested positive for multidrug-resistant organisms, with contamination rates ranging from 12% to 28.5%, depending on the facility.

Of those samples, nearly 14% were contaminated with vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), 6% with resistant gram-negative bacilli, and about 5% with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

“We were surprised to see that multidrug-resistant organisms, especially VRE, shed by patients routinely contaminate their privacy curtains. These pathogens on privacy curtains often survive and have the potential to transfer to other surfaces and patients,” the study authors wrote.

In fact, the same resistant germs were detected on patients and their privacy curtain in nearly 16% of the sampling visits, the researchers found.

“Patient colonization with MRSA and VRE were each associated with contamination of the bedside curtain,” according to Dr. Lona Mody and colleagues at the University of Michigan Medical Center.

Where six-month data could be collected, curtain contamination was often intermittent, the investigators found.

The findings were scheduled for presentation this week at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, in Amsterdam. Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Based on the findings, the researchers said that drug-resistant germ contamination of privacy curtains is common, as is patient/curtain co-contamination.

“As privacy curtains are used all over the world, it’s a global issue,” Mody and colleagues explained in a meeting news release. “Further studies are needed to determine conclusively whether contaminated privacy curtains are a source of multidrug-resistant organism transmission to patients.”

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCE: European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, news release, April 11, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Making Halloween Less Scary for Teens With Allergies, Asthma