Category Archive - Health News

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Young Adults & Strokes

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Young adults tend to think they are invincible, but new studies give pause for concern. The new research reveals strokes are on the rise among younger people, a group not usually at high risk for such conditions. More patients in their 30s and 40s are being treated for strokes.

A total of 7.3% of stroke victims were younger than age 45 in 2005 up from 4.5% in 1993. The number of older people having strokes is actually decreasing. This is believed to be because medical advice has been targeting older individuals and it has worked.

Health issues such as rising rates of obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes — are the major risk factors for stroke — among younger people. Individuals without medical insurance are at an even greater risk, because they don’t have an opportunity to get regular screenings and medical advice.

The best thing you can do on your own to prevent strokes and other diseases is to eat right, exercise, and refrain from smoking. If you don’t have health coverage, call and speak with a licensed insurance agent to get free guidance in finding affordable health insurance.

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Brace Yourself, Government says stop Dodging Flu Shot

Friday, February 26th, 2010

The government is not holding back on flu shot recommendations anymore. At first, the government panel was suggesting 85% of Americans get a flu shot. That was there recommendation for this flu season. The group that did not have to take a flu shot included healthy adults between the ages of 19 to 49 who don’t have close contact with anyone at risk of flu and its complications.

Now, every American is supposed to get a flu shot except babies younger than 6 months and those with egg allergies or other unusual conditions. The recommendation begins this fall. In many cases, you can get the flu shot at no charge or for a small fee. If you have health insurance, you will probably be able to receive your vaccination with your doctor. Uninsured individuals are not left out local clinics offer everyone flu shots.

Even though the government is recommending the flu shot, there is a good chance that you won’t listen. Only about 33% of Americans actually get a flu shot, and unusually millions and millions of doses get thrown away annually.

Receiving a flu shot can reduce your chances of getting sick, health costs, and subsequently medical insurance premiums will stay lower for everyone when people stay healthy.

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Health Bill still Following Republicans

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

President Obama plans to show Republicans the same health bill they’ve been rejecting for months at an upcoming health summit. Mr. Obama wants lawmakers to use the current house and senate passed bills as a starting point for the health bill discussion. The meeting is set to bring Republicans and Democrats together. The President has said he wants both sides to discuss their opinions and ideas about the health bill at the summit, to come together on a comprehensive health bill.

Republicans agree the health system needs some changes and that medical insurance should be more affordable. However, they have been very open in their opposition to the current health bills. House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, have said the current health bills should be scrapped and that any negotiation should start with a blank slate.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says the current bills incorporate many ideas from Republicans including a special pool for people with pre-existing conditions, more affordable health insurance for young and healthy individuals, and allowing consumers to shop for health coverage across state lines.

The health bill may soon be accessible for all to see. Mr. Obama said he envisioned posting a merged House-Senate bill that would address his goals of controlling costs and expanding coverage. “Now, we have a package, as we work through the differences between the House and the Senate, and we’ll put it up on a Web site for all to see over a long period of time, that meets those criteria, meets those goals,’’ the president said.

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Grandparents role in Childhood Obesity

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Children who are looked after by their grandparents are receiving an overwhelming amount of love and apparently an overwhelming amount of food too. A new study report published in the International Journal of Obesity, found that kids who are looked after by their grandparents are more likely to be overweight than kids cared for by childminders or parents.

The study was based on data from 12,000 children. Researchers discovered that, compared with kids cared for solely by their parents, kids looked after by grandparents part-time, were 15% more likely to be overweight. When grandparents were full-time carers, the chance of a child being overweight went up by 34%.

When children start gaining extra weight it may seem innocent enough with most parents calling it baby fat. But, there is nothing minor about the childhood obesity rate; the issue has become a national epidemic. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 2007, nearly half of US children are either overweight or obese. A team of US doctors is urging parents to start screening children at a younger age and note that children with weight problems become overweight before age two. The critical period for preventing childhood obesity is in the first two years of life and for many by three months of age. Having good health insurance is key to keeping children in good health. This will ensure children have access to regular checkups and medical advice.

The study did not examine the reason children who are cared for by grandparents are often fatter. However, some believe it’s because grandparents are more indulgent with snacks and other high calorie foods while parents are often more knowledgeable about healthy eating. This is such an important issue because kids who are overweight are more likely to develop health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. The cost of medical insurance will also be affected for those who are overweight. Health insurance companies often view overweight individuals as a greater risk and will increase the cost of health coverage.

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H1N1 Virus Quietly Claiming Lives

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Talk of the H1N1 virus seems to have simmered down recently, but the reality is the virus is still very much alive, and has already claimed thousands of lives. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) have confirmed that 2,498 people have died from the virus. However, they believe there are many more unreported H1N1 deaths. The agency estimates that between 8,330 and 17,160 people actually have died from H1N1.

It is challenging to get an accurate look of the number of flu cases in the US because many people with flu don’t have affordable health insurance and many don’t seek medical care and only a small number of those are tested. More people who are hospitalized or die of flu-related causes are tested and reported, but under-reporting of hospitalizations and deaths often happens. For this reason CDC monitors influenza activity levels and trends and virus characteristics through a nationwide surveillance system and uses statistical modeling to estimate the burden of flu illness (including hospitalizations and deaths) in the United States.

The virus is not over yet, it’s expected to continue for several months. CDC officials are recommending everyone get the flu vaccination especially those over the age of 65 because they are at higher risk of serious complications. If you do not have medical insurance it’s important to get coverage. In the event that you fall sick, health coverage will ensure you receive needed care. However, flu vaccines to protect against 2009 H1N1 are widely available even without health insurance.

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Backlash from Michelle Obama’s Obesity Remarks

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Michelle Obama has been praised for her commitment to reducing childhood obesity which if applied could bring more affordable health insurance. The first lady spoke about childhood obesity during her campaign encouraging the group to join her anti-obesity plan to help kids get their weight under control. However, something she said about her own daughters during her recent speech has stirred up quite a bit of controversy.

Obama bought to light the seriousness of the childhood obesity epidemic and then she took it to a personal level. She told the crowd how she and President Obama had dealt with weight concerns with their children. “We went to our pediatrician all the time,” Obama said. “I thought my kids were perfect — they are and always will be — but he [the doctor] warned that he was concerned that something was getting off balance.”

“I didn’t see the changes. And that’s also part of the problem, or part of the challenge. It’s often hard to see changes in your own kids when you’re living with them day in and day out,” she added. “But we often simply don’t realize that those kids are our kids, and our kids could be in danger of becoming obese. We always think that only happens to someone else’s kid — and I was in that position.”

Obama said the doctor suggested she first look at her daughters’ body mass index (BMI). The minor changes she subsequently made in their daily habits, Obama said, made all the difference.

Her comments have some feeling Obama went too far. Some say the first lady’s comments may be perceived as a focus on weight and dieting, which sends the wrong message to the public. Disorder activists have come forward expressing concern that her message would confuse families by encouraging them to focus on diet.

Others praised Obama’s message saying it was a good way to connect to parents with overweight or obese children who may feel singled out or alone.

There are a lot of parents who can relate to what Obama had to say. Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. And childhood obesity is particularly troubling because the extra pounds often start kids on the path to health problems that were once confined to adults, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Health issues related to weight significantly increase the cost of health insurance for everyone.

Several health related national organizations including the Center for Disease Control are also trying to fight childhood obesity. They too encourage healthy lifestyle habits, including healthy eating and diet, and physical activity, to lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases.

The first lady has said when she tucks her girls into bed at night, she thinks about wanting them to happy and healthy and to “have every chance to follow their aspirations and ambitions.”

Obama said what she wanted for her daughters she wants “for every single child in this country.”

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Prewashed Salads Not as Healthy as you Think

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Those convenient prewashed salads in a bag from your local grocery may not be as good for you as you think. According to Web MD, in a new investigation from the Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports, high levels of bacteria commonly linked to poor sanitation and fecal contamination were found in many of the sampled packaged salads.

The amount of bacteria found was not a threat to public health but its presence leaves room for E.Coli and salmonella. This is alarming because the bacteria can get from the intestines into the blood and cause a very serious infection.
Symptoms include bad stomach cramps and belly pain, vomiting and diarrhea, sometimes with blood in it. In some persons, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized.

Bacteria outbreaks can be very costly. Health cost can get expensive for those affected with bacteria poisoning especially people without medical insurance. Lost retail sales, extra work hours to remove suspect products from store shelves make the total impact even greater.

To be on the safe side side. It doesn’t matter if the bag of salad you purchased says triple washed, you should still wash it, because even a little particle of bacteria can multiply exponentially in the bag. Keep in mind that produce is a raw product, grown in dirt, which is handled by lots of people before it ever gets into your kitchen. Bacteria can be transferred from dirt residue, or from any of the people handling the produce before and after it arrives in the supermarket.

Here are tips for proper cleaning and handling of fresh produce:

  • The produce is not the only thing you need to wash. Wash your hands thoroughly, using warm water and soap, for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food. “Dirty hands are a very common source of bacterial contamination,” says Feist. “Hand washing is one of the most important things you can do to reduce the incidence of food-borne illness.”
  • Wash the produce under a stream of cool water or using the spray nozzle of your faucet.
  • Rub the produce with your hands, or scrub with a vegetable brush, to remove potential bacteria in all the grooves and crevices.
  • No soap or special solutions are necessary; plain, cool water is the best agent.
  • One potential source of contamination is your own kitchen. Knives, cutting boards, counters, plates, and sponges should be cleaned with soap and water to prevent contamination. “Sponges stay moist and are often breeding grounds for bacterial contamination, so we recommend using clean cloth towels instead of sponges, and washing them often,” says Feist. If you prefer sponges, wash them often, in either the dishwasher or washing machine.
  • Store perishable fruits and vegetables (such as strawberries, lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms) in a clean refrigerator kept at 40 degrees or below, the FDA recommends. And always refrigerate produce that was purchased pre-cut or peeled, to maintain quality and safety.
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    Obama Back Tracks: Doors Close At Open Healthcare Reform Talks

    Thursday, February 4th, 2010

    Just hours after President Obama publicly assured Americans that his administration and Congress opened up negotiations in the interest of transparency over health care reform, he was forced to take it back.

    “I take some fault for this,” Obama said yesterday. “At the end of the process, when we were fighting through all these filibusters and trying to get it done quickly — so that we could pivot and start talking about other issues that were so important to the American people — some of that transparency got lost. And I think we paid a price for it.”

    U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Katherine Sebelius, followed the President’s lead in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee later in the day.

    “I am not a principal in the negotiations,”  Sebelius said  to the Comittee members. “Nor is my staff.”

    Obama has come under fire over his health care agenda in recent months as national polls show Americans are growing frustrated over the prospects of a mandate requiring all Americans to purchase health insurance or face tax penalties for not complying.

    The House and Senate are now turning their attention toward reforming insurance companies in a manner that would require they cover individuals with pre-existing conditions. Health insurance plans object to the plan claiming only sick individuals would enroll, in turn making existing affordable health insurance unobtainable. Congressional hearings continue and some Senators say a compromise will come very soon.

    The chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, said he was “very confident” that Congress would soon pass a comprehensive health bill, even though the legislation was now stalled.

    “We are on the brink of accomplishing real health care reform,” Baucus said. “I urge my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol, not to give up.”

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    Baby Deaths Mystery Solved

    Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

    Researchers say they’ve made discoveries into one of the most frightening issues for new parents today: sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). A new study found that babies who died of SIDS had low levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that helps the brainstem regulate breathing, temperature, sleeping, waking and other automatic functions, according to an autopsy study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

    Babies normally sense high carbon-dioxide levels automatically and wake up. Babies who don’t respond appropriately, however, may never wake up.

    This discovery could be breakthrough information for thousands of parents who suddenly lose their babies. SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants 1 month to 1 year old, and claims the lives of about 2,500 each year in the United States. Up to this point, scientists had not been able to link any definite cause to these deaths. Almost all SIDS deaths occur without any warning or symptoms when the infant is believed to be sleeping.

    SIDS seems to happen more often in premature and low-birth-weight babies. It also is seen more often in babies whose mothers were without affordable health insurance and did not receive good medical care during the pregnancy and in babies whose mothers smoke. Educational campaigns have significantly reduced SIDS rates. During which time, parents learn the most important measure to take to try and prevent SIDS. Topping the list is placing the baby to sleep on his or her back rather than on the stomach or side.

    It is best to get medical insurance from a company like Blue Cross Blue Shield or United Health Care before becoming pregnant. Some health insurance plans consider pregnancy a pre-existing condition, and may not cover your prenatal cost.

    Doctors eventually hope to use their new discovery to screen babies for serotonin problems and find a way to protect them, says co-author David Paterson, also of Harvard and Children’s Hospital. Those developments are still years away, he says.

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    Fish Oil is Good for the Brain

    Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

    There is new hope for those who develop a mental illness. A new study is helping people who are displaying early signs of psychosis. According to CNN, the research found that for a year after it was completed, 12 weeks of dietary supplementation with Omega-3 fish oil reduced progression to full-blown psychosis in a large group of adolescents and young adults. Those who participated in the study were young adults who were not yet considered fully mentally ill. However, they were already experiencing early symptoms and losing touch with reality.

    Those taking fish oil supplements showed great improvement with fewer signs of disorganized or delusional thinking, more motivation, and better overall functioning. The fish oil continued to help people function better, have fewer symptoms, and were less likely to suffer a psychotic episode than those who did not get the fish oil. Roughly 5% of those on fish oil went on to develop full-blown psychosis during the study period, versus 28% of those who got psychotherapy alone.

    Health professionals are encouraged by the study that could help about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 Americans who are living with a serious mental illness. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that one in four adults-approximately 57.7 million Americans-experience a mental health disorder in a given year. This new finding could make it more affordable to get health care for a mental illness.

    President Obama recently passed legislation to reach out to those with mental problems. Many Americans will get broader health coverage for mental illness under rules issued by the Obama administration. Medical insurance offered by employers with more than 50 workers will be required to treat mental health benefits the same way they handle coverage for physical ailments. That means no separate annual deductibles for mental health treatment. And co-payments for visiting a psychiatrist or social worker can’t be more than the charge for going to the family doctor or a medical specialist.

    The law also prohibits health insurance plans from setting limits on number of visits or hospital days for mental health problems that are different from any such limitations on treatment for medical problems. Sperling said the rules issued Friday clarify that other kinds of treatment limits in health plans, such as case reviews and lists of preferred drugs, may not be used to discriminate against people with mental illness.

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