Researchers: You Really Can Die From a Broken Heart

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ST. ANDREWS, Scotland) -- Researchers at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland say they have found clear evidence in a massive study that there is something they call the "widowhood effect," which indicates many people really do die of sorrow at the loss of a loved one.

Researchers looked at 58,000 married couples, dating back to 1991, in a study spotlighted in The Daily Mail.  They found 40 percent of women and 26 percent of men died within three years of their partners.  The causes range from cancer and heart disease to accidents and suicide.  In some cases the death of the spouse was almost immediate.  Forty died within 10 days and 12 died on the same day.  Although the causes differ, researchers say their evidence of a "widowhood effect" is "robust."

The full study will be published next year in the journal, Epidemiology.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


What's the Secret to Happiness? Living in the Moment, Study Says

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Does your mind have a tendency to wander? It happens to all of us. While we're doing one thing, we're thinking about something else. A new study from Harvard says our wandering minds make us unhappy.

The study’s authors contacted 2250 people at random moments throughout the day and asked them three questions.

1.  How are you feeling right now? (on a scale of 0 to 100)
2.  What are you doing right now?
3.  Are you thinking about something other than what you're doing?

Researchers found that people's minds were wandering 46.9 percent of the time and that people were less happy when their minds were wandering than when they were present and attentive.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Overcrowded ERs Lead Hospitals to Adopt Online Reservation System

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A new service called InQuickER allows patients to reserve emergency room visits online in non-emergency cases.  Participating hospitals say patients can wait at home instead of waiting in crowded hospital waiting rooms.

Dr. Kathleen Clem, chair of emergency medicine at Loma Linda University Medical Center in California, which recently implemented the new technology told MedPage Today, "Patients are just choosing where they wait.  They're waiting at home rather than in our waiting room."

Dr. Clem added that patients would not be "getting in line in  front of someone else."  Instead, patients using the service,  which costs $24.99, can make an appointment for an hour and a half to two hours ahead of time.  Patients would typically wait the same amount of time if they had gone the the ER waiting room.

Currently, about 15 hospitals and medical centers in Florida, California, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee have licensed the InQuickER technology, reports MedPage.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Mother in Need of Transplant Dies Despite Having Donors

Microscopic image of red bone marrow. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A mother of two who suffered from acute leukemia has died while waiting for a bone marrow transplant, despite there being registered donor matches.  Four matched donors were found in the bone marrow registry, but all four declined to go through with the procedure.

Dr. Claudio Anasetti, the department chair of the Blood and Marrow Transplantation program at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, says its not easy to find a match, even among siblings.

"Within siblings, there is only about a one in four chance of being a match," he says.  "We need to go to unrelated donor searches 70 percent of the time for patients with leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma or other blood disorders that need a transplant."

Anasetti adds, "Tissue matching between the donor and the recipient has to be very close."

It is estimated that only 47 percent of registered donors go through with the donation.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Daydreaming May Be Tied to Bad Mood, Study Finds

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Whether in line at the supermarket or sitting in traffic on the highway, the human mind is prone to wander at the slightest sign of boredom.

However, daydreaming may not be as harmless as it seems: According to a study published Thursday in the journal Science, a wandering mind is often an unhappy one.

Using an iPhone application that prompts users to answer survey questions about their mental state throughout the day, researchers at Harvard University tracked how frequently the minds of 2,250 U.S. adults wandered and how their moods changed accordingly.

Based on self-reported mind-wandering and self-gauged levels of happiness collected via subjects' phones, researchers found that people reported being significantly less happy when their minds wandered than when they were focused on the task at hand.

"The human capacity that underlies our ability to mind wander is incredibly important," says Matthew Killingsworth, the lead researcher and a doctoral candidate in psychology at Harvard University. "It allows us to plan for the future, process the past, imagine things that could never occur, but at the same time, the data shows that when people use this capacity it reduces their happiness."

Daydreaming was a surprisingly frequent practice -- subjects reported meandering thoughts nearly half of the time they were questioned -- but this state was consistently associated with a lower mood, even when subjects were thinking about pleasant things, researchers found.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Health Group Lauds Debt Commission's Support for Liability Reform

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After releasing a report detailing ways to reduce the nation's national debt, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform received feedback that was generally negative.

Thursday, however, the Health Coalition on Liability and Access praised the commission co-chairs -- Erskine Bowles, former Clinton White House chief of staff, and former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo. -- for their endorsement of comprehensive medical liability reform in the commission's draft proposals.

"Medical liability reform must be a priority for the new Congress.  Reform will not only reduce the cost of defensive medicine and our skyrocketing deficits, but it will preserve access to quality care for all Americans," said HCLA Chair Mike Stinson.

Stinson says the current system not only costs too much, but is "designed to benefit personal injury lawyers, not patients."

The commission's initial proposal includes plans to "pay lawyers less and reduce the costs of defensive medicine by adopting comprehensive tort reform."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Teen Paralyzed From Piercing Dances Again

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images(LONDON) – A young girl in Britain has defied medical expectations to overcome paralysis and dance again, reports the Daily Mail.

When 15-year-old Grace Etherington was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare immune disorder that attacks the nervous system, doctors at Evelina Children’s Hospital in London told her she could remain motionless for the rest of her life, dependent on a ventilator to breathe and unable to move or communicate. Etherington developed the disease after a getting a viral infection from a routine ear piercing.

"It was a fate worse than death. She would be trapped in a lifeless shell," her mother, Sharon Etherington, 41, of Sittingbourne, Kent, told the British newspaper.

But less than a year after her diagnoses, she took her first steps. Months later, intensive physical therapy had her walking again. Finally, in May, she achieved her dream of dancing with her troupe in London. With the exception of some ongoing fatigue, she has recovered completely.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Healthcare 'Not as Safe' as Americans Believe?

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) – A new measure of patient safety may show that the U.S. healthcare system is not as safe as some may think, according to an associate professor of medicine at the University of Utah.

"While traditional measurements of patient safety show that our system is very safe, a new global trigger tool developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) shows that the current safety measures pick up less than 10 percent of injuries patients suffer in the hospital," said David Classen at the MedeAnalytics Clinical Leadership Summit in San Francisco.

Classen said the new measurement can detect 60 different adverse outcomes in patients -- a tool he said may help to show flaws in the healthcare system and improve care to Medicare patients.

The new method is expected to be detailed in a report to Congress over the next several months.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Former GSK Lawyer Charged in Wellbutrin Cover-Up

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Department of Justice has charged a former vice president and lawyer at GlaxoSmithKline with trying to cover up evidence that the company was illegally marketing the depression drug Wellbutrin as a weight-loss aid, reports MedPage Today.

Lauren Stevens of Durham, N.C. was charged with one count of obstructing an official proceeding, one count of concealing and falsifying documents to influence a federal agency, and four counts of making false statements to the FDA, according to the FDA.

The indictment doesn't name the company or the drug, but a lawyer for Stevens confirmed to The Wall Street Journal that Stevens was a vice president at GlaxoSmithKline and that the indictment relates to Wellbutrin and an ongoing investigation into the company marketing the depression drug to treat weight loss -- a health issue for which it is not approved.

A spokeswoman for GlaxoSmithKline confirmed that Stevens was employed in the company's legal department and that she is now retired.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Childhood Weight Bullying May Trigger Eating Disorders in Adulthood, Say Doctors

(PHOENIX) -- Children who are teased about their weight are less likely to have a desire for exercise or physical activity, say doctors at the Remuda Ranch Programs for Eating and Anxiety Disorders.

Particularly during preteen years, children are more susceptible to developing negative self-image, which can last into their adult years.  Consequently, children who are bullied about their weight are more sensitive to "poor body dissatisfaction," say psychologists.

"We know that weight bullying happens to a lot of children," said Dena Cabrera, PsyD, a psychologist and director of educational outreach at Remuda Ranch.  "Bullying can perpetuate the cycle of lack of exercise as well as using food as a source of comfort."

Dr. Cabrera says that the parents' role is crucial in matters of bullying or self image and that parents must work toward "creating a home environment that fosters healthful eating and physical activity."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio