Gastric Bypass Can Renew the Heart

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(AUGUSTA, Ga.) - A surgery typically used to help the obese lose weight may also help bring a stressed heart back to a better condition, reports HealthDay News.

Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia have found that gastric bypass surgery can help improve an obese individual's heart, which is more susceptible to heart failure, abnormal heart rhythm and death.
The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that the hearts of severely obese people who underwent the weight-loss surgery showed a reduction in the mass of the left and right ventricular areas.

"We know obese people get cardiovascular disease more often than non-obese people," said Dr. Sheldon Litwin, chief of cardiology at the Medical College of Georgia. "One of the questions out there is: Is it reversible if they lose weight? The answer is yes."

Reductions in the heart's mass means the heart is less stressed as it no longer has to work as hard to pump blood.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Change in Income Could Mean Temporary Loss of Health Coverage

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) - People whose income changes throughout the year could see temporary blackouts in their insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, reports HealthDay News.

A new study published in Health Affairs estimates that as many as 28 million Americans will see their health coverage disrupted at some point in the year due to changes in their eligibility that come with changes in their income. That could mean that an individual would move in and out of periods of coverage, possibly more than once a year.

The loss of coverage would occur during transitional periods from program to program. Under the Affordable Care Act, an American can either be part of Medicaid or premium subsidies in state-run insurance exchanges, depending on their income. If a change in income moves someone from one program to the other, they are likely to lose coverage for a short period during the transition.

The study authors estimate that within four years, 38 percent of Americans could see their coverage interrupted four times or more every year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Metabolic Syndrome Tied to Memory Loss

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BORDEAUX, France) - Memory loss in the elderly may be tied to risk factors for metabolic syndrome, a condition that presents itself with symptoms such as weight around the waistline and high blood pressure.

A study by the French National Institute of Health Research found that elderly people with symptoms for metabolic syndrome were 20 percent more likely to show a decline in memory than those who did not show such symptoms.

Other symptoms of metabolic syndrome include high blood sugar and triglyceride levels as well as low levels of the good cholesterol known as HDL.

Researchers hope that by managing symptoms of metabolic syndrome as they present themselves, doctors may be able to help slow memory loss and the onset of dementia in the elderly.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Quality of Child Care Varies Greatly by Region

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) - A new report has revealed in which states children get the best health care, and in which states they get the worst, reports WebMD.

According to a report card from the Commonwealth Fund, children in the upper Midwest and New England have the best access to affordable health care, prevention, treatment and overall health benefits. Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire made the top five for child health care.
The South and Southwest regions scored the worst with Florida, Texas, Arizona, Mississippi and Nevada making up the bottom five states.

“There are wide gaps between leading and lagging states for oral health problems, obesity, and smoking rates," said Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund. For example, just three percent of children in Massachusetts were uninsured in 2009, compared to 17 and 18 percent uninsured in Nevada, Florida, and Texas.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rwanda Plans Vasectomy Drive to Control Population

File Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(KIGALI, Rwanda) - In a move to control the country's population and help prevent the spread of HIV, the government of Rwanda plans to hold a vasectomy drive to encourage men to undergo the procedure, reports the BBC.

Although the government fears the campaign could be met with resistance, the country's health minister hopes 700,000 men will get a vasectomy in the next three years.

The move comes as the country's growing population, now at 10.2 million, threatens further damage to living standards. However, the government has been recommending vasectomies since 2008 as a way to help stem the spread of heterosexual HIV infection.

In addition to the vasectomy option, the government says it will also try to educate men about the importance of birth control.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Some Patients Getting 'Too Fat' for Ambulances?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) - Some ambulance services are being forced to specialize their equipment to accommodate patients who are "too fat" for regular ambulances, reports the BBC.

In the U.K., every ambulance service has had to buy new equipment ranging from wider stretchers and reinforced lifting gear to brand-new ambulances that are made to carry obese patients in an emergency. And the changes don't come cheap.

The BBC reports that so-called "bariatric ambulances" can cost around $150,000. Even additions to regular ambulances such as wider stretchers and heavy-duty stretchers can cost around $11,000.

Jo Webber, director of the Ambulance Service Network, told the BBC that ambulance services have no choice but to make the necessary changes.

"The fact is patients are getting larger and larger and ambulances need to be able to respond immediately to what could be life-threatening situations," Webber said. "Every service is having to invest money in this. It shows that some of the lifestyle changes we are seeing have a range of costs. It is not just about treating them, but the infrastructure costs as well."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


The Killer Effect of a Super Bowl Loss

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Is there such a thing as taking football too seriously?  A new study published in the journal Clinical Cardiology may put diehard fans in fear of their lives.

It finds that if your home team makes it to the Super Bowl and then loses, the stress can kill you.

The authors say that in the two weeks after the Los Angeles Rams lost to the Steelers in Super Bowl 14, death rates among Los Angelenos went up, particularly among those over the age of 65, an extra 2.6 deaths per day among the older population over 14 days.  

In the two weeks after the Los Angeles Raiders won Super Bowl 18, there was no increase in L.A. death rates, and there was even a trend to lower death rates among women and those 65 and older.  

So it seems not all sports-related stress is equal.  A home team's loss can be more than just disappointing.  On the other hand, that healthy glow from a win can spread beyond the gridiron.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Consumer Group Demands Crackdown on Vitamin Water Claims

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The National Consumer League, a Washington consumer-advocacy group, filed a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission requesting it investigate Coca-Cola's marketing claims for Vitamin Water. The league said the brand touts more benefits than it can deliver.

"Vitamin Water: Flu shots are so last year," reads one advertising poster for the product.

In its complaint, the league said Vitamin Water ads say the drink not only promotes a healthy immune system but can also replace the flu shot.

"It's not only deceptive but potentially dangerous to consumers," said Courtney Brein, a food safety and nutrition fellow at the National Consumers League. "There's a difference between stating that certain elements of a product are good for you and implying that the product will actually prevent the consumer from catching the flu or coming down with the common cold."

With more than $700 million in sales last year, Vitamin Water has become one of the most popular sports drinks. Coca-Cola said in a statement that the content of its beverages is clearly marked on the label.

"Vitamin Water has always had a fun, humorous and engaging personality," the company said in a statement. "And our ads reflect that."

But some legal experts said it's easy to blur the line between clever advertising and overpromising.

"If you talk about what's in your product, then it has to be there," said Howard Beales, an associate professor of strategic management and public policy at the George Washington University School of Business. "If you talk about the effects of that substance, then you have to have evidence that documents the substance really does have those effects."

Research suggests the evidence as to whether the vitamins in Vitamin Water -- mainly vitamin C and zinc -- work to suppress the flu is conflicting. But there is no evidence that the drink can prevent the flu or is as effective as a flu shot.

"The best way to get your vitamins is through a balanced diet or a supplement," said Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News' chief health and medical editor. "And the best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot."

And then there's the sugar and calories to consider too. Although the Vitamin Water label indicates 50 calories per serving, one bottle amounts to 2.5 servings, which adds up to around 125 calories. One regular-size bottle of Vitamin Water also contains nearly 30 grams of sugar.

"For that, you may as well have a Hershey's milk chocolate bar, which has only 24 grams of sugar by comparison," said Besser.

While sports drink ads may claim extraordinary health benefits, Besser said these drinks don't possess anything more remarkable than what regular water can provide, and he cautioned against letting kids drink sugar sweetened sports drinks, including Vitamin Water, regularly.

"If you want to get hydrated after playing sports or exercising, turn on the tap," said Besser. "What you mainly need is regular, plain old water." 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Campaign Encourages Women to Recognize Heart Attack, Dial 911

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Heart disease is the number one killer of women.  An American woman suffers a heart attack every minute.  Yet after years of public education programs, the message hasn't penetrated and many women can't detect the signs.

The "Make the Call, Don't Miss a Beat" campaign, unveiled Tuesday by the Department of Health and Human Services and its Office on Women's Health, wants women to learn to recognize signs of a heart attack, especially the signs they're likely to dismiss.

The campaign also emphasizes the importance of dialing 911 if women experience one or more of those signs with an intensity and persistence they've never felt before, delivering its message through print and broadcast public service advertisements, billboards and public transit ads, and with testimonials of heart attack survivors.

The underpinning of the campaign is clear: getting appropriate medical attention within an hour of a heart attack halves the risk of dying.

In 2006, an American Heart Association survey conducted every three years found that 79 percent of women reported that the first thing they would do if they thought they were having a heart attack was to call 911.  But in the 2009 survey, "we were shocked that only 53 percent of women said they would call 911 first," said Suzanne Haynes, senior science adviser for the Office on Women's Health and director of the campaign.

Women easily overlook or excuse subtle symptoms that can end in a heart attack, as well as many acute symptoms during a heart attack, said Dr. Lori Mosca, director of preventive cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and one of the campaign's developers.

The seven major signs you are having a heart attack are:

1. Unusual or unexplained fatigue unrelated to exercise.

2. Unfamiliar dizziness or lightheadedness.

3. Unexplained nausea, vomiting.

4. Sharp pain in the upper body, including the neck, back and jaw.

5. Severe shortness of breath.

6. Heavy pressure on the chest, which may feel like indigestion, heartburn, fullness or squeezing, lasts more than a few minutes and may abate before returning.

7. Cold sweats that do not resemble the hot flashes associated with menopause.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: HPV Vaccine Prevents Infection, Genital Warts in Men

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WALTHAM, Mass.) -- The human papillomavirus vaccine is effective in preventing the spread of the virus and the development of genital warts in teenage boys and men, according to a new study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study included 4,065 males aged 16-26 from 18 countries and found that the vaccine prevented them from infection with four strains of HPV -- HPV-6, 11, 16 and 18 -- and developing the external genital warts associated with them.  Participants in the study were divided into separate groups in which some received all three vaccinations while others received a placebo.

In one population where a participant's HPV status was unknown, the study found that 36 genital warts were seen among males who received the vaccine, as opposed to 89 seen in a placebo group, amounting to a efficacy of 60.2 percent.

Gardasil, the first HPV vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006, has been widely pushed and advertised towards girls and women between the ages of 9 and 26.  It was later approved in 2009 by the FDA to be administered to males also ranging in age from 9 to 26, but boys and men have since lacked the same encouragement their female counterparts received to take the shot.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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