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


Beat Fat, Sugar Addiction; Detox Liver to Lose Weight

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Do you feel like you can't lose weight because you can't stop eating cakes, cookies and French fries?  If you can't beat your cravings, you could be addicted to sugary and fatty foods, and to kick your addiction, you have to detox your liver, according to Dr. Mehmet Oz of The Dr. Oz Show.

"Sugary and fatty foods affect the pathways to the brain in the same way as heroin or cocaine," Oz said.  "Sugar acts directly in the brain to inhibit the effect of leptin and increased appetite so you never feel full.  So then you keep eating, and you become leptin-resistant."

"What you need to do is break the addiction by detoxing the liver, which has stopped metabolizing fat properly.  Sugar consumption causes fat to build up in liver cells, which decreases the liver's ability to metabolize fats and sugars and detoxify your body," he added.

Oz told ABC News the following four steps for detoxing your liver:

Step 1: Replace all grains with cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower for one week, and bulk up on foods from the allium family -- garlic, chives, leeks -- because they are full of flavonoids.

Step 2: For withdrawal, take a Vitamin B complex to help with carbohydrate cravings and 1,000 mg a day of chromium picolinate to help with sugar withdrawal.

Step 3: Eat meat in a four-to-one ratio, meaning four portions of white meat, fish or tofu to one portion of red meat).  Also eat leafy greens and citrus fruits that contain vitamin C to boost your innate antioxidant system.

Step 4: Address emotional eating. Emotional hunger is sudden, while physical hunger is gradual.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


One Gastric Band, Two Sisters, Nearly Identical Weight Loss

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON, England) - Paula Muir and her identical twin sister, Karren Fraser, have always been very close.

"We're competitive, but always encourage each other," said Muir. "We always show massive support for each other."

That support and competitiveness helped the sisters, who are 46 and live in England, achieve a remarkable goal: between them, they lost more than 300 pounds.

Muir lost about 140 pounds, but Fraser had an easier time losing weight, since she opted for gastric banding surgery, a procedure that involves placing an adjustable band around the top of the stomach. The result is that the person feels full more easily and eats smaller portions of food, leading to weight loss.

"I couldn't get a gastric band because I didn't have the money," said Muir. But she was determined not to let that get in the way of her weight loss goal. "I didn't want to be the fat twin," she said. "After all, we're twins, so we have to look alike."

Thanks to her competitive spirit and the support of her sister along the way, Muir disciplined herself to eat the same-size portions as her sister did. She knew she wouldn't lose quite as much weight as her sister, but was determined to keep it close.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Quality Care Program Decreases Deaths in Mich. ICU Patients

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BALTIMORE, Md.) - A new quality improvement program in Michigan intensive care units has decreased the likeliness of patients dying while in care, reports MedPage Today.

The Keystone ICU project, designed by researchers at John Hopkins University, was implemented in 95 Michigan hospitals in 2004 to help reduce deaths caused by infection and to improve other safety standards.

During an evaluation 13 to 22 months after the program started, it was found that patients admitted to Michigan intensive care units were 24 percent less likely to die compared to before the program was initiated.

"These results strongly support governments', hospitals', and healthcare payers' investment in similar successful, large scale, robust, quality improvement initiatives to maximize patient benefits," wrote Allison Lipitz-Snyderman and colleagues.

The length of stays for patients in the ICU in Michigan hospitals also dropped after the program began.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


MRI Scan Could Predict Ability to Quit Smoking

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) - Researchers may be able to predict how likely you would be to quit smoking by taking a scan of your brain, reports Discovery News.

The study, published in the journal Health Psychology, says that by performing an MRI scan, a doctor can study activity in the region of the brain tied to behavior. Researchers showed 28 heavy smokers "quit smoking" commercials and monitored activity in the medial prefrontal cortex of their brains. Those with activity in the region were "significantly linked to reductions in smoking behavior" in the following month.

"What is exciting is that by knowing what is going on in someone's brain during the ads, we can do twice as well at predicting their future behavior, compared to if we only knew their self-reported estimate of how successful they would be or their intention to quit," said lead author Emily Falk, director of the Communication Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Michigan.

Falk said the research could also help show what non-smoking ads would be most effective in getting smokers to quit.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Coffee Helps Women, Not Men, Handle Stress

, (BRISTOL, U.K.) -- Coffee has been known to help battle drowsiness, but a new study has found that a cup of Joe can also help women - not men - perform in stressful situations.

Psychologists at Bristol University have discovered that a caffeinated cup of coffee can actually increase a woman's ability to perform in a high-pressure situation, while it causes men to actually work slower and less confidently.

The study, published in the Journal of Applied Science, studied 64 men and women who were given a variety of tasks and were told they would have to give a public presentation on their tasks. Researchers found that men who had consumed caffeinated coffee had an "impaired" ability to perform their tasks while women who drank coffee completed their tasks 100 seconds faster. 

Study researchers said the fact that the effects of coffee in these situations vary by sex is likely due to the differences in how men and women respond to stress.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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