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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Hospital patient busted selling heroin out of her ICU room

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hosptial

A Pennsylvania patient will likely be facing drug charges after police allegedly confiscated more than 350 stamp bags of heroin that she was in the process of selling from her hospital room.

Greensburg City police are expected to charge a woman was being treated at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital with delivery and possession of a controlled substance

In addition to selling heroin from the ICU unit as well as her hospital room, the woman also allegedly injected heroin into her IV system.

“The Intensive Care Unit at Excela Westmoreland Hospital cares for the sickest of sick patients, which is another reason our staff is keenly aware of what is happening in and around a patient’s room as they monitor for sudden changes in health status,” Excela spokeswoman Jennifer Miele said in an emailed statement. “Last week, they noticed an inordinate amount of foot traffic to one room. Rather than visitors who stayed for an hour or more, they saw people coming and going in a matter of minutes.”

After watching what was happening on surveillance cameras, hospital security staffers contacted the Greensburg police…When the heroin was seized, police also took…$1,420 from the woman’s hospital room.

See what happens when you haven’t any health insurance. Gotta make ends meet somehow.

Har.

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Written by Ed Campbell

April 22, 2014 at 8:00 pm

The public health crisis added to our food

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IF you have high blood pressure, you’re in good company. Hypertension afflicts 67 million Americans, including nearly two-thirds of people over age 60. But it isn’t an inevitable part of the aging process. It’s better to think of it as chronic sodium intoxication. And, as an important new study from Britain shows, there’s a way to prevent the problem — and to save many, many lives.

A lifetime of consuming too much sodium (mostly in the form of sodium chloride, or table salt) raises blood pressure, and high blood pressure kills and disables people by triggering strokes and heart attacks. In the United States, according to best estimates, excess sodium is killing between 40,000 and 90,000 people and running up to $20 billion in medical costs a year…

The reason that nearly everyone eats way too much sodium is that our food is loaded with it, and often where we don’t taste or expect it…A blueberry muffin can have more than double the salt of a serving of potato chips. Even healthy-sounding food can pack heavy sodium loads. Two slices of whole wheat bread can have nearly 400 milligrams of sodium, as can two tablespoons of fat-free salad dressing…

We all like the taste of salt, but there is much that food companies can do without driving away customers. Often they add sodium for leavening or food texture rather than taste, when replacement ingredients are available. And sodium levels in similar popular foods made by different manufacturers often vary two- or threefold (for example, a slice of pizza can pack anywhere from between 370 and 730 milligrams), which suggests that many manufacturers can cut sodium levels in their foods sharply without hurting taste. When salt levels in food drop, people’s preference for salt also shifts down, so no one would notice a gradual reduction in sodium across all foods.

That’s exactly what Britain’s Food Standards Agency has done. It divided processed food into different categories, set salt-reduction targets in each category and then asked companies to meet those targets over time. And as they did that, from 2001 to 2011, sodium consumption by the British fell 15 percent.

The new study shows that this drop in salt intake has been accompanied by a substantial reduction in average blood pressure, a 40 percent drop in deaths from heart attacks and a 42 percent decline in deaths from stroke…

There is absolutely no reason we can’t do an initiative similar to Britain’s on this side of the Atlantic now…A proposal as important to human life as this needs the stature and resources of the federal government to bring…the food industry along. The F.D.A. has been developing a new plan for a voluntary, coordinated, national initiative. Unfortunately, even though it is voluntary, the food industry is fighting it, and the plan is stalled.

Per usual, bought-and-paid-for politicians are as much part of the problem as bureaucrats and behemoth corporate budgets. As a side issue, one more reason to adopt an election model that allows NO private or PAC donations and probably includes a short regulated electioneering season. Take the money out of elections and you take most of the money out of political graft.

That still leaves us with libertarian silliness over the government stepping in on the side of medicine and science. But, fools can still add as much salt as they wish to their beer and onion dip.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 22, 2014 at 2:00 am

Common gene variant increases risk of colorectal cancer from eating processed meat

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A common genetic variant that affects one in three people appears to significantly increase the risk of colorectal cancer from the consumption of processed meat…The study of over 18,000 people from the U.S., Canada, Australia and Europe represents the first large-scale genome-wide analysis of genetic variants and dietary patterns that may help explain more of the risk factors for colorectal cancer.

Dr Jane Figueiredo…explained that eating processed meat is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer and for about a third of the general population who carry this genetic variant, the risk of eating processed meat is even higher compared to those who do not. “Our results, if replicated by other studies, may provide us with a greater understanding of the biology into colorectal carcinogenesis,” said Dr Ulrike Peters…

The study population totaled 9,287 patients with colorectal cancer and a control group of 9,117 individuals without cancer, all participants in 10 observational studies that were pooled in the largest meta-analysis sponsored by the National Institutes of Health…Scientists systematically searched 2.7 million variants to identify those that are associated with the consumption of meat, fiber, fruits and vegetables. A significant interaction between the genetic variant rs4143094 and processed meat consumption was detected…

Colorectal cancer is a multi-factorial disease attributed to both genetic causes and lifestyle factors; including diet. About 30 known genetic susceptibility alleles for colorectal cancer have been pinpointed throughout the genome. How specific foods affect the activities of genes has not been established but represents an important area of research for prevention. “The possibility that genetic variants may modify an individual’s risk for disease based on diet has not been thoroughly investigated but represents an important new insight into disease development,” said Dr Li Hsu, the lead statistician on the study.

Diet is a modifiable risk factor for colorectal cancer. Our study is the first to understand whether some individuals are at higher or lower risk based on their genomic profile. This information can help us better understand the biology and maybe in the future lead to targeted prevention strategies,” said Dr Figueiredo.

Scary enough. I grew up in an era – and ethnicity on both sides of the family – that consumed a significant amount of processed meat. Whether over-the-counter crap or artisan-crafted salume, keeping such consumption to a minimum – like zero – makes a lot of sense.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 21, 2014 at 2:00 am

Fly me to Sochi or I’ll attack you with this chocolate bar!

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Something else for TSA to take away from passengers

A passenger on board a Hong Kong-bound Cathay Pacific flight, armed only with a Toblerone chocolate bar, demanded the plane fly to Sochi so he could watch the Winter Olympics, a court heard.

Antti Oskari Manselius, 23, from Finland, also made a false bomb threat on the February 14 flight from Amsterdam and said he was robbing the plane…

Two flight attendants told the court that they saw Manselius walking towards the cockpit. He had two economy-class blankets wrapped around his head and was wearing another like a cape. He held the Toblerone chocolate bar “like a sword”…

“He said, ‘I am robbing the plane now. I want to see the Olympics in Sochi and I need to get off the plane now,” attendant Leung Hiu-lun was quoted as telling the court. “He was furious. He made me feel like he was trying to endanger the aircraft.”

Leung said the passenger was not violent, only waving the bar as he talked. Leung told him the service was a direct flight and would not stop in Russia.

Manselius was later handcuffed under the orders of the captain.

“A Finnish passenger, a former policeman and an aircrew safety trainer handcuffed Manselius with the help of a cabin crew manager. They also cuffed his legs and fastened his chest with an extra seatbelt,” the Post said…

Manselius was arrested in Hong Kong and sent to a psychiatric center

Aside from all the healthful attributes of chocolate consumption I get to post about with delightful frequency it appears chocolate can still pose a danger – in the wrong hands.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 20, 2014 at 2:00 am

Wanting a big butt may be deadly!

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The demand for bigger buttocks in Venezuela means some women will even have banned injections to achieve them, putting their health at risk.

It is with tears in her eyes that Denny recounts how she woke up one day to find a bump the size of a football in her lower back…She could not walk or bend down, and the pain was intense.

Even before she saw a doctor, Denny, a 35-year-old Venezuelan lawyer, knew the bump must be a side-effect of liquid silicone that had been injected in her buttocks.

It had moved into her back and was putting pressure on her spine…

Buttock injections are one of many common cosmetic procedures Venezuelan women undergo to achieve what society deems to be beautiful.

The injections were banned by the government in 2012, six years after Denny had them…

But the practice continues in spite of the ban. Up to 30% of women between 18 and 50 choose to have these injections, according to the Venezuelan Plastic Surgeons Association…

The injections are made using a biopolymer silicone. The fact that this is injected freely into the body makes it more dangerous than implants, where silicone gel is contained within a shell.

The big attraction is that they are much cheaper than implants. An injection can cost as little as $318 and the whole procedure doesn’t take more than 20 minutes.

But the risks are incredibly high.

“The silicone can migrate into other areas of the body, because it doesn’t have any barriers. The body can also react immunologically against a foreign material, creating many problems,” says Daniel Slobodianik, a cosmetic surgeon…

Figures are unclear, but the Venezuelan Plastic Surgeons Association fear that at least a dozen women die every year from these injections.

RTFA. Many more personal examples. A decent discussion of the social pressures, the beauty queen ideology that seems to have taken hold across the whole of Venezuelan society.

And, of course, symptoms of the same silliness appear around the world.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 19, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Research OK — doesn’t say anything about Reefer Madness!

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Correlation does not equal causation, and a single exam cannot show a trend over time. Basic stuff, right?

But judging by coverage of a study just out in the Journal of Neuroscience, these are apparently foreign concepts for many folks in the media.

In the study, researchers at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital and Northwestern University in Chicago performed MRI brain scans on 20 young adult “casual” marijuana users and 20 age- and sex-matched nonusers. They found that, in the users, gray matter densities in the nucleus accumbens were higher than in controls, and the right amygdala and left nucleus accumbens were shaped differently.

Interesting, but remember that these findings only reflected differences between the marijuana users and controls at a single point in time. The researchers did not, could not, demonstrate that the differences resulted from marijuana smoking or even that the “abnormalities” relative to controls reflected changes from some earlier state.

You wouldn’t know that from the media coverage.

RTFA for a small sampling of almost universal crap

…Note that the study did not identify any cognitive or behavioral abnormalities in the cannabis users versus controls — it was strictly an MRI study.

That, however, didn’t stop senior author Hans Breiter, MD, of Northwestern from opining in the SfN press release that the study “raises a strong challenge to the idea that casual marijuana use isn’t associated with bad consequences.”

Um, no, it doesn’t — not without before-and-after MRI scans showing brain structure changes in users that differ from nonusers and documentation of functional impairments associated with those changes.

Further studies may – or may not – indicate one or another cause-and-effect relationship. That kind of study must be constructed differently than this one. And hopefully the press release and editors who get the email won’t be in a hurry to construe the study as something it isn’t.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 17, 2014 at 2:00 am

Pulling drinking water out of thin air

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In some parts of Ethiopia, finding potable water is a six-hour journey.

People in the region spend 40 billion hours a year trying to find and collect water, says a group called the Water Project. And even when they find it, the water is often not safe, collected from ponds or lakes teeming with infectious bacteria, contaminated with animal waste or other harmful substances…

The invention from Arturo Vittori, an industrial designer, and his colleague Andreas Vogler doesn’t involve complicated gadgetry or feats of engineering, but instead relies on basic elements like shape and material and the ways in which they work together.

At first glance, the 30-foot-tall, vase-shaped towers…have the look and feel of a showy art installation. But every detail, from carefully-placed curves to unique materials, has a functional purpose.

The rigid outer housing of each tower is comprised of lightweight and elastic juncus stalks, woven in a pattern that offers stability in the face of strong wind gusts while still allowing air to flow through. A mesh net made of nylon or polypropylene, which calls to mind a large Chinese lantern, hangs inside, collecting droplets of dew that form along the surface. As cold air condenses, the droplets roll down into a container at the bottom of the tower. The water in the container then passes through a tube that functions as a faucet, carrying the water to those waiting on the ground…

So how would Warka Water’s low-tech design hold up in remote sub-Saharan villages? Internal field tests have shown that one Warka Water tower can supply more than 25 gallons of water throughout the course of a day, Vittori claims. He says because the most important factor in collecting condensation is the difference in temperature between nightfall and daybreak, the towers are proving successful even in the desert, where temperatures, in that time, can differ as much as 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

The structures, made from biodegradable materials, are easy to clean and can be erected without mechanical tools in less than a week. Plus, he says, “once locals have the necessary know-how, they will be able to teach other villages and communities to build the Warka.”

It costs about $500 to set up a tower.

Not certain if Vittori’s project is set for donations, yet – but, I’d recommend checking in with the Water Project. Folks at Tekzilla and HD Nation have worked with them in the past.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 14, 2014 at 8:00 am

America’s ten least healthy cities

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smoking, obesity, no exercise

There’s no doubt that great strides have been made in Americans’ health over the years. Americans smoke less, are more likely to be insured and live longer. However, significant health disparities remain across the nation, influenced by individual choices, the community and clinical care.

To determine the well-being of Americans, Gallup-Healthways surveyed hundreds of thousands of Americans in 189 metropolitan areas in the United States in 2012 and 2013. The survey recorded the physical and emotional health of the residents, as well as measuring job satisfaction and access to basic needs. The resulting Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index allows for comparisons between places and over time.

Not surprisingly, the physical health of residents was influenced by their habits. While less than 20% of Americans surveyed were smokers, more than 34% of Charleston, W.Va., residents smoked, the most in the nation. Residents also reported among the highest rates of obesity in the country…

According to Dan Witters, research director for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, there is a clear relationship between poor physical health outcomes, such as obesity, and many of these habits. “When you’re talking about obesity, the big three are healthy eating, exercise, and smoking…”

AMERICA’S LEAST HEALTHY CITIES:

10. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Ark.

9. Spartanburg, S.C.

8. Chattanooga, Tenn.-Ga.

7. Clarksville, Tenn.-Ky.

6. Fort Smith, Ark.-Okla.

5. Redding, Calif.

4. Columbus, Ga.-Ala.

3. Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, Tenn.-Va.

2. Charleston, W.Va.

1. Huntington-Ashland, W.Va.-Ky.-Ohio

RTFA for the depressing details. Each metro area is rated for a physical health index, obesity, blood pressure and poverty rate. Following notes describe contributing factors – without having the courage to confront politics and ideology.

Fact is – nine of these ten unhealthiest cities are in the old [and new] Confederacy. You’re looking at the actual achievements of Tea Party and right-wing Republicans, Blue Dog Democrats and True Believers in fundamentalist religion. This is the reality they offer to Americans gullible enough, ignorant enough to vote them into power.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 13, 2014 at 2:00 pm

E-cigarettes change cells similar to those affected by tobacco

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Electronic cigarettes can change gene expression in a similar way to tobacco, according to one of the first studies to investigate the biological effects of the devices.

Presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting on 6 April in San Diego, California, the research looked at human bronchial cells that contained some mutations found in smokers at risk of lung cancer. The cells were immortalized, grown in culture medium that had been exposed to e-cigarette vapour and their gene expression profiled.

The researchers found that the cells grown in medium exposed to the vapour of e-cigarettes showed a similar pattern of gene expression to those grown in a medium exposed to tobacco smoke…

The changes are not identical, says study researcher Avrum Spira, who works on genomics and lung cancer at Boston University in Massachusetts. But “there are some striking similarities”, he says. The team is now evaluating whether the alterations mean that cells behave more like cancer cells in culture.

I don’t doubt the companies making a buck from this latest tobacco “substitute” will fight to the death to protect their profits. Your death. Their profits.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 11, 2014 at 2:00 am

Addict guilty of killing infant with morphine in her breast milk

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A former nurse was sentenced Friday to 20 years in a South Carolina prison for killing her 6-week-old daughter with breast milk containing high levels of morphine.

Stephanie Greene, 39, of Campobello was convicted Thursday after a three-week trial. She was given 20 years for homicide by child abuse and a total of 10 years on other charges to run concurrently.

Alexis Catherine Greene died in 2010 when she was only 46 days old. A coroner found potentially fatal morphine levels in her system.

Barry Barnette, a prosecutor, said Greene has 39 charges of obtaining prescription drugs fraudulently…

During his closing statement, Barnette told jurors Greene “knew how to work the system” to obtain prescriptions. He said she did not tell the doctors who prescribed her morphine that she was nursing.

She loved her drugs more than she loved her child,” Barnette said.

Jurors deliberated for less than four hours Thursday before returning a guilty verdict. Greene was jailed immediately.

Greene’s defense attorney made what might have been a compelling plea for accidental death saying there are no documented cases of morphine in a nursing mother killing an infant – morphine being available by prescription for nursing mothers. There may be elements of truth in that defense – something any good defense lawyer knows about.

The fact remains Greene was not just relying on prescribed doses from her good old family doctor. She functioned, as far as I’ve been able to learn, like any junkie accumulating her drugs via phony prescriptions and under false pretenses. As a nurse, she knew doctors needed to know she was nursing – and didn’t say a word.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 6, 2014 at 2:00 am

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