Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rachael Ray Pushes for Child Nutrition Programs

A new bill announced Thursday with the help of Food Network star and TV talk show host Rachael Ray was established to prevent hunger in America's children and provide better nutrition in school and out.
The proposed $8 billion bill would improve access and funding to school meal programs, improve access to out-of-school meal programs, help schools and child care improve the quality of meals and encourage public and private partnerships to improve child nutrition and wellness.
"I really think teaching a child good nutrition and the basics of cooking gives them the skills they need for self esteem and for security for the rest of their lives," said Ray. "The difference an apple or a good school lunch makes to these kids is more than just keeping them focused in class, you know, it literally is everything." The food Network guru strongly believes in a healthy relationship with food helps to empower children and their families in doing so through her nonprofit organization, Yum-O!
Many thanks go to the first lady as lawmakers praised first Michelle Obama for her hard work to combat childhood obesity through the Let’s Move program. She introduced to the legislation to stay in line with the goal to reduce childhood obesity, improve school wellness, implement new school food safety guidelines, and involve families and local communities. This is all part of President Obama’s goal to end childhood hunger by 2015.
Rachael Ray has made many trips to Washington, D.C. to urge lawmakers to improve child nutrition and end hunger. Ray said, “Today will mark the first day that we will end hunger for our kids and improve nutrition. Not many of us know what it would be like to close our eyes and be hungry. Imagine being a child and imagine what it’s like to truly be hungry.”
Ray made sure to point out ways to address the lack of healthy food options available to low income families. She mentioned planting gardens, whether on school grounds, or even on an abandoned piece of land. Ray also said that she talks to families all of the time that go to co-ops or a farmer’s market - wherever they can go to get healthy nutritious foods and stock up. Ray noted that education is essential. “You can go to any grocery store where you would have dried beans and a whole chicken. You gotta just learn some basic skills."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Unpredictable Weather Brings Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Risks

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is urging residents to be aware of the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning when using alternative sources of power during an outage.
Due to recent weather-related power outages, Michigan residents are asked to be extra vigilant as they compensate for the lost power.
If not used safely, gas-powered generators, kerosene heaters or other alternative heating or power sources can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Residents are encouraged to seek shelter with friends, family, or at a community shelter as a safer alternative.
Carbon monoxide is an invisible, tasteless, and odorless gas formed when fuel is burned. Carbon monoxide can build up to deadly levels within minutes in enclosed spaces and can only be detected with a carbon monoxide detector.
Warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include flu-like symptoms without the fever: headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause coma and death. Every year, hundreds of people in Michigan are hospitalized and 15 to 20 die as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.
To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning when the power is out:
- NEVER run a generator inside your house or in your garage, and keep it away from windows and doors. (If theft is a concern, lock it to a tree or fence.)
- NEVER use charcoal or propane grills or camp stoves indoors.
- Do not use portable heaters powered by propane or kerosene indoors.
- Always turn off your vehicle in the garage.
- Place a carbon monoxide detector in the hallway outside bedrooms in all sleeping areas.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Colder the Weather The Higher the Risk for Heart Attack

Scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have completed a study that suggests cold weather means a bigger increase for heart attack.
People aged between 75 and 84 and those with a previous history of heart disease appeared to be more vulnerable to the effects of colder conditions, while those taking aspirin were less susceptible. They examined data on 84,010 hospital admissions for heart attack recorded in the Myocardial Ischaemia National Audit Project (MINAP) during 2003-2006, and daily temperatures from the British Atmospheric Data Centre, focusing on 15 geographical areas in England and Wales.
What researchers found was that a 1°C drop in average daily temperature was linked to a cumulative 2% increase in risk of heart attack for 28 days. The highest risk was within two weeks of exposure.
In an accompanying editorial, Dr Paola Michelozzi and Manuela De Sario, of the Lazio Region Department of Epidemiology in Rome, wrote: "Heat and cold exposure affect people with cardiovascular diseases and increase the incidence of coronary events with high impact on short term mortality. Moreover, while the effect of cold on myocardial inffection is well documented, the short-term effect of heat is still contradictory but cannot be disregarded.”
The team further wrote in their report that, “Clinicians should be aware that exposure to environmental heat and cold is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and should consider this in risk prevention and management, and efforts should be especially directed towards most vulnerable individuals identified by a multiplicity of risk factors."
The British Heart Foundation suggests the study showed that those at risk of a heart attack during cold weather should take precautions. Simple thing such as wrapping up warm and always wearing a hat to minimize body heat loss through the head.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Senate Failures To Address Medicare Physician Payment Cuts

The American Academy of Family Physicians is dismayed and deeply disappointed that the U.S. Senate has failed in its responsibility to enact legislation to prevent a 10.6 percent cut in Medicare physician payment that took effect on July 1.
The impact of this failure goes beyond the medical community; it threatens Medicare beneficiaries’ access to health care because it further drives family physicians toward financial insolvency. Access problems for these patients are emerging. In its 2007 presentation to Congress, MedPAC reported that 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries were having trouble finding a new primary care physician. In March, the Medical Group Management Association reported that nearly 24 percent of physicians in all specialties had begun limiting or not accepting new Medicare patients; 46 percent would limit or stop accepting new Medicare patients with implementation of the 10.6 percent pay cut.
Family physicians have worked tirelessly on behalf of Medicare patients. Despite those efforts, family physicians have struggled with 20 percent inflation in costs for office space, equipment, supplies, health and administrative staff, medical liability insurance and other costs of business since 2001. During that time, their Medicare compensation for their services has stagnated. No small business – as most family physician practices are – can sustain that kind of loss and remain open to care for people.
It is unconscionable that our elected officials – who were sent to Washington to represent the needs of the American public – cannot act to ensure access to care for millions of their elderly and disabled constituents.
The Senate must get back to work and find a solution that will allow family physicians to serve their Medicare patients. Of all their constituents, elderly and disabled Americans are least able to cope with the instability that Congressional inaction forces on their access to health care.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Botox, More Than a Wrinkle Eraser

Botox®, the neurotoxin that is best known for its ability to temporarily erase wrinkles and frown lines, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for medical purposes more than a decade before it was approved for cosmetic reasons (Botox® Cosmetic). Since Botox was first approved as a treatment for several eye conditions in 1989, it has been used to treat a wide variety of medical conditions ranging from excessive sweating to migraine, cerebral palsy, postsurgical pain, bladder spasms, and dystonia.
The recent death of Kristen Spears, whose family says the seven-year-old died as the result of an overdose of Botox that she received to treat her cerebral palsy, has lifted the neurotoxin into the spotlight once again. This controversial drug uses a powerful poison called botulinum toxin, which is derived from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It is a nerve blocker that binds to the nerves that lead to the muscles and prevents the release of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which activates muscle contractions. When the signals are blocked, muscle spasms are reduced significantly.
Medical Uses of Botox
Botulinum toxin has been studied for decades for its therapeutic properties, and it has been used to treat patients for various conditions for 20 years in 80 countries. In the United States, Botox has been FDA approved for a limited number of conditions, although the drug can be legally prescribed by doctors for additional medical uses as well (off-label use), including cerebral palsy.
In the 1950s, scientists first discovered that the active ingredient in Botox could relieve muscle spasms. Several decades of research ensued, and in 1989, the FDA approved botulinum toxin to treat blepharospasm (eyelid spasms) and strabismus (crossed eyes or lazy eye) in adults. Blepharospasm is an abnormal, involuntary blinking or spasms of the eyelid. Most people develop the condition without any warning symptoms, and may also experience sensitivity to light, fatigue, and emotional tension. Botox provides improvement in about 15 percent of cases.
People with strabismus experience double vision, loss of depth perception, eye fatigue, reading difficulty, and blurry vision. Treatment with Botox can relax the muscles for several months and may even permanently cause a change in eye alignment. Botox is not indicated for treatment of strabismus in children.
Botox was then approved by the FDA in 2000 for treatment of cervical dystonia. This condition, also known as spasmodic torticollis, is characterized by involuntary contracting of the neck muscles and sometimes the shoulders, which causes abnormal movements and awkward posture of the head and neck. It is associated with considerable pain and discomfort, and can severely limit an individual’s ability to perform everyday tasks, such as eating, getting dressed, or driving.
In 2002, Botox Cosmetic was approved for reduction of frown lines, and a drug that was formerly relatively unknown by the general public reached star status. In 2004, individuals who suffer with excessive underarm sweating that does not respond to topical medications had a new FDA-approved treatment option when Botox was approved for axillary hyperhydrosis. The excessive sweating is caused by over stimulation of the sweat glands in the autonomic system, and Botox inhibits the activity of the nerves responsible.
In addition to FDA-approved uses for Botox, the drug is also sometimes prescribed for treatment of migraine, chronic pelvic pain, overactive bladder, pain following mastectomy, and tinnitus. A recent article published in the Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy reviewed clinical trials that used Botox in a variety of migraine patients, for example, found that the neurotoxin produced mixed results but has provided good relief for some patients.
In the case of postsurgical mastectomy pain, Julio Hockberg, MD, professor and chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at West Virginia University, found that women who received Botox injections for pain control required 89 percent less morphine during the first 24 hours after surgery and had shorter hospital stays. Other general surgeons also sometimes use Botox for pain management following surgery.