Category Archives: Health Archive

FDA warns of massive diabetes test strip recall

The Food and Drug Administration is warning patients with diabetes about a recall of up to 62 million glucose test strips used to measure blood sugar levels that can show incorrect, abnormally high blood sugar readings.

Nova Diabetes Care announced the recall Friday. An incorrect reading could potentially lead to dangerous medication errors for patients. The strips covered by the recall are marketed under the brand names Nova Max Blood Glucose Test Strips and Nova Max Plus Glucose Meter Kits. The recall affects certain lots of the strips distributed in the U.S., Canada, Chile, Peru, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and a half-dozen other countries. Nova Diabetes Care sells them through retail stores and websites.


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Watermelon Juice Prevents Aching Muscles

Before taking a long bike ride on a hot summer day, have some watermelon: The juicy fruit may ward off muscle pains. Researchers report that people who drank watermelon juice before exercising felt less sore the next day than those who drank a pink placebo beverage (J. Agric. Food Chem. 2013, DOI: 10.1021/jf400964r). They also found that cells absorb the presumed active ingredient, L-citrulline, more readily from unpasteurized watermelon juice than from plain water spiked with the compound, suggesting the natural source is the optimal delivery medium.


L-citrulline is an uncommon amino acid that, until recently, hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, says Encarna Aguayo of the Technical University of Cartagena in Spain. Scientists now recognize that L-citrulline has antioxidant properties and may enhance athletic performance, she says. For example, studies have shown that L-citrulline in supplement form accelerates removal of lactic acid from muscles, allowing for more intense training and faster recovery. Watermelon is one of the few natural foods with an abundance of L-citrulline, so Aguayo wanted to test whether the fruit’s juice could function as a sports drink.


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Legal Fight Darkens Leading AIDS Website

A rift between board members who organize the largest annual HIV/AIDS meeting in North America has led to its heavily used website going dark in early July and confusion about where the conference will take place in 2014.


The 20-year-old Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) attracts up to 4000 researchers from around the world, and its website—a rich archive of abstracts, webcasts, and podcasts—has become a go-to spot for researchers, community advocates, historians, and journalists. The nonprofit CROI Foundation and the for-profit CROI LLC put the meeting on, and the dispute involves a falling-out between the two groups. “I’m not allowed by our confidentially agreement to divulge anything,” says CROI Foundation Board President Constance Benson, an HIV/AIDS researcher at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). “We reached an impasse this past couple of years over several issues and decided we needed to go in a different direction.”


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What’s the Fairest Way to Dispense Donated Organs?

For the past 60 years, doctors have been able to take an organ from one person and transplant it into another. The practice got off to a bumpy start, sometimes extending lives for only days, rather than the years we now expect. But it was soon prey to its own success: By the 1980s, there clearly weren’t enough organs to go around. Hospitals needed ways to decide who would live and who would die, and early criteria included a tally of who had been in the hospital the longest and notions of “social worth”—income, education, community standing.


The case of Sarah Murnaghan shows how far we’ve come since then. The 10-year-old has cystic fibrosis, and she wasn’t likely to survive without a new set of lungs. Transplant ethics now aim to maximize utility—assessors try to calculate the “transplant benefit measure,” or additional days of life a recipient could have—rather than to practice social Darwinism. But only for adults. While Murnaghan had her whole life ahead of her, the rules also aim to reduce the risk of wasted organs, so she wasn’t eligible to receive an adult lung that might not take. When her family, state politicians, and a judge intervened on her behalf, they became part of the long struggle to find a scientific sweet spot between urgency and outcomes—and highlighted how far we’ve come since the former ruled the day.


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Rising incidence of whooping cough leads Missouri to offer dangerous vaccine for free

According to a front page article of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, dated July 17, 2013, Missourians are being offered a free Tdap vaccine in July to protect them against the reported rising incidence of pertussis or “whooping cough.” The vaccine is being offered to residents aged 11 and older.  It is reported that “the Tdap vaccine is a single vaccination that prevents tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.” The cause of the rising incidence of whooping cough is reported to be related to the vaccine wearing off if given more than ten years earlier. According to the report, more than 41,000 pertussis cases occurred across the United States in 2012, compared to 18,719 cases in 2011.

The news story emphasizes the dangers of whooping cough and diphtheria, which can lead to death, and tetanus, which can cause intense muscle spasms, but it fails to mention the serious health risks associated with the Tdap vaccinations or the important fact that vaccines have never been proven to prevent any disease. The risks that whooping cough, diphtheria and tetanus pose to health are low compared to the potential, serious dangers reported as a result of this vaccine. Whooping cough can be treated successfully through a vitamin C protocol developed by Dr. Suzanne Humphries which has been shown to greatly reduce symptoms.


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AP: Actually, Obamacare's Exchanges Won't 'Operate Like Travelocity' After All

You don’t say.  Another Obamacare distortion goes boom.  No, not the “you can keep your doctor” charade; the repeated-ad-nauseam “it’ll be like Travelocity” one.  The Associated Press reports:


You may have heard that shopping for health insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul will be like using Travelocity or Amazon. But many people will end up with something more mundane than online shopping, like a call to the help desk. Struggling with a deadline crunch, some states are delaying online tools that could make it easier for consumers to find the right plan when the markets go live on Oct. 1. Ahead of open enrollment for millions of uninsured Americans, the feds and the states are investing in massive call centers. “The description that this was going to be like Travelocity was a very simplistic way of looking at it,” said Christine Ferguson, director of the Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange.


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The Wave Hiking Area Claims Third Victim in a Month

The Wave is a forbidding yet beautiful desert area of south Utah that has claimed its third hiking victim this month. The latest hiker to die in the searingly hot wilderness was a 27-year-old woman who succumbed on Monday during what was planned as a day hike.


Elisabeth Ann Berval, 27, of Mesa, Ariz., died while hiking with her husband on the sandstone mountain that is popular with photographers and hikers, but where temperatures often reach 100 degrees and trails are unmarked. It was the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary, ABC affiliate KTVX reported. Bervel and her husband were on their return trip when they got lost. Her husband went ahead to get help, but when he returned Berval was in cardiac arrest. Heat exhaustion is the expected cause, according to KTVX.


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The continuing drama that is “the best health care in the world”

I’m still dealing with the ongoing drama of coordinating my dad’s medical care – he just got a feeding tube put in, as he stopped eating and drinking as a result of recent oral cancer surgery (and as a result of the delirium, post-surgery, that’s been going on for a good month+ now, and that no doctor bothered running tests until we demanded it yesterday) – and the absurdity of the fact that it doesn’t entirely seem clear if any of his doctors is actually in charge. So, my posting is going to be a bit off this week, and already has been.  Sorry in advance (and after the fact).


At some point, I will do some longer posts about all of this, as I find it fascinating – and horrifying – that my dad has some of the best health insurance in America, as a former corporate executive back in the days when health insurance was really good, yet, the roadblocks to care that we’re finding, you’d think he was the first elderly man in existence to have a medical condition.


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Schizophrenia may give early warnings

Changes in brain function may foreshadow schizophrenia as early as puberty, nearly a decade before most patients begin showing obvious symptoms, new research from the University of North Carolina shows. Researchers in Chapel Hill looked at brain scans of 42 children, some as young as 9, who had close relatives with schizophrenia. They saw that many of the children already had areas of the brain that were “hyper-activated” in response to emotional stimulation and tasks that required decision-making, said Aysenil Belger, associate professor of psychiatry at the UNC School of Medicine and lead author of the study.



“These children are trying extra hard to do something that other children are able to do without so much effort,” Belger said.Belger said her team’s findings could help establish an earlier diagnosis of the brain disease and ultimately point to techniques for offsetting or minimizing disease progression. “We are interested in seeing if we can find some way to intervene,” Belger added.


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Gov. Jindal Outlines the Republican Case for Rejecting Medicaid Expansion

Since the Supreme Court made taking part in the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act optional, several Republican governors and state legislatures have decided to reject it. One of the most prominent governors to reject the expansion was Bobby Jindal (R-LA) who recently wrote an op-ed defending his decision.


First, as a general principle, we should not move people from private insurance onto government-run programs. It seems a matter of common sense that we should want to encourage self-sufficiency and target taxpayer spending only for those most in need. But Medicaid expansion would have moved up to 171,000 Louisianians off private insurance and stopped another 77,000 people from obtaining private insurance. To cover 214,000 low-income uninsured people in Louisiana, Obamacare would add more than twice that number – more than 450,000 people – to the Medicaid rolls. This makes no sense. The Obama administration has denied multiple requests to target expansion, impose stricter anti-crowd out policies, require more robust cost sharing, allow flexibility on benefit design or the use of premium assistance, or otherwise mitigate this unnecessary displacement from the private sector to the public sector.


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