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Paying Pregnant Women to Stop Smoking Pays Off

Wave­break Media(ATLANTA) — Most women under­stand the per­ils of smok­ing while preg­nant yet many women con­tinue to light up any­way, which can affect their health and the well-being of their fetus.

The prob­lem is more per­va­sive than one might imag­ine. In fact, the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion reports that one out of 10 preg­nant women still smokes within the last three months of pregnancy.

Smok­ing ces­sa­tion pro­grams directed at preg­nant women have had some degree of suc­cess but a research team of sci­en­tists from the U.K. says that an espe­cially effec­tive approach is to bribe the women with shop­ping vouchers.

In their study of more than 600 preg­nant smok­ers, one group received the equiv­a­lent of $600 worth of vouch­ers, pro­vided they started ces­sa­tion pro­grams and/or stopped smok­ing. The other group signed up for pro­grams and other ther­a­pies but weren’t given vouchers.

Ulti­mately, 23 per­cent of the voucher group quit right away and 15 per­cent were still off cig­a­rettes a year later. The con­trol group was not as suc­cess­ful with nine per­cent hav­ing stopped smok­ing and just four per­cent stay­ing smoke-free 12 months later.

Eth­i­cal con­cerns aside, the researchers believe the cash incen­tive pro­gram should at least be con­sid­ered as “an impor­tant pre­ven­tive health care inter­ven­tion strategy.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Half of Seniors Reluctant to Reveal Falls to Doctors

Purestock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — There’s no shame in falling down, par­tic­u­larly if you’re a senior. The real shame is not telling a med­ical pro­fes­sional about it.

Accord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, over half of the mil­lions of peo­ple aged 65 and older who fall annu­ally fail to tell their per­sonal physi­cian about it.

Penn State Uni­ver­sity inter­nal med­i­cine spe­cial­ist Dr. Nicole Ose­vala says the rea­son is that many seniors are wor­ried that reveal­ing their unsteadi­ness is a pre­cur­sor to get­ting put in assisted liv­ing or a nurs­ing home. Another con­cern of the elderly is that they don’t want their fam­ily mem­bers fuss­ing over them.

How­ever, Ose­vala says that seniors need to get over their fears because their doc­tor might be able to treat the source of their unsteadi­ness, which could result from osteoarthri­tis and nerve dam­age or even infec­tions of the skin or uri­nary tract. Some med­ica­tions such as blood pres­sure drugs or anti­de­pres­sants can also increase the risk of falls.

Accord­ing to Ose­vala, seniors also need to rec­og­nize that they might have lim­i­ta­tions that means fewer trips up and down stairs.

One other impor­tant point is that a fall can make older peo­ple more sus­cep­ti­ble to another fall so they really need to come clean to their doctors.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


One in 12 Americans Don't Follow Prescription Medication Directions in Effort to Save Money

Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — New data pro­vided by the U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion shows that one in 12 Amer­i­cans choose not to take pre­scrip­tion med­ica­tion as directed to save money.

Eight per­cent of Amer­i­cans, the CDC says, do not take pre­scrip­tion med­i­cine as directed in an effort to save money. An even larger 15 per­cent said they have asked their physi­cian for a lower-cost med­ica­tion than what was pre­scribed for them.

The CDC also notes that alter­na­tive cost-reducing strate­gies includ­ing alter­na­tive drug ther­apy and pur­chase of pre­scrip­tion drugs from another coun­try were also tac­tics employed by between 1.5 per­cent and 4.2 per­cent of Amer­i­can adults.

Adults between the ages of 18 and 64 were nearly twice as likely — 8.5 per­cent to 4.4 per­cent — to report not tak­ing med­i­cines as pre­scribed as seniors were, a fig­ure that jumped when look­ing at unin­sured adults.

Per­haps just as stag­ger­ing is almost 20 per­cent of the $263 bil­lion spent on pre­scrip­tion drugs each year in the U.S. was paid for out of pocket.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Cat Gets Oxygen Mask After Surviving Fire Inside Wall

Mike Wat­son Images/moodboard/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — Fire­fight­ers out­side Char­lotte, North Car­olina, were nearly done bat­tling a house fire burn­ing for more than four hours when one of them said they dis­cov­ered a cat who mirac­u­lously sur­vived the mas­sive inferno stuck in a wall.

One of our guys was walk­ing around the house, which was almost com­pletely col­lapsed, when he heard a meow,” Mint Hill Fire Chief David Leath told ABC News Wednes­day. “He pried one of the out­side walls and found the cat stuck inside.”

The fire­fighter got the feline Marissa out and gave it oxy­gen through a mask and tank from one of the ambu­lances on the scene.

The cat was then taken to a local vet,” Leath said. “I paid a visit today, and it was meow­ing still and every­thing. The vet said she’s on a 24-hour watch and she was doing well. The cat is expected to recover from smoke inhala­tion, a cou­ple burn marks and an injured eye.”


Mint Hill Fire saves fam­ily cat Marissa from fire. She’s doing alright accord­ing to Sycamore Ani­mal Clinic @wcnc

— Dustin Wil­son (@dustinbwilson1) Jan­u­ary 28, 2015

Marissa the cat belonged to a 16-year-old daugh­ter of the fam­ily who lived in the house, accord­ing to Leath. He said the fam­ily fled the fire and never returned, and that he was unsure of the family’s cur­rent location.

The house fire occurred in Mint Hill around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The family’s eldest son noticed the fire and called emer­gency ser­vices,” Leath said. He added that the fire was caused by a vehi­cle fire in the dri­ve­way that got up into the attic. He said there was still an ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion as to what caused the vehi­cle fire.



Mint Hill, NC (Meck) *Work­ing Fire+* overnight fire in lrg house. Pet res­cued. @IdlewildVFD img #NCfire

— (@FireNews) Jan­u­ary 28, 2015

For a cat to be inside that struc­ture fire for four hours, I’d say that’s pretty mirac­u­lous,” Leath told ABC News.


Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Organ Transplants Could Provide Two Million Extra Years of Life, Researchers Say

targovcom/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Organ trans­plants in the United States may lead to as many as two mil­lion extra years of life, researchers say.

Look­ing at data since the FDA first approved solid-organ trans­plants in 1983, researchers say they deter­mined the sur­vival ben­e­fit of organ trans­plants by com­par­ing patients on the trans­plant list who received a trans­plant to those who did not receive a trans­plant over a 25-year span. Dur­ing that time frame, kid­ney trans­plants were most com­mon, fol­lowed by liver, heart, lung, pan­creas and intes­tine transplants.

Researchers attrib­uted 1.4 mil­lion life-years saved to kid­ney trans­plants. In their mea­sure­ments, they deter­mined that kid­ney, pancreas-kidney, liver and heart trans­plants give recip­i­ents an extra four to five years of life. Com­par­a­tively, lung, pan­creas and intes­tine trans­plants pro­vided patients with two to three more life-years.

Over­all, all trans­plant recip­i­ents lived sig­nif­i­cantly longer than those who did not receive a trans­plant, researchers say.

The researchers did note that trans­plant recip­i­ents are inten­tion­ally selected to pri­or­i­tize those who could ben­e­fit the most from avail­able organs. They say they attempted to account for that sta­tis­ti­cal bias with their analyses.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Study: Insurers May Be Using Drug Costs to Discriminate

Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A study in the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Med­i­cine claims that insur­ers may be using the costs of cer­tain drugs to dis­crim­i­nate against “high-cost patients.”

Researchers ana­lyzed “adverse tier­ing” in 12 states using the fed­eral health insur­ance mar­ket­place. Of those 12 states, six states included insur­ers cited in a com­plaint sub­mit­ted to the Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices in May 2014 (Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Michi­gan, South Car­olina and Utah), and the six most pop­u­lous states with none of the men­tioned insur­ers (Illi­nois, New Jer­sey, Ohio, Penn­syl­va­nia, Texas and Virginia).

Adverse tier­ing, the researchers explain, is an approach that aims to deter spe­cific patients from enrolling in health insur­ance, for exam­ple, by ensur­ing that “enrollees with HIV will incur high costs regard­less of which drugs they take.”

In each state, researchers looked at the plans with the low­est, second-lowest, median and high­est pre­mi­ums for the “sil­ver” level health insur­ance, assess­ing the cost shar­ing for the most com­monly pre­scribed class of HIV med­ica­tions. In 12 of the 48 plans ana­lyzed, the researchers say they found evi­dence of adverse tiering.

This prob­lem, the researchers say, “will most likely lead to adverse selec­tion over time, with sicker peo­ple clus­ter­ing in plans that don’t use adverse tier­ing for their med­ical conditions.”

The researchers rec­om­mend man­dat­ing a per­cent­age of drug costs paid by the plan to be set at a per­cent­age threshold.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


California Dept. of Public Health Calls E-Cigarettes a 'Community Health Threat'

scyther5/iStock/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — A report issued by the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health on Wednes­day calls elec­tronic cig­a­rettes a “com­mu­nity health threat.”

CDPH Direc­tor and State Health Office Ron Chap­man wrote the intro­duc­tion to the report, high­light­ing his con­cerns regard­ing mar­ket­ing meth­ods that “may…mislead con­sumers into believ­ing that these prod­ucts are harm­less and safe for con­sump­tion.” Chap­man noted that there were 154 e-cigarette poi­son­ings among chil­dren age five and under in 2014 — well up from the seven such poi­son­ings in 2012.

Chap­man also men­tioned the $2 bil­lion, 25-year invest­ment in efforts to pre­vent and reduce tobacco use in California.

Accord­ing to the report, e-cigarettes con­tain prod­ucts that pro­duce aerosol — not just water vapor — to be inhaled by the user. That aerosol can con­tain chem­i­cals like formalde­hyde, lead, nickel and acetalde­hyde, which are found on California’s list of chem­i­cals known to cause can­cer, birth defects and repro­duc­tive harm.

The CDPH made sev­eral rec­om­men­da­tions to restrict the sale and use of e-cigarettes, among them were the pro­hi­bi­tion of e-cigarette sales to minors around the U.S., pro­hi­bi­tion of free sam­ples or e-cigarette vend­ing machines in facil­i­ties where minors may spend time, and required reg­is­tra­tion of e-cigarette prod­ucts with the U.S. Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion. The CDPH also aims to require a nico­tine health warn­ing on all e-cigarette prod­ucts, while also man­dat­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers dis­close the ingre­di­ents of their product.

The CDPH fur­ther says it will cre­ate an edu­ca­tions cam­paign to impart the health dan­gers of e-cigarettes.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


How Doctors, Parents May Be Contributing to Rise of Measles

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Med­ical experts con­sid­ered measles essen­tially erad­i­cated in this coun­try thanks to large scale vac­ci­na­tion. But with at least 64 con­firmed cases of measles this month, the dis­ease seems on pace to have its worst year in nearly two decades.

Many young doc­tors are slow to rec­og­nize measles and may not real­ize its poten­tial dan­gers, said Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and med­ical edi­tor. This may have con­tributed to the cur­rent out­breaks at Dis­ney­land in Cal­i­for­nia and in 11 other states and Mex­ico, he said.

Pedi­a­tri­cians who have never seen the measles tend to under­value the vac­ci­na­tion and it’s con­cern­ing they may miss a child with measles,” Besser said, adding that he, him­self, hasn’t seen a case in more than 20 years.

Ear­lier this week, an infec­tious dis­ease spe­cial­ist at Children’s Hos­pi­tal of Philadel­phia echoed that thought in an essay in the jour­nal Annals of Inter­nal Med­i­cine. In the opin­ion piece, Dr. Julia Shak­lee Sam­mons implored doc­tors to become more famil­iar with measles symp­toms now that infec­tions from the virus are on the rise.

It is essen­tial that providers main­tain a high level of sus­pi­cion for measles…and are able to rec­og­nize its clin­i­cal fea­tures,” she wrote.

Peo­ple infected with measles are highly con­ta­gious for at least four days before symp­toms includ­ing fever, pink eye and a tell­tale rash appear. Unfor­tu­nately, these are also symp­toms of many other com­mon dis­eases, Besser said, which is why it’s so hard to diag­nose — and why it’s essen­tial to rec­og­nize it early.

Par­ents who delay or refuse vac­ci­na­tions for their chil­dren may also con­tribute to the rise of measles infec­tions, Besser said.

Many coun­ties in Cal­i­for­nia, for exam­ple, are below the 92 per­cent vac­ci­na­tion rate required for “herd immu­nity” the thresh­old of vac­ci­nated indi­vid­u­als needed to pro­tect even those who don’t receive the vac­ci­na­tion, accord­ing to state health offi­cials. The opt-out rate for vac­ci­na­tions has dou­bled in the past seven years.

There’s dis­cred­ited sci­ence link­ing vac­cines to autism. As a par­ent and pedi­a­tri­cian, there’s no con­cern with the vac­cine. What hap­pens is that when a vac­cine works really well, like the measles vac­cine, peo­ple think they don’t need it and then it comes back and we see these kinds of cycles,” he said.

Besser noted that one year before the intro­duc­tion of the measles vac­cine in 1962, there were 481,530 reported cases nation­wide. In 2004, there were 37 cases, accord­ing to the U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion. That num­ber has been creep­ing up steadily each year.

The CDC rec­om­mends all chil­dren get two doses of the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vac­cine, start­ing with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the sec­ond dose at 4 through 6 years of age. The agency and most other med­ical orga­ni­za­tions state that the vac­ci­na­tion has led to a 99 per­cent reduc­tion in cases of the measles in the U.S.

Measles can be a deadly dis­ease, Besser stressed.

Before we began vac­ci­nat­ing, 500 peo­ple died a year from measles and it’s still one of the biggest global killers of chil­dren,” Besser said.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.