Space Coast Daily Healthcare Headlines of the Week

By  //  September 18, 2014

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Topics Include: Enterovirus D68  Spreading; Another Reason To Get a Good Night’s Sleep; Your Health Information May Be Out There On The Internet – and More.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA — Welcome to SpaceCoastDaily’s Healthcare Headlines.

RESPIRATORY ENTEROVIRUS D68 CONTINUES TO SPREAD 

A multistate outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a rare enterovirus called EV D68 is challenging to public health authorities, and at least 21 states are now reporting a “marked increase” in the number of patients, mostly children and teens, who require hospitalization.

Currently, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is reporting 130 cases in twelve states that have been confirmed by its own lab, but says other states have confirmed cases that have not been reported.

There is no specific treatment for enterovirus 68 or any other type of rhinovirus beyond supportive care, which includes fluids, rest, and fever reducer. Most infections are mild with symptoms mirroring the common cold, but those with severe symptoms, such as wheezing, may need hospitalization and intensive supportive therapy, including breathing treatments.

Anyone, especially children with asthma, who begin wheezing along with cold symptoms, should see a physician. (Rudra, ABC News/Good Morning America, 9/14)

HIGH LEVELS OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY LINKED TO HIGHER ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE

Recent research conducted in collaboration with the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) Study out of the University of Eastern Finland and the First Steps Study at the University of Jyväskylä showed that higher levels of physical activity are related to better academic achievement during the first three school years particularly in boys.

recess1The study published in PLOS ONE investigated the relationships of different types of physical activity and sedentary behavior in first grade students to reading and math skills in grades 1–3 among 186 Finnish children. Higher levels of physical activity at recess as well as walking and bicycling to and from school  were related to better reading skills, and participation in organized sports was linked to higher math test scores in grades 1–3.

These study findings highlight the potential of children’s’ physical activity and participation in organized sports in the improvement of their academic performance. (McIntosh, Medical News Today, 9/12)

LACK OF SLEEP MAY SHRINK YOUR BRAIN

Here’s yet another reason to get a good night’s sleep.

A lack of sleep may lead to faster brain shrinkage, especially for those over age 60, according to a study recently published in the medical journal Neurology.

article-1250992-083E2A01000005DC-544_468x324Examining the link between sleep and brain size, European researchers led by Claire Sexton from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom worked with 147 adults ages 20 to 84, 35% of whom had “poor sleep health.” MRI scans performed three and a half years apart revealed more rapid brain volume decline in participants with sleep problems. For those over 60, the results were even more pronounced.

Sexton cautions, “It is not yet known whether poor sleep quality is a cause or consequence of changes in brain structure,” adding that future research must examine whether improving sleep quality slows brain shrinkage. If so, improving sleep habits could lead to better brain health, she says. (Willingham, CNN, 9/4)

DRINK SODA? TAKE 12,000 STEPS

Two studies, one published in May in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise and the other in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition this month, both concluded, not surprisingly, that consuming fructose-laden (non-diet) soda on a regular basis increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular health problems.

woman-drinking-sodaHowever, in both studies, walking at least 12,000 steps a day effectively negated all of the disagreeable cholesterol and health profile changes wrought by the extra fructose. When the young people moved more, their cholesterol and blood sugar levels remained normal, even though they were consuming a high load of fructose every day.

If you’re determined to have that one or two daily Dr. Peppers, then you might want to consider taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away from work or the store, starting an exercise program and generally just getting up off of your backside on a regular basis to mitigate the health risks of fructose. (Reynolds, New York Times, 9/10)

ARE YOU SHARING YOUR HEALTH INFORMATION WITH EVERYONE ON THE INTERNET?

Beware of sharing your health information through online or mailed surveys or by providing feedback through customer reviews lest your medical history and pharmacy purchases end up on internet directories or lists categorized by your personal diagnosis, symptoms and medications.

big_data-620x412Data mining companies are using social media websites, health-related mobile applications, and medical websites to collect health information on tens of millions of U.S. residents, Bloomberg reports. That information then is sold at about $0.15 per name to data brokers that repackage and resell the data.

In February, Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-Va.) introduced a bill that would allow individuals to see what data companies have collected on them and make it easier for consumers to opt out of being included in such directories, and in May, the Federal Trade Commission recommended that Congress place tighter restrictions on data mining of health care and other sensitive information to ensure consumers are aware of the information being shared.

However, Bloomberg reports that data mining firms argue that the information they sell is secure and only includes data that consumers want to share with marketers. (Pettypiece/Robertson, Bloomberg, 9/11).

NEARLY HALF A MILLION ACA ENROLLEES IN JEOPARDY OF LOSING COVERAGE OR SUBSIDIES  

The New York Times reports that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on Tuesday that nearly half a million people could lose subsidies or health insurance coverage they obtained through the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare).

imgres A total of 478,000 face a change of coverage. 363,000 are at risk of losing their premium subsidies due to an inability to verify income, and, because people living in the U.S. illegally are not allowed to participate in Obamacare subsidies, 115,000 more are in jeopardy of having their policies canceled because they have not proven their immigration status.

Federal authorities have been working for months to resolve both backlogs. (Pear, New York Times, 9/16)


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