Health briefs (07.31.16)
Free talk on healthy eating tips (Sponsored by Backcountry Herbal Apothecary)
Join Lake County Youth and Family “Build a Generation” for a free talk in Leadville on Monday, Aug. 1 from 6-8 p.m. Dr. Justin Pollack, ND, will discuss the topic “Food as Medicine.” The talk will include affordable, easy and fast ways to get veggies and fruits in, which is good for lowering inflammation (arthritis, asthma, etc), lowering weight and diabetes risk, preventing brain degeneration and cancer, and promoting healthy aging. For more information, please contact Shoshanah Beck, food access coordinator/youth and family organizer of Lake County Build a Generation by email email@example.com or by phone at (719) 486-4114.
Mosquitoes suspected in 2 new mysterious Florida Zika cases
NEW YORK — Florida health officials are investigating two more mysterious cases of Zika infection that do not appear to be related to travel, bringing the total to four.
The cases have raised the possibility that mosquitoes in the U.S. have begun to spread the virus. Florida officials say they are still looking into the cases and have not come to a conclusion.
The four cases are in neighboring Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
The cases fit a similar pattern seen when mosquito-borne clusters of two other tropical infections, dengue fever and chikungunya, occurred in Florida in the past, according to Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The virus is mainly spread by mosquitoes, as well as sex. So far, the 1,400 infections reported in the U.S. have been linked to travel to countries with Zika outbreaks in Latin America or the Caribbean.
Zika causes only a mild illness in most people. But scientists recently confirmed that infection during pregnancy can lead to severe brain-related birth defects.
The tropical mosquito that spreads Zika and other viruses is also found in the southern U.S. Health officials have predicted that mosquitoes in the U.S. would begin spreading Zika this summer and have mobilized to keep it from spreading beyond isolated clusters.
To reverse damage of sitting, take a brisk, hour-long walk
LONDON — If you spend all day sitting, then you might want to schedule some time for a brisk walk — just make sure you can spare at least an hour.
Scientists analyzing data from more than 1 million people found that it takes about 60 to 75 minutes of “moderate intensity” exercise to undo the damage of sitting for at least eight hours a day. Not exercising and sitting all day is as dangerous as being obese or smoking, they found.
And the added risk of parking yourself in front of a television for 5 hours or more a day after sitting at the office is so high even the hour of exercise is not enough to reverse the damage.
It has been long suspected that sitting a lot, at work or at home, is not healthy. Previous studies have found that prolonged sitting can raise the chances of heart disease, various cancers and an earlier death.
In the new research , experts combed through 13 papers with data on factors including how long people spend sitting, their physical activity levels and their television-watching habits. The majority of studies included people older than age 45. All except one were done in the U.S., Western Europe and Australia.
Researchers found that people with the highest levels of moderate physical activity — 60 to 75 minutes daily — erased the higher risk of death linked to being seated for more than eight hours a day. But even that exercise regime was not enough to counter the hazards of also watching more than five hours of television a day.
The study’s conclusions suggest that current guidelines from the World Health Organization — which recommend 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day — may not be enough to offset the dangers of sitting.
Medicare prepares to go forward with new hospital quality ratings
Despite objections from Congress and the hospital industry, the Obama administration said it will soon publish star ratings summing up the quality of 3,662 hospitals. Nearly half will be rated as average, and hospitals that serve the poor will not score as well overall as will other hospitals, according to government figures released Thursday.
The government says the ratings, which will award between one and five stars to each hospital, will be more useful to consumers than its current mishmash of more than 100 individual metrics, many of which deal with technical matters. The hospital industry, however, fears the ratings will be misleading and oversimplify the many types of care at the institutions.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said it would release the ratings “shortly.” In a preemptive effort to rebut criticisms, it noted its analysis showed “hospitals of all types are capable of performing well on star ratings and also have opportunities for improvement.”
The stars are based on 64 individual measures of hospitals that are already public on the government’s Hospital Compare website. Those include mortality rates, the number of re-admissions, patient opinions, infection rates and frequency of medical scans like MRIs.
Medicare said that based on its current data, 102 hospitals would receive the best rating of five stars, 934 would get four stars, 1,770 would receive three stars, 723 would be awarded two-stars and 133 would get the lowest rating of one star. Another 937 hospitals would not be rated because the government did not have enough data to properly evaluate them.
— The Associated Press and Backcountry Herbal Apothecary
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