Testing It Up

Pediatricians Call for Later School Start Times for Teenagers

Do you have a teenager who likes to sleep in? Well, here’s some good news for him or her: the American Academy of Pediatrics says school start times for teenagers should be pushed back so they don’t interfere with teens’ biological sleep rhythms.” is ur teen using

The physicians group has recommended that middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

High school days can start as early as 7 a.m. in some places and, according to the group, only 15% of American middle and high schools start after 8:30 a.m.

The problem, doctors say, is that teenagers are biologically programmed to feel sleepy later at night and thus, they have trouble going to bed early and then getting up early for school.

Other factors that contribute to sleepy teens include sports and activities and late-night technology use, the pediatricians say, but “a too-early start to the school day,” is a “critical contributor” to the problem.

A recent study from the University of Minnesota has concluded there were “clear benefits” for students when high schools started at 8:30 a.m. or later:

  • They got more sleep,
  • They ingested less caffeine.
  • They had better attendance, grades and test scores.
  • They were involved in fewer car crashes.

By advocating for later start times, the pediatric group says it hopes to share the scientific information on teens and sleep — and provide ammunition for those communities that might be rethinking school start times.


August 26, 2014 at 1:20 pm Comments (0)

It’s National Dog Day!

August 26 is National Dog Day, so give your canine cuddler a big hug.walking the dog

We all want our pooch pals to be as healthy as they can and when it comes to doggie health, one of the best ways you can ensure your dog stays in top notch shape is to test them periodically. Many people don’t even know you can test your beloved pet for common ailments, but TestCountry carries a full line of pet testing kits for both dogs and cats. These tests become increasingly important as your pets age and become (like us) more susceptible to illness.

These tests can be done easily in your own home and cost much less than if you were to take your pet to a veterinarian to have the same tests done.


August 26, 2014 at 8:00 am Comments (0)

Laser Technology Introduces Non-Invasive Blood Sugar Measurement

Diabetes patients and those who regularly check their blood sugar levels may look forward to the day when they won’t experience daily needle pricking anymore.

Photo credit: Frank Wojciechowski for the Office of Engineering Communications, Princeton University

Photo credit: Frank Wojciechowski for the Office of Engineering Communications, Princeton University

A new procedure is being developed by a team of researchers from New Jersey’s Princeton University to use laser technology as a non-invasive way of extracting blood samples. The new device, which was recently presented in the journal Biomedical Optics Express, involves a laser beam pointed at a patient’s palm to measure the blood sugar level. The light beam will be absorbed by the sugar molecules in the skin’s dermal interstitial fluid, which is said to be a good indicator of blood sugar.

Sabbir Liakat, one of the study’s authors, said that the accuracy of its latest prototype is at 84 percent. This satisfies the industry standard for home glucose monitors to register at least 80 percent accuracy. Meanwhile, university professor Claire Gmachl emphasized the positive impact of the new technology on diabetes testing. “With this work we hope to improve the lives of many diabetes sufferers who depend on frequent blood glucose monitoring,” Gmachl said in a news item.

The existing prototype still needs work, as its current iteration is too bulky. The ultimate aim is to create a mobile version of their device in order to collect more data through clinic visits.

August 25, 2014 at 1:01 am Comments (0)

Study: Cigarettes With Reduced Nicotine Don’t Lead To More Smoking

Amidst an early hypothesis that reducing the nicotine level in cigarettes could lead smokers to puff more sticks, a new study claims that it does not.

smokingAccording to a new study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, people who smoke reduced-nicotine cigarettes did not increase the number of sticks that they consume. Research co-author David Hammond said that the participants of the study did not change their smoking habits as a result of the lower nicotine amount. “Our study suggests that smokers are unable or unwilling to compensate when there is markedly less nicotine in the cigarette and when the experience of smoking is far less rewarding,” Hammond said in a news release.

More than 70 people took part in the study, which required participants to be between the ages of 18 and 65, smoke not less that 5 cigarettes daily, and who don’t intend to stop smoking anytime soon. While regular cigarettes produce a nicotine emission level of 1.2 milligrams using nicotine and tobacco testing kits, the reduced-nicotine cigarettes contained as low as 0.05 mg.

The study proponents believe that the study could help the government establish tobacco policies and improve existing smoking ordinances to reduce the nicotine intake of smokers. “Our study may help regulators anticipate the possible consequences of mandatory nicotine reductions in cigarettes,” Hammond added.

August 25, 2014 at 12:53 am Comments (0)

E-Cigarettes: Flight Hazard According To Airport Officials

The debate on the effects of electronic cigarettes to human health may still be ongoing, but a recent airline incident may lead to the controversial item being labelled a “flight hazard”.

electronic cigarettes flight hazardAccording to a New York Times report, a bag that heated up inside an Embraer 190 passenger plane at the Logan International Airport in Boston was traced to an e-cigarette inside the bag. Because of this, officials of the airport are now calling on the Transportation Department to include the e-cigarette as a hazard in flights.

Massachusetts Port Authority aviation chief Ed Freni expressed his sentiments on the hazards that the lithium-ion battery-powered cigarettes carry on flight. “The more you see these type of items sold out there, the more our industry has to take a closer look at them, as we’ve done with other hazardous materials,” Freni said.

Although reports are unclear whether the bag caught on fire, passengers were evacuated out of the plane. All checked-in bags were inspected, and the hot bag was sprayed with a fire extinguisher.

Many previous studies have looked into the dangers of e-cigarettes, with some saying that continued use of the electronic variants does not discourage people from kicking the habit. This new incident lists another risk factor for e-cigarettes: lithium-ion batteries.

[ Image source ]


August 19, 2014 at 6:55 pm Comments (0)

Robin Williams’ Death Puts Marijuana in Spotlight for Parkinson’s Treatment

Days after the suicide of acclaimed actor Robin Williams, news outlets have been burning up on the issue of his diagnosed Parkinson’s Disease. Amidst reports that the disease had partly affected the actor’s psyche and led to his self-inflicted demise, some advocates are using the current hot topic as a means to revive the idea of using marijuana as a treatment for Parkinson’s Disease.

robin williamsSome studies in the past have focused on the benefits of marijuana in treating the disease. One research paper was released by proponents from Tel Aviv University, which revealed that administering pot in patients diagnosed with the disease exhibited improvements in pain and rigidity. In fact, the nation of Israel has already approved the use of medical marijuana to treat the neural condition.

Still another study conducted in May of this year by the American Academy of Neurology showed that cannabis was beneficial in treating multiple sclerosis, the symptoms of which are similar to Parkinson’s. Although there have been no studies in the U.S. that targeted Parkinson’s Disease using marijuana, the recent news of Williams’ death has definitely triggered experts to look into the matter.

Marijuana Policy Project proponent Mason Tvert emphasized the advantages of medical marijuana in a wide array of diseases. “If it can improve the quality of life for an individual living with Parkinson’s Disease, they should be able to access it legally and safely,” Tvert said in a news release.

August 19, 2014 at 4:33 am Comments (0)

New Drug Reduces Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke in Some Women

Researchers from the University of Sydney found that women who are at risk for heart attack or stroke may find hope thanks to a new cholesterol-lowering drug. women heart disease

Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and high cholesterol usually affect a person in pairs, meaning if the person has one of those conditions, they’ll likely have one of the other two. By decreasing the risk of heart attack and stroke in women, researchers will ultimately be able to lower their likelihood of death.

“The finding is good news for women,” the study’s co-author Tony Keech, and professor of medicine, cardiology and epidemiology at the University of Sydney, said in a press release. “The study shows that fenofibrate reduced the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, or having a stroke or other adverse cardiovascular event by 30% in women and 13% in men.”

Researchers studied 3,657 women and 6,138 men with type 2 diabetes and evaluated their cardiovascular and stroke risk for five years for the study.

Fenofibrate works by triggering an enzyme that breaks down triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) better known as bad cholesterol, while at the same time it works to increase high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or good cholesterol.

August 18, 2014 at 1:52 pm Comments (0)

Hospitalization Due to Heart Attack and Stroke is Down

A recent study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation has revealed the number of hospitalizations and deaths attributed to heart disease has decreased dramatically over the past decade.heart attack

“Interestingly, these improvements happened in a period when there were no real ‘miracle’ clinical advancements,” Dr. Harlan Krumholz, director of the Center of Outcomes Research and Evaluation at Yale-New Haven Hospital, said in a statement. “Rather, we saw consistent improvements in the use of evidence-based treatments and medications and an increase in quality improvement initiatives using registries and other data to track performance and support improvement efforts — as well as a strong emphasis on heart-healthy lifestyles and behaviors.”

Krumholz and his fellow researchers gathered findings from close to 34 million Medicare Fee-For-Service recipients in 1999-2011. Data was used to investigate trends surrounding patients’ rate of hospitalization, those who died within a month of being admitted, those who were readmitted within a month, and those who died during the following year.

After taking into account several individual factors such as age, sex, race, other illnesses, and geography, the rate of hospitalizations attributed to a heart attack dropped by 38% by the end of 2011.

Over the past decade,

  • rates of sudden chest pain, (a tell-tale sign of a heart attack), decreased by 83.8%;
  • heart failure by 30.5 %; and
  • ischemic stroke by 33.6%.

The number of people who died:

  • as the result of heart failure and stroke dropped by 13%,
  • unstable angina by 21%, and
  • heart attack by 23%.

“Huge strides in lifestyle, quality of care and prevention strategies for cardiovascular health have seemed to have a ripple effect on saving lives,” Krumholz added. “As a result, our country has undergone remarkable changes, which has reduced suffering and costs. There is still more work to do as heart disease and stroke combined remain the leading cause of death and disability, but this study documents astonishing progress and national achievement.”

Factors contributing to such notable declines in cardiovascular disease complications included identifying and treating high blood pressure, increased use of statins, declines in the number of smokers, and quicker treatment options for heart attack victims.

August 18, 2014 at 1:40 pm Comments (0)

West Africa Ebola Outbreak Could Linger For Months

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa isn’t going to die down anytime soon, according to a charity group.

ebola outbreak in west africaDoctors Without Borders, a humanitarian and non-partisan medical care organization, said via a news release that the situation in the Ebola-stricken countries of West Africa has escalated to “dangerous.”

“With the massive influx of patients that we had over the last few days, we’re not able to keep zones of patients anymore,” said Joanne Liu, the international president of the group.

As of the latest record from the World Health Organization (WHO), Liberia tallied the most fatalities at 413. Many other patients continue to line up in various medical facilities not only in Liberia but also in Sierra Leone and Guinea. According to the WHO, the fatality figure as of this writing has reached 1,145.

Apart from locals, the Ebola virus has also claimed lives of medical staff who are treating the patients. Ernest Bai Koroma, president of Sierra Leone, said two physicians and more than 30 nurses have already died. “We need specialized clinicians and expertise and that is why we are appealing to the international community for an enhanced response to our fight (against Ebola),” the nation’s president said.

The world has yet to search for a cure of treatment for Ebola patients, although an experimental drug is currently under development in the U.S.

[ Image source ]

August 15, 2014 at 3:12 pm Comments (0)

9/11 Attack Caused Pregnancy-Related Health Concerns

The World Trade Center attack has not only claimed lives, but also affected the health of babies whose mothers were near the collapse of the Twin Towers.

world trade center twin towers collapse dust cloud affect pregnancy healthAccording a study posted in the National Bureau of Economic Research, the events that unfolded on 9/11 “released a million tons of toxic dust into lower Manhattan, an unparalleled environmental disaster.” The study was conducted by Janet Currie and Hannes Schwandt of Princeton University, and is currently on working development mode.

The study’s abstract describes the results of the initial investigation. “Using all births in utero on 9/11 in NYC and comparing them to their siblings, we show that residence in the affected area increased prematurity, low birth weight, and admission to the NICU after birth, especially for boys.”

The entire world bore witness to the Twin Towers’ destruction, where a huge dust cloud emerged from the collapsed structures. Various reports have revealed that the cloud unleashed massive amounts of asbestos, gypsum, cement dust, lead, and glass fragments. Aside from earlier reports that the dusty environment triggered asthma and respiratory complications in emergency response staff and nearby residents, this new study infers that the toxic fumes have also affected the health of pregnant mothers and their babies.

As reported in a news release, the study suggests that premature deliveries doubled in number due to the mothers’ exposure to the dust. Meanwhile, low birth weight as a result of the catastrophe increased by 5 percent, and NICU admission by 7.6 percent.

[ Image source ]

August 14, 2014 at 5:29 am Comments (0)

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