Testing It Up » June 2009

Monthly Archives: June 2009

Early Disease Detection

Celebrities Dealing with Diabetes

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Just recently, we did a post on Nick Jonas and fellow diabetes sufferers Mary Tyler Moore and Sugar Ray Leonard, who attended a Senate hearing on diabetes funding. Here are other celebrities who also have to cope with diabetes – proof that diabetes, as in other illnesses, can strike anyone.

halle berryHalle Berry. The beautiful Oscar winner is suffering from Type 2 diabetes. There reportedly was gossip that she had “weaned” herself from insulin and became a Type 1 diabetic instead. That is not possible, folks!

Randy Jackson. American Idol judge Randy was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2001. At that time, he was obese, which increased the risk for diabetes. That, coupled with the fact that African Americans have been observed to be at a higher risk for developing diabetes, made Randy Jackson a likely candidate for the disease. Since then, Randy has undergone gastric bypass surgery and lost a hundred pounds. He also watches what he eats and keeps exercise a regular part of his routine.

Salma Hayek. Salma Hayek comes from a family with a history of diabetes, and she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes while pregnant with her daughter Valentina. Gestational diabetes, as indicated by its name, occurs during pregnancy and goes away after the baby’s birth. However, mothers who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes are at high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes later on.

Larry King. The CNN Talk show host is suffering from Type 2 diabetes, although he has said on his show Larry King Live that the disease is “definitely controllable”. One of the consequences of having diabetes is an increased risk for developing other serious diseases, such as heart disease and stroke. In 1987, Larry King underwent a quintuple heart bypass surgery, which may have been necessary due to the fact that King had been a heavy smoker in addition to being diabetic. So far, dealing with diabetes allows King to take better care of his body; he has since quit smoking.

Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards

E. Coli Contamination Confirmed in Nestle Tollhouse Cookie Dough

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A few days ago, we reported the recall of Nestle Tollhouse Cookie Dough due to suspected E. coli contamination. Today, it has been confirmed that E. coli 0157 was present in Nestle Cookie Dough samples produced out of the company’s Danville, Virginia plant. The confirmation came from the Food and Drug Administration.

Nestle TollhouseAssistant Commissioner for Food Safety for the Food and Drug Administration David Acheson said that the bacterium was not found inside the factory or on the plant’s equipment, but in a tub that contained chocolate cookie dough which had an expiration date of June 10th.

Most of the patients who exhibited symptoms of illness caused by E. coli 0157 had reportedly consumed raw cookie dough days before they started feeling symptoms. The patients were mostly female under the age of 19.

What is puzzling to health officials is how E. coli 0157 ended up in cookie dough to begin with. The bacteria lives in cattle intestines and it is unlikely to find its way to the ingredients that comprise cookie dough. What is more associated with cookie dough is the risk for salmonella, which is hosted by raw eggs. E. coli is not known to be hosted by eggs, milk, flour, chocolate and butter – the ingredients for cookie dough.

Investigators have said, though, that no contamination was detected in the plant’s equipment and among its workers, so it is the ingredient that can only be isolated as a possible source.

For now, the portion of the Danville plant where the cookie dough is manufactured remains closed. It has been closed since the 19th, when federal investigators began to look into the source of the contamination. The other portion of the plant, where Buitoni pasta is manufactured, is still operational. It is reportedly unclear, though, whether the cookie dough operation will resume. The operation has 250 employees.

Early Disease Detection

Repetitive Strain Injury: Wii-itis, iPod Finger, BlackBerry Thumb

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These days, terms such as “Wii-itis”, “iPod finger”, “BlackBerry thumb” and “cell phone elbow syndrome” have grabbed an increasing amount of attention as more and more people complain about aching fingers, palms, elbows and wrists.  As we have mentioned in the previous post, technology comes with a price – although it does not really need to be too high to cause considerable health damage to its users.

protect your handsRepetitive Strain Injury (RSI), the category under which all the nerve disorders mentioned fall, is a condition resulting from overusing the hands to perform repetitive or prolonged tasks. RSI can occur when we subject our joints to the same repeated actions or to a single position for extended periods of time, especially when the action or position exerts pressure on a particular point, causing the nerve to “choke”. The effects may be more pronounced for older patients who may already have developed degenerative joint disease.

While today’s gadgets are still viewed as useful and beneficial for its users, experts recommend the following ways to make sure that these devices stay safe for its users:

Minimize unnecessary use of gadgets. If you don’t need to type or key in anything, give your hands some time to rest.

Adopt stretching and strengthening exercises for the hands. Sadly, most people only exercise their hands after having developed nerve disorders or after a hand surgery. It is best to stretch the hands regularly to prevent RSI.

Assume correct posture. This not only protects you from possible back pains, it also ensures that your hands and feet are not strained to cause any nerve damage in the long run.

Early Disease Detection

Cell Phone Elbow Syndrome: Price of Technology

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Truly, we must have known that technology does not come without a price. With the wide use of computers came the carpal tunnel syndrome. Along with Wii gaming was Wii-itis. Now, researchers have found another illness brought by one of the recent advancements the modern world enjoys – the cell phone elbow syndrome. In truth, this is nothing new, but is on the rise due to the increasing popularity of cell phones.

phone elbow syndromeCubital tunnel syndrome, often referred to as the cell phone elbow syndrome, is now considered as the second most common compression syndrome. This disorder is characterized by numbness, tingling and pain in the forearm and hand and is believed to be caused by the prolonged bending of the elbow while holding a cell phone.

Long term effects include weakness in the hands to a point that playing a musical instrument, holding a bottle or even writing may be difficult, and severe cases may even require surgery. Experts don’t think cell phones are generally bad for the nerves, though. As always, moderation is the key. You can call every time necessary – just don’t stay on the phone for hours, or at least, switch hands every few minutes. This also gives users another reason, aside from state laws, to prefer hands-free devices.

Cubital tunnel syndrome can also be developed with simple activities done for a time too long, like sleeping with bent elbows, driving with an elbow on the car’s window or resting the elbows on a chair’s (wheelchairs, in particular) arms. As a general rule, avoid bending elbows tighter than 90 degrees for long periods of time.

Early Disease Detection

First Aid for Cardiac Arrest

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In cardiac arrests, a person’s heart stops beating and he stops breathing, thus cutting the supply of oxygen to the body. To help a person in cardiac arrest, first aid should be done as quickly as possible. Cardiac arrests that last for more than 5 minutes can cause brain damage while those that last more than 10 minutes can cause death. Pop superstar Michael Jackson is said to have died of cardiac arrest.

People who have histories of cardiac arrests, heart attacks and coronary artillery disease have greater risks. Thus, family and friends around these high-risk patients must always be ready with what to do.

A person in cardiac arrest has faint or no pulse and lies motionless. Immediately check the signs of breathing; look at the chest if it moves up and down, listen to breathing sounds and move close to feel air movement. If the patient is not breathing, examine quickly any cause of airway blockage in the throat or the mouth.

automated external defibrillatorAn automated external defibrillator (AED), if available, should be used to revive the heartbeat. Then, call for emergency medical assistance or ask someone to make the call as you administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to the patient. CPR must be continued until the person has recovered or medical assistance has arrived.

Several organizations in the country, including the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross, as well as different hospitals conduct training courses on the use of AEDs and the proper administration of CPR. It is important that everyone learns this basic life-saving technique and to be updated with recent developments and improvements of procedures.

Early Disease Detection

How to Prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest

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With the death of the King of Pop Michael Jackson, the world has set its eyes on sudden cardiac arrest, reported as the pop icon’s cause of death. Although often believed to be synonymous with heart attack, our previous post gives a hopefully better picture of the difference between the two.

The question that many people are asking right now is if there is a way to prevent cardiac arrest. Well, there are, actually, although these do not come with 100% guarantees. A lot of factors must be taken into consideration and even then, complete protection is still not guaranteed. It is still extremely significant, however, to consider these preventive ways.

wound after implantPeople who have suffered cardiac arrest before have greater tendency of having it again. An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) lessens the risk of death due to a second cardiac arrest. This device is surgically inserted under a patient’s skin in the abdomen or chest area. This monitors the patient’s heart rhythm. If it detects dangerously irregular heartbeats, it gives out an electric shock to restore normal rhythm. This is different from a pacemaker, although most have been combined with one.

People who have had a heart attack and suffer from severe coronary artery disease also have high risks for cardiac arrest. Beta blockers or procedures like angioplasty and grafting may reduce the risks. An ICD may also be recommended.

Adjusting diet can also significantly contribute in preventing cardiac arrests. Go for whole-grain foods, fruits and vegetables. Stick to foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, salt and added sugar. Also adopt healthy lifestyle practices like moderating alcohol consumption, avoiding smoking and getting enough physical exercise.

Early Disease Detection

Cardiac Arrest vs Heart Attack

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The sad and unexpected passing of the King of Pop Michael Jackson is initially being attributed to cardiac arrest. Diseases that involve the heart are usually taken to mean the same thing; what people may not know is that a cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack, although a heart attack can eventually lead to cardiac arrest. The official cause of death will not be determined until after toxicology tests are conducted and the results of these come in, and so for now, the superstar’s passing is being attributed to cardiac arrest.

heart diagram courtesy of www.niaaa.nih.govA feature on WebMD sheds a bit more light into the condition. As explained by Douglas Zipes, M.D., a past president of the American College of Cardiology and a professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine, a cardiac arrest is broadly defined as a condition in which the heart ceases to work properly.

Zipes explains what that means in further detail by describing cardiac arrest as a “heart rhythm disturbance”, called ventricular fibrillation, where the ventricles (bottom chamber of the heart) beats very rapidly, reaching up to 600 beats in a minute. This rapid rate leads to the inability of the ventricles to contract rapidly and, as a consequence, it is unable to pump enough blood to the brain as well as to the rest of the body. If the condition is not reversed within four to five minutes, it will be fatal. It is the blood that provides the brain with the oxygen it needs, and if there is not enough blood going into the organ, it begins to die.

CPR, which is being reported as the course of action that was performed on Michael Jackson, can help keep blood flowing. However, it will reportedly take an “electrical shock to the heart”, either through defibrillators or via an internal heart device, to jolt the heart back into its normal rhythm.

Early Disease Detection Home Health Hazards

Beef Products Recalled due to E.Coli

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First, it was Nestle Tollhouse’s frozen cookie dough. Over the weekend, another food product was pulled out of retail stores due to suspected contamination from E. coli. A meat company based in Colorado expanded a recall of its beef products due to a possible contamination by the bacteria E. Coli O157:H7. A total of 18 illnesses are suspected to be linked to the beef, as revealed by the company as well as by the US Agriculture Department.

beefJBS-Swift Co. is based in Greeley, Colorado, and distributes beef both locally and internationally. The company voluntarily issued a recall on various beef products produced on April 21 and 22 last June 24. The initial recall was for more than 40,000 pounds of beef, but with the expansion, the amount will reach more than 420,000 pounds.

According to foodconsumer.org, the products in question were shipped and distributed by the company to retailers and distributors in states that included Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin. Some of the products were also reportedly distributed to clients abroad.

A spokesperson from the company, Chandler Keys, reportedly said yesterday that the contamination may have been caused by further processing done by clients on the meat. The products distributed by JBS are usually destined for use in roasts and steaks as opposed to ground beef, according to the USDA. There may be a chance, though, that some companies processed the meat as ground products.

Information provided on the E. Coli strain O157:H7 show that the bacteria produces toxins that can severely damage the lining of the large intestine. The bacteria causes an acute disease called hemorrhagic colitis, which usually causes symptoms that include abdominal cramps, diarrhea that initially will be watery but has the potential to become bloody, and vomiting. Most at risk are children, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems.

Florida Health Screening

Early Disease Detection

June 27 is National HIV Testing Day

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Tomorrow has been declared as National HIV Testing Day, and activities that involve free testing for HIV are being organized across the country. In some places, free HIV testing has already begun. In Asheville, North Carolina, the following testing sites have been identified:

Express HIV Testing KitWestern North Carolina Community Health Services
10 Ridgelawn Rd., Asheville, 28806
Phone 285-0622

Minnie Jones Family Health Center (details)
264 Haywood Rd., Asheville, 28806
Phone 285-0622

Buncombe County Health Center
35 Woodfin St., Asheville, 28801
Phone 250-5000

Planned Parenthood Health Systems Incorporated
603 Biltmore Ave., Asheville, 28801
Phone 252-7928 or 800-230-7256

Similar activities are also being planned for other cities. At some of these events, rapid HIV tests, which will have the ability to provide results within half an hour, will be available.

For North Carolina residents who do not live in an area or a town where a free testing event has been organized or will be unable to attend an event, there are free HIV tests as well as syphilis tests that can be taken through local health departments or community-based organizations across the state.

Those who are concerned with their privacy may take home HIV tests. If you prefer this option, you need to make sure you get kits that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration and deal only with reputable suppliers. These tests are accurate and easy to use as they come with easy-to-follow instruction booklets. The kits also come with an access code that would serve as your identity and ensure complete anonymity.

Early Disease Detection

Farrah Fawcett Succumbs to Cancer

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Farrah Fawcett, whose battle with colorectal cancer as well as for her privacy we featured several times over the past couple of months, has succumbed to cancer on June 25. She was 62.

Farrah Fawcett rose to stardom as one of the original Charlie’s Angels, along with Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith. Although she was only with the show for one season, with Cheryl Ladd completing the triumvirate of very attractive female investigators after her departure, Farrah is still very much known as an “Angel”. The show had a strong following in the 70s, and practically every young woman from coast to coast wanted to be blonde and sport that “Farrah-do”.

Farrah FawcettFarrah was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006, and has since gone from remission to a recurrence of the disease. Most recently, a video diary documenting her battle with cancer, “Farrah’s Story,” was released. The film took roughly two years to make, and included footage of the various treatments and procedures that she needed to endure during her bout with cancer. A sequel to the show was even reportedly in the offing.

Farrah, who hails from Corpus Christi, Texas, is survived by her long-time love, Ryan O’Neal, and their son Redmond. Although she and O’Neal have been together for quite some time, the two are not married, and according to the report by Larry McShane on the New York Daily News, Ryan O’Neal had hoped that Farrah “would hang on long enough” for the two of them to get married.

Among her recent thoughts which were shared with the public is the fact that while she knew that death was a fact of life, she did not want to succumb to the disease that she had been fighting. She is also remembered as having said recently that “It is seriously time for a miracle.”

While this is indeed another sad moment for Hollywood, with another TV icon, Ed McMahon, passing away just a couple of days before and the King of Pop Michael Jackson passing away on the same day, we know that Farrah may have at last found peace.

New York Health Screening