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Many Say Mental Health Care Is Vital, But Often Tough to Get

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TUESDAY, Sept. 1, 2015 -- Although most Americans think mental health care is important, they often believe it's expensive and hard to get, a new survey shows. In questioning more than 2,000 adults, nearly 90 percent said they place equal value on mental and physical health. But one-third said mental health care is inaccessible. And 40 percent said cost is a barrier to treatment for many people, the survey found. Forty-seven percent of respondents thought they have had a mental health...

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Health Highlights: Sept. 1, 2015

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Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay: Pot Overtakes Cigarette Use Among U.S. College Students Regular use of marijuana is now more common among U.S. college students than cigarette use, a new study says. In 2014, nearly 6 percent of full-time students surveyed by researchers said they had used marijuana every day or at least 20 times in the previous 30 days, while 5 percent said they were heavy cigarette smokers, the Associated...

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Health Tip: Coping With Mosquito Bites

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-- Mosquito bites are itchy and annoying, and tough to ignore when they're virtually screaming "scratch me!" The Mayo Clinic recommends: applying calamine lotion, using hydrocortisone cream, applying an ice pack or cold compress, combating a more significant allergic reaction by taking an oral, over-the-counter antihistamine.

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U.S. Smoking Rate Falls to 15 Percent: CDC

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TUESDAY, Sept. 1, 2015 -- The U.S. smoking rate continues to decline, with just over 15 percent of adults reporting they're current smokers, a new government survey reveals. That's down from nearly 17 percent in 2014 and almost 18 percent in 2013. The falloff reflects a continued decline that started in 2010 after a decade of no progress against smoking, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday. Higher tobacco taxes, tough anti-smoking messages and smoke-free laws...

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Too Much Weight in Middle Age Tied to Earlier Alzheimer's

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TUESDAY, Sept. 1, 2015 -- Avoiding middle-age spread could be one way to delay the onset of dementia, a new study hints. Researchers found that among 142 elderly adults with Alzheimer's disease, those who were overweight at age 50 tended to develop the memory-robbing disorder earlier. On average, the study participants were 83 years old when diagnosed with Alzheimer's. But that age of onset varied according to people's weight at age 50: For each unit increase in body mass index (BMI),...

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Health Tip: Taking Antacids

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-- Over-the-counter antacids are generally safe to help ease heartburn. But, there are some people who should check with their doctor before taking them. The American Academy of Family Physicians says you should get your doctor's OK if you: have kidney disease, are postmenopausal, have had a Clostridium difficile infection, are elderly, have a compromised immune system.

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Seniors Often Underestimate Their Frailty, Study Finds

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MONDAY, Aug. 31, 2015 -- Many American seniors seen at emergency departments overestimate their mobility, according to a recent study. Researchers asked seniors who visited an ER to get out of bed, walk 10 feet and return to bed. The investigators found that almost one-quarter of these patients inaccurately assessed their ability to complete these tasks. Of those who said they could do the tasks without assistance, 12 percent required some help or were unwilling to complete the tasks. Of...

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Too Little Sleep May Quadruple Your Risk for Colds: Study

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MONDAY, Aug. 31, 2015 -- When you're run down from lack of sleep, you really are more apt to catch a cold, a new study finds. Investigators exposed 164 adults to a cold virus, and found better-rested folks more likely to resist infection. Those who slept fewer than six hours a night were more than four times as likely to catch a cold as those who got more than seven hours' shuteye. "The role that sleep has on the immune system is well-established, though not completely understood," said...

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Women Who Breast-Feed Less Likely to Have MS Relapse: Study

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MONDAY, Aug. 31, 2015 -- Breast-feeding exclusively for at least two months may help new mothers with multiple sclerosis (MS) lower their risk of relapse, new research suggests. Exclusive breast-feeding, without supplementing, seems to be key, the researchers said. "We found that women with MS who breast-fed exclusively had a significantly lower relapse risk than women who did not breast-feed at all or breast-fed some but not exclusively," said study author Dr. Kerstin Hellwig, a researcher...

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Could Lots of Coffee Up Heart Risks for Young Adults With High Blood Pressure?

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MONDAY, Aug. 31, 2015 -- Bad news for young coffee lovers: Gulping down lots of your favorite pick-me-up might raise your risk of heart attack if you've already got high blood pressure, a new study suggests. Italian investigators looked at 12 years of heart health data for a group of about 1,200 adults ages 18 to 45. This type of study design means the research could only point to an association, not cause and effect. But experts said the findings might be worth bearing in mind. "Although...

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Many Teens With Chronic Illnesses Use Alcohol, Pot

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MONDAY, Aug. 31, 2015 -- Teens with chronic diseases such as asthma and juvenile arthritis have to manage their health carefully, yet many of them have had alcohol or smoked marijuana in the last year, a new study shows. "That was surprising to us," said study first author Elissa Weitzman, assistant professor of pediatrics at Boston Children's Hospital, about the findings. "We thought having a chronic illness might be protective, to some extent, given the potential for near-term serious health...

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Too Much TV Time Tied to Higher Odds for Blood Clot in Lung: Study

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MONDAY, Aug. 31, 2015 -- People who sit around watching TV for hours on end may raise their risk for a sudden and deadly blockage of a lung artery, new research reveals. Called a pulmonary embolism, the condition is described by study author Toru Shirakawa as "a serious, sometimes fatal, lung-related vascular disease characterized by sudden onset of symptoms such as chest pain or difficulty breathing. "[And] the disease is caused by obstruction of the pulmonary arteries by blood clots,...

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Wireless Pacemaker Shows Promise in Early Trial

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MONDAY, Aug. 31, 2015 --A tiny, wireless heart pacemaker showed promise in early tests and could offer an alternative to conventional, wired pacemakers, researchers report. Experts say, however, there are still some safety concerns with the new device. The wireless pacemaker is attached to the heart using a catheter inserted through a leg. Traditional pacemakers use a generator and wires, and they require surgery to be implanted. The study included 526 patients, average age nearly 76, in the...

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Cold Weather May Up Risk of Stroke, Severe Heart Attack for Some

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MONDAY, Aug. 31, 2015 -- The onset of cold weather is clearly a bummer for beach lovers, but two new studies suggest that it may actually pose health risks for some. One investigation, out of Taiwan, has identified a link between cold weather and a heightened risk of stroke for patients with atrial fibrillation, a common problem where the heart beats irregularly. The finding is based on comparisons of daily temperature records in six regions of Taiwan between 2000 and 2011 and the incidence...

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Proposed NYC Law May Trim 54 Calories From Kids' Fast Food Meals

Posted today in Daily MedNews

MONDAY, Aug. 31, 2015 -- A New York City bill to improve the nutrition of children's fast food meals could reduce the average calories and improve the nutrition of these meals, a new study claims. The bill proposed by New York City Council member Benjamin Kallos would require fast food meals marketed to children using toys or other promotional items to include a serving of fruit, vegetables or whole grains. The meals would have a maximum of 500 calories. They would also have to contain less...

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Doctors Rarely Discuss Religion With Critically Ill, Study Says

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MONDAY, Aug. 31, 2015 -- Whatever your religious beliefs, they're unlikely to get addressed in the intensive care unit, a new study finds. Religion or spirituality is important to many people nearing the end of life, but intensive care clinicians rarely talk to patients or their families about those beliefs, the study authors said. "We found that religious or spiritual considerations were discussed in only 16 percent of family meetings in ICUs and when such concerns arose," said study author...

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Naps May Do a Heart Good

Posted today in Daily MedNews

MONDAY, Aug. 31, 2015 -- Taking a midday nap might be beneficial for your heart, new research suggests. The investigators looked at how an hour-long siesta at noon affected blood pressure among nearly 400 middle-aged people with high blood pressure. The result: those who napped saw their systolic blood pressure reading (the number on top of the standard blood pressure ratio) drop an average of 5 percent over the course of the day, compared with patients who didn't rest. More specifically,...

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Two Measures of Heart Health May Hint at Seniors' Independence

Posted today in Daily MedNews

MONDAY, Aug. 31, 2015 -- Seniors with a higher resting heart rate and lower heart rate variability are less able to care for themselves, a new study finds. Researchers examined data on more than 5,800 people, aged 70 to 82, who had risk factors for heart disease. The investigators compared resting heart rate and heart rate variability -- the beat-to-beat variation in heart rate -- with the ability to perform basic daily activities such as grooming, walking and using the toilet. They also...

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Knee, Hip Replacement Surgeries Linked to Heart Risks

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MONDAY, Aug. 31, 2015 -- People who have total hip or knee replacement surgery face a greater risk for a heart attack during the first month following the procedure, a new study finds. The chances of a heart attack were more than eight times greater in the first 30 days after total knee replacement surgery compared to people who didn't have the procedure. The risk of a heart attack was four times greater during the month following total hip replacement surgery, the study revealed. But the...

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Some Sobering Stats on Kids and Drinking

Posted yesterday in Daily MedNews

MONDAY, Aug. 31, 2015 -- Alcohol poses a far greater threat to children than many parents care to admit, a new report warns. Many kids start drinking at a young age, and their size and inexperience with alcohol renders them more apt to be binge drinkers, said report author Dr. Lorena Siqueira, director of adolescent medicine at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami. Such hard drinking can prove fatal. For example, one-third of all fatal auto crashes involving alcohol happen among 15- to...

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