<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Health News]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/health http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.comen-usTue, 17 Oct 2017 05:57:27 -0400Tue, 17 Oct 2017 05:57:27 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[America's Obesity Epidemic Reaches Record High: Report]]> Fri, 13 Oct 2017 01:23:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_668885564479.jpg

Almost 40 percent of American adults are obese, the highest rate ever recorded for the United States, according to a report released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearly 20 percent of adolescents are obese, also a record high, NBC News reported. That comes out to one in five adolescents aged 12-19. Meanwhile, one in five kids aged 6-11 and one in 10 preschoolers aged 2-5 are obese.

"It's difficult to be optimistic at this point," said Dr. Frank Hu, chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. "The trend of obesity has been steadily increasing in both children and adults."

Obesity is medically defined as having a body-mass index of more than 30. Overweight and obese children have a higher risk to stay obese and childhood obesity is linked to a higher chance of early death in adulthood.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File]]>
<![CDATA[Experts Say Trump Order Could Upend Health Care System]]> Thu, 12 Oct 2017 16:02:10 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_17285593800516.jpg

With Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare stalled, President Donald Trump issued a new executive order on Thursday that could undermine the law without Congress.

Experts say it has the potential to upend the current health care system for small businesses and individuals by opening up cheaper options for some customers, while spiking costs for others and encouraging more insurers to flee Obamacare’s exchanges.

Healthier customers, especially those making too much to qualify for subsidies, could abandon the exchanges for skimpier association plans, prompting insurers to hike premiums for the remaining sicker pool of customers.

Insurers and their customers won’t know the full effect of the executive order any time soon. It will likely take months, perhaps even a year or more, for agencies to examine the issues, propose new rules and then finalize them.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci]]>
<![CDATA[Whole Foods Recalls Its Raisin Bran for Undeclared Peanuts]]> Mon, 09 Oct 2017 13:32:05 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/whole-foods-recall.jpg

Whole Foods Market has recalled some of its 365 Everyday Value Organic Raisin Bran across the country because the cereal contains undeclared peanuts, the Food and Drug Administration and grocery chain said. 

Boxes of the cereal contained Peanut Butter Cocoa Balls, the recall announcement said. Peanuts can cause a serious and sometimes life-threatening reaction for people who are allergic to the nuts. 

Whole Foods' voluntary recall is for 15 oz. boxes labeled "365 Everyday Value Organic Raisin Bran" with UPC code 9948243903 and a best-by date of June 4, 2018. The items were sold across the United States and online through Amazon.com. No reactions have been reported, Whole Foods and the FDA said on Friday. 

Customers can receive a full refund at stores with a valid receipt. Those with questions may call 1-844-936-8255 from 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. CST on weekdays, or between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekends.

]]>
<![CDATA[14 Desperate Days: Anatomy of an Opioid Overdose Outbreak]]> Mon, 09 Oct 2017 10:34:00 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/fentanyl+10-09.PNG

An alert Georgia emergency room doctor who saw three strange overdose cases apparently related to the drug Percocet sounded the alarm to the Georgia Poison Center this June, NBC News reported, likely saving lives in an epidemic that began when a man arrived in Macon with a batch of little yellow pills.

Over two weeks, health officials dealt with 40 more cases like the first woman's, who took four hours to be revived after Narcan was administered. Six resulted in deaths.

When that first patient came to, she ripped a breathing tube out of her throat. "In the slightest of a whisper, she said she took a Percocet," Dr. Gregory Whatley said.

But after Whatley scrambled the poison center, which alerted local and federal investigators, toxicology tests determined that the pills weren't the opioid Percocet, but a new type of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that can be 50 times stronger than heroin.



Photo Credit: NBC 7, File]]>
<![CDATA[FDA: Drug Shortages Possible Due to Puerto Rico Power Outage]]> Fri, 06 Oct 2017 19:45:08 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/PRmedicine_1200x675.jpg

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday warned that U.S. drug shortages are possible because power outages in Puerto Rico have stopped or limited production at many medicine factories there.

Nearly 10 percent of the medicines used by Americans, plus numerous medical devices, are made in Puerto Rico, which lost most electricity when it was hit hard by Hurricane Maria about two weeks ago.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement that the agency is working to prevent shortages of about 40 crucial medicines. He has declined to identify those medicines but said Friday that the FDA would disclose any shortages if they occur; drug shortages are routinely listed on the FDA's website.

"We're keeping a close watch on the most critical medical products," Gottlieb said.

The FDA is working with drugmakers and device manufacturers, who are trying to restore partial operations with backup generators, according to the statement. In the most urgent cases, the FDA is helping companies get fuel to keep their generators running and ship finished products.

At a news conference Thursday, Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rossello said power has been restored to 9 percent of customers. The government hopes to have the power back on for a quarter of the island within a month, and for the entire territory of 3.4 million people by March.

Gottlieb said the power disruptions could cause new medicine shortages and exacerbate shortages that existed before Hurricane Maria, and Irma before that, slammed the island.

At least for now, drugmakers say they should be able to prevent shortages by moving around inventory and, in some cases, increasing production at factories in other locations already making those products.

Medicines made in Puerto Rico include AstraZeneca's cholesterol drug Crestor, antibiotics and drugs for inflammation from Pfizer and Roche's Accu-Chek blood sugar test strips for diabetics. Eli Lilly makes the active ingredient for its diabetes medicines on the island. And Amgen, a huge biotech drugmaker, produces most of its medicines there, including widely used rheumatoid drug Enbrel, a number of cancer drugs, heart failure drug Corlanor and osteoporosis drugs Prolia and Xgeva.

Hurricane Maria didn't cause major damage to the roughly 80 medicine and device factories but many have needed cleanup and some repairs, according to several companies contacted by The Associated Press. The companies said operations were also hampered because workers couldn't get to factories and they were dealing with damage to their homes.

The medical products industry, which set up a large base in Puerto Rico decades ago to take advantage of since-expired tax advantages, is key to the financial health of the debt-laden territory. The FDA said medicines and medical devices account for about 30 percent of Puerto Rico's gross domestic product, and about 80 percent of those products are used by residents of Puerto Rico and the 50 states.




Photo Credit: AP/Ramon Espinosa, File]]>
<![CDATA[Hartford HealthCare, Aetna Reach Agreement for New 3-Year Contact]]> Tue, 03 Oct 2017 14:25:40 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Governor_Responds_to_News_of_Aetna_Move.jpg

Hartford HealthCare says it has reached a deal with Aetna today and they have a new three-year agreement effective Jan. 1, 2018, when the current contract expires.

Hartford Healthcare said the new contract includes all Aetna members in commercial, employer-based healthcare and Aetna Medicare Advantage plans and hospitals included in the agreement are Hartford Hospital, The Hospital of Central Connecticut, MidState Medical Center, Backus Hospital and Windham Hospital.

They said the contract also includes numerous Hartford HealthCare programs and services, as well as about 2,000 physicians and medical professionals.

While this agreement came together three months before the current contract expires, the contract between Hartford HealthCare and Anthem expired at the end of September and they have failed to come to a new in-network provider agreement.

That means hundreds of thousands of Anthem policyholders will now be treated as “out-of-network” patients in Hartford Healthcare facilities. 

In dueling statements, each did pledge to work with the other to come to an agreement, but a statement released by Anthem pointed the finger firmly at Hartford Healthcare. 

“Anthem is seeking for HHC to agree to increases that are comparable to increases accepted by other hospitals in the state,” the statement said. “HHC is requesting a rate increase that is two to three times the rate of inflation and that is not acceptable to us, and not acceptable to our members.” 

David Whitehead, Hartford Healthcare’s executive vice president, said in a statement, “We are working hard to resume our partnership with Anthem, and we are committed to reaching a fair agreement with Anthem — one that allows us to operate in a sustainable way while protecting access to caregivers you trust and providing the quality care you deserve. It is our hope that Anthem will work in good faith to agree to a new contract.”



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[How to Deal With Tragedy And Talk About It With Family]]> Tue, 03 Oct 2017 12:13:36 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/20171002+Hug.JPG

Feeling overwhelmed, powerless or angry as you watch news of another mass shooting, this one in Las Vegas? Those feelings are normal, even for people who don't have ties to Nevada or anyone there, according to counselors. 

There are tools that can help in handling those emotional reactions. NBC10 Philadelphia's Tracy Davidson spoke to a counselor in the area Monday about what you and those you love can do.

Q: I feel overwhelmed by the news. How do I process this?
A: Each person's reaction to a tragedy is unique to that individual and that's OK, said Dana Careless, a counselor from the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services.

Some people disconnect and shut off communication while others are active on social media, looking for answers and trying to stay informed. No matter how you deal with tragedy, it is important to take care of yourself. If you start to feel overwhelmed, "take a step back, take a deep breath, and disconnect if you need to," Careless said.

Q: What things can I do to take care of myself?
A: Self-care is doubly important while we try to cope with trauma. Do what makes you happy or calms you down. Careless runs; some people choose yoga or swimming. Others need quiet time meditating, praying or listening to music. Careless said journaling can help some people.

Q: What should I do if I start to feel overwhelmed?
A: "It can be really, really easy to get caught up in all the information, to keep clicking and clicking," Careless said. She suggested people focus on staying grounded. Using your five senses can help you settle into the moment, she said; wherever you are, find five things you see, four things you hear, three things you touch, two things you smell and one thing you taste. Remember to take your time and breathe — in through your nose, out through your mouth, she said. 

Q: What if my children ask me about the event?
A: Careless suggested parents be open with children, if children want to talk. Don't shut down conversation or tell them to "get over it," she said. Try to normalize the discussion and reiterate to them that it is okay to be upset or confused by the tragedy. On the other hand, if they don't want to talk, give them some space until they feel like engaging. If your children seem to be struggling more than usual, consider reaching out for help or following up on their condition.


Q: How long will it take to heal and move on?
A: Every person’s process is different. The way you begin to heal is individual, so do what is necessary to help start the process. If you or a loved one start to have irregular habits, such as lack of sleep or oversleeping, that continue past two weeks, consider talking to someone who can help.

The federal government's mental health agency, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, has a 24-hour Disaster Relief Helpline. If you would like free support or counseling, contact them at 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs’ to 66746. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Protesters Removed From Senate Health Care Bill Hearing]]> Mon, 25 Sep 2017 19:10:08 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/US-Health-Care-2-CR-150637884759400002.jpg

Protesters chanting "No cuts for Medicaid, save our liberty!" were forcibly removed from the Senate Finance Committee room Monday as lawmakers attempted to convene a hearing into the Republican Graham Cassidy health care bill.

]]>
<![CDATA[CVS to Limit Opioid Prescriptions to 7-Day Supply]]> Thu, 21 Sep 2017 19:27:25 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/cvsgeneric_1200x675.jpg

CVS Pharmacy will limit opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply for certain conditions, becoming the first national retail chain to restrict how many pain pills doctors can give patients, NBC News reported.

When filling prescriptions for opioid pills, pharmacists will also be required to talk to patients about the risks of addiction, secure storage of medications in the home and proper disposal, the retail pharmacy chain said Thursday.

The move by CVS to limit prescription opioids like OxyContin or Vicodin to a seven-day supply is a significant restriction for patients — the average pill supply given by doctors in the U.S. increased from 13 days in 2006 to 18 days in 2015, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File ]]>
<![CDATA[Why Do College Kids Think Backpacks Can Save a Drunk Friend?]]> Thu, 21 Sep 2017 21:37:57 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/drunk_pack_stock_image.jpg

In the final hours of his life, Tim Piazza lay on a couch in a Penn State frat house barely conscious and occasionally vomiting from alcohol poisoning and serious internal injuries.

Twice on a night of heavy drinking in early February, frat brothers, apparently oblivious to his injuries, strapped a backpack on the very ill young man. Piazza died a day later, February 4, at Hershey Medical Center.

In another, more recent death on a Pennsylvania college campus, dorm mates of Lafayette College freshman McCrae Williams put a backpack on the young lacrosse player as he lay in his bed this September. He had thrown up and fallen to the floor in his room after what has been described as a "day drink" party and possibly another party the night before.

The college kids in both instances put backpacks on their dying friends in the hope of preventing the young men from turning unconsciously onto their backs and asphyxiating on their vomit, according to authorities.

There is even a term for it now in college circles: "JanSporting," named after the popular brand of backpack used by high school and college students. Another term for it is "the drunk pack." Pillows often are placed in the backpack to prevent a person from turning from his or her side.

One article on the lifestyle website Total Frat Move claims "JanSporting" "just might save" a drunken friend's life, though it also emphasizes that overly intoxicated people shouldn't be left alone, regardless of what position they are put in.

"JanSporting" may be popular on campus, but it is not a prescription likely to gain support in the medical community anytime soon.

"Sadly, 'JanSporting' is another one of those internet-fueled misconceptions that people, especially college students, use to prevent bad outcomes from excessive alcohol consumption," said Dr. Ralph Riviello, vice chair of clinical operations at Drexel University's Department of Emergency Medicine. While "the backpack theoretically can prevent someone from rolling onto their back, aspiration can occur in other positions, and the degree of intoxication and responsiveness are the biggest determinants of aspiration."

He said if a friend is so drunk that unconscious vomiting is a concern, calling 911 is the right and immediate thing to do.

"If someone is that drunk that you are considering putting a backpack on them, you need to call 911. They need to be transported to ED for evaluation," Riviello said.

He said a common misconception among young people, particularly underage college students, is that going to an emergency room for intoxication will lead to ramifications with their college administrators.

But details of their hospital trip are protected by privacy rights and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act known as HIPAA.

"We see a lot of college kids on Friday or Saturday. We never would report them to the Dean’s office or campus officials," Riviello said. "We would encourage kids to seek help or visit their student health center and that sort of thing, but we don’t call the school."

The one call doctors and nurses might make? "We may call your parents if you’re underage and they are close enough to pick you up," he said.

Still, as recent college tragedies should teach other young people, Riviello said it’s better to get to a doctor quickly and live than worry about the embarrassment and fallout from being dangerously intoxicated.

"If you're that sick or you're that out of it, you need medical attention," Riviello said. "Your drunk friends aren’t going to provide the amount of attention that you need."



Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA['Scam': Kimmel Slams 'Kimmel Test' Senator's Bill]]> Wed, 20 Sep 2017 09:02:18 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Kimmel-Cassidy.jpg

Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel sounded off on Tuesday to blast Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy for his part in crafting the latest GOP health care proposal that, Kimmel said, goes against the promises the senator had made to him on his show. 

Kimmel had discussed health care with Cassidy after the late-night host revealed in early May that his newborn son had open-heart surgery to fix birth defects. This led Kimmel to deliver an emotional message to Congress, pleading for affordable health care for Americans, especially those in similar situations.

Cassidy then famously coined the "Jimmy Kimmel test" phrase, saying families like Kimmel's should not have to deal with high premiums, lifetime caps and rate hikes when it comes to coverage. A week after Kimmel's plea, the Louisiana senator appeared on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" to expand on his idea of affordable health care.

Kimmel is now claiming Cassidy "lied right to my face" in that conversation.


Cassidy delivered his replacement for the Affordable Health Care Act last week. In a proposed bill written with Sen. Lindsey Graham, states would receive block grants and cuts would be made to Medicaid, among other things.

"This new bill (passes) a different 'Jimmy Kimmel test,'" Kimmel said on his show. "In this one, your child with a pre-existing condition will get the care he needs if, and only if, his father is Jimmy Kimmel. Otherwise, you might be screwed." 

He claimed the Graham-Cassidy bill would kick 30 million Americans off their insurance and give states certain control over lifetime caps and coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. The Congressional Budget Office said it plans to deliver an initial analysis on the bill early next week, but can't do a full analysis by the end of the month. That's when a crucial deadline hits for Senate Republicans to act under special budget rules. 

In the meantime, groups including the American Medical Association and AARP have come out against the proposal. 

Kimmel went on to argue this latest bill is "actually worse" than the GOP's previous attempt to replace the ACA. That "skinny repeal" came to a halt when Republican Sen. John McCain delivered the deciding vote against it in the early hours of July 28.

Before McCain went thumbs down, GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski also voted "no."

"I hope they have the courage and good sense to do that again with this one," Kimmel said of the Graham-Cassidy proposal, calling it a "scam of a bill." 


"Health care is complicated. It's boring. I don't want to talk about it… And that's what these guys are relying on," Kimmel continued. "Most of the congresspeople who vote on this bill probably won't even read it, and they want us to do the same thing. They want us to treat it like an iTunes service agreement." 

Cassidy responded to Kimmel's heated monologue with a statement late Tuesday. 

"We have a September 30th deadline on our promise," the senator wrote. "Let's finish the job. We must because there is a mother and father whose child will have insurance because of Graham Cassidy Heller Johnson. There is someone whose pre-existing condition will be addressed because of GCHJ. I dedicated my medical career to care for such as these; this is why GCHJ must pass." 

Speaking on CNN Wednesday morning, Cassidy also argued that "more people will have coverage and we'll protect people with pre-existing conditions."

"I'm sorry he does not understand," Cassidy said of Kimmel.

Independent analysts have said the proposal allows states to take action that could raise the cost of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Cassidy said that if a state applied for a waiver it must provide affordable coverage.  

As Kimmel urged viewers to call their representatives with opposition to the bill, he offered one final reason why he renewed his health care debate.

"Before you post a nasty Facebook message saying I'm politicizing my son's health problems, I want you to know, I am politicizing my son's health problems because I have to," Kimmel said. "My family has health insurance. We don't have to worry about this, but other people do."




Photo Credit: Files
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Infected Puppies Put 9 in Hospital, Sicken 30 More]]> Mon, 11 Sep 2017 18:22:19 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-55656729.jpg

Puppies carrying a common germ have infected 39 people, putting nine of them into the hospital, federal health officials told NBC News.

The cases are all linked to puppies sold in seven states by the pet store chain Petland, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The infection, called Campylobacter, is common in dogs and it can pass to people easily.

“The ill people are from seven states (Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin),” the CDC said. The illnesses go back nearly a year, to September of 2016.

Dogs infected with Campylobacter might look perfectly well, but they can also have diarrhea, vomiting, or a fever. In people, symptoms include diarrhea, sometimes bloody; fever; stomach cramps; nausea and vomiting.



Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[FDA Recalls Pacemakers Over Fear of Hackers]]> Fri, 01 Sep 2017 14:32:41 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/drvisit_1200x675.jpg

The Food and Drug Administration is recalling 465,000 pacemakers over fears that they could be hacked.

The pacemakers are to be uploaded with new secure software after the FDA discovered cybersecurity vulnerabilities that would allow a hacker to take over the medical device that controls the heart.

Pacemaker brands from Abbott -- the Accent, Anthem, Accent MRI, Accent ST, Assurity, and Allure -- are included in the recall.

Patients do not need another surgery. The FDA said the recall requires an in-person patient visit with a health-care provider. An update of the firmware, the device's permanent software, will take approximately 3 minutes to complete.

According to the FDA, while the pacemaker is being updated, it will operate in backup mode, pacing at 67 beats per minute, and essential, life-sustaining features will remain available. At the completion, the device will return to its pre-update settings.

"To further protect our patients, Abbott has developed new firmware with additional security measures that can be installed on our pacemakers," said Robert Ford, an Abbot executive vice president for medical devices, in a statement about the update. 

The FDA approved the firmware update last week.

Cybersecurity concerning patients' medical devices and their associated computers, networks, programs, and data focuses on protecting them from unintended or unauthorized access, change, or destruction.

The FDA said there have been no reports of unauthorized access to any patient's implanted device, and according to an advisory issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, compromising the security of the devices would require a highly complex set of circumstances.



Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>