Clintons Dismiss Calls for Mental Health Reform and Demand Gun Ban

Both Bill and Hillary Clinton reacted to President Trump’s Monday morning remarks on the deadly shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, dismissing his push for mental health-based reform and calling for the ban of “assault weapons.”

Trump addressed the nation Monday on the deadly shootings that occurred over the weekend, resulting in more than 30 fatalities and dozens of injuries. He unequivocally condemned racism, bigotry, and white supremacy, calling them “sinister ideologies” that “must be defeated.”

“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy,” Trump said. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America, hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul.”

While the president called for bipartisan solutions – including “red flag” laws – he urged lawmakers to address the festering mental health crisis in the nation as well.

“Mental illness and hatred pull the trigger, not the gun,” the president noted.

Both Clintons took issue with Trump’s position.

“People suffer from mental illness in every other country on earth; people play video games in virtually every other country on earth,” Hillary Clinton tweeted. “The difference is the guns.”:

People suffer from mental illness in every other country on earth; people play video games in virtually every other country on earth.

The difference is the guns.

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 5, 2019

Former President Bill Clinton took it a step further and renewed calls for an “assault weapons” ban, despite the fact that the 1994 ban did not have any tangible effect.

“How many more people have to die before we reinstate the assault weapons ban & the limit on high-capacity magazines & pass universal background checks?” Clinton asked.

“After they passed in 1994, there was a big drop in mass shooting deaths,” he claimed. “When the ban expired, they rose again. We must act now.”:

How many more people have to die before we reinstate the assault weapons ban & the limit on high-capacity magazines & pass universal background checks? After they passed in 1994, there was a big drop in mass shooting deaths. When the ban expired, they rose again. We must act now.

— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) August 5, 2019

“The ban lasted from 1994 to 2004 and, although crime fell during that time, a ‘detailed study found no proof’ the decline was due to the ban,” Breitbart News’s AWR Hawkins reported.

Even the New York Times admitted that “the law that barred the sale of assault weapons from 1994 to 2004 made little difference.”

Additionally:

Hard numbers showed the percentage of “assault weapons” recovered by police during the ban only rose from 1 percent to 2 percent.

On top of all this, the Times points out that “assault weapons” are not the gun of choice for criminals anyway–and never have been. “In 2012, only 322 people were murdered with any kind of rifle, FBI data shows.” And as Breitbart News reported on January 15, 2013, deaths in which an “assault rifle” were involved constituted less than .012 percent of the overall deaths in America in 2011.

The nitty-gritty details of the 1994 assault weapons ban demonstrate the fundamental flaws in the left’s solutions for gun violence. The 1994 assault weapons ban identified five features and barred any semi-automatic rifle that possessed two of the five. Flagged features included a flash suppressor, pistol grip, collapsible stock, bayonet mount, and a grenade launcher. As the list demonstrates, the features were primarily cosmetic and did nothing to increase firepower.

As The Federalist’s Sean Davis explained in 2016:

The 1994 assault weapons law banned semi-automatic rifles only if they had any two of the following five features in addition to a detachable magazine: a collapsible stock, a pistol grip, a bayonet mount, a flash suppressor, or a grenade launcher.

That’s it. Not one of those cosmetic features has anything whatsoever to do with how or what a gun fires. Note that under the 1994 law, the mere existence of a bayonet lug, not even the bayonet itself, somehow turned a garden-variety rifle into a bloodthirsty killing machine. Guns with fixed stocks? Very safe. But guns where a stock has more than one position? Obviously they’re murder factories. A rifle with both a bayonet lug and a collapsible stock? Perish the thought.

A collapsible stock does not make a rifle more deadly. Nor does a pistol grip. Nor does a bayonet mount. Nor does a flash suppressor.

The New York Times admitted in 2014 that Democrats manufactured the term “assault weapons” in order to ban a “politically defined category of guns — a selection of rifles, shotguns and handguns with ‘military-style’ features’” and added that those weapons “only figured in about 2 percent of gun crimes nationwide before the ban.”

This content was originally published here.

Heavy metal music may have a bad reputation, but it has numerous mental health benefits for fans

Summary: Heavy metal music may have a bad reputation, but a new study reveals the music has positive mental health benefits for its fans.

Source: The Conversation

Due to its extreme sound and aggressive lyrics, heavy metal music is often associated with controversy. Among the genre’s most contentious moments, there have been instances of blasphemous merchandise, accusations of promoting suicide and blame for mass school shootings. Why, then, if it’s so “bad”, do so many people enjoy it? And does this music genre really have a negative effect on them?

There are many reasons why people align themselves with genres of music. It may be to feel a sense of belonging, because they enjoy the sound, identify with the lyrical themes, or want to look and act a certain way. For me, as a quiet, introverted teenager, my love of heavy metal was probably a way to feel a little bit different to most people in my school who liked popular music and gain some internal confidence. Plus, I loved the sound of it.

I first began to listen to heavy metal when I was 14 or 15 years old when my uncle recorded a ZZ Top album for me and I heard singles by AC/DC and Bon Jovi. After that, I voraciously read music magazines Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Metal Forces, and RAW, and checked out as many back catalogs of artists as I could. I also grew my hair (yes, I had a mullet … twice), wore a denim jacket with patches (thanks mum), and attended numerous concerts by established artists like Metallica and The Wildhearts, as well as local Bristol bands like Frozen Food.

Over the years, there has been much research into the effects of heavy metal. I have used it as one of the conditions in my own studies exploring the impact of sound on performance. More specifically, I have used thrash metal (a fast and aggressive sub-genre of heavy metal) to compare music our participants liked and disliked (with metal being the music the did not enjoy). This research showed that listening to music you dislike, compared to music that you like, can impair spatial rotation (the ability to mentally rotate objects in your mind), and both liked and disliked music are equally damaging to short-term memory performance.

Other researchers have studied more specifically why people listen to heavy metal, and whether it influences subsequent behavior. For people who are not fans of heavy metal, listening to the music seems to have a negative impact on well-being. In one study, non-fans who listened to classical music, heavy metal, self-selected music, or sat in silence following a stressor, experienced greater anxiety after listening to heavy metal. Listening to the other music or sitting in silence, meanwhile, showed a decrease in anxiety. Interestingly heart rate and respiration decreased over time for all conditions.

Metalheads and headbangers

Looking further into the differences between heavy metal fans and non-fans, research has shown that fans tend to be more open to new experiences, which manifests itself in preferring music that is intense, complex, and unconventional, alongside a negative attitude towards institutional authority. Some do have lower levels of self-esteem, however, and a need for uniqueness.

One might conclude that this and other negative behaviors are the results of listening to heavy metal, but the same research suggests that it may be that listening to music is cathartic. Late adolescent/early adult fans also tend to have higher levels of depression and anxiety but it is not known whether the music attracts people with these characteristics or causes them.

Heavy metal has positive effects on fans of all ages. The image is adapted from The Conversation news release.

Despite the often violent lyrical content in some heavy metal songs, recently published research has shown that fans do not become sensitized to violence, which casts doubt on the previously assumed negative effects of long-term exposure to such music. Indeed, studies have shown long-terms fans were happier in their youth and better adjusted in middle age compared to their non-fan counterparts. Another finding that fans who were made angry and then listened to heavy metal music did not increase their anger but increased their positive emotions suggests that listening to extreme music represents a healthy and functional way of processing anger.

Other investigations have made rather unusual findings on the effects of heavy metal. For example, you might not want to put someone in charge of adding hot sauce to your food after listening to the music, as a study showed that participants added more to a person’s cup of water after listening to heavy metal than when listening to nothing at all.

Finally, heavy metal can promote scientific thinking but alas not just by listening to it. Educators can promote scientific thinking by posing claims such as listening to certain genres of music is associated with violent thinking. By examining the aforementioned accusations of violence and offense – which involved world-famous artists like Cradle of Filth, Ozzy Osbourne, and Marilyn Manson – students can engage in scientific thinking, exploring logical fallacies, research design issues, and thinking biases.

So, you beautiful people, whether you’re heading out to the highway to hell or the stairway to heaven, walk this way. Metal can make you feel like nothing else matters. It’s so easy to blow your speakers and shout it out loud. Dig!

About this neuroscience research article

Source:
The Conversation
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The image is adapted from The Conversation news release.

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Elderly couple suicide: High medical bills blamed for elderly Washington couple found dead in apparent murder-suicide; left notes about high health care cost – CBS News

A sheriff’s department in Washington state shared a story about an elderly man who killed his ailing wife and then himself, apparently because they did not have enough money to pay for medical care. The devastating story was shared on the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page and has gone viral. 

A 77-year-old man called 911 and told the dispatcher, “I’m going to kill myself,” according to the sheriff’s department. He indicated he had prepared a note with instructions and the dispatcher tried to keep him on the line, with no success. The man disconnected the call, and when deputies arrived at the house, they sent a robot mounted camera inside.

Both the man and his wife were found dead by gunshot wounds. Detectives are investigating it as a likely murder-suicide. 

Murder / Suicide near Ferndale

At 0823 hours this morning deputies responded to the 6500 block of Timmeran Lane near…

Posted by

“Several notes were left citing severe ongoing medical problems with the wife and expressing concerns that the couple did not have sufficient resources to pay for medical care,” the sheriffs department’s post reads. “Next of kin information was left in a note and detectives are working with out of state law enforcement to notify the next of kin.”

The identity of the couple has not been released. Their two dogs were brought to the Human Society for care. Several firearms were also impounded.

“It is very tragic that one of our senior citizens would find himself in such desperate circumstances where he felt murder and suicide were the only option,” Sheriff Bill Elfo said, according to the post. “Help is always available with a call to 9-1-1.”

Americans spend more on health care than citizens of any other country, and that gap is projected to widen. Health care spending is expected to consume almost 20% of the U.S. gross domestic product by 2027, according to a recent estimate from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 

Suicide rates have increased among all age groups in the U.S. between 2008 and 2017, including those age 65 and over.

How to get help for yourself or a loved one

If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or thinking about suicide, talk to someone who can help, such as a trusted loved one, your doctor, your licensed mental health professional if you already have one, or go to the nearest hospital emergency department.

If you believe your loved one or friend is at risk of suicide, do not leave him or her alone. Try to get the person to seek help from a doctor or the nearest hospital emergency department or dial 911. It’s important to remove access to firearms, medications, or any other potential tools they might use to harm themselves.

For immediate help if you are in a crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.

-Ashley Welch contributed to this report.

This content was originally published here.

Canada has an excellent health care plan. Bernie Sanders’s might be even better

During last night’s Democratic debates, Senator Bernie Sanders naturally talked up his signature policy point, his Medicare for All proposal. He also made a familiar comparison, describing a bus trip he made from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, with Americans who fill prescriptions in the northern country at a fraction of what they cost south of the border.

“I took 15 people with diabetes from Detroit a few miles into Canada,” he said in last night’s debate, “and we bought insulin for one-tenth the price being charged by the crooks who run the pharmaceutical industry in America today.”

The differences between the two countries’ health plans are often highlighted in arguments for extending universal health care to all Americans, while eliminating private insurance. The US is the only industrial nation without universal health care, so it’s handy that such a close neighbor serves as an example of how it works. But, in fact, there are a few ways that Sanders’s plan would provide even more comprehensive coverage than Canada’s.

As Sanders said in a post-debate interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, his version of Medicare for All would include dental, vision, and hearing care for seniors in the first year of a transition to universal coverage. By the fourth year, all Americans would be eligible for the same benefits. Presumably, so would a plan under Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is “with Bernie” on healthcare. Senator Kamala Harris should be asked to clarify her stance on related co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses during Wednesday’s debate (July 31), the Washington Post suggests, though her proposal, which doesn’t eliminate private companies, does suggest the same type of comprehensive coverage.

What few Americans may realize is that these particular aspects of care are not entirely covered by Canada’s provincial health plans. But they’d certainly be an asset to the United States’ population—and particularly to senior citizens. Growing evidence suggests that a person’s vision, hearing abilities, and oral hygiene could all be connected to cognitive health.

The case for covering seniors’ hearing, dental, and vision care

Seniors are among the fastest growing demographics in the US, with those over 65 expected to outnumber children under 18 by 2030. Older adults have distinct health needs compared to younger adults: Namely, they’re at the highest risk of developing dementia. Already, about one in 10 adults over 65 is living with Alzheimer’s disease (the most common form of dementia), although the rate is higher among communities of color—which happen to be the fastest-growing aging populations in the US.

Rapid cognitive decline can result from several kinds of misshapen proteins building up in the brain. But the many pathways to dementia are still poorly understood—and at this point, impossible to prevent or treat. It’s costly, too: Currently, the US spends $290 billion (pdf) caring for those living with Alzheimer’s in particular, and the Alzheimer’s Association, a non-profit organization, estimates that that figure will reach $770 billion by 2050.

Some research has suggested there may be a relationship between poor oral hygiene, , and hearing abilities and developing cognitive decline or dementia. In the absence of successful tactics to prevent the conditions, some experts hope that interventions connected to these three functions could help slow or prevent dementia.

Suzann Pershing, an ophthalmologist at Stanford University School of Medicine, conducted a study published in JAMA Ophthalmology that found an association between poor vision and lower cognitive ability in older populations. She told the New York Times that “while this association doesn’t prove vision loss causes cognitive decline, intuitively it makes sense that the less engaged people are with the world, the less cognitive stimulation they receive, and the more likely their cognitive function will decline.”

The same is thought to be true of hearing loss, which can lead to social isolation. (Consider that even adults who don’t have hearing problems are liable to give up on conversation in a loud place.) Another possibility to explain this link, AARP magazine reports, is that straining to hear and understand sounds can put extra stress on the brain. “The benefits of correcting hearing loss on cognition are twice as large as the benefits from any cognitive-enhancing drugs now on the market,” Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, told AARP magazine. “It should be the first thing we focus on.”

The connection to dental care is a little trickier. Preliminary research has shown that Porphyromonas gingivalis, a type of bacteria that causes periodontitis, is more commonly found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s not clear if the bacteria itself plays a role in the brain’s deterioration, or if people living with dementia end up unable to take proper care of their teeth, resulting in severe infections.

To be clear, there are no known direct causes of dementia; there just appear to be risk factors that could lead to the condition. Suffering from hearing impairment, vision loss, or gum disease certainly does not lead to cognitive decline in everyone. But by the same token, every senior stands to gain from total vision, dental, and hearing coverage—perhaps especially those already dealing with cognitive impairment.

Canada is not a great role model for these forms of care

Which is why Sanders’s proposal stands to serve US seniors even better than Canada’s system serves its own elderly citizens. Across Canada, eye exams and treatments for conditions affecting the eyes are covered under provincial health plans. But lenses, frames, and contact lenses typically are not, except for those people on financial assistance. And while hearing tests are covered, provincial governments offer either no assistance or only capped subsidies for hearing aids, which are notoriously expensive.

Dental coverage for most seniors is missing entirely, until someone is in so much pain that they visit an emergency room. Most employers offer dental and vision coverage, but once a person retires, those benefits vanish, and relatively pricey private insurance becomes the only option.

The other leading Democratic candidates in the US have addressed seniors’ concerns in their policy talking points. As they should, if they’re aware of demographic trends and the fact that more senior voters are moving to the left. But only the Sanders platform—and by default Elizabeth Warren’s—is as specific about full universal coverage for these three issues.

One day, Bernie’s bus may need to travel to Canada again—this time bearing pointers for his neighbor to the north.

This content was originally published here.

ACA heads back to court, with health care for millions on the line | MSNBC

Health care hasn’t been a front-burner issue for the political world in recent months, but today in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, the fight over the Affordable Care Act returns to the national spotlight.

A panel of federal judges in New Orleans takes up the future of Obamacare on Tuesday, hearing from states that say it’s unconstitutional and from Justice Department lawyers directed by President Donald Trump to oppose the entire law, too.

The Texas v. United States case is as multifaceted as it is important, so let’s dig in with some Q&A.

It’s been a few months since I’ve thought about this and I’m feeling a little rusty. What are we talking about again?

The U.S. Supreme Court already sided with the ACA – twice – but the Republican tax plan changed the policy landscape a bit. As regular readers may recall, when GOP policymakers approved their regressive tax plan, they simultaneously zeroed out the health care law’s individual mandate penalty. And that, in turn, gave several far-right attorneys general an idea: they could once again file suit against “Obamacare,” arguing that the penalty-free mandate is unconstitutional, and given the mandate’s importance to the system, the entire law should be torn down.

That sounds like a rather desperate ploy. Is anyone actually buying this argument?

Yes. Shortly after the 2018 midterm elections, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor – a Bush-appointed jurist in Texas – agreed so enthusiastically with the Republican arguments that he struck down the entirety of the Affordable Care Act. That ruling, however, didn’t go into effect, and it’s currently on hold as the appeals process moves forward.

I’ve heard for months that this case was about Republicans trying to get rid of protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, but it sounds like that ruling was even more sweeping.

Correct. The judge in the case could’ve ruled against the ACA in a narrower way, but he decided instead to take a sledgehammer to the American health care system, because he felt like it, giving Republicans even more than they expected.

Did the ruling make sense?

It did not. Even some conservative legal experts, who’ve been deeply critical of the ACA, have criticized the decision, with one calling it “embarrassingly bad.”

So the 5th Circuit will reverse it, right?

For health-care advocates, that’s certainly the hope. The trouble is, the case will appear before a three-judge panel, and two of the judges were nominated by Republican presidents: one from George W. Bush, the other from Donald Trump. (The third judge in this case was a Carter appointee.)

Didn’t I hear something about a possible standing issue?

The 5th Circuit recently asked both sides in this case to explain why those defending the ACA have the right to participate in the case.

I’m confused. Why wouldn’t they?

Because originally, the case pitted Republican opponents of the health-care law against the Justice Department, which was responsible for defending the ACA. The Trump administration, however, switched sides, endorsed the Republican argument, and asked the judiciary to destroy the existing health care system. Congressional Democrats and several state attorneys general intervened to defend the law, but there’s some question as to whether or not the 5th Circuit will allow them to argue the case.

And if the appeals court rejects the appeal over standing concerns?

Then the lower court ruling would stand and the case would be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Is that likely?

For now, that’s unclear. It’s possible the 5th Circuit was just being thorough, and once the standing issue is resolved, the case will focus in earnest on the mandate and the question of whether the entirety of the ACA must be torn down. (Even Trump’s Justice Department has conceded that Democrats should be seen as having standing in this case.)

My family has health security because of the ACA and you’re making me awfully nervous.

In the short term, don’t panic. The Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land, the consensus among legal experts is that the case against the law is very weak.

That said, those same legal experts thought no judge in his/her right mind would take the last anti-health-care lawsuit seriously, and three Supreme Court justices endorsed it anyway. The high court is even more conservative now than it was a few years ago.

You’re still not making me feel better.

Well, then let me close with one final observation. The last time the Supreme Court considered the legality of “Obamacare,” it prevailed in a 6-3 ruling. Of the six justices in the majority – Roberts, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor – five are still on the nine-member bench. It’s why, when push comes to shove, most of the people involved in this fight believe common sense and a sensible approach to the law will ultimately prevail.

Three hours of oral arguments will begin in Louisiana later today.

This content was originally published here.

7 Heart Numbers That Could Reveal Health Risks

Resting heart rate

Your resting heart rate is simply how many times your heart beats per minute while you’re at rest. A lower resting heart rate is associated with a lower risk of death.  That’s because a lower rate is usually a sign of greater cardiovascular fitness. Athletes, for example, are more likely to have a low resting heart rate because they’re in better physical shape. (Certain medications, including beta-blockers used to control blood pressure, can also lower heart rate.) A condition known as bradycardia, in which the heart rate is too slow, occurs most often in older people.

A good time to check your resting heart rate is first thing in the morning, before getting out of bed. Check it regularly; an exercise monitor can help, but you can do it easily without one. Just take your pulse for 15 seconds and multiply by 4. If you notice that the rate is beginning to trend upward, you may need to boost how much you’re exercising. A rise in resting heart rate over a 10-year period was associated with an increased risk of death, according to a study of more than 29,000 participants that was published in the medical journal JAMA. 

For most people, a resting heart rate between 60 and 100 beats per minute is considered normal, but stress, hormones and medication can affect your rate. Although taking a brisk walk, swim or bike ride raises your heart rate temporarily, these activities make the heart more efficient over time. They may also help you lose weight, which can reduce your risk. If you are overweight or obese, your heart has to work to pump extra blood through your larger frame. Over time, an overworked heart muscle gets thicker, which can lead to heart failure. 

Blood glucose level

Your blood sugar level can fluctuate depending on the time of day, what you eat and when you eat. That’s why a fasting blood glucose test is the most commonly used way to take a reading. You want to see a number less than 100. The body’s inability to regulate blood glucose is the primary component of diabetes. As the digestive system breaks down food into sugar, insulin — a hormone made by the pancreas — helps transport blood glucose into your cells. Diabetes develops when there is too much sugar in the blood because the body either fails to make enough insulin or because the body’s cells become resistant to it. Your doctor may also order an A1c blood test, which is the primary screening used in diagnosing and managing diabetes. The A1c test measures a person’s blood sugar levels over the previous three months, and a normal A1c reading is below 5.7 percent.    A low-fat, low-sugar, high-protein diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains is the best dietary prescription for keeping blood sugar in check. Ensuring you get enough vitamin D is also critical; in studies, those with the highest levels of vitamin D in their bodies had the lowest risk of developing diabetes. Consider taking a D supplement of between 800 and 2,000 IU per day, and focus on eating high-protein foods such as dairy products fortified with vitamin D. 

Body mass index

Body mass index, or BMI, is a screening tool often used to determine body fat. It’s a ratio of weight to height that, when too high, can classify someone as overweight or obese. The higher the BMI, the greater the risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, certain cancers and other chronic illnesses. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers an online calculator to estimate your BMI. Generally, a BMI score between 18.5 and 24.9 indicates normal weight. Someone with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight; a score of 30 or higher is considered obese, a major risk factor for heart disease. 

But BMI doesn’t always accurately reflect a person’s body composition. Athletes and other people with very muscular builds may have a high BMI but little body fat. On the other end of the spectrum, BMI may underestimate body fat in older individuals who have lost a lot of muscle mass. 

If your BMI is too high, set realistic short- and long-term goals for dropping the excess pounds through healthy eating and exercise. Shedding as little as 5 percent of your body weight can result in significant changes to your health.

Waist circumference

Some experts consider waist circumference a better way to measure body fat than relying on BMI alone, and people who carry fat around their abdomen, instead of on the hips or elsewhere, are at greater risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. To measure your natural waist, grab an old- fashioned tape measure and stand without pushing out or sucking in your belly. Wrap the tape measure around your torso just above your hip bones. (If you lean to one side, a crease forms at the point of your natural waist.) Exhale, then measure. In general, men should aim for a waist circumference of less than 40 inches, while women should shoot for less than 35 inches.  


Studies have found that mixing brief bouts of fast walking, running or biking with longer stretches of slower-paced exercise is more effective at burning abdominal fat than only steady-state exercise. 

VO2 max

Unless you’re an athlete, you’ve probably never been tested for VO2 max. But this measurement can give you a unique perspective on your aerobic fitness. The higher the number, the healthier your overall cardiovascular system. (The numbers above represent the 50th percentile of fitness for 70-year-olds in the United States.)

VO2 max is typically measured by having the subject run on a treadmill to the point of exhaustion. But researchers have developed a calculator that allows you to plug in numbers such as your waist circumference and resting heart rate to determine your VO2 max at home. When the researchers tested their calculations against participants’ actual VO2 max tests, the results were remarkably accurate. The online calculator at worldfitnesslevel.org will tell you both your VO2 max score and your “fitness age,” giving you an idea of whether you’re as young as you feel.

Any kind of cardiovascular exercise — whether it’s running, biking, even weight training — done at a high enough intensity will help to improve your overall VO2 max score. 

This content was originally published here.

American Health Care Treats Canadians Who Cannot Wait

Canadian Medicare, our northern neighbor’s universal health care system, generally receives rave reviews from proponents of nationalized or socialized health care, but the Fraser Institute found that more than 63,000 Canadians left their country to have surgery in 2016.

As Americans contemplate overturning our health system in favor of one similar to Canada’s, we must ask why so many leave.

The Canadian system consistently ranks low or lowest across numerous metrics in the Commonwealth Fund’s extensive survey on health care. With regards to specialists and surgeries, the United States ranked best or nearly best.

The Fraser Institute study did not examine where Canadians traveled for surgery, but given proximity and our much better metrics, most probably came here.

Surgeries
are scheduled after patients are seen by the surgeon, and most people see
surgeons only after a referral by either their primary care physician in
America, or their general practitioner in Canada. In the United States, 70% of
patients are able to be seen by specialists less than four weeks after a
referral. In Canada, less than 40% were seen inside of four weeks.

After being advised that they need a procedure done, only about 35% of Canadians had their surgery within a month, whereas in the United States, 61% did. After four months, about 97% of Americans were able to have their surgery, whereas Canada struggled to achieve 80%.

America
is significantly outperforming Canada in surgery wait times even as it’s likely
that tens of thousands of Canadians come here to use the American system.

General surgery, procedures such as appendectomies, cholecystectomies, and hernia repairs, make up the largest portion of those who leave Canada for care. Based on the latest available date from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the total Canadian case load for many of these procedures is about 10% of America’s.

America’s
health system is certainly flawed and in need of reform, but there is clearly
something working well enough that our system, despite already treating 10
times more cases of appendicitis, can absorb the dissatisfied Canadians.

This
has been a consistent trend since at least 2014, when an estimated 52,513
Canadians left for their medical care. In 2015, the number went down slightly
to 45,619. 2016 exceeded the 2015 number with an estimated 63,459 patients
seeking care elsewhere.

Moreover, both countries have had comparable rates of private health insurance coverage for the past 20 years, roughly 60-70%. But the Canadian private insurance market is entirely supplemental—it covers co-payments for services not covered or not entirely covered by the provincial insurance.

Primary coverage, which is the predominant form of insurance in America, is all but illegal in Canada, and would be under “Medicare for All” as well.

In the United States, government insurance covers gaps left by the private market. Private insurance is the norm and Medicare and Medicaid provide a health insurance safety net for elderly or low-income Americans.

In Canada, government-provided Medicare is the primary form of insurance, and private plans merely fill in gaps in coverage for those with more disposable income or employee benefits. The two systems are mirror opposites of one another.

Health care is a product of the labor of physicians, nurses, technicians, and a whole ecosystem of health care workers. If making the government the primary payer for these services is so smart, why does the universal system next door shed patients by the tens of thousands to ours?

American health care can be improved and should be; American health care performs about middle-of-the-pack for many other items on the Commonwealth Fund survey. There are many inefficiencies, often government-imposed, that increase the cost of health care and restrict the insurance market.

The administration already has loosened some regulations that will give employers more flexibility in providing health benefits and has begun to push for price transparency, which also should bring down costs.

Whatever the case may be, reforming American health care should focus on enabling our strengths. Under no circumstance should we tear it down and build it anew to resemble the system whose citizens escape by the tens of thousands just to be treated in a timely manner.

The post American Health Care Treats Canadians Who Cannot Wait appeared first on The Daily Signal.

This content was originally published here.

World Health Organization declares Ebola outbreak an international emergency | Science | AAAS

An Ebola victim was laid to rest Sunday in Beni in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

World Health Organization declares Ebola outbreak an international emergency

The World Health Organization (WHO) today declared that the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which surfaced in August 2018, is an international emergency. The declaration raises the outbreak’s visibility and public health officials hope it will galvanize the international community to fight the spread of the frequently fatal disease.

“It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our effort,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. “We all owe it to [current] responders … to shoulder more of the burden.”

As of today, Ebola has infected more than 2500 people in the DRC during the new outbreak, killing more than 1650. By calling the current situation a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), WHO in Geneva, Switzerland, has placed it in a rare category that includes the 2009 flu pandemic, the Zika epidemic of 2016 and the 2-year Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa before it ended in 2016.

The declaration does not legally compel member states to do anything. “But it sounds a global alert,” says Lawrence Gostin, a global health lawyer at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. During the West African epidemic, for instance, the U.S. Congress supplied $5.4 billion in the months after WHO’s emergency declaration.

Even as they declared the emergency, WHO officials attempted to tamp down reactions they said could harm both the DRC’s economy and efforts to stop the outbreak. “This is still a regional emergency and [in] no way a global threat,” said Robert Steffen, the chair of the emergency committee that recommended the PHEIC designation and an epidemiologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, during a press teleconference today. He added in a written statement: “It is … crucial that states do not use the PHEIC as an excuse to impose trade or travel restrictions, which would have a negative impact on the response and on the lives and livelihoods of people in the region.”

The DRC’s minister of health, Oly Ilunga Kalenga, issued a statement accepting the declaration but expressing concern about its motives and the potential impact on his country. “The Ministry hopes that this decision is not the result of the many pressures from different stakeholder groups who wanted to use this statement as an opportunity to raise funds for humanitarian actors,” Kalenga wrote. He said such funds could come “despite potentially harmful and unpredictable consequences for the affected communities that depend greatly on cross-border trade for their survival.”

Steffen’s committee previously declined three times, most recently last month, to recommend that WHO declare the outbreak an international emergency. What changed, he said today, was the 14 July diagnosis of a case of Ebola in the large, internationally connected city of Goma, from which 15,000 people cross the border into Rwanda each day; the murders last weekend of two health workers in the city that is currently the Ebola epicenter of the DRC; a recurrence of intense transmission in that same city, Beni, meaning the disease now has a geographical reach of 500 kilometers; and the failure, after 11 months, to contain the outbreak.

Funding is also at issue. In June, WHO announced its funding to fight the outbreak fell $54 million short; today, accepting the emergency committee’s recommendation, Tedros said the funds needed to stop the virus “will run to the hundreds of millions. Unless the international community steps up and funds the response now, we will be paying for this outbreak for a long time to come.” (A written report from today’s meeting added: “The global community has not contributed sustainable and adequate technical assistance, human or financial resources for outbreak response.”)

When the first known Ebola case in Goma was diagnosed this week, concern spiked about international spread. In addition to being a metropolis of nearly 2 million people where Ebola may spread quickly and be difficult to trace, Goma has an international airport. Separately today, the government of Uganda, in conjunction with WHO, issued a statement describing the case of a fish trader who died of Ebola on 15 July; she had traveled from the DRC to Uganda on 11 July before returning to the DRC.

“Although there is no evidence yet of local transmission in either Goma or Uganda, these two events represent a concerning geographical expansion of the virus,” Tedros said. The risk of spread in DRC, [and] in the region, remains very high. And the risk of spread outside the region remains low.”

Last month, the outbreak’s first known Ebola fatalities outside the DRC were reported in a 5-year-old boy and his grandmother. The two had traveled from the DRC to Uganda after attending the funeral of a relative who died from Ebola.

Health officials are also worried about the safety of those battling the outbreak. Since January, WHO has recorded 198 attacks on health facilities and health workers in the DRC, killing seven, including two workers who were murdered during the night of 13-14 July in their home in Beni. The two northeastern DRC provinces that have experienced the outbreak are also plagued by poor infrastructure, political violence, and deep community distrust of health authorities.

Josie Golding, epidemics lead at the Wellcome Trust in London applauded the declaration of the public health emergency. “There is a grave risk of a major increase in numbers or spread to new locations. … This is perhaps the most complicated epidemic the world has ever had to face, yet still the response in the DRC remains overstretched and underfunded.”

Gostin called the declaration “long overdue. Until now the world has turned a blind eye to this epidemic. WHO has been soldiering on alone, bravely alone. And it’s beyond WHO’s capacity to deal with all of this violence and community distrust.”

PHEICs are governed by the International Health Regulations, a global agreement negotiated in the wake of the 2003 SARS outbreak. The regulations, in force since 2007, stipulate that a PHEIC should be declared when an “extraordinary” situation “constitute[s] a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease” and “potentially require[s] a coordinated international response.”

WHO officials also today addressed the thorny conflict over whether a second, experimental Ebola vaccine, in addition to a Merck vaccine that has already been given to 161,000 people in the DRC, should be deployed there now. Officials worry that Merck’s stockpile—although it is being stretched by reducing the dose of the vaccine being given to each recipient—will be depleted before the outbreak ends. But on 11 July, Kalenga gave a firm “no,” rejecting the use of any new experimental vaccine in the country because of unproven effectiveness and the potential for public confusion. (A Johnson and Johnson [J&J] vaccine that has been shown to be safe in healthy volunteers is waiting in the wings and its use has been advocated for by several infectious disease experts.)

But today, Michael Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said the organization still supports introducing the J&J vaccine if it can win “appropriate national approval.” “The Ministry has expressed concern about introducing a second vaccine … mainly around the issue of confusion in the local population. We are working through those issues about where and when the vaccine could be used,” Ryan said.

David Heymann, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and formerly WHO’s assistant director-general for Health Security and Environment, said today’s emergency declaration may have set a precedent. “The Emergency Committee appears to have interpreted the need for funding as one of the reasons a PHEIC was called—this has not been done in the past.”

This content was originally published here.

Child detention is a mental health crisis

The children who have been detained in overcrowded, squalid migrant camps at the border aren’t just facing poor living conditions. They are also facing higher risks of serious mental health problems, some of which could be irreparable.

The big picture: Children are fleeing life-or-death situations in their home countries, and instead of healing their psychological and emotional trauma, federal officials are exacerbating the damage through means that the medical community views as flagrant violations of medical ethics.


The literature is clear: People who seek asylum and are detained in immigration camps, especially children, suffer “severe mental health consequences.” Those include detachment, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, which put them at higher risk for committing suicide.

What they’re saying: Medical professionals remain appalled at what they’ve seen and are raising alarms the U.S. immigration system is still needlessly hurting the already vulnerable mental health of these kids.

  • Marsha Griffin, a pediatrician in Texas, visited the Ursula detention center in late June with colleagues from the American Academy of Pediatrics. She recalled a young boy in a cage crying because his father had been taken to court and he had lost his aunt’s phone number. Another child relinquished his space blanket, saying it led to nightmares. “This is child abuse and medical neglect,” Griffin said.

Between the lines: Parents and other adult caregivers are usually the only source of stability for children. Every expert interviewed said separating them in any capacity is psychologically damaging and morally intolerable.

  • “The children who are separated — I’m speechless,” said Rachel Ritvo, a child psychiatrist who has practiced at Children’s National Medical Center. “That was what was done in slavery. That’s what was done in the Holocaust.”

The bottom line: “Most kids will have lasting scars from what they have seen or are enduring right now,” said Wes Boyd, a psychiatrist and bioethicist at Harvard Medical School who has evaluated more than 100 asylum seekers in the past decade. “They’re going to need as much medical help as they do legal help.”

Go deeper: Growing up, and parenting, as a refugee

This content was originally published here.

A Black Immigrant Woman Is Now the Most Powerful Health Official in California

It was an early summer morning at the San Ysidro Health Center, situated on the Mexican border. A flu outbreak gripped a nearby ICE detention center, where a larger humanitarian crisis continued to unfold, threatening the future of hundreds of children.

In a small conference room, brimming with 20 or so of the San Diego area’s most diverse academic and activist minds, Nadine Burke-Harris sat at the head of the table. The 43-year-old pediatrician from San Francisco was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to become California’s first-ever state surgeon general in February. The role is part policymaker, part spokesperson, and full-time advocate for the state’s public health. All of which were needed to protect children at the border, as Burke-Harris later opined in the Washington Post.

In a country where Black people, immigrants, and women all report being unseen by medicine—in research, in practice, and in policy—Burke-Harris is all three. And she is poised to become one of the most powerful women in U.S. state-level government. Ever.

With that new leverage, Burke-Harris has heaved her political and medical capital not toward the expected battle cries—curing cancer, ending HIV infection, or undoing the opioid crisis—but on an affliction which most people don’t even know they experience: toxic stress. “I am not a surgeon general who is going to just tell people to eat right and exercise,” she said.

To Burke-Harris, toxic stress is not about enduring a long line at Starbucks, being ghosted, gentrification, or negativity. It cannot be cured by a warm bath, a juice cleanse, exercise, or meditation. It’s what she calls “higher allostatic load”: the ongoing wear and tear from structural instability, and it bears heavily on people of color, women, queer people, homeless people, poor people, and anyone whose existence is systematically marginalized. This is called John Henryism or weathering, and is worse than a cradle-to-grave crisis: It’s womb-to-grave.

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Burke-Harris, pictured left, visiting with community members. Image: Office of the Governor

Black women in the U.S. have double to triple the likelihood of giving birth to a premature child as their white counterparts, quadruple the risk of dying in childbirth, and double the risk of their infant dying within the first year after birth. Meanwhile, a 2018 research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association flagged the suicide risk of black boys aged 5 to 11 as triple that of white boys. Working-class men of color who escape the school-to-prison for-profit pipeline must try 16 times harder to get a therapy appointment than a middle-class white woman. A 2016 Journal of Health and Social Behavior study found that 30 percent of therapists responded to calls for help from middle-class white people, 21 percent to middle-class black women, and 13 percent to middle-class black men.

And on top of it all, a culture of intolerance makes the toxic stress even worse, what with BBQ Beckys, the outcries over a black Little Mermaid, the stigmatization of black athletes and their strength, and the everyday silencing of black pain. And the racial divide is widening.

It’s a good thing, then, that Burke-Harris has been readying herself for a role like this for her whole adult life. Burke-Harris was born in Canada to Jamaican parents; her father brought the family to Palo Alto when he got a Fulbright to teach biochemistry at Stanford. But she knows what it feels like to never feel quite settled in a country. She watched her mother nurse a brother’s 105-degree fever rather than go to the hospital, fearing it might endanger their immigration status. Nonetheless, she climbed quickly: undergrad at Berkeley, medical school at UC Davis, a public health degree at Harvard, and a residency at Stanford, where she was the only black person in her class. In medical school, someone assuming she was a janitor barked that she should “get a mop and mop up that mess.” She declined.

When asked if it’s stressful—as a public official, as a woman, as a minority, as an immigrant—to shoulder California’s hopes, she resists. “Why would I choose that when I can choose joy?” she said.

But Burke-Harris isn’t an advocate in the way one might presume. At the luncheon in San Diego, her telling of a story about an asthmatic 10-year-old girl took a sharp turn from anecdote to diagnosis, casually racing through medical specifications. She paused. “I’m new to public office,” she said unapologetically. “I’m a doctor.” The room erupted in laughter—Burke-Harris’s as well.

She debuted in the national consciousness as many these days do, via a viral video. In her TED talk—watched 2.3 million times since it posted in 2015—she discussed a kind of man-made pathogen tied to 7 out of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. “Folks who are exposed in very high doses have triple the risk of heart disease and lung cancer,” she said, “and a 20-year difference in life expectancy.” The talk was about childhood trauma and toxic stress, which she later outlined in more detail in her book, The Deepest Well. The clinic she ran in one of the worst neighborhoods in San Francisco has been envied nationally and mimicked—badly—in New York.

But for all her scientific rigor, she is full of surprises. “Did you see Night School?” she asked me in the car, racing between back-to-back meetings. “There’s a scene in there where Tiffany Haddish asks Kevin Hart ‘What happened to you?’ instead of ‘What’s wrong with you?’ I’m probably the only person who cheered the medical accuracy there.”

Her friends say it’s not by chance that she reached this level. “Even back then, it was clear that she was guided by a fierce desire to help those who could not help themselves,” said Vivek Murthy, who, at 37, became the nation’s youngest-ever U.S. Surgeon General in 2014. Murthy and Harris-Burke are fellow alumni in the Soros Fellow program and share a dorky coffee mug with their faces on it. And they are aligned on their approach to health. “For most people and policymakers, prevention is less tangible than treatment,” Murthy said. “It’s much easier to picture treating someone with a heart attack than it is to imagine altering the complex threads that determine whether a future heart attack occurs.”

Kimberlydawn Wisdom is Michigan’s state surgeon general, the first state SG in the country, and a close friend. She said Burke-Harris’ appointment is a dream outcome. “California has the power to change the game as no other state,” Wisdom said. “Suddenly I can picture, in my own lifetime, every state and territory having their own surgeon general. It’s just too bad there’s only one Nadine. She’s proof that we’re evolving as a society to include not just diversity but also different perspectives, the true strength of real diversity.”

In her TED talk—watched 2.3 million times—she discussed a kind of man-made pathogen tied to 7 out of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S.

California’s reputation as a game-changer is well-earned. In 1990, San Luis Obispo, nestled in the central part of the state, became the first city in the world to ban all indoor smoking in public places, including bars and restaurants; California was the first state to ban smoking in the workplace in 1995 and, in June, Beverly Hills became the first U.S. city to ban tobacco sales.

California similarly has been a leader in requiring LGBTQ history in schools and banning gay conversion therapy, pushing for over-the-counter access to PrEP for HIV, legalizing medical and recreational marijuana, and pioneering needle exchanges. Pregnant Californians are entitled to four months of paid leave and new parents get three months (unpaid) to bond with their newborn, compared to the federal law, which doesn’t protect any amount of time. This year, California also passed a law much more revealing of baked-in bigotry: it became the first state to ban race-based hair discrimination.

Back in San Ysidro, Burke-Harris toured a maternal health building, complimenting breastfeeding posters (some in Tagalog), praising a cooking program that teaches recipes based on local grocery coupons, and asking lab technicians what software they’re using. But it was later, meeting with other pediatric activists, that the impact of her training became clear. “Working with children, we’re working with families and working with generations,” she said.”There’s a built-in comprehensiveness.” It makes for one hell of a training ground for public policy.

But before launching any new programs, Burke-Harris wants more data, so she helped pass a law requiring all recipients of Medicaid in California to have their Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) scores evaluated and reported. This provides a metric through which to measure toxic stress.The program is $45 million to implement and $60 million to follow through over three years.

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Burke-Harris visiting with community members. Image: Office of the Governor

That’s music to Bruce Baldwin’s ears. Baldwin, a 63-year-old tobacco prevention treatment coordinator in California’s rural north, always thought early experimentation with alcohol and stronger drugs—beginning at 12—derailed his life. People would tell him to “be a man, tough it out.” But then he got sober, and his problems remained. It was only with more awareness that he realized his ACE score—the impact of an impoverished childhood without a mother—played a part too. “ACE scores go back further than you can even remember. Your body remembers, though.” He’s hoping Burke-Harris’ impact will help more people like him. “She changed my life with a YouTube video,” he said of her TED talk. “Imagine what she’ll be able to do with real power.”

As both of us packed our things into TSA trays at San Diego’s airport, I asked Burke-Harris to name something she wanted to be common knowledge a generation from now. “Heart attacks start in childhood,” she said without hesitation. “That’s why this is so important. It is the root of the root of pretty much every root. It’s where, how, and why everything begins.”

I asked her about her frequent analogy that toxic stress will be for the 21st century what infectious diseases were to the 20th century. Does that mean her goal is to be the Jonas Salk of our time?

“Yes,” she said with searing determination, her eyes aglow with the superpower of being seen. “That’s exactly what I want to do.”

This content was originally published here.