Health » Medical Unit The latest Health news and blog posts from ABC News contributors and bloggers. Thu, 12 Feb 2015 18:36:24 +0000 en hourly 1 Napping at Work Movement Boosted by Eye-Opening Study Wed, 11 Feb 2015 01:30:37 +0000 Enjoli Francis GTY napping jef 150210 16x9 608 Napping at Work Movement Boosted by Eye Opening Study

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There’s new science out today attempting to debunk the commonly held workplace belief that if you snooze, you lose.

Researchers in France studying a small group of young, healthy men found that when the men experienced a night of sleep deprivation — just two hours of sleep were allowed — the group showed a significant increase in their stress-hormone levels the next day.

After the men were allowed to take two 30-minute naps, however, their hormone levels decreased to where they would be after a full eight-hour night of sleep.

Tricks for the best nap ever.

Arianna Huffington’s sleep challenge to eliminate stress.

Some companies giving workers the OK to power nap on the job.

The study’s findings were published in Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults get an average of seven to eight hours of sleep a night. But according to the National Institutes of Health,  40 percent of American adults are sleep-deprived.

Companies have been splurging on sleep pods because previous studies have found that sleep deprivation can decrease decision-making, reaction time and memory by as much as 50 percent.

MetroNaps, which produces the pods, said it had found people who took a 20-minute nap experienced a 30 percent boost in alertness, making them more productive.

Google, NASA and the Huffington Post are among the employers encouraging their employees to catch some Zs in sleep pods and the tiny spheres continue to grow in popularity.

“I’ve seen so many people who come up to me and say, ‘I’ve had like a second day given to me because I had a 20-minute nap,’” said Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post.

ABC News’ Maggy Patrick contributed to this story.


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The Dirty Little Secret That May Lead to New Antibiotics Thu, 08 Jan 2015 21:59:07 +0000 ABC News

There’s a growing list of superbugs that antibiotics are barely keeping up with — MRSA, C.difficile and tuberculosis — and some are even untreatable but a recent study has revealed that scientists may have have found new antibiotics to potentially save thousands of lives, in of all places dirt.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 million people get infected by resistant bacteria and 23,000 die yearly.

Researchers have not found a new type of antibiotic since 1987.

Most antibiotics are derived from natural chemicals that microbes produce to fight other microbes.

Between 1940-1960, antibiotics were discovered by looking for these chemicals. Eventually, new drug discovery ground to a halt because all the microbes that could be grown in a laboratory had been tested and researchers could not find a way to get the billions of other bacteria to grow in a lab — they’d only grow in soil.

A study published in Nature Wednesday says that has changed.

In the study, researchers at Northeastern University in Boston said they not only found a new method that gets thousands of these microbes that only grow in soil to grow in a laboratory but they also said that some of these microbes looked like they may make antibiotics.

One of them in particular called Teixobactin seemed to stand out as a new weapon — at least in their studies in mice — that could kill superbugs.

According to researchers, tests used in the study could be done on humans in three to five years, if the research and its findings pan out.

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Besser Ebola Blog Posts Tue, 23 Dec 2014 16:23:17 +0000 Liz Neporent

July 26th

Hero Doctor Battles Ebola

August 25th

Looking for Hope in the Ebola Hot Zone

August 26th

2 African Ebola Patients to Be Discharged From Hospital After Getting ZMapp

Dispatch from the Ebola Hot Zone

Ebola Ward Sees Flood of Patients, Outflow of Bodies

August 27th

A Look Inside the Slum Cut Off By the Ebola Outbreak

August 29th

Ebola Survivor “Walked Through the Valley of Death

Sept 1st

Ebola is Real on the Streets of Monrovia

September 3rd

Ebola Survivor Nancy Writebol Recalls Dark Days With Deadly Disease

Sept 28th

Burying Ebola Victims in Liberia

Up close with Ebola Patients in Liberia

September 30th

Face to Face with Patients in the Ebola Ward

October 2nd

Man Thought to Have Died From Ebola Awakens After Burial Team Wraps Him Up

Doctors ‘Optimistic’ About Prognosis for American Journalist With Ebola, Family Says

Texas Ebola Patient was Good Neighbor Who Helped Dying Woman

Doctors ‘Optimistic’ About Prognosis for American Journalist With Ebola, Family Says

October 15th

Why Dr. Kent Brantly Couldn’t Donate Blood to Thomas Eric Duncan



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Dr. Richard Besser – Social Media Ebola Coverage Tue, 23 Dec 2014 16:22:23 +0000 Liz Neporent

The Emergency Room is closed at Liberia’s largest hospital. Fear of #Ebola + lack of medical staff. Tragic situation

— #Richard Besser (@DrRichardBesser) August 25, 2014




















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Twitter Chat Tips on the Benefits of Gratitude Wed, 26 Nov 2014 21:34:19 +0000 ABC News gty family dinner mt 141126 16x9 608 Twitter Chat Tips on the Benefits of Gratitude

Giving thanks is good for your health. Credit: Getty Images.

By Dr. Chris Terndrup, ABC Medical Unit

Yesterday, ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser took time to express gratitude in the form of a tweet chat.

The chat covered what the science says about gratitude: It can improve everything from emotional state to quality of sleep to heart health.

Check out some of the highlights from this gratifying social media conversation. And Happy Thanksgiving from the entire ABC News Health team.










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‘It’s Magical’: Tot Hears After Getting Cochlear Implant Wed, 26 Nov 2014 01:04:27 +0000 ABC News ABC wn cochlear implant jtm 141125 16x9 608 Its Magical: Tot Hears After Getting Cochlear Implant


For the last six months, 2-year-old Asher Goldberg has been adjusting to sound, learning about his world, picking up words and even dancing to music.

After he was born, his parents endured several months of testing before doctors confirmed that he was deaf.

“It was difficult,” said his mother, Robyn Goldberg, about hearing the diagnosis. “It was very hard.”

“The first thing I thought is he is not going to be able to experience music the way I can,” his father, Michael Goldberg, told ABC News affiliate in Phoenix.

Hearing-impaired kids get their own superhero.

Child who needs corrective hearing surgery gets wish.

With hearing implants, experiencing sound for the first time.

His parents suffered the loss of sound for him. They said they tried to learn sign language, attended therapy sessions and tried out hearing aides but none of it helped create a common language for the three.

With a laugh, Michael Goldberg described his sign language skills as “awful to better than awful.”

So when a cochlear implant was suggested for Asher, the full-time working parents of two took the risk of surgery.

“The risks are so minimal and the benefits are just, it’s magical,” Robyn Goldberg said.

So in February, two months after receiving a cochlear implant — a device that helps people hear by electronically simulating the auditory nerve — Asher heard for the first time in his life.

“The best part, I think for both of us, he finally turned around when we said something,” Michael Goldberg said. “It’s not just so much that he’s hearing something, but he’s actually understanding some of the stuff.”

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Manning Up for Men’s Health Awareness Wed, 19 Nov 2014 20:25:33 +0000 ABC News gty blood ppressure check rf jc 141118 16x9 608 Manning Up for Mens Health Awareness

Movember in November helps raise awareness for men's health. Credit: Getty Images.

By Dr. Deena Adimoolam, ABC News Medical Unit

Thanks to an increased risk of heart attacks, cancer and mental health problems, men live on average five years less than women. The Movember movement aims to help men get healthier by raising awareness for common ailments men face.

ABC News’ Health Twitter chat on Tuesday focused on getting the word out on ways men can close the health gap. Moderated by ABC News chief health and medical editor, Dr. Richard Besser, we were joined by Livestrong, Men’s Health Magazine, The Movember Foundation and

Here are some of the highlights from the conversation distilled into nine scintillating tweets.

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Chemical in Cocoa May Boost Brain Power Sun, 26 Oct 2014 18:00:49 +0000 ABC News By Dr. Crystal Agi

A chemical found in chocolate may improve brain function, according to a small new study released today by doctors at Columbia University.

Their research was partially funded by candy-maker Mars, Inc., and additionally supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the James S. McDonnell Foundation.

In the study, the doctors looked at 37 participants age 50 to 69. They gave half of them daily supplements containing 900 milligrams of cocoa flavanol, a chemical found in many types of chocolate. The other half got only 10 milligrams of flavanol a day.

The subjects then engaged in complex tasks designed to stimulate a part of the brain associated with memory that often declines as we age — the dentate gyrus. The researchers measured the time it took participants to complete certain tasks while monitoring the subjects’ brain function using a specialized MRI machine, according to the study.

The researchers found that those in the high-flavanol group had improved reaction times and better blood flow to this part of the brain. The improvements they saw in brain function were so pronounced that they concluded high-flavanol supplementation was equivalent to adding back three decades of life.

Study author Dr. Scott Small, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Columbia University, said he was “surprised” by the results, particularly when it came to the “specificity and the strength of (flavanol’s) effect on the brain” – especially, he said, since his initial aim was just to confirm that this area of the brain was the true source of memory decline.

The results appear in the October issue of Nature Neuroscience.

Some experts not involved with the study said the findings support the idea that deterioration of the brain with age is preventable.

Dr. Richard Issacson, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center, said he believes the results of the study provide “definitive evidence that the cocoa flavanols are a safe and necessary approach when addressing brain health.” He added that he thinks flavanols should even be considered a new option for the possible treatment and prevention of memory loss.

“There’s a misconception that Alzheimer’s is inevitable or losing one’s memory is inevitable,” Issacson said. “But one-third of all cases can be prevented by making the right dietary choices.”

Doctor’s Take

Is this study a slam dunk for chocolate as a brain-booster? Not quite — or at least not yet. Because the study focused only on healthy individuals, it is unclear whether those suffering from severe memory loss, like Alzheimer’s disease, would improve with such treatment.

Think twice before reaching for your next candy bar. The amount of flavanol in one bar of chocolate is “miniscule,” according to Small, who urged caution to those who think the results of the study mean they should eat more chocolate. At only 40 milligrams of flavanol per bar, he said, one would require “at least 20 chocolate bars” to come close to the amount of flavanol tested in the study.

At that amount, the downsides of chocolate – such as calories and fat – would likely outweigh the benefits.

Instead, Small said he hopes that one day someone will develop a diet or pill that contains that much flavanol. He said that solution just might become a reasonable treatment option for anyone suffering from memory decline.

Dr. Crystal Agi is a medical resident embedded with the ABC News Medical Unit. Doctor’s Take blogs explain the latest studies while offering residents’ medical opinions.


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Doctors Combat ‘Ebolaphobia’ With Facts as Antidote to Fear Wed, 22 Oct 2014 19:57:12 +0000 ABC News ht emory ebola room kb 140801 16x9 608 Doctors Combat Ebolaphobia With Facts as Antidote to Fear

Ebola-stricken Americans are treated in isolation rooms similar to this. (Jack Kearse/Emory University)

By Dr. Crystal Agi, ABC News Medical Unit

Since Ebola arrived on American soil, the public has been bombarded with a series of facts and fictions about the virus. As a result, people are on edge, not knowing what to believe. Many are worried.

But are these concerns rational?

To help answer these questions, ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser moderated a Twitter chat this week. The goal was to help spread awareness about what’s true about Ebola — and what isn’t. Infectious disease experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Nebraska Medical Center joined the discussion, along with other doctors and members of general public.

Scroll through these eight tweets to learn the truth about Ebola:









Dr. Crystal Agi is a medical resident embedded with the ABC News Medical Unit. 

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Concierge Medicine: How At-Home Doctor Visits Yield Savings Mon, 13 Oct 2014 21:03:54 +0000 ABC News

It’s been a while since any member of the Basile family missed school or work for a visit to the doctor.

“We had perfect attendance two years in a row,” said mother Meredith Basile. “No lates. No sick days.”

Instead of waiting in a doctor’s office, she and husband Joe found family physician Dr. Brian Thornburg, who treats them and their two children at their home in Naples, Florida.

abc homecare mt 141013 16x9 608 Concierge Medicine: How At Home Doctor Visits Yield Savings

ABC News

Related: Save money and time by bringing doctor to you with telemedicine.

Thornburg is one of an estimated 10,000 concierge doctors in the US.

For a fee, these doctors offer personalized care and around-the-clock access, often treating their patients at home for everything from a routine checkup to the occasional stitch or two.

On top of their regular health insurance, patients pay Thornburg a $100 monthly fee for whatever home care they might need.

Although critics say the service is only for the rich and famous, ABC News’ consumer health advocate Michelle Katz disagrees.  She said there could be hidden savings in concierge medicine.

“They (parents) don’t have to take off work. They don’t have to find babysitters,” Katz said. “They can be in the comfort of their own home.”

Katz estimated how the Basiles saved about $2,000 a year with concierge medicine by following two money-saving tips:

1. Combining checkups. In the Basiles’ case, they pay $100 a month to Thornburg for all of their regular care. Four separate checkups at a doctor’s office would have cost this family $750 even with their insurance.

2. Reducing ER visits. US families visit emergency rooms on average twice a year at a cost of $1,200 a visit.  By saving the Basile family trips to the ER, Thornburg helped them cut their overall healthcare costs.

When their son, Luca, split open his chin on the kitchen counter, Thornburg came to their home and stitched up the wound.

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