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One in 12 Americans Don't Follow Prescription Medication Directions in Effort to Save Money


Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New data provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that one in 12 Americans choose not to take prescription medication as directed to save money.

Eight percent of Americans, the CDC says, do not take prescription medicine as directed in an effort to save money. An even larger 15 percent said they have asked their physician for a lower-cost medication than what was prescribed for them.

The CDC also notes that alternative cost-reducing strategies including alternative drug therapy and purchase of prescription drugs from another country were also tactics employed by between 1.5 percent and 4.2 percent of American adults.

Adults between the ages of 18 and 64 were nearly twice as likely -- 8.5 percent to 4.4 percent -- to report not taking medicines as prescribed as seniors were, a figure that jumped when looking at uninsured adults.

Perhaps just as staggering is almost 20 percent of the $263 billion spent on prescription drugs each year in the U.S. was paid for out of pocket.

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Cat Gets Oxygen Mask After Surviving Fire Inside Wall


Mike Watson Images/moodboard/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Firefighters outside Charlotte, North Carolina, were nearly done battling a house fire burning for more than four hours when one of them said they discovered a cat who miraculously survived the massive inferno stuck in a wall.

"One of our guys was walking around the house, which was almost completely collapsed, when he heard a meow," Mint Hill Fire Chief David Leath told ABC News Wednesday. "He pried one of the outside walls and found the cat stuck inside."

The firefighter got the feline Marissa out and gave it oxygen through a mask and tank from one of the ambulances on the scene.

"The cat was then taken to a local vet," Leath said. "I paid a visit today, and it was meowing still and everything. The vet said she's on a 24-hour watch and she was doing well. The cat is expected to recover from smoke inhalation, a couple burn marks and an injured eye."

 

Mint Hill Fire saves family cat Marissa from fire. She's doing alright according to Sycamore Animal Clinic @wcnc pic.twitter.com/pF0SN92t2T

— Dustin Wilson (@dustinbwilson1) January 28, 2015



Marissa the cat belonged to a 16-year-old daughter of the family who lived in the house, according to Leath. He said the family fled the fire and never returned, and that he was unsure of the family's current location.

The house fire occurred in Mint Hill around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.

"The family's eldest son noticed the fire and called emergency services," Leath said. He added that the fire was caused by a vehicle fire in the driveway that got up into the attic. He said there was still an ongoing investigation as to what caused the vehicle fire.

 

 

Mint Hill, NC (Meck) *Working Fire * overnight fire in lrg house. Pet rescued. @IdlewildVFD img #NCfire pic.twitter.com/eGiwvfW99n

— FireNews.net (@FireNews) January 28, 2015



"For a cat to be inside that structure fire for four hours, I'd say that's pretty miraculous," Leath told ABC News.

 

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Organ Transplants Could Provide Two Million Extra Years of Life, Researchers Say


targovcom/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Organ transplants in the United States may lead to as many as two million extra years of life, researchers say.

Looking at data since the FDA first approved solid-organ transplants in 1983, researchers say they determined the survival benefit of organ transplants by comparing patients on the transplant list who received a transplant to those who did not receive a transplant over a 25-year span. During that time frame, kidney transplants were most common, followed by liver, heart, lung, pancreas and intestine transplants.

Researchers attributed 1.4 million life-years saved to kidney transplants. In their measurements, they determined that kidney, pancreas-kidney, liver and heart transplants give recipients an extra four to five years of life. Comparatively, lung, pancreas and intestine transplants provided patients with two to three more life-years.

Overall, all transplant recipients lived significantly longer than those who did not receive a transplant, researchers say.

The researchers did note that transplant recipients are intentionally selected to prioritize those who could benefit the most from available organs. They say they attempted to account for that statistical bias with their analyses.

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Study: Insurers May Be Using Drug Costs to Discriminate


Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A study in the New England Journal of Medicine claims that insurers may be using the costs of certain drugs to discriminate against "high-cost patients."

Researchers analyzed "adverse tiering" in 12 states using the federal health insurance marketplace. Of those 12 states, six states included insurers cited in a complaint submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services in May 2014 (Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, South Carolina and Utah), and the six most populous states with none of the mentioned insurers (Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia).

Adverse tiering, the researchers explain, is an approach that aims to deter specific patients from enrolling in health insurance, for example, by ensuring that "enrollees with HIV will incur high costs regardless of which drugs they take."

In each state, researchers looked at the plans with the lowest, second-lowest, median and highest premiums for the "silver" level health insurance, assessing the cost sharing for the most commonly prescribed class of HIV medications. In 12 of the 48 plans analyzed, the researchers say they found evidence of adverse tiering.

This problem, the researchers say, "will most likely lead to adverse selection over time, with sicker people clustering in plans that don't use adverse tiering for their medical conditions."

The researchers recommend mandating a percentage of drug costs paid by the plan to be set at a percentage threshold.

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California Dept. of Public Health Calls E-Cigarettes a 'Community Health Threat'


scyther5/iStock/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- A report issued by the California Department of Public Health on Wednesday calls electronic cigarettes a "community health threat."

CDPH Director and State Health Office Ron Chapman wrote the introduction to the report, highlighting his concerns regarding marketing methods that "may...mislead consumers into believing that these products are harmless and safe for consumption." Chapman noted that there were 154 e-cigarette poisonings among children age five and under in 2014 -- well up from the seven such poisonings in 2012.

Chapman also mentioned the $2 billion, 25-year investment in efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco use in California.

According to the report, e-cigarettes contain products that produce aerosol -- not just water vapor -- to be inhaled by the user. That aerosol can contain chemicals like formaldehyde, lead, nickel and acetaldehyde, which are found on California's list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects and reproductive harm.

The CDPH made several recommendations to restrict the sale and use of e-cigarettes, among them were the prohibition of e-cigarette sales to minors around the U.S., prohibition of free samples or e-cigarette vending machines in facilities where minors may spend time, and required registration of e-cigarette products with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The CDPH also aims to require a nicotine health warning on all e-cigarette products, while also mandating manufacturers disclose the ingredients of their product.

The CDPH further says it will create an educations campaign to impart the health dangers of e-cigarettes.

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Girl Dies After Catching the Flu, Even After Getting Vaccine


Courtesy Patrick Driscoll(LAS VEGAS) -- A Las Vegas kindergartner who died days after coming down with the flu felt well enough to play outside 24 hours before she collapsed, her father told ABC News.

Kiera Driscoll, 5, had a slight fever on Sunday morning, but she seemed to be feeling better after taking some children's ibuprofen, said her father, Patrick Driscoll.

"In fact, she was playing outside that afternoon with my wife and even made a comment that it was 'the most fun time ever,'" Patrick Driscoll said.

But then Kiera's slight fever returned and her cough worsened and included phlegm, Driscoll said. At about 4 a.m., her parents gave her medicine to help expand her airways by way of an albuterol nebulizer. She didn't have asthma but occasionally had a barking cough as a baby, Driscoll said. Afterward, he stayed up with her watching cartoons until she fell asleep again at 8 a.m.

The next morning, the Driscolls took her to an urgent care center, where she got another albuterol treatment and was given a steroid to help her breathe, Driscoll said. He went to work, and his wife stayed home to take care of Kiera.

Kiera's mother tucked her into bed a few hours later for a nap, and turned away to turn on a vaporizer when Kiera said, "I can't breathe. It's hard to breathe," Driscoll said. Then, the little girl collapsed and passed out.

Kiera's mother is trained in CPR and jumped into action, clearing Kiera's airways, performing rescue breathing and calling 911, Driscoll said. Kiera's pulse went away and came back in the emergency room. But her brain wave activity diminished, Driscoll said, and she developed an irregular heart beat and went into cardiac arrest. She died the following day, on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

"Their working diagnosis was that a mucus plug of thick mucus got coughed up and clogged, lodged in her trachea, preventing her from being able to breathe," Driscoll said.

The little girl's elementary school celebrated her life last week by dressing in purple, releasing purple balloons and eating frozen yogurt, according to KNTV, ABC News' affiliate in Las Vegas. Frozen was Kiera's favorite movie, and a stuffed Olaf doll sat in her seat at school after her death, according to the station.

Laurel Beckstead, the headmaster of the American Heritage Academy, where Kiera went to school, told KNTV the death was shocking. Beckstead is also Kiera's aunt.

"She went home happy, healthy, and then to get a phone call that Monday that she had gone to Quick Care Monday morning, released and went home and then later collapsed, was almost a shocking disbelief," Beckstead told the station. "How can this be happening to Kiera?"

As of the week ending Jan. 17, 56 pediatric flu-related deaths had been reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kiera's official cause of death was that she went into cardiac arrest after coming down with influenza A and pneumonia, according to the Clark County coroner's office in Nevada, which did not examine her body after her death.

Dr. Frank Esper, a pediatric infectious disease physician at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, said deaths like Kiera's can be confusing, and some states require autopsies when the explanation is unclear. He said it's important to remember that influenza can cause death, especially in people with underlying lung and heart conditions -- which may not be diagnosed.

People at risk for complications, including young children, pregnant women, people with asthma, and the elderly, should contact their physician at the first sign of flu, he said. They may be prescribed antiviral medications to shorten their illness and prevent it from worsening.

"Though Kiera's passing has shattered the world her birth created for me, the joy of raising her was worth it," Driscoll said at her funeral, according to the family's fundraising site.

Driscoll told ABC News that Kiera got a flu shot, and they still want other parents to vaccinate their children.

"Vaccines help save lives, and they help keep other people from getting infected as well," he said. "We always want people to be vaccinated."

He said his family has taken comfort in the fact that his wife knew CPR and did everything she could. And he knows he'll see his little girl again someday, he said.

"If there's something we can say to someone going through something similar," he said. "Hold on to your faith. Rely on family and community, and never take a moment for granted."

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How Doctors, Parents May Be Contributing to Rise of Measles


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Medical experts considered measles essentially eradicated in this country thanks to large scale vaccination. But with at least 64 confirmed cases of measles this month, the disease seems on pace to have its worst year in nearly two decades.

Many young doctors are slow to recognize measles and may not realize its potential dangers, said Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News' chief health and medical editor. This may have contributed to the current outbreaks at Disneyland in California and in 11 other states and Mexico, he said.

“Pediatricians who have never seen the measles tend to undervalue the vaccination and it’s concerning they may miss a child with measles,” Besser said, adding that he, himself, hasn’t seen a case in more than 20 years.

Earlier this week, an infectious disease specialist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia echoed that thought in an essay in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. In the opinion piece, Dr. Julia Shaklee Sammons implored doctors to become more familiar with measles symptoms now that infections from the virus are on the rise.

“It is essential that providers maintain a high level of suspicion for measles...and are able to recognize its clinical features,” she wrote.

People infected with measles are highly contagious for at least four days before symptoms including fever, pink eye and a telltale rash appear. Unfortunately, these are also symptoms of many other common diseases, Besser said, which is why it’s so hard to diagnose -- and why it’s essential to recognize it early.

Parents who delay or refuse vaccinations for their children may also contribute to the rise of measles infections, Besser said.

Many counties in California, for example, are below the 92 percent vaccination rate required for “herd immunity” the threshold of vaccinated individuals needed to protect even those who don’t receive the vaccination, according to state health officials. The opt-out rate for vaccinations has doubled in the past seven years.

"There's discredited science linking vaccines to autism. As a parent and pediatrician, there's no concern with the vaccine. What happens is that when a vaccine works really well, like the measles vaccine, people think they don't need it and then it comes back and we see these kinds of cycles," he said.

Besser noted that one year before the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1962, there were 481,530 reported cases nationwide. In 2004, there were 37 cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number has been creeping up steadily each year.

The CDC recommends all children get two doses of the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. The agency and most other medical organizations state that the vaccination has led to a 99 percent reduction in cases of the measles in the U.S.

Measles can be a deadly disease, Besser stressed.

“Before we began vaccinating, 500 people died a year from measles and it’s still one of the biggest global killers of children,” Besser said.

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Meghan Trainor Was ‘Addicted to Diets’ Before Embracing Her Curves


Epic Records(NEW YORK) — Before she was singing about "bringing booty back" and embracing her curves, Meghan Trainor had to fight low self-esteem just like the rest of us. The 21-year-old singer admitted to U.K.’s Reveal that she used to be "addicted to diets," and tried to follow Beyonce's weight-loss secret.

Meghan tells the publication that her insecurities began in school when her best guy friend told her she’d be "so hot" if she lost ten pounds. She said she rushed home and told her mom she was “never eating again.” That's when she started researching fad diets online.

"I Googled, ‘What does Beyonce do?’ and decided I'd try the detox diet with cayenne pepper,” Meghan recalled. "Do you know how much I had to drink to get used to it? It was so gross. I stopped straight away. I was like, ‘This is not normal.’”

Meghan said she’s since met Beyonce, who's a fan of her music, and credits her for having a “real figure” in a business where many women feel they have to be skin and bones.

"I definitely feel like I'm 30 and I've been through a lot,” the 21-year-old singer said. “I haven't experienced anything crucial or devastating. But I got addicted to weird little diets and I quickly realized how stupid it was.”

Meghan said that when she first wrote her #1 Grammy-nominated hit “All About That Bass,” it was more about how she wished she felt, rather than how she actually felt, about her body. But once she started performing and getting positive feedback, she says, she started to feel more confident.  Now, she encourages her friends to love their bodies.

"I'm just 100 percent happier than I was,” she said. “The trick I tell my girlfriends now is that you have to say it out loud. You haven't got to nearly kill yourself on these diets. You just have to look in the mirror and tell yourself, ‘Damn I look good today!’”

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Some Commonly Used Drugs Could Spur Alzheimer's and Dementia


iStock/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) — Seniors are being warned to cut back on the use of certain over-the-counter medications as well as older antidepressants as they may hasten the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

A study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine says that the sleep-aid Nytol and anti-allergy drugs Benadryl and Piriton contain ingredients that block the key chemical messenger acetylcholine, which is essential to healthy cognitive functions.

Study leader Shelly Gray of the University of Washington School of Pharmacy says the antidepressant doxepin also falls into this category of anticholinergic drugs, which can cause sleepiness and poor memory.

After studying 3,434 men and women age 65 and older, those taking high dosages of these drugs compared to those who didn't had a 63 percent risk of developing Alzheimer's and a 54 percent higher risk of developing dementia.

Still, Gray cautions seniors who might be on these meds to consult their physicians before they stop taking these drugs.

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Stories from Moms Who Delivered Blizzard Babies


Paticia Strickland holds twins born in Massachusetts during Monday night's blizzard. (Courtesy UMass Memorial Medical Center)(NEW YORK) -- At 35 weeks pregnant, Paticia Strickland was joking with a friend about what would happen if she went into labor during the storm barreling toward the East Coast this week.

An hour later, she was on all fours as contractions came one after another for 20 minutes until an ambulance could arrive at her home in Worcester, Massachusetts.

"Contractions came out of nowhere," she told ABC News. "There was no warning at all. They were so strong, I just got the sudden urge to push."

Strickland's 5-year-old daughter cried as Strickland left in an ambulance alone after getting a few hugs and well-wishes from her family. All the roads were closed to non-essential traffic because of the snow emergency, so Strickland's husband couldn't follow her to the hospital. Worcester was expecting 18 to 20 inches of snow by the time the storm is over.

"I was so scared," said Strickland, 28, a homemaker with three other children.

As Strickland was sitting up in the back of an ambulance on the way to UMass Memorial Medical Center, her water broke, she said. Seconds later, her son Gabriel was born. But that wasn't the end of it.

When they pulled up to the hospital, Strickland was rushed to the operating room, where she then delivered baby Aliyah.

"I was only in labor for maybe 40 minutes," she said. "My first call was to my children's father to let him know that his children made it into the world."

When she told him Gabriel was born in the back of an ambulance, she said it sounded like he stopped breathing.

Strickland said she can't wait to take her "little minions" home. They were born premature, but they're expected to stay in the hospital only about 10 days, she said.

Meanwhile, in Nantucket, Massachusetts, Danielle Smith went into labor at the height of the storm -- just as the power went out.

She wasn't up to talking to ABC News on Tuesday, but she gave birth to baby Cayden Moore at 3:35 a.m. at Nantucket Cottage Hospital, a hospital official said.

"Cayden was born at the height of the blizzard just after the island had lost power, forcing the hospital to rely on its generator for power," said hospital spokesman Jason Graziadei.

ABC News' Boston station WCVB-TV reported on several other New England blizzard babies who just couldn't wait to make their arrival.

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SpongeBob SquarePants Turns Up in Child's X-Ray


Fuse/Thinkstock(JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia) -- A doctor in Saudi Arabia was astounded to find cartoon icon SpongeBob SquarePants in a child's x-ray.

Dr. Ghofran Ageely, a radiology resident at the King Abdulaziz University Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, told ABC News he was surprised the cartoon character looked so clear in the x-ray. The item the child swallowed, which appears to be some kind of tiny pendant, looked like a "pin" when he first saw it.

"I thought it is just a pin," Ageely said in an email. "But when I opened the frontal view I was shocked to see SpongeBob looking at me with a big smile. Its angle and rotation are just perfect."

Ageely said the tiny SpongeBob was safely removed from the 16-month-old child through a scope.

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E. Coli Found in Winnipeg, Boil Water Advisory Issued


Tomjac80/iStock/Thinkstock(WINNIPEG, Manitoba) -- Health officials instituted a boil water advisory for the city of Winnipeg on Tuesday after two clusters of E. coli were located.

Officials at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority say that no source for the contamination was located as of Tuesday afternoon. Still, residents east of the Red River were being urged to boil all water used for drinking, ice making, food and beverage preparation and teeth brushing. Officials say the advisory was issued as a precautionary measure.

The WRHA expects additional information to be available on Wednesday.

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Study: 'Targeted' Biopsy May Help Detect High-Risk Prostate Cancer Early


Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have found a new method that may help detect high-risk prostate cancer early.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers looked at 1,000 men with either elevated test results or suspicious results from rectal examinations with an MRI to identify suspicious areas of prostate cancer. The patients were then biopsied twice, including once with a standard biopsy method and once with a new "targeted" method.

The results of the study determined that the "targeted" method may be better for differentiating between low-, intermediate- and high-risk cancers.

The procedure for the "targeted" biopsy is the same as the standard biopsy, researchers say, making procedural risks more tolerable. Nonetheless, the study did not follow the participants for an extended period of time, making it impossible to determine the predictability of "targeted" biopsies for long-term outcomes, such as recurrence and mortality.

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Sugary Drinks Could Be Linked to Earlier Onset of Menstruation


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers at Harvard Medical School say that sugary drinks may be linked to the earlier onset of menstruation.

According to a study published in the journal Human Reproduction, researchers surveyed girls between the ages of 9 and 14 who had not yet begun to have their periods, to calculate the amount of sugary drinks they consumed. They found that girls who drank more than 1.5 sugary drinks each day had their first periods about 2.7 months earlier, on average, than those girls who drank two or fewer sugary drinks each week.

Researchers say the results of the study held up even when accounting for other factors, such as ethnicity and BMI, which are believed to affect the onset of menstruation.

Earlier onset of menstruation has been linked to health risks including an increased lifetime risk of breast cancer.

The study shows only a link, not a cause, between consumption of sugary drinks and early menstruation. Researchers note that girls who drank more sugary drinks may also have other dietary habits contributing to the results of the study.

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Latest Report Indicates 64 Measles Cases Linked to Disneyland


David McNew/Getty Images(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- The latest update from the California Department of Public Health notes 64 cases of measles linked to an outbreak at California's Disneyland.

The latest tally includes 50 cases in California with epidemiologic links to Disneyland, as well as 13 in other U.S. states and one in Mexico. The states affected by the outbreak thus far include Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

Thirty-seven of the 50 measles cases in California are among patients over the age of 5, despite the fact that the first dose of the MMR vaccine is recommended for children between 12 and 15 months old. Health officials are urging parents to vaccinate their children.

Despite the fact that measles has been eradicated in the United States since 2000, outbreaks still occur overseas, and international travelers can bring the disease with them, in particular to locations where travelers and tourists may go -- including theme parks and airports.

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