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Donated Blood Tested Positive of HIV

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The Blood Bank of the Philippine Red Cross-Zamboanga Chapter has discovered three bags of donated blood were positive of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) while another three are still subject to confirmatory test.

The bags of contaminated fluid were among those donated to the PRC Blood Bank since January this year.

Nimfa Linao, PRC Blood Bank medical technologist, on Wednesday disclosed the bags of blood were found to be contaminated with HIV through laboratory analysis.

The Department of Health’s (DOH) Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) already confirmed this while the results of the other three have yet to be released.

Linao added that all bags of donated blood are being tested for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Syphilis and Malaria.

Last year, eight bags of donated blood were found positive of HIV.

“We screen the donor while the blood is being checked to determine it is free from diseases,” Linao said.

Linao said the donor of HIV-positive blood was immediately referred to the City Health Office Wellness Center for medication and counseling.

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Tiny Pacemakers Could Be Game Changers for Heart Patients

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Image source: medicalxpress.com

Tiny, new pacemakers are making headway around the world. One type, the Micra, is keeping 15,000 people’s hearts beating in 40 countries, according to manufacturer Medtronic. One of those people is Mary Lou Trejo, a senior citizen who lives in Ohio.

A healthy heart has its own pacemaker that establishes its rhythm, but people like Trejo need the help of an artificial device.

Trejo comes from a family with a history of heart disease. Her heart skipped beats, and she could feel it going out of rhythm. Trejo wanted to do something to advance heart health, so in 2014, she volunteered to participate in a clinical trial for the Micra pacemaker. The device is 24 millimeters long implanted, one-tenth the size of traditional pacemakers.

Traditional pacemakers

Most pacemakers rely on batteries placed under the skin, usually just below the collarbone. Sometimes patients get infections after the surgery or have difficulty healing from the incision.

Traditional pacemakers use leads with electrodes on one end that are threaded through blood vessels to connect to the heart. There can be problems with the leads as well.

Dr. Ralph Augostini at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center says a tiny pacemaker like the Micra avoids all of these problems.

“The electrodes are part of the can, and therefore it eliminates the lead,” he said. There’s no incision in the chest to become infected and no chance of complications with the leads.

Small and self-contained

Augostini implanted Trejo’s pacemaker in 2014. He threaded the entire device thorough an artery in her leg up to her heart. The pacemaker has small, flexible tines that anchor it into the folds of the heart muscle. Once it’s in place, the doctor gives it a tug to make sure the pacemaker is stable before removing the catheter used to place it in the heart.

The Wexner Medical Center was one of the sites that participated in the Micra clinical trial. Since the Micra received FDA approval in 2016, Medtronic has been training more physicians on the procedure. A company spokesman told VOA that this device is becoming available at other centers across the U.S. and countries throughout the world.

Dr. John Hummell, a cardiologist at the Wexner Medical Center, has studied the effectiveness of this new generation of pacemakers.

“We don’t leave any wires behind and the pacemaker, the battery, the wire is all just a tiny little piece of metal sitting down in the heart,” he said. Medtronic said the results of the clinical trial showed a success rate of 99.6 percent.

Dr. Richard Weachter, with the University of Missouri Health Care, says the leadless pacemakers’ complication rates are about half the rate of traditional pacemakers.

The battery lasts for 14 years and after that, Weachter said, doctors can implant another one in the same chamber of the heart. They can repeat the procedure a third time if needed.

The pacemaker activates only when necessary to keep the heart beating normally. Studies show that the Micra and other leadless pacemakers are safe and effective.

These tiny pacemakers are not right for all patients, but as the technology develops, more people will be able to benefit from the procedure. Four years after her implant, Trejo’s doctors say she is doing fine.

Voice of America

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Top 12 Foods to Avoid in the Morning

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A lot of people believe that breakfast is “the most important meal of the day.” This is true, but of course, all other meals are important too. However, breakfast has a special function – it kick-starts your metabolism. A great breakfast will provide you with the right amount of energy and must also satisfy your hunger. Although people aren’t usually hungry when they wake up in the morning, it’s imperative that they don’t skip this meal. It will help control one’s blood sugar, and it has the potential to help a person start the day off right.

Of course, merely eating breakfast isn’t good enough. People need to choose the right foods to eat in the morning to have enough energy for the rest of the day. Usually, a great breakfast involves protein, fiber, and healthy fats. These can be acquired from whole, unprocessed foods. There are also some foods to avoid in the morning. Some of these foods may surprise you as they are the “common” breakfast options. Here are the top 12 foods to avoid in the morning:

Bagels

Bagel has always been an energy booster for people on the go. It will make one feel full, not wanting to eat for some period. Not all bagels are “unhealthy.” People who want to eat bagels for breakfast should choose those which are made from whole wheat as they offer more beneficial nutrients.

Opting for whole wheat bagels is important because they are a great source of dietary fiber, some protein, and several important minerals. Whole wheat bagels have become an integral part of a nutritious, well-balanced diet.

Breakfast bars (protein or granola)
Don’t depend too much on commercial breakfast bars because, most often than not, these are filled sugars and chemicals. Advertised protein and granola bars are tempting but consuming them as a go-getter for breakfast will most likely make a person hungry even before mid-day. Might as well munch on a real candy bar. When looking at the ingredients on a granola bar, people are surprised at its high levels of sugar, honey, and corn syrup and this does not even include the sugars found in chocolate chips and other flavors. Furthermore, they contain no proteins, and they lack fiber.

People who have early starts every morning, need to change their eating habits, especially if they have been accustomed to breakfast bars that are loaded with unhealthy contents. The breakfast of granola bars shows that a person isn’t on a low-carbohydrate diet. Avoid sugar-loaded bars. Instead, switch to some whole-wheat bread, spread some sugar-free peanut butter on them. That by itself is an easy, healthy breakfast!

Cereals with little or no fiber
Not all cereals are that healthy. Most of them are high in sugar and carbohydrates but lacking in fiber. Such contents may cause the blood sugar to shoot up, then just quickly drop and this would leave one to experience before-noon-moodiness and cravings. A person can prevent such predicaments by choosing cereals with lower sugars and contain some fiber. One can even further raise the fiber content of breakfast by adding some berries, wheat germ, some flaxseeds or even sliced almonds.

Choose breakfast cereals based on their nutrient contents. The health-conscious people always read the box labels to determine their contents. Cereals in boxes are processed products and may contain unhealthy elements like sugars, artificial colorings, with little cereals. These can all contribute to increasing the risk of heart diseases, obesity, and other health issues.

It doesn’t mean that people should totally abstain from cereals, just choose those that have fewer sugars, no additives, made from organic grains and with high-fiber contents. Make breakfast exciting by adding berries, nuts, and seeds to the healthy cereal chosen.

Donuts and muffins

Traditional doughnuts are very popular breakfast items with ingredients that are all to be avoided. They are carb-circles, deep fried in oil and powdered with sugar plus some sprinkles to just add more “insults to injury.” Having them as a special treat is allowable but not as regular breakfast food. But if a person must indulge himself, at least couple the doughnut with some healthy fat or protein, maybe some nuts or a hard-boiled egg.

Muffins may look cute, innocent and appealing. But all these are just a front for muffins are cakes in disguise, packing calories more than one realizes. But if a person has that uncontrollable urge to eat muffins, eat just a half of it and pair it with some protein. Try Greek yogurt, it tastes good and is healthy. To save time on morning rush-hours, make a healthy batch of muffins, store it in the refrigerator and defrost one for breakfast when in a hurry.

Fast food sandwiches and pastries
Don’t be too sold on breakfast sandwiches from drive-thru eateries. Nutrition-wise, these foods may contain proteins, carbs, and some vegetables but often, the meat is greasy and processed, the bread is white, and mostly there is no fiber content. Without the latter, food craving will be happening sooner than a person thinks.

Burgers-on-the-go in the morning should also be avoided. Burger patties are not necessarily unhealthy, but that depends on how they are made. Those without preservatives will do you good. But what goes with the burgers like white bread, mayonnaise, and other additives will do you harm. Not to mention the greasy potatoes chips or French fries or onion rings that go on the side.

Pastries like donuts, Danishes, and Pop-tarts are also not recommended for morning meals. These are made from refined white flour with no whole grains involved. Besides, they contain tons of sugar that will cause your blood sugar to elevate, then crash and will be leaving a person hungrier much sooner.

Find substitutes for these foods for breakfast that are healthier. A simple egg and cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread is a filling option. If possible and it is, make the sandwich from home. It isn’t that hard.

Fruit juice
Fruit juices are a popular item for dieters. They will help people lose those extra pounds, and they’re a refresher for hunger pangs. But beware of packed juices available in stores because most of them have been sweetened and they contain less actual juice. The high sugar contents can be risky for type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other diseases. Juice alone will not suffice to constitute a meal. Some proteins and healthy fats are essential, even when going on a diet.

People can be more innovative when taking natural fruit juices in the morning. Using a blender, try sneaking in some greens like kale, celery, carrots, and spinach. People are often amazed at how good this will taste. Aside from this drink, one will still need a supplement of some protein and healthy fats. Otherwise, the craving for food will happen early before lunch.

Toast with butter or jam
What people spread on their whole wheat bread should also is alarming. Butter substitutes have proliferated in the market and consumers need be warned that many of these spreadable contain unhealthy compounds like trans fats. This is a synthetic fat that can do much damage like raising bad cholesterol, lowering good cholesterol and increasing the risk of heart diseases and diabetes. Don’t use substitutes. If a person wants butter, sparingly spread the real one on whole wheat slices. Or to make butter more substantial, make a vegetable omelet.

Toast topped with margarine spread seems like an ideal breakfast since it does not contain saturated fats or sugar. That is a misconception on two fronts. First, on the toast. The flour used in making bread is refined and contains very little nutrients and fiber. Because of this property, consuming them will spike the blood sugar levels very quickly. A sudden elevation of this level will lead to feelings of hunger which will make a person eat more for the next meal.

Second, on the margarine. This spread contains trans fats, the worst and most unhealthy type of fat anyone can eat. These fats are created by manufacturers by adding hydrogen to vegetable oils to mimic the appearance of saturated fats. Studies have shown that saturated fats do not cause harm but trans fats will. There are massive amounts of evidence that they are very inflammatory and can increase your risk of heart diseases.

Kids tend to gravitate towards sweet spreads on their bread for their early meal. This isn’t helping either for the health conscious as jams are loaded with sugars. Instead, let them have eggs on their toast, which by the way should be multi-grain bread.

Pancakes and waffles

There are no more temptations about having pancakes and waffles for breakfast. It has become part of the daily morning meal and sadly, our culture. Pancakes and waffles are made with flour, eggs, milk, and sugar. Even though these foods may contain proteins, basically they are made from plain wheat flour which contributes to insulin resistance and obesity.

But that is not the worst of it. When served, both pancakes and waffles are topped with a heavy syrup made from corn. That combination will contribute to a major sugar crash. But people need not veer from the standard. When having pancakes or waffles for breakfast, use the real all-natural maple syrup. It may be more expensive but health-wise, it will be worth it. Greek yogurt can also be added to pancake recipes for an additional dose of protein.

Smoothies from the store
An average individual would rather pick a smoothie than a green juice drink for the obvious reason that a smoothie is sweet. But do consider what goes into a smoothie aside from the sugar load. Some of them even contain ice cream or full-fat milk. When so, the smoothie becomes a misnomer as this concoction should be called a milkshake. To get all the benefits of a good smoothie, make them at home. Use blended fruits and veggies and for protein, some Greek yogurt.

Sweetened, flavored or light yogurt
An ideal breakfast will be some Greek yogurt with fresh fruits. It’s easy to make and super healthy. Make this breakfast at home as the ingredients are readily available at the grocer. Do not buy packed ones in stores as they usually contain preservatives, artificial flavorings, and lots of sugar.

People have different choices of yogurt: light, sweetened or flavored. Light seems to be the best choice but not necessarily. Many packaged yogurts may be low in calorie content but can be high in artificial sweeteners and chemicals. This is true with the flavored kind. Just be consistent health-wise. Choose plain Greek yogurt. They contain protein that will keep a person fuller longer, and there are no sugar additives.

Not all yogurts, by the way, are good. The flavored ones are not recommended because they can pack as much sugar as that Danish cinnamon roll one was smart enough to avoid. Instead, go for the plain low-fat yogurt or even full-fat. Either one has been shown to be good for a healthy diet. In case a person prefers some sweetness, just add honey, maple syrup or fruits.

Uncooked vegetables
There are no doubt veggies are an important part of the diet but sadly, not in the morning. Eating them on an empty stomach may result in stomach pain. Furthermore, the amino acids present in them can lead to flatulence, heartburn, and can even irritate the linings of the stomach. Tomatoes especially should be avoided in the morning. Their high-concentration of tannic acid will increase the stomach acidity which can lead to gastric ulcers.

Processed Meats

Processed meats are the worse and most harmful type of meat. Studies have shown that just 1.8 ounces of processed meat can increase your risk of heart disease by as much as 42%. Eating processed meats should be done on special occasions and in limited portions. Serve them as condiments or appetizers but never the main course. If in case, the urge to indulge is strong, just be sure the other breakfast foods are all made with healthy ingredients.

We all know these processed villains, and they include sausages, hams, bacon, salami, bologna, and more. They all contain nitrates, a chemical that has been linked to colorectal cancer. Next time, at the deli or grocer, check the meat’s labels to be sure that nitrates were not used in its manufacturing. Foods with nitrates should be off your breakfast table. Foods without, enjoy but in moderation.

Final words
How a person starts, his day will depend on what he will have for breakfast. Eating healthy will make anyone feel positive. First, choose foods that will keep the body full until lunchtime, without any cravings in between. Avoid foods that are devoid of nutrients. Juices or some health drink are not sufficient to sustain your morning. Proteins and fats should also be part of the daily breakfast regimen.

Most people consider breakfast being the most important meal of the day. What better way to make it so by eating the right foods. Eating the wrong ones will sabotage the entire day. When one feels hungry way before lunchtime or feels tired and lethargic at midday or eating more than one usually does at lunch, then that person isn’t eating the right foods to start his day.

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Poor Women in Philippines More Susceptible to Sexually Transmitted Diseases—PIDS Study

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Women living in poverty in the Philippines are more vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as HIV/AIDS than those from rich households. This is according to a recent study released by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

Using data from the 2008 Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey administered by the then National Statistics Office, PIDS Research Fellow Michael Abrigo found that about 41 percent of poor females aged 15 to 24 years are at risk of getting infected with STDs, compared to only 22 percent of females from well-off families.

Abrigo said this can be attributed to the low level of awareness about STDs among poor female young adults in the country. Recent records of the Department of Health show that there are 9,217 listed cases of HIV/AIDS from January to October last year while the total reported cases from January 2010 to May 2017 is at 40,388.

Contrary to claims that mandatory comprehensive sex education in school is likely to lead to earlier sexual initiation and higher rate of sexual activity among young adults, Abrigo’s study showed that implementing sex education programs in schools results to better sexual behaviors. Specifically, it delays sexual initiation, limits sexual activity, and increases the use of condoms among some groups in the population.

Also, the study found that increasing knowledge on HIV/AIDS may rake in substantial savings for the government in the long run.

“Focusing on the poor population by increasing HIV/AIDS knowledge could lead to a decrease in at-risk population by 1.1 percentage points or about 2 to 3 percent. This can translate to an annual total cost savings of about USD 0.5 million (Php 25.35 million) to USD 5.8 million (Php 294.13 million),” Abrigo explained in his paper.

To prevent and minimize the spread of the disease, the author urged government to make sexuality and reproductive health information more accessible in the Philippines especially to the young adult population through social and mainstream media. He also proposed administration’s support to family planning programs under the country’s Reproductive Health Law.

Earlier last year, the Supreme Court lifted the two-year-old temporary restraining order that covered several contraceptive products, following the findings of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declaring these drugs as non-abortifacient.

“The reclassifying of these contraceptives as non-abortive products by the FDA and lifting of the TRO by the Supreme Court are welcome developments in the full implementation of the RH law,” said Abrigo.

www.pids.gov.ph

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DOH Remains on Code Blue for ‘Oplan Mayon’

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Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III said the health department remains on Code Blue alert due to “Oplan: Mayon Operations,” and had set up round-the-clock medical stations offering free consultations in every evacuation site.

The DOH on Friday reported its heightened and sustained efforts in assisting nearby communities around Mayon volcano in Albay province as it continues to exhibit seismic unrest, lava fountaining and summit explosions prompting authorities to extend the Danger Zone to 8 kilometers radius.

Earlier, the DOH Central Office ordered a quick release fund of Php5 million to DOH Bicol Region to finance various activities relative to immediate response needs in affected areas and nearby towns.

Meanwhile, a Rapid Health Assessment Team composed of 326 doctors, nurses and midwives has been deployed since January 13 in the several evacuation sites including Camalig, Guinobatan, Daraga, Tabaco City, Sto. Domingo, Malilipot, Legazpi City and Ligao City, Albay.

Presently, a total of 35,436 evacuees are housed in different evacuation centers.

The DOH Bicol Region has allocated funds and still has over Php6 million worth of assorted medicines and commodities in stock at their warehouse, as declared by Bicol Regional Director Dr. Napoleon Arevalo.

Fast lanes are also in place in DOH hospitals particularly Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital and Bicol Medical Center. They are also tasked to augment health workers and adopt evacuation centers to provide medical assistance in case there are emerging health conditions needing medical attention.

“We are advising affected residents in the area to minimize exposure to ash by staying indoors as much as possible, wear protective covers (dust masks, goggles, wet towels etc.) against volcanic ashes, keep doors and windows closed and observe road safety measures” Duque said.

The health chief also added that persons suffering from bronchitis, emphysema or asthma should take extra precaution against exposure to volcanic ash as they are more prone to health problems.

To date, the eruption has now affected a total of 83,533 families or 56 barangays in the affected municipalities/cities. Of these numbers, 17,490 displaced families or 66,442 individuals are currently accommodated in 67 evacuation centers.

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