Ohio preparing for 1st execution in more than 3 years

Published: Friday, July 07, 2017 @ 2:16 PM
Updated: Friday, July 07, 2017 @ 12:06 AM

The sedative midazolam was one of the two drugs used in the execution of Dennis McGuire last month. Ohio was the first state to use the two-drug combination of midazolam and hydromorphone, a painkiller. Louisiana announced last week that it would change its protocol to include those two drugs. Ohio’s preferred drug is pentobarbital, but supplies of that drug expired in September 2013. CONTRIBUTED
The sedative midazolam was one of the two drugs used in the execution of Dennis McGuire last month. Ohio was the first state to use the two-drug combination of midazolam and hydromorphone, a painkiller. Louisiana announced last week that it would change its protocol to include those two drugs. Ohio’s preferred drug is pentobarbital, but supplies of that drug expired in September 2013. CONTRIBUTED

Ohio is following a mandatory checklist for putting inmates to death as it prepares for the state's first execution in more than three years, a prisons agency official said.

The state wouldn't release documents related to those checkups to The Associated Press, saying open records law shields such information.

"We can confirm, however, that to date all steps of Ohio's execution protocol have been complied with in preparation of the execution scheduled later this month," JoEllen Smith, prisons department spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Ronald Phillips, who was convicted of raping and killing his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter in 1993 in Akron, is scheduled to die July 26. It's his third execution date of the year following earlier reprieves to allow legal arguments over the drugs Ohio plans to use.

RELATED: Appeals court ruling opens door to Ohio resuming executions

In a significant ruling, a federal appeals court last month opened the door to Phillips' execution and others by permitting Ohio's use of a contested sedative.

That drug, midazolam, was used previously in problematic executions in Ohio, Arizona and Arkansas in which inmates didn't appear fully sedated before other drugs kicked in.

Attorneys for death row inmates fell short in attempts to prove that "Ohio's protocol is 'sure or very likely' to cause serious pain," the appeals court said in an 8-6 ruling.

An appeal of that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court is expected.

Phillips, 43, also has separate federal appeals pending that argue his age at the time — he was 19 — should be a consideration for mercy. The nation's high court already has banned the execution of people under 18.

"We're going to continue to fight as vigorously as we can to see that this execution does not go forward," said Tim Sweeney, an attorney representing Phillips.

Executions have been on hold in Ohio since January 2014 when death row inmate Dennis McGuire gasped and snorted during the 26 minutes it took him to die, the longest execution in the state to date. The state used midazolam and a painkiller on McGuire in a method that's since been abandoned.

RELATED: Ohio executions resume; DDN reporter witnessed last lethal injection

What Ohio's protocols require:

30 days before the execution:

— The warden of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, where executions are carried out, determines whether the state has sufficient execution drugs and reports his findings to the prisons agency director. The state has said in court filings it has enough drugs to carry out at least four executions.

—The execution team begins weekly training sessions.

21 days beforehand:

— Prison medical staff evaluates an inmate's veins and plans for the insertion of the IV lines.

— A member of the prison system's mental health staff evaluates the inmate's stability and mental health in light of the scheduled execution.

14 days beforehand:

The warden of Chillicothe Correctional Institution, where death row is housed, verifies the inmate's pre-execution visitors, his spiritual adviser, execution witnesses and funeral arrangements.

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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/andrew-welsh-huggins

Why are more black women dying of breast cancer compared to white women?

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 11:43 AM

People 2 People July 8 & 9, 2017

According to Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black women under 60 years old are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women in the same age group. In fact, data from 2015 showed black women had a 39 percent higher breast cancer death rate.

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New research from Emory University, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute points to differences in health insurance as the culprit.

The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, included data from the National Cancer Data Base on 563,497 black and white women between the ages of 18 and 64 who had been diagnosed with stage I to stage III breast cancer between 2004 and 2013.

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The researchers examined five factors for the study: 

  • Demographics (age, stage, state, year of diagnosis, etc.)
  • Comorbidities (other health conditions)
  • Insurance (lack of insurance, private insurance, Medicare/Medicaid, etc.)
  • Tumor characteristics (size, type, stage, etc.)
  • Treatment (chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, surgery, etc.)

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The findings

They found that insurance explained one-third of the additional risk of death among the black women compared to white women diagnosed by early-stage breast cancer.

Additionally, almost three times as many black women (22.7 percent) were either uninsured or had Medicaid insurance compared to white women (8.4 percent).

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“Lack of insurance is a barrier to receipt of timely and high-quality treatment and screening services,” study authors wrote.

Other major factors that explained the differences: tumor characteristics (23.2 percent), comorbidities (11.3 percent) and treatment (4.8 percent).

» RELATED: Black moms three times more likely to die in childbirth than white moms

Nearly 80 percent of the women in the study had the most common type of breast cancer (hormone receptor-positive breast cancer) and according to the researchers, when matched for factors such as insurance, comorbidity and others, those factors accounted for a combined 76.3 percent of the total excess risk of death in black patients.

The authors noted that when it came to treatment differences, black and white women contrasted most for hormone therapy, which, according to ACS, is typically used after surgery to help reduce the chance of recurrence.

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“Several studies reported that black women are less likely to complete chemotherapy and hormone therapy,” study author Ahmedin Jemal told the ACS. “This could be for many reasons, including problems with transportation or the inability to pay for medicine.”

Additionally, previous research has shown that black women get lower quality mammograms and are less likely to have a follow-up appointment after receiving abnormal mammograms.

» RELATED: Work the night shift? You may be at higher risk for breast cancer, study says

And insurance is vital for both high-quality cancer care and for early detection.

“We know so much about cancer prevention and control,” Jemal, who is also vice president of the ACS surveillance and health services research program, said. “But we’re not applying it to the whole population equally. We have to make the standard of care available to everyone, including people with low income. And blacks are disproportionately represented in that group.”

Read the full study at ascopubs.org.

Learn more about the study and more about how women can protect themselves from breast cancer at cancer.org.

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Mother of two dies just day after flu diagnosis

Published: Saturday, December 02, 2017 @ 12:24 PM

5 Reasons to get a Flu Shot

A young mother of two in Arizona died just one day after receiving a flu diagnosis, devastated family members said.

Alani Murrieta, 20, was diagnosed with the flu Monday and died Tuesday in the hospital, family members told KSAZ.

>> Read more trending news

Murrieta, the mother of a 2-year-old and a 6-month-old, was healthy before the sudden illness, with no pre-existing health conditions, according to family. She first experienced symptoms Sunday, when she left work early. On Monday, she went to urgent care, where she was diagnosed with the flu and sent home with medications. She was admitted to the hospital Tuesday morning as her symptoms became more severe and she was having difficulty breathing, KSAZ reported.

At the hospital, doctors performed tests and diagnosed Murrieta with pneumonia. She was placed on a ventilator, but her heart stopped. The efforts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful.

While family members said Murrieta didn't get a flu shot, early results show this year's formula may not be very effective at combatting this year's flu strains.

Is the weather giving you headaches? How to beat those weather pains

Published: Wednesday, November 29, 2017 @ 2:24 PM

Weather changes may cause imbalances in brain chemicals, including serotonin, which can prompt a migraine 75 percent of those with migraines had attacks associated with the drop in barometric pressure Soaring temperatures are another documented cause of migraines Keep a headache diary to help you determine if you have specific weather triggers Monitor weather changes to avoid the triggers when you can Take migraine meds at the first sign of a migraine Reduce the number and severity by eating healthy foods

If your migraines seem more reliable than the weatherman in predicting storms and more accurate than a thermometer in gauging extreme heat or cold, it's not just in your head, according to Mayo Clinic expert Dr. Jerry W. Swanson. Certain weather changes really do cause migraine headaches.

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"Weather changes may cause imbalances in brain chemicals, including serotonin, which can prompt a migraine," he said. "Weather-related triggers also may worsen a headache caused by other triggers."

A short list of weather-related migraine triggers: Bright sunlight, extreme heat or cold, sun glare, high humidity, dry air and windy or stormy weather.

Barometric pressure  − the amount of force that is being applied to your body from the air − may be another factor, noted the American Migraine Foundation, citing a study that examined headache sufferers and falling barometric pressure during a typhoon in Japan. The study found that 75 percent of those with migraines had attacks associated with the drop in barometric pressure, compared with 20 percent of people experiencing a tension headache in the same period. 

And soaring temperatures are another documented cause of migraines, David Dodick, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, told The New York Times blog. He cited a study that found a 7.5 percent increased risk of emergency department visits for severe headaches for every 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) increase in temperature.

The stats don't mean migraine sufferers are doomed to another attack merely because thunderstorms or scorching temps are predicted, however. According to the AMF, a single trigger like a storm may not be able to start a migraine attack alone unless it's dramatic. "The weather change may only 'cause' a migraine attack if it is able to add together with another trigger, like a meal containing monosodium glutamate or a glass of red wine," noted the organization. Other contributing causes that can assist a weather event in causing a migraine include fatigue, stress or sleep deprivation.

And not all migraine sufferers are equally weather-sensitive, according to the AMF. "Among those that are, some may be sensitive to one weather pattern and others may be sensitive to another one," it noted. "Additionally, there may be a time delay of a number of hours before the migraine attack follows the trigger."

There are also ways to avoid a migraine, or to minimize it, even in the face of extreme weather changes or in an area known for intense shifts in barometric pressure.

MigraineX, for example, is a new approach that involves a reusable earplug device touted to help a person experience a more gradual change in barometric pressure, along with an app that warns of impending barometric changes in time for a migraine sufferer to insert the device.

The Mayo Clinic also recommended taking these steps to minimize the weather change/headache connection:

  • Keep a headache diary, listing each migraine, when it happened, how long it lasted and what could have caused it. This can help you determine if you have specific weather triggers.
  • Monitor weather changes to avoid the triggers when you can, staying indoors during very cold or windy weather, for example.
  • Take migraine meds at the first sign of a migraine, since a full-blown attack may take several hours to develop.
  • Reduce the number and severity of all migraines, not just those triggered by weather incidents, by eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, staying hydrated, getting ample sleep and controlling stress levels.

Is the weather to blame for your headache?

To discover the difference between a migraine headache and a tension or sinus headache, here's how to determine the difference, according to Health:

Tension headaches are by far the most common, affecting about 90 percent of the population at some time. Tightness of muscles in the scalp and in the back of the neck is usually the cause; dull pressure or a tightness in a band around the head can also be to blame. Fatigue or stress causes this type of headache's mild to moderate pain.

Sinus headaches, in contrast, are surprisingly rare and most people who think they're suffering a sinus headache actually have a migraine, which may involve a runny nose or teary eyes. Symptoms of a genuine sinus headache do involve mild to severe pain around the nose and eyes, usually with a runny nose and often with a fever. Acute sinus infections trigger this type of headache.

Migraine headaches are easily mistaken for the other two headaches, but a migraine is a neurological condition that involves throbbing pain; sensitivity to light, sounds and smells; nausea and other symptoms. Migraines are the result of an overreactive "switch" in the brain stem that causes moderate to severe pain.

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4 secrets to slowing down the aging process

Published: Monday, November 27, 2017 @ 3:37 AM

People’s longing to be forever long has lone driven the search for the Fountain of Youth.

As we age, our mental and physical abilities eventually grow weaker. Our faces and our overall appearance begins to show the signs of our life experiences. This is reality.

Despite scientific breakthroughs and increasing promises of extended average life spans, aging remains an inevitable fact everyone has to deal with. While some turn to plastic surgery and other cosmetic remedies to hide the effects, there are actually numerous factors show by science to counter the effects of aging.

If you want the best shot at living an extended lifespan while remaining physically and mentally sharp, you might just want to take a hard look at your lifestyle and see what you can change.

Here are four things you can do to combat aging.

1. Dance regularly

In general, physical activity is important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It keeps us younger, while also making us look and feel more physically fit. But according to one recent study, dancing may be the best physical activity of them all to reverse the effects of aging on the brain.

Published this summer in "Frontiers In", a study by German researchers suggests that dancing has an anti-aging effect on the brain. For the study, researchers looked at elderly volunteers, with an average age of 68. All of the volunteers were trained for 18 months, half with a dancing routine and half with endurance and flexibility training.

All of those who took part in the study showed an increase in the hippocampus region of the brain, which is prone to age-related decline and is affected by diseases like Alzheimer's. But only those who did dance routine saw a noticeable difference in behavior.

2. Have more sex

A study published earlier this year and conducted by researchers at the University of California in San Francisco, looked at the sexual habits of 129 mothers in relationships over the course of a week. The research showed that the woman who had sex at least once during the week had significantly longer telomeres than those who did not. DNA strands have telomeres – nucleoprotein caps – at their ends, which protect chromosomes from deteriorating.

According to Business Insider, telomeres naturally breakdown due to aging, poor diet, and high alcohol use. However, physical activity, eating well and, according to the study, having sex counter this effect. Previous studies have shown that these telomeres may even help you live longer. They also help maintain physical and mental health as you age.

3. Sleep well

Who doesn't love sleep? Yet it seems the older we get, the busier we are and the less time we have for it. Well, here's one very good reason to make time to relax your eyes and rest.

A study published in 2013 suggests that sleep deprivation actually makes your skin age faster. Commissioned by Estée Lauder and conducted by physician-scientists at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, the study found that individuals who slept poorly showed increased signs of skin aging. Those that slept less all assessed their own appearance and skin as worse than those who slept well.

So, to combat those pesky wrinkles, better make time for some serious shut-eye.

4. Eat less

Although all of the above may sounds like positive things to increase in your life, this one may not. Regardless, science suggests that a calorie restrictive diet not only counters the effects of aging, it may also help you live longer.

Many scientists and nutritionists believe that a 30 percent reduction in daily calorie intake may significantly slow down the physical processes that make cells heal slower, which opens up the brain and body to disease. Studies have also shown that calorie restrictive diets in mice help combat the effects of aging on the brain.

If the scientists are right, cutting down on your daily consumption can help you shed a few pounds while also keeping you young.

Of course, as we said above, aging is a reality that all of us must face, regardless of the choices we make. But with these simple life hacks, you can hopefully curb some of the effects and perhaps even prolong your life.