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Mom with cancer sees twin daughters graduate in special ceremony before her death

When twin sisters Morgan and Regan McVey graduate Thursday from Talawanda High School in Oxford, Ohio, it will actually be their second commencement ceremony.

Earlier this year, the school provided a special moment for the seniors and their mother, who was diagnosed with cancer last fall.

As the school year moved into its second semester, it was evident their mother, Carey McVey, would not live to see the graduation ceremony.

>> WATCH: Texas teen walks for first time in months, stuns prom date in heartwarming viral video

“Mr. (Tom) York and others arranged to give us a mini graduation ceremony,” Regan said of the school’s principal. “We had our caps and gowns and got our actual diplomas. Mom got to see them.”

“That was one thing she wanted to see,” Morgan added.

Their mother died in February. She was 43 years old, according to her obituary.

The diplomas were on a table at their home until last week when they were returned to the school so the seniors could receive them again at Thursday’s ceremony.

>> Read more trending news 

The gesture, the twins said, reinforced their decision to attend the Oxford school.

The McVey twins were unknown to their classmates when they started at Talawanda High School four years ago after finishing the eighth grade at Queen of Peace School.

“We had to make new friends here. We did not know anyone,” Morgan McVey said.

The high school choice took some discussion between the sisters.

“Regan wanted to go to Talawanda. I wanted to go to Badin,” Morgan said.

Now, they both said they are happy with their decision.

“The school really supported us through it all,” Morgan said, referring to her mother’s cancer diagnosis and her death.

>> On Journal-News.com: Oxford community advocate ‘lived life to the fullest’

While the family tragedy will forever be linked to their senior year of high school, they said they did not let it affect their personalities or interactions with others, although classmates were often surprised by that.

“We are always happy. We joke around a lot. We talk a lot. People forget. Then they say, ‘Your mother… .’ It’s definitely been an experience,” Regan said.

Both young women have been cheerleaders all four years of high school and both have been involved in dance all four years, with Regan on homecoming court her junior year and prom court this spring.

Both, also found satisfaction in passing on their own love of dance by teaching it to younger children at area dance studios.

The fact they are twins earned them a memorable experience outside of school, too.

As their senior year dawned, they appeared in a television commercial promoting the Big Ten conference. The theme of the promo was twins and they auditioned last spring in Chicago, which led to a two-day video shoot, also in Chicago.

>> On Journal-News.com: New gateways to welcome Miami U., Oxford visitors

The commercial appeared on the Big Ten Network and ESPN as well as other television channels. For Morgan, it was a strange feeling the first time she saw it aired.

“I did not know it was out. I was in bed with my television on and saw my face. It just popped up,” she said.

They said they are thinking about using it as a stepping stone to doing some modeling, but they know that profession is a difficult one to get into and then only lasts a certain time. They are planning a careful route of going to college to train for teaching professions and then see what happens.

Regan McVey is looking at early childhood education while Morgan is opting for a degree in integrated language arts for grades 7-12. They plan to attend Miami University Hamilton in the fall to start their college careers.

>> On Journal-News.com: Hall of Famer Huismann approved as Talawanda’s head girls hoop coach

Morgan said no one in their family teaches, but she hopes to emulate some of the good teachers she has had at Talawanda.

Regan opts for younger students after her work with young dancers.

“I like little kids. I think it’s interesting to teach them when they are young,” she said.

The sisters are among 21 members of the graduating class recognized with the President’s Award for Educational Achievement.

The twins agree high school at Talawanda has been a great experience. Their mother and their father, Shane, were both Talawanda High School graduates.

Aimovig: New migraine prevention drug approved by FDA

If you suffer from chronic migraines, relief is here.

According to The Associated Press, the Food and Drug Administration last week approved Aimovig, a monthly shot that aims to reduce migraines. The drug, developed by Amgen Inc. and Novartis AG, is "injected monthly just under the skin using a pen-like device," the AP reported. Its price tag: $6,900 annually before insurance.

>> On ActionNewsJax.com: New drug could reduce migraines

But how does Aimovig work? The FDA said it blocks "the activity of calcitonin gene-related peptide, a molecule that is involved in migraine attacks." Amgen researchers said participants in one study saw their migraines reduced by half and experienced "minor side effects" like colds, the AP reported.

>> Read more trending news 

If Aimovig doesn't sound right for you, you're still in luck: Three similar shots and various pills to combat migraines are in the works.

Read more here.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

New autism research could predict whether children as young as 3 months old are at risk

A groundbreaking study is being done at Boston Children's Hospital that researchers say could potentially predict whether a child as young as 3 months old is at-risk for developing autism.

>> Watch the news report here

Right now, most children can't receive a reliable diagnosis until they are at least 1 year old. 

Chase Minicucci and his mother, Hillary Steele Minicucci, regularly go to Boston Children’s to track his development. Chase seems to be a typically developing toddler, and he’s learning to point and use words to express his needs.

>> Could blood and urine test be used to diagnose autism?

However, Chase has been identified as at risk because his older brother, who is 7, has autism.

“We did the testing, and one day after his 4th birthday … the doctor said, ‘so your son has autism,’” said Hillary Steele Minicucci. 

Hillary and her husband also have a 6-year-old daughter who does not have autism, but autism is more prevalent in boys. 

Research shows one in five children whose siblings have autism will also be on the spectrum. Hillary spent the first year of Chase's life watching his behavior closely and worrying.

“I was literally making myself crazy over it,” she said. 

Hillary was able to find a spot for Chase in a study at Boston Children's Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, involving 99 siblings of children with autism.

Infants as young as 3 months old and toddlers up to 36 months old spend only a few minutes wearing a cap with more than 100 sensors. While wearing it, they watch a T.V. showing cartoons, which is also an eye tracker.

Boston Children's Cognitive Neuroscience Lab Director Dr. Charles Nelson said by studying their EEG signals, the electrical activity in the brain, they can predict which infants are likely to develop autism.

“What we've seen is at 3 months of age, we've seen patterns of brain activity that basically predict who, three years later, will develop autism,” said Nelson. 

>> Read more trending news 

One of the big unknowns is when does autism develop, and Nelson said the study is shining light on whether it happens before or after birth. 

“It's very unlikely that brain development was perfectly normal until birth and then something happened. The fact that we see it so early, just at 3 months, makes me think that it started before birth. But what derailed brain development, we don't know,” he said. 

Dr. Nelson stressed the medical community is not at the point yet where a 3-month-old could receive a diagnosis, but the child could be flagged. The next step is developing early intervention strategies for that age group.

As for Chase, his mother said that right now, he doesn't seem to be exhibiting some of the warning signs, which has given her some much-needed reassurance.

“I can start to enjoy my baby now,” she said. 

The study is ongoing and open to three groups of children: 

  • Babies with older siblings with ASD
  • Babies with no family history of autism who failed an autism screening
  • Typically developing babies

Because the EEG caps are relatively inexpensive, Nelson hopes someday soon every local pediatrician's office could have one and all infants could be identified within a critical window of time.

Major depression diagnoses on the rise in the U.S., study finds

Over the past five years, diagnoses of major depression in the United States have risen by at least 33 percent.

>> On AJC.com: People with depression are more likely to use certain words — here’s how they express themselves

That’s according to a new report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, for which analysts assessed the BCBS Health Index built from billions of claims for more than 41 million commercially insured Americans annually.

>> Read more trending news 

The index, which quantifies how more than 200 diseases and conditions affect quality of life, showed that major depression is the second most significant condition on overall health in America. The first is hypertension, or high blood pressure.

According to the report, those diagnosed with major depression are nearly 30 percent less healthy on average than those without the condition. Such a decrease in overall health may mean a loss of nearly 10 years of healthy life for both men and women.

>> On AJC.com: Why are Americans so lonely? Massive study finds nearly half of US feels alone, young adults most of all

More than 9 million commercially insured Americans in the index are affected by major depression. The rate of diagnosis in the country is 4.4 percent. But while diagnoses are up 33 percent since 2013 overall, the rate is even higher among teens and young adults − 47 percent. For teen girls, specifically, the rate has risen by 65 percent.

"The high rates for adolescents and millennials could have a substantial health impact for decades to come," Trent Haywood, senior vice president and chief medical officer for BCBSA, said in a statement. "Further education and research is needed to identify methods for both physicians and patients to effectively treat major depression and begin a path to recovery and better overall health." 

Analysts also found that overall, women are more than twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with major depression (6 percent compared to 2.8 percent, respectively).

>> On AJC.com: Depressed? Reduce your symptoms with this type of exercise

Geographically, 49 of the 50 states saw rising diagnosis rates between 2013 and 2016. Hawaii was the only state that experienced a slight decline (a rate of less than 2 percent). Communities in New England, the Pacific Northwest and areas throughout the South and Midwest had higher rates of major depression compared to the rest of the country.

Rhode Island had the highest diagnosis rate with 6 percent. However, the authors noted that differences in efforts to screen for major depression can result in varying diagnoses rates across states.

“While major depression is the second most impactful health condition for the nation, it is complicated by an increased likelihood of overlapping diagnoses of other chronic, behavioral health and pain-related conditions,” authors of the report wrote.

In fact, of the 9 million Americans diagnosed with major depression in 2016, only 15 percent were diagnosed with depression alone. Eighty-five percent, according to the analysis, were diagnosed with an additional health condition.

>> On AJC.com: 5 signs you should ask your doctor about depression

In addition to a lower quality of life, those diagnosed with major depression are more likely to use more healthcare services, resulting in more than twice the spending.

It’s important to note that the report’s findings, based on people with BCBS commercial health insurance, are likely an underestimate. Most Americans are covered by a commercial health plan, but many who report symptoms of depression say they have not been diagnosed or received treatment for the condition.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression, and it’s the leading cause of disability worldwide.

>> On AJC.com: The suicide rate for teen girls is the highest it’s been in 40 years — Is social media to blame? 

Additionally, approximately 800,000 people die of suicide each year; that’s one person every 40 seconds. In the U.S., between 1999 and 2014, the suicide rate rose by 24 percent. And, according to recent data released from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates among 15- to 19-year-old girls doubled between 2007 and 2015, reaching a 40-year high.

Read the full Blue Cross Blue Shield report at bcbs.com.

WATCH: Pollen cloud springs from tree in sneeze-worthy viral video

Look away, allergy sufferers: This viral video from New Jersey might bring you to tears.

On Monday, Facebook user Jennifer Henderson shared a clip of a backhoe tapping a tree in Millville – and the enormous pollen cloud that followed.

>> See the video here

>> Read more trending news 

"When my husband said the pollen's bad, I probably should've taken his word for it. Crazy!" Henderson wrote

As of Wednesday morning, the post had been viewed nearly 3 million times with 93,000 shares.

Walmart changes opioid policy, limits first-time prescription fills to 7 days or fewer

Walmart is taking a step to try to help stop the abuse and misuse of opioids.

Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies in the United States, including Puerto Rico, will now limit how many pills are dispensed, Fortune reported.

Over the next two months, the stores will limit the first acute opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply and a per-day maximum of a 50 milligrams of morphine equivalent, company officials said in a news release.

>> Read more trending news 

By Jan. 1, 2020, the stores will require e-prescriptions for controlled substances instead of a traditional paper copy because, Walmart officials said, “they cannot be altered or copied and are electronically trackable.”

Pharmacists will also use the controlled substance tracking program, NarxCare, by the end of August and will have a supply of naloxone at all pharmacy counters for by-request dispensing where allowed by state law. 

The changes are part of the “Walmart Opioid Stewardship Initiative” and were developed to help combat the nation’s opioid epidemic.

For more on the initiative, click here.

National Nurses Week 2018: 5 freebies and deals

Businesses across the country are honoring nurses this week with freebies and deals for health care workers.

>> Read more trending news 

National Nurses Week, which kicked off with National Nurses Day on May 6, runs through May 12, the birthday of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale.

Check out some of the offers below, and just to be on the safe side, contact your local stores and franchises to make sure they are participating:

>> Teacher Appreciation Day 2018: Here’s a list of freebies for the nation’s educators

1. Cinnabon: Sweet! Nurses can get a free Cinnabon Classic Roll, MiniBon Roll or four-count order of BonBites by presenting their medical ID from May 6-12. Read more here.

2. Easy Spirit: Get 30 percent off your purchase at the shoe brand's website, EasySpirit.com, all month long with the coupon code NURSESWEEK30. Nurses also can enter the #MoveFor Healing Sweepstakes to win shoes for their team. Read more here.

3. PDQ: Nurses and teachers can get 50 percent off their order Tuesday, May 8, by showing their work ID. Read more here.

4. Potbelly Sandwich Shop: According to Newsweek, nurses "who show their medical ID or wear their scrubs" can get "a free fountain drink or cookie with their purchase of a sandwich." Read more here.

5. Chipotle Mexican Grill: Although the restaurant chain isn't running a promotion for nurses this week, USA Today reports that participating locations will offer nurses a buy one, get one free burrito, bowl, salad or order of tacos on June 5. Nurses must present a work ID to claim their freebie. Read more here.

Is ‘hangry’ a real emotion? Scientist says yes

You know the commercials from Snickers - the ones with stars standing in for everyday people with the tag line that you’re not yourself when you’re hungry.

Most of the spots deal with the feeling of being hangry - or so hungry that you’re actually angry.

But the feeling isn’t just a hook to sell candy bars. One scientist claims it is real.

“We’ve long recognized in science that hunger leads to irritability. But the wonderful world of social media has merged the two words for us and now we know it as ‘hanger,’” Sophie Medlin told the BBC.

Medlin is a lecturer studying nutrition and dietetics at Kings College London. 

She explained what hangry really means.

>> Read more trending news 

“When our blood sugars drop, cortisol and adrenaline rise up in our bodies -- our fight or flight hormones,” Medlin told the BBC.

Also the chemicals that control our brain, called neuropeptides, not only trigger hunger, but also trigger anger and impulsive behaviors. Medlin says they’re all connected.

So how can we keep being hangry at bay?

“It depends on how long it’s going to be until your next meal. Ideally, you want something that’s going to bring your blood sugars up a little bit and also maintain them there. So a sort of savory carbohydrate-type snack would be the best thing to have,” Medlin told the BBC.

Study says most Americans feel lonely, young adults are the loneliest

study on loneliness from U.S. health insurer Cigna says that most Americans feel left out or alone at least some of the time.

According to a May 1 news release, the national survey was conducted on 20,096 U.S. adults over age 18. The findings show that those who report being the loneliest are adults ages 18-22.

>> Read more trending news 

NPR reported that Cigna used the UCLA Loneliness Scale -- one of the best-known tools for measuring loneliness -- to obtain results. The questionnaire, from University of California, Los Angeles, calculates a loneliness score based on a series of statements and a formula. Those who score between 20 and 80 are considered lonely. The higher the score, the more socially isolated and lonely the respondent is.

Twenty questions are on the questionnaire, which is balanced between positive, such as “How often do you feel outgoing and friendly?” and negative, such as, “How often do you feel alone?”

Forty-six percent of those surveyed said they sometimes or always feel alone. Forty-seven percent said they sometimes or always felt left out.

Other results said Americans who live with others were less likely to report feeling lonely, and those who were single parents or guardians were more likely to be lonely although they lived with children. About 43 percent of Americans said they sometimes or always feel their relationships are not meaningful. Fifty-three percent said they have meaningful in-person social interactions on a daily basis, and 27 percent rarely or never feel as though there are people who understand them.

Although young adults in the study have reported being the loneliest, the study reported that social media is not a sole predictor of loneliness. Those who spend more time or less time than desired with family have similar feelings of loneliness. Those who reported that they work, sleep and exercise just the right amount had lower loneliness scores.

“There is an inherent link between loneliness and the workplace, with employers in a unique position to be a critical part of the solution,” Dr. Douglas Nemecek, Cigna chief medical officer for behavioral health, said in the release. “Fortunately, these results clearly point to the benefits meaningful in-person connections can have on loneliness, including those in the workplace and the one that takes place in your doctor’s office as a part of the annual checkup.”

Independent market research company Ipsos, founded in France in 1975, conducted the study in the form of a poll on behalf of Cigna, the news release said. The poll was conducted online in English from Feb. 21 - March 6, 2018.

More information on the study, including the method for getting the results, are at Cigna.com.

Tennessee mom delivers own baby in Istanbul hotel room using YouTube, pocketknife, shoelaces

With resourcefulness that would put MacGyver to shame, a pregnant Tennessee woman used YouTube, an electric kettle, a pocketknife and shoelaces to deliver her own son in a foreign hotel room. 

>> New Year's baby born on freeway after South Carolina police chase

In a viral Twitter thread posted last week, Tia Freeman, 22, of La Vergne said she had already bought plane tickets to Germany for a March vacation before finding out she was six months pregnant. Thinking she had plenty of time before the baby's arrival, she decided to take the trip anyway. 

>> Read the thread here (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised.)

According to WTVF and Inside Edition, Freeman, a computer specialist for the U.S. Air Force, initially thought she had food poisoning when she started having cramps en route to Istanbul, where she had a layover, on March 7. The pain only got worse after she landed.

"I make it to my hotel & now I'm sure I'm in labor," she tweeted. "There is no way in the world I'm not in labor because I can barely standup at this point. So I'm in a foreign country, where no one speaks english, I don't know this country's emergency number, & I have no clue what to do."

So she looked it up online.

"In true millennial form I decided to @Youtube it," she tweeted. "If no one else had my back the internet would!"

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

Freeman said she got into the bathtub and pushed five or six times before delivering a baby boy, Xavier Ata Freeman. After another Google search, she used an electric tea kettle to sanitize her pocketknife and shoelaces, then cut the umbilical cord.

"It's weird how focused a person becomes when [their] adrenaline starts going," she tweeted. "Because at no point ever did I freak out. Like I just did what I had to do."

The morning after Xavier's birth, Freeman brought him to the airport.

"Immediately, security knew something was up," she told WTVF. "They called in a doctor and nurse, and I called the U.S. consulate."

>> Read more trending news 

Freeman and Xavier, who quickly became viral sensations in Turkey, flew back to the U.S. two weeks later after the newborn received a birth certificate and emergency passport, WTVF reported.

"I still really don’t understand what’s so shocking about my delivery story," Freeman tweeted. "Lol maybe it’ll set in one day.”

Read more here or here.

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