Jailed former Bolivian president taken to clinic with out-of-control blood pressure

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Jeanine Anez, accused of insurrection that allowed her to become president, was taken by ambulance from the La Paz woman’s prison to a private clinic for treatment. She was at the central prison instead of receiving the usual treatment for a former head of state because the government says she is being accused of crimes committed before she assumed the presidency, namely being a part of a purported coup d’etat. She claims political persecution.

“She has gotten sick–unbalanced,” said the prison warden, referring to what others have said is unbalanced blood pressure. “Doctors will let us know the situation.”

By Milan Sime Martinic

President of Tanzania dies age 61

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John Magufuli, a populist leader who contrasted his country with his African neighbors by declaring it “open for business” in the midst of regional pandemic lockdowns, died in a Dar es Salaam hospital Wednesday, announced the government.

His vice president said in a national address that he died of “chronic heart disease.”

By Milan Sime Martinic

PFOA Chemicals in Water

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A study has now shown that residents of the Mid-Ohio River Valley had higher than normal levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), based on blood samples collected over a 22-year span (1991-2013).

The exposure source was likely drinking water contaminated by industrial discharges upriver.

The researchers identified three known industrial sources who discharge PFOA into the Ohio River: DuPont’s Fort Washington Works and on-site landfill, Dry Run Landfill in Washington, WV, and Letart Landfill in Letart, WV.

The issue is increasingly common. It has been reported that every person now has around 4 or 5 parts per billion in their blood, which is around 10x the EPA provisional limit.

And, while PFOA is being phased out, it’s only one chemical in a large class of fluorine-derived substances called fluoropolymers (PFAs), so all the industry has to do is simply switch to different ones that aren’t registered by the EPA, and have not been studied to the same extent.

The recourse taken by those affected tends to be lawsuits. A lawyer recently made headlines for suing DuPont for PFOA after a farmer called him to complain his cattle were getting sick and dying left and right and a soapy froth of chemical buildup in his creek.


U.S.’s New Health Care Bill Passes

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217 – 213 was the vote that passed without motion to reconsider, but all 193 Democrats and 20 Republicans voted “Nay.”

Democrats made news by shouting “Hey Hey, Goodbye” on the Senate floor, and protesters staged public demonstrations against the move in the streets.

Trump said of the bill, “Make no mistake. This is a repeal and replace of Obamacare.”

The bill’s writing had several changes made in order to get passed, including that states can opt out of essential benefits, spending caps, hospital care, and pre-existing conditions requirements, on the condition that the state show it would improve the market to opt out.

The bill also cuts spending on Medicaid $880b over 10 years. This is where the figure of “24m more uninsured Americans” comes from, as reported by the CBO.

Coca-Cola to Cut 1,200 Jobs as People Drink Less Sugary Drinks

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Coca Cola said it would cut 20% of its corporate workforce to save $800m, and will increase cuts to save $3.8b by 2019.

The current corporate staff is 5,500, around 5% of the total workforce of over 100,000.

The company expects profits to be down 1 – 3% this year.

Sugary drink and snack companies are looking towards new technology to reduce sugar while keeping sweetness.

Methamphetamines Should Be Removed From List of Narcotics – Thai Justice Minister

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The Kingdom of Thailand’s strict stance on illicit drugs is world-famous, but this week the Justice Ministry came out in favor of giving up the current, unsuccessful approach to fighting the war on drugs and instead focusing on more health-oriented policies.

Justice Minister Paiboon Kumchaya told reporters this week that the nationwide problem of methamphetamine use had not been won during its already 28-year campaign. More people than ever are hooked on the drug, he said.

Paiboon said the Justice Minsitry was in the process of consulting relevant agencies about removing methamphetamines — known colloquially as “ya ba” [crazy drug] or “easy” — from the list of narcotic drugs and treating it instead as a normal drug, which would make it easier for Thais to seek health treatment and rehabilitation.

The minister also mentioned that other nations had been changing their drug policy in similar ways in recent years because they could not win a war on drugs by treating use as a crime.

Methamphetamines in the form most common in Thailand

Paiboon proposed an analogy in which an incurably diseased person tries to find a way to live more happily with their disease. In such a case, the person seeks the help of health professionals in addressing the problem.

He also mentioned that Thai society accepts cigarettes and alcohol, although both are arguably more hazardous to health than methamphetamines.


Stomach balloon approved by FDA for weight loss

ReShape Dual Balloon
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Dieting leaving you with that empty feeling? The FDA Tuesday approved a new device to fill in for food in the stomachs of weight loss practitioners with a device that requires no surgery: a dual balloon system.

Although medical professionals do not fully understand how filling the stomach triggers feelings of fullness — even in the absence of actual food — they understand that it works.

The ReShape Dual Balloon device is placed in the stomach through the mouth. The typical procedure is a 30 minute minimally invasive endoscopic one, according the the FDA.

Unlike some surgical measures undertaken to lose weight, the balloon does not alter the stomach’s anatomy.

The balloon is meant to be used for around six months while the person also exercises and follows a medically supervised diet.

“For those with obesity, significant weight loss and maintenance of that weight loss often requires a combination of solutions including efforts to improve diet and exercise habits,” said William Maisel, M.D., M.P.H., acting director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “This new balloon device provides doctors and patients with a new non-surgical option that can be quickly implanted, is non-permanent, and can be easily removed.”

The balloon is not meant for all dieters. Only obese adults with a body mass index of 30 to 40 kg/m and who have one or more obesity-related conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, are recommended to try it.

The FDA made their decision on the balloon after the successful results of a clinical trial in which 187 obese participants ranging in age from 22 to 60 lost an average of 14.3 pounds (or 6.8 percent of total body weight) in six months, and who kept off around 10 pounds after six more months. This was contrasted against a control group of roughly the same size who lost only 7.2 pounds in the first six months.

The device is not recommended for those who have had previous gastrointestinal or bariatric surgery or who have been diagnosed with inflammatory intestinal or bowel disease, large hiatal hernia, symptoms of delayed gastric emptying or active H. Pylori infection, nor is it for those who use aspirin daily or who are pregnant.

Potential side effects for the procedure, the FDA warned, include headache, muscle pain, and nausea from the sedation and procedure; in rare cases, severe allergic reaction, heart attack, esophageal tear, infection, and breathing difficulties can occur. Once the device is placed in the stomach, patients may experience vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, gastric ulcers, and feelings of indigestion.

By Cheryl Bretton