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Heller becomes 5th Senate Republican to oppose GOP health care bill

Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada became the fifth Senate Republican on Friday to announce opposition to the Senate Republican health care plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, putting the legislation's passage in jeopardy ahead of a vote next week.

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3 steps that may help guard against dementia

Simple changes to your lifestyle might delay the start of dementia or slow its progression , a new report suggests.

Some scientific evidence indicates that keeping your mind active through "cognitive training," controlling your blood pressure and exercising more may pay dividends in terms of brain health, researchers determined.

Although not yet proven to thwart the cognitive decline that accompanies aging or dementia , the public should have access to this information, said Alan Leshner. He led the committee at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine that compiled the report.

"There are a few domains where the evidence that does exist suggests they might have an effect," said Leshner.

"At least two of those, we know, are good for a whole lot of other things that people do or that they could suffer from. That's controlling your blood pressure if you have hypertension and engaging in physical exercise ," said Leshner, CEO emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Leshner's group was asked by the U.S. National Institute on Aging to research measures that might delay mild mental decline or Alzheimer's-like dementia .

Specialists welcomed the findings, which the researchers deemed encouraging even if not definitive.

"It's high time that people are given information about things they can do today to reduce their risk of cognitive decline and possibly dementia," said Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs and outreach at the Alzheimer's Association.

"Everyone is worried" about their mental functioning, he said. "But you shouldn't feel helpless. You should take control of your brain health," he added.

According to the report, which was released June 22, three promising areas for future research include:

  • Cognitive training:  These structured programs, sometimes computer-based, are said to enhance reasoning, problem-solving and memory . However, they remain controversial and are not yet proven to prevent or slow dementia, Leshner said. Still, the report notes that one well-designed trial suggested that cognitive training practiced over time might improve long-term mental function in healthy adults.
  • Blood pressure:  Evidence suggests lowering high blood pressure through medication, diet and exercise -- especially in midlife -- might prevent or delay Alzheimer's disease. But again, that's not absolutely proven, Leshner said.
  • Exercise:  Getting more physical activity might also delay or slow age-related mental decline. Physical activity has many health benefits, such as preventing stroke, which is related to brain health, Leshner said.

He said the committee did not try to pinpoint which mental activities might be best; how low blood pressure should go; or how much exercise one needs to get the most benefit.

These are areas that need more research. Randomized trials are the "gold standard" of research and are the only ones that can prove or disprove a benefit from an intervention, he said.

One dementia specialist said some biological evidence supports the benefit of exercise, but in the final analysis, genetics might be the biggest determinant of whether you develop dementia.

"There is good evidence that physical exercise delays onset or slows progression

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Burns from hot pavement, cars up due to heat wave

The  heat wave scorching the Southwest U.S.  can be to blame for an uptick in admissions at a major burn center in Phoenix, Arizona. Doctors are cautioning those living in Phoenix, and other areas where temperatures are high, how to avoid burns and other heat-related dangers.

The Arizona Burn Center has seen its emergency department visits double during the current heat wave, including cases where people have burned their bare feet on the scalding pavement.

Dr. Kevin Foster, director of the Arizona Burn Center, said this June is the worst the center has seen in 18 years. Most patients arrive with contact burns from touching hot car interiors or walking outside without shoes .

One child received contact burns after crawling through a doggy door onto the hot pavement, Foster said.

"Getting up to 120 really makes a difference," Foster said.

The burns are among several hazards resulting from a heat wave that has plagued Arizona, Nevada and California , including deaths, increased wildfire risks and a water shortage in one community.

The heat wave brought a high of 119 degrees (48 degrees Celsius) in Phoenix on Tuesday. Las Vegas topped out at 117, and California has been broiling in triple-digit temps.

The county that is home to Las Vegas has had at least four confirmed heat deaths since Saturday. California has seen at least two heat deaths, and officials throughout the state are investigating four others.

Two California firefighters were treated for heat-related injuries they received while battling a blaze in the San Bernardino Mountains near Los Angeles.

Arizona has yet to report any heat-related deaths , although Maricopa County, the most populated, had 130 heat deaths last year -- a 15-year high.

Authorities declared a state of emergency in the Arizona community of Cordes Lake after its water supply dwindled amid increased consumption during the hot weather. Officials are asking people to reduce their use, trucking in supplies from nearby Prescott Valley and cutting off water from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Fire officials in Arizona said the extreme heat could cause more fires to pick up. Firefighters are battling at least 15 wildfires , including one that forced an evacuation and damaged at least six buildings in a town south of Tucson known for its wineries.

In Phoenix, about 10 to 15 patients are treated at the burn center's emergency department on an average day, but about 25 to 30 people have come in daily since the heat wave rolled in this week, Foster said.

Patients of all ages and backgrounds are at risk, but children and the elderly are more susceptible because they may not be able to avoid or get out of trouble. 

Sweltering temperatures can lead to a host of other health problems, including heat-related car deaths -- a risk for children, who should not be left in parked vehicles where temperatures can climb quickly, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Even within only 10 minutes, temperature can rise by up

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GOP health care plan faces opposition

June 23, 2017, 10:03 AM

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Women, doctors don't put enough focus on heart disease, study finds

June 23, 2017, 8:13 AM

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