The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 24, 2001 · Page 14
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 14

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Salina, Kansas
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Tuesday, April 24, 2001
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Page 14
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C2 TUESDAY, APRIL 24. 2001 HEALTH THE SALINA JOURNAL Chiefs / Swimming most popular FROM PAGE CI Putin, 48, says he sets aside almost an hour for swimming and other exercise in the morning and tries to do an additional 90 minutes of workouts later in the day. In making judo his forte, the former KGB agent chose a form of Japanese wrestling that turns an opponent's strength and weight into weakness. "When I am with other people practicing judo, I feel as though I am with close relatives," he told athletes at a Japanese sports center last year He promptly went out on the mats and got thrown by a 10- year-old girl. History does not record whether he took the fall on purpose. "I'm probably as fit now as when I left university, because for a long time in my 20s and 30s, I didn't bother much," British Prime Minister Tony Blair, 47, a man of many athletic interests, told a magazine. When Blair and Bush met the press at Camp David in Maryland earlier this year, the prime minister already had been to the gym there that morning, and the president was going there next. A couple of weeks earlier, when a man fired gunshots out- "I'm probably as fit now as when I left university, because for a longtime in my 20s and 30s, I didn't bother much." Tony Blair British prime minister side the White House gates, Bush kept doing his exercises inside. Not every leader is getting with the program. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, 73, carries a portliness constructed from years in politics and dinners on Jerusalem's Agrippas Street, where the mixed grill features greasy chicken offal, fries and hummus. Once a muscular general, Sharon in a more recent time was offered a case of the diet supplement Slim Fast as a gift. He chugged down three cans of the chocolatey liquid in one sitting. Others make daily activity a prerequisite, even if it is not of the pulse-pounding type. Hasina, 54, spends an hour doing yoga or walking in reflective solitude. "I feel so relaxed after doing the yoga and washing my face and feet before saying the fazr (morning) prayer," she said. "It's a wonderful way to begin the day." If horse racing is the sport of kings, swimming is the sport of prime ministers and presidents. Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, 64, swims in the morning. Chinese President Jiang Zemin, 74, wore paisley trunks for a Hawaii ocean swim en route to Washington a few years ago, back when U.S.-Chinese relations were warmer Finnish President Tarja Halonen, 57, is a pool regular, too. She also takes an occasional dip in the Baltic Sea through a hole in the ice. In black swimsuit and white cap, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein swam across the Tigris River three times in 1997, at age 60, to show his vig­ or. Iraqi swimmers now celebrate that day every year. "Swimming has the lowest risk of pretty much any form of exercise," says Edward Jackowski, a New York fitness consultant who's finishing a book called "Escape Your Shape." But it's hard to lose weight that way, he says. For a well- rounded payoff, he says leaders should jump rope in the hotel room, the mansion or the palace. Aides to some leaders are eager to advertise the boss's activities, especially when political opponents tend to be younger. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, 67, a skier and golfer who took his first snowboarding lesson for his 65th birthday, was often photographed in athletic pursuits during the last election. Blair's main rival. Conservative Party leader William Hague, 40, practices judo with his chief of staff, Sebastian Coe, former middle-distance runner and Olympic gold medalist. Hague's fighting-fit appearance was complicated, however, when he recently owned up to drinking an astonishing 14 pints of beer a day as a young man. Ttie Associated Press President Bush jogs with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge in 1999 while Bush was campaigning for the presidency. T AIDS 'Who, down the road, will help us?' Rate of AIDS cases per 100,000 people • 1to5 5,1 to 10 10.1 to 15 15.1 to 20 20.1 to 144 Surviving with AIDS Spending on AIDS With better treatments available, more people are living with AIDS in the United States than ever before. 350,000 - 300,000 - 250,000 • 200,000 150,000 In fiscal 2000, the federal government spent nearly $11 billion on HIV and AIDS. $8 billion- As AIDS focus shifts —^———^— to Africa, Americans Living witli AiDS in America fear being left behind As drug companies decide how they will provide AIDS medications to poor _ r,.w ,r, pD ADv countries, more people than ever are living with HIV and AIDS in the United By UAViU OHAHY States. And many of them struggle to secure the proper care for themselves. The Associated Press ' HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — AIDS has left Jenny Bragdon frail, broke and sharing a trailer on the outskirts of Huntsville with her 84-year-old mother. Bragdon blames no one but herself for the disease she contracted in long-ago days of prostitution and drug abuse. And she doesn't begrudge the emerging crusade to fight AIDS in the Third World. But, as she hears of low-cost drugs targeted for Africa, Bragdon has a question: "If we spend all this money on other countries, who, down the road, will help us?" Billions of dollars are spent each year on medications and services for Americans with AIDS and HIV, including the potent drug "cocktails" that cost more than $10,000 per person annually. Even the poorest of U.S. patients — unlike their counterparts in Africa — have a chance of obtaining treatment. Despite remarkable advances, however, America's home-front battle against AIDS remains a patchwork effort. The level of care ranges from world-class down to perfunctory. And as drug companies, under pressure, move to slash the cost of AIDS medications for developing countries, many working-class Americans endure emotional and financial trauma as they seek lifesaving treatment. "If someone is infected with HIV and doesn't have the money, and they really want to get these drugs, they can get them," said Terje Anderson, executive director of the National Association of People with AIDS. "But sometimes there are a lot of hoops to jump through, and some people don't want to do that." Waiting for drugs In Alabama, one of several states that has been stingy with AIDS funding, more than 400 people are on a waiting list to qualify for subsidized medication under the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. .1 It 100,000- 50,000- 2 -1 1 1993 1995 1997 1999 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 • Cam and assistance m Prevention g Research • International SOURCES: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Henry J- Kaiser Family Foundation AP can pa- Funded with a mix of federal and state money, the program serves people who are ineligible for Medicaid or Medicare but are not adequately covered by private insurance. In Alabama, the wait last several years, and , tients must scramble for alternatives in the interim. AIDS specialists say the primary option — free medication donated by drug companies — is getting more difficult as some corporations grow weary of Alabama's tightfistedness. "A few years ago, it was relatively easy for individuals to get medications through compassionate-use programs, but now the companies have tightened their criteria and require more effort to get people enrolled," said Dr Don Williamson, Alabama's state health officer. "There are probably, now, people in Alabama who really need medicine who are not getting medicine." Long stay on the list Rita Finley experienced the anguish of Alabama's waiting list for two years before qualifying for the program. Finley, 50, was diagnosed with full-blown AIDS in 1994, probably the result of a romantic relationship several years earlier. By 1996, she was too ill to keep her job as regional supervisor for a jewelry company As the company's health coverage ran out, she had no assurances she would be able to afford medications, and even wondered if she should commit a crime in order to get free drugs in prison. "You keep asking, 'Where am I on the list?' and you don't really know until you're near the top," said Finley, who moved in with her parents in Huntsville. "No amount of people saying, 'Don't worry, you'll get your meds,' can spare you that feeling of panic, that stress that you live with day in, day out." Finley finally made it off the waiting list. At an AIDS outreach agency in Auburn, serving five eastern Alabama counties, a woman still on the list got advice from the staff during a recent visit. The woman, in her early 40s, asked that her name not be published; she has told no one in her town except her boyfriend that she is HIV positive and fears being stigmatized if her condition became known. "I just feel like everything is piling on," she said. "I'm just numb." 'I wasn't surprised' Bragdon, 46, has had many years to get used to cold shoulders; she tested positive for HIV back in the mid-1980s. "I wasn't surprised," she said, recalling her risk-filled past. "I would have been surprised if I wasn't positive." Unlike many low-income AIDS patients, she has clung to a private health-insurance plan that dates from her pre- AIDS hairdressing career. The plan covers her costly medications, but requires contributions that consume a large chunk of her monthly $623 disability check. As a result, she had to give up her apartment and move in with her mother at a mobile- home park. Each month is a struggle to pay their bills. "You lose dignity with this disease," Bragdon said. "You're too young to retire, too sick to work." Daunting financial burdens also face the West family; 11 of them, spanning four generations, share a house in the small town of Falkville in north-central Alabama. One of the children, 19-year- old Johnny, contracted HIV from a blood transfusion three days after his birth in 1981. He also is blind and has been unable to walk since an AIDS-related seizure last year. His AIDS medications — which cost $15,000 a year — are covered by Medicaid, but his mother, Sherrie West, had to quit her job at nearby Decatur Hospital to care for him. "We've taken a $2,000 a month hit," she said. "We're robbing Peter to pay Paul." Nationwide problem Randall Russell, the executive director of AIDS Alabama, said he is frustrated state politicians seem willing to chip in only the minimum funding needed to prevent a cutoff of federal money "I remember coming back from an AIDS meeting in South Africa last year and thinking, 'Shame on us if, with all these resources, we can't figure out how to deliver health care to everyone here,' " he said. Russell was speaking of Alabama, but major AIDS advocacy groups would apply his assessment nationwide. Some states are generous; others have tough minimum-income requirements for their medication programs, and limit coverage to only a fraction of the many infection-fighting drugs. "The AIDS pandemic has taken on biblical proportions in sub-Saharan Africa — it's a crisis, and we all need to be involved," said Tanya Ehrmann, public policy director of AIDS Action, which represents 3,200 community groups. "However, the U.S. hasn't solved this epidemic within our own borders. We have not found ways to prevent new infections, we have not ensured that every person with HIV and AIDS has access to health care, and we have not ended discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS. "There's still a lot of work to be done here." Heart / Machines worth cost FROM PAGE C1 According to the American Heart Association, survival is directly linked to the amount of time between the onset of sudden cardiac arrest and defibrillation. Chances of survival are reduced by 7 percent to 10 percent with every minute of delay. Few attempts at resuscitation are successful after 10 minutes. If every community in the United States could achieve a 20 percent survival rate, an estimated 50,000 Americans could be saved every year. Smith said the defibrillators, which talk the user through the process and are easy to use af­ ter short training session, 'cost $2,500 to $3,500. But, she said, with the statistics showing how many lives can be saved, the cost is worth it. "We know most cardiac arrests occur in the public sector not in hospitals where they have the equipment needed," she said. 'My son has a father' For McElroy, now 56, having people who knew CPR and having a defibrillator available quickly meant that instead of ending his life, his heart attack made him rethink it. After the attack, he retired from the KBI and now owns a consulting business for white- collar crime issues. Family, especially his teen-age son, is his focus. "It's changed my view on life," he said. "There's a whole lot of things that I thought were important for me before. Now I realize what's really important. "My son has a father." For more information about automated external defibrillator, or to arrange a demonstration, call Smith at (316) 7284424. • Reporter Kara Rhodes can be reached at 823-6464, Ext. 167, or by e-mail at sjkrhodes® saljournal.com. Heart or the matter • Cardiovascular disease \sihe No. 1 killer of adults in the United States, taking more than 950,000 lives annually. • Sudden cardiac arrest claims about 225,000 adults in the United States, Each day more than 600 Americans die because of sudden cardiac arrest. • When sudden cardiac arrest occurs, the victim collapses and loses consciousness, stops'normal breathing and loses blood pressure. • More than 95 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital. • Brain death starts to occur in four to six minutes after someone experiences sudden cardiac arrest. • If every community could achieve a 20 percent sudden cardiac arrest survival rate, at least 50,000 people could be saved each year. • About 80 percent of all sudden cardiac arrests happen at home, so being trained to perform CPR can mean the difference between life and death for a loved one. —Sta^stlcs and information from the American Heart Association BRIEFLY Federal panel denies dioxins cause cancer WASHINGTON — The latest draft of a federal study of cancer-causing chemicals concludes there is insufficient scientific evidence to determine whether levels of dioxins in meat are a health risk for humans. The study known as the Dioxin Reassessment Review, has been going on for 10 years. Previous drafts have reached different conclusions. The most recent one, criticized by environmentalists as too pro-industry concludes laboratory studies have found some of the 30 manmade chemicals — known as dioxins — may promote cancer growth but do not cause it. In a 74-page draft report compiled for the Environmental Protection Agency, released for final discussion this week, the panel also says there is insufficient scientific evidence to show for certain whether this means dioxin levels in animal meat causes cancer in humans. The latest draft reverses some conclusions reached in earlier versions. Vaccinations not linked to autism WASHINGTON — A committee of experts reported finding no general connection between childhood immunization shots and autism. It recommended there be no changes in current vaccination requirements. The committee, 15 experts selected by the Institute of Medicine, examined studies of the health effects of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine in young children. "The evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship at the population level," the group concluded. However, the committee, in a report issued Monday, found there may be rare incidences, with a small number of children, where the MMR vaccine "could contribute" to development of autism, although there is no evidence to prove this. Blood-clotting gene linked to heart attacks DALLAS — Blacks who have a rogue version of a blood-clotting gene have six times the risk of heart disease compared with other blacks, according to researchers. "We have identified a genetic marker for predicting increased heart attack risk in African-Americans," said Dr. Kenneth Wu, lead author of the study in the March 13 issue of Circulation, an American Heart Association journal. He said the work shows the importance of investigating genetic risk factors for heart disease by ethnic origin. The rogue gene was not associated with higher heart disease risk in whites. The gene that was studied is the blueprint for a protein called thrombomodulin, which converts the enzyme thrombin from a clotting agent into an anticlotting agent. The protein plays a key role in protecting blood vessels. A common variance in the gene occurs when an amino acid called alanine is replaced by valine. This change previously has been associated with heart attack risk. From Wire Service Reports

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