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Health Dangers of Long Trips and What to Do About Them; Treadmills at Your Desks; Inspiring Story of a Double Amputee

Aired June 23, 2007 - 08:30   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: See all the water there? Well, a five acre glacial lake in the southern Andes has disappeared. Yes, you don't see it any more. This is what it looks like right now. And basically, a 100 foot hole in the ground is all that's left. Nobody seems to know exactly where the lake went, but one theory is that the water disappeared into underground fissures, but some say that seems like a lot to swallow.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Well, spoiling Harry Potter, this week a computer hacker claims to know how the Harry Potter saga ends. And this spoiler has posted a claim on the Internet. The seventh and last book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" won't be out until July 1st, but the hacker who goes by the name Gabriel claims to have gotten the details from a computer owned by someone who works for the publisher. The hacker claims he did it for religious reasons. We're hoping to get a further explanation on that.

Now some computer experts behave the hacker's claim -- just a hoax.

NGUYEN: I'm sure there are people logging on right now to see what that ending is.

HOLMES: It's going to be a hit no matter what.

NGUYEN: Yes, exactly. OK, so we're waiting for an update in Charleston on that fire investigation. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has scheduled a 9:00 a.m. Eastern news conference. And when that does happen, we will bring it to you live here on CNN.

HOLMES: But first, we want to get you to "HOUSECALL" with CNN's Sanjay Gupta, which starts right now.

SANJAY GUPTA, HOST: Thanks, guys. This is HOUSECALL. We're making the rounds this morning.

First up, traveling this summer. What you need to know before packing your suitcase. And planes, trains and automobiles, the health dangers of long trips, what you can do about them.

Then get this. Treadmills at your desk. I'll show you what some doctors hope to be the office of the future.

And finally, the inspiring story of a double amputee. After dozens of operations, now taking on something most of us would never dream of. We'll explain.

But first, it's that time of year. Americans are on the move, heading on vacation. Whether you're in the planning stages, or getting ready to go, here's something you should know. Health experts warn that vacation can be a prime time for getting sick.


GUPTA (voice-over): Millions of Americans are heading on vacation this summer. Some taking road trips and others heading to the beach and amusement parks. Still, others are venturing further from home and heading overseas. But they better be prepared.

PHYLLIS KDZARKSY, DR., CDC TRAVEL SPECIALIST: Thirty million from the United States alone. About 50 percent will become ill at some point during a two-week travel period.

GUPTA: The most common ailments -- travelers sickness, otherwise known as Montezuma's revenge or Dali Bali and the common cold. However, developing countries of tropical areas can bring more serious risks as well.

KDZARKSY: Agents such as Hepatitis A or typhoid fever. Then there's a whole group of illnesses that are transmitted by mosquitoes, for example, or other what we call vectors or insects. And malaria and dengue fever are big ones.

GUPTA: Some common sense can help you stay healthy. Number one, go see your doctor at least six weeks before taking your trip. Your doctor may recommend getting a vaccination or bringing along medication for certain ailments, especially if you have any chronic disorders. Also, check your health insurance to find out what your plan covers when traveling.

If you're taking a regular prescription, make sure to bring a little extra and pack it in your carry on just in case your luggage takes a side trip.


GUPTA: Now if you're flying for your vacation, especially if you're traveling a long distance, studies show you may increase your risk of getting a blood clot. Experts say more than 600,000 people are hospitalized each year because of blood clots. 200,000 will die.

Medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has more.


ELIZABETH COHEN, MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Doctors have known that sitting in tight quarters on an airplane for long periods of time, eight hours or more, can cause blood clots to form even in healthy people. It's called deep vein thrombosis, DVT. And most often, the clot occurs in the lower leg or thigh. If a clot breaks off and travels to the lungs, it could be fatal. . SEAN O'DONNELL, DR., WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER: It's a huge problem in this country. Probably more people die from lymbolic problems or blood clots than they do from car accidents yearly.

COHEN: The cause is still up for debate, but according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, it's not just the reduced pressure in the cabin. Sitting in a cramped position for that long can be down right dangerous.

O'DONNELL: The legs are down. It's more difficult for the blood to get back to the heart. And they can sit in the legs. The legs can become a little bit swollen and the blood can occasionally clot.

COHEN: Many seasoned travelers are well aware of the dangers.

CLAI COLLIER, AIRLINE PASSENGER: You definitely have to get up and move around and do your little exercise in your seat.

SUSAN COTTER, AIRLINE PASSENGER: I've traveled for so many years and never had a problem, that I don't worry about it.

COHEN: Not everyone will have symptoms, but some things to look out for include swelling, pain, and tenderness and red or discolored skin.

O'DONNELL: The reasonable, prudent thing to do when you're on a long trip is about every two hours, is to get up and walk around, exercise your legs.

COHEN: There are a number of ways to treat DVT. So if you have a history of blood clots, check with your doctor. He may want to put you on a blood thinner before your next long distance flight.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta.


GUPTA: Elizabeth, thanks. Now if you're saying closer to home, especially to the Northeast, you might have another issue to look out for. The CDC reports cases of lyme disease have more than doubled in the United States since 1991.

Now you may know that lyme diagnose is caused by tick bites. Can bring on these flu like symptoms, severe headaches, and joint pain. The CDC has for these several pointers to try and prevent you from getting bitten in the first place.


ALI KHAN, DR., CDC: The personal piece of protection is wear light colored clothing, long sleeved shirts, long pants, tuck them in, do daily tick checks during the right time of year. If you see ticks, remove them from you. Use deep, greater than 20 percent, to prevent yourself from getting bit by ticks.

(END VIDEO CLIP) GUPTA: Now, the majority of lyme disease cases are reported in ten northern states. Lyme disease is just one of the health issues that some parents can be concerned about when sending their kids off to camp. This time of year, hundreds of thousands of American children are heading away to these sleep away camps. Judy Fortin now with what parents need to know.


JUDY FORTIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Summer camp is supposed to be fun, but if you want to keep your kids safe, experts say make sure you've chosen the right place for them to spend time away from home.

AVRIL BECKFORD, DR., PEDIATRICIAN: You absolutely want to choose an accredited camp. That's key. You want to be sure that it's a camp that has a nurse and an infirmary, a medical director, and a facility close by in case something should happen.

FORTIN: Pediatrician Avril Beckford used to be a camp doctor and now sends her own children off to camp in the summer.

BECKFORD: The bottom line is is when there is camp, I think you can give them a few guidelines, but know that you have absolutely no control once they get to camp.

FORTIN: Dr. Beckford says camp medical forms can be tedious to fill out, but they provide important information about your child's health history. She says camp directors and counselors need to know about allergies and daily medications that need to be administered. She's treated campers for all kinds of medical problems.

BECKFORD: Skin rashes, bug bites, sunburn, hopefully not, and sometimes strep throat.

FORTIN: Dr. Beckford points out that you can teach your children about the importance of wearing sunscreen and bug spray, showering every day and eating well. But there are no guarantees they'll follow through with the advice.

Judy Fortin, CNN, Atlanta.


GUPTA: All right, thanks, Judy. Now if you want more information about lyme disease or other summer health issues, go to You're going to find news articles there and have access to Mayo Clinic's health library as well.

While you're there, also check out my blog. You can learn the limitations of your sun screen. That's really important this summer as well.

Now before you head on line, though, stay tuned for more HOUSECALL. And meet a doctor who finds some of the most unusual illnesses in some unique patients. We'll explain. And later in the show, working out at your desk, yes, it's possible, to help you burn up to 1,000 calories per day.

Then a marathoner and soon to be iron man, he's setting records. He's not letting anything hold him back.


GUPTA: We're back with HOUSECALL. A bill on embryonic stem cell research received another presidential veto this week. The president says he supports research, but not if it involves destroying human embryos. Instead, he issued an executive order promoting other forms of stem cell research.

Now as you know, stem cells have the potential to regenerate into different types of cells. That's why they're so promising. Scientists think they might help fight a number of diseases. Democrats made stem cell research funding a priority when they took control of Congress. They don't have the votes to override a veto.

Also this week, a survey of more than 1,000 infertility patients found that over 60 percent would likely donate their unused frozen embryos for stem cell research. Researchers from Johns Hopkins and Duke University say these donations could equal up to 3,000 new embryonic stem cell lines.

For more of this week's medical news, we check in with Judy Fortin and "The Pulse."


FORTIN (voice-over): Thanks, Sanjay. Troubling differences in mortality between men and women with diabetes. A national survey of more than 28,000 people finds a 30-year effort to combat heart disease produced a significant decrease in men's death rates with diabetes, while the same effort did not produce a drop in mortality among diabetic women. Researchers say more study is need to understand why.

Now here's no surprise. British researchers finding babies with at least one parent who smokes have more than five times the normal levels of nicotine by-product in their urine. The CDC says second hand smoke increases the risks of sudden death, heart disease, and lung cancer.

Hope for women concerned about maintaining healthy bones. A study published in the annals of internal medicine finds women who took 54 milligrams of Phyto (ph) genestein along with Vitamin D and calcium had increased bone mineral density, compared to women who only took calcium and Vitamin D.

Phyto estrogens are chemicals and plants that act like estrogen in the body. Sanjay, back to you.


GUPTA: All right, thanks, Judy. Now, a new finding for women in middle age. A new study shows that women age 45 to 54, you need to listen to this, are twice as likely to have a stroke as men who are the same age. Researchers point to two causes, fat around the middle and high blood pressure.

Men, of course, have some of these same problems. But for some reason, these two issues seem to have a more pro found effect on women.

Now when HOUSECALL continues, meet a doctor with an unusual specialty. He's helping find diseases that other doctors don't know to even look for. And then the inspiring story of a double amputee. After dozens of operations, now taking on something most of us would never even dream of. Stay with us.


GUPTA: We're back with HOUSECALL. You know, refugees come into the United States every year. And they're seeking asylum. They're seeking a better way of life. But they can also have health issues that your average internist may not be able to handle.

As Elizabeth Cohen reports, that's where a unique specialty comes into play. They're called refugee doctors.


COHEN (voice-over): A year ago, Monykuch Sang was living in a refugee camp, a victim of the civil war in southern Sudan. But this little boy is one of the lucky ones. He and his family got their wish. They were granted refugee status and now they live outside Atlanta. In many ways, Monykuch is becoming like a typical American boy. But in one way, he's very different. Monykuch doesn't like to eat.

So how is Monykuch's stomach doing?

RACHEL BOL, MONYKUCH'S MOTHER: When he eats, he says it hurts his stomach. My stomach is not OK.

COHEN: When he eats he says his stomach hurts?

BOL: Mm-hmm.

COHEN: Monykuch is five years old, but he's the size of a three- year-old. When he arrived in this country, Monykuch went to a health clinic, but he didn't get treatment until he met this man.

CARLOS FRANCO, DR., EMORY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Does this hurt, Monykuch? Yes? Does your belly hurt?


COHEN: Dr. Carlos Franco realized Monykuch had a parasite, an intestinal parasite.

Is Monykuch growing the way a five-year old boy should be?

FRANCO: No. Monykuch is going through malnourishment from his previous experience in the refugee camps.

COHEN: Dr. Franco specializes in refugees. He's treated hundreds in the U.S. and has even traveled to Sudan. And he says as more and more refugees come to the U.S., other doctors need to learn about refugee diseases such as parasites, malaria, and Hepatitis B. Dr. Franco keeps a reminder of this in his office, a picture of this man, Gabriel Bol.

FRANCO: He was a leader in the community. He was a friend and a patient for all of us.

COHEN: Gabriel had Hepatitis B, which caused liver cancer. He died at age 25. Dr. Franco says he would have lived had the disease been caught earlier.

MONYKUCH: A, b, c, d, e, f, g...

COHEN: As for Monykuch, hopes are high now that he's getting the medicine he needs.

What do you like to eat?

MONYKUCH: Chicken.

COHEN: The next challenge? Finding a pediatrician who can care for Monykuch's special health needs, as he embarks on his new life here in America.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Decatur, Georgia.


GUPTA: All right, thanks, Elizabeth.

And just this week, CNN launched an initiative called impact your world. This is amazing. Go to and click on issues ranging on everything from refugees and homelessness, to natural disasters. You're going to find the names. You're going to find Web sites and dozens of different groups you can get involved with. Find out how just one person can truly help change the world. That's what we're trying to do.

Coming up on HOUSECALL, an innovative way to burn calories while you work. Imagine working in an office like this. You can burn hundreds of extra calories a day, all of it while at work. Stay tuned.


GUPTA: You know, experts are always telling us to move more, at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. But you know what? That takes time, which many of us simply don't have.

So what about working out while you work? It sounds crazy, but could it be the office of the future?


GUPTA: Imagine an office that's more like a gym. Dr. James Levine would like every workplace to trade monotony for movement. Levine, who's an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, believes workers can keep moving and still be productive. He created a special platform designed to fit around a treadmill. It only goes a mile an hour, but the effect is noticeable.

DR. LEVINE: You burn an extra 100 to 150 calories an hour.

GUPTA: Add that up, eight hours day, that's close to 1,000 calories. Skeptics say it's almost impossible to concentrate on a treadmill for long periods.

DENISE FEELEY, MEDSTAR RESEARCH INSTITUTE: It would seem a better use of your time to actually take a break and go out and have a 20 minute walk, fast walk. You probably spend more calories than you would standing on - walking on this treadmill for a couple of hours.

GUPTA: Dr. Jeff Fidler, a radiologist at the Mayo Clinic, sits at his desk looking at 16,000 images a day. Accuracy is crucial as he tries to pinpoint abnormalities. In a research study, Fidler and a colleague used the treadmill every day while studying films. Fidler lost 25 pounds and made no mistakes.

JEFF FIDLER, DR., RADIOLOGIST, MAYO CLINIC: And in fact, it improved our detection rate up to 99 percent.

GUPTA: They cost anywhere from $300 to $1500, depending on the type of treadmill that comes with it. Levine says using the equipment for just a couple hours a day will produce significant health benefits.


GUPTA: Now to be clear, those treadmills cost anywhere from $300 to $1500, so they're not cheap. But like we mentioned, you can also just take short breaks and walk, bring in an exercise ball, or do exercises in your chair, everything from tightening those abs to leg extensions.

And don't forget to take our challenge at There, you can pledge hours of exercise. You've already pledged over a million. Thank you for that. You can also print a fitness journal, check out how many calories you burn with specific exercises.

Then click on Wednesday evenings my newest podcast is downloadable there. This week, I'm talking about something that's pretty fascinating. It's video game addiction, really stunning stuff.

Now you stay where you are. Just ahead, this guy is doing a lot more than a treadmill workout. He's setting his records and not letting anything hold him back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: Welcome back. This weekend, possibly right now, Scott Rigsby is hoping to make history. He's a double amputee who's taking on an Ironman.

CNN's Larry Smith has the story.


LARRY SMITH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Scott Rigsby wasn't always a double amputee. In 1986, just weeks after graduating from high school, Scott was (INAUDIBLE), riding in the back of a pickup when an 18 wheeler tried to pass. It clipped the trailer they were pulling and knocked Scott off. He was dragged under the trailer for 300 feet.

SCOTT RIGSBY, TRIATHLETE: I just knew that I was kind of broken up. And I didn't really know how bad.

SMITH: Scott's right leg had to be amputated below the knee. Over the next 12 years, he underwent 25 surgeries on the remaining leg, but he was in constant pain. So much so that he eventually asked for that leg to be amputated as well.

SCOTT GILLOGLY, DR., RIGSBY'S DOCTOR: He had gone through infections and multiple pain medications, was on numerous drugs when I saw him, basically depressed and really just kind of angry at the world for -- certainly for good reason.

RIGSBY: I asked him, I was like, what do you think about taking off this other leg? And he said, I think that you'll be able to pursue an active lifestyle like you did before the accident.

SMITH: Just months after surgery, Scott was walking and running with prosthetics. He began to enter various road races, but wanted more. So he asked a trainer to help prepare him to compete in triathlons.

RIGSBY: I came in here and I told him what I wanted to do. And he did some testing on me and said, I believe you can do it.

TONY MYERS, RIGSBY'S TRAINER: I still had my doubts until I walked out in the parking lot and I watched him run.

SMITH: In March, Scott became the first below the knee double amputee to complete a marathon when he crossed the finish line of the Georgia marathon in Atlanta. This weekend in Idaho, he's looking for another first when he completes the Ford Ironman Borelane Triathlon.

GILLOGLY: Here's a young man who's overcome adversity that most of us couldn't even imagine. And that he's done so with enthusiasm and vigor and has an outgoing personality. And so much that many of us can learn from him.

SMITH: Though Scott races to inspire those with prosthetics, this weekend, he'll be racing for his older brother, Tim, who was born mentally retarded.

RIGSBY: My brother's been on my heart so much. And he's never walked a day in his life. I just want to be able to put that medal that says you're an Ironman. I want to be able to put that medal around his neck. He's the real Ironman of our family.

Larry Smith, CNN, Atlanta.


GUPTA: Wow, what an amazing story. Scott Rigsby, good luck to you. Just to be clear, that's swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and then finishing with a full marathon, 26.2 miles. That's an impressive feat for anyone. Good luck, Scott.

And make sure to tune in next weekend for another edition of HOUSECALL, where all your medical questions will be answered.

Thanks for watching. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Stay tuned now for more news on CNN.


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