Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Increased Stress Puts More Teens at Risk, Doctor Warns PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 21 February 2012 09:42
Spot Early Signs Your Teen is Struggling – Before It Gets Bad

Adolescence is difficult in the best of times. It’s doubly stressful for kids today; they’re experiencing the same worries and insecurities as adults in this troubled economy, and with far fewer coping skills. From families struggling with joblessness and foreclosure to increasing competition for college admissions to the normal fears associated with impending adulthood, they’re particularly vulnerable.

“Teens who are overwhelmed by stress often are unable or unwilling to ask for help,” says noted psychologist Dr. Gregory L. Jantz, (, author of When Your Teenager Becomes…The Stranger in Your House.

“But the longer they continue to flail and struggle emotionally, the greater the chance they’ll develop more serious problems like clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, dependence on alcohol or drugs and, sadly, suicidal tendencies,” Jantz says. “It’s up to parents and other adults to recognize when a teen is struggling and intervene.”

So how do you know when typical teen characteristics, such as moodiness, have moved beyond “normal?” Jantz offers these tips:

• Arguing is normal; constant anger is not. Sometimes teens argue just to argue. It allows them to let off steam, express their displeasure about life in general and test boundaries. The occasional dramatic meltdown is to be expected. But it’s not normal for a teen to be angry and hostile all the time, constantly fighting and yelling.

• Withdrawal from parents is normal; pulling away from family and friends is not. Expect your teen to start pulling away from you – unless she wants something – and occasionally from their friends, as well. Sometimes, they just need to pull back for a few days, even from friends. But when they appear to isolate themselves for weeks, spending weekend after weekend alone in their room, they may be struggling with depression. Socializing with friends is one of the first things to go as depression sucks the joy out of life.

• Anxiety is normal; feeling constantly overwhelmed is not. Teens have a lot to be anxious about – the prospect of independence is both exhilarating and terrifying, so some worrying is to be expected. But a teen who seems to be, or says he is, struggling daily with stress needs help. Two types of kids are especially vulnerable to developing generalized anxiety disorder, a heightened, constant state of anxiety: The worker bee perfectionist who crams his schedule with activities, responsibilities and tasks, and the kids who worry so much over anything, they can’t get anything done.

• Being upset for days after a bad experience is normal; more than two weeks is not. Teenagers tend to react dramatically when things go wrong – their boss chews them out, they fail a test, they get in an argument with their sweetheart. Adults know from experience that these things aren’t the end of the world and all will be well again, but teens lack that perspective. It’s normal for them to be in a bad mood about it for a few days, but to dwell on the problem for more than two weeks indicates they’re struggling.

The most recent data available, which is about 3 years old, puts suicide as the third-leading cause of death for teens after unintentional injuries (such as car accidents) and homicide, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. More than 2 million teens attempt suicide each year.

“I suspect new data will put suicide as the second and possibly even the leading cause of death for that age group, because depression is the biggest risk factor,” Jantz says. “We’re seeing more teenagers suffering from depression in recent years because of the economy and overstimulation by technology.”

Visit for an online survey to see if you or your teen is showing signs of depression (click “Depression” and then “Depression Survey” in the drop-down menu).”

About Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D.

Gregory Jantz has more than 25 years experience in mental health counseling and is the founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, near Seattle, Wash. The Center, “a place for hope,” provides comprehensive, coordinated care from a treatment team that addresses medical, physical, psychological, emotional, nutritional, fitness and spiritual factors involved in recovery. He is the best-selling author of more than 20 books on topics from depression to eating disorders.

UI Heart and Vascular Center first in Iowa to provide new heart valve treatment PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Hawkeye Caucus   
Tuesday, 21 February 2012 09:31

Leaders of University of Iowa Heart and Vascular Center have reported that their heart valve team has treated half a dozen patients with a new, cutting-edge treatment for seriously ill patients affected by severe heart valve problems.

The new technology uses a catheter inserted through a small incision in a patient’s thigh that travels through blood vessels and can be used to replace a person’s failing heart valve in the aortic artery.

The technology is reserved for patients with severe aortic stenosis who are considered too high risk for traditional forms of heart valve replacement surgery, or were previously considered inoperable.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the treatment, called the SAPIEN percutaneous heart valve replacement, manufactured by Edwards LifeSciences.

In October 2011, the UI Heart and Vascular Center became the first program in the nation to receive certification for its cardiac valve program from The Joint Commission, the accreditation agency for health care organizations in the United States.

In addition to the new transcatheter procedure, the center’s heart valve clinic, established more than three years ago, offers minimally invasive surgery for heart valve repair and replacement. For more information, call 319-384-6245 or visit online at

Helping Iowa entrepreneurs get a leg up

Lots of people come up with ideas for new businesses.  Finding the money to get them off the ground is the tough part.

To help those would-be Iowa entrepreneurs, the University of Iowa’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) offers workshops and contests to assist students, faculty and staff hone their elevator pitch and business plan writing skills. These abilities are vital in successfully securing start-up money from financiers and venture capitalists.

Each year, JPEC sponsors or co-sponsors six competitions that provide training and practice. They could obtain seed money, too, as competition winners can receive anywhere from $500 to $25,000 in start-up capital.

For more information on JPEC’s contests, visit:

JPEC’s Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory is an on-campus incubator for new businesses that provides office space and learning opportunities for 29 start-ups owned by University of Iowa students.

Synthetic drug ban is more necessary than ever, Grassley says PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 20 February 2012 14:56

Floor Statement of Sen. Chuck Grassley

“We Must Stop the Spread of Synthetic Drug Use”

Delivered Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In the fall of 2010, I came to the floor to speak about my growing concern of synthetic drug use in this country. Specifically, I raised concerns about a popular new drug known as K2 or Spice after a constituent of mine, named David Rozga, committed suicide. David killed himself shortly after smoking a package of the drug he and some friends bought at a local shopping mall. At the time, David’s death in June 2010 was one of the first deaths associated with what was a new and very dangerous drug craze.  Now, nearly two years after David’s death, the use of synthetic drugs like K2 has exploded and is becoming a major problem across the country.

In 2009, the American Association of Poison Centers reported only 13 calls concerning synthetic drug use. In 2010, over 1,300 calls were made to poison centers about synthetic drugs. Last year, there were over 12,000 calls to poison centers regarding synthetic drugs. The Monitoring the Future survey, a survey of high school youth, asked students for the first time last year if they ever tried synthetic drugs. Roughly one in nine high school seniors responded that they had used synthetic drugs in the last year. These numbers are an astonishing increase in just two year, and this illustrates how rapidly the use of these drugs has come on the scene.

These drugs are having a terrible effect on those who use them. Emergency room doctors across the country are reporting increasing cases of synthetic drug users coming to the hospital. My staff heard from one such doctor from upstate New York about what she has seen. Dr. Sandra Schneider, from Rochester New York, reported that users in her ER experienced psychotic episodes, rapid heart rate, very high blood pressure, and seizures. In some cases users, many of whom were in their teens and twenties, suffered heart attacks and strokes, and died as a result. Other cases involved users who tried to kill themselves, harm others, or got into car accidents while high on these drugs.

How did we get here? The people who manufacture and sell these drugs have circumvented the laws to easily sell synthetic drugs online, at gas stations, in novelty stores at the local shopping malls, and in tobacco stores and other shops. Many of the drugs are manufactured overseas in counties like China and imported into the United States. They spray chemical compounds that have not been tested on humans and were not intended for human consumption on dried leaves. They package and market these drugs to appear as legitimate products like incense, bath salts, plant food, and snow remover. They slap a label on these packages stating that the product is not for human consumption to get around FDA regulation.

Over 30 states have passed laws to ban various synthetic drug compounds. The Drug Enforcement Administration has also acted to stop these drugs. Although the DEA has used its emergency scheduling powers to control seven chemical compounds, there are too many on the market now for the DEA to go through the long and laborious process to schedule each and every one. The makers of these drugs know this too well and have altered their chemical formulas, some as little as a molecule, to get around existing state and federal laws.

This is exactly the case in my home state of Iowa. Iowa passed a law last year that banned many chemical compounds; however, the law only listed a specific set of chemical compounds and the drug makers altered their formulas. Recently, two Iowa youths have become victims of the new drugs. One is a Polk County teenager who got into a high speed crash after smoking a product called “100% Pure Evil.” This teen had two other passengers in her car. After smoking this product, the driver became agitated and stated she wanted to kill herself. She started driving her car into several trees. When paramedics arrived on the scene they reported that everyone was badly hurt and the driver was vomiting blood. Thankfully, all passengers survived the crash.

Another teen in Central Iowa experienced a near death experience after smoking the same product. This teen purchased the product “100% Pure Evil” at a local store and started convulsing and vomiting shortly after smoking the drug. Once paramedics got this boy to a hospital he fell into a coma. He, however, woke from the coma the next day but had failed to recognize his mother or grandmother at the hospital. Thankfully, this boy has since recovered his memory. Now he suffers occasional anxiety attacks. When the boy’s mother told the police about the product and where he got it, she reported that the police told her there was nothing they could do about it because it was not known what was in the product and it may be legal. This product is still being reviewed to see if any compounds fall under Iowa’s ban.

Nearly a year ago, I introduced legislation, named after David Rozga, with Senator Feinstein, that bans the chemicals that comprise K2/Spice. We designed the legislation to capture a wide variety of compounds so it would not be so easy to circumvent this law by altering a molecule. In fact, the Iowa Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy is crafting new legislation, based on the legislation I introduced last year that captures more substances. My legislation was unanimously passed out of the Judiciary Committee last July. It is currently being prevented from consideration by the full Senate by one Senator. The House of Representatives passed its version of the Synthetic Drug Control Act overwhelmingly last December with more than 70 percent of representatives supporting scheduling these drugs.

Many of the opponents of this legislation stated on the House floor that by scheduling these compounds, we are preventing scientific research. That is far from true. Any scheduled substance, even current schedule I drugs like cocaine and heroin, can be researched. Any scientist can apply to be registered by the DEA to research any drug. Just because we are removing the drugs from the store shelves does not mean we can’t study them.

It is time for the Senate to take action. We cannot let the will of just one senator obstruct the will of many. I believe if our legislation received a vote and a fair debate, this body would pass it overwhelmingly. I urge my colleagues to support our efforts to get these drugs off the store shelves and off the streets. I urge the Senate leadership to allow a debate and vote on this issue. The American people, people like the Rozga family and others who have been victims of these drugs, want to see this poison removed from their communities.



Braley Introduces Veterans Access to Care Act PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Monday, 20 February 2012 14:39

Legislation seeks to attract top-notch medical talent to veterans’ care facilities

Washington, DC – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) introduced the Veterans Access to Care Act today, legislation that seeks to expand veterans’ access to quality healthcare by helping the Veterans Administration and state veterans’ homes recruit more highly-qualified doctors, nurses, and mental health providers to provide services to America’s veterans.

The legislation would make veterans’ care facilities eligible to hire National Health Service Corps fellows, helping attract recent medical school graduates to careers helping veterans.

Braley said, “The Veterans Access to Care Act will allow veterans’ healthcare facilities to hire from a top-notch pool of medical talent committed to practicing in the public interest.  This will improve veterans’ quality of care by encouraging the nation’s best and brightest young doctors to work in veterans’ healthcare facilities.


Braley continued, “The National Health Service Corps is a program with a well-established track record of attracting high quality medical professionals who have chosen to give back to their country by serving those who are most in need.  What better group of people to have caring for our veterans, who share this commitment to service?”


The National Health Service Corps is a national scholarship program operated by the US Department of Health and Human Services that pays medical school expenses for future doctors, nurses, and health practitioners who agree to work in medically underserved areas after graduation.  Braley’s bill would simply add Veterans Administration facilities and state veterans’ homes as eligible “underserved areas” in which graduates would be eligible to serve.

Dr. Douglas Steenblock, Director of Mental Health Services at the Iowa Veterans’ Home in Marshalltown, approached Braley with the idea for the bill.  Steenblock is himself a former fellow of the National Health Service Corps.


Steenblock said, “It can be difficult to attract medical professionals to work in the unique environment of a veterans’ facility, particularly those outside of our major metropolitan areas.  The Iowa Veterans’ Home Mental Health Department hasn’t been fully staffed since September 2010 despite ongoing efforts to hire new personnel.  The National Health Service Corps has proven to be a powerful incentive to recruit and retain quality providers in underserved areas.  It could be easily adapted to do the same for veterans’ facilities.”


The bill introduced by Braley today is similar to a proposal he introduced in 2010.  The text of the bill can be downloaded at the following link:

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TODAY: Braley to Discuss Introduction of Veterans Access to Care Act PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Monday, 20 February 2012 14:35

Braley will be joined by Iowa Veterans’ Home’s Dr. Douglas Steenblock

Washington, DC – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) will hold his weekly press conference call with Iowa reporters this morning at 10:30am CST.

Braley will discuss the introduction of legislation that will expand veterans’ access to quality healthcare by helping the Veterans Administration recruit more qualified health providers to America’s rural communities.  Braley will be joined on the call by Dr. Douglas Steenblock, the Director of Mental Health Services at the Iowa Veterans’ Home, who initially came to Braley with the idea for the legislation.

WHAT: Bruce Braley’s weekly press call with Iowa reporters

WHO: Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01)

Dr. Douglas Steenblock, Director of Mental Health Services, Iowa Veterans’ Home

WHEN:                 TODAY, Wednesday February 15th, 2012

11:30am EST // 10:30am CST

CALL-IN:               866-704-2208

PASSCODE:         2414543#


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