Health and Wellness

5 simple ways parents can make the world gentle for baby

5/25/2017

(BPT) - The big day has finally arrived and your newborn is here. Your baby is as perfect as you imagined and you’re filled with a love you never knew existed. Even before she or he arrived, you started making more careful choices and looked for gentle alternatives with natural-based ingredients for your little bundle of joy.

One thing that needs to be considered when seeking out gentle options for babies is their skin — and that starts with the precious threads in babies’ clothing, according to pediatric dermatologist Dr. Jody Levine.

“As a pediatric dermatologist and mother of five, I know that babies’ skin can go through many changes throughout infancy, and the majority are perfectly normal,” Levine says. “There are simple ways parents can protect babies’ skin from irritants, such as pre-washing clothes before first wear and choosing gentle fabrics.”

Levine offers parents some tips on how to keep the world gentle for your little one:

1. Moisturize when needed.

Peeling skin around the wrists and ankles is a normal part of a baby’s development, and requires no treatment. However, if dry or sensitive skin persists after the first few weeks of life, special care may be needed. Keep baths short, use water that’s warm, but not hot, and a small amount of gentle cleanser. For babies with dry skin, moisturize twice daily using an ointment or a cream, preferably one with many ceramides.

2. Choose the gentle fabrics.

Infant skin is definitely more sensitive than adult skin, so the fabrics you put against your baby’s skin can affect her comfort and skin health. Choose light, comfortable clothes that are free of pleats or seams that can put unnecessary pressure on a baby’s skin. Fabrics should be soft and absorbent, such as cotton or cotton blends like cotton polyester or cotton spandex.

3. Wash clothing before using it for the first time.

"Nine out of 10 dermatologists recommend parents wash baby’s clothing before wearing it for the first time, according to a survey by Dreft laundry detergent and I agree," Levine says. While 97 percent of parents surveyed by Dreft said they believe it’s important to pre-wash baby clothes, just 40 percent actually do so every time. New clothing can harbor dirt, excess dyes and processing chemicals, so it’s important to pre-wash clothes using a gentle, yet effective detergent like Dreft purtouch that is 65 percent plant-based and made from naturally derived ingredients. Wash your newborn’s clothing separate from the rest of the laundry.

4. Use products specifically made for babies.

When choosing a skin care product for your baby, such as sunscreen, look for one specifically designed for use on infants. These baby products have been tested and proven to be gentle and less irritating to a baby’s skin. For example, baby sunscreen, which parents should start using after a baby turns 6 months old, usually contains physical blocking elements like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, rather than the chemical blockers used in some adult sunscreens.

5. Do your best at diaper duty.

The diaper region requires extra attention since it’s prone to wetness and irritation. Change your baby’s diaper frequently, especially when it’s wet or soiled. A more absorbent diaper will help keep moisture away from baby’s skin longer. Always dry the diaper area well after cleaning or a bath. If your baby is prone to diaper rash, try a zinc-based diaper cream with every diaper change to help soothe and protect skin.

“All parents want to care for their baby in the best way,” Levine says. “Little things, like prewashing new baby clothing in a gentle baby detergent and moisturizing as needed, can help keep the world gentle for your little one and his or her skin.”



When that nagging cough is actually something more

5/25/2017

(BPT) - Working mom Betsy had a fulfilling career and a loving family. The only thing standing in the way of her ability to fully enjoy her life was a persistent cough that just wouldn’t stop. Eventually, instead of doing the things she enjoyed, like spending time with her twin boys or going to dinner with friends, her life became something else entirely. That nagging cough — over and over again — coupled with difficulty breathing and fatigue made her feel weaker and weaker.

Betsy had a history of spontaneous lung collapses and a cough that would come and go, but her symptoms gradually became worse and began to impact her life. After a visit to her doctor, Betsy was diagnosed with bronchitis and given remedies to soothe her coughing. When weeks passed and she saw no improvement to her health, she knew she had to find answers.

“I tried to read my boys books at night and it was a real struggle just to get through the book without coughing... Not knowing what was happening to me, nobody being able to give me any answers, it was really scary.”

As Betsy’s coughing and fatigue became progressively worse, her doctor ordered a CAT scan and a sputum culture. The results of these tests provided an answer for Betsy and her doctor — she had a chronic and progressive lung condition called nontuberculous mycobacteria, or NTM.

About NTM

NTM lung disease is an infection caused by bacteria that is inhaled through the nose and mouth. NTM bacteria can be found in a variety of environments, from tap water to soil in parks and gardens. In fact, one study across 25 states showed that NTM bacteria was found in nearly eight out of ten water samples. Everyone comes into contact with NTM bacteria during their daily lives, but not everyone is at risk of getting NTM. Most people do not become infected because their lungs are healthy enough to get rid of NTM bacteria.

However, people who have conditions such as bronchiectasis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma are at greater risk of NTM infection. That’s because damage caused by lung conditions makes them more vulnerable to infection. People with NTM infection tend to be middle-aged and have existing respiratory conditions.

With signs and symptoms similar to those of other respiratory conditions, like cough, fatigue and shortness of breath, NTM is sometimes misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. Diagnosis can be delayed because people assume their symptoms are associated with a lung condition they already know they have.

Prevalence of NTM

There are an estimated 86,000 cases of NTM lung infections in the United States — a number that continues to grow more than eight percent each year. In particular, NTM infections are growing among people over 65 years old, a population that's expected to nearly double by 2030. Unfortunately, many people who have NTM infection may not even know they have it.

Talk to your Doctor about NTM

Because NTM is a chronic and progressive disease, it is important to make a definitive diagnosis as soon as possible. Delayed diagnosis can lead to delayed treatment, which may lead to a worsening of symptoms and existing respiratory conditions. As the condition gets worse over time, NTM can result in severe and permanent lung damage.

If you think you could have NTM, it is important to talk with your healthcare provider about your symptoms. Visit AboutNTM.com for information about NTM and talk to your doctor to see if getting tested for NTM might be right for you.



Access to mental health care may be just a virtual visit away

5/24/2017

(BPT) - Mental health disorders impact thousands of people every day, including many of our friends, neighbors and co-workers. Everyone reading this likely knows someone struggling with mental illness and is aware of the toll it can take on individuals, families and communities. Mental health challenges do not discriminate — they affect people from all walks of life regardless of age, gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic level.

While stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders impact an estimated 43 million adults nationwide each year, the World Health Organization reports that only about one in four people with a diagnosed disorder is likely to pursue treatment.

Unfortunately, barriers prevent people from getting the mental health care they may need. The reasons are many. Consider these statistics: 4,000 areas in the U.S. have only one psychiatrist for 30,000 or more people; the average waiting time for a first psychiatric visit is 25 days; and stigma is the fourth highest-ranked barrier to help-seeking.

The good news is that people who access care more quickly may be more likely to engage in their treatment and have a better outcome. With the right treatment and support, people can recover from mental health disorders to live healthy, self-directed lives as valuable members of their community. Sometimes all it takes is a gentle nudge from a friend or loved one to help someone take that first step on their path to recovery.

For some people, that best first step may be a virtual visit with a mental health provider via a mobile device or computer. For many, access to virtual care may already be available as part of their health care benefits.

Virtual care can shorten wait times for an appointment, fit work and personal schedules, and eliminate travel time and expense. An appointment conducted in the safe, comfortable environment of home may reduce stigma. And, research shows that outcomes of a virtual visit with a mental health provider are similar to in-person sessions for multiple disorders.

Raising awareness and reducing stigma around mental health issues are keys to supporting well-being within our communities. Today, people can access effective, proven treatment in a variety of formats, including using video-calling technology. It’s up to all of us to reach out and encourage our friends, neighbors and family members in need to access these available resources.

For more information and links to recovery support resources in your area, visit www.optum.com/recovery. To learn more about available health care benefits, call the number on the back of your health plan identification card.



Staying Healthy While Traveling Overseas

5/23/2017

(BPT) - Each year, travelers from the United States (U.S.) head to popular destinations. And while many have Zika on their mind while traveling, and are aware of the need to bring sunscreen, bug repellant and other travel necessities, many don’t know that cholera may be a bigger threat than they thought and most don’t take the necessary measures to protect themselves from it.

Cholera – an infection that affects the intestinal tract and can cause severe watery diarrhea is currently estimated to be present in over 60 countries, mostly in the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. Of the top 20 international travel destinations for U.S. travelers, five are to cholera-endemic countries, such as the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, China, India and the Philippines. Mild forms of cholera can be mistaken for traveler’s diarrhea, which can leave travelers in an uncomfortable state due to diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and mild to severe dehydration and ruin travel plans. You can get cholera by eating or drinking contaminated food and water.

Every year, millions of people around the world become ill due to cholera. However, fewer cases are reported to health authorities than the global estimates. There are more than 8 million U.S. travelers per year going to countries where cholera is endemic. In recent years, there has also been a re-emergence of cholera in Ecuador, Haiti, Cuba and Mexico. However, despite the recent re-emergence, cholera remains underreported.

Still, plans to go abroad don’t need to be canceled or changed to avoid getting sick. You can protect yourself from cholera (and other food and waterborne illnesses) by drinking clean (filtered or bottled) water, washing hands frequently and eating foods that are from sealed packages or cooked well. However, almost 98 percent of travelers do not comply with these guidelines.

Getting a vaccine before travel may also help to ensure that your travel plans are not inconvenienced by illness. The CDC recommends that adult travelers (ages 18-64) who are going to areas of active cholera transmission get vaccinated for cholera.

If you are traveling abroad to an area where cholera is present, make sure you are prepared by talking to your doctor or pharmacist at least two weeks in advance about getting vaccinated for cholera.



The eyes have it: 4 things your eyes may communicate without you knowing it

5/23/2017

(BPT) - Your eyes: you stare with them, wink with them and roll them. You use your eyes to communicate your thoughts and feelings every single day. Whether you’re aware of it or not, your eyes can speak volumes about who you are and what you feel. But could your eyes be sending the wrong message?

New findings from Allergan’s “A Look at Eye Language” online survey of 1,019 adult Americans reveal that approximately half of respondents (53 percent) say the first facial feature they notice about another person is their eyes. Patti Wood, a body language expert with over 25 years of experience in the field of human behavior, says our eyes can convey all sorts of messages — both intentionally and unintentionally. “Eye language is the messages we send to others with our eyes,” Wood says. “These eye behaviors include rubbing the eyes, extended eye contact, averted gaze or eye shifts. Our eye language can say a lot about us, revealing our emotions, confidence level and, at times, even if we’re telling the truth.”

Curious what your eyes are telling other people? Wood provides four eye language examples.

* Eye contact: Too much of a good thing. You’re taught early on to look at someone when they’re talking to you; it's a sign of respect and shows you’re listening. In fact, the survey, conducted in conjunction with Kelton Global, revealed that for those who see the value in maintaining eye contact, holding a direct gaze makes them feel respected (53 percent) and understood (45 percent). However, Wood says if your gaze becomes a continuous, unrelenting stare throughout an entire conversation, it may signal to the other person that you’re trying to assert your dominance. This can be problematic in many situations, particularly in the workplace, so make sure you’re being attentive but not overly aggressive with your eye contact.

* Certain conditions can alter your eye contact. Sometimes, you send messages with your eyes without realizing it. For example, Chronic Dry Eye disease symptoms, like red, itching, burning or watering eyes, can send the wrong message — one you don’t intend. It’s important to understand the messages your eye language might be sending to others. Talk to your doctor or visit Eyepowerment.com to learn more about the symptoms and treatment options for Chronic Dry Eye.

* Liars look away? Not always. You’ve heard the old saying that a person who looks away is lying. But in many cases, that isn't true. Research shows the eye contact you make while lying is partially determined by your personality. Wood says that introverts tend to have more trouble maintaining eye contact while lying, whereas extroverts may go over the top and increase eye contact while lying more so than they would otherwise. Additionally, Wood shares that an action like rubbing your eyes can convey a lack of interest, fatigue, disagreement or disbelief in the speaker — or even deceit.

* The amount of eye contact you display can show how you feel about things. Research shows that eye contact can demonstrate attraction or attentiveness. You actually make more eye contact with people and things you like and less eye contact with people or things you don’t like. Wood notes that our eye language makes us look at things that are new or interesting, especially faces, or look away from things that we find distasteful. So if you’re curious about how a certain person feels about you, pay attention to how much they look at you.

When it comes to nonverbal communication, your eyes are one of the most expressive parts of your body, even if don’t realize it. In fact, Wood says that research shows we can read not only the six basic emotions — sadness, disgust, anger, joy, fear and surprise — but also over 50 different mental states such as curiosity, interest, dislike or boredom, in another person’s eyes.

That’s why it's important to pay attention to your eye language. Certain conditions, such as Chronic Dry Eye disease, have symptoms that may be sending the wrong message — one you don’t intend. To learn more about Chronic Dry Eye symptoms and treatment options, talk to your doctor and visit Eyepowerment.com.



The eyes have it: 5 things you can do to reduce your child's exposure to harmful blue light

5/22/2017

(BPT) - A generation ago, limiting a child’s screen time meant putting restrictions on how much television they could watch in a single day. "No more than two hours a day and don’t sit too close to the screen." Those were the rules, and while enforcing them was a challenge, it was easy to remember.

Times have changed.

These days, the challenge parents face regarding their children’s screen time has grown exponentially and protecting their eyes from too much blue light exposure is more important than ever.

Last fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) hosted a national conference involving more than 10,000 pediatricians. The focal point of discussion was children and screen time. Concerned about the effects of screen time — and blue light — on young children’s eyes, the AAP officially recommends:

* no screen time for children 18 months and under.

* one hour per day for children ages 2-5.

* limited screen time for children ages 6 and above.

Prolonged exposure to blue light (the blueish glow emitted from digital device screens), has been shown to cause headaches, dry eyes and even hamper sleep, so it's no surprise the AAP would recommend limits for children. Monitoring your child’s overall screen time can be easier said than done, so don’t try to go it alone. For parents, however, there are things you can do besides simply monitoring your child's time in front of their favorite device:

* Plan for breaks. Consider recording shows and then allowing your children to watch them with the expectation that their session will end at the show's completion rather than continue on into the next program. If computer/smartphone use is the problem, consider using parental controls within the device settings to limit usage. If that's not an option, you can install apps that set off an alarm at pre-timed intervals to inform your little one it's time to do something else.

* Discuss your child’s screen time with your eye doctor. Just as you would consult the pediatrician for a question regarding your child's general health, your optometrist is there to answer any questions you have about your child's eyes. If a trip to the optometrist isn't covered under your current insurance plan, VSP Individual Vision Plans, a national family and individual vision insurance provider, can help. VSPDirect.com offers affordable access to high-quality eye care and eye wear, and people who use individual or family vision plans typically save hundreds of dollars on their eye exams and glasses.

* Be aware of when they use devices. In some cases the amount of screen time a child has isn’t as important as when they have it. Research shows that blue light exposure shortly before bed delays REM sleep, leading to poorer sleeping habits. Eliminate screen time a couple of hours before your child goes to bed and they’ll wake up more rested.

* Adjust device settings. Some easy settings you can adjust to make your child’s screen more readable are increasing the font size, reducing the screen brightness or increasing the contrast of the screen. And the easier it is for children to use the device, the less they’ll feel they have to get their nose right against the screen.

* Be the alternative. The easiest way to protect your children from the risks of digital eye strain is to give them something to do that takes them away from the device altogether. Engage them in a board game, a trip to the park or a visit to the mall. Just make sure you do it together and device free — for both of you — and you’ll have a great time in a way that’s healthy for the entire body.



Simplifying baby nutrition: Expert advice for your infant's first foods

5/22/2017

(BPT) - Your cooing, curious, incredibly cute baby is now 6 months old and you've got the go-ahead from your pediatrician to start solid foods. You both are excited to begin this new adventure, but when you head to the store you are suddenly confused by a sea of options.

Which foods are safe for your new little eater? Which offer the most nutrition? How do you know what is the best for your baby? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone.

In research conducted by ORC International and Stonyfield, at least one-third of parents admit to feeding confusion during baby’s first months, and just over half (53 percent) feel overwhelmed by the varying opinions of early childhood nutrition.

Pediatrician Dr. Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP and mother of three, sees many parents who are unsure about best first foods for infants. To help guide parents and caregivers, she offers five important pieces of advice.

Seek safe dairy options for babies under 12 months.

You might think it’s safer to avoid dairy products until infants are at least 12 months old. However, dairy is packed with essential nutrients (such as calcium and vitamin D) for growing bodies, and can be an important part of baby’s diet.

The good news is babies as young as 6 months can begin eating yogurt, even if they’re breastfeeding. Not only is it a healthy option for their little bodies, you’ll find infants love yogurt. Choose a brand made with organic whole milk, like Stonyfield YoBaby yogurt, the No. 1 Pediatrician Recommended yogurt for babies between 6 months and 2 years old among refrigerated yogurts. (Source: IMS Health ProVoice Survey, 12/01/15 - 09/30/16)

Expose baby to healthy foods early.

Introducing baby’s first solids is a stressful time for parents. To keep it simple, reference a list of trusted foundation foods to ensure your baby is receiving the proper nutrients. Remember to check with your pediatrician before feeding your baby any new food groups and modify as needed to accommodate any food allergies.

Some great foundation foods are eggs, prunes, avocados, fish, yogurt, cheese, nut butters, chicken, beans, lentils, berries, citrus fruits, green vegetables, whole grains and water. Mix and match these foods as your baby becomes more comfortable with solids.

Protect baby’s gut health.

Did you know gut health is the foundation for overall good health? To help protect your baby’s gut health, you want to ensure they’re getting enough probiotics. While naturally found in breast milk, probiotics are also found in yogurt.

Stonyfield recently added the probiotic BB-12 (registered trademark of Chr. Hansen) to its YoBaby Yogurt. BB-12(R) has been shown to have a digestive health benefit when consumed regularly as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle by promoting beneficial gut bacteria and regular, soft stools.

Understand natural sugar vs. added sugar.

Sugar is receiving a lot of attention in the news recently and many parents are looking more closely at labels when grocery shopping. In doing so, it's important to understand the difference between naturally occurring sugar and added sugar.

Wholesome foods like milk, yogurt and fruit have naturally occurring sugars that are part of a healthy diet. Many yogurts come in both plain and flavored varieties, and if you’re looking to control the amount of sweetness, you can purchase unsweetened yogurt to which you can add your own mashed fruits.

Get adventurous with finger foods.

Don’t be afraid to put down the spoon and let your little one try feeding themselves with some nutritious finger foods. Not only will baby explore new flavors and textures, but it's an excellent way to practice fine-motor skills.

A simple and nutrient-packed first finger food is berries cut into small pieces. The soft berries are easy for babies to pick up and they feel gentle against their gums.

Introducing first foods to your baby doesn't have to be a confusing process. By working with your pediatrician and keeping this information close at hand, you'll be ready to expose baby to a whole new world of flavors.



Unlock the secret to healthy aging by improving your health in three key areas

5/22/2017

(BPT) - You’re still just as active as you were in your thirties and forties, but as you continue to add those candles to your birthday cake each year, you can feel the effects of aging starting to take a toll on your body. As you age, your body needs a little extra care to maintain optimal health; that’s why you go for your morning walk and eat a balanced diet. These things can help you support your overall well-being, but there are other factors to consider if you want to live a healthier, more active lifestyle as you grow older.

“Many people don’t realize how much of an impact hormone, heart, and bone and joint health can have on their day-to-day lives,” says Dr. Andrew Halpner, vice president of science and technical services at Douglas Laboratories. To maintain this ideal lifestyle, he offers his advice on ways you can support your health in each of these key areas.

Supporting your hormone health*

Properly balanced hormone levels are one of the most important factors when it comes to staying healthy as you age. Healthy hormone levels support healthy sexual function, body weight, sleep and glucose metabolism. When your hormones are imbalanced, you could experience fatigue, weakness and muscle loss, and may even find daily activities difficult to complete.

Establishing a healthy diet, ensuring sufficient sleep and making time for recreation are great first steps toward supporting your hormone health. It is also important to consult your healthcare provider to discuss regular blood work to monitor your hormone levels.

Finally, to help maintain healthy glucose metabolism and tissues, add a nutritional supplement, such as Wobenzym Plus, to your daily regimen.*

Paying special attention to your strongest muscle

Heart health is an important part of any healthy aging plan. You’re already monitoring your lipid profile diligently, but what else can you do?

Lipid levels are important, but maintaining glucose homeostasis and cytokine balance is just as important to supporting proper heart health.

A healthy diet that focuses on fiber and regulates carbohydrate intake has been proven to support healthy glucose levels. Consider complementing your diet with regular exercise and nutritional supplements to further support good health.*

Healthy advice for the things that move you

Maintaining healthy bone and joint function is critical for both men and women. When bones are weak or joints are stiff, it can be difficult to keep up your desired level of activity.

Bone health is directly impacted by vitamin D levels. To support these function areas, boost vitamin D by spending brief periods of time in the sun — with sun protection, of course — or consult your healthcare provider about taking a supplement to achieve optimum vitamin D levels.* Additionally, adding a nutritional supplement such as Wobenzym Plus can help provide temporary relief from everyday aches and pains to ensure that when you want to be active, your bones and joints are ready to keep up with you.*

Take the first step to support your health today

A balanced diet and moderate exercise are the building blocks of any health regimen, but as the years pass, your body may need additional support. Remember your hormones, heart, bones and joints when tailoring your health plan and consult your healthcare provider before introducing any new products into your routine. For more information on how to live a healthier, more active lifestyle, visit douglaslabs.com/healthyaging.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.



Wireless connectivity: What it is and why it matters

5/22/2017

(BPT) - All electronics used to require wires to conduct sound until 1989, when Swedish conglomerate Ericsson Mobile created the short-link radio technology we now know as Bluetooth(R). Applications for this groundbreaking invention quickly expanded and Bluetooth became the standard wire replacement protocol due to its comparatively low power consumption and broadly effective communication system. Today, it’s used to untether hearing aid wearers from audio sources by effectively transforming these medical devices into wireless headsets. Here are some of the challenges wireless hearing aids can help wearers overcome.

Challenge #1: Telephone conversations

Some wearers find their hearing aids whistle when they hold a phone receiver to their ear. Others find it hard to follow conversations. Hearing aids that use Bluetooth streaming enable wearers to route telephone conversations directly into their hearing aids. This is often accomplished through an intermediary accessory that pairs hearing aids to smartphones. The wearer can then hear a caller’s voice through both hearing aids for greater speech understanding, even if they’re outside or in noisy surroundings.

As for landlines, more advanced hearing aids have programs that are activated by a magnetic signal as soon as you hold a receiver against your ear. The hearing aid worn in the ear next to the receiver picks up the speaker’s voice and transmits it wirelessly into the hearing aid in the other ear. Again, the wearer can hear the speaker’s voice in both ears, which makes it clearer and easier to understand.

Challenge #2: Single-sided deafness

Some people have no hearing in one ear but hear normally or partially out of the other. Wireless solutions known as CROS and BiCROS can help amplify hearing. Here’s how they work: a hearing aid transmitter is worn on the unaidable ear, which then detects sound and wirelessly transmits it to the hearing aid on the ear with better hearing, allowing wearers to hear sounds from both sides (a CROS solution). If some hearing loss is also present in the aidable or “better” ear, the hearing aid will receive sound from the unaidable side, mix it with its own input, and amplify the combined signal (a BiCROS solution). With either solution, the signal is processed to promote speech clarity, sound quality and spatial perception.

Challenge #3: Hearing announcements and alerts

Even with perfect hearing, deciphering announcements made via public address (PA) systems is challenging. Those who are hard of hearing often find it impossible, which can lead to missing trains, going to the wrong gate at airports, or worse — missing emergency alerts. The US is sadly behind on using induction loops in transportation hubs. These sound systems use a loop of wire wrapped around a building to produce an electromagnetic signal to transmit sounds. An induction loop enables hearing aid wearers to use their hearing aid's telecoil (T-coil) setting to pick up PA announcements wirelessly through their hearing aids.

Induction loops can also be found in auditoriums, concert halls, movie theaters, places of worship and similar venues. Hearing aid wearers and others using handheld or wearable devices (usually offered at looped locations) can tap into the transmission and hear lectures, music, soundtracks and other audio clearly despite crowd noise or being situated a distance from an audio source.

Challenge #4: Utilizing apps

Most manufacturers now offer smartphone apps that can be used as remotes for controlling volume, switching audio sources and changing other hearing aid settings. Apps provide an extra level of discretion, as to others it appears the user is simply checking their texts.

Even more exciting are telehealth apps that allow wearers to connect to their hearing care professional, who can make minor remote hearing aid adjustments or answer questions via chat, thus reducing the need for in-office appointments. Telehealth apps also help wearers adapt more quickly to their hearing aids with the use of gamification, usage tracking, subjective ratings of listening experiences, and much more.

Challenge #5: Direct connection without intermediary devices

Not all hearing aids require accessories for wireless connectivity. Some now use Bluetooth to connect wearers directly to their iPhone(R) and other electronic devices. Advantages include enabling hearing aids to react to the wearer’s changing environment through the use of iPhone sensors that register the wearer is in motion. The hearing aids automatically adjust to better hear a conversation partner at the wearer’s side or from the back while maintaining awareness of sirens and other environmental sounds, which improves listening comfort and safety. Calls and music can also be streamed directly into hearing aids for greater convenience and clarity.

Wireless technology allows hearing aid wearers to stay connected to their favorite electronic devices, listening environments and people. If you’re in the market for a pair of wireless hearing aids, talk to your hearing care professional about all the advanced features available.



The NFL concussion settlement gives former NFL players a chance for a better life

5/17/2017

(BPT) - After years of waiting, the NFL concussion settlement affecting thousands of retired NFL players is now open for registration, which means former players, their family and their representatives can begin to take advantage of the benefits the settlement provides. To be eligible, all retired players and their representatives must register by Aug. 7, 2017 by visiting www.nflconcussionsettlement.com.

The NFL concussion settlement provides benefits to thousands of retired NFL players who joined the league because of their unrelenting “love of the game.” However, after a career playing in the NFL, many of these retired players left the game with lifelong devastating brain damage due to the many concussions, “dings” and other hard hits they sustained while playing on the field.

Today, these retired NFL players suffer daily from neuro-cognitive illnesses that often leave them bedridden and unable to recall some of their most sacred memories. At the same time, their loved ones are forced to watch them suffer from these debilitating brain injuries while simultaneously grappling with significant medical bills. Unfortunately, even though these retired players dedicated their blood, sweat, and tears to the game, most do not have the financial support or assistance they need to deal with these conditions.

Though it is too late to reverse what happened to these retired players, the NFL concussion settlement provides a lifeline to those who suffer from neuro-cognitive illnesses today. It provides immediate compensation for those who are struggling or those who had struggled with conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or ALS without having to prove their diagnosis was a result of NFL football. Family members or representatives of deceased retired players who suffered with such conditions may also be eligible to submit a claim.

The settlement will also help and give peace of mind to those who are currently healthy but fear they may develop symptoms decades into the future. For instance, eligible retired players will be provided with a free “baseline assessment,” which is a battery of tests to see how they are doing so they can keep tabs on their neurocognitive health and better understand if symptoms start to emerge. They will be eligible for compensation if they develop a qualifying condition within the next 65 years.

Those who may remain skeptical after enduring other benefits programs can find comfort in the fact that the settlement is not run by the NFL. Instead, the settlement’s benefit programs will be run by independent administrators and qualified doctors, working under the court’s supervision. The NFL will not decide who is eligible for benefits under this agreement.

If you are a retired NFL player or a relative of one, remember that registering for the settlement is a required first step to receive any benefits at all. Registration is a requirement to submit a claim for a potential monetary award or receive a baseline assessment. Failing to register before the Aug. 7, 2017 deadline will make you ineligible to receive any settlement benefits. Again, to register for the settlement with step-by-step instructions, or to learn more about its benefits, please visit www.nflconcussionsettlement.com.



Help children avoid asthma attacks by improving home indoor air quality

5/17/2017

(BPT) - More than 6 million American children — nearly 9 percent of all kids in the U.S. — have asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each year, asthma attacks send more than a million people to emergency rooms, including approximately 24,000 children younger than 15, the CDC reports. Yet health experts agree many of those asthma attacks could be avoided through a range of tactics, including by improving air quality inside homes.

“Most people can control their asthma and live symptom-free,” the CDC reports. Knowing how to reduce or eliminate exposure to allergens and irritants inside the home could help people avoid at least some asthma attacks.

Asthma and kids

More than 47 percent of all asthma attacks occur in children, according to CDC data. KidsHealth.org says asthma is the leading cause of chronic absence from school, and the chronic illness that sends kids to the emergency room most often.

Many factors can trigger allergy attacks, including exposure to allergens inside the home. As the weather warms and parents open windows to bring fresh air into their homes, the breeze that enters can be full of pollen, mold spores and other airborne irritants. What’s more, irritants already inside the home such as pet dander, dust mites, smoke, bacteria and viruses can contribute to asthma symptoms.

Improving indoor air quality

Your home’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems play a critical role in the air quality inside your home. HVAC manufacturer Coleman, which makes ventilator systems, air cleaners and ultraviolet irradiation systems to support indoor air quality, offers some tips for ensuring your HVAC system works to clean the air inside your home:

* Have your HVAC system serviced regularly to ensure all components are working efficiently. A well-maintained system can dramatically improve air quality.

* Change air filters regularly, and choose a filter with a higher MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating. The higher the rating, the better the filter will be at capturing airborne particles. Clogged or low-MERV filters may not effectively remove particles from the air, leaving them for your HVAC system to recirculate. In fact, HVAC systems can recirculate contaminants an average of five to seven times per day, according to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association.

* Vent bathrooms and laundry rooms directly outside the home, and ensure vent fans are always working well.

* Any equipment that creates combustion and exhaust, such as fireplaces, heaters, stoves, range tops and furnaces should also vent outside to keep harmful fumes from re-entering your home's HVAC system.

* When you vacuum, turn on your home’s HVAC system. Vacuuming stirs particles into the air, and your running HVAC system can catch those particles and filter them from the air.

* Monitor and control the humidity in your home. Bacteria and viruses, which can contribute to asthma symptoms, thrive in very dry environments. Consider adding a whole-home humidifier, like Luxaire’s Acclimate Whole-Home Humidifiers, to your HVAC system. Through the use of natural evaporation, the humidifiers help maintain optimum humidity throughout the entire house, without the limitations of portable humidifiers that can only affect a single room.

* Air cleaners can support your HVAC system in removing irritants from the air. Like single-room humidifiers, however, portable air cleaners have limited effect. Consider incorporating a whole-home air cleaner that operates as part of your existing HVAC system.

Visit www.colemanac.com/IAQ to learn more about products available to improve the indoor air quality in your home, and to find a local contractor. You can also follow the company on Twitter at @ColemanHVAC.

Studies show the number of people with asthma is growing worldwide. Health experts from the CDC to the National Institutes of Health agree that controlling indoor air quality in homes could benefit children with asthma, as well as asthma sufferers of all ages.




Home health services help maintain senior independence

5/17/2017

(BPT) - Staying healthy and out of the hospital is a top priority for the majority of seniors. However, as you age, you may need additional care to meet your medical needs after an illness, injury or exacerbation of a chronic health problem. Fortunately, this doesn't necessarily mean a long hospital or rehab stay, thanks to home health service options.

For Yoko and Kenneth Gilbert, both age 84, home health services provided important care when they needed it the most. After an injury caused by a fall Yoko needed nursing care for her wounds. She also needed physical therapy to regain her ability to get around. Her husband's help could only go so far, but he could not provide the professional care that she required, so at her doctor's advice, she decided to get home health services.

What is home health care?

According to Medicare.gov, "Home health care is a wide range of health care services that can be given in your home for an illness or injury. Home health care is usually less expensive, more convenient and just as effective as care you get in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (SNF)."

Every home health plan of care is individualized based on the person's unique medical needs and abilities. The goal is to treat the person's medical condition at home so that he or she can enjoy a high quality of life while receiving professional services designed to restore health, self-sufficiency and independence.

For Yoko, this gave her important peace of mind. She decided to work with Brookdale Home Health for her specific needs. "They came every week, changed my dressing and catheter," she says. "Everything was just great."

When are home health services used?

For seniors residing at home or in a senior living community, both medical and non-medical home care are options. The people most likely to need home health services are those recently diagnosed with a new illness, those who have been injured in a fall or other event, and those who have experienced a major change in health condition such as the worsening of a chronic disease process.

To provide these services, a health care professional will come to your place of residence. This may include a nurse, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, a home health aide or a medical social worker. Because these professionals come to you, you're able to remain in the comfort and security of your own home. Receiving care at home enhances your physical and mental well-being and promotes dignity and independence.

For Yoko, part of her home health care services were provided by a physical therapist named Barbara. “Barbara was wonderful," she says. "She took care of me, she pushed me and because of her I can move around better.”

Yoko's husband, Kenneth, says the services were more than just health care. “Brookdale Home Health helped her a lot. Her therapists really lifted her spirits," he adds.

How can you get home health services?

Before Yoko could receive home health care, she got a referral from her doctor. A doctor is in charge of determining whether you are a candidate for home health services. If you think you are a candidate, it's important to have an honest conversation with your physician to see if home health is the right option for you.

If your doctor decides that home health is right for you, begin to research options in your area. With a doctor's prescription, the Brookdale Home Health team of experts can provide care based upon your unique medical needs in the privacy of your home. Learn more by visiting www.brookdale.com.

Is home health covered by insurance?

Home health services are often covered by health insurance, but you should verify the details with your particular plan provider. Many plans offer 100 percent coverage if certain conditions are met. For example, Brookdale Home Health services may be covered by 100 percent of your Medicare Part A benefit if your doctor determines that you are homebound and that home health services are medically necessary to treat your illness, injury or change in medical condition.

Yoko saw great improvements in her condition through home health services. However, she eventually experienced additional medical complications that require 24 hour care. Her husband could not keep up with the demands and sought respite care in a Brookdale community. After receiving respite services, they have decided to move in to a Brookdale Senior Living community full-time.

“My wife got sick and there was no way I could take care of her," says Kenneth. "We moved into a Brookdale community on Valentine’s Day and we’ve been here ever since.”

Today they are permanent residents of Patriot Heights in San Antonio, Texas, where they receive the full-time care they need, enjoy a full social calendar and have made many new friends.



Simple ways to add physical fitness to your daily routine

5/17/2017

(BPT) - Being resourceful with your daily routine can deliver big payoffs when it comes to increasing your activity level. Incorporating physical fitness into your everyday activities can save you time and also burn calories, and it doesn't have to take much time or effort.

“For many people, the biggest obstacle to getting more exercise is time,” says Danielle Johnson, physical therapist and wellness physical therapist for the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program. “People feel stretched between their career, child care demands and family commitments. Thinking of spending an hour extra at the gym may feel overwhelming.”

If you don’t have time to fit in a scheduled workout, try using daily tasks to incorporate fitness, Johnson advises. “You’ll still be able to reap the benefits of exercise by using small bouts of movement throughout the day. Two 10-minute walks, a few sets of stairs and some five-minute intervals of bodyweight squats, lunges or push-ups can add up to big health benefits.”

Here are some tips to get moving throughout the day:

Turn chores into exercise.

* Mow the lawn or do some gardening. The physical benefit is good for your health, plus gardening can enhance your mood, and the food you grow offers great nutritional benefits.

* Try bicycling to run errands. Leave the car in the garage and bring out your bike for a quick run to the grocery store.

* Turn household cleaning into a mini workout. “For example, mopping floors gives your shoulders and back a workout, and can burn more than 100 calories in just 30 minutes,” Johnson says.

Find fitness opportunities with friends.

* Instead of going out for dinner or drinks with friends, do something physical, like taking a walk, going for a bike ride or engaging in a physical activity like tennis or bowling.

* Take your dog to the park, or play with them in your own backyard. A game of fetch is not only great exercise for your furry friend — it works your muscles, too.

* Join or start a sports team with your friends. Whether it's softball, basketball or soccer, taking part in a sport you enjoy will improve both your physical and mental well-being.

Stay curious and improve upon what you’re already doing.

* Do you already walk daily? Try walking faster or choose a challenging route with hills.

* Take up a new summer outdoor sport, such as canoeing, paddle boarding or inline skating.

* If there’s a cause you feel passionate about, try training to participate in a run or walk to raise funds.

* If you play golf, walk the course and carry your own clubs instead of using a cart and caddy.

“Every little bit counts,” Johnson says. “Research suggests that as little as 10 minutes of cardiovascular activity can make a big difference in your health and fitness measures. I often equate health to putting away money for retirement. Putting away savings, even in small amounts, will add up big over time. The same can be said for your health. Investing in opportunities to be active, even for short periods of time, adds up. The key is to be consistent.”



3 cornerstones to a longer, healthier, happier life for your pet

5/16/2017

(BPT) - Your pets are members of the family. They are the source of some of your best memories, they are your travel companions, your confidantes and your evening snuggle partners. You love them and you want them to live the longest, healthiest and happiest life possible.

Like it is for you, achieving the healthiest, happiest life for your pet is directly tied to the cornerstones of preventive care, nutrition and exercise. To provide insight into how each of these can benefit your pet, Dr. Kurt Venator, chief veterinary officer for Purina, offers this advice:

Regular veterinary exams

Your veterinarian and his/her team are the experts when it comes to the health and well-being of your pet. Prevention is a key component of regular vet visits; the earlier a potential problem is identified, the easier it is to treat and the greater the chance of success. The physical examination, routine diagnostics, vaccinations, heartworm prevention and parasite control will help keep your pet in tip-top shape. You can also work with your veterinarian to create a tailored health plan for your pet that takes into account their age, activity level and any medical considerations.

Nutrition

In a recent Purina survey, three in five dog and cat owners (60 percent) would consult their veterinarian for food safety and quality advice, while just about half refer to their pet food companies’ websites. Furthermore, when it comes to nutrition, it is important to work with your veterinarian to select the ideal diet for your pet that is appropriate for their life stage (i.e., puppy vs. adult) and lifestyle (couch potato vs. sporting dog). It is also important to look beyond just the ingredient list and marketing claims on the bag.

The nutrients inside should also meet or exceed AAFCO, USDA and FDA standards. Many pet owners are unaware of the rigorous process that goes into ensuring quality and safety in pet food, with three in five pet owners admitting they didn’t know about the process after learning more about what goes into the pet food quality-checking process. For pet owners, it’s also important to take the time to look at the company’s manufacturing reputation, along with safety and quality standards. Ask these key questions when evaluating different pet foods:

* Who formulates the food and what are their credentials? Look for brands with nutritionists and veterinarians on staff to formulate the diets. Purina has over 500 pet experts globally, including nutritionists, veterinarians, behaviorists and immunologists who use their expertise to improve pet nutrition and care.

* What are the company’s quality and safety standards? Purina conducts more than 30,000 quality checks involving ingredients, packaging, receiving, processing and packing in a typical 24-hour production period.

* Where is the food produced? Does the company own their manufacturing facilities? At Purina, 99 percent of our food sold in the U.S. is made in our own facilities.

Exercise and enrichment

An appropriate amount of daily exercise can help reduce the incidence of common behavioral problems in pets. This includes excessive barking, inappropriate chewing and general hyperactivity. In addition, exercise — combined with appropriate diet quality and quantity — can reduce the incidence of obesity and associated health conditions, such as osteoarthritis in dogs and diabetes in cats.

Physical exercise can take on a variety of forms, from leash walks to ball fetch to playtime at the local dog park. For those dogs with a predilection for the water, swimming can offer a fun and effective alternative. And don’t forget that mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise. Obedience training, food puzzle toys, chew toys and trick training — such as roll over or paw — are all beneficial for pets.

Before starting any exercise regimen with your pet, be sure to consult with your veterinarian to find answers to your questions and learn what activities would best support your pet based on their breed, age and needs.

Taking steps to improve your pet’s health today

Your pet gives you so much and you naturally want to return the favor. You can do so by following the three simple suggestions above. Do so and you and your pet will be able to live a longer, healthier, and happier life together.



5 nutritionist tips to start eating and living healthier

5/11/2017

(BPT) - When you need to fix your car, learn the latest tech or finish a major home improvement, what do you do? You turn to the experts, those with in-depth knowledge on how to accomplish these tasks in the most efficient and effective way. And when you’re looking to improve your overall health by focusing on improving your diet, it’s also time to turn to the experts.

Nutritionists and registered dietitians are the thought leaders when it comes to improving your eating habits. So to learn from the professionals, we asked Registered Dietitian and nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner to offer her tips on how you can improve your nutrition and start living a healthier life today. She offers this advice:

*Get organized. Your environment can work for you or against you. Having an organized refrigerator can be the key to success on the journey to weight loss. Keep produce where it is easily visible and accessible. Storing foods like hard-boiled eggs, chicken breast and roasted vegetables at eye-level can really help to make smarter meal choices. Clear food containers will also help to keep already prepared meals top of mind and lessen food waste, which means saving money in the long run.

*Practice superfood swaps. Don’t cut out food cravings — embrace them! Eat the flavors that you crave but swap out overly processed stuff for fresh, wholesome ingredients. Avoid products with chemicals, refined sugars and flours, artificial flavors and preservatives and it will naturally lead to a healthier lifestyle. When you fill the house with healthier foods, you’ll automatically eat smarter when hunger strikes.

*Eat your “green base.” It can be difficult to make the right nutrition choices all the time. So when you are eating more decadent food like fried chicken, Chinese or pizza, put it on a base of leafy greens like spinach, spring mix or kale. That way you will get to eat what you want, but you’ll fill up more on your superfood greens and eat less of the high-calorie foods.

*Set the table. One of the simplest ways to start naturally eating less and enjoying food more is to eat all meals and snacks at the table. When you put food on a plate, eat at a table and sit in a chair you’ll eat much less than if you were eating while working on the computer, watching TV, standing in the fridge or driving!

*Build a better breakfast. A healthy diet starts with a nutritious breakfast. Think whole foods instead of pre-packaged foods high in calories and packed with preservatives. Eggland’s Best eggs contain double the omega-3s and more than double the vitamin B12 compared to ordinary eggs, which can be perfect for maintaining heart health. They also contain 25 percent less saturated fat, six times more vitamin D and 10 times the vitamin E of ordinary eggs. Plus, they taste great. Get your day started with this amazing recipe and you’ll be happier and healthier all day long.

Spinach, Grape Tomato and Cheddar Frittata

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 ounces baby spinach

1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half

8 Eggland's Best eggs (large)

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

salt & pepper to taste

1/4 cup milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Whisk eggs and milk together until smooth.

Heat cast iron or oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and saute spinach until wilted and then add half of the grape tomatoes.

Pour eggs slowly into pan.

Sprinkle cheese over eggs and spread remaining grape tomatoes evenly over the egg mixture.

Season with salt and pepper.

Place skillet to oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until eggs are cooked through and golden brown.

Remove skillet from oven and let rest for a few minutes.

Cut into wedges and serve warm.

To find more delicious recipes, tips and tricks to celebrate 25 years of a more nutritious egg, sign up for the EB newsletter, http://www.egglandsbest.com/newsletter/.



4 things you can do to protect your drinking water

5/10/2017

(BPT) - Water is something many of us tend to devote little time thinking about, not because it is unimportant but because we take our clean, safe drinking water for granted. That is, until something occurs that shifts our focus and shows us how potentially fragile our water infrastructure really is.

News headlines from across North America have brought the threat of poor drinking water to the forefront and caused many people to be curious about their own water. Research from Culligan International shows that 75 percent of survey respondents said they were worried about the water they drink, while 73 percent had never had their water tested.

“For years we’ve taken the safety of our water for granted,” says Rick Cook, manager of industry and regulatory affairs for Culligan. “But our aging infrastructure has heightened the risks of harmful impurities such as lead and iron contaminating our water supply.”

Preserving safe drinking water is not something that can be left to chance. To protect yourself and your family and to ensure the water running in your home is safe to drink, Cook offers these tips.

* Know where water contamination can occur. Water impurities are not just limited to the water source. They can also occur in the distribution system. While many naturally occurring chemicals and impurities can be filtered at the source, it’s still possible for unsafe amounts of lead to enter your water. These issues are more common in older homes — those built before 1986 — which commonly feature lead pipes and fixtures.

* Educate yourself on the filtration system currently in place at your home. Water treatment solutions, including water softeners, reverse osmosis systems and specialty filters, can eliminate specific impurities in your water. However, charcoal pitchers and refrigerator cartridges cannot.

* Pay attention to the warning signs. Corroded plumbing fixtures, unpleasant odors, disagreeable taste, discolored water and even shortened appliance lifespan are all signs that something is wrong with your water. If you notice any or all of these occurring in your home, it's time to get your water tested.

* Schedule a test to identify impurities in your water. Because water contamination can happen unexpectedly, through a municipality, your own well or your own pipes, it’s important to have your water tested by a water expert who can determine what harmful impurities — if any — are present and how to eliminate them. While testing can be done at any time, Culligan recommends scheduling a water test after you move into a new house, if you have appliances that are burning out or if you notice a change in the taste, odor or appearance of your water. If you have well water you should also have it tested whenever the water becomes cloudy or changes in taste or smell.

For more information about Culligan water treatment products, or to find your local Culligan representative, visit culligan.com.



Healthier kids, healthier communities: 4 ways to get involved

5/5/2017

(BPT) - It’s no secret that experiences in early and middle childhood are extremely important for a child’s healthy development and lifelong learning. Yet schools — the places where kids spend the majority of their time outside of the home during the week — often lack the resources and support needed to enable and inspire students to adopt healthier lifestyles.

The solution is within reach; it rests in the hands of parents and other concerned community members who make investments (even small ones) in kids inside and outside of school to help build healthier communities and a healthier world.

Dominique Dawes, an Olympic Gold Medalist, three-time Olympian and child nutrition advocate, shares her tips on how caregivers can get involved in manageable, meaningful ways to impact change within their children's schools and communities.

1. Understand you’re not alone. Look to organizations with a footprint in your community, and seek out ways to volunteer. There’s a great organization called Action for Healthy Kids. With the help of sponsors like GoGo squeeZ, their volunteer network works to improve the health and wellness of students in schools nationwide and highlight the link between nutrition, physical activity and learning. They even have an “Every Kid Healthy Week” to celebrate the great effort schools are making. Programs like these are impactful resources for parents, students and teachers alike.

2. Reach out to your local parks and recreation department. Chances are, they’re looking for volunteers. You may be able to help out with something on a recurring basis — a wellness or athletic program of particular interest to you. Also, ask about other ways you can serve your community. They may have park cleanup programs or other projects that can get your whole family moving and contributing.

3. Make it fun. Talk to the administration at your child’s school about activities and competitions to help students take ownership of their own health. Action for Healthy Kids offers free online activities to help improve physical activity and nutrition in school, but you can also encourage your school to apply for a grant to expand your local resources. Sponsors like GoGo squeeZ fund new grants every year!

4. Don’t underestimate your own abilities. Did you grow up learning gymnastics? Speak to the parents of your kids’ friends about organizing a gymnastics workshop at the park one weekend. Do you have a passion for making (and eating) healthy food? Volunteer to bring easy, nutritious snacks to a local after-school program, sports group or camp whenever you’re able. Bonus: nothing builds new friendships faster than food!

“I talk to so many people who care about the issues we’re facing with childhood health and wellness but don’t know how to get their foot in the door,” Dawes says. “My best advice is to start small, but start somewhere. Just one small change can make a significant difference in the life of a child and the health of a community.”



Hepatitis C: Why baby boomers should be tested immediately

5/4/2017

(BPT) - If you were born between 1945 and 1965, you could be one of more than 3 million baby boomers living with hepatitis C in the U.S. and not even know it. Despite only making up 27 percent of the U.S. population, baby boomers account for more than 75 percent of hepatitis C cases in the U.S.

What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by a virus primarily spread through contact with blood from an infected person. While some people only experience a short-term infection, 70-85 percent of those with hepatitis C develop a chronic infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which can lead to liver cirrhosis (or scarring), liver cancer and even death. Hepatitis C is often referred to as a “silent epidemic,” since a person can have the condition for decades without any symptoms.

Why should boomers, born between 1945 and 1965, be tested today?

The CDC estimates boomers are five times more likely to have hepatitis C than the rest of the population. Hepatitis C rates peaked in the 1970s and 1980s, when boomers may have been exposed to infected blood before certain safety precautions were adopted for medical procedures, body piercings and tattoos.

Only 14 percent of baby boomers report having been screened for hepatitis C, which is why the CDC recommends all boomers speak with their healthcare providers and request to be tested for hepatitis C.

Have YOU been tested?

The only way to know if someone has the virus is through a one-time blood test, yet testing among boomers remains low. Quest Diagnostics, a leading diagnostics company, has more than 2,200 Patient Services Centers with labs offering hepatitis C testing for boomers. Quest Diagnostics patient Robin Roth was diagnosed with hepatitis C following a routine doctor’s visit that changed her life.

Though she was symptomless, Robin asked to be screened for hepatitis C and tested positive for the virus. When her doctor explained the virus may have impacted her liver health, Robin asked for a biopsy, which confirmed she had liver cirrhosis. After receiving treatment for nearly a year, she became virus-free and cleared her cirrhosis.

Watch Robin’s journey from diagnosis to recovery to learn more.

Is there a cure for hepatitis C?

Yes, there are new and successful treatments that can cure the virus and prevent liver damage, cirrhosis and liver disease. The biggest barrier to treatment is diagnosis, given the lack of obvious symptoms. This barrier has been a contributing factor to half the cases of liver cancer in the U.S., which increased by 72 percent from 2003 to 2012.

For more information about hepatitis C and to assess your risk factors, visit KnowAboutHepC.com.



Need care today? Here are 4 choices to try before the emergency room

5/3/2017

(BPT) - A health concern rarely strikes when it's convenient for you, and in most cases it occurs at the worst possible time. When you need care and don’t have time to schedule an appointment, what do you do?

You head to the emergency room, of course. You wait in the long ER lines and pay the hefty bill that concludes your visit, all for a non-emergency situation that required immediate treatment. It's hardly the most efficient solution, and while your health is certainly your most important concern, there are ways to receive the same quality care without the long wait and extravagant expense of an emergency room visit.

Considering the three C’s

Years ago the emergency room was your only option when you needed immediate care, but today’s health care market is home to a number of flourishing alternative options. To find the right solution for your situation, consider the three C’s: care, convenience and cost.

* Care: Evaluate the severity of your symptoms and identify what services you need. An emergency issue should always be treated at the ER, but if the problem is not life- or limb-threatening, it can be treated somewhere else.

* Convenience: It’s a good idea to know what health care facilities are near you, as well as their hours of operation.

* Cost: Not every provider will be covered by your insurance, so it’s important to understand your coverage area as well as your pre-authorization requirements.

Finding the best health care option for you

If you face a serious health issue, you should head to the emergency room immediately. However, if the issue merits immediate care but is not life- or limb-threatening, the Urgent Care Association of America offers this quick guide to your on-demand health care options.

Urgent care centers

Urgent care centers are equipped to handle illnesses and injuries that require X-rays, intravenous fluids and/or on-site lab tests. With an emphasis on convenience, urgent care offers short wait times — often 30 minutes or less compared to four hours in the emergency room — and affordable care, made even more so because it is covered by most insurance providers.

Retail clinics

Otherwise known as walk-in clinics, retail clinics are commonly found in supermarkets or pharmacies and specialize in treating less serious conditions than urgent care centers or emergency rooms. If you have a minor illness or you need preventative care, like a vaccination, then a retail clinic is a logical stop for you.

Telemedicine

A product of the digital age, telemedicine connects patients with providers via virtual visits, resulting in lower costs and decreased travel time. Telemedicine services are an attractive option if you live in a rural community or for times when the treatment you require does not extend beyond a consultation. They are also a handy tool for follow-up appointments that do not require an in-person visit.

On-site clinics

Finally, you may consider an on-site clinic. This option is now offered by many employers as a way of providing increased health care access to their employees. Similar to retail clinics, an on-site clinic specializes in offering wellness and preventative services — though the specific services offered by each clinic may vary.

Finding the best solution for you

You’ve read all the care options above and you have a pretty good idea of the best solution for any care need. Match that need with the right treatment option above and you'll receive the same quality care without the long wait and hefty bill of that emergency room visit.

To find an urgent care center near you, visit www.whereisurgentcare.com.



6 surprising health benefits of strawberries

5/1/2017

(BPT) - Eight strawberries, a single serving, delivers on a surprising checklist of benefits for anyone looking to live a healthier lifestyle. Strawberries are much more than a sweet and delicious treat — they are a versatile fruit that's great for your health. What better time than National Strawberry Month to share six health benefits of strawberries that may be new to you. Grab a handful of strawberries and read on, because eating right has never tasted so good.

* Strawberries help you stay sharp. A recent study in the Annals of Neurology suggests that eating strawberries more than twice a week appears to delay cognitive aging by up to two and a half years.

* Loaded with nutrients. Strawberries pack a lot of healthy properties into a small package. Each berry is full of beneficial antioxidants and nutrients, including potassium, folate and fiber.

* Sweet without the sugar. The sweet taste of strawberries makes them a natural dessert topping, and strawberries are also low in calories and sugar — one serving of eight strawberries contains just 45 calories!

* A delicious source of vitamin C. When you think vitamin C, think strawberries. One serving of eight strawberries has more vitamin C than an orange, topping out at 140 percent of the recommended daily value. It's the perfect power-packed boost that you can add to any meal or cold remedy.

* A healthy choice for diabetics. The American Diabetes Association has identified berries, including strawberries, as a perfect component of a diabetes meal plan. This is because strawberries have a low glycemic index and are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and dietary fiber.

* Cholesterol fighter. Lowering your cholesterol is a common goal for many Americans these days, and strawberries can help. In addition to being packed with antioxidants and fiber, strawberries are also rich in phytochemicals, which have been shown to reduce overall cholesterol levels. In addition, the potassium found in strawberries may help control blood pressure and fight strokes.

It's easy to see why you should eat eight strawberries each day. Grab a handful today — your body and taste buds will be glad you did.

To learn more about the health benefits of strawberries, visit www.californiastrawberries.com.



5 facts about strokes that could save your life

4/29/2017
Chances are you know someone who has had a stroke. An estimated 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Despite how common strokes are, there are a lot of widely believed misconceptions. Unfortunately, not knowing the facts can put a person at bigger risk for experiencing a stroke themselves, or, not being able to help someone else who may be experiencing a stroke.
To help separate fact from fiction, the medical experts at Life Line Screening share the truth about the top misconceptions about stroke:
Misconception: Strokes only happen to older people
Fact: Research found 61 percent of strokes happen in people over the age of 65. That means 39 percent of strokes happen to younger people.
Misconception: Strokes are not a problem in the United States
Fact: You may only know a few people who've had a stroke in their life, but someone has a stroke every 40 seconds in the U.S.
Misconception: A stroke will kill you
Fact: Approximately one out of eight strokes results in death within thirty days. The other seven instances leave the person disabled. Stroke is fatal in about 10 to 20 percent of cases and, among survivors, it can cause a host of disabilities, including loss of mobility, impaired speech, and cognitive problems.
Misconception: Strokes cannot be prevented
Fact: Up to 80 percent of strokes could be stopped before they start. Health screenings are an effective way to identify and understand risk factors so they can be properly managed.
Research shows nine out of 10 cardiovascular doctors support preventive health screenings for cardiovascular disease (plaque in the arteries) among patients with key risk factors. To learn more, visit http://www.lifelinescreening.com.
Misconception: Only a doctor can identify a stroke
Fact: Everyone can and should know the signs and symptoms of stroke. By taking quick action, you could save a life.
According to the CDC, the most common signs of stroke are:
* Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
* Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or difficulty understanding speech.
* Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
* Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or lack of coordination.
* Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
If you or someone else has any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.
Understanding the facts about stroke helps empower you to control your own health. Even if risk factors are present, you can take proactive measures to help prevent stroke for yourself and loved ones.


Transportation safety: How seniors can maintain independence outside the home

4/27/2017

(BPT) - It can be hard to admit your vision isn’t what it used to be, especially when it comes to driving. Maybe you’ve noticed some difficulties reading traffic signals, or you’ve found it challenging to drive at night.

If you’re a family member noticing these warning signs in a loved one, pointing out these challenges may seem like a daunting and delicate undertaking. But when it comes to being on the road, safety is one thing you can’t ignore.

Encouraging your loved one to prioritize safety can be hard, especially when it feels like their independence is at stake. That's why it's important to have an open and honest discussion to determine the best options for maintaining independence outside the home.

Step 1: Address driver safety

Vision is the most important sense for driving safety. Annual vision screening is important for everyone, but it is especially critical for older people, since the sensory data used for driving is predominantly visual.

For seniors still able to drive, a defensive driving class can be beneficial. These classes allow students to brush up on skills while gaining confidence and introduce them to alternative transportation options for the times and locations of their preference. What's more, many insurance companies provide discounts to seniors who complete these courses.

Giving up driving doesn't have to mean choosing between all or nothing. For example, start limiting driving to daylight only, non-rush-hour periods. Then look into supplementary transportation options that eliminate the need to drive while still allowing you to get where you need to go.

Step 2: Research transportation options

It's important to educate yourself or your loved one about locally available transportation options for seniors. When you know there are reliable, cost-effective transportation options available, it can help maintain a high level of independence for a trip to the grocery store or a doctor's appointment.

Rides in Sight is a nationwide, online database of senior transportation options built by ITNAmerica, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing sustainable transportation options for seniors. Visit www.ridesinsight.org and enter basic information like your state or zip code, and you can find the ride option that’s best for your situation. If you prefer to access information by phone, call 1-855-60-RIDES (1-855-607-4337).

Rides in Sight makes it easy to find customized transportation, no matter what a person's needs. For example, you can find wheelchair accessible transportation options or door-to-door driver assistance if that’s what you need.

Step 3: Implement a trial period

Giving up the keys is easier if you do it over a period of time. Pick a date and schedule your first ride with a transportation service during a time you normally drive. Any change takes time to adapt to, so try it out for a while before reassessing and making any necessary adjustments. After this trial period, you should feel more comfortable with someone else driving you, and you get to be in control of your mobility.

For older Americans, it's important to be able to maintain independence when they limit or stop driving. When they are encouraged to create their own driving transition plan, more emphasis can be placed on finding new passions and activities to engage with their communities. The result is a positive impact on people of all ages.

To have that impact, reliable, secure transportation is essential. Having the necessary conversations and researching appropriate transportation options helps keep everyone happy, healthy and safe.



Thinking about a career in health care? Consider this

4/25/2017

(BPT) - Medical professionals are in greater demand than ever before, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), by the year 2025, the United States could need as many as 90,000 more physicians than it actually has, and the demand for nurses and other health professionals could be even higher.

Given those numbers, the time couldn’t be better to consider a career in health care.

Historically, the path toward becoming a doctor or nurse has been a rigid one — and, as a student, you were either on that path or you weren’t. But today, new options are opening up, as even the best-established medical schools seek to expand their offerings and encourage a greater number of medically inclined students to enter the field professionally.

New options for health care-inclined students of all ages

Just take what Harvard Medical School is doing. This spring, the school — whose typical acceptance rate is under 4 percent — announced its first-ever online certificate program that’s open to all aspiring clinicians as well as the general public.

The program, called HMX Fundamentals, is designed to give students a taste of what a top-tier medical education entails, while building crucial expertise in four foundational subject areas: Immunology, Physiology, Biochemistry and Genetics. These highly immersive courses emphasize real-world applications and experiences, integrating real-life case studies and offering a first-hand look into real medical facilities — a significant step beyond the traditional, passive learning and slide-show presentations that are common in some other online programs. The idea is to provide foundational knowledge in a meaningful context, making the information as relevant as possible.

By offering wider access than ever before to some of the school’s top physician-scientists, Harvard Medical School is hoping to change the game, and encourage more health-curious students and professionals to explore medicine seriously.

Whether you’re a highly motivated high school student, a recent college graduate or a young professional considering a transition into health care, this summer’s HMX Fundamentals program could be the first step in your path toward a career in medicine.

Expanding access without sacrificing quality

While HMX Fundamentals courses are open to students at virtually any phase of their academic or professional career, they do require a basic understanding of chemistry, biology and physics. To ensure that students are prepared to succeed, prospective students are asked to submit a brief application, both to confirm they’ve completed the recommended prerequisites and to give HMX a sense of what they hope to achieve through the program.

Applications for the program will be accepted through May 30, and the inaugural summer installment program will begin June 20. Tuition for HMX Fundamentals courses is tiered, beginning at $800 for a single course or $1000 for a two-course bundle. Partial scholarships are available on a limited basis.



Too many with epilepsy are unaware of this uncommon but fatal threat

4/25/2017

(BPT) - For people with epilepsy—and for those who care for them—the side effects of the condition are well known. They know all about the seizures and they also know how best to care for themselves or their loved ones should a seizure occur. While the persistent possibility of a seizure is well known, many people living with epilepsy are unaware of another threat that, while uncommon, is fatal.

They are unaware of SUDEP.

What is SUDEP?

SUDEP stands for Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy. It is an uncommon but fatal complication that kills one in 4,500 children with epilepsy and one in 1,000 adults with epilepsy each year. In many cases of SUDEP, an otherwise healthy person with epilepsy dies unexpectedly. And while SUDEP may seem to strike from nowhere, new research is available to help patients and their families reduce their risk.

The American Academy of Neurology and the American Epilepsy Society recently released a new guideline to help patients and their families better understand SUDEP and its risk factors. According to the guideline, the occurrence of generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTCS), a type of seizure that involves the whole body, is one of the key risk factors for SUDEP. The guidelines also find that a patient’s risk of SUDEP increases as GTCS increases in frequency.

Likewise, seizure freedom from GTCS decreases a person’s risk of SUDEP.

Care guidelines for doctors, patients and caregivers

Given the clear connection that exists between the frequency of GTCS and their risk for SUDEP, reducing GTCS experiences remains the most effective way to reduce a person’s SUDEP risk.

For neurologists—the doctors who treat patients with epilepsy—this means increasing patient knowledge of SUDEP and letting people know that while the condition is uncommon, it can be fatal. This conversation can be difficult, but it is essential so patients can better understand their risks and how to protect their health. Actively working with patients who experience GTCS to manage their epilepsy therapies is the best way to reduce their seizure risk. Neurologists should also inform patients that seizure freedom, particularly freedom from GTCS—which is more likely to occur by taking prescribed medication regularly—is strongly associated with a decreased risk of SUDEP.

For patients, this report makes the conversations they have with their neurologist regarding their epilepsy treatment more important than ever. Patients must speak with their neurologist about their experiences and carefully follow the treatments set in place. Failure to do so could not only be seizure inducing, but life threatening. For those living with epilepsy and their caregivers, sidestepping the treatment simply isn’t worth the risk.

To learn more about SUDEP and the latest treatment guidelines available from the American Academy of Neurology and American Epilepsy Society, visit aan.com.



Think you're eating well? Misconceptions lead to nutrient deficiencies for many

4/24/2017

(BPT) - The good news? Americans think they are eating well; in fact, 60 percent say they eat a very healthy diet. The not-so-good news? Perception and reality may not be aligned.

Only 6 percent of Americans report eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day, reveals recent research from supplement maker MegaFood. The discrepancy leaves a huge nutritional gap to fill.

The survey results highlight another knowledge gap between Americans and healthy eating — you can eat plenty of healthy foods, and still not get the recommended daily allowances of key nutrients.

For example, 52 percent of survey respondents say they think they get enough vitamin B6 in their diets. B6 is found in foods like bananas and avocados, plays an important role in producing fuel and energy, and is critical for optimal function of the brain, nervous and immune systems. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say 30 million Americans are deficient in vitamin B6.

Multiple studies have shown many Americans don’t get the recommended amounts of needed nutrients every day, yet two-thirds believe they can get all the required nutrients by eating a healthy diet, according to the MegaFood survey. As a result, the belief they don’t need a multivitamin is the top reason two in five people don’t take one.

“My experience consistently shows me that a large number of Americans live high-carb, high-sugar, caffeine-overloaded, stressed-out, no-exercise lives,” says Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, an internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative medicine, herbal medicine and dietary supplementation, and author of National Geographic’s "Fortify Your Life: Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and More." “We may have good intentions when it comes to eating well, but the truth is that many of us fall short of an ideal diet — and even when we do our best to eat well, it is extremely difficult to get all the nutrients we need on a regular basis with diet alone.”

What you can do

It is possible to take steps to improve nutrition. Dr. Low Dog offers these tips:

* Know the nutrients you should be getting and the recommended daily amount for each. The National Institutes of Health provide online tables for recommended daily allowances of vitamins and minerals, based on age and gender.

* Do your best to eat a balanced diet; it delivers health benefits beyond vitamin sufficiency. Be sure to get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

* Supplement your good eating habits with a quality multivitamin. Eighty-one percent of consumers realize that not all multivitamins are the same. MegaFood makes a line of multivitamins formulated to support the health of men and women during various phases of life. They’re made from real food from real family farmers. The line is gluten-, soy-, GMO- and dairy-free, and tested to be free of pesticides and herbicides.

* In an effort to help bridge the nutritional gap, MegaFood has launched its MegaPledge campaign. Pledge to close your nutritional gap by taking a multivitamin and MegaFood will donate a bottle of multis to someone in need. Pledgers will receive a $5 coupon and be entered to win great prizes, including a year’s worth of multivitamins and an amazing wellness getaway. Additionally, MegaFood is teaming up with Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit organization that empowers underserved consumers to make healthier food choices by increasing affordable access to fresh, local food. With every pledge, MegaFood will donate two servings of fruits and veggies to someone in need. Take the pledge at megafood.com/pledge.



The important role vaccines may play in helping keep children and adults healthy

4/21/2017

(BPT) - Every one of the nearly 12,000 babies born in the United States each day may be susceptible to infectious diseases. The good news is that vaccines can help protect children from some of these diseases.

As National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) approaches, it is timely to remember the role that vaccinations can play in helping to prevent certain diseases among infants. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that routine vaccination of the nearly 4 million babies born in the US each year may help to prevent about 20 million cases of diseases that they could develop over their lifetime. In fact, over time, successful vaccination campaigns have contributed to the near elimination or elimination of some diseases in the U.S., like polio.

Vaccination is considered to be one of the greatest public health achievements since 1900. NIIW, which is held April 22 – 29 this year, highlights the importance of helping to protect infants from diseases for which there are vaccines and celebrates the achievements of vaccination programs in helping to promote healthy communities.

"Today vaccines can help to protect against 14 diseases before age two," explains Eddy Bresnitz, M.D., M.S., Executive Director, Merck Vaccines Global Health & Medical Affairs. "Failure to vaccinate may mean putting your children at risk for potentially serious diseases."

“In the U.S., most young children receive many of the recommended vaccines, but there is room to improve vaccination rates among all groups, including adolescents and adults," says Bresnitz.

In fact, the CDC has specific recommended vaccination schedules that cover children, adolescents and adults. Talk to your healthcare provider about vaccines that may be recommended for you and your loved ones, and visit www.vaccinesandyou.com to learn more.

This information is provided by Merck.

VACC-1178865-0001
04/17



Proper nutrition is key to senior health

4/17/2017

(BPT) - Americans are now living longer than ever before. In fact, one of the fastest growing segments is people over the age of 85 who will represent 20 percent of the population by the year 2040. Because we are living longer, certain conditions specific to seniors are also on a steady rise. Dehydration, falls, fractures, cognition loss and attention deficits are now becoming more commonplace.

In a recent paper titled "Salt Appetite Across Generations" presented at a medical conference in Switzerland, Israeli researchers from the University of Haifa indicated that among seniors, a reduced sense of thirst could increase the increased risk of serious dehydration. They also noted that the appetite for salt does not diminish with age, and suggested that this could be used to help sustain hydration and prevent the dangerous symptoms that result from dehydration.

Another study published in the American Journal of Hypertension identified significant risks to cardiovascular health and longevity from consuming any less than 1, or more than 3 teaspoons of salt per day. Fortunately, most Americans, including seniors, when left to their own choice consume right in the middle of this range.

Seniors in assisted living centers can be especially susceptible to the dangers of low salt diets. In 2013 a task force of 12 professional medical, nursing, and nutritional organizations assembled by the Pioneer Network published the "New Dining Practice Standards." Their report concluded that low salt diets were contributing to malnutrition and weight loss among a significant percentage of seniors in assisted living facilities.

Low salt diets can also cause seniors to suffer from mild hyponatremia, an electrolyte imbalance in the blood which may not sound bad but can lead directly to walking impairment, attention deficits and a much higher frequency of falls. Several recent medical papers found a direct relationship between hyponatremia and unsteadiness, falls, bone fractures and attention deficits.

Falls are one of the most serious problems for the elderly and about a third of people over 65 fall at least once every year. Fall-related injuries in the elderly are associated with numerous psychological and physical consequences and are a leading cause of bone breakage and hip fractures, which can lead to complications and permanent disability or death. Some seniors do need a low salt diets but many do not, and it should not be assumed that they all do or benefit from when in fact the opposite may be the case.



Experts say alarming rise in STDs among young adults requires urgent action

4/13/2017

(BPT) - Lauren, a young woman from North Carolina, started noticing symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease (STD) after being with a new partner. As someone who typically took great care of her health, she knew it was important to get her symptoms checked out. She was surprised to learn that she had chlamydia.

"Luckily, I experienced symptoms, so I knew to get tested," Lauren says, "but not everyone experiences them." Since talking to her friends about what happened, she adds, "I'm surprised at how many of them have gone through the same thing. It's a lot more common than I thought."

Because she caught it early, Lauren was able to treat her chlamydia quickly with one course of antibiotics. She said she knows getting an STD isn't a punishment for having unprotected sex, but if you are having sex, getting tested is the best way to take care of yourself.

"I'm so glad that I didn't wait to be tested, because the real problem is when STDs aren't treated," Lauren says.

Lauren's experience is increasingly common among young adults. In fact, one in two sexually active people will get an STD by age 25, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Yet a recent study shows that fewer than 12 percent said they were tested in the past year.

Shattering the STD stigma

To spread the message about the importance of STD testing, the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) has launched a stigma-shattering initiative - "YES Means TEST(TM)" - to educate and empower young adults who say "YES" to sexual activity also to say "YES" to getting tested for STDs.

"At ASHA, we understand there are plenty of reasons young people aren't getting tested," says Lynn Barclay, president and CEO of ASHA. "They're often in denial about the risk of STDs, aren't educated about their harmful effects or for some reason are too embarrassed to discuss them. We've got to reverse that stigma so people, especially young women, feel empowered to take ownership of their sexual health."

"YES Means TEST" launched with a video featuring comedian/actress Whitney Cummings, a creator of the hit TV show, "2 Broke Girls." The video is aimed at normalizing STD testing so young people will view it as a natural part of their health routine. The video reveals surprising statistics about the impact of STDs and asks young people why their generation isn't more comfortable talking about STDs and getting tested. All "YES Means TEST" activities direct people to www.YESmeansTEST.org, where they can locate nearby clinics to receive STD screenings.

Why testing matters now more than ever

People may not know they have an STD because many do not have symptoms, and they can cause serious health consequences if they are not detected and treated appropriately. For example, chlamydia left untreated can put a woman at risk for pelvic inflammatory disease, a condition that can lead to infertility. "YES Means TEST" was designed primarily to reach sexually active women ages 18-24. The CDC recommends annual chlamydia and gonorrhea screenings for this demographic.

STD testing can be confidential and free or low-cost, and common STDs, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, are usually effectively treated with antibiotics. For more information about STDs, "YES Means TEST" or how and where to get tested, visit www.YESmeansTEST.org. Join the conversation online with #YESmeansTEST.



Fresh ways to enjoy pizza night and make a balanced meal

4/13/2017

(BPT) - You know a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables is best for your health, but achieving that can be a challenge given everything you have to accomplish in a day. Daily meal planning doesn’t have to be such a chore if you turn to your freezer for a little help. In fact, starting with frozen prepared foods as the foundation of your dinner plate and adding side dishes with fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and/or low-fat dairy can make it possible to serve a balanced meal that is quick and tasty. And that works for pizza night, too!

"Eating a balanced meal doesn't mean you have to give up favorite foods like pizza," says Bobby Parrish, Food Network personality and Today contributor. "It just means you need to be mindful of portion sizes and balance out your plate with a nutritious side dish of fresh vegetables, fruit and whole grains."

Research shows that Americans struggle with meeting recommended dietary guidelines. In fact, nine out of 10 people don’t get the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say. A simple way to improve the mix of foods you’re eating is by supplementing something you already enjoy — like pizza — with side dishes made up of other food groups.

Nestlé USA's Balance Your Plate educational program aims to help you put together delicious and nutritious meals that incorporate both frozen and fresh foods. The website www.nestleusa.com/balance provides information, tips and recipes to help consumers create easy, balanced meals that meet dietary guidelines.

By choosing your favorite frozen dishes, like pizza, as the foundation of your meal, you can build a more balanced plate with these tips:

* Make at least half your plate fruits and vegetables. For example, if you have a slice of cheese pizza, pair it with a fresh salad or your favorite vegetable side dish.

* Figure out your portion by looking at the recommended Serving Size in the Nutrition Facts label. Here’s an easy idea for pizza portions: picture your hand as a pizza slice and plan to enjoy one or two hands’ worth.

* Don’t be afraid to mix vegetables right into or on top of your pizza. For example, top cheese pizza with fresh tomato and basil after it comes out of the oven.

* Bagged salad greens, spinach or salad kits are a great, speedy way to add greens to your plate.

Parrish, who partnered with DiGiorno to create original side dish recipes, offers these two nutritious and tasty salad recipes to pair with your favorite pizza to create a more balanced meal:

Quinoa and Grapefruit Herb Salad

Ingredients:

2 cups of cooked quinoa

1 grapefruit

2 tablespoons pistachios, chopped and roasted (optional)

1-2 small carrots, grated

1 tablespoon each of fresh parsley and dill, chopped

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of half a lemon

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Couple cracks of black pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Bring 1 3/4 cups of water to a boil and add 1/2 a teaspoon of salt. Add 3/4 cups of raw quinoa. Stir well, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Check the quinoa; the water should be absorbed and the grain should be fluffy. If the quinoa has not unraveled, add another 1/4 cup of water and cook until the water evaporates and the quinoa looks cooked. Fluff with a fork and allow to cool for up to two hours, or you can make ahead of time and refrigerate overnight.

Place the cooked, cooled quinoa in a large bowl. Using a knife, cut away all the skin from the grapefruit and cut all segments directly into the bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well. Check for taste; you may need to add more lemon juice. The salad will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Shaved Apple and Romaine Crunch Salad

Ingredients:

2 hearts of romaine lettuce

1 sweet apple, like gala or pink lady

2 tablespoons raisins

1 tablespoon fresh chives, sliced

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

For the salad dressing:

3 tablespoons tahini

2 teaspoons agave nectar or honey

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Zest and juice of half a lemon

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon freshly chopped parsley

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Couple cracks of black pepper

2-4 tablespoons water

Directions:

Use a slicer or mandoline to thinly slice the apple. Place the slices in a large bowl and squeeze some lemon juice over the slices to prevent them from turning brown. Slice the romaine thinly and add it to the bowl along with the remaining salad ingredients. Set aside.

For the dressing, add everything but the water to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add enough water to loosen the dressing so it's able to be poured. Check for seasoning; you may need a little more salt or lemon juice.

Keep the dressing and salad in the fridge until ready to serve. Right before you dress the salad, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a couple cracks of pepper to the romaine mixture. Toss the salad with just enough dressing to coat everything, making sure not to over-dress the salad. Once the salad is dressed, it must be eaten and cannot be stored in the fridge.

For more recipes, information and meal ideas, visit www.nestleusa.com/balance.



Unique ideas to be gutsier in life

4/11/2017

(BPT) - Being human takes guts, but a sense of bold confidence doesn’t come easily for everyone; and often requires you to start from the inside. You may need to overcome mental roadblocks and bulldoze through personal physical barriers that have held you back.

Now is the perfect time to break free of those internal boundaries and challenge yourself to live boldly and bravely. Here are some ideas to unlock your potential from the inside out, allowing you to live gutsier at any age:

Start with a gut check

To be your best self and have the “guts” to tackle whatever lies ahead, get your gut in check and reap the glory. According to a recent Renew Life survey, three out of four women (72 percent) report that they’ve experienced occasional digestive issues in the past 12 months, such as bloating, constipation and diarrhea. Not only may these all be signs your gut is in need of replenishment and balance, but they’re enough of a reason to sit on the sideline rather than experience a new adventure.

Nutrition experts like Ellie Krieger, RD, host of “Ellie's Real Good Food” show and author of several healthy cookbooks, agree that one of the most efficient and impactful ways to bring balance to the digestive tract for better digestive and immune health is with a daily probiotic like Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotics, recommended for their blends of multiple strains and billions of live cultures, which reflects the natural diversity in the gut.

Try something new

When you try something you've never done before, it stimulates the body and mind. Don't worry about failure — just keep an open mind and have fun. No matter the outcome, you'll create lifelong memories.

For example, even if you aren't crafty, sign up for a pottery class. Always wondered about yoga? Take an intro session. Want to make new friends? Attend that community function. When you get outside your comfort zone, you may be surprised just how much fun you have.

Eat new foods

Expand your nutritional palate with healthy items that aren’t staples on your daily menu — mix them with dishes you know and try them a couple of times. Training your brain to recognize new flavors and smells requires multiple exposures, and proximity to familiar favorites helps make things safe by association. You never know what might become your next favorite dish.

Some healthy foodie trends you may want to try include sea vegetables like dulse, a seaweed, and items that include probiotic cultures, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir and yogurt. You might even consider signing up for a cooking class to learn new skills in the kitchen.

Take a spontaneous PTO day

Americans wasted 658 million paid vacation days, according to Project: Time Off’s State of American Vacation 2016 report. That means more than half of workers (55 percent) left vacation time unused. Don't let precious time off slip away, and take a mental health day.

Call in on a random day and give yourself the gift of an unplanned day off. Maybe it's a particularly nice day and you can go hiking or you can surprise your best friend with lunch on her birthday. Take a "me day" and enjoy.

Reflect on and be a role model

Who do you admire for their guts? Is it someone famous or someone close to you? Think about what they do that inspires you. If you can, tell them why. For example, write your mom a letter about how she's impacted your life. It's sure to make her day.

While thinking about role models, reflect on how you can be a better one yourself. Whether you hope to inspire your friends, children or co-workers, be the best you that you can be. Always stand up for what you believe in and be true to yourself. One way to do this is to donate to a cause close to your heart.

Challenge yourself

Need extra motivation for living gutsier? Join a fun challenge that can both guide you plus provide a sense of community and support. Sign up for a 5K with a friend or commit your family to meatless Mondays for a month. When you do challenges in groups, it can be a lot of fun.

Check out the Renew Life Guts & Glory 14-Day Gut Challenge at www.RenewLife.com/gutchallenge that will bring balance to your gut; and as a result live the life you’ve always dreamed of. The challenge will provide plenty of ideas to #getgutsy and stay healthy, and one lucky sweepstakes winner will receive $2,500 to put toward any gutsy endeavor they choose (sweepstakes from April 6 – May 19, 2017).



Tips to reduce your health care expenses

4/11/2017

(BPT) - Health care costs are in the news all the time. You hear about them at work and when you’re with friends and family. The comments are always the same. Health care is getting more and more expensive and it seems to be outpacing the money you make.

Fortunately you’re not helpless when it comes to controlling your health care costs. While some treatments simply have to be done in order to support your health, there are other things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones while looking out for your pocketbook at the same time.

Employ these five tips today and you’ll enjoy the care you need without breaking your budget.

* Focus on your health first. When it comes to controlling your health care expenses, you actually have more control than you think – a lot more. The decisions you make every day – what to eat, whether or not to smoke, how much to exercise – all play a dramatic role in your overall health. So take charge, dine on fruits and vegetables, take a run and kick that nicotine habit for good. Each of these little decisions will benefit your health and your budget.

* Be decisive with your deductible. Your insurance deductible is a fixed cost and one you’ll pay every single year before receiving network coverage support. But once it's paid, you’ll enjoy the full coverage of your plan. Thus, if you have another treatment or procedure coming up, don’t put it off any longer than you have to. Undergoing additional procedures in the same year means you get more coverage while paying only one deductible. Many health plans also cover preventive services in full, without going against a deductible.

* Be smart about where you go for care. While health care facilities across the country are all capable of delivering compassionate, quality care, they are not all priced the same. According to a Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Health of America Report, 29.8 percent of emergency room visits were for conditions that could have been treated in retail clinics. The same research also found consumers saved money on out-of-pocket costs by visiting retail clinics for routine services when compared to doctor’s offices, and the visits were much more inexpensive than receiving the same treatment in the emergency room, according to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

* Ask questions. Your provider may know best, but it's all about your health. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, not only about the procedure itself, but about the price of the procedure and if there is anything you can do to reduce the expense. Sometimes there may be something you can do on your own that supports your health and lessens your costs at the same time.

* Embrace an HSA. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) provide a cost-effective way for people who don’t use a lot of health care services, to access care and pay for services up until they reach their deductible. Plus the money you save in your HSA can be used to pay for co-insurance payments or co-pays at your doctor’s office, and it's also an eligible tax write off, opening the door to further savings. There are ways you can manage your health care spending. Follow the tips above and be an active participant in your role as a health care consumer and you'll be surprised at how much you save. To learn more about the The Health of America Report, visit www.bcbs.com/healthofamerica.



Simple ideas to get in shape for summer

4/10/2017

(BPT) - Getting in shape for summer is more than just feeling good in a swimsuit. It's being healthy so you can participate in all the fun activities that come along with the warmer weather.

From hiking to swimming, you don't want to miss out on any of the summer fun. Eating right is a great way to ensure you’re healthy and in shape for summer. Use these easy healthy-eating tips to work your way toward healthier living.

1) Eat a high-protein breakfast
A Tel Aviv University study found that adding whey protein to your breakfast can help you slim down. What's more, you'll feel satisfied for longer. Record-setting long distance runner Jordan Hasay eats the same whey-protein-powered breakfast before each of her races. Try out the recipe for yourself: French vanilla BiPro, cinnamon oatmeal, fresh fruit, peanut butter and flax seed.

2) Give your workout routine a jolt
A growing body of research shows that having caffeine before exercise can improve athletic performance, whether you’re lifting weights or doing an endurance workout. A study in the journal "Nutrients" found that cyclists who consumed caffeine were able to pedal for an average of 23 percent longer than other bikers. Another study, from the "European Journal of Sport Science," indicated that pre-workout caffeine can increase muscular force and power. More research from the "American Journal of Physiology" even shows that consuming caffeine before a workout can help accelerate fat loss!

3) Join a workout challenge
There are all kinds of great fitness challenges online, which offer nutritional tips and workout advice. One of the great things about a challenge is that it not only helps you learn more about nutrition and the gym, but it can also give you a concrete workout schedule. Check out the Summer Jumpstart Challenge at Info.BiProUSA.com/jumpstart.

4) Avoid late night snacking
One of the easiest ways to eat healthier is by cutting out unneeded snacks. If you watch TV at night, it’s pretty easy to grab a bag of chips or microwave a bag of popcorn to eat while sitting on the couch. Try to cut out these unnecessary calories. If you eat a protein-packed, healthy dinner then you shouldn’t feel the need to snack later.

5) Make your desserts healthier
Ok, if you absolutely can’t go without having a late night snack then at least make it as healthy as possible. The recipe below is great because it satisfies your sweet tooth and each serving is just 30 calories.

Frozen Strawberry Yogurt Pops

Ingredients

1 cup of chopped strawberries
1 cup of Greek yogurt
1/4 cup of strawberry BiPro whey protein isolate
1-2 tablespoons of orange juice

Directions

Place 1/2 cup of strawberries, yogurt, strawberry BiPro and orange juice in a blender and puree until smooth.

Divide remaining strawberries into desired molds. Pour pureed mixture over chopped fruit.

Insert sticks and freeze for at least 5 hours.



5 simple steps to be your best at any age

4/10/2017

(BPT) - They say you’re only as young as you feel, and if you're an older American, the ability to feel young a little while longer is always appealing. Having a youthful state of mind goes a long way toward accomplishing this goal, but you can’t ignore the importance of solid physical health.

To improve your physical and mental health and prove age is just a number, apply these five tips from Mayo Clinic today.

* Find the perfect interval. If you’ve never participated in high-intensity interval training before, here’s a compelling reason to start. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found high-intensity aerobic exercise actually reversed some cellular aspects of aging. The research also found that the exercise improved muscle proteins, enlarged muscles and increased energy levels.

* The benefit of brain games. A sharp mind is every bit as important as a healthy body, and exercising your brain can be a lot of fun. Spend time learning new things on the internet, enroll in a class for that craft you've always wanted to master, go out with friends or sit down and play a board game. All of these activities can greatly improve your mental health. For example, a Mayo Clinic study found playing games decreased a person's risk of mild cognitive impairment by 22 percent making this enjoyable activity healthy as well.

* Supplementing your health. Health supplements should never completely replace whole food offerings, but they may offer you real health value as well. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, supplements may be ideal for vegans and vegetarians or those who consume less than 1,600 calories per day. People with a condition affecting the way their body absorbs nutrients and those who have had surgery on their digestive tract should also speak with their doctor about supplements that may improve their overall health.

* The importance of sleep. A good night’s sleep offers health benefits at any age, but getting enough rest can be more difficult as you get older. To get a better night's sleep, review your medications with your doctor to see if anything is impacting your rest. You should also try to limit your daytime napping (just 10 to 20 minutes per day is best) and avoid alcohol, caffeine or even water within a couple hours before bedtime.

* Focus on your sexual health. This topic may not be as widely discussed as your physical or mental health, but it is no less important. Men should talk to their doctors about their lessening testosterone levels, which drop about 1 percent per year after age 30. Women may experience a similar drop in estrogen levels as well and should consult their doctor for treatment options. Don’t be shy about discussing sexual health issues with your doctor, from STDs to annual checkups, having a thorough understanding of your current sexual health — and what you need to do to protect or improve it — will benefit every other part of your life.

With aging comes new challenges and the need to be more vigilant in maintaining your overall well-being. By incorporating some of the tips above from the experts at Mayo Clinic, you'll make sure the best years of your life are still to come. You can learn more about improving your health at any age through the advice offered in Mayo Clinic on Healthy Aging, or visit http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle for more healthy lifestyle ideas.



The rising burden of Alzheimer's disease on health costs, caregiver health and 65+ population

4/8/2017

(BPT) - Kristen Beatty’s 78-year-old father, Ray, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about 10 years ago. Since then, he has developed a sense of paranoia, insomnia and the delusion that people are stealing from him. Though Beatty and her brother constantly reassure their father to allay his fears, the daily struggle can take its toll. Beatty’s mother, Sue, had previously cared for Ray for about five years. In 2012, Sue died unexpectedly of a heart attack, or as Beatty puts it, she died of a broken heart.

“She was exhausted from the constant care and the pressure that came with it,” Beatty said. “She was eating super healthy, walking every day and taking very good care of herself, so I truly believe it was the stress. My brother and I feel guilty because we could have supported her better, but she wouldn’t ask for help. She wouldn’t consider moving him to a facility or going to support groups.”

The stress and the pressure Beatty’s mother faced is not unlike the experiences of millions of other Alzheimer’s caregivers around the nation, who primarily care for people with the disease because of their desire to keep their family member at home, their proximity to the person with dementia or their perceived obligation — all pressures that can lead to harsh consequences for caregivers.

For example, more than one in three caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias report their health has gotten worse due to care responsibilities, compared with one out of five caregivers for older people without dementia. And depression and anxiety are more common among dementia caregivers than among people providing care for individuals with certain other conditions.

These findings are part of the Alzheimer’s Association "2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report," released recently. The report analyzes new research about cost, prevalence, incidence, caregiving, and mortality and morbidity. The report found a dramatic surge in deaths from Alzheimer’s — the only cause of death among the top 10 in America that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. Meanwhile, deaths from other major causes are decreasing. Between 2000 and 2014, deaths from heart disease decreased 14 percent, but deaths from Alzheimer’s increased 89 percent.

Another finding was the growing cost burden of Alzheimer’s. For the first time ever, it now costs over a quarter of a trillion dollars ($259 billion) annually to care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias in the United States — $56 billion of which is coming right from individuals’ pockets. According to the report, out-of-pocket costs for people affected by Alzheimer’s are startlingly high, despite support from Medicare and Medicaid. In fact, annual per-person payments for seniors with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are almost five times higher ($10,315) than those for seniors without these conditions ($2,232).

According to Beth Kallmyer, vice president of constituent services for the Alzheimer’s Association, providing ongoing support for the estimated 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s will need to remain a national policy priority moving forward, as the population at risk for Alzheimer’s is projected to nearly double from 48 million to 88 million by 2050.

“As the number of people with Alzheimer’s continues to grow, so does the impact and cost of providing care to our health system and the millions of unpaid caregivers,” Kallmyer said. “While we’ve seen increases in federal research funding and access to critical care planning and support services, there’s still an urgent need to expand options and support for family-centered and community care and to fund more research that can bring us closer to effective treatment options and, ultimately, a cure.”

To read the full Facts and Figures report, visit www.alz.org/facts. For comprehensive information, support and resources on Alzheimer’s caregiving, visit www.alz.org/care/overview.asp.



Living with an autoimmune disease? Recognize that your voice matters

4/6/2017

(BPT) - If you are living with an autoimmune disease, you have most likely spent several years working with your doctor to find the right medication to manage your symptoms. Now that you've found a biologic treatment that works for you, what if at your next appointment, your doctor asks you to switch to a new medication? Would you speak up and share your concerns?

With biosimilars now available in the marketplace, you may be told you have to switch from an innovator biologic to a biosimilar - even though you may be stable and doing well on your current therapy. Biosimilars are not generic versions of biologics. Biologics - prescription medications made in living cells - are more complex than other medicines, such as aspirin; they are more difficult to make, and cannot be copied exactly.

If you are stable on your biologic, it is very likely that you have undergone a long journey. You may have tried several other medications - often over the period of many years - before achieving control of your symptoms with your current therapy.

It is important as a person living with an autoimmune disease to recognize that you have a voice in the matter. You have rights, and you can speak up to ensure the decision to switch medications remains one that is made by your physician, in consultation with you.

Finely Tuned is a new educational resource that features the stories of six individuals living with autoimmune diseases and their journeys to find the right therapy. Through these empowering stories, people who are stable on their biologic can gather tips for engaging in a conversation with their doctors about why they want to stay on their current therapy.

These videos, along with a guide for discussing this topic with your physician, can be found on FinelyTuned.com. If you or someone you love is living with an autoimmune disease, please visit www.finelytuned.com today to learn more about why your voice counts, and why it is so important in this matter.



Get safer drinking water

4/5/2017

(BPT) - Your home plumbing could be making you sick and costing you money. Hard water, which contains high levels of calcium and magnesium, may be directly contributing to the buildup of dangerous bacteria in your household pipes. This is a serious problem across the United States, especially when you consider that nearly 90 percent of American homes have hard water.

Left untreated, the water you use to wash your fresh fruits and vegetables may actually contain more bacteria, and the problem isn't only in the kitchen. When you take a hot shower the steam you are inhaling can also contain the same microbial contamination that is in the rest of your plumbing, exposing you to bacteria such as Legionella, which can cause Legionnaire's disease.

Normally, the piping used in home plumbing, whether it is copper or PVC, has very smooth interior surfaces that don't permit bacteria to settle and grow. However, hard water results in scale formation on the interior surfaces of those pipes and that provides a perfect home for bacteria.

Researchers at the School of Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University found bacteria may grow in pipes filled with both hard scale and soft scale at the same rate. This is important new information because some forms of water conditioning produce this soft scale.

The only solution is to remove both hard and soft scale in the pipes with a traditional salt-based water softener. These work by running the incoming hard water through a resin filter that traps the calcium and magnesium in the water - as well as iron, manganese or radium ions - and replaces them with sodium ions.

A salt-based water softener doesn't just help protect your health, it protects your appliances, as well. Hard water scaling clogs waterlines and plumbing, forcing appliances to work harder and operate less efficiently. Hard water can reduce the efficiency of water heaters and increase electricity costs by as much as 48 percent, according to the Battelle Memorial Institute. Hard water also damages appliances like water heaters, dishwashers, shower heads and faucets. These must be repaired and replaced more often as a result.

Kitchens also benefit from soft water because it is up to 12 times more effective at cleaning dishes than increasing the amount of detergent used. Researchers found that for clothes washing machines, the most important factor in removing stains from clothing was water softness. Reduction of water hardness was up to 100 times more effective at stain removal than increasing the detergent dose or washing with hotter water. In fact, soft water can reduce soap use by as much as half.

To determine if you have hard water, look for spots and scale buildup on fixtures. You can also test your water yourself to check for hardness with home water testing kits or you can have a water treatment professional do the testing. For more information on water softening and salt health please visit www.saltinstitute.org.



World-renowned athlete scores big against Crohn's disease

4/5/2017

(BPT) - For world-renowned soccer player Brandi Chastain, having a game plan in place to achieve goals was second nature. Chastain is a former member of the United States women's national soccer team and a retired professional soccer player who was recently elected to the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame. When Chastain’s now 10-year-old son was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease, she had to tackle a different type of plan. Chastain has partnered with AbbVie on My IBD Game Plan, a program designed to help people living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, the two most common forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), create a plan to help manage everyday life with these diseases.

The program encourages people living with IBD, and their caregivers, to proactively work with their doctors and support team to take control and manage the symptoms of these diseases. Program resources can be found at CrohnsandColitis.com.

“Being on a team is something that has always been very important to me, and when my son was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, I found myself on a new team,” said Chastain. "There are 1.6 million Americans who live with IBD daily, and CrohnsandColitis.com is a great resource for them to be able to find information, to ask questions and to talk to their doctor about an appropriate treatment plan."

As many as 70,000 new cases of IBD are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can be serious diseases that can get worse over time, with symptoms that may change in severity or change over the course of one’s life and it is important to talk to a doctor about any change in symptoms and appropriate treatment options.

People living with IBD usually go through periods of remission, meaning few or no symptoms, alternating with periods of more active disease symptoms. Common symptoms of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis include diarrhea, abdominal pain or cramping and rectal bleeding. There is no cure for Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, but there are treatments available that directly address the causes of the symptoms and can help achieve and maintain remission.

“The symptoms of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can not only pose physical challenges but also emotional and social ones that can really interfere with everyday life,” said Eva Szigethy, Ph.D., M.D., M.S., an associate professor of Psychiatry, Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “There are tips on CrohnsandColitis.com, such as how to build confidence, manage social situations, tackle stress and find motivation, that individuals and their loved ones can put in place. Along with an individualized treatment plan, these tips and tools may help them gain control and better manage the challenges of IBD.”

In addition to information on how to build their own IBD Game Plan with their healthcare provider, CrohnsandColitis.com also features tools and information to help manage the physical, emotional and social challenges of IBD. It also features a Restroom Request Card that people living with IBD can use to discreetly request access to restricted restrooms when unexpected symptoms arise.

Please visit https://www.crohnsandcolitis.com/ for more information.



Cover your nutrition bases with this popular vegetable

4/5/2017

(BPT) - Whether you're on or off the field, it's important to fuel up wisely. Leading sports nutritionists across the country recommend potatoes as the go-to choice for fueling your body before or after a workout.

"To perform at your best, put potatoes on your plate," says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, CSSD, the nutritionist for the 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. That's because the benefits of America's most popular vegetable go far beyond its delicious taste and versatility in the kitchen.

Up to bat and gearing up for a grand slam? Here's how potatoes can get you there.

First Base: Carbohydrate

Did you know that carbohydrate is the primary fuel for your brain and a key source of energy for muscles? Because your body's own stores of carbohydrate are limited and may be depleted even in a single session of intense and/or prolonged exercise it's important to replenish them for optimal mental and physical performance. With a medium (5.3 ounce) skin-on potato containing 26 grams of carbohydrate, potatoes are a nutrient-dense carb, containing as much, if not more, of several essential vitamins and minerals than spaghetti, brown rice or whole wheat bread (compared on a per-serving basis).

Second Base: Potassium

A medium (5.3 ounce) skin-on potato also contains 620 milligrams of potassium. That's more potassium than a banana! Potassium is an important electrolyte that aids in muscle, cardiovascular and nervous system function. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines mention potassium as an under-consumed nutrient of concern and recommends consuming foods with high levels of potassium, such as white potatoes.

Third Base: Energy

As we know, adequate energy supports optimal body functions, and it's critical to take in the appropriate number of calories to match the demands of your day. Potatoes are more energy-packed than any other popular vegetable, with a medium (5.3 ounce) skin-on potato containing 110 calories.

Home Run!

Whether you lead an active lifestyle or compete with elite athletes, there's an all-star potato option to fuel your body and brain throughout the day. Katie Cavuto, MS, RD, chef and dietitian for the Philadelphia Flyers and Phillies, keeps her potato dishes interesting with recipes like Smoky Maple Potato Bites, combining a crunchy panko crust with a creamy and satisfying potato center to create an easy make-ahead, post-workout (or in between inning) snack.

Smoky Maple Potato Bites

Created Exclusively for Potatoes USA by Katie Cavuto, MS, RD

Yield: 16 servings (2 bites per serving)

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds russet potatoes, washed and cut into 2-inch cubes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt, plus extra as needed

3/4 cup diced leeks, white part only (one medium leek)

1/2 cup low-fat plain strained yogurt

1 1/2 tablespoons mild smoked paprika

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

3 tablespoons real maple syrup

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 large eggs, divided

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, plus extra as needed

1 1/2 cups panko (regular or gluten-free)

Olive oil cooking spray

DIRECTIONS

1. Add potatoes to a large pot of water and bring them to a boil. Cook uncovered at medium-high heat for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain the potatoes and place them in a large bowl.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, leeks and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring regularly, to soften. Place the cooked leeks in the bowl with the potatoes.

3. Add the yogurt, paprika, oregano, maple syrup, mustard, 1 egg, the pepper, and remaining salt to the bowl with the potatoes and leeks. Mash the potatoes, stirring periodically, until smooth.

4. Place the potato mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

6. Crack the remaining 2 eggs in a small bowl and whisk.

7. Add the panko to another small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

8. Make 2-tablespoon portions of the potato mixture and roll them into balls.

9. Working one at a time, dip the balls into the eggs, then dredge in the panko, pressing it to coat.

10. Place the balls on a baking sheet coating with olive oil cooking spray. Spray the tops of the balls with cooking spray as well.

11. Bake for 15 minutes and then, if needed, broil them for 2 to 3 minutes to brown. Serve immediately.

Per serving (2 bites): Calories: 136, Fat: 3 g, Cholesterol: 35 mg, Sodium: 273 mg, Carbohydrates: 23 g, Fiber: 2 g, Potassium: 386 mg, Protein: 5 g, Vitamin C: 9%



4 ways to become an empowered patient

4/3/2017

(BPT) - While the future of health care is still undetermined, one thing is certain: It's important for consumers to take steps to educate themselves about their health and well-being and become active participants in their plan of care. However, it can feel overwhelming to a patient to make complicated decisions that can impact their health (and finances) in the short and long term.

Rather than relying on health care providers or insurance companies, patients can take ownership of their own health care management. AAAHC, which works with health care providers to optimize patient safety and quality of care, offers four tips to help you become a more confident, empowered patient:

1. Make the Most of Your (Face) Time

With the advancement of health care technology and digital requirements, many doctors find themselves spending more of their time in front of a computer screen, with one study revealing doctors can spend less than one-third of their time with patients.

Health care professionals are, however, transitioning towards a more patient-centered approach to care that focuses on enhancing the holistic experience and needs of each patient. To make each interaction more meaningful, health care providers should discuss your medical history, lifestyle choices and other behaviors to get a better idea of how to tailor recommendations and treatments that support overall wellness.

“Remember to always be open and honest with your doctor, and come with a list of questions,” said Mona Sweeney, RN, of AAAHC Accreditation Services. “Having a list prepared helps you stay focused on getting the information you want, and taking notes will keep new information organized for reference later. If you’ve received a diagnosis that leads to a discussion of treatment options, it also can be helpful to have someone with you as a second set of ears. It’s hard to remember all you’ve been told if you’re under stress.”

2. Know Your Risks, Options and Personal Data

Many patients do not realize it is the health care provider’s responsibility to disclose important details of any treatment plan — including potential benefits, risks and alternative options — and confirm patient understanding prior to moving forward with care. This ensures patients can ask questions and make informed decisions. Remember, you are the driver of your care.

“Because patient-centered health care providers want patients to play a bigger role in their health and wellness, many are providing access to information and opening up new channels of communication,” said Sweeney. “These resources help patients develop stronger relationships with providers and have a better understanding of their care.”

Ask about access to wearable health trackers, online patient portals, telemedicine channels and social media apps to learn what is available from your provider.

3. Go Through the Dollars and Cents

Once you are familiar with the medicine side, you can tackle the costs — which can be tricky. It is well within your rights as a patient to ask for your treatment costs upfront. This will allow you more time to review the price and ask questions before committing to any specific treatment or approach to care, or have a point of reference when reviewing the bill after treatment.

A survey from one payment and claims company, Navicure, found 75 percent of health care providers offer cost estimates upon request, but less than 25 percent of patients request them.

4. Make Your Voice Heard

Helping patients become more engaged in their health care will benefit patients and providers. Health care organizations seek feedback from patients to learn how to enhance the patient experience — which in turn will help them improve the quality of care they deliver.

“Most providers have some formal means of asking for feedback via a survey or customer service portal. Most negative patient experience issues are not the result of poor care, but of poor communications. Be authentic when providing feedback; it’s the only way a health care team can know where they need to improve,” said Sweeney.

For more information on standards for safety and quality that your health care provider must follow in order to earn accreditation, visit www.aaahc.org.



New rotator cuff procedure helps tendons heal

4/3/2017

(BPT) - The rotator cuff is one of the most important parts of the shoulder, as it consists of muscles and tendons that hold the shoulder in place and allow the body to lift the arm and reach for items. Unfortunately, rotator cuff injuries are the most common source of shoulder pain and disability, affecting more than 4 million Americans annually, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. A rotator cuff injury can greatly reduce quality of life, as it makes daily activities painful and difficult to do.

Those who suffer from rotator cuff disease often avoid surgery to repair the tear because they hear about painful, lengthy postoperative rehabilitation and time away from work. In addition, traditional procedures have focused only on biomechanical repair of the tendon without addressing the underlying biology, which can result in tears progressing and re-tears in the rotator cuff tendon after an initial repair.

A new technology is now available that helps tendons heal by stimulating the growth of new tendon tissue. The Rotation Medical Bioinductive Implant, which is about the size of a postage stamp, is inserted through a small incision during a short, minimally invasive procedure. Surgical staples hold the implant in place until fibers and tendons of the rotator cuff grow into the implant. The first-of-its-kind implant can provide a range of potential benefits, including shorter rehabilitation, faster recovery, prevention or slowing of disease progression, healing of partial-thickness tears, and decreased risk of developing a subsequent tear.

For people like Starr Boykin, a company executive of Mobile, Alabama, the implant can be life changing. Boykin, who is also involved in competitive fishing tournaments, was recovering from rotator cuff surgery in her right shoulder when, in physical therapy, her left shoulder began to hurt from what turned out to be another rotator cuff tear. Despite multiple surgeries on her left shoulder, pain persisted for over a year.

"My doctor told me there was nothing else they could do, that I needed reverse shoulder replacement," Boykin says. "Being a professional fisherwoman and having already undergone serious shoulder surgeries, this really upset me. I got a second and then a third opinion, and the two other doctors told me the exact same thing.”

After hearing about a physician in Florida who was using the Rotation Medical Bioinductive Implant, Boykin met with Dr. Christopher O’Grady at the Andrews Institute, who evaluated her case and told her shoulder replacement surgery was not her only option.

“Starr was a great candidate for the Bioinductive Implant because her injury wasn’t a technical problem, it was a biology problem,” Dr. O’Grady says. “The implant didn’t just temporarily repair her rotator cuff, it completely healed the injury and gave her the ability to achieve functional range of motion more quickly than a traditional, more invasive surgical treatment.”

Despite several previous failed rotator cuff surgeries, Boykin is making a full recovery and is back to competitive fishing.

“After the surgery I felt an immediate difference,” Boykin says. “After six months, I was back to fishing in tournaments and paddling in my kayak. I’m so grateful for the Rotation Medical technology, which gave me full use of my arm and shoulder and has given me my life back."

For more information about the Rotation Medical Bioinductive Implant or to find a surgeon near you, www.rotationmedical.com. For important safety information, visit http://rotationmedical.com/our-solution/risks/.



5 tips to support your eye health

3/29/2017

(BPT) - Health is a hot topic for many Americans these days, as evident by the named diets, wearable fitness trackers and apps for every possible health measurable. Yet as people show an increased focus on their weight, their cholesterol level or their muscle tone, they often forget that two of their most important organs — their eyes — need to be supported as well.

Fortunately, it's easy to include support for your eye health into your overall fitness plan. If you're looking to protect your eyes during national Workplace Eye Health Month and every month afterward, follow these five tips.

* Understand your family’s history of eye health and other conditions. There is evidence that many people inherit common eye conditions including nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Research also shows that more serious conditions including glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration appear to be inherited in some cases. Talk to your family members about any conditions they may have related to their eye health. While these symptoms may not apply to you, this information can help you know what to look for and any potential risks to discuss with your doctor.

* Get the eye health support and treatment you need. Like the rest of your body, your eyes need regular check-ups and insurance can help you meet those costs. One in four people have vision insurance coverage through VSP, with individual or family vision plans that provide affordable access to high-quality eye care and eye wear, typically saving you hundreds of dollars on eye exams and glasses.

* Eat a healthy diet. A well-balanced diet is important not only for managing your cholesterol and weight but for supporting your eye health as well. Leafy vegetables, nuts, eggs, beans, pork and citrus fruits include essential eye health nutrients like lutein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins C and E, and zinc. All of these nutrients have been proven to protect against vision problems like cataracts and macular degeneration.

* Schedule regular visits with your eye doctor. Just as you schedule regular wellness visits with your primary care doctor, you should do the same with your eye doctor. An annual trip to the optometrist ensures you can see your best, and can even lead to early detection of chronic diseases, like diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

* Shield your eyes from the effects of digital devices. Prolonged exposure to blue light, emitted by digital devices, can lead to digital eye strain. The symptoms of this condition include blurred vision, dry eyes, headaches and neck pain. Ask your doctor about the best options to reduce eye strain, including lenses with coatings that reflect and absorb blue light.

Focusing on improving your health is a great idea at any time and any age — just make sure your initiative targets your total body health, including your eyes. To learn more about how VSP Individual Vision Plans can provide you with the vision care you need to support your eye health, visit vspdirect.com today.



Are you more than tired? 5 symptoms you shouldn't ignore

3/29/2017

(BPT) - Do you fight to stay awake during the day? Is exhaustion part of your everyday life? If the urge to sleep is overwhelming and irresistible, it may be a sleep disorder called narcolepsy, a condition affecting approximately one in 2,000 people in the U.S. Narcolepsy is one of the most frequently diagnosed primary sleep disorders. However, it’s not always easy to recognize.

“There are five major symptoms of narcolepsy. Many of them can be confused with other medical conditions such as depression or epilepsy, making a narcolepsy diagnosis somewhat tricky,” says Dr. Raj Dasgupta, pulmonary and sleep specialist at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. “Approximately half of the people affected by narcolepsy remain undiagnosed. A diagnosis can take up to 10 years to receive. We need greater awareness of narcolepsy to help expedite the diagnosis process for patients.”

Everyone with narcolepsy has excessive daytime sleepiness. That’s when you feel tired all the time, making it hard to stay awake and alert throughout the day. It can be described as feeling fatigued or irritable, having difficulty concentrating, poor memory, or mood changes. Patients say it comes in waves, like a “sleep attack.” These can happen during unusual situations, such as in the middle of a meal, a conversation or bike ride.

There are five major symptoms, but you don’t need to experience them all to have narcolepsy.

1. Excessive daytime sleepiness: As discussed above, this is when you have an irresistible urge to sleep during the day.

2. Cataplexy: The weakening of muscles when you feel strong emotions like embarrassment, laughter, surprise, or anger. Cataplexy can cause your head to drop, your face to droop, your jaw to weaken, or make your knees give way.

3. Sleep disruption: When you often fall asleep quickly but wake up frequently throughout the night.

4. Sleep paralysis: Feeling unable to move or speak for a short time when falling asleep or waking up. You may also feel like you can’t breathe.

5. Vivid dreaming: Often frightening dreamlike experiences that seem real and happen when falling asleep or waking up. You may experience hearing sounds or words when drifting to sleep or have unwanted visions. Sleep paralysis often accompanies these vivid dreams.

Narcolepsy occurs equally as often in men and women. The symptoms often start between the ages of 10 and 25, but it can take up to 12 years for narcolepsy to fully develop. Narcolepsy is a debilitating disease, as it can cause difficulties at work, negatively impact social interactions, lower self-esteem, and create challenges performing everyday tasks. Contrary to popular belief, people with narcolepsy do not spend more time sleeping than the average person.

“It’s normal to feel tired sometimes,” Dr. Dasgupta says. “But if the urge to fall asleep is interfering with your job or personal life, it might be time to talk to a sleep specialist.”

For more information about narcolepsy and to take the symptom screener, visit MoreThanTired.com.

This content is provided by Jazz Pharmaceuticals.



Fiber: What it is and why you need more of it in your diet

3/24/2017

(BPT) - Eat more fiber.

If your doctor didn’t give you this advice at your last checkup, she probably should have: 97 percent of Americans don’t get the recommended daily amount of dietary fiber they need to stay healthy. But what is fiber, and why is it good for you?

Dietary fiber, sometimes called “roughage,” is a plant-based carbohydrate found in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains such as rice and wheat. Our bodies have a difficult time digesting fiber, which is actually a good thing — as fiber passes through the body undigested, it does a lot of good along the way!

Fiber has many proven health benefits. It has been shown to improve heart health, lower cholesterol, control blood sugar, decrease the risk of stroke, help you feel fuller longer, prevent constipation and boost digestive health and your immune system.

Experts like the Food and Drug Administration recommend we consume about 28 grams of fiber each day — which, it turns out, is a lot of food. You’d have to eat about 94 baby carrots, 47 stalks of celery, or 15 slices of whole-wheat bread to get your daily dose of fiber from food alone!

To help people get the fiber they need, the FDA has approved seven ingredients that can be taken as supplements or added to food to boost the amount of dietary fiber they contain. One of those ingredients you may find on your food label is cellulose gel, or microcrystalline cellulose.

Cellulose gel is derived from cellulose, an essential component of fruits, vegetables and trees. In fact, cellulose is so important to plants in nature, it is the most abundant organic compound on Earth!

Cellulose gel offers the same great health benefits as the dietary fiber we find in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and can be found in foods such as yogurt, cereal bars and protein shakes. So when cellulose gel or microcrystalline cellulose appears on your food label, it means you’re getting the same plant fiber found in broccoli and apples — without having to eat a lot of broccoli and apples (and without the hassle of cooking and meal planning!).

To learn more about cellulose gel and other food ingredients that make our favorite foods better for us, visit www.foodsciencematters.com.



Is seaweed the next superfood?

3/22/2017

(BPT) - There’s a new superfood in town. And it’s not kale.

Seaweed may be a hot new food trend in the United States, but this leafy green from the sea has been used in Asian cuisine for thousands of years. Not only is seaweed low in calories and fat, it’s also packed with essential nutrients like vitamins A, B and C. Better yet? Research shows it’s a good source of antioxidants and calcium and can prevent and reduce inflammation.

You may know seaweed as a crunchy, salty snack or the wrap that holds together sushi rolls. What you may not know is that seaweed is an important food ingredient that improves the taste of foods, makes them better for us and benefits the environment.

For example, carrageenan, an ingredient naturally derived from red seaweed, makes our ice cream creamy, keeps chocolate milk from separating and is the reason the ground nuts in our nut milk don’t settle to the bottom of the carton. It can also be used instead of sodium in deli meats and to replace fats and sugar in other foods.

Some sweets, like puddings and gummy candies, get their unique texture from gelatin, an animal-based ingredient. But what about those who follow a vegetarian or kosher diet? Have no fear, seaweed is here! Plant-based carrageenan can be used in place of gelatin to make sure these tasty snacks are vegetarian, vegan, halal and kosher.

Another way seaweed improves the foods we eat every day? Alginates, also a seaweed-based ingredient, are added to baked goods, such as bread, and even your favorite energy bars to make them taste better and stay fresh for longer. Alginates are also used to make beer foamy and replace the fat in low-fat ice cream.

But seaweed doesn’t just benefit the foods we eat; it’s also good for the environment and the people who farm it.

Seaweed is one of the most sustainable and eco-friendly crops on the planet. It requires none of the fertilizers, pesticides or other chemicals that are used in land-based farming. And seaweed sequesters carbon and cleans ocean water of phosphorus and nitrogen. Some scientists and researchers believe seaweed might even be the biofuel of the future.

More than 75,000 farmers around the world rely on seaweed farming to support their families. Before they started farming carrageenan seaweed, many coastal communities lived at or below the poverty level. With the income they earn harvesting carrageenan seaweed, these farmers are able to improve their homes, enhance their diets and send their children to school. And in some countries, seaweed harvesting provides a way out of poverty for women who do not have access to other jobs.

Seaweed isn’t just a healthy snack or ingredient that makes our favorite foods better tasting and better for us. It’s revolutionizing dinner plates and economies around the world, restoring our oceans and improving lives.

For more information about the benefits of seaweed, including how it is used in foods we love, visit www.foodsciencematters.com.



Additives or gifts from nature?

3/22/2017

(BPT) - Food labels are getting shorter. Why? Because the people have spoken: We want fewer, better ingredients in our foods. We asked, and the companies that make our food responded by replacing artificial colors and flavors with naturally derived ingredients.

But even though these shorter “clean” labels can still read like a technical manual, that doesn’t mean these ingredients aren’t good for you.

For instance, if you’re not familiar with cholecalciferol, it might sound a little scary. But cholecalciferol is just another name for vitamin D. You might not have heard of rickets, either; that’s because this once-common childhood disease became nearly obsolete when vitamin D was added to milk. (In addition to preventing rickets, vitamin D also helps our bodies absorb the calcium in milk.)

Another ingredient with a somewhat strange name is carrageenan. This seaweed-based ingredient makes some of our favorite foods more nutritious. It replaces the sodium in lunch meat and can take the place of fats, oils and sugar, which is why that nonfat yogurt you had for lunch tastes just as good as the full-fat option.

Microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) might look like a mouthful, but MCC — also called cellulose gel — is just cellulose derived from fruits, vegetables and trees. Cellulose, which is the most common organic compound on earth, is one of only seven FDA-approved sources of fiber. So when microcrystalline cellulose or cellulose gel appears on a food label, it means your food contains the same plant fiber found in broccoli and apples.

Other ingredients that might not ring a bell? Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family that has been used as a medicine and spice in India for thousands of years. Modern science has shown it is also a powerful antioxidant that settles upset stomachs and may lower cholesterol and prevent heart attacks, all while brightening your food with its deep yellow color.

Some of the unfamiliar ingredients on your food label might be found in your own backyard. Pectin, for example, comes from the peels of lemons or other citrus fruits and is commonly used to thicken jams and jellies.

Understanding what goes into our food is important. Rather than turn down a product with ingredients you don’t recognize, do a little research on the label. You might come to find those intimidating-sounding “additives” are actually delicious gifts from nature.

To learn more about what’s in your food, visit foodsciencematters.com.



Cooking essentials: A peek inside a professional chef's kitchen

3/22/2017

(BPT) - From spices and oils to gadgets and gizmos, it seems like there are always new, trendy items that you should add to your kitchen. Trying to separate the handy from the hype, however, can be a time-consuming and expensive process.

Professional chefs know not everything is worthy of space in their kitchens, but it's not always easy for home cooks to figure out what they need and what they don't.

That's why Devin Alexander, New York Times Bestselling Author and professional chef, gives a peek inside her kitchen. Find out what’s really worth your while, as she shares the top items she uses, as well as recommends to her clients to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Chef Alexander's top kitchen must-have's include:

Reusable oil sprayer: An oil sprayer allows you to cook with fats in a healthful and efficient way. You can fill the sprayer with your choice of oil - from olive to canola to whatever suits your current taste preference and cooking needs.

Kitchen scale: You don’t have to weigh everything, but a countertop scale is a handy tool that can help you sustain your healthy eating goals. It's great for measuring portions of lean meats, seafood and cheeses, so you can stay in check while whipping up recipes or prepping snacks.

Truvia Nectar:My favorite liquid sweetener is blended with stevia leaf extract and honey, and has 50 percent fewer calories than sugar,” says Alexander. “It’s twice as sweet so you only need half as much when you’re adding it to tea or drizzling it on yogurt. I also love to use Truvia Nectar in salad dressings, marinades and cocktails.” Learn more at www.truvia.com/nectar.

Oatmeal: Oatmeal isn’t just a morning food, but a healthy way to add texture to recipes. Use it in meatballs and baked goods for a tasty, whole-grain boost.

Cinnamon: Cinnamon is an extremely versatile pantry essential. Sprinkle the spice here and there to liven up your favorite beverages and recipes without too many added calories.

Cocoa powder: “I’m a huge chocolate lover! Using 100 percent cocoa powder, which has minimal calories and some fiber to boot, is a great way to get your chocolate fix while staying fit,” Alexander says “You can add it to oatmeal and sauces, but the possibilities are endless.”

Instant coffee: Did you know instant coffee can be used for more than just your morning jump-start? It’s a quick and easy way to give your protein shakes a java-flavored makeover.

Stocking your home kitchen with the right items is essential for achieving your healthy eating goals.



Feel good about satisfying your sweet tooth

3/22/2017

(BPT) - With growing concerns about diabetes, obesity and dental health issues, many Americans are trying to limit their sugar intake and are turning to other types of sweeteners. But with so many alternatives out there, how do you know the choices you make to replace sugar are actually healthier options?

Customers may be wary of one particular non-sugar sweetener because of its complicated, chemical-sounding name. But erythritol is actually a naturally-derived, zero-calorie sweetener made from plant-based sugars that is not only a great alternative for taste and caloric reasons—it’s also proven to deliver oral health benefits and is easy to digest. That is why erythritol is starting to appear in everything from toothpaste and mouth rinse to gum and lollipops.

Erythritol: What the dentist ordered

Erythritol is often selected for products where dental health is key, such as toothpaste and sugar-free candy. A three-year clinical study by Cargill found that children who used erythritol products have less dental plaque, oral bacteria and tooth decay than those using two other common non-sugar sweeteners, xylitol and sorbitol.

The difference is even more dramatic when comparing the non-sugar alternatives with sucrose, or common table sugar. Why? Sucrose ferments in oral bacteria, leading to tooth decay, while erythritol does not ferment in oral bacteria.

Both erythritol-based toothpastes and candies are appearing in medical, pediatric and dental offices as doctors set them out as samples and refer patients to sugar-free sweets.

“Parents bring kids to their dentist hoping to reduce or eliminate dental decay,” said Dr. John Bruinsma, DDS, founder of Dr. John’s Candies and creator of THRIVE(TM) nutritional lollipops, the first line of natural, sugar-free lollipops that incorporate erythritol. “While parents could just say ‘No more sugar, period,’ that is awfully hard for kids to do. Erythritol-based options let kids enjoy sweet treats, without the negative side effects."

Dr. Bruinsma also has many patients, from children to adults, who complain of dry mouth. He finds erythritol can provide a solution.

“Many people turn to sugar candies when they have dry mouth—yet using sugar-based candies is like putting gasoline on fire, as both dry mouth and sugar are leading causes of tooth decay,” said Bruinsma. “Instead, erythritol-based candies stimulate salivary flow and help reduce dry mouth symptoms, without promoting dental decay."

An option for cancer patients

Avoiding sugar is important for everyone, but especially for those battling cancer. Dr. Bruinsma and the MaxLove Project have joined together to provide erythritol-based lollipops to children in cancer treatment.

“We have found that THRIVE lollipops work within the dietary guidelines of most pediatric cancer patients,” says Bruinsma. “Perhaps just as important, the sweets bring a moment of joy and smiles to these kids as they experience one of the simple pleasures of childhood—a lollipop.”

When it comes to sugar alternatives, erythritol is a powerful option that proves pronounceability isn’t as important as performance. Whether you want to satisfy a sweet tooth, address tooth decay, reduce sugar consumption or calories, relieve dry mouth or just brighten someone’s day, you can feel better about reaching for a product sweetened with erythritol.



7 reasons why millennials love gardening (and you should, too)

3/21/2017

(BPT) - The stereotype: Millennials spend more time interacting with the digital world than the natural world around them. The reality: Five million of the 6 million people who took up gardening in 2015 were millennials, according to the 2016 National Gardening Survey.

More millennials (people between the ages of 21 and 34) than any other age group are falling in love with gardening. As a hobby, gardening is a great fit for the millennial mindset and lifestyle that emphasize individuality, independence and value. However, the advantages of gardening that attract millennials are also relevant to every age group, and anyone who wants to begin growing a nutritious, healthful food garden.

Here are seven reasons why more millennials than ever are taking up food gardening, and why you should, too:

1. Gardening fosters better nutrition.

Millennials care about good nutrition and knowing where their food comes from. Multiple studies show members of the generation are health conscious, and understand the relationship between the food they eat, good nutrition and good health. Millennials know fresh vegetables deliver great nutrition, and millennial gardeners know that growing their own veggies and herbs also means they can put more nutritious food on the table. With transplant purveyors like Bonnie Plants offering more than 250 varieties of popular, heirloom, hybrid, new and tried-and- true vegetables and herbs, it’s easy to grow a garden full of healthy, nutritious, economical veggies and herbs.

2. You can save money in the grocery store.

Millennials are into saving money. Eighty percent have a budget, 72 percent are saving for retirement and 51 percent have an emergency fund, according to a TD Ameritrade survey. Gardening can allow you to spend less in the grocery store produce aisle — and that kind of saving savvy appeals to millennials as well as any other age group!

3. Gardening is good for the environment.

Awareness of environmental issues and a desire for healthful products that contribute to ecological balance are hallmarks of the millennial generation. A Nielsen study found millennials care about environmental issues and find ways to personally support a healthy environment. When you grow your own vegetables and herbs, "food miles," the distance a food item is transported from producer to consumer, shrinks substantially and includes only the distance from your kitchen to your own backyard. Choose plants in biodegradable containers, like those from Bonnie Plants, and gardening is even more environmentally friendly.

4. You can grow a garden anywhere.

While many millennials are city dwellers, others live in suburbs. The fact that they can garden anywhere — on a city balcony, urban patio or suburban backyard — makes gardening the perfect hobby for them. Using transplants from Bonnie Plants, all gardeners can create a backyard garden plot, a vertical garden in an alleyway between city buildings, or a container garden on a balcony or deck.

5. The garden is a great place to come together as a family.

It’s true that millennials make the most use of digital devices of any generation; they also value deep family relationships. Planting a garden with their children, significant others or friends allows everyone to spend enriching time together, working toward an enjoyable, shared goal.

6. Gardening can be a challenge anyone can achieve.

Working toward a goal, and having a vision, are very important qualities for millennials. Gardening takes time and effort but with the right resources and information, it’s something virtually anyone can succeed at. Millennials turn to online resources, like Bonnie Plants’ vegetable and herb growing guides, gardening how-to’s, videos and recipes to help them achieve and ensure success.

7. Gardening can be an adventure.

Sixty-four percent of millennials say they love to cook, and 75 percent enjoy eating cuisine from other cultures, according to a survey by Barkley. For a generation of adventurous eaters and cooks, gardening can be an opportunity to grow and try new things, from edible flowers and exotic herbs, to new types of vegetables, all the while saving money by growing their own.

With millennials now dominating the workforce, and many starting families and reaching their peak earning years, it’s likely their interest in gardening will continue to grow.



Pittsburgh woman builds strong support network to help with challenges of multiple sclerosis

3/20/2017

(BPT) - When Judy Metzler was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 54, she was in shock – she felt too young to have a chronic disease. Judy wanted to learn more about it, but didn’t know where to turn. That’s where her husband, Jeff, stepped in.

"Without Jeff, I wouldn’t have made it through those first few days and weeks,” says Judy. “He was there to keep me positive and help me research the disease.”

With her husband’s support, Judy was able to come to terms with her diagnosis, gaining confidence along the way.

MS affects about 400,000 people in the United States, often impacting people in the prime of their lives. Symptoms can range from numbness in the limbs to fatigue, pain and loss of vision.

The Importance of Support Partners

“For people living with MS, support partners play a key role in helping their loved ones build resilience, which helps them feel better about themselves,” says Tricia Pagnotta, a nurse practitioner and member of the International Organization of Multiple Sclerosis Nurses (IOMSN).

As Judy became more accepting of her new way of life, she began opening up to others for assistance. Her sister, Susie, has helped drive her to appointments and activities, like ballroom dancing classes for people with MS.

A few years after Judy learned she had MS, her cousin, Kim, was also diagnosed with the condition. Judy then made every effort to be a support partner to Kim.

“I understood how important it was to have someone there to help me overcome the initial shock of diagnosis, and I wanted her to feel that same level of support,” says Judy.

Today, Judy and her cousin share a deeper relationship than ever before – as support partners and women living with MS. It’s this unique bond that allows them to inspire each other through the ups and downs of living with a chronic disease.

Beyond building connections with others, Judy seeks out online resources to stay informed about MS. She recently discovered AboveMS.com, which provides tools, tips and inspiration from people living with MS and other expert contributors. The site features insights on topics ranging from diet and exercise, to work, travel and emotional health. Judy also volunteers with MSWorld, the largest all-patient-run MS organization worldwide, and participates in a monthly MS support group.

Throughout Judy’s experience, she has learned to find support from a number of places.

“I’m so grateful for family, friends and those I’ve met in the MS community for their constant patience, assistance and inspiration,” says Judy. “Having these people by my side – through the good and the bad – keeps me motivated, and I cannot thank them enough.”

While Judy has grown her support network, she continues to lean on her husband for his ongoing help and strength.

“It’s been thirteen years since my diagnosis, and he continues to be a true support partner to me,” says Judy. “Through the challenges of life with MS, he finds ways for us to continue to do the things we love.”

For insights from a range of people affected by MS, as well as additional educational resources, visit AboveMS.com.

Please talk to your doctor as a primary source for MS medical information.

This article is sponsored by Biogen.

2017 Biogen. All rights reserved.



3 steps to feel youthful and healthy no matter your age

3/20/2017

(BPT) - What will your life be like when you turn 100? A century ago that question would seem like a needless consideration, but today it's very real, as the percentage of people living to 100 has grown almost 66 percent in the last 30 years, according to U.S. News and World Report.

The MDVIP Health and Longevity Survey reveals that more than half of Baby Boomers and Generation Xers want to live past the age of 90. More than a quarter want to live beyond 100. The majority from both generations also believe advances in science and technology are going to keep more people alive past the age of 100.

However, these findings come at a time when the life expectancy of Americans has declined for the first time in two decades, and one in two adults is living with at least one chronic disease.

"To reach their longevity goals, Americans can no longer afford to put their health on the back burner," says Dr. Andrea Klemes, chief medical officer at MDVIP. "Most people don't wait until they're 60 to start saving for retirement. The same should go for their health, where making small investments today can pay big dividends many years down the road."

The key to greater longevity is prioritizing your health now — when you’re well — to prevent problems later on. You can start today by asking three questions:

What's your number?

When’s the last time you had your blood pressure or cholesterol levels checked?

Maintain a current record of your vitals and lab results along with your family history. Make sure you discuss these details with your doctor, who can help identify your risk for certain conditions and suggest lifestyle changes based on the results.

What's up, doc?

Going to the doctor is an essential component of maintaining good health, but choosing the right doctor directly affects the benefit of each visit. Surprisingly, the survey revealed that one out of three Gen Xers avoid going to the doctor out of fear of finding something wrong.

In the current healthcare environment, an appointment with a doctor is usually scheduled weeks in advance, and after a long wait in the waiting room, patients often feel rushed through the visit. Patients deserve better and you should shop around for a doctor whose goal is to build a relationship and keep you well.

What's the plan?

Whether your goal is to lose 10 pounds or to lower your blood pressure, you need a plan to get you there. “I tell my patients to think of it as a business plan for their health,” says Dr. Steven Wilson, an MDVIP-affiliated family practitioner in Redlands, California. “First determine your health goals and make them the focus of your attention. Discuss your goals with your doctor who can help you formulate a health plan for the next year and beyond.”

Once you have your plan established, it's up to you to execute it. Many people don't stick with a plan because it's hard to stay disciplined and easy to fall back into old habits. So don't be afraid to consult your doctor along the way. Your doctor is your partner in your health journey, and working together could give you a better chance at seeing exactly what your life will be like when you reach 100.

To learn more about MDVIP's national network of over 900 primary care physicians who focus on prevention and personalized healthcare, visit MDVIP.com.



Is hidden salt hurting your health? Five tips for taking control

3/20/2017

(BPT) - A typical soup and sandwich lunch can seem like a healthy meal. However, the bread, cold cuts and soup can be packed with something that can have a negative impact on your overall wellness: salt.

“Even meals that seem healthy, like a turkey sandwich with a side of cottage cheese, can have high levels of salt. It may not even taste salty," says John Meigs, Jr., MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Meigs says one of the biggest mistakes people make is to assume if they aren't adding salt with a salt shaker, their sodium levels are under control. The truth: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates Americans get 77 percent of their salt from processed foods and restaurant meals, compared to 6 percent from the salt shaker at the table and 5 percent added during home cooking.

According to the CDC, the top 10 foods that contribute to a significant amount of the salt Americans consume are:

1. Breads and rolls
2. Cold cuts and cured meat (e.g., deli or packaged ham or turkey)
3. Pizza
4. Fresh and processed poultry
5. Soups
6. Sandwiches such as cheeseburgers
7. Cheese
8. Pasta dishes (not including macaroni and cheese)
9. Meat-mixed dishes such as meatloaf and tomato sauce
10. Snacks such as chips, pretzels and popcorn

Some salt is necessary for the body to function properly, but too much can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. The CDC says most people should limit total salt intake to 2,300 milligrams a day or less.

"There are 2,300 milligrams of sodium — the chemical name for salt — in a single teaspoon of table salt," Meigs notes. "It's a real challenge to reduce salt intake, even for people who are highly motivated to do so."

Meigs offers some easy strategies to lower hidden salt intake and take control of your nutrition:

Know your numbers

Talk with a doctor about your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, family health history and ways to prevent health problems before they start. Visit familydoctor.org to learn more.

Read nutrition labels

It takes mere seconds to read nutrition labels to see which items are high in sodium. Sometimes this information is even printed on the front of the package.

Keep in mind, different brands of the same foods often contain varying levels of salt. For example, a slice of white bread can range anywhere from 80 to 230 milligrams of salt. Salt levels in a can of chicken noodle soup can range from 100 to 900 milligrams per serving.

Be a smart diner

Dining out can still be a healthy treat with a little proactive effort. If nutrition information isn’t included on the menu, do some homework in advance by visiting the restaurant’s website. You may be surprised to find that items billed as “light or healthy fare” are often high in salt.

Opt for whole foods

Whether eating out or dining in, filling your plate with whole foods — items in their natural state or close to it — will help you lower your sodium levels. Non-processed fresh foods that are high in fiber are ideal, for example, fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meat and whole grains.

Prepare food at home

It's easier to regulate salt consumption by preparing meals at home. Not only can you select healthy ingredients and pack your plate with whole foods, you can control the salt you add to dishes by manipulating recipes and including flavor-enhancing alternatives like fresh herbs.



Reorganize your kitchen to encourage healthy eating habits, nutritionist says

3/17/2017

(BPT) - More than half of Americans say they can judge how healthy a family’s lifestyle is by the contents of their refrigerator, and more than a quarter admit that they would eat healthier if they were better organized, according to a new national survey. They’re right to associate the state of their refrigerators with the healthfulness of their eating habits, says celebrity nutritionist and healthy cooking expert Keri Glassman.

“Practicing ‘mindful eating’ can be hindered by a disorganized refrigerator and a cluttered kitchen,” says Glassman. “When you’re preparing and eating meals in an organized environment, you’re more likely to pay attention to what you’re eating and whether it really does nourish your body and mind.”

And while Glassman says refrigerator organization is a first step in leading a healthier life, it’s sometimes easier said than done. In fact, independent consumer research of 1,000 adults, commissioned by kitchen appliance manufacturer LG Electronics shows that more than one-third of American families say fruits and vegetables are the hardest things to keep organized in the fridge.

Glassman offers tips to get more organized in the kitchen for a healthier 2017:

Take control of your refrigerator

“Keeping healthy items in your refrigerator front and center can actually affect the nutrition value of what you’re preparing for your family,” Glassman says. “Today’s refrigerators are making this easier with advanced organization features, like fridges with the new LG InstaView feature that makes it simple to organize your food in a way that puts the most healthful choices in easy view and reach.”

This feature, now available in more than a dozen models in a variety of sizes, styles, finishes and prices, has a tinted glass panel on the right door that illuminates with two quick knocks to allow users to see what’s inside without opening the door. “And when you see healthy choices right in front of you, you’re more likely to choose those first,” notes Glassman.

Additionally, transferring packaged- or bulk-foods into clear glass containers can help keep the fridge looking fresh, and keep your foods fresher longer – which in turn, allows the enticing colors of fresh fruits and veggies to draw your attention.

“A clean fridge with colorful fruits and veggies is key to healthy eating,” Glassman says. “My favorite weekend mornings are spent on color quests at the farmer’s market gathering at least seven different colored fruits and veggies. Not only does the fridge look gorgeous, it inspires fresh cooking and will improve your eating habits!”

Declutter your kitchen

Kitchen counters often become the repository for lots of clutter, from kitchen electronics and small appliances, to car keys and the mail. The clutter takes away valuable cooking space and can affect how healthfully you eat.

“Keep a clear counter,” Glassman says. “Designate an area for keys and mail that is away from your cooking space. Don’t keep unhealthy snacks sitting out on the counter, where their high visibility will make them even more tempting.”

After a meal, and especially after dinner, clear plates and clean up in the kitchen right away. Leaving chores for later will only draw you back into the kitchen, where you might be tempted to snack even though you’ve already satisfied your body’s nutritional needs. In fact, Glassman says, consider adopting a closed-kitchen policy after dinnertime. Close the door to the room, if you have one, and if your home has an open floor plan, avoid making unnecessary trips to the kitchen.

“Organize your pantry and fridge with the motto, if you see it, you’ll use it,” Glassman says. “Rearrange so the healthiest choices are most visible, and the less healthy ones aren’t in easy sight.”



How stories from the community help shed light on an incurable cancer

3/17/2017

(BPT) - Imagine sitting in a doctor’s office and being told you have an incurable form of blood cancer that you’ve never even heard of. A disease that sometimes has no symptoms and no known cause. A type of cancer that leads patients to go through ongoing cycles of relapse and remission before succumbing to disease.

Imagine the shock. The feeling of helplessness. The fear.

This situation is not uncommon for people diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow.

Multiple myeloma is becoming more prevalent in the U.S. due to an increase in diagnoses. However, a survey of 746 multiple myeloma patients showed that 83 percent had no prior knowledge of the disease at diagnosis.

This lack of awareness can contribute to delayed diagnoses, which are associated with a significant impact on the clinical course of the disease.

A new platform to raise awareness

In an effort to help address this lack of awareness, last year Amgen, one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies, announced the launch of Blood Counts(TM), a national effort to shed light on multiple myeloma through the sharing of stories.

As part of the campaign, Amgen is working with StoryCorps, a national non-profit that’s mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories, to record first-hand accounts from the multiple myeloma community.

Kitty Smith, a 74-year-old multiple myeloma patient from the San Diego area, recently reconnected with her former oncologist, Dr. Paul Cheng, for the first time in two years as part of a Blood Counts interview.

“It’s great seeing you Kitty,” said Dr. Cheng during their conversation. “I haven’t seen you for probably almost two years now and you look great. You know, I miss a lot of my patients, but especially you.”

Dr. Cheng treated Smith following her multiple myeloma diagnosis and the pair quickly became close friends.

“When I met you, there was just something that absolutely clicked,” Smith said. “I love your sense of humor. I love that when I’m with you I can laugh about cancer and make fun of it.”

When Dr. Cheng left his practice, he found another oncologist to continue Smith's care.

“Although I found you a great doctor to replace me,” Dr. Cheng told Smith, “I still felt like, whether it was justified or not, that somehow I’d let you down by leaving.”

“I didn’t feel that way,” Smith replied. “The other patients too. We still talk about you and we still all miss you!”

By sharing real-life emotional accounts, like Smith’s and Dr. Cheng’s, Blood Counts aims to shed light on what multiple myeloma patients, physicians and caregivers deal with on a day-to-day basis.

How you can help

There are several other ways the public can help raise awareness of multiple myeloma, including:

* Sharing an article or video about the disease with your followers on social media (consider using a popular multiple myeloma hashtag, like #MMaware).

* Participating in a local run/walk dedicated to multiple myeloma awareness.

* Visiting advocacy group websites, including the International Myeloma Foundation and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, to see how else to get involved.

For more information on Blood Counts and to sign-up to participate in an interview, visit www.BloodCounts.com. Select interviews, including Smith’s and Dr. Cheng’s, will be posted online in 2017.

USA-171-045351



For Patient Safety Awareness Week, know if you're at risk for respiratory compromise

3/15/2017

(BPT) - For 15 years, the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) has led Patient Safety Awareness Week. NPSF is a nonprofit organization whose vision is to create a world where patients and those who care for them are free from harm. Held annually in March, Patient Safety Awareness Week is a time dedicated to help raise awareness about patient safety among health care professionals and the public.

In recognition of Patient Safety Awareness Week, it is important that people understand the risks associated with the second leading avoidable patient safety issue — respiratory compromise. Respiratory compromise is a progressive condition impacting a patient’s ability to breathe. If left untreated while a patient recovers from surgery in a hospital or during an outpatient procedure using anesthesia, it can lead to respiratory failure, and even death.

“Patient Safety Awareness Week is an important opportunity for patients and their families to learn more about respiratory compromise, which is a serious patient safety issue,” said Phil Porte, Executive Director, Respiratory Compromise Institute. “If you are undergoing a medical or surgical procedure, speak with your health care provider about this preventable condition. Ask them about your risks for respiratory compromise and how it can be prevented.”

Risk factors for respiratory compromise include: obstructive sleep apnea, age, obesity and chronic pulmonary disease, among others. Respiratory compromise is often avoidable, despite being a serious health issue.

By using appropriate therapies and monitoring technologies to evaluate a patient’s respiratory status, health care professionals can detect respiratory compromise and treat patients earlier. One such technology, capnography, can help detect compromise in its earliest stages.

Visit www.respiratorycompromise.org to learn more about respiratory compromise.



After years of ER visits and overlooked symptoms, a rare cancer diagnosis emerges

3/13/2017

(BPT) - Giovanna was a successful composer and pianist playing alongside some of the biggest names in the music industry when she experienced bouts of abdominal pain so intense she made repeated visits to the emergency room (ER). Over the next several years, Giovanna found herself in the ER at least six times, always with the same pain. She wanted answers.

“The doctors thought it was stress, or irritable bowel syndrome, and when they couldn’t find a cause for the pain, they said, ‘you’re fine, it’s just one of those things’ – and I wanted to believe them, so I did,” says Giovanna.

But after six years of these inexplicable episodes, a physician finally ordered an abdominal scan, and it became clear that Giovanna wasn’t fine. Giovanna had cancer.

“It was a relief to finally have a diagnosis, and then it hit me that it’s cancer,” Giovanna recalls. “As I began to learn about my cancer — a neuroendocrine tumor (NET) — I realized that to survive, I had to let go of my preconceived notions of what I thought cancer was.”

Confusing and debilitating symptoms

Neuroendocrine tumors develop in cells that make hormones, which control a variety of functions, and can develop in the gastrointestinal tract, including the stomach, pancreas, intestines, colon and rectum. Approximately 12,000 people are diagnosed with NETs each year, according to the Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation.

Although slow-growing, NETs are usually discovered after metastasizing, or spreading, to other organs like the liver and begin altering hormone production, which triggers a rare disease called carcinoid syndrome.

While carcinoid syndrome affects everyone differently, it redefines the meaning of “normal” for each person. Uncontrolled, disruptive symptoms such as urgency to go to the bathroom and extreme, painful, cramping affects patients’ ability to live their everyday lives. Social settings can also be difficult and restrictive for patients given the discomfort and embarrassment associated with symptoms of carcinoid syndrome.

Giovanna says the condition can be life-altering and she is one of the few who only experienced intermittent abdominal pain. “I’ve talked to many NET patients who say the symptoms of carcinoid syndrome are so unbearable they are treating the syndrome as much as the cancer,” she says.

But, many people with carcinoid syndrome have frequent and debilitating diarrhea, facial flushing, fatigue and, over time, heart valve damage.

Living with NETs and carcinoid syndrome

There is currently no cure for NETs, but therapies used to treat other types of cancers can help shrink or slow tumor growth, which can also help reduce carcinoid syndrome symptoms.

The number of NETs diagnosed has been increasing for many years, according to the American Cancer Society. However, there are only a handful of centers in the United States that specialize in treating NETs and carcinoid syndrome. Even when carcinoid syndrome has been diagnosed, living with the condition can still be difficult.

“Be an advocate for yourself. If you aren’t getting the information you need, ask for it, or find someone who can help you ask for it,” advises Giovanna.

To cope with her diagnosis, Giovanna started a Los Angeles-based support network called LACNETS, which is dedicated to helping others understand their diagnosis, review treatment options and provide a place where people can share their hopes and fears. LACNETS is EARS: Education, Awareness, Resources and Support. While the group is based in Los Angeles, LACNETS offers resources for NET patients across the United States.

Giovanna has also found comfort and inspiration by focusing her composing on healing music to help others.

“This type of cancer is a long haul. You have to settle in for a marathon,” she says. “For me, composing and performing music is healing, empowering and re-energizing, and I want to share that experience.”

NET and carcinoid syndrome treatment is complex, but new treatment options are available. Talk to your doctor to find out more. Visit www.aboutcarcinoid.com for more information about carcinoid syndrome and to view results from the Carcinoid Impact Survey. To learn more about LACNETS, visit www.lacnets.org. To hear Giovanna’s original music, visit https://soundcloud.com/giovanna-joyce-imbesi/sets/short-stories.



Breakthrough technology offers numerous benefits to people with hearing loss

3/13/2017

(BPT) - The latest breakthrough in hearing aids is not what you'd expect.

In an industry dedicated to helping people hear better, some hearing aid manufacturers have developed technology that helps people live better, too. Lithium-ion batteries - a rechargeable technology that has been used for years in cell phones and laptops - is now available to the 48 million Americans who have some degree of hearing loss.

"Today's hearing aid wearers want technology that keeps up with their active lifestyle," says Elizabeth Thompson, AuD director of business development at Phonak, maker of the first lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aid. "They're tired of purchasing and fumbling with tiny batteries every few days and then worrying about the last time they changed them."

According to Thompson, benefits to lithium-ion technology include:

1. Confidence

Running out of battery juice at the wrong time is a nightmare scenario for traditional hearing aid wearers. Lithium-ion technology helps increase wearer confidence so they can focus on living life instead of worrying about the last time they changed batteries.

2. Predictability

Hearing aid wearers want the predictability in knowing their hearing aids will last all day on a single charge. According to a recent study, it takes only three hours to complete one full charge that lasts 24 hours. If the wearer is short on time and can only charge their hearing aids for one hour, the lithium-ion batteries will last 12 hours.

3. Increased durability

People can also enjoy life to the fullest because the hearing aids are now more durable. The rechargeable hearing aids have an IP-68 rating, meaning they are dust and water resistant. The sealed battery door makes the hearing aid more resistant to the elements because there is no opening for water and dust to seep in and get lodged inside the hearing aid. This allows hearing aid users to go about their daily lives without worrying that their hearing aids won't withstand weather conditions, including humidity and rain.

4. Peace of mind

Lithium-ion technology is a remarkable advancement for the hearing industry because it allows hearing aid users to have their hearing aids correlate with their modern lifestyle, and the freedom to live without the worry of disposable batteries. Rechargeable hearing aids also allow connectivity to a user's favorite electronic devices. They can stream cell phone calls, music and audio from the TV, giving users hearing aids that fit in with their lifestyle.

5. Convenience

In addition to providing predictability when it comes to battery length, rechargeable hearing aids are easy to handle and there are no hassles with disposable batteries. For those with dexterity problems, inserting a small battery into the hearing aid can be a challenging chore. Plugging a cord into the wall is an easier, more effective solution. Charging the hearing aids is as simple and convenient as charging a phone, laptop or any other device that is used daily.

6. Eco-friendly

According to Phonak evidence, a hearing aid user uses about 100 batteries per year. Rechargeable hearing aids reduce the number of disposable batteries harming the environment, eliminate the cost of having to buy batteries and erase the chance of a small child or pet accidentally eating a disposable battery. Not only do rechargeable hearing aids change the life of the user, but they also have an impact on the user's surrounding environment.



Maintaining healthy weight helps protect kidneys

3/13/2017

(BPT) - There are countless reasons to maintain a healthy weight — and you can add protecting your kidneys to the list. If you have kidney disease or are at risk for it, maintaining a healthy weight is even more important.

“Being overweight significantly increases your risk for developing high blood pressure and diabetes, and both can damage your kidneys,” said Lauren Gleason, senior director of nutrition services for Fresenius Kidney Care, a long-standing leader in kidney care, with more than 2,200 dialysis clinics around the country caring for nearly 200,000 people with kidney disease. “There are a number of manageable things you can do to get healthier and decrease your risk.”

Eat right, exercise more — we all know the drill. The good news is that putting the drill into action doesn’t have to be difficult. Losing just 5 percent of your body weight — even if you’re still overweight — can reduce your blood pressure and thus your risk for diabetes and kidney disease. Fresenius Kidney Care has some easy, real-world suggestions for getting and staying healthy.

The skinny on weight loss: Here’s how to move in the right direction.

* Choose the best exercise — To lose weight, strength training is the way to go. More muscle will increase your metabolism and burn more calories even when you’re not exercising. Strength training includes lifting weights, using resistance bands and doing exercises that use your own body weight, such as lunges or leg lifts. Strength training combined with heart-healthy cardio makes for a great all-around workout.

Enjoying healthy food: Eating healthy can be satisfying and delicious.

* Focus on good fats — Fat tastes good and is an important part of your diet. The key is choosing healthy fats. Cook vegetables with olive and canola oil to bring out the flavor and make foods more satisfying. Rather than snacking on cookies, grab a handful of almonds. Cold-water fish, such as salmon, are high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

* Eat the right carbs, and in moderation — You don’t need to avoid carbohydrates. Eat them in moderation and focus on complex carbs. Choose brown rice over white rice. Opt for starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes instead of a dinner roll. Simple carbs, such as those in white bread, make your blood sugar spike and are more likely to turn into fat.

* Consult a dietitian — A registered dietitian can help you choose foods and plan meals that are satisfying, delicious and filling, as well as healthy.

* Pass on salt — If you have kidney disease, steer clear of foods that are hard for your kidneys to handle, including citrus fruits (and their juice) and bananas. Take a pass on the salt shaker as well. Fresenius Kidney Care offers some tips for tossing the salt.

Use a little psychology: Some simple psychological tricks can keep you on the right path.

* Plan your food placement — When you unload the groceries, be thoughtful about where you store them. Keep the fruit bowl stocked and store healthy foods at eye level in the pantry and fridge so you’re more likely to reach for them when you’re hungry. Hide less healthy food on lower or higher shelves in non-see-through containers so you won’t be tempted.

* Use smaller plates — Set the table with salad plates instead of dinner plates. Because smaller plates hold less food, you’ll likely eat less.

* Do shopping cart math — Head to the produce section first and fill at least half your shopping cart with fresh, unprocessed foods.

* Drink from a tall glass — If you have kidney disease, too much water is hard on your kidneys. Drink water from a tall, skinny glass and you’ll actually drink less than you think you’re drinking, and feel more satisfied.

Because you may have unique needs, be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program. Learn more about kidney disease and healthy eating by visiting www.freseniuskidneycare.com.



Preparing for surgery? These tips could save your life

3/13/2017

(BPT) - If surgery is in your future, it’s never too early to prepare. Whether you’re having an outpatient procedure or a major operation involving a hospital stay, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) encourages you to take simple steps to be ready for the big day, starting with talking with your physician anesthesiologist, a vital member of your care team.

No one understands this more than 18-year-old Hunter Jones, who was diagnosed with a rare case of colon cancer and is grateful her physician anesthesiologist, Mary Herman, M.D., Ph.D., called off her initial cancer surgery. During the preoperative evaluation with Dr. Herman, Hunter mentioned a tingly feeling and numbness in her legs after her previous anesthesia experiences, including not being able to walk for a few days. Her symptoms sounded alarm bells for Dr. Herman, and she sent Hunter for additional tests, which revealed a brain tumor. If Hunter had proceeded with the anesthesia and colon cancer surgery, she might have been permanently paralyzed.

“Hunter’s experience illustrates just how important it is to talk to your physician anesthesiologist before a procedure to fully discuss your health, even something you might not think is relevant,” said Jeffrey Plagenhoef, M.D., ASA president. “This discussion is critical to patient safety and determining when patients are ready for a procedure.”

During Patient Safety Awareness Week, ASA offers the following steps to take before surgery to ensure the safest outcome:

Find out who will provide the anesthesia – Be sure your anesthesia care is led by a physician anesthesiologist. You may ask, “What does a physician anesthesiologist do?” A physician anesthesiologist is a medical doctor who specializes in anesthesia, pain and critical care medicine and works with your surgeon and other physicians to develop and administer your anesthesia care plan. Physician anesthesiologists have 12 to 14 years of medical education and 12,000 to 16,000 hours of clinical training to ensure safe, high-quality care.

Talk with your physician anesthesiologist – As Hunter can attest, open communication is vital to ensuring the safest care. Your physician anesthesiologist will create a care plan for you, but you must provide detailed information. When you talk with your physician anesthesiologist before the procedure, be sure to discuss:

* Your health and medications – Provide your physician anesthesiologist details about your health, including how active you are, if you snore, and whether you have chronic health issues such as heart or lung problems, liver or kidney disease, allergies or any other medical conditions. Bring your full list of medications to the meeting, and don’t forget to include your vitamins and supplements. You may need to stop taking some of them temporarily because they may react with the anesthesia.

* Your use of recreational or illicit drugs – The use of recreational or illicit drugs such as alcohol, marijuana, narcotics, and stimulants, among others, should be discussed with your physician anesthesiologist. These substances can have a significant impact on your reaction to medications used to provide anesthesia and can affect the amount of anesthetic and pain medications you may require, not to mention the negative effects of these substances on your body.

* Your experience with anesthesia – If you’ve had a bad reaction with anesthesia, pain medication or anesthesia side effects in the past (or a family member has), it’s important to tell your physician anesthesiologist.

* Your fears – Let your physician anesthesiologist know if you’re afraid of surgery or anesthesia. He or she can give you information to help you feel better.

* Your questions – Write down your questions and bring them with you when you meet your physician anesthesiologist to be sure everything you’d like to know is discussed.

* Your recovery – The physician anesthesiologist continues to care for you after surgery, so ask how any pain will be managed. Ask about any concerns you have regarding recovery, returning home and getting back to your normal routine.

Now attending college, Hunter runs Hope for Hunter, a fund she created that donates Chemo Cozy jackets to children and young adults undergoing cancer treatment. She is thankful she told her physician anesthesiologist about her previous anesthesia experiences.

“It’s very rare that I postpone a surgery, because our entire medical team works together with our patients to ensure we've carefully reviewed their history, physical exam and made sure they are optimized before surgery,” said Dr. Herman. “Hunter’s case was the best anesthetic I never gave.”

For more information, download ASA’s Preparing for Surgery: An Anesthesia Checklist. To learn more about the critical role physician anesthesiologists play before, during and after surgery, visit www.asahq.org/WhenSecondsCount.



Obstructive sleep apnea and respiratory compromise: Know your risk

3/13/2017

(BPT) - Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) — a potentially serious sleep disorder that can stop a person’s breathing during sleep — affects 25 million adults in the U.S. Individuals living with OSA may know they are at risk for high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, diabetes or headaches. What they may not know is that OSA is also a risk factor for respiratory compromise, a potentially fatal condition.

Respiratory compromise is the second leading avoidable patient safety issue and can occur during hospitalization when a patient is recovering from a surgery or during an outpatient procedure using anesthesia. Although relatively unknown, respiratory compromise can cause an individual’s breathing to weaken, potentially leading to respiratory failure and even death. OSA is just one of several conditions that increase a person’s risk for respiratory compromise; age, obesity and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are other risk factors.

Although respiratory compromise is a serious health issue, it is frequently preventable. By using appropriate therapies and patient monitoring technologies to evaluate a patient’s respiratory status, healthcare professionals can detect respiratory compromise and treat patients earlier.

“OSA sufferers must understand that their condition not only impacts their sleep and overall health. They need to be aware that it may increase their risk for respiratory compromise. Signs of respiratory compromise include apneas or stop-breathing episodes and changes in consciousness and alertness, among others,” said Dr. Peter C. Gay, a sleep medicine specialist. “If you have OSA and need to undergo a medical or surgical procedure, speak with your healthcare provider about respiratory compromise. It can be detected early with appropriate respiratory monitoring technologies.”

To learn more about respiratory compromise, visit www.respiratorycompromise.org/.



Breathing Matters: The Importance of Understanding COPD

3/7/2017

(BPT) - Breathe in. Breathe out. Just take a moment to inhale and exhale. We too often take breathing for granted, but what if taking a breath was a challenge?

If you’re someone living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), the third leading cause of death in the United States (US), or know someone living with this chronic respiratory disease, breathing challenges may impact how you live your life. As of 2010, there were more than 14 million people identified as having COPD in the US, and another estimated 12 million people who remain undiagnosed.

In an effort to celebrate life and the important role that breathing plays within it, AstraZeneca has partnered with New York City-based filmmaker Erlendur Sveinsson to produce Ode to Breathing. Ode to Breathing is a documentary-style short film that strings together brief vignettes, providing a moving look at people doing an ordinary yet profound thing: breathing. It can be found online at www.odetobreathing.com.

People living with COPD or their caregivers can consider the following tips when thinking about respiratory health.

1. Keep an eye on symptom changes. Early COPD detection can impact disease management, which makes it important to monitor for changes in your breathing and recognize symptoms such as shortness of breath while performing daily activities, chronic cough, fatigue and wheezing.

2. Remember, COPD in many cases is preventable. Risk factors to be aware of may include smoking tobacco (including second-hand or passive exposure); indoor air pollution (such as solid fuel used for cooking and heating); outdoor air pollution; occupational dusts and chemicals (vapors, irritants and fumes); and frequent lower respiratory infections during childhood.

3. Stay inspired and educated. Visit Ode to Breathing at www.odetobreathing.com and watch the inspirational video and access available helpful resources for COPD patients. One such resource is a free e-book that may help people with respiratory illnesses breathe easier with breathing exercises, tips for making day-to-day activities like chores easier, and ways to manage breathing challenges while at work or traveling.

4. Don’t be afraid to speak with your doctor. If you think you or a loved one may be experiencing COPD symptoms, speak to a healthcare provider to determine what options are available to help you breathe easier to help you enjoy life’s simple moments.

3295106 Last Updated 2/17



Why skip breakfast? 5 warm comfort foods that cook in 3 minutes

3/13/2017

(BPT) - In spite of the well-documented drawbacks of not eating breakfast, approximately 30 percent of Americans are still failing to fuel themselves in the morning, according to WebMD. And many of those moving through their days with empty stomachs blame a lack of convenience.

Earlier this year, the Washington Post pointed to research showing millennials consider even breakfast cereal too inconvenient. And research cited in the Huffington Post indicates Americans 18 and older who miss their first daily meal most frequently blame lack of hunger or an overly busy schedule.

However, several studies point to adverse health and cognitive effects from missing breakfast. Consumer Reports indicates eating within two hours of waking promotes the metabolizing of your glucose or blood sugar all day, in turn boosting your energy. “Don’t skip breakfast,” advises researcher Dr. Leah E. Cahill of Harvard Medical School. "Incorporating many types of healthy foods into your breakfast is an easy way to ensure your meal provides adequate energy and a healthy balance of nutrients."

Experts recommend those in the habit of skipping breakfast instead optimize ultra-easy and ultra-convenient comfort food meals. Most recipes can be made ahead and stored in your fridge for mornings when you’re short of time and energy. They’re made even faster via the latest microwaves by Panasonic that optimize inverter technology for even cooking that works from the outside in.

Below are a few easy microwave recipes for busy mornings:

1. Toasty banana bread oatmeal: In a microwaveable mug, combine 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats, 1 egg, 1/2 cup milk, 1/3 smashed banana and a little flax seed, cinnamon and/or honey. Microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, stir and eat.

2. Savory French toast in a mug: Just cube a slice of white bread and soak it for 5 minutes (press it down) in a mug holding a whisked egg, 5 tablespoons milk, 3 tablespoons grated cheddar, 3 tablespoons cooked ham and salt and pepper. Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, then eat warm.

3. Warm apple muffin: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a microwaveable mug. Mix in a beaten egg, 3 tablespoons flour (almond or coconut works well), 1/8 teaspoon baking powder and a little maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Top with finely chopped apple and walnuts and butter. Microwave for a minute. Grab and go.

4. Tasty breakfast sandwich: Add to a mug 1 teaspoon melted butter, 1 tablespoon milk, an egg and some chopped onion, green pepper ham and hot sauce to taste. Microwave about 30 seconds, then scoop out and add to a toasted English muffin topped with a slice of your favorite cheese. Grab, then enjoy the savory goodness.

5. Roll-ups to go: Slather the inside of a 6 inch tortilla with peanut butter, jam, half a smashed banana and dried unsweetened coconut. Roll it up like a burrito, wrap it in a loose paper towel and microwave it for half a minute before appreciating how the flavors melt in your mouth.

Panasonic’s two Microwaves with Inverter Technology (NN-SD372S and NN-SN686S) optimize a patented technique that cooks food quickly and evenly every time to ensure a yummy breakfast on-the-go.



Get extra nutrition with these 5 food swaps

3/9/2017

(BPT) - Does it ever seem like a lot of healthy-eating advice is about “less,” “giving up” and “taking away?” Reducing fat and sodium intake, avoiding high-calorie foods and trimming portion sizes are commonly heard pieces of advice when you’re trying to lose weight or improve your diet. But health experts agree, good eating doesn’t just mean giving up bad habits, it’s also about adding foods with more nutritional value.

“Instead of focusing on what you shouldn’t eat, focus on making nutrition-packed swaps,” says registered dietitian and nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner. “A few easy swaps I tell my clients about include replacing white bread with whole grain, higher-fat protein sources with leaner ones, and upgrading your ordinary products like eggs or cereal with higher-nutrition varieties.”

Here are five better-for-you food swaps from Blatner that will jam-pack your diet with enhanced nutrition without making you feel like you’re giving anything up:

Instead of mayo

Try an avocado-based spread on your sandwiches and as a base for homemade dressings. A single tablespoon of mayonnaise has 90 calories, 10 grams of fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol and 90 milligrams of sodium, but zero potassium or fiber, according to the California Avocado Commission. In comparison, 2 tablespoons of fresh avocado have just 50 calories, 4.5 grams of (mostly good) fat, no cholesterol or sodium, and 150 milligrams of potassium and 2 grams of fiber.

Instead of any old egg

Try eggs with superior nutritional benefits. While all eggs are high in protein, Eggland’s Best eggs contain double the omega-3s and three times more vitamin B12 than ordinary eggs — both nutrients associated with heart health. Plus, they contain 25 percent less saturated fat, five times more vitamin D, and 10 times more vitamin E than ordinary eggs.

Instead of white rice

While carbohydrates are necessary to fuel your brain and muscles, many favorite sources are stripped of nutrition, such as white rice. Cauliflower can be an easy substitute for rice. This white veggie packs plenty of fiber, protein, potassium and vitamin C. To replace rice, simply pulse the cauliflower in a food processor for a few seconds until you achieve the desired consistency.

Instead of fried food

The crunch of fried food is alluring, but you can get that same crunch in a much healthier superfood way. Instead of coating chicken or fish with breading and plunging it into a bath of hot oil, use chopped nuts. Nuts contain healthy fat, protein, and fiber and when baked in a hot oven (about 400-425 degrees F), nut-coated protein is crunchy and delicious. Try nut-covered chicken fingers today!

Instead of ground beef

Americans love beef and eat about 25 billion pounds of it every year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But depending on the quality and cut you buy, beef can be high in fat and cholesterol. Lentils can be a high-nutrition protein source that can go virtually anywhere you use ground beef, including burgers, meatloaf and taco filling. Naturally low in calories and fat free, lentils provide fiber, protein and potassium.

Food swaps focused on increasing healthful nutrients, rather than decreasing what you don’t want, can be rewarding and delicious. Try this recipe from Eggland’s best to get started on your new “more-is-better” lifestyle.

Sweet Potato Bowl

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato

2 teaspoons olive oil, separated

salt and pepper

2 Eggland' Best Eggs (large), poached

1 cup ground sausage

1/2 cup salsa

1 avocado, diced

Directions

Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a medium pan over medium/high heat and brown the ground sausage.

While the sausage cooks, fill a large pot with a few inches of water and place over medium/high heat until it just starts to simmer.

Crack eggs individually into a ramekin or cup and create a gentle whirlpool in the water.

Slowly pour the eggs one by one into the water and leave to cook for three minutes.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.

While the eggs poach, spiralize the sweet potato using a spiralizer.

Heat the other teaspoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add in the sweet potato noodles and cook until they just begin to soften, about 5-7 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the cooked sweet potato noodles into a large bowl.

Drain the ground sausage and add to the sweet potato noodles.

Toss with 1/2 cup of the salsa.

Divide the noodles and sausage between two bowls, top each with diced avocado and a poached egg!



How does your hospital stack up for maternity care?

3/6/2017

(BPT) - As you get closer to your delivery date, many decisions lie ahead, all centered around care, maternity leave and even decorating the baby’s room. But one question may rise to the top: Where will you give birth?

If you are like most expectant mothers, you will be giving birth in a hospital. In spite of the rising popularity of home births, most moms choose hospitals to have their babies. The most recent statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that fewer than 2 percent of babies born in the U.S. are born in a home setting.

When you’re looking at where to give birth, expectant parents should consider the following while choosing a hospital, according to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA).

  1. Where does your doctor go?

The place to begin is with your doctor. Most women go to the hospital where their physician has admitting privileges. So when you choose your doctor, the hospital where your baby will be born is tied into that. Discuss your birth plan in detail with your physician and make sure you both are at an understanding. If you have specific preferences, ask your doctor if they can be accommodated. For example, if this is not your first child, and you want to try a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), have that discussion in detail with your physician. And while doctors are on call after office hours, it’s always a possibility that your doctor cannot attend your birth. Know who would take the place of your doctor if those circumstances arise.

  1. What’s the rate of C-section?

If you're proceeding along in a healthy pregnancy, you may be planning a vaginal delivery. But a cesarean section is something to be aware of because one third of U.S. births are delivered by C-section, according to the Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Health of America Report. It turns out that the city you live in can have a big impact on how you give birth. Some cities see rates as high as 50 percent, however, cities like Albuquerque, New Mexico, have rates as low as 22 percent. It’s important for patients to be aware of this because C-sections raise complications for both babies and mothers, and experts say these should be used only when medically necessary. In addition, vaginal births cost $4,000 less than surgical births.

  1. How does your hospital stack up?

The Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program evaluates hospitals on several quality measures, including the percentage of newborns that fall into the category of early elective delivery, an ongoing concern in the medical community. The program is meant to identify facilities that offer maternity care safely and affordably. The maternity programs also must offer family centered care, such as promotion of breastfeeding.

If you’re interested in a list of hospitals that deliver quality maternity care, visit bcbs.com/healthcare-partners/blue-distinction-for-providers/ and select “maternity care.”

  1. Which amenities are available at the hospital?

Not all hospitals are alike, so take time to review what it has to offer. Some maternity centers offer birthing tubs and fold-out couches. Knowing whether the hospital has a newborn intensive care unit may be a consideration, depending on the circumstances of your delivery and birth. If the hospital does not have a neonatal intensive care unit, ask your physician how these newborns are evaluated and transferred to other facilities. If you are interested in breastfeeding, ask if lactation consultants are available and how and when you can seek assistance.



10 tips to keep 'achoos' from interrupting your 'I do's'

3/6/2017

(BPT) - You want your wedding day to be memorable for all the right reasons. While selecting the color scheme and writing your vows, don't forget another important consideration: allergies.

The last thing you want is a series of "achoos" to interrupt your "I do's," or worse, send someone to the hospital. With these 10 tips from the experts at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, you can limit allergy concerns on your big day.

1. The sweet smell of love

Some guests may be sensitive to cologne or perfume, so, on a day with so many hugs, handshakes and slow dances, it's best to go easy. The allergic response is a reaction to odors created by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and can cause headaches, sneezing, watery eyes and runny noses.

2. Fido as best man?

If you’re planning to include your best pet pal in your wedding, make sure none of the bridal party is allergic. They'll be the ones closest to your pet during the ceremony, so you want to make sure they don't have an allergic reaction.

3. Avoid the flames

Your burning love may have brought you to the alter, but burning candles can be a problem. Scents from candles (especially a lot of them) can trigger asthma, so consider using LED candles at the reception instead. Bonus: they're safer, too!

4. Include your allergist in your planning

If the bride or groom suffers from allergies or asthma, it can be wise to meet with an allergist a few months prior to the wedding day. Visit the Find an Allergist locator at acaai.org to find a board-certified allergist near you to create a wedding plan with no hitches.

5. Got your dress? Now think about medications

If you have allergies, start your medications well before symptoms usually start. You don’t want to have a red nose, or be sneezing and wheezing during the ceremony. Also, be aware of side effects — including drowsiness — of some medications.

6. Create a safe menu

To find out about any severe food allergies among guests, add a line on your RSVP card or include a section on your wedding website so guests can give you this important information. The most common food allergens are eggs, milk, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy.

7. Plan for pollen

The warm-weather months are the most popular times to get married. If you want an outdoor wedding, be aware of when pollen counts are highest. In spring and summer, during tree and grass pollen season, levels are highest in the evening. In late summer and early fall, during ragweed pollen season, levels are highest in the morning.

8. Forget flower worries

There are many beautiful flower options with low allergy risk to use at your wedding. The key is to select varieties that produce little-to-no pollen. You can't go wrong with classic roses. Other allergy-friendly flowers include begonia, columbine, crocus, daffodil and geraniums.

9. Create self-care baskets

Consider creating baskets to place in bathrooms that are stocked with basics to combat allergies and other concerns. For example, you could include eye drops and tissue packs, plus some saline spray. Not very romantic, but handy!

10. No bees invited!

For outdoor weddings where stinging insects might be present, add tweezers, bandages and antiseptic ointment to your basket. If the bride or groom are allergic to stinging insects, an indoor wedding might be the best bet.

A little advance planning can make your wedding super romantic — and free of allergy and asthma symptoms.



Minimally invasive treatment reduces hunger hormone

3/6/2017

(BPT) -

More than one in three Americans — roughly 100 million people — are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Like so many of these individuals, Cheryl Denby struggled for years with countless diets that left her hungry, frustrated, and deeply discouraged when they failed. That changed in late 2015 when she underwent a minimally invasive treatment to reduce blood flow to the part of the stomach that creates the body’s most powerful hunger signals.

“Before I went through with this treatment, I weighed nearly 300 pounds and felt uncomfortable when around other people. It really limited what I wanted to do,” said Denby. “Now, more than one year later, I weigh close to 225 pounds, feel more confident with friends and when shopping for clothes, and can once again travel comfortably on an airplane.”

Her life was changed by bariatric arterial embolization (BAE), a new and minimally invasive treatment that targets the spot in the stomach that produces most of the body’s strongest hunger hormone, called ghrelin.

Denby is one of 20 people enrolled in a clinical trial, known as BEAT Obesity, taking place at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. The results are promising. One month after treatment, those who followed up had an excess weight loss of about 9 percent. Those who followed up after one year had an average excess weight loss of 12.6 percent. Excess weight loss is the amount lost beyond a person’s ideal body weight.

“The promising results that we are seeing in Cheryl and the other trial participants tell us that BAE is well tolerated, appears to be effective in the long term, and has the potential to touch many lives,” said Clifford Weiss, M.D., FSIR, the study’s lead researcher and associate professor of radiology and radiological science at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Weiss is presenting findings from their research at the Society of Interventional Radiology's 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting, taking place in Washington D.C.

Denby attributes much her weight loss to the fact she doesn’t feel nearly as hungry as she did before the treatment. Researchers believe this is because BAE reduces the production of ghrelin. Specifically, they found that ghrelin levels decreased by almost 9 percent one month after treatment and by 17 percent three months after.

A major benefit of BAE is that it is much less invasive than other obesity treatments. BAE is performed exclusively by interventional radiologists, who use image guidance and catheters to access specific blood vessels leading to this portion of the stomach through a small nick in the skin at either the groin or wrist. The doctor injects microscopic embolic spheres (or beads) to decrease blood flow to that portion of the stomach, thereby suppressing some of the body's hunger signals, leading to reduced appetite and weight loss. Because BAE does not require surgery, it has a short recovery period.

Trial participants were also enrolled in a weight management program that included visits with a registered dietitian and other health care professionals. Weiss believes that the combination of this program with BAE could be the key to weight loss and an improved quality of life. Weiss is also hopeful that, as the BEAT Obesity trial proceeds, it will continue to yield positive results that give new hope to countless people like Cheryl Denby.

To learn more about bariatric artery embolization and other minimally invasive treatments performed by interventional radiologists, visit www.sirweb.org.



Tips to get the most out of your HSA dollars

3/1/2017

(BPT) - Millions of Americans with high-deductible health insurance plans rely on health savings accounts to help them manage the costs of health care. If you’re among them, you know how important it is to maximize the value you get out of every HSA dollar.

If you don’t yet have an HSA, you may qualify for one if you receive health insurance through an employer-sponsored plan with a high deductible. Individuals may qualify if their deductible is at least $1,300, and families may qualify with a deductible of at least $2,600, according to the IRS. With an HSA, you can deposit pre-tax dollars into the account to pay for certain health and medical-related expenses — up to $3,400 for an individual and $6,750 for a family in 2017.

While there are approximately 17 million HSAs currently in use in the U.S., insurance industry watchers predict that number could rise significantly as the federal government again addresses health care reform, the Boston Globe reports.

You can maximize the value of your HSA in several ways, including:

* If you’re at risk for arterial or heart disease, you and your doctor may decide preventive screenings are in order. Screening proactively can help catch warning signs of trouble before a more serious problem develops. However, most insurers won’t pay for preventive screening for arterial health.

You can use your HSA dollars to schedule vascular health screening through Life Line Screening. You don’t need a doctor’s referral to schedule a simple, safe and painless ultrasound to detect possible plaque buildup in arteries — a leading factor in stroke and heart disease. Life Line Screening tells you the price of the screening up front and offers appointments in convenient locations throughout communities. Visit www.lifelinescreening.com to learn more and schedule an appointment.

* Keeping track of HSA-eligible expenses can be challenging, but budgeting software can help. Numerous free programs are available online. Most HSA providers also offer online access and digital tools to help you monitor your account, track saving and spending, and better understand the tax impact of your contributions.

* If your employer doesn’t provide vision insurance, you can use HSA funds to pay for eye exams, corrective lenses and even Lasik surgery. Studies show regular vision care is an essential component of overall health, and helps not only preserve your eyesight and eyes, but can also help detect other serious health problems.

* Only about half of American workers have dental insurance through their employers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For those who do have dental insurance, it typically does not cover all expenses. Yet dental health is intrinsic to overall health. You can use HSA money to pay for dental care, including exams, X-rays, braces, dentures, fillings and oral surgery.

* Smoking is one of the most damaging things you can do for your health, and your HSA dollars can help you kick the habit. Smoking cessation treatment is a qualified medical expense that can be paid for through health savings accounts. When you quit smoking, your body immediately begins to repair the damage caused by smoking, and you reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke and cancer, according to the American Lung Association.

"Smoking is associated with multiple chronic diseases, so quitting is one of the best things you can do for your overall health," says Dr. Andrew Manganaro, chief medical officer at Life Line Screening. To help people understand their personal risk, Life Line Screening offers a program called "6 For Life" that outlines an individual's risk for six chronic diseases and includes blood tests.

* Although controlling your weight is another important factor in overall health, few health plans will cover any kind of weight loss program. However, a doctor-prescribed weight loss program aimed at treating a specific disease such as obesity, high blood pressure or heart disease can be paid for with HSA money.

Your health savings account comes with many benefits and cost savings and tax breaks are just two of them. More importantly, when used wisely, your HSA can help you achieve better health.



Avoid bad breath with these 5 tips

3/1/2017

(BPT) - We all know the feeling. Starting off the day with fresh breath gives you the confidence to tackle your day. But that feeling starts to dissipate after our first meal, and the fresh feeling from brushing is slowly replaced with the fear of bad breath.

So, how can you maintain that deep clean feeling in your mouth throughout the day? We spoke with GSK Consumer Healthcare medical expert and dentist Dr. Jim DiMarino who shared a few handy tricks:

Get chewing

Bad breath is often caused by food particles and debris that get stuck in and around your teeth. “I recommend that my patients chew sugar-free gum after meals to promote saliva production and free bits of trapped food,” said DiMarino. Look for gum that contains xylitol, an ingredient that inhibits the growth of oral bacteria.

Tame your tummy

In some cases, bad breath can also arise from excess stomach acid. A good way to fight this is to start your morning off with an alkaline-rich green juice, made with ingredients like kale and spinach, which can ease a sour stomach. Follow up with a glass of water to balance the pH of your mouth to keep your teeth strong.

Floss on the go

“We all know about the importance of flossing,” said DiMarino. “When food and debris aren’t removed, they promote bacteria growth, causing the release of volatile sulfur compounds that lead to bad breath. Flossing doesn’t only have to happen at home; store single-use flossers at your desk at work or your car for use on the go.”

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

A dry mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria. Drinking water helps to prevent bad breath by assisting to clear out unwanted debris and bacteria. It is important to try to drink water with every meal to ensure you get at least 48 ounces a day.

Brush with Sensodyne Deep Clean

Choose a toothpaste that will give you a deep clean. “I remind my patients of the importance of using the right toothpaste, especially if you have sensitive teeth,” said DiMarino. “Get the multiple benefits of new Sensodyne Deep Clean toothpaste. Its formula provides advanced cleaning, lasting freshness and sensitivity relief.”

Learn more at https://us.sensodyne.com/.



A life with hemophilia and a challenge to all

2/28/2017

(BPT) - Val Bias' entire life changed when he heard the loud noise come from the bathroom. The year was 1988, but Bias remembers the moment like it was yesterday. He ran to the bathroom and found the door blocked. He pushed and finally forced the door open. Inside he found Katie, his wife, lying on the floor. She had suffered a seizure, so Bias picked her up and took her to the hospital.

That day, Katie was diagnosed with a tumor. She was given six months to live.

As tragic as this turn of events was for the couple, it was only the beginning. When doctors rushed to remove the tumor, Katie’s immune system flattened out. That’s when they learned the tumor was only one of the medical challenges she faced. Katie also had HIV, a disease she had gotten from her husband.

A life with hemophilia

For his entire life, Bias has lived with hemophilia. At the time of his birth, every male member of his family with hemophilia had already died. He remembers being in fourth grade and finding the hemophilia section in his new text book. As he read the text, he learned that the average life expectancy for someone with hemophilia was 20 years. At age 10, Bias realized he had already lived half of his life.

More than three million Americans have a bleeding disorder, such as hemophilia, von Willebrand disease or rare factor deficiencies. These diseases prevent the blood from clotting normally, can result in extended bleeding after injury, surgery or trauma, and can be fatal if not treated effectively. Because of this, people with hemophilia depend heavily on clotting factor replacement therapy derived from either human blood or made in the lab. It was through an infusion of clotting factor concentrate derived from human plasma that Bias contracted HIV and hepatitis C.

From the late 1970s to the mid-1980s – prior to more stringent blood safety measures and more sensitive tests – HIV (and hepatitis C and hepatitis B) from infected blood donors made its way into blood products. As a result, nearly half of all people with hemophilia became infected with HIV, many developed AIDS and thousands died. An unknown number of their partners contracted HIV, as well. People like Katie.

Finding strength

When doctors discovered Katie’s tumor, they gave her six months to live. She held on another four years, passing away in April, 1992. She declined day-by-day, and when she became too weak to continue her work in advertising, her coworkers assumed she had cancer. Learning of this misconception, Katie returned to tell them the truth.

“That’s true courage,” Bias remembers. “I’d like to say I had that same courage at the time, but that wouldn’t be true. I was running a large before- and after-school program at the local YMCA and was concerned that, if I revealed my diagnosis, I might lose my job. We needed my income, so I remained silent.”

Katie however did not. She demanded Bias never blame himself for what happened to her and in her final days, she placed three expectations on him. “She said, ’Remarry, have kids and fight to live your life.'”

Bias heeded her advice. He married a wonderful woman named Robin and together they adopted a boy named Langston. And he began to fight.

Taking the Red Tie Challenge

The year Katie died, Bias attended the National Hemophilia Foundation’s (NHF) annual meeting and was elected chairman of the board. “We began a crusade to help people who developed HIV from tainted blood products,” he remembers. The work culminated in the passage of the Ricky Ray Hemophilia Relief Act of 1998. Ten years later, in 2008, Bias became NHF's CEO.

"In recent years, under NHF's leadership, great strides have been made in treatment, public policy and advocacy for the bleeding disorders community," says Bias. "So to ensure that momentum continues, NHF has created the Red Tie Challenge. It's fun—because it lets you be creative and silly—and it's important—because, by donating to NHF or to our chapters, you become part of the fight against bleeding disorders."

According to Bias, the red tie is the community's symbol and the Red Tie Challenge challenges you to get creative in wearing a red tie in three, easy steps: (1) Make a donation at www.RedTieChallenge.org; (2) Get a red tie, then record and share your best red tie style with #RedTieChallenge; and (3) Challenge your friends to join you in the fight.

To learn more, visit www.RedTieChallenge.com.



Are you at risk for kidney disease?

2/27/2017

(BPT) - Edward Beans could be described as a man with great purpose who makes the most out of all life has to offer. He is a husband, father, business owner and a basketball coach. And, as of five years ago, he is a dialysis patient.

Beans found out he had kidney disease while at a routine doctor visit. His primary care doctor ran a full range of blood tests, including one to measure his kidney function, or glomerular filtration rate (GFR). The results showed Bean’s kidneys were failing.

“I was fortunate my doctor checked my GFR, or else I might not have had the chance to make a healthy transition to dialysis,” Beans says. “I encourage everyone to ask to have their GFR checked as part of their yearly physical.”

Kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the U.S. More than 31 million adults have been diagnosed with the disease, which is often called a “silent killer” because it can be symptomless until immediate medical attention is needed. Once kidney disease progresses to kidney failure, dialysis or a kidney transplant is necessary for survival.

When caught early enough, the progression of kidney disease may be slowed, and in some cases, prevented altogether. A simple GFR blood test can assess if someone has or is at risk of having kidney disease.

Beans recognizes that high blood pressure and poor dietary choices contributed to his kidney disease. In fact, diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of kidney disease in the U.S. One in three people with diabetes and one in five people with high blood pressure also have kidney disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Moreover, minority populations — particularly Hispanics, African-Americans and Native Americans — are at a disproportionately higher risk of developing kidney disease. Additional risk factors include people with cardiovascular disease, obesity, high cholesterol, lupus and a family history of the disease.

Beans, like many people with kidney failure, chooses to live life to its fullest while managing the disease. He remains a committed family man, continues working as a property manager, and volunteers as a children’s basketball coach in his community — all while completing dialysis treatments three times a week.

“I’m still coaching, still running a business and still doing everything I want to do. But now I have to factor in time in a dialysis chair,” Beans says.

Beans is a good example of how it is possible to live a high quality of life after a kidney disease diagnosis. Staying employed after being diagnosed or while on dialysis has many potential benefits, including lower rates of depression, sustained income and, in many cases, more choices in medical insurance.

“If you choose to be active, you can still take care of yourself and slow it down. I choose to continue to work and coach and spend time with my family because it gives my life purpose.”

Take a one-minute quiz to find out if you may be at risk for kidney disease at DaVita.com/LearnYourRisk.



So you have heart failure, now what? 7 tips for management

2/21/2017

(BPT) - The common misconception about having heart failure is that your heart immediately stops beating. The reality is that heart failure can be a slow process that happens over time. Being diagnosed with the disease can be overwhelming, but you are not alone. At least one person is diagnosed with heart failure every minute, according to WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. While there is no cure for the millions of women living with heart failure, it can be managed with the proper knowledge, treatment and support.

“Successful treatment and management of heart failure must include interventions in the home, community and the doctor’s office. Living with this disease can be a confusing and isolating experience. That’s why we must continue to improve the treatment approach to provide women with heart failure the important tools needed to feel empowered to face the disease each day,” says Mary McGowan, CEO of WomenHeart.

Of those living with heart failure, half are women. More than 2.5 million women in the United States have heart failure, and they often face a very different burden than men. Women tend to develop heart failure at an older age, suffer from depression more frequently and experience a greater number of symptoms than men, including shortness of breath, swelling around the ankles and difficulty exercising.

If you’ve been diagnosed with heart failure, there’s hope. Here are seven tips for managing the disease:

* Find a doctor you trust. If needed, ask whether you should see a cardiologist who is specially trained to treat advanced heart failure.

* Take your medications correctly. Make sure you understand why you are taking each medication and how and when to take each one. Newly adopted guidelines have expanded the list of recommended medications, so ask your doctor if these new treatments are right for your individualized treatment plan.

* Make a daily plan for diet and exercise, and stick to it. Play an active role in your care and stay on track with your treatment plan.

* Tune in to your body. Pay close attention to changes such as new symptoms or rapid weight gain.

* Touch base with your emotions. Depression is common in women with heart failure. Don’t let your disease define you. Find the support you need to live a fulfilling and enjoyable life. WomenHeart has a support group for you, whether you prefer one-on-one, group settings or virtual options.

* Know your limits. Stay active, but don’t overdo it. You might not be able to do everything you used to do. Pace yourself and save your energy for what matters most.

* Don’t go it alone. Seek support. Be honest with your loved ones, and don’t be shy about asking for help. Educate yourself, ask questions and build a strong relationship with your doctor.

For more information on heart failure, visit www.womenheart.org.



People with kidney disease at higher risk for heart disease: Take charge and reduce risks through good nutrition and self-care

2/22/2017

(BPT) - Heart disease is a big problem in the United States, especially for the more than 20 million Americans living with kidney disease. That's because kidney disease causes a variety of health problems that make it harder for the heart to pump blood effectively. But if you've got kidney disease, take heart - there are a number of things you can do to help stave off cardiovascular disease.

"Exercise, self-care and good nutrition - including getting enough of key vitamins and avoiding certain additives - are vital to protecting the heart," said Joy Lutz-Mizar, RD, senior director of nutrition services for Fresenius Kidney Care, a long-standing leader in caring for nearly 200,000 people with kidney disease at more than 2,200 dialysis clinics around the country. "Dietitians can be especially helpful to people living with kidney disease who want to do the right thing and need help."

Lutz-Mizar recommends people with kidney disease do the following to help protect themselves against heart disease.

Start with good nutrition - What you consume can help keep your heart healthy.

* Eat well - To protect your heart, avoid fatty and greasy foods, especially those that come from animals. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and eggs. Try eating cold water fish such as salmon, which is high in heart-protective omega 3 fatty acids.?

* Avoid phosphate additives - Avoid foods with the letters P-H-O-S in the ingredient list.?Those letters mean the food contains phosphate additives that may contribute to clogged arteries in the heart.

* Get enough of the right vitamins - Take a daily renal multivitamin. People with kidney disease may not get enough folic acid and other B vitamins - which may help reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke - due to other diet restrictions.

* Increase vitamin D intake - Everyone needs vitamin D for a healthy heart and strong bones. People with kidney disease don't adequately convert the inactive forms of vitamin D from milk, nutritional supplements and sun exposure to active vitamin D. So, in addition to those sources, you may need a special active form of vitamin D. Be sure your doctor checks your vitamin D levels regularly to see if you also need to take nutritional supplements of vitamin D at home.

* Ease up on fluids and salt - Kidney disease makes it difficult for you to eliminate fluids, which makes your heart work harder and causes it to enlarge and work less efficiently. So watch your fluid intake, and avoid salty foods, which make you thirsty.

* Learn more about healthy eating - Fresenius Kidney Care offers tips for eating right, from suggestions for kidney-friendly staples to stock in your pantry to recipes for healthy and tasty meals.

Reduce the risk of infection - Eating well and getting plenty of rest and exercise will help you reduce the risk of infection. That's important because infections and inflammation increase the risk of heart disease.

Manage blood pressure - Eating healthy, saying "no" to the salt shaker, and taking special medications if necessary can help you lower your blood pressure. That can slow the progression of heart disease as well as kidney disease.

Taking steps to protect yourself against heart disease is important, particularly for those living with kidney disease. Fresenius Kidney Care helps people with the physical and emotional challenges of kidney disease so they can lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, which includes providing high-quality, personalized care, resources and support.

"We help people thrive by keeping their kidneys and hearts as healthy as possible," said Lutz-Mizar. For more tips or to learn more about kidney disease, visit www.freseniuskidneycare.com.



Make a striking focal point the foundation of your spa-like bathroom

2/21/2017

(BPT) - American homeowners’ desire for spa-like bathrooms shows no signs of waning, says the latest Design Trends report by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). From freestanding bath tubs and floating vanities to LED lighting and soothing color schemes, some of the most-requested bathroom renovations focus on creating the atmosphere of luxury and calm found in world-class spas.

With the average mid- to upscale bathroom remodeling costing in the range of $30,000, homeowners are also looking for the most cost-effective way to create that spa-like feeling. Many are opting to build their bathroom renovations around a focal point, such as a freestanding tub or luxury shower, and round out the effect with more modest accessories and fixtures.

Choosing a focal point

Homeowners are choosing to install freestanding soaking tubs in their master bathrooms, in particular, to create an exclusive sanctuary of relaxation. In fact, in 2016 half of NKBA members were asked to install freestanding tubs in bathroom remodels, and 60 percent expect to be doing more of them in 2017.

Traditionally styled freestanding tubs were often claw-footed fixtures that meshed well with conventional design themes, but struggled to fit into the sleek, contemporary lines associated with a spa-like setting. Strikingly modern freestanding tubs offer expanded design flexibility as a focal point in today's spa-inspired bathroom settings. Options like the American Standard Coastal-Serin Freestanding Tub in high-gloss cast acrylic enhance the deep soaking space of a luxurious tub with a clean, simple and modern profile that fits well in spa-like bathroom design.

Few bathroom fixtures speak of luxury as clearly and loudly as a showpiece bathtub. A deep, sumptuous freestanding tub not only provides a restful spot for a soothing soak after a long day, it also serves as a striking visual focal point for modern baths.

Considering Fixture Alternatives

Already have a standard alcove tub, but still want to create your spa at home? Try installing a deep soak tub drain, which has a unique overflow feature that allows 2-inch deeper water than a standard bathtub drain. This universal drain works in most standard bathtubs — and that could be yours.

Replacing a standard toilet seat with an upscale option like the DXV AT100 SpaLet Electronic Bidet Seat furthers the luxuriousness of the bathroom without the cost commitment and permanency of installing a full bidet. Its heated seat, choice of water temperature and volume for the two cleansing wands, and the oh-so-decadent warm air dryer are the ultimate self-indulgence to bring the spa right into your home.

Wood vanities and storage cabinets for bath linens continue to be popular with today's consumers. Floating vanities and open shelving, which are gaining in use with interior designers and homeowners alike, can further the effect of an upscale spa by creating a visually clean, uncluttered effect.

Rounding out the theme

Soft, pale greens and aquas have long been associated with spa-like design, but in 2017 bathroom color choices are trending toward grays, off whites, blues and violets, according to the Design Trends report. Sedate and subtle are the hallmarks of spa color schemes, so when choosing yours keep in mind the calm effect you want to achieve. Also, remember your color scheme doesn’t have to be limited to the walls; consider incorporating your chosen colors into cabinetry, countertops and accessories.

Flexible lighting is also key for a spa-like bathroom. Remember to incorporate brighter lighting where you’ll need it most, such as around vanities, and add features like dimmers that will allow you to reduce the amount of light in the room when you want to create a relaxing atmosphere.

Finally, adding touches that appeal to all your senses, such as music, mood lighting and aromatherapy can elevate a bathroom to a spa-like environment. Whether you opt for a full surround system in your bathroom or add waterproof blue tooth speakers in the shower, it’s easy to bring music into your spa bath. Scent adds yet another layer of luxury and is easy to achieve, whether you choose a simple arrangement of essential oils and diffuser reeds or an electronic diffuser that gently mists aroma into the room.

Americans view their bathrooms as more than just a room to take care of business. Infusing your master bathroom with spa-like features can turn the room into an oasis of relaxation and luxury.



Taking charge of your AFib: Getting the facts and knowing your options

2/16/2017

(BPT) - Being diagnosed with a chronic medical condition can be overwhelming. Patients and their doctors face a delicate balancing act to weigh the risks of a disease against the potential side effects and inconveniences of treatment. This is certainly true for patients with atrial fibrillation, better known as AFib, who have a significantly increased risk for stroke due to a blood clot.

Experts suggest and historic data confirms that without treatment, AFib patients are five times more likely to have a stroke than people without AFib. Commonly prescribed treatments such as oral anticoagulants or “blood thinners” have been shown to reduce the risk of an AFib-related stroke, but carry a risk of bleeding. Also some blood thinners may require lifestyle changes that could impact your daily routine. So what should patients know so that, in partnership with their doctors, they can make important AFib treatment decisions?

“There is a lot of information available online and in television advertisements, and trying to understand all of your options and their risks can be overwhelming,” says Dr. Rajat Deo, MD, MTR, assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “There are forms of treatment that may not be as good a fit for you. That’s why it is important to work together with your doctor to understand your risks in the broader context of stroke prevention to determine what works best for you.”

AFib is the most common type of arrhythmia, occurring when one or both of the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) don’t beat the way they should. Approximately 2.7 million people in the United States have AFib not caused by a heart valve problem (also known as NVAF), and this number is expected to increase as our population ages. AFib-related strokes often cause long-term or permanent damage and some can be fatal. Stroke survivors may require help with daily tasks, such as eating and bathing, if they have lost the ability to move their arms or legs. Some stroke survivors also experience vision problems, memory loss or have difficulty speaking.

Physicians often prescribe oral anticoagulants to AFib patients to help interrupt the body’s process involved in forming clots in the blood, consequently reducing their risk of having a stroke. However, sometimes there are circumstances that require the anticoagulant effect to be reversed. When choosing an appropriate anticoagulant, doctors assess several factors, including blood pressure, liver function and previous stroke and bleeding history to determine the recommended treatment approach. When patients are considering different options, knowledge of the efficacy, side effects, and whether or not a reversal agent is available for their treatment option in case of an accident or rare emergency may be an important factor in helping them feel comfortable in starting treatment.

“Everyone arrives at their treatment decision in a different way,” Dr. Deo says. “It is important to be honest with your doctor when discussing lifestyle considerations and potential inconveniences to certain treatments. Balancing the risks and benefits is all about getting the facts. It is important to speak up, ask questions and feel comfortable talking to your doctor.”

Your lifestyle and preferences are essential in choosing a treatment. Having open conversations with your doctors, so you can understand your condition and they can understand your lifestyle and priorities, can be empowering.

COPYRIGHT 2016 BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM PHARMACEUTICALS, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 2/17 PC-01179



5 easy tips to prepare your family for the daylight saving time change

2/7/2017

(BPT) - Daylight saving time brings brighter evenings and a reminder that spring and warmer weather are within reach. However, it comes with the potential to wreak havoc on a family's sleep routine. Time changes can make morning schedules just a little bit harder for parents everywhere.

"A time change shifts our body's normal schedule and losing an hour of sleep during daylight saving time can be a tough transition for moms and their families," says Shannon Wright, a registered dietitian and wellness expert for Natrol, a market leader of vitamins and supplements.

Despite this, daylight saving time may be just the right time to reset sleep routines and get family schedules back on track.

"Use this time change as a reason to start implementing a better night time routine for the entire family," Wright says. "If adults do not get the seven to nine hours of sleep the body needs, it can have significant consequences such as decreased mood, poor performance at work and an increase in accidents can occur."

To help families get through this time change adjustment, Wright recommends these tips and tricks to help ease into the transition and get the best night's sleep possible:

1. Stay consistent.

Develop a nightly routine to help regulate your body's sleep and wake schedule. Aim to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day, even on weekends. This can help support your body's natural sleep cycle and also support the body's release of melatonin, which helps put you to sleep and promotes more restful sleep.

2. Limit nighttime screen time.

Unwinding with your favorite TV shows or reading the latest news on your smartphone or tablet can seem like a nice way to ease into falling asleep once the kids are in bed, but it can hinder your sleep if you do it within an hour of bedtime. The blue light release from these various technological devices can actually trick your brain into thinking it is daytime and your body will delay its release of melatonin.

3. Step outside.

Use that extra daylight to spend some quality time outside with your family. Research suggests a correlation between exercise and a good night's rest. You can even use a pedometer or step monitor to ensure you're moving your body enough throughout the day. Challenge your family to be more active and your whole family will be getting more sleep.

4. Create an environment for sleep.

A perfect sleep environment should be dark, quiet and cool so you can fall asleep faster and stay asleep. If you have challenges with any of these factors, invest in some blackout curtains, ear plugs or a fan.

5. Get support with a melatonin supplement

Various factors can affect the natural production of melatonin in our bodies such as age, diet, time changes and stress. Supplementing with melatonin can help establish normal sleep patterns to give you a more restful, relaxing sleep and in turn, better overall health. Try Natrol Melatonin, a 100 percent drug-free sleep aid that is non-habit forming to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep so you wake up feeling refreshed.

"Keep in mind that everyone's body is different so use these tips and be patient. Before long, moms and their families will be fully rested and ready to tackle their busy days," Wright says.



Trying to quit? Tips from former smokers can help you succeed

2/15/2017

(BPT) - Since the Surgeon General released the first report on smoking in 1964, the smoking rate among adults has decreased from 42 percent to 15 percent. Though great strides have been made, more than 36 million adults in the United States continue to smoke cigarettes, claiming nearly half a million lives a year and leaving 16 million others to live with an illness or disease caused by smoking. There are now more former cigarette smokers than current smokers in the United States, and more than half of all people who have ever smoked have quit, according to the CDC.

If you’re still smoking and would like to quit, you’re not alone. Nearly seven out of 10 cigarette smokers want to quit for good. Although each person’s journey to a tobacco-free life is different, knowing what’s worked for others could help you find what works for you. Participants from CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers(TM) campaign share what worked best for them in their journeys to quitting smoking.

Choose a quit date and support team

Tiffany Roberson, 35, of Louisiana started smoking when she was just 19, despite having watched her own mother, a smoker, die of lung cancer. Over the years, Roberson tried to quit multiple times but struggled to stay quit for good. When her own daughter turned 16, she was inspired to try again. This time, a combination of tactics helped her succeed.

* A nicotine patch helped control her cravings. She chose it because it was discrete and easy to use.

* She chose a quit date. To avoid the temptation to smoke, she stayed busy on that day.

* She told her daughter and another relative she was quitting so she would be accountable for staying smoke-free. Her relatives supported her with a daily text of encouragement, noting the day of her progress—“Day 2 without smoking” and, eventually, “Day 365 without smoking.”

* During work breaks, she drank water instead of smoking.

Create accountability

Beatrice Rosa-Swerbilov, 40, from New York tried her first cigarette at just 7 years old, and became a regular smoker at age 13. Although she had tried many times before, she quit for good after her 11-year-old son wrote her a letter asking her to quit smoking. Here are her success strategies.

* Avoiding triggers—things or situations that made her crave a cigarette. For example, going out for drinks with friends was a trigger, so Rosa-Swerbilov gave up doing that for a while.

* Creating accountability for herself by telling everyone that she was quitting. Her hope was that if someone did see her smoking, they would say “Oh, I thought you quit,” thus holding her accountable for her decision to quit smoking.

Manage stress

Amanda Brenden, of Wisconsin, began smoking in fifth grade and was a daily smoker by age 13. She would duck outside during the day — even during Wisconsin winters — to smoke. By college, she was smoking a pack a day. When she got engaged and found out she was pregnant, she tried to quit, without success. The stress of being a pregnant college student drove her back to cigarettes. Her daughter was born two months premature and today still struggles with asthma. Breathing problems like asthma are common in premature babies.

* Stress was a trigger for Brenden, as it is for many smokers. In a smoking cessation class, she learned stress reduction techniques. She also relied on support from her family.

* When Brenden feels frustrated, she exercises to release her negative energy rather than reaching for a cigarette.

Substitute positive for negative

James Fulton, 40, of New York, began smoking at 14 to emulate his father, a smoker who was well-respected in their community. When decades of smoking began to affect his health, Fulton created a plan for quitting that included replacing negative behaviors with positive ones.

When he felt a craving for a cigarette, he used a nicotine patch or chewed sugar-free gum. He’s learned to rely on exercise, becoming an avid cyclist and swimmer.

Rebecca Cox-MacDonald, 57, of Texas, also found exercise to be helpful in quitting. Surrounded by a family of smokers, she started smoking as a teenager. Multiple events inspired her to try quitting a final time; her father died of a smoking-related illness, she watched the health of other relatives who smoked deteriorate, and she developed severe gum disease—a risk for smokers—that required her to get bone grafts and dental implants.

She quit and committed to a healthier lifestyle that included regular exercise like running and getting treatment for the depression that had been a major factor in keeping her smoking.

The CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers campaign brings together science-backed health information and quitting tips drawn from the real-life experiences of former smokers. For more information about how you can quit smoking, including tips from successful former smokers, visit the CDC’s Quit Guide online.



8 simple steps to help seniors, caregivers better manage medications

2/15/2017

(BPT) - Modern medicine can work wonders. However, in order to be effective, medicine needs to be taken safely, according to prescribing guidelines, and patients and health care providers need to be vigilant about the dangers of drug interactions. When it comes to medication use, seniors take more prescription and over-the-counter drugs than any other age group, and they are most likely to experience problems because of their medications.

The average American senior takes five or more prescription medications daily, and many of them can’t read the prescription label or understand the prescribing instructions, according to the National Council on Patient Information and Education.

“Unless they reside in a senior living community or have another form of assistance, it can be very difficult for seniors to manage their own medications,” says Kim Estes, senior vice president of clinical services for Brookdale Senior Living. “A lot of factors make medication management a challenge for seniors, including the sheer number of prescriptions many of them take in a day.”

Management challenges

While doctors prescribe medication to treat a range of chronic conditions from arthritis to diabetes and high blood pressure, seniors may find managing their medications difficult for multiple reasons:

* Many meds and many prescribers — Seniors who are on multiple medications are often prescribed to them by multiple doctors, who may or may not be aware of other medications the senior is already taking. Taking a large number of medications can increase the risk of a drug interaction that harms seniors’ health, rather than helps them.

* Adverse side effects — If a medication makes a senior feel ill, he or she may stop taking it.

* Lack of knowledge — If they don’t understand exactly what the medicine is supposed to do for them, seniors may feel they don’t need it and discontinue use.

* Physical challenges — Age-related physical challenges such as hearing or vision loss, dexterity issues or trouble swallowing can make it difficult for seniors to take their medications as prescribed.

* Cognitive challenges — Seniors with memory loss or dementia may forget to take their medications as prescribed.

* Cost — Even with Medicare and supplemental health insurance, many medications can come with a hefty price tag. Seniors may not be able to afford a medication their doctor prescribed.

Medication management made easier

“Fortunately, seniors and their caregivers can take some fairly easy steps to help them better manage their medications,” Estes says. “These steps take a little time and effort, but they can go a long way toward helping seniors use their medicines more effectively.”

* Most seniors take five or more medications a day, and those with severe health issues or who are in the hospital may take significantly more than that. Make a list of every medication you take, what it’s for, and what the pill actually looks like.

* Make a checklist of all your medications. Every time you take a prescription, note the date, time and dosage on your checklist.

* If you have trouble reading the labels on your prescriptions or can’t open the bottle, ask your pharmacist to provide your medicine in easy-to-open containers with large-print labels.

* Make a plan for getting your prescriptions. You may decide to schedule a drive to the pharmacy every month on a certain day or have someone drive you there. You may also find an online pharmacy that can deliver your prescriptions to your home.

* When you go to the doctor, take your list of prescriptions with you, especially if you’re seeing him or her for the first time. Your list will help the doctor know what medications you’re already taking.

* Work with your doctors to see if you can reduce the number of pills you take by consolidating medicines. For example, if you take a pill to reduce water retention and a medication for high blood pressure, some prescription drugs combine both types of medicine into a single pill.

* A study by the University of Arizona found that having a pharmacist on a senior’s care team helped keep seniors safer and improved their ability to take medications as prescribed. Keep all your prescriptions with one pharmacy and get to know the pharmacists who work there. Your pharmacist may be able to help you spot potential drug interactions.

* Technology can help you remember to take medications on time. Set an alarm on your cellphone or download an event reminder app on your smartphone to help you remember when it’s time to take your medicine.

“With a little planning and help, seniors and their caregivers can better manage their medications to ensure seniors get the most benefit out of their prescription treatments,” Estes says.



Protect your heart with these easy meal add-ins

2/13/2017

(BPT) - What’s the biggest threat to our health? It isn’t cancer or even accidents, but heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, one in four deaths in the U.S. is caused by heart disease, which includes heart attack and stroke. This statistic is scary, but the good news is, there is something powerful we can do to prevent us from becoming a victim to this disease.

Even if you are one of the 47 percent of Americans living with a major risk factor, there are preventive measures you can take for a healthier heart, says registered dietitian nutritionist, Dawn Jackson Blatner. All you have to do is embrace some simple lifestyle changes starting with your diet.

“Food is quite literally one of the best medicines out there when it comes to improving our health,” says Blatner. “Studies show us repeatedly that a balanced diet including heart-healthy unsaturated fats, along with multiple servings of fruit and vegetables can give you additional protection against heart attack and stroke.”

Here are five of Blatner’s go-to foods you can easily incorporate into your diet for a daily dose of heart-healthy compounds.

1. Fish: Salmon and other fatty fish such as sardines are chock full of omega-3 fatty acids, which lower the risk of irregular heartbeat and help decrease plaque buildup in the arteries. If fish isn’t already in your meal rotation, it’s time to start. Preparation and cooking time for fish entrees is much shorter than that of chicken, beef and pork, making it a perfect weeknight meal.

2. Greens: Leafy greens contain nitrates, healthy compounds that not only reduce the risk of heart attack, but can boost survival rates after a heart attack. Plus, spinach, kale and other dark green vegetables have carotenoids, which work to keep blood vessels healthy. So aim to have at least one cup of leafy greens each day, such as scrambled in your morning eggs, a green juice as a snack or a leafy salad with lunch or dinner.

3. Nuts: They contain protein, fiber and healthy fat, which work together to keep us feeling full and satisfied. Though high in fat, studies show people who consume nuts on a daily basis are leaner than those who don’t, and staying lean is, of course, heart-healthy. So go ahead and keep almonds, walnuts or pistachios on hand for snacking, and choose those that are minimally processed, avoiding candied or highly salted nuts.

4. Dark chocolate: Good news: Eating dark chocolate every day can reduce heart attack and stroke for high-risk patients. The magic compound here is flavonoids, which are beneficial for blood pressure and clotting while also reducing inflammation. If you’re on-board with making chocolate your after dinner indulgence, opt for brands with 60-70 percent cocoa and that don’t contain milk fat in the ingredient list.

5. Eggs: Contrary to earlier belief, eating one egg a day has no negative effect on coronary health and can actually reduce the risk of stroke by 12 percent, according to a recent review of 30 years’ worth of scientific study cited on nutraingredients.com. But all eggs are not created equal. Eggland’s Best eggs, for example, offer the benefit of 25 percent less saturated fat, five times more Vitamin D, more than twice the omega-3s and three times more Vitamin B12 than ordinary eggs. Eggland’s Best’s superior nutritional profile is due to its proprietary, all-vegetarian diet. So get cracking and experiment with recipes featuring poached, baked and even hard-boiled Eggland’s Best eggs to serve up heart-healthy meals.

Very Vegetable Frittata

Ingredients

4 Eggland's Best Eggs (large)

1/3 cup Eggland's Best Liquid Egg Whites

1 cup non-fat milk

1 tablespoon chopped chives

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup chopped mushrooms

1 cup chopped broccoli

1 cup chopped cauliflower

1 cup chopped zucchini

1 cup halved cherry or pear tomatoes

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

salt and pepper, to taste

arugula, for serving (optional)

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk and Dijon mustard; set aside.

In a 10 to 12-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet, spray with cooking spray and heat to medium-high.

Saute onion until softened — about 2 minutes.

Add the mushroom, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini to the skillet. Saute until slightly softened — another 3 to 4 minutes.

Whisk the egg mixture again, then pour over the vegetables.

Sprinkle tomatoes and feta cheese on top.

Place a lid on the skillet, reduce heat to medium and cook until the bottom and sides of the frittata are firm — 8 to 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven broiler.

Place the skillet under the broiler and broil until the frittata is cooked through (no longer jiggly) and slightly browned on top — about 5 minutes (watch closely).

Cut into 4 wedges and serve immediately, over a handful of arugula, if desired.

— Recipe courtesy of Eggland's Best.



Keep your teen athlete fueled with these 4 vital tips

2/13/2017

(BPT) - High school can be intense, but being a student athlete can intensify expectations.

As the start of spring sports approaches, the stakes are even higher for your student to maintain the success they had first semester. There are practices, matches and conference finals that have to fit in with exams and semester-long projects. Being a standout in the classroom and on the field requires expert-level planning and execution.

That’s where parents play a huge role in helping their teen athletes keep it all in balance. Here are four easy tips to help you ensure that your teen is ready for a great season, on and off the field.

Food: Allison Maurer — a sports dietitian and Gatorade consultant who has worked with high school and collegiate athletes — says, “The important thing to remember is that food is fuel. It gives athletes the energy they need to perform and also helps them recover. When planning your athletes’ meals, look for whole food sources that provide high-quality fats, lean proteins and complex carbohydrates. Talk to your athlete about his or her fuel strategy before, during and after practices and games, and offer support by providing healthy, energy rich snacks.”

Hydration: When exercising hard, the body cools itself through sweat. If body mass is reduced by about 2 percent, which would be 3 pounds of water weight loss in a 150-pound athlete, it can negatively affect performance, according to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s (NATA) Position Statement on Fluid Replacement for Athletes.

“Athletes lose more than water in sweat, so it’s important that they take their hydration seriously since it can impact performance,” Maurer says. “There are a number of products to meet an athlete’s hydration and fueling preferences. For those looking for an organic fueling option, I recommend G Organic, Gatorade’s latest product. It’s made with only seven ingredients and provides the same hydration benefits that athletes expect from Gatorade.”

Rest: Although teens may seem to bounce back easily from a night with too little rest, the truth is that good sleep helps both learning and athletic performance. Sleep helps athletes recover, especially after they’ve pushed their limits in an intense workout. Being rested can also improve reaction time, as well as speed and accuracy. In addition, teens with earlier bedtimes had better grades than those who stayed up later and slept less, according to a study of 3,000 subjects cited by the National Sleep Foundation.

Talk about these benefits with your athlete, and encourage them to go to bed and rise at the same time each day. Also, the glowing light of electronic devices can also interfere with sleep. So, help your teen come up with a strategy to power down an hour or so before bedtime in order to prepare their minds for a night of restorative sleep.

Planning: Schedules have a way of colliding, and this especially happens when a huge test and a game are scheduled for the same day. Each week, sit down with your student athlete and walk through that week’s schedule. Look at practices, games, homework assignments and tests, and create a calendar. That way, if a midterm and a game take place on the same day, he or she can plan accordingly. This will help avoid a late-night, stress-filled cram session that will steal from their performance in the classroom and on the field.

Life as a student athlete means keeping everything in balance. By focusing on the body — from nutrition to time management — athletes can focus on giving their best performance this upcoming season.



The smart advice that makes clean eating an attainable lifestyle choice

2/13/2017

(BPT) - Healthy eating trends come and go. Sometimes the fads are extreme, over-the-top and hard to maintain, but others offer simple, attainable changes that make them well worth incorporating into your lifestyle. Clean eating, actively seeking out foods that are minimally processed with simple, natural ingredients, is a relatively recent food trend that's well on its way to becoming a popular lifestyle choice for many people.

Over the past several years, more Americans have begun seeking out foods with simple, familiar ingredient lists. The clean eating trend incorporates some very healthful practices, such as eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean, wholesome proteins.

Although some interpret the idea of "clean eating" as eliminating entire food groups, such as dairy or anything that contains gluten, the true essence of clean eating is to eat a wide variety of nutritious, wholesome foods that are minimally processed.

If you're thinking of incorporating clean eating into your lifestyle this year, here are some tips to get you started:

* Read labels. Foods that align with the "clean eating" trend will have fewer ingredients, and ingredients will be easily recognizable as food rather than additives or preservatives. For example, JENNIE-O(R) All Natural Turkey Sausage and JENNIE-O(R) Hot All Natural Turkey Sausage contain only turkey, salt, spices, sugar and rosemary extract. Both varieties are flavorful and satisfying with reduced sodium content and only 110 calories and 6 grams of fat per serving.

* Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. That's where you'll find the least processed foods, including the produce section, dairy and egg cases. You can even find minimally processed foods, such as frozen fruit and veggies, in the freezer section.

* Rely on water to quench your thirst. Plain water is the most natural, healthful beverage you can drink.

The best way to approach clean eating is to think in terms of what you will eat, rather than what you might eliminate. Choose lean protein sources like all-natural turkey, nutritious whole grains, fruits and vegetables and you'll find eating clean can be delicious, easy and rewarding.

Start your clean eating lifestyle today by trying this breakfast recipe from Jennie-O:

Southwestern Turkey-Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 (1-pound) package JENNIE-O(R) All Natural Turkey Sausage

1 small onion, chopped

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped

1 small red bell pepper, chopped

1 small green bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced

1 teaspoon ground chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon kosher salt, if desired

6 medium eggs, if desired

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 F.

In large cast-iron skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook turkey sausage as specified on the package. Cook to well-done - 165 F as measured by a meat thermometer - and crumble. Add onion and sweet potato and cook five minutes. Stir in bell peppers, jalapeno, chili powder, cumin, paprika and salt, if desired. Make six wells and pour eggs into wells, if desired. Remove from heat.

Bake 20 minutes or until egg whites are set and yolk is cooked to desired degree of doneness. Sprinkle with cilantro. Makes six servings.

For more recipe inspiration, visit www.jennieo.com.



Tackling Heart Health Head On: One Woman's Journey to Coronary Artery Disease Diagnosis and Treatment

2/10/2017

(BPT) - In 90-degree heat and with her heart pounding, Shawna Dukes was in her happy place as she sprinted up and down stadium stairs during the annual University of Texas women’s football training clinic. With determination in her stride, the physically fit, 58-year-old Texas native looked like she could take on anything. However, just a few short months prior, Dukes came toe-to-toe with an opponent she didn’t know how to tackle – coronary artery disease (CAD) – which led her to a coronary stent procedure to help re-open a 90-percent blocked artery and restore blood flow to her heart.

The American Heart Association (AHA) estimates that Dukes is just one of the 15 million Americans affected by CAD. The disease causes the blood vessels that feed the heart to become narrow, making it difficult for blood to flow to the heart, according to the Heart Foundation. The AHA reports that CAD is the most common type of heart disease and the leading cause of death in the United States. A recent AHA study found that, for women specifically, heart disease takes more lives than all cancers, respiratory diseases and Alzheimer’s disease combined. Despite these staggering statistics, only 42 percent of women aged 35 and older are concerned about heart disease.

Dukes had been diligent about seeing her doctor regularly, exercising and eating a healthy diet, so heart disease was far from her mind, until one day when she began to experience excruciating chest pain that made her struggle to catch her breath. As plaque builds in the coronary arteries of people with CAD, potential signs and symptoms may include chest pain (angina), shortness of breath, nausea or fatigue, according to Mayo Clinic. The AHA study also found that for some women, indications of CAD can be unpredictable: nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of women who die suddenly from CAD have no physical warning signs.

As her symptoms persisted, Dukes visited multiple doctors who recommended typical first-line treatments, including aspirin or blood thinners, beta blockers and nitroglycerin tablets, but nothing seemed to help alleviate her pain. Unable to enjoy her daily walks with her dog or participate in exercise classes, Dukes continued to research her symptoms and ask questions, refusing to give up her active lifestyle and let this debilitating condition be her new normal.

Her persistence led her to seek out the advice of interventional cardiologist Dr. Colin Barker at the Houston Methodist Hospital. Upon her first clinic visit, Dr. Barker performed tests to confirm a CAD diagnosis and told her she would need an immediate medical procedure to re-open her blocked artery. Within two hours of meeting Dukes, Dr. Barker initiated a minimally-invasive procedure called a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) using a new stent, called the SYNERGY(TM) Bioabsorbable Polymer Drug-Eluting Stent System.

“The primary goal in treating coronary artery disease is to open arteries that have become clogged and restore blood flow to the heart as quickly as possible,” Dr. Barker says. “For Shawna, I chose the SYNERGY Stent, which is the only FDA-approved coronary stent with a bioabsorbable polymer – a special coating which dissolves along with the drug in about three to four months following implantation. Reducing the amount of time polymer stays in the vessel can prevent chronic inflammation and associated complications that patients can experience years after receiving a stent with permanent polymer.”

One week after receiving the SYNERGY Stent, Dukes was back to taking five-mile walks with her dog. Then, just a couple of months after her procedure, she was able to participate in the grueling six-hour, high-intensity women’s training clinic hosted by the University of Texas football coaching staff.

Now Dukes uses her exercise classes to do more than stay in shape. She regularly engages groups of women in conversations about heart health by sharing her story and encourages them to talk to their doctors about available treatment options.

“My experience inspired me to educate others, especially women, about the importance of being an advocate for their own health care,” Shawna noted. “I often tell people, ‘Don’t be afraid to seek out a second opinion and do your own research. Asking questions could save your life.’”

Top questions to ask your doctor about Coronary Artery Disease/preparing for a stent procedure

1. What is coronary artery disease (CAD) and how is it treated?
2. Do treatment considerations differ between women and men?
3. What makes a patient a good candidate for coronary stenting?
4. What are the different stents and procedures available, and what are the benefits and risks of each?

As with any medical procedure, there are risks that should be discussed with your physician as some are serious in nature. For more information, please visit http://www.bostonscientific.com/SYNERGYPatient to learn more about heart health and the SYNERGY Stent.



Tips to avoid distracted driving

2/9/2017

(BPT) - The pace of business never seems to stop, and thanks to the convenience of cell phones, many people work on the go, even while they’re driving. Yet cell phone use is one of the most common type of distracted driving, and it claims thousands of lives and causes thousands more injuries every year.

More than a quarter of all car crashes involve cell phone use, both hand sets and hands-free, the National Safety Council (NSC) reports. In 13 percent of fatal crashes, the drivers were using cellphones, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says. The actual number of cell phone-related accidents is likely much higher, since many states don't yet compile and report data on cell phone use following a crash.

Employers take up the issue

Recognizing the ethical and liability issues that arise when employees drive while distracted, employers across the country have begun implementing distracted driving policies. Typically, these policies prohibit employees from using cellphones while driving on company time.

In January 2017, the NSC reported that Cargill was the largest privately held company to prohibit the use of mobile devices, including hands-free technology, while an employee is driving on behalf of the company. The ban also covers work related calls while commuting to and from work, even if employees are driving their own vehicles.

“There is a time and place for doing business, and it’s not while you’re driving,” says Melanie Burke, director of health and safety at Cargill, a Minnesota-based privately held company with 150,000 employees around the world.

Even Cargill’s Chairman and CEO David MacLennan is subject to the ban. In announcing the policy to employees in late 2016, MacLennan noted he was 138 days into cell-phone free motoring. “It’s been liberating,” he told employees.

NSC data shows about 20 percent of Fortune 500 companies have instituted cell phone bans, and of those, just 1 percent believe the ban affected productivity.

Replace risk, keep productivity

Taking care of business doesn’t mean you have to risk a crash. Here are six ways to keep up with the pace of business without using your cell phone in the car:

* Use an automated response app to let callers know you’re driving and can’t take their call at the moment. These free apps allow you to personalize the response and set your phone to automatically reply with a text message to incoming calls or texts.

* If you’re driving a vehicle outfitted with communication technology, use its “do not disturb” feature to unplug from calls and texts while behind the wheel.

* Use shared calendars to block off times when you’ll be on the road and unable to answer a call. The calendar item will help alert coworkers and anyone else connected to your calendar when you’ll be out of touch and when they might be able to reach you again.

* Remove temptation. A study by AT&T found 62 percent of drivers keep their phones within reach in the car. Put yours away where you can’t see or reach it. You can place it in your purse, briefcase or messenger bag, and place the bag in the back seat. Further reduce distraction and temptation by turning your device off before stowing it.

* If you absolutely must take a call while on the road, pull over in a safe location. If a call comes in while you’re driving, allow it to go to voicemail until you’re safely pulled over, then return the call.

* Be aware of other dangerously distracting behaviors, such as putting on makeup, tying a necktie or eating while driving. Do all your dressing and personal grooming before you leave home, and if you must snack while driving, choose food that is easy to manage, like a granola bar (unwrap it when you’re stopped), rather than something messy like a burger with all the fixings.

“Before we had cellphones, if you had to take a business call while on the road, you would pull over and find a pay phone,” says Burke. “Productivity was fine and business got done. When it comes to time behind the wheel, safety is everyone’s most important job.”



5 things you need to know about vaccines

2/7/2017

(BPT) - No one wakes up in the morning hoping to be sick. Yet despite the angst people have about becoming ill, many forgo one of the easiest, most effective ways to protect themselves and their loved ones from common and even severe illnesses — they choose not to get vaccinated.

There are many reasons people choose not to get vaccinated. Often, the decision is caused by incorrect information one may read or hear about vaccinations. Mayo Clinic seeks to eliminate these mistruths and offer correct information about vaccinations so people can make safe, healthy choices for themselves and their families.

1. Are vaccines safe?

Safety concerns are the most common question people have regarding vaccines, and it's also the question where there is the most misinformation. The truth is vaccines are safe and people who receive them enjoy numerous health benefits, including illness prevention. Each vaccine undergoes rigorous testing before being released to the general public to ensure it not only protects against the disease it's designed to combat, but that it offers no other ill health benefits. Risks associated with vaccines are minor and may include a fever, soreness or skin irritation.

2. Which vaccinations are recommended?

Mayo Clinic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many other health care providers recommend people receive the following vaccinations:

* Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis

* Haemophilus Influenza B

* Hepatitis A & B

* Human Papilloma Virus

* Influenza

* Meningococcal

* MMR

* Pneumococcal

* Polio

* Rotavirus

* Varicella, otherwise known as Chickenpox

3. Should vaccinations be spaced out?

The vaccinations above may seem like a large list and it's natural to wonder if all of these vaccinations should be done at once or spaced out. Sources of misinformation may lead people to believe that tackling several vaccinations at once somehow dilutes them, but there is no evidence of this. In fact, research shows people, even children, are able to take several vaccines at once without any negative effects. Spacing out the vaccines creates unnecessary delays and additional scheduling, while opening a longer window of exposure to illnesses.

4. Understand the difference between vaccination and immunization.

A vaccination is a treatment that introduces weakened or dead bacteria and/or viruses into a person’s body to build up their immunity against the disease. Immunization is the process of developing that immunity. Immunization may happen through vaccination, but it could also come from contracting the bacteria or virus and recovering from the disease.

5. Vaccinations are important for everyone.

For people wondering who should get vaccinated, the short answer is nearly everyone. In particular, vaccinations are especially important for younger people. This is because children, especially young babies, are not inherently equipped to fight many diseases and without vaccinations, otherwise small problems could become serious complications and even be fatal.

Vaccinations remain an often discussed topic and it can be difficult to determine what is fact and what is misinformation. For those with questions, the first step should be to discuss vaccinations with your doctor, who will be able to provide you with the information you need. For more information about vaccinations, visit mayoclinic.org.



5 things you must know about this groundbreaking treatment for servicemen and women

2/7/2017

(BPT) - When the nation’s servicemen and women serve a tour of duty overseas, many don’t return home the same.

Nearly 60 percent of servicemen and 50 percent of servicewomen experience at least one traumatic event during their service, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. These events have the potential to cause life-long complications.

Research shows the consequences of a traumatic event has the potential to impact a person's cognitive ability through traumatic brain injury (TBI), or to cause them to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Either of these conditions means that even when the service person’s tour is over, their struggles have just begun.

Fortunately for service people dealing with the effects of TBI and PTSD, new treatments are available. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is easing the pain for many servicemen and women through an increase in oxygen to combat problems ranging from complex disabilities and chronic infections to pain and neurological impairment.

If you’ve never heard of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, here are five things you need to know about this new treatment and how it is helping servicemen and women across the country.

* The treatment is built on speed and oxygen. When a patient undergoes hyperbaric oxygen therapy, their body is exposed to a high amount of oxygen, carried through their body at a rapid pace. This alternative medicine therapy not only increases the amount of oxygen the body receives, but the purity of the oxygen as well. The increase of oxygen aides the patient’s body in the creation of new blood cells which supports the healing process.

* In addition to supporting the healing process, it also combats stress. Research shows hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been proven to alleviate stress on the body through cognitive rehabilitation, making it a natural treatment solution for servicemen and women suffering not only from external wounds, but from PTSD, TBI and depression as well.

* The treatment process involves several “dives." Each hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment is called a dive and an individual can receive 20-40 dives in which oxygen is pumped into their specialized, sealed chamber. Each treatment lasts for up to one hour. Servicemen and women pursuing this treatment see the best results when these treatments are scheduled as close together as possible.

* The risk of TBI varies depending on conditions. Many veterans of the United States’ campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered TBI because of blast related injuries. Research shows males outnumber females in TBI cases 2:1. Age also plays a roll in a person's likeliness to suffer TBI, and people ages 0-4, 15-19 and the elderly have a higher rate of suffering TBI than those outside of those age ranges. Substance abusers also stand a greater chance of suffering a TBI incident.

* You can support treatment for servicemen and women. Veterans across the country need your help. The Purple Heart Foundation strives to make the transition home as smooth as possible for all veterans, which includes providing them the treatment they need for the challenges they face after being discharged. The Purple Heart Foundation is a nonprofit, Veteran Service Organization whose mission is to honor the sacrifice of military veterans and create a smooth transition for them from the battlefield to the home front. Nearly 90 percent of each cash donation made to the Purple Heart Foundation goes to support aspects of this mission statement including: hyperbaric oxygen treatment, the National Service Officer Program, the scholarship program, service dog programs and other rehabilitation or recreational programs aimed at improving the lives of veterans. To learn more about how you can support veterans returning from overseas, visit purpleheartfoundation.org.



4 things you can do today to support your heart health

2/6/2017

(BPT) - On the path to good health, it pays to follow your heart — literally. A healthy heart is essential to supporting good overall health, yet many people ignore the warning signs that their heart is not as healthy as it could be.

A 2016 survey from the American Academy of Family Physicians, conducted by Harris Poll, found that nearly three in 10 men and women reported they had been diagnosed with high blood pressure. This result mirrors the findings of research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The findings translate to an estimated 75 million people with high blood pressure, and just slightly more than half have the condition under control.

“This finding is concerning because we know that high blood pressure and heart attacks or chronic heart failure are so closely related,” said John Meigs, Jr., MD, president of the AAFP. “According to the CDC, seven out of 10 people who have a first heart attack have high blood pressure. Seven out of 10 people who develop chronic heart failure have high blood pressure. So it’s important that people know what their blood pressure is.”

To lower your blood pressure and improve your heart health, the American Academy of Family Physicians offers these recommendations.

* Be deliberate with your diet. Fruits and vegetables are essential, but pay special attention to their color too. Vegetables and fruits of different colors offer different nutrients, so mix them up. At the same time, avoid heavily processed foods and those high in sodium. You should also make sure you’re drinking plenty of water rather than soda or energy drinks. Aim for at least eight 8-ounce glasses every single day.

* Balance your BMI. If you don’t know your BMI, a quick Internet search can lead you to several easy-to-use BMI calculators. And once you do know your BMI, you can start taking steps to reduce it, if necessary. According to the American Heart Association, losing just 5-10 percent of your body weight can dramatically reduce your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. And that leads us to ...

* Jump start your heart with aerobic exercise. Your heart is a muscle, and like other muscles in your body, exercise strengthens it. So put your heart through a workout with activities like walking, biking or hiking to increase your heart rate. Exercise can also lower your risk of developing plaque in your arteries, allowing your heart to be more efficient in delivering blood and nutrients to other parts of your body.

* Stop the stress. Aside from a poor diet, there may be no larger culprit for high blood pressure than stress. Successful stress management has been proven to reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke. So relax, exercise, meditate, breathe deep or just have some fun. Whatever you do to burn off stress, make it an essential part of your day. You and your heart will be better for it.

“Get your blood pressure checked,” says Meigs. “If you have high blood pressure, work with your doctor to treat it and lower your risk factors. That same advice applies to knowing what your blood cholesterol levels are.”

To learn more about how you can reduce your blood pressure and improve your heart health, have a conversation with your family doctor today. Your doctor will be able to give you an accurate assessment of your current health and offer ideas on where and how you can improve. And to find more heart-healthy tips, visit familydoctor.org.



Volunteers bring healthier smiles to kids in need

2/6/2017

(BPT) - Did you know half of all children in this country enter kindergarten with tooth decay? Tooth decay is the number one chronic infectious disease among children in the U.S., affecting 42 percent of children aged 2 to 11 years old, according to the National Institutes of Health. In addition, nearly half of minority children and children receiving Medicaid benefits suffer from untreated tooth decay.

Good oral health is connected to good overall health. In fact, problems in the mouth can impact the rest of the body. If the tooth decay isn’t fixed — or prevented in the first place — the consequences are much broader; children with untreated tooth decay often have more school absences, difficulty paying attention in school and lower self-esteem.

The good news is that with proper management and intervention, early forms of tooth decay can actually be stopped and reversed. Oral care habits start at home. Children should:

* Brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste;
* Floss once a day;
* Eat healthy meals;
* Visit the dentist once a year.

Unfortunately, despite improvements in children’s access to dental care, many children continue to suffer. Leading the charge to address the gap in children’s oral health care is Give Kids A Smile (GKAS), a national grassroots movement of passionate volunteer dental professionals and dental industry employees who work tirelessly behind the scenes to address this problem.

Dr. Timothy Kinnard, dental director at the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic, has seen GKAS in action first hand. “The Give Kids A Smile program gives children critically necessary dental treatment they may otherwise may not be able to access," Kinnard says. "It’s a wonderful demonstration of how access to dentistry helps reduce the oral health disparities that exist in underserved communities.”

Kids who attend one of 1,300 annual GKAS programs receive free oral health services including education, screening, preventive services and/or treatment from GKAS volunteers. GKAS is the largest children’s oral health charitable program in the U.S., already providing 5.5 million children in need with services since the first national event in 2003. More than 500,000 volunteers, including almost 140,000 dentists, have volunteered their time and resources at thousands of sites nationwide to help children who may not otherwise have access to dental care.

Taking action

More needs to be done to teach families how to prevent childhood tooth decay. GKAS volunteers are working year-round to educate kids and families in their communities, and to provide free dental care to kids in need. Give Kids A Smile is part of the American Dental Association’s Action for Dental Health initiative, highlighting the need for improved access to dental care for kids. The ADA Foundation continues to support GKAS volunteers so they can focus on what they do best — caring for those in need.

You can help. Find out more at ADAFoundation.org/GKAS.



5 simple steps to boost your immune system now

2/3/2017

(BPT) - Whether it's battling the rampant germs of cold and flu season or maintaining wellness throughout the year, the immune system is your main line of defense. In order to feel good as often as possible — and recover quickly when you don't — it's important to keep your immune system strong.

"The immune system is the part of the body that monitors both internal and external environments," says Dr. Chris Oswald, certified nutrition specialist and chiropractor in Hudson, Wisconsin. "It's important to understand that both too much immune response and too little immune response, including inflammation, is not good, so maintaining that happy medium is the name of the game."

To achieve that "happy medium," Dr. Oswald recommends incorporating five simple steps into your daily routine:

Support natural sleep cycles

"Sleep is the time when our bodies repair and rejuvenate, so it is something to not be taken lightly," Dr. Oswald says. "Generally speaking, the older we are the less sleep we need, but for adults 7-9 hours is usually the sweet spot."

He says a good way to know if you are sleeping well is if you fall asleep within 30 minutes of lying down and you are able to wake at approximately the same time every day without an alarm clock.

"It is also very important to maintain regular hours as our body’s circadian rhythms do not like to be disrupted," he adds.

Eat fermented and unprocessed foods

Dr. Oswald says the body's microbiome health has a huge impact on the immune system. The microbiome is the collection of microorganisms that inhabit the intestinal tract, creating a mini-ecosystem.

"Every bite of food we eat impacts microbiome balance, so it is important to eat foods that promote its health," he says. "I like fermented foods and foods that are minimally processed or as close to their form in nature as possible. When the wrong foods are eaten, certain microbiota are able to 'gain strength' and offset the health promoting benefits of other more beneficial organisms."

He adds that dietary fiber is also very important to maintaining the health of the microbiome. Additionally, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA help boost the immune system.

Use supplements to support digestive health

"The digestive tract is a barrier to the outside world which selectively allows molecules to pass through," says Dr. Oswald. This is why a healthy gut is a big part of overall health — it filters out the bad while keeping in the good.

Eating plenty of probiotics in foods like yogurt and kefir helps maintain digestive health, but it can be difficult for the average person to get enough to make an impact. "Supporting digestive health with a comprehensive probiotic supplement such as Nordic Naturals Nordic Flora Probiotic Daily is a great foundational health strategy for everyone," Dr. Oswald says.

Move your body

"Higher levels of fitness are definitely associated with improved immune function," says Dr. Oswald. He recommends high intensity interval training (HIIT), where you alternate short periods of intense exercise with brief rest periods.

"I like people to choose any activity they like and have a nice gentle 5 minute warm-up followed by up to six 100 percent work intervals for 30 seconds with 60 seconds of rest," he says. "Once complete with the circuit, a five minute cool down completes your workout in 19 minutes or less."

Embrace mindfulness and meditate

Dr. Oswald says both acute and chronic stress have an effect on the immune system, which can potentially decrease your resistance to illness. One easy way to combat stress is to try to meditate every day.

"Meditation is a very powerful option and I firmly believe that all should find some way of increasing mindfulness," he says. "It is important to remember that meditation is different for everyone."

Meditation can be sitting quietly with eyes closed, staring at a flame, walking in the woods, etc. Try something that feels right to you that allows you to relax and be mindful of the present.



6 steps to improve indoor air quality

2/2/2017

(BPT) - Spring and summer have a reputation for being allergy seasons, but actually two-thirds of allergy sufferers experience symptoms year-round, according to a study conducted by Isobar. Throughout “closed-window season” the lack of ventilation can cause irritants like dust, pet dander, and mold spores to linger and build up inside homes and offices, causing allergen-related discomfort to flare up. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can also build up when fresh air is not circulating and can result in airway irritation as well as other discomforts.

In some areas of the country with warmer climates, pollens can be a constant concern with plants blooming throughout the year. In cooler climate areas, temperature fluctuations can also cause pollen to be present when you least expect it.

"Many people automatically reach for an over-the-counter antihistamine when they experience allergy symptoms due to indoor or outdoor allergens,” says Dr. Bob Geng, a board-certified allergist/immunologist and medical advisor for Honeywell Air Purifiers. “However, by first evaluating your home environment and taking steps to remove or minimize allergens and allergen sources, you can reduce your exposure naturally and may be able to limit the need for medication or allergy shots.”

Reducing indoor allergens

Indoors, irritants can come from numerous sources. Take these steps to reduce allergens and irritants inside your home all year long:

1. Dust and other airborne particles can cling to window treatments, upholstery, throw pillows and other soft items that don’t get vacuumed regularly. Help minimize dust by reducing excessive amounts of fabrics in your home.

2. Wash sheets, pillow covers and mattress covers weekly in hot water of at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Frequent laundering in hot water can reduce the presence of dust and dust mite waste.

3. Vacuum carpets at least weekly using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove allergens that can settle deep into the fibers. Vacuuming can stir up, or aerosolize particles, so try to have a non-allergy sufferer do the vacuuming, or wear a disposable dust mask. Run an air purifier to supplement weekly vacuuming and to help capture airborne particles before they settle on surfaces.

4. Three in 10 allergy sufferers have allergic reactions to dogs and cats, according to the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Detectable levels of pet dander are present in nearly every U.S. home, even those without pets, as these allergens can easily be carried into the home on clothing and shoes. Limit your pet’s access to bedrooms, and keep them off upholstered furniture.

5. Common household items including soaps, detergents, perfumes, cleaning supplies and building materials like paint and varnishes can emit gases in the form of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). For many, especially for allergy and asthma sufferers with airways that are typically already inflamed, exposure to VOCs can cause nasal passage, lung and throat irritation. The EPA reports that VOC levels inside homes are two to five times higher than levels outdoors.

6. Consider using an air purifier to remove contaminants from the air. Honeywell True HEPA Air Purifiers capture up to 99.97 percent of microscopic airborne particles that pass through the filters, including airborne grass, weed and tree pollens, dust, smoke, pet fur/dander, mold spores, and certain bacteria and virus. Activated carbon pre-filters can also trap common household odors and VOCs.

To learn more about air purifiers, visit honeywellpluggedin.com. For more information on allergies and allergens, visit the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America website, aafa.org.



Win with water [Video]

1/31/2017

(BPT) - Whether it's to quench your thirst or to help keep your energy up, drinking water is always the best choice. Watch this video to learn why.



American Legion Auxiliary aims to improve veterans' lives

1/30/2017

(BPT) - Eva Wallace never enlisted in the U.S. military, has never been on active duty and never endured life-altering injuries protecting American freedoms. However, as a military spouse she has found another important way to serve our country — advocating for veterans’ rights.

Each February, Wallace and more than 500 other members of The American Legion Family, descend on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C., to meet with Congressional representatives and their staff. American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) members share and discuss pressing issues and legislation that affects veterans and their families, including increasing support of homeless veterans, upholding and expanding the advancements made by the GI Bill and improving Veterans Affairs hospital care for veterans in need. Members of the Auxiliary also appear alongside The American Legion before a Joint Session of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans Affairs to advocate for key issues and promote accountability for legislative actions.

“The military community is constantly evolving and changing, so the veteran community is changing along with it. Returning from the conference, members are armed with new information on important issues that we can share with those who are interested in making a difference in the lives of veterans,” says Wallace, whose husband served for 24 years in the U.S. Coast Guard. “We return to our communities ready to shine a light on the true veteran experience.”

Last year, ALA advocacy helped preserve programs for disabled veterans and veterans’ widows. They also played a role in helping make care for veterans more accessible, especially for those who live hundreds of miles from their Veteran Affairs medical facility.

“The conference encourages important conversations with policymakers and explores new ways to collaborate and promote the mission of the ALA," says Carol Harlow, director of the ALA Washington, D.C office. "When members depart Washington, D.C., they leave feeling empowered, inspired and ready for new challenges.”

The ALA is the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization and one of the nation’s most prominent supporters of veterans’ rights. The nonpartisan organization, founded in 1919, helps to advance the mission of The American Legion and provides service to veterans, military and their families.

The ALA encourages non-military members to also get involved. To learn more about the legislative bills the ALA supports visit: legion.capwiz.com/legion/issues/bills/.



Knowing your options if you are denied the cardiovascular medicine you need

1/30/2017

(BPT) - As we approach American Heart Month, one important topic must be addressed: improving access to innovative therapies for patients suffering from cardiovascular disease (CVD).

When prescribed a medication by a physician, most individuals expect to receive the medication without jumping through hurdles. However, for many people affected by cardiovascular disease across the country, this is increasingly not always the case. According to Symphony Health Solutions, commercial payers deny up to 90 percent of initial claims submissions for patients with CVD, with the final rejection rate for patients at 73 percent.

Many of these patients who are rejected have high cholesterol and/or familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), which is an inherited form of significantly high cholesterol and one of the most common genetic diseases, affecting at least one in every 200 to 500 people. Thus, these patients are exploring new treatment regimens because they have not been able to get their low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), or “bad” cholesterol, under control despite treatment with a statin — the current standard of treatment. Additionally, many patients living with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), which is caused by a build-up of cholesterol-rich plaque in the arteries, are unable to get their LDL-C under control with current treatment options.

With CVD being a major public health concern in the U.S, it is imperative to lower bad cholesterol for patients who have already had a cardiovascular event, like a heart attack or stroke, as well as patients with FH who require additional treatment options to lower their LDL-C levels along with their statin. Yet, there is a growing concern that many patients with uncontrolled LDL-C levels continue to face challenges in accessing PCSK9 inhibitors their physicians have prescribed based on the approved indication. PCSK9 (or proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9) inhibitors are human monoclonal antibodies that block the protein PCKS9, which prevents the body's natural system from eliminating "bad" cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol or LDL-C) from the blood.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration carefully determined which patients would be appropriate for PCSK9 therapy given the clinical trial information, many payers have implemented restrictive prior authorization processes using stringent utilization management criteria, which is resulting in many patients being denied access. This is not unique to PCSK9s though; we have seen these restrictive authorization practices affecting patients seeking hepatitis C and heart failure treatments as well.

Being denied access to the medicine you are prescribed is tremendously frustrating and can leave patients feeling hopeless. However, it is important to know that, as a patient, there are certain things you can do to take action if this happens to you:

* Talk to your doctor. If you are denied access to vital treatment, talk with your physician about what you can do to receive the therapy you need.

* Share your story. Patients and physicians should feel empowered to speak out and engage with their networks, sharing their stories to help drive attention and awareness to the issue.

* Engage advocates. Seek out advocacy groups and patient networks that have resources.

Now is an opportune time for patients to be aware of the options available, especially when they are denied access to treatments prescribed by their physicians. In keeping with the spirit of American Heart Month, make wellness a priority. If you or a loved one suffers from CVD, talk with your physician to ensure you are receiving the appropriate medical care. For more information, please visit www.advancecardiohealth.org.



5 clever hacks to simplify any family's morning routine

10/26/2016

(BPT) - Getting the family out the door on time every morning is no small feat. Seemingly simple tasks like getting dressed, packing backpacks and making breakfast can quickly turn into chaos. Before you know it, you're running late and the kids haven't even eaten as you dash to the car.

Stop dreading the stressful start to the day and start taking control of your mornings. A few simple tips and tricks will turn the morning craze into smooth sailing. Plus, when you have a stress-free start, the rest of the day just seems to go better.

Select a week's worth of clothes Sunday night.
Instead of choosing outfits the night prior, supersize your time-saving efforts by doing this task just once on Sunday night. Involve kids in selecting their clothes for the week so they feel empowered in their choices. Then hang entire outfits in the closet or stack in one drawer dedicated to weekday wear. When mornings come, kids know exactly where to find the day's duds. Bonus: you don't have to worry about midweek laundry.

Create a routine and set alarms.
Create a morning routine and stick to it. For example, kids wake at 7 a.m., eat breakfast at 7:15 a.m., get dressed and ready at 7:30 a.m., then out the door by 8 a.m. And if the kids need to share a bathroom, set a daily bathroom schedule with alarms to keep kids on track and avoid arguments in the morning.

Get ready before waking up the kids.
Trying to ready yourself for the day while helping the kids is a recipe for disaster. This is why waking before the rest of the family really makes mornings happier. Try getting up 30 minutes before the kids so you have time to get ready and enjoy a cup of coffee. You'll be fully awake, much happier and can focus on helping the kids stay on-task.

Create morning rules.
Just like you don't let kids eat dessert before dinner to ensure they eat well, set rules for the morning to keep things moving. For example, no TV until all morning tasks are completed. For teens, smartphones and other mobile devices must remain on the kitchen table until they are ready to go.

Sundays = meal prep.
Make a week’s worth of PB&Js on Sunday and put them in the freezer. This way lunch items are ready to go and the sandwiches will be thawed and ready to eat by lunchtime. For breakfast, make it easy for kids by setting out shelf-stable items they can make themselves. New Jif(R) Peanut Butter and Naturally Flavored Cinnamon Spread keeps mornings interesting. Set out a jar by a loaf of bread and kids can quickly make a tasty sandwich they'll devour. Learn more at jif.com.

Want to up the ante for breakfast without spending any extra morning time in the kitchen? Try this recipe for delicious overnight oats that can be made in the evening and customized for each family member.

Protein Power Packed Overnight Oatmeal Recipe
Courtesy of WhipperBerry.com

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8 hours
Serves: 1-2

Ingredients:

1/2 cup old fashioned rolled-oats
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup fresh blueberries and raspberries
Large spoonful of Jif(R) Peanut Butter and Naturally Flavored Cinnamon Spread (or Maple if you prefer!)
1 to 1-1/2 cups milk (basically cover what's in your jar)

Optional:
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey

Instructions:

1. In a large jar, layer your ingredients starting with about a 1/2 cup of old fashioned rolled oats.

2. Then add about a 1/2 cup of your favorite yogurt, your favorite nuts and fruit.

3. Next, add a spoonful of Jif(R) Peanut Butter and Naturally Flavored Cinnamon Spread

4. If you want, add chia seeds and a drizzle of honey and vanilla extract.

5. Cover with your favorite kind of milk. You can use cow, almond, coconut or soy milk.

6. Gently stir your ingredients, top with a lid and place in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, you'll have a jar full of yummy oatmeal ready and waiting for you. Choose to eat it cold or warm it up in the microwave.



Farming program helps neighbors in rural America fight hunger

10/26/2016

(BPT) - Although the United States produces much of the world’s food, 48 million people in the country are food insecure, lacking access to enough food to sustain a healthy, active lifestyle. What's even more surprising is that many of the counties with the highest rates of food insecurity are located in rural communities, the very places growing the bulk of this food.

According to Feeding America’s study Map the Meal Gap 2016, rural counties are more likely to have high rates of food insecurity than more densely populated counties. In fact, 54 percent of counties with the highest rates of food are in rural areas. Rural areas also account for 62 percent of counties with the highest rates of child food insecurity.

While shocking to many, these numbers don't surprise Michelle Sause, Assistant Director of Network Relations at Food Bank for the Heartland in Omaha. Her work with the food bank covers more than 78,000 square miles and spans 93 counties.

"The majority of our counties are rural communities," says Sause. "We serve over 530 network partners that include pantries, meal providers and backpack programs, Kid’s Cafe and summer feeding programs."

Some of the challenges in providing food to food-insecure families are unique in rural locations compared to metropolitan areas. These pantries often have limited resources, supplies and volunteers, which makes it difficult to secure meals for people struggling with hunger.

"We have two main challenges — transportation and establishing partnerships with donors in our rural communities," she says. "With a service area that spans over 78,000 square miles, transportation can be a challenge."

Sause adds, "Another challenge is finding and securing relationships with donors. This challenge is partly because our communities really want to take care of their own and when a large agency from a bigger city is coming in, it can feel threatening."

There is a tradition of helping your neighbor in rural communities, including Sause’s. Invest An Acre is a program working hard to uphold that tradition.

Invest An Acre is a program of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, designed to engage farmers, agribusiness, and rural communities in the fight against hunger in rural communities across America. Farmers can donate a portion of their crop proceeds at their local grain elevator, by check or online. Donations are doubled by matching partners, and the full amount is distributed directly to eligible local food banks and pantries. This means 200 percent of what a farmer gives goes back to the local food back of that town, and the people who need it most.

Food Bank for the Heartland — just one of many organizations working with Invest An Acre to fight rural hunger — has received more than $50,000 through the program.

"At Food Bank for the Heartland, we have found the best support is locally sourced," says Sause. "Thank you to the generous farmers who have donated through Invest An Acre and who have encouraged fellow farmers to participate too. You are making a difference in the lives of hungry children, families and seniors."