Health and Wellness

Congress may improve access to integrated care for dialysis patients

11/22/2017

(BPT) - More than 700,000 people in the U.S. suffer from end-stage renal disease (ESRD), also known as kidney failure. These patients often cope with multiple chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and depression. They may also have financial difficulties, which limit their ability to access preventative health care services. These patients must juggle multiple appointments, manage numerous medications and experience frequent hospital visits while struggling to navigate a complex health care system. Integrated care programs, like the Dialysis PATIENTS Demonstration Act (PATIENTS Act) (H.R. 4143/S. 2065), offer patients support from a dedicated care coordination team and added benefits like personalized care planning.

The PATIENTS Act, a bipartisan bill recently introduced in Congress, aims to expand the availability of integrated care for Medicare dialysis patients. Currently, fewer than 10 percent of Medicare dialysis patients have access to integrated care. The PATIENTS Act is designed to deliver better care, better health outcomes and lower costs for Medicare ESRD beneficiaries receiving dialysis. For patients, this could mean fewer trips to the hospital, fewer unnecessary office visits and an improved quality of life.

As one of the most chronically ill patient populations in the U.S., those coping with kidney failure must receive dialysis therapy three to four hours per day, three times per week. Dialysis patients will benefit in many ways from increased access to high-quality, integrated care.

“I feel fortunate to have a team observing and supporting me daily,” said Francis Hogan, a DaVita dialysis patient with access to an integrated care program. “It gives me confidence to better manage my condition.”

While integrated care has existed for many years, the PATIENTS Act provides an opportunity to transform health care for more dialysis patients and their loved ones. The PATIENTS Act builds on existing integrated care programs to provide a sustainable, scalable model that could work for many more dialysis patients.

The PATIENTS Act could offer access to additional benefits like:

* A nephrologist-led interdisciplinary care team

* Individualized care planning for patients and caregivers

* Preventative care and services to help keep patients out of the hospital

* Care coordination for services received outside the dialysis clinic

* Support and counseling before receiving a kidney transplant

Patients and health care providers like DaVita have joined together to urge Congress to take action. The PATIENTS Act has support from both Republicans and Democrats and is under consideration by Congress right now. Patients, caregivers and kidney care advocates can visit www.MyAdvocacyMatters.com to send Congress a letter of support.



Is healthy-ish good enough for your eyesight? [Infographic]

11/21/2017

(BPT) - New study reveals a need for greater awareness about eye care and light done right as part of an overall personal wellness plan.




Clear winter roads keep us safe and the economy humming

11/17/2017

(BPT) - Across the U.S., more than 70 percent of the population lives in areas affected by snow and ice. Each winter the average driver in these areas will see more than 5 inches of snow on the roads. And when the snow is falling there are few things more comforting than the sight of snowplows and salt trucks making highways safe for commuters, shoppers and travelers.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, snowy, slushy or icy pavement accounts for more than 116,000 Americans injured and over 1,300 killed each year. In fact, 24 percent of all weather-related vehicle crashes occur under such wintry conditions. A study by Marquette University found that effective use of road salt reduced vehicle crashes by 88 percent, injuries by 85 percent and the cost of accidents by 85 percent.

In the Snow Belt, citizens expect roads to always be cleared of snow and ice, no matter how bad the storm, says Bret Hodne, public works director for West Des Moines, Iowa. To help meet those sky-high expectations, Hodne orders salt months before the first snowflake falls. His motto is "don't trust your climate" because if you plan for an average season, it's bound to be a record-setting winter of snow and ice.

Salt was first used in the 1930s for snow and ice control, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that salt became widely adopted by snowfighters as one of the major weapons to keep winter roads safe. In an average Iowa winter, Hodne's department alone uses 4,000 tons of salt and keeps twice that amount in storage. Salt works by lowering the freezing point of water and when applied on already frozen roadways (deicing) it helps to melt the ice. When salt is applied before a freeze sets in (anti-icing) it helps prevent liquid water from becoming ice. This is why drivers will often see salt trucks out and about before the roads start to freeze.

Both methods give tires more traction with the pavement, keeping roads open and safe while protecting lives and commerce. How quickly salt melts frozen water is dependent upon a number of variables, including temperature, time and the rate of application. Fortunately, it is usually not necessary to melt all the snow and ice on a road. Merely destroying or preventing the bond between pavement and frozen water is a more efficient, economical and environmentally sensitive approach. In fact, salt is the single most effective and economical method for treating roadways.

In addition to enhancing the safety of our roads in winter conditions, those snowplows are doing a lot to improve mobility. Snowfighters reduce weather-caused delays and congestion, allowing for emergency vehicles to respond more quickly when people need help, making for shorter travel times for families, allowing kids and parents to get to school and jobs safely and on time.

In fact, a study by IHS Global Insight for the American Highway Users Alliance found that snow- and ice-related delays and shutdowns hurt hourly workers the most. This study also placed a monetary value on fast and effective snow removal and salting. According to the researchers, a state can incur economic losses of between $300 million and $700 million every day that roads are closed and impassable. So, those snowplows are not just helping keep families together and safe, they are helping to keep the lifeblood of our commerce pumping during winter storms — a thing for which we can all be thankful!



Homeowners liable for snow and ice control

11/17/2017

(BPT) - Whenever it snows, it is common to see shopping center employees and business owners out and about clearing pathways, parking spaces and entrances of snow and ice. But this isn’t just good business to help customers get in the door, it is also a liability issue should someone slip, fall and injure themselves. Homeowners, too, face similar, albeit more limited, liability if they fail to take adequate steps to remove such slippery hazards from their property.

Generally speaking, homeowners are responsible for limiting dangers on their property, but in some cases this can also extend to public sidewalks abutting the home. In some localities, Homeowners Associations (HOAs), and governments also require that homeowners clear snow and ice or face fines. A regional survey of county and municipal ordinances conducted by the Salt Institute found that 83 percent have written policies directing property owners to remove accumulated snow and ice "within 24 hours of the end of the snowstorm." Penalties for property owners not complying can range from nominal tickets to misdemeanors punishable by up to 90 days in jail and fines of up to $500.

Shoveling snow is simple enough, but ice is another matter, and nothing works better to remove ice or prevent ice from forming than salt. Salt lowers water’s freezing point, the temperature at which it changes from a liquid to a solid and vice versa. Melting water that is already frozen is called deicing and is applied once ice appears. Preventing water from freezing in the first place is called anti-icing and is applied when a freeze is expected.

Commercially available anti-icing materials include salt (sodium chloride), calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, potassium acetate and calcium magnesium acetate. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but salt brine remains the best choice for anti-icing in temperatures above 15 degrees F (minus 9.4 degrees C) and continues to work in temperatures as low as minus 6 degrees F. For extremely low temperatures, look for a mixture using calcium or magnesium chloride instead.

Laws regarding snow and ice clearing vary by state and locality, but most mandate that some action be taken within a reasonable time period after it stops snowing. For example, the Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act states that any owner who "removes or attempts to remove snow or ice from sidewalks abutting the property shall not be liable for any personal injuries allegedly caused by the snowy or icy condition of the sidewalk resulting from his or her acts or omissions unless the alleged misconduct was willful or wanton."

The dangers from slips and falls should not be taken lightly, especially for the elderly. Each year thousands are rushed to emergency rooms as a result of icy falls with injuries that could have easily been prevented. One enterprising hospital, St. Vincent’s in Indianapolis, Indiana, even decided to give away road salt to local residents one winter to try and prevent such injuries and the resulting emergency room visits. In the end, the person who is most likely to slip and fall is the homeowner themselves.



Instant confidence: 5 easy ways to boost your self-image

11/16/2017

(BPT) - Feeling good about yourself these days? If so, you’re ahead of the game, since a recent study shows your perception of your own image has a profound effect on how you present yourself to the rest of the world.

Those findings could be empowering in light of the fact that even small changes to your self-care routine can significantly boost your self-confidence.

The study by researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Business found those who believe in their own attractiveness view themselves as having higher social status. “The finding that your assessment of yourself shapes your view of yourself and others puts power into your hands,” the authors note.

Want to give yourself some instant confidence? Consider how these science-based suggestions may help you put your best foot forward when dealing with everything life throws your way.

* Get moving. Regardless of your fitness goals (or lack thereof), the fact is you’re likely to feel better physically, emotionally and mentally after you exercise. Research also shows it can improve your self-esteem.

* Ramp up your smile. Scientists say our brains are zapped with an instant mood boost when we smile, and that boost is reinforced when others smile back. Further, whiter teeth can have a direct effect on our social and professional interactions, and they’re now easy to achieve through consumer brands like Rembrandt's 1 Week Whitening Kit that can achieve professional-level results at home within a week. In study results transcending gender, age, income, education, employment and marital status, 58 percent of participants were more likely to be hired after whitening their teeth, while 53 percent received higher salary offers. Sixty-one percent were deemed more confident, and 54 percent generated more interest from others in terms of further interactions or dating.

* Let your body language communicate self-respect. Keeping your shoulders pulled back and your body straight and tall communicates confidence to your brain, one study confirms. Other research found the most empowering stance is one in which your arms are held slightly away from your torso, your body is open and your head is up.

* Optimize color in your clothing. The right shade may light up your entire face and have a surprising impact on your mood. “Choosing the color of your office, your clothes or your desktop should not be taken lightly — colors do affect our moods and productivity,” states a recent article on Scienceofpeople.com. “When given the choice, picking a color that will work with you and not against you can only help.”

* Wear scent strategically. Because our brains link certain smells to positive experiences, research suggests we may be able to ramp up our confidence with scents that remind us of happy times. That’s why aromatherapy can help alleviate anxiety, depression and sleeplessness, and improve quality of life for those with chronic health issues, confirms Mayo Clinic.

Bottom line: When you're taking care of yourself and projecting your best self, you’re far more likely to project the confidence you need to deal effectively with life.

“Confidence can make or break a lot of things,” advises Lecia Bushak on Medicaldaily.com. “In our extrovert-centric society, confidence can get you a job, a girlfriend, and the courage to say no to people or situations that are toxic to you. Confidence is knowing yourself and taking care of yourself, too.”



Invisible hearing aids make myths of wearing one disappear

11/16/2017

(BPT) - While 48 million Americans have significant hearing loss, many of them do not wear a hearing aid. In fact, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America, 80 percent of people who would benefit from wearing a hearing aid do not wear one.

Looking older, doesn’t fit lifestyle and too much of a hassle are just a few stigmas that keep people from using a hearing aid.

However, today’s technology makes those challenges disappear with completely invisible, invisible-in-canal (IIC) and completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aid options.

Hearing aid differences

So, what are the differences between the three options? It’s all in the placement:

* Completely invisible hearing aids are inserted into the canal by a hearing professional. They stay in the ear 24/7 for months at a time until the hearing aids are replaced by the professional.

* Invisible-in-canal (IIC) hearing aids are a custom-made style that is inserted into the ear canal; however, they are designed to be removed daily.

* Completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aids are custom-made to sit completely in the ear canal. Only the tip of a small handle shows outside the canal. This is used to insert and remove the device.

Let’s explore how invisible hearing aids can make a person feel better about wearing a hearing aid.

Out of sight and out of mind

No one wants to look older than they are. Unfortunately, hearing loss is misperceived to be a sign of old age. However, 40 percent of the 48 million Americans with hearing loss are younger than 60.

For some people, wearing something that points out that misconception may serve as a detractor. With completely invisible hearing aids, the device slips into the canal, making it indistinguishable from everyone around the hearing aid wearer.

“Completely invisible hearing aids are out of sight and therefore, out of mind for the hearing aid wearer,” said Dr. Nicole Klutz, audiologist and product manager at Phonak. “They don’t have to worry about anyone seeing their hearing aid or associating old age with hearing loss.”

Keep an active lifestyle

The United States of Aging Survey showed that more than half of survey respondents (52 percent) who were 60 and older exercise or are physically active at least four days per week. For those who wear hearing aids, having a device that allows them to stay active is important.

Completely invisible hearing aids don’t have to be manipulated or taken in or out of ears. “A completely invisible hearing aid allows wearers to live their life as they did before they started wearing the device,” said Klutz. “They don’t have to take their hearing aid out to use the phone, exercise or participate in activities they enjoy.”

Eliminate the hassle

Completely invisible hearing aids are hassle-free because the hearing aid wearer does not have to do anything. Once the completely invisible hearing aid is in their ear, they simply forget about it and go about their normal lifestyle, according to Klutz.

“Thanks to the placement of completely invisible hearing aids, the hearing aid wearer doesn’t have to worry about taking the hearing aid out and dropping it, stepping on it or misplacing it,” she added.

Get in tune with invisible hearing aids

Klutz said the longer someone with hearing loss waits to address it, the longer and harder they are working to understand conversations where they may be missing parts of words or sentences. They also are more likely to withdraw themselves from activities they previously enjoyed but are no longer enjoying due to their hearing loss.

“People with hearing loss deserve to live a fulfilled, sound-enriched life just as everyone else, without having to worry about being judged for wearing a hearing aid,” she added.

Completely invisible hearing aids now available

Completey invisible, IIC and CIC hearing aids are available now from Phonak. For more information, visit www.trylyric.om or find a licensed hearing care professional who has been specially trained to fit the latest in hearing aid technology.



Behind the Fuss for Real Grass Playing Fields

11/15/2017

(BPT) - Whether attending a child’s scrimmage, the hottest college bowl game of the week or a professional playoff, the vibrant expanse of a football field offers more than a colorful canvas for the action. Often an afterthought for spectators, the choice of playing surface – natural vs. artificial – is a major decision for sports teams and field managers that goes far beyond aesthetics. According to Don Follett, director of fields and grounds for the Baltimore Ravens, the decision to transition M&T Bank Stadium back to natural grass at the start of the 2016 season was driven by the players. “A few of our key players asked that we entertain natural grass,” said Follett. “Ultimately, we decided that real football should be played on real grass.”

Why the fuss over real grass for sports fields? Venues choose one surface versus another for reasons that are highly specific to their situations. The following themes, however, consistently pop up:

Injury considerations

When first introduced, artificial turf had less cushioning and more surface hardness than it does today, affecting the probability and severity of injuries. Today, the installation of artificial turf involves a mix of sand or crumb rubber infill, which absorbs impact energy and provides surface cushioning. Over time, however, as infill levels decrease from being packed down or migrating, more infill must be added to maintain the target depth range provided from the turf manufacturer. Additionally, based on some of the research, an athlete’s foot is more likely to snag in a synthetic system, which creates more force on the foot, ankle and knee when trying to turn or change directions. In comparison, natural grass can be more forgiving when players stop or turn quickly.

While injury rates are not statistically significant between one playing surface and another, given a choice, professional football players tend to favor natural grass fields over artificial turf. Their preferences have been associated with beliefs that there are more lower body injuries when playing on artificial turf. In a 2010 survey of NFL players, 69 percent preferred a natural surface. Perceptions about safety and wear on the body likely factored in, as players cited artificial turf as a contributor to injuries (82 percent), soreness and fatigue (89 percent), a shorter career (89 percent) and a reduced quality of life after football (64 percent). “In their [players’] minds, natural is better, safer,” continued Follett.

Health and comfort issues

Beyond injuries, natural and artificial turf have other health and safety impacts. Natural grass fields have regular growth, watering and mowing cycles, allowing for constant rejuvenation and decomposition of various compounds. The dense root and shoot systems characteristic of healthy turfgrass support a large population of soil micro-flora and -fauna. These organisms offer one of the most active biological systems for the degradation of trapped organic chemicals and pesticides. According to Tim Van Loo, president of the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) and a certified sports field manager, “the soil of natural turfgrass systems includes microbes that break down certain compounds, such as pesticides, potentially noxious organic chemicals and even bacteria from bodily fluids, such as blood and spit.” With synthetic fields, regular maintenance – sweeping, dragging, loosening and redistribution of infill, and cleaning – is necessary to keep them in top form.

Turfgrass has the added benefit of contributing to noise and glare reductions. Natural grass absorbs sound and can reduce noise levels by up to 10 decibels. Variation in the size, shape and angle of individual grass blades disperses sunlight to reduce glare and improve visibility in sunny conditions. Both qualities can benefit players and spectators alike in large and noisy stadiums.

Playability factors

Artificial fields are often cited for enabling more continuous play than their natural counterparts, which may need time to recover between heavy use. With a little pre-planning, turf managers can mitigate most of these challenges and protect the long-term playability of their natural turf fields. “The life of a natural field can be extended by rotating activities between fields, changing the daily location of practice on a field, or moving drills and practices around the field,” said Van Loo. Taking care to preserve the quality and coverage of natural turf can also reduce unpredictable ball roll and bounce that may occur with bare, patchy growth.

Likewise, modern drainage systems are mitigating much of the water concern previously associated with natural grass. When asked how the Ravens’ field manages heavy rains, Follett explained, “We put in a full sand-based drainage system that percolates at 13 inches an hour; it would take a remarkable amount of rain.”

In warmer regions, heat presents a different challenge. The University of Missouri Turfgrass Research Center conducted a study in 2010 comparing surface temperatures of different types of playing fields. The university found that synthetic fields dissipate radiant heat, with surface temperatures regularly exceeding that of natural grass fields by 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. In order to ensure player safety, teams must schedule practice and game times to cooler periods of the day or run irrigation systems that cool fields with water.

Environmental concerns

When choosing a surface, environmental impacts must also be considered. Fertilizer and pesticides are often associated with natural turf. However, organic options are proving successful and newer environmentally friendly fertilizer applications are now available. Additionally, the root and thatch layer in natural turf systems acts as a filter and removes pollutants before they enter surface or groundwater.

If water use is a concern, field managers can take conservation steps. Many recreational fields are overwatered, and devices such as rain sensors, soil moisture probes or evapotranspiration pans can help manage irrigation efficiency. Other water-saving options include using a drought-resistant species or encouraging deeper root development by allowing grass to grow taller.

With artificial turf, other environmental issues lurk below the surface. Crumb rubber infill comes from shredded tires that contain zinc and other metals. Some fear such elements could escape into the air or leach into water. Additionally, when artificial fields are replaced, the synthetic turf often ends up in landfills.

Economic impacts

The final decision on natural grass or synthetic often comes down to immediate and long-term costs. According to the STMA, a natural field can cost from $0.60 to $5.00 per square foot, depending on soils and drainage installation, while construction of synthetic systems can run $4.50 to $10.25 per square foot. Annual natural turf maintenance costs vary based on the facility and climate regions, but annual expenditures average between $20,000 to $30,000 per field and are competitive with synthetic field maintenance and repairs. Based on Follett’s experience, while there were initial costs to transition M&T Bank Stadium back to natural turf, “there is not a significant difference in the ongoing maintenance of well-kept artificial turf and grass.”

Choosing between natural and artificial turf is not easy. It is a decision every field manager must weigh carefully, evaluating all factors including the perceptions of players and spectators to ensure long-term support for the field. “I recall one player coming up to me on the sidelines of a game,” said Follett. “He gave me a big bear hug and said, ‘Dude, you have extended my career.’ Statistically, there isn’t strong evidence in either direction, but perception is reality.”



5 questions about applying for disability benefits

11/15/2017

(BPT) - Age and chronic illness can take a toll. A June 2017 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that the most costly health conditions in the U.S. include: heart disease, cancer, arthritis, stroke and type 2 diabetes. An estimated 117 million people have one or more chronic health conditions.

These health issues also place in the top 10 conditions of former workers who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

Social Security disability is an important alternative for former workers who can no longer work because of a severe health condition. In fact, the average SSDI recipient worked 22 years before they experienced a life-changing disability.

“More people are living with chronic illness, and many people do OK with treatment and rehabilitation,” said Mike Stein, assistant vice president of Allsup, a disability benefits representation organization. “But other people have to stop working when their health just won’t let them continue.”

About 154 million workers have paid FICA taxes and have disability insurance coverage through the SSDI program. If you know someone who may qualify, check out the Refer a Friend program. Following are answers to the top five common questions about applying for disability benefits.

1) Who applies for disability benefits? People who have experienced a work-disrupting severe health condition that will last for 12 months or longer, or is terminal. They may have a health condition, such as arthritis, a severe spinal condition, cancer, or have experienced a stroke or car accident. On average, former worker recipients are 54 years old. Last year, about 2.3 million former workers with disabilities applied for disability benefits.

2) When should I apply for disability benefits? Generally, you should apply when you cannot work because of your health condition. As soon as you have to stop working, it makes sense to apply for Social Security disability benefits if you have solid medical evidence. If you are uncertain of when to apply, you can find help from a disability representation organization that provides free assessments of your likelihood of qualifying for the program.

3) Why should I apply for disability benefits? Most people apply for disability benefits because they need the monthly income. Plus, there are several additional benefits. You can get extra dependent benefits if you have a child under 18. You can get Medicare after 24 months of receiving cash SSDI benefits. You also protect your retirement benefits, and you can receive incentives to return to work. “It’s important not to give up on the idea of returning to work, eventually, because it’s much better for your finances in the long run,” Stein said.

4) How do I apply for disability benefits? Much like filing taxes, you have different options when applying for disability benefits. You can try it on your own, or enlist the help of a professional representative who understands what the Social Security Administration needs to process your claim. Most people who apply on their own are denied at the application level, and must appeal. Having a representative early in the process can improve your chances of approval and help ensure your application is completed properly. Most people have a representative for their hearing.

5) How much money will I receive? Your monthly benefit will be calculated based on your past work earnings and the amount of FICA taxes you paid on those earnings. You can find online calculators that will help you get an estimate of what you can expect to receive before you apply for SSDI.

Unfortunately, it may take a long time to receive benefits because the Social Security disability program has stringent rules and several steps in the claim review process.

“Many people make the mistake of waiting to apply for disability,” Stein explained. “They deplete their savings, they borrow from their 401(k) plan, and they make other big sacrifices — before they apply for disability benefits. It makes it that much harder when they have to wait months or even years for Social Security to review their claim.”

An important consideration is applying for disability with a representative, Stein said. “If you can receive disability benefits at the very beginning, with your application — you can save yourself many months of time for appeals and possibly avoid a hearing on your disability claim.”

For more information about Social Security disability eligibility and applying for disability benefits, visit FileSSDI.Allsup.com.



Control your diabetes while controlling costs

11/15/2017

(BPT) - Controlling the “ABCs of diabetes,” namely A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, is difficult enough, but when you add that second C — costly medications — it’s easy to see how one’s levels can spiral out of control very quickly.

According to the American Diabetes Association, for the 30 million people living with diabetes in the U.S., health care costs are more than double (2.3 times) the costs compared to those without diabetes. This is due to the ever-increasing costs of the medications to treat diabetes and the chronic conditions that often accompany the disease, namely high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In fact, between 2002 and 2013, the cost of insulin has tripled, and newer cholesterol- and blood pressure-lowering medications are also on the rise.

Now consider that in the U.S., more than 2 million children and adults living with diabetes do not have access to health insurance, and millions more are in high-deductible plans that can require high out-of-pocket costs. This has a compounding effect on our healthcare system and society because the lack of access to diabetes medications can lead to avoidable doctor visits, hospitalizations, amputations and even death.

So, what is the cash-paying person struggling to afford these high-cost insulins and other diabetes medications to do? The good news is there are numerous ways to save money on diabetes care without compromising on quality.

First, shop around. Medication prices can vary greatly by pharmacy. If you are not using insurance to cover the cost of prescription drugs, there are many ways to obtain prescription assistance. See if you could begin saving money immediately with Inside Rx, a free discount drug card program, which provides deep discounts on certain brand-name diabetes medications, including insulin and drugs that treat co-existing conditions such as high cholesterol and blood pressure. In fact, people who have used the Inside Rx card have saved an average $180 on featured brand insulin medications. See insiderx.com for a listing of these featured medications, as well as important terms and restrictions.

In addition, Rx Assistance provides a comprehensive database of pharmaceutical assistance programs. Most pharmaceutical companies also offer financial assistance programs to persons who have trouble affording their medications and supplies.

By doing some research into these types of discount programs and databases, it may be possible to save thousands of dollars a year, while controlling your diabetes and enhancing your quality of life.



Hispanic health: Addressing 4 myths about Type 2 diabetes

11/15/2017

(BPT) - Chances are you know someone with type 2 diabetes (T2D) – whether it be a parent, cousin, neighbor or a co-worker. Yet, did you know that diabetes disproportionately affects the Hispanic community in the United States? In fact, nearly 16.9 percent of Hispanic-American adults in the U.S. are living with T2D, compared to 10.2 percent of non-Hispanic white adults, according to The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL).

As Hispanic populations grow in the U.S., the number of Hispanics with diabetes is expected to grow with it. That’s why it’s important to get the facts about some of the common myths and misconceptions that are associated with type 2 diabetes so you and your family can make educated health care decisions.

Myths and Facts

Below are some common myths and misconceptions, and corresponding facts associated with type 2 diabetes and insulin treatment.

Myth 1: I have type 2 diabetes because I didn't take care of myself.

Fact: The truth is diabetes is a result of a number of factors. These include family and medical history, ethnicity and age, which all play a role in whether or not someone is predisposed to diabetes.

Myth 2: Beginning treatment with insulin is going to cause me to change my entire lifestyle.

Fact: As diabetes changes over time, your treatment may need to change with it. The natural progression of type 2 diabetes may lead to a patient taking insulin - many people with diabetes are prescribed insulin, sometimes because their bodies do not use insulin properly. Insulin can be incorporated into your daily schedule as part of your meal and treatment plan.

Myth 3: "I can’t enjoy the holidays or family time because I won’t be able to have the foods I love."

Fact: The truth is you can still enjoy the foods that you love – just in moderation. The foods you like may be a healthy option or a sweet treat, so keep an eye on portion control and make smart choices throughout the day. Talk to your health care provider to get specific guidance on a healthy meal plan.

Myth 4: "Diabetes can be cured if I eat healthy, and once I reach my blood sugar goal, I can stop my medication."

Fact: The truth is there is no cure for diabetes. However it can often be managed with medication and lifestyle changes. Eating healthy and getting regular exercise, along with medications such as insulin, can help control your blood sugar levels. It’s best to speak with your healthcare provider about the best treatment plan for you, as well as how often you should test your blood sugar and have regular A1C tests.

Separating Fact from Fiction

“Myths and misconceptions about T2D can get in the way of people making informed decisions about their health. That’s why it’s important to talk to your doctor, ask questions and work with him or her to develop a treatment plan that works for you,” says Dr. Frank Lavernia, founder and director of the North Broward Diabetes Center in Pompano Beach, Florida. “Facts and information are empowering, but separating diabetes facts from fiction can be difficult at times. That’s where the Basado en Hechos initiative can help.”

The Basado en Hechos initiative is designed to help dispel some type 2 diabetes myths and misconceptions that may be common among the Hispanic community. At basadoenhechos.com, you can watch a video that addresses some myths about type 2 diabetes and insulin, as well as find information about a diabetes treatment option.



Tips for helping reduce the burden of Alzheimer's caregiving

11/1/2017

(BPT) - Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other dementias is exceptionally demanding, and especially challenging. The caregiving needs of people living with Alzheimer’s are not only often more extensive, but are often needed over many years — even decades.

A recent survey by the Alzheimer’s Association indicates many caregivers are not getting the help and support they need — a whopping 84 percent of caregivers say they would like more support in caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, especially from family members.

“Too many people are shouldering the caregiving burden alone,” says Ruth Drew, director of information and support services at the Alzheimer’s Association. “Many people want or would welcome help, but they are reluctant or just too overwhelmed to ask.”

Tips for supporting a caregiver

Providing help and support to caregivers can be easier than most people think. Even little acts can make a big difference, Drew says. The Alzheimer’s Association offers these suggestions:

Learn: Educate yourself about Alzheimer’s disease — its symptoms, its progression and the common challenges facing caregivers. The more you know, the easier it will be to find ways to help.

Build a team: Organize family and friends who want to help with caregiving. The Alzheimer's Association Care Team Calendar is a free, personalized online tool that allows helpers to sign up for specific tasks, such as preparing meals, providing rides or running errands.

Give a break: Spend time with the person with dementia, allowing the caregiver a chance to run errands, go to their own doctor’s appointment or engage in an activity that helps them recharge. Even one hour could make a big difference in providing the caregiver some relief.

Check in: Many caregivers report feeling isolated or alone; make a phone call to check in, send a note or stop by for a visit.

Tackle the to-do list: Ask for a list of errands that need to be done. Pick up groceries or dry cleaning, or even offer to shuttle kids to and from activities.

Be specific and be flexible: Open-ended offers of support (“Call me if you need anything,” or “Let me know if I can help.”) may be well-intended, but are often dismissed. Be specific in your offer (“I’m going to the store, what do you need?”). Continue to let the caregiver know that you are there and ready to help.

Help for the holidays: Help caregivers around the holidays by offering to help with cooking, cleaning or gift shopping. If a caregiver has traditionally hosted family celebrations, offer your home instead.

Join the fight: Honor a person living with the disease and their caregiver by supporting the Alzheimer’s cause. Volunteer at your local Alzheimer’s Association office or participate in fundraising events.

“It’s a mistake to assume caregivers have everything under control,” Drew says. “Most caregivers can use and would appreciate help. No one can do everything, but each of us can do something.”

To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and ways you can support families and people living with the disease, visit www.alz.org, the website of the Alzheimer’s Association.



Don't let asthma ruin the holidays

11/15/2017

(BPT) - With colder months arriving, there are a few things on everybody’s minds: festive treats, gift shopping and of course, time spent with family and friends. As many people look forward to the holiday season, asthma sufferers need to be aware and prepared for all the triggers this time of the year can bring. The change in weather, traveling or being in a relative’s home with new allergens can all trigger an asthma attack.

Charmayne Anderson has been living with asthma for as long as she can remember. Now, as Director of Advocacy at the Allergy and Asthma Network, she educates others on how to prepare for an asthma attack and enjoy life — and the holidays — unencumbered by their condition. After living with asthma through childhood, adolescence and now adulthood, she has witnessed an evolution of asthma medications and respiratory treatments firsthand.

“When I was diagnosed with asthma as a child, there were no inhalers or similar treatments for us to take home,” Anderson said. “My parents would have to take me for after-hours emergency care visits for an injection to help get my breathing under control.”

Anderson, along with the approximately 25 million asthma patients in the U.S., has more advanced and effective treatment options today to help manage symptoms and asthma attacks. For most people with asthma, having a rescue inhaler on-hand at all times is crucial, whether at home or on the go. Since asthma triggers may change frequently, it’s difficult to predict when an attack could strike. Particularly at this time of year, walking in the chilly winter air could be enough to cause wheezing and shortness of breath.

“For someone who has asthma, it can be a life-or-death situation. When you’re experiencing an attack, even if it’s minor, if you can’t get relief immediately it just escalates and becomes even greater,” said Anderson. “Having my rescue inhaler with me at all times and being able to check the dose counter is critical.”

One modern feature of asthma inhalers that has been especially helpful for Anderson and others areis dose counters integrated into rescue inhalers. For Anderson, dose counters serve as a forewarning that her inhaler is running low. Such a seemingly small reminder has certainly made a big difference; Anderson believes dose counters have helped her be more proactive in filling her prescription and being aware how much medication is left.

Every year, asthma accounts for 10.5 million doctor visits and 1.6 million emergency room visits in the United States. By utilizing dose counters and maintaining an asthma treatment plan, asthma sufferers like Anderson can help avoid emergency situations like these and travel with some confidence knowing they’re prepared.

Anderson said, “Prior to using a rescue inhaler with a dose counter built in, there were many times when I was away, out or not necessarily paying attention to how much medicine was in my inhaler. I'd get to a point when I would need it and I realized there was nothing in it, and I'd scramble to refill it.”

Now, when it comes time to travel for the holidays, the number one thing on Anderson’s to-do list is to make sure her and her children’s inhalers are filled.

“Before heading out of town I check everyone’s dose counter to make sure there is enough medication,” said Anderson. “Reaching out to a pharmacy while you’re traveling for the holidays is hard, especially when you’re experiencing an asthma attack and in an emergency situation.”

For additional information on the importance of dose counters, visit KnowYourCount.com.

Ms. Anderson has been compensated for her time in contributing to this program.

RESP-41556

September 2017



Moms-to-be: Forget pickles and reach for pistachios

11/14/2017

(BPT) - Results of a new study among pregnant women with impaired glucose intolerance during gestation (GIGT) or gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) — commonly known as gestational diabetes — show that eating pistachios may help manage blood sugar levels. The study is the first to evaluate the glucose response after consumption of pistachios in pregnant women with GDM or GIGT.

Diabetes is a chronic illness that affects more than 422 million people around the world. GDM develops in a pregnant woman who did not previously have diabetes. Like other types of diabetes, it affects how the body uses blood sugar. GIGT occurs when, during pregnancy, the body is unable to regulate blood glucose levels normally because of hormonal changes. The blood glucose levels rise beyond normal levels after a glucose challenge, but not high enough to warrant a diabetes diagnosis. While resolved after the baby is born, women with either GDM or GIGT have a greater risk of developing diabetes.

According to the latest diagnostic criteria established by the International Association of Diabetes and Pregnancy Study Groups (IADPSG) in 2010, GDM prevalence was estimated at 9.8 to 25.5 percent worldwide.

“Our study is the first to show that eating pistachios may help women with gestational diabetes control their blood sugar levels after eating,” said Sheng Ge, M.D., lead investigator, Chief Physician and Director of Clinical Nutrition at the Sixth People’s Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, China, where the study was conducted. “The results highlight pistachios as a smart food choice for women with gestational diabetes as they aim to manage their illness.”

In the study, 30 women with gestational diabetes (all between 24 and 28 gestational weeks) were randomly assigned to eat a breakfast of either 42 grams of pistachios (about 1/3 of a cup, or 1.5 servings) or 100 grams of whole wheat bread (two slices) after an overnight fast. The pistachios and whole wheat bread were matched for calories. Blood sugar and GLP-1, a key insulin-producing hormone, were measured every 30 minutes after the meal, up to 120 minutes. After seven days, the groups switched.

Blood sugar levels were significantly lower after consuming pistachios than they were after consuming whole wheat bread after 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes and 120 minutes. In fact, blood sugar levels after eating pistachios were comparable to baseline levels. In addition, GLP-1 levels were significantly higher after consumption of pistachios compared to whole wheat bread after 60 minutes, 90 minutes and 120 minutes.

The effect on insulin levels was even more dramatic. Blood insulin levels did not increase during the two hours after eating the pistachios. Again, both groups of women had a significantly lower rise in blood insulin levels at every time point measured after eating the pistachios than they did after eating whole wheat bread.

“Elevated blood sugar during pregnancy not only impacts the mother’s health, but it may also increase the baby’s risk of developing diabetes,” said Zhaoping Li, M.D., another study investigator and Professor of Medicine, Chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition, University of California, Los Angeles. “This study shows pistachios can be a useful addition to the diet in order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels while providing essential nutrients to the mother and baby during this critical time.”

Dr. Li added, “It’s exciting to see solutions from whole foods that are also palatable to patients. They’re much more likely to comply with a prescribed diet as a result of a diabetes diagnosis when the food is something they enjoy.”

Pistachios have a low Glycemic Index (GI), are relatively high in fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, all of which can benefit people with diabetes. Eating pistachios has a minimal effect on blood sugar levels after eating a meal and, when added to a carbohydrate-rich meal, they help minimize any spike in blood sugar.



It takes two: Battling a devastating lung disease

11/13/2017

(BPT) - (BPT) – Theta Rone and her husband James have been together, side-by-side, through it all – from the grade school classroom to the birth of their two children. They’re the perfect example of “it takes two” even when the going gets tough.

In 2014, the couple was just settling down to enjoy their retirement in Tennessee, when they received some daunting news: Theta had leukemia. The prospects of recovery were pretty good, but Theta would have to undergo a series of sometimes difficult treatments. It wouldn’t be easy, but knowing James would be there by her side made it all seem doable.

The two teamed up, determined to beat Theta’s cancer. Just when they thought the worst was behind them, a routine chest x-ray showed an abnormality in James’ lungs.

“I couldn’t imagine James and I being faced with a more difficult challenge than fighting leukemia, but our strength was tested again,” said Theta.

After a follow-up CT scan, James was diagnosed with the rare and life-threatening lung disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF. James initially thought IPF was another “old age” problem. But after speaking to the doctor and doing their own research, he and Theta realized the seriousness of his diagnosis and knew they’d have to team up once again to take action.

“It was just like what we had faced before together with my illness, only this time the roles were reversed,” Theta said. “I was determined to be the loving, devoted caretaker to James that he had been to me.”

IPF causes permanent scarring of the lungs and, although it is considered a “rare” disease, approximately 50,000 new patients are diagnosed with the disease each year. That’s enough to fill a baseball stadium. Still, awareness of the disease is low. Worse still, the symptoms of IPF, which include breathlessness and a dry persistent cough, are similar to other more common and recognizable respiratory illnesses like chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) or asthma – and, for that reason, the road to an accurate diagnosis and actionable answers can be long (1-2 years) and frustrating.

James was lucky to have a doctor who knew that there are two FDA-approved medications for the treatment of IPF that have been proven effective in helping to delay the progression of the disease. The twosome worked together with James’ doctor to develop a treatment plan that was right for him, and eventually he started taking the medication Ofev® (nintedanib).

Now the two devote their time to Boehringer Ingelheim’s OPEN DOORS™ program, a program that specializes in providing personalized support for those prescribed Ofev for the treatment of IPF and their loved ones. The couple is thankful to have received information, guidance and financial assistance through OPEN DOORS themselves and are determined to provide hope and support to others impacted by this rare lung disease in return.

James and Theta remain side-by-side, determined to make the most of what life has to offer. As Theta says, “Just like everything else in life, we’ll meet it together with faith and hope, always remembering to experience joy in every moment.”

To learn more about Ofev® or the OPEN DOORS™ patient support program, visit www.Ofev.com.

What is Ofev®?

Ofev® is a prescription medication used to treat people with a lung disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). It is not known if Ofev® is safe and effective in children.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

What is the most important information I should know about Ofev (nintedanib)?

Ofev can cause harm, birth defects or death to an unborn baby. Women should not become pregnant while taking Ofev. Women who are able to become pregnant should have a pregnancy test before starting treatment and should use birth control during and for at least 3 months after your last dose. If you become pregnant while taking Ofev, tell your doctor right away.

What should I tell my doctor before using Ofev?

Before you take Ofev, tell your doctor if you have:

  • liver problems
  • heart problems
  • a history of blood clots
  • a bleeding problem or a family history of a bleeding problem
  • had recent surgery in your stomach (abdominal) area
  • any other medical conditions.

Tell your doctor if you:

  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
  • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if Ofev passes into your breast milk. You should not breastfeed while taking Ofev.
  • are a smoker. You should stop smoking prior to taking Ofev and avoid smoking during treatment.

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbal supplements such as St. John’s wort.

What are the possible side effects of Ofev?

Ofev may cause serious side effects.

TELL YOUR DOCTOR RIGHT AWAY if you are experiencing any side effects, including:

  • Liver problems. Unexplained symptoms may include yellowing of your skin or the white part of your eyes (jaundice), dark or brown (tea colored) urine, pain on the upper right side of your stomach area (abdomen), bleeding or bruising more easily than normal or feeling tired. Your doctor will do blood tests regularly to check how well your liver is working during your treatment with Ofev.
  • Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Your doctor may recommend that you drink fluids or take medicine to treat these side effects. Tell your doctor if you have these symptoms, if they do not go away, or get worse and if you are taking over-the-counter laxatives, stool softeners, and other medicines or dietary supplements.
  • Heart attack. Symptoms of a heart problem may include chest pain or pressure, pain in your arms, back, neck or jaw, or shortness of breath.
  • Stroke. Symptoms of a stroke may include numbness or weakness on 1 side of your body, trouble talking, headache, or dizziness.
  • Bleeding problems. Ofev may increase your chances of having bleeding problems. Tell your doctor if you have unusual bleeding, bruising, or wounds that do not heal and/or if you are taking a blood thinner, including prescription blood thinners and over-the-counter aspirin.
  • Tear in your stomach or intestinal wall (perforation). Ofev may increase your chances of having a tear in your stomach or intestinal wall. Tell your doctor if you have pain or swelling in your stomach area.

The most common side effects of Ofev are diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, liver problems, decreased appetite, headache, weight loss, and high blood pressure.

These are not all the possible side effects of Ofev. For more information, ask your doctor or pharmacist. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

For full Prescribing Information, including Patient Information, visit Ofev.com or contact Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals at (1-800-542-6257)

For more information:

To learn more about OPEN DOORS patient support program, visit www.OFEV.com or call 1-866-OPENDOORS.

MPR-US-100130


Veterans fought for freedom; struggle with lung health

11/13/2017

(BPT) -

After serving their country, many veterans face long-term health challenges but sometimes symptoms may not appear for decades and aren’t quickly recognized, aggravating their condition. The lung disease chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an example that’s disproportionately affecting veterans. COPD is now the fourth most common diagnosis among veterans. Approximately 15 percent of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs heath care users are affected with COPD. Veterans are also three times more likely than civilians to develop the respiratory condition.

COPD is a respiratory disease that makes breathing difficult. Tightness in the chest, breathlessness and persistent cough are the hallmark symptoms, but many people with COPD mistake a feeling of breathlessness as just a sign of aging, and often symptoms increase over a period of years. As many as 80 percent of people with COPD in the general population have moderate to severe COPD by the time they are diagnosed.

Recent studies have found there has been an uptick in respiratory diseases, including COPD among veterans, especially those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the disease goes largely unrecognized by caregivers and healthcare providers alike, according to a study by the Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S.

One of the key aspects of managing COPD is recognizing symptoms early and taking a proactive approach with your healthcare professional. “While COPD affects veterans disproportionately, it is a treatable condition,” says Dr. Jay Peters, FCCP, CHEST Foundation Leader. “We encourage veterans to keep a list of questions and observations about their breathing to bring up with their physician, which will aid in the development of a treatment plan.”

Due to the increased risk for veterans, Dr. David Mannino, Pulmonologist and Medical Expert at GSK, recommends they make it a point to talk to their doctor when they are having trouble with their breathing.

What is COPD?

COPD is a chronic lung disease brought on by occupational dust or chemicals, smoking or secondhand smoke, and exposure to air pollution. In some cases, people develop COPD due to genetic factors passed down through families. COPD includes two lung problems:

* Chronic bronchitis — coughing and mucous production due to inflammation of the airways over a period of several years

* Emphysema — damage to air sacs in the lungs or collapse of the miniscule breathing pathways in the lungs

For a full list of symptoms and to learn more about COPD, visit www.copd.com.



Home cleaning routines for allergy relief

11/10/2017

(BPT) - Many people turn to nasal sprays and antihistamines to combat seasonal nasal allergies or hay fever, but keeping the home clean to combat allergens, pollen and dust mite debris is just as important in the fight against allergies.

Vacuum often, and with the right filters and bags

One key to minimizing allergens at home is to vacuum at least twice per week. Start by using attachments to clean surfaces up high, working down to the floor. Make sure to vacuum curtains and upholstery as well as hard surfaces, and pay extra attention to entryways and areas around windows.

It’s also important to select vacuum accessories that have been designed specifically to capture allergens. Arm & Hammer Premium Allergen vacuum bags are specially designed of synthetic material to capture even more allergens, dust and pet hair from the home’s surfaces. In addition, the brand’s HEPA filters trap particles 75 times smaller than a human hair, including 99.97 percent of dust mite debris, animal dander, molds and pollen.

Frequently replacing vacuum bags and filters will keep vacuums running smoothly to keep a clean home happening. New bags are needed every one to two months, and filters should be replaced every three to six months. Don’t be fooled by washable filters as they too should be replaced — after one or two washes they may become less effective at capturing dust and allergens.

Wash bedding with hot water

Vacuuming high and low can help with surfaces, but bedding also should be a focus when attempting to allergen-proof the home. Sheets, blankets and comforters all attract dust mites in even the cleanest environments. Wash bedding once a week in hot water to keep allergens at bay. It’s also smart to consider protective covers for mattresses and pillows to stop dust mites from getting in too deep.

Keep air dry

Too much moisture in the air can help dust mites thrive, and may also lead to mold. Using a dehumidifier, especially in humid climates or summer months, can help control the spread of mold and dust mites.

Minimize indoor plants

While plants can be a great way to build ambiance in the home, some indoor plants can amplify allergy symptoms by releasing spores and other allergens into the air. For those with a green thumb who can’t live without plants at home, make sure to research the plants that are least likely to increase pollen or mold exposure indoors.

Keep the outdoors out

While it is hard to control exposure to pollen and other triggers when outside, those with allergies can avoid bringing pollen into the house with them. Keep shoes and jackets limited to the entryway or mudroom, and shower and wash hair before bedtime to stop the spread of pollen.

There is a range of Arm & Hammer bag and filter styles made to fit nearly all brands and models of vacuum cleaners, sold at Wal-Mart stores and www.walmart.com.



Try this protein-packed substitute to make lunchtime more nutritious

11/10/2017

(BPT) - Cottage cheese is having a moment.

Nutritionists and health-minded individuals have discovered that the dairy case staple can actually unlock a lot of mealtime solutions, especially when it comes to remaking recipes with a creamy base, such as tuna salad and veggie dip.

Simply swap the mayonnaise, cream cheese or sour cream with high-protein cottage cheese, and it's pretty easy to pull off a higher-protein and lower-calorie version of your lunchtime favorites, says Amy Gorin, a registered dietitian nutritionist and writer in New York City.

“In many of these recipes, cottage cheese works beautifully, because it helps these delicious foods keep that creamy texture while decreasing the calories and saturated fat — and adding filling protein,” Gorin says. “It’s one of those foods that was hiding in plain sight all these years.”

For best results, start with a protein-packed brand of cottage cheese. Gorin always recommends Muuna Cottage Cheese to her clients, because its Lowfat Plain variety delivers a rich and creamy texture, plus it's high in protein (14-19g per serving), is a good source of calcium and also contains potassium.

So look at your go-to breakfast, lunch and snack recipes with new eyes, grab your blender and get creative. To get you inspired, here are five easy ways you can make the cottage cheese swap and give yourself a protein boost without going hungry.

Lunch salad update

Many of us have said no to delicious and classic lunch salads we love, because mayo can add fat and calories. Turn to cottage cheese to make over your favorite lunches, and you can start enjoying things like tuna salad and potato salad, plus you’ll love that boost of protein.

On toast

Simplify your lunch hour and use cottage cheese as a creamy base for your favorite whole-grain toast, and then stack on yummy, vitamin-packed extras, like salad greens and sliced mangos, or even strawberries and avocado.

A Greek yogurt-cup alternative

For a quick on-the-go snack or lunch side, Muuna has reimagined cottage cheese into single-serve cups with real pieces of fruit on the bottom, packed with 15 grams of protein, including strawberry, blueberry, pineapple, peach and mango.

Smoothies reimagined

Swap out the yogurt and try using cottage cheese as a protein base for your favorite smoothie recipe. What you’ll have is a thick and creamy breakfast, likely with more protein than sugar.

Dip without the guilt

Kids and adults love how flavorful, creamy dips and dressings can liven up cut-up vegetables like carrots and broccoli. Sub in cottage cheese for mayo or sour cream to lower the calories and fat — and to amp up the protein and make the snack more filling and fueling. This super-simple, reimagined ranch dressing not only adds flavor to your crudites, it brings protein power to your lunchbox or your child’s.

For recipes and more inspiration, visit http://muuna.com/recipes/.



5 tips for sharing your personal multiple sclerosis story

11/6/2017

(BPT) - The tradition of storytelling — the social and cultural activity of sharing stories — extends as far back into human history as the ancient Greeks, and is valued across all cultures and communities. While the ancient Greeks wrote to express and alleviate the concerns of wars, plagues and famine, today, this cherished tradition can be used by many people, including those with chronic illnesses, to communicate their own struggles and moments of hope. My Story is an online platform offered through EMD Serono's MS LifeLines that allows people impacted by multiple sclerosis (MS) to share strength through stories that speak to their experiences with the condition.

According to MS LifeLines Ambassador Carrie, "When I was first diagnosed with MS, there were so many emotions: denial, anger and depression. Once I reached acceptance with MS, I found that sharing my story with others who are going through similar experiences gives me comfort, as well as helps them."

Storytelling can play a critical role in supporting the thousands of Americans affected by multiple sclerosis. MS can be a challenging disease to face and understand, and can leave the nearly 400,000 Americans diagnosed, as well as their friends and family, reeling with questions and frustrations about the impact that MS will have on their futures.

With this in mind, EMD Serono created My Story, an online platform for people with MS, as well as patients’ friends and family, to read and share stories and experiences.

In her experience counseling people with chronic conditions like MS, Dr. Vered Hankin, a clinical health psychologist and internationally acclaimed storyteller, finds that “storytelling can be empowering for both the storyteller and the person hearing the story.” She shares her five tips for anyone starting to share their own story.

Dr. Hankin’s 5 tips for storytelling

* Write freely about your journey with MS. Don’t worry about it coming out perfectly — you can change it later.

* Decide what stands out and comes to the forefront from your journey with MS.

* Add the senses by incorporating the sights, feelings, smells, tastes and sounds associated with the moment you identified.

* Refine the story by putting the moment into context by defining the events that led up to it, the people involved and what makes it interesting.

* Reflect on your story once it is developed and what it means to you, as well as how it can touch others facing similar situations. Remember to keep your story simple, honest and open.

Incorporating the above tips into a personal story about your MS journey may be helpful for you as well as the person reading your story. You can share yours and read others' stories through My Story and learn more about MS at MS LifeLines.



Simple ways to follow a low-glycemic eating plan for better health

11/6/2017

(BPT) - Adopting a diet that mainly consists of foods ranking low on the Glycemic Index (GI) can help you have a consistent energy level, feel calmer, improve cholesterol levels and lose weight. So, why aren’t more people following a low-glycemic diet and reaping these health advantages?

Some say a low-GI diet is hard to follow. Others consider it an eating plan only for people living with diabetes. According to Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator Johanna Burani, these are myths. “As an in-the-trenches dietitian, I have consistently seen how easily my patients learn to incorporate low-GI foods into their meal plans and how happy (and relieved) they are with their results,” says Burani.

Want to commit to a low-GI lifestyle? Here are some easy tips to help you see results:

* Not sure which foods are high and low and where they rank on the GI? Researchers have determined the GI values of more than 2,500 foods. Tip: Check out resources like the Guide to a Low Glycemic Diet for Better Blood Glucose Control on fifty50foods.com to make informed food choices and stick to those lower on the GI.

* All carbohydrates are not the same. Some "gush" into your bloodstream and quickly spike your blood sugar. Others just "trickle" in slowly, keeping it low. Tip: Know your carbs and choose "tricklers" not "gushers."

* Selecting more medium- to low-GI foods will help you maximize the performance of your workout or exercise. Tip: If you are doing endurance exercises, try consuming a moderate- to low-GI meal before exercising for sustained carb availability.

“Following a low-GI eating plan is easy since most foods are commonly found in supermarkets,” says Burani. For example, specialty food brand Fifty50 Foods has a broad line of certified low-glycemic items ranging from peanut butters and fruit spreads to candies and cookies and from breakfast items like syrup and oatmeal to baking items like pie crust and crystalline fructose.

* Does following a low-GI diet mean you have to give up your favorite sweet treats? Fortunately not. Tip: Try a healthy twist on the old standard peanut butter cookie made with peanut butter, no added sugar and zero sodium.

* Can you eat out and maintain a low-GI diet? Yes, you can. Many restaurant menus feature healthier foods that are lower on the GI so you can dine at your favorite spot without guilt. Tip: Do your homework in advance to identify the low-GI selections on the menu.

Here are a few options by cuisine:

Chinese: Order noodles (egg, rice or mung bean), vegetables and lean proteins. Say no to Asian-style sticky white rice and deep-fried foods.

Italian: Pick pasta, seafood and meat dishes or thin-crust pizza topped with vegetables. Don’t overload the cheese or go heavy on the sauces.

Fast-food: Go for the salad and avoid hamburgers and fries. Most fast-food items have high-GI values since they are processed and also are very high in fat and sodium. Choose wisely!

“Once my patients start feeling and seeing the results of low-GI eating they become committed to making this a lifestyle,” says Burani. “This applies to both those patients living with diabetes as well as those who want to improve their general health.”



Bacterial Vaginosis: One in Three U.S. Women Have Been Affected by This Vaginal Infection That Can Have Serious Health Risks If Left Untreated

11/6/2017

(BPT) - Over the course of their lives, many women experience symptoms of a vaginal infection, which can often be uncomfortable and confusing. What they may not know is that what they’re experiencing could be symptoms of bacterial vaginosis (BV) – one of the most prevalent gynecologic infections in the U.S., affecting 21 million women ages 14 to 49 annually. [1] It’s important for women to educate themselves about BV so they can best protect themselves from the associated health risks.

Caused by changes in the amount of certain types of bacteria in your vagina, BV can develop when your vagina has more harmful bacteria than good bacteria. [2] Common signs and symptoms associated with BV include unusual vaginal discharge that can be white or gray; watery; or have a strong fish-like odor. [2] These symptoms can easily be confused with those of a yeast infection. While discharge from a yeast infection may also be white or gray, it can look like cottage cheese, which is a key differentiator. [3]

“About thirty percent of reproductive age women have or have had BV. Left untreated, BV can have an impact on quality of life and increases the potential for other more serious health problems,” said Paul Nyirjesy, MD, Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA and an investigator in the Solosec™ clinical trials.

Who Does BV Affect?

One in three women have been affected by BV, impacting more than 21 million in the U.S. each year, but only four million are treated annually. BV is most common among women ages 14 to 49; however, women of any age can get BV, even if they have never had sex. That said, having a new sex partner or multiple sex partners can upset the balance of bacteria in the vagina and this places a woman at an increased risk. Pregnant women are also susceptible to BV and it’s especially important that they receive treatment for the safety of their unborn baby. [1,2]

What Are the Risks?

According to the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC), if BV is left untreated, women are at risk for serious health concerns, including an increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, trichomaniasis and HIV; an increased risk of pre-term birth or low birth weight for pregnant women; and pelvic inflammatory disease. If you think you have BV, be sure to visit your healthcare provider to get tested and treated, as BV can only be treated with a prescription antibiotic. It’s important to take all the medicine prescribed to you, even if your symptoms go away. [2]

A New Treatment Option

Currently, the most commonly prescribed oral BV treatment regimen requires twice-a-day dosing for seven days and adherence with the leading therapies has been shown to be only approximately 50 percent. [4] Additionally, 60 percent of women treated for BV will likely have a recurrence within 12 months. [5]

Recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Solosec™ (secnidazole) 2g oral granules is the first and only single-dose oral therapy for BV in adult women. It offers women a one-time treatment option that can be taken any time of the day, with or without a meal. Solosec™ is clinically proven to normalize BV symptoms, odor and discharge, without the use of creams or week-long oral regimens. In clinical studies, the most common adverse events were (incidence ≥ 2%) yeast infection, headache, nausea, altered taste, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vaginal itching. [6]

To learn more about this new treatment option, visit www.solosec.com.

What is SOLOSEC?
SOLOSEC™ (secnidazole) 2g oral granules is a prescription medicine used to treat bacterial vaginosis in adult women.

Important Safety Information
  • You should not use SOLOSEC if you’ve had an allergic reaction to secnidazole, other ingredients of the formulation, or other nitroimidazole derivatives.

  • Vaginal yeast infections may occur with SOLOSEC and require an antifungal treatment.

  • Long term use of SOLOSEC should be avoided as it is unclear if there is a potential risk of developing cancer while taking single-dose of SOLOSEC to treat bacterial vaginosis.

  • Before taking SOLOSEC, tell your healthcare provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you
    • Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
    • Are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. You should not breastfeed for 96 hours (4 days) after taking SOLOSEC.

  • SOLOSEC is a single-dose therapy for oral use. Use SOLOSEC by sprinkling an entire packet of SOLOSEC onto applesauce, yogurt, or pudding. The entire dose should be taken at once, and finished within 30 minutes. Avoid chewing or crunching the granules. SOLOSEC should not be taken by dissolving the granules in any liquid.

  • The most common side effects of SOLOSEC include yeast infection, headache, nausea, altered taste, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vaginal itching.

Call your doctor for medical advice on side effects. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to FDA at www.fda.gov/MedWatch also at 1-800-FDA-1088 or contact Symbiomix Therapeutics at 1-844-SOLOSEC (1-844-765-6732).

Please click here for full Prescribing Information.

References:

1. Koumans E.H., Sternberg M, Bruce C, et al. (2007): “The Prevalence of Bacterial Vaginosis in the United States, 2001-2004: Associations with Symptoms, Sexual Behaviors, and Reproductive Health.” Sex Transm Dis. 34(11): 864-869.

2. http://www.cdc.gov/std/bv/stdfact-bacterial-vaginosis.htm.

3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genital / Vulvovaginal Candidiasis (VVC) – Fungal Diseases. 2014.

4. IMS Health, 2014.

5. Bilardi J.E., Walker S, Temple-Smith M, et al. (2013): “The Burden of Bacterial Vaginosis: Women’s Experience of the Physical, Emotional, Sexual and Social Impact of Living with Recurrent Bacterial Vaginosis.” PLoS ONE. 8(9): 1-11.

6. Solosec [Package Insert]. Newark, NJ: Symbiomix Therapeutics, LLC.



6 healthy reasons to enjoy a slice of sweet cherry pie this holiday season

11/2/2017

(BPT) - The holidays are just around the corner, and for most of us that means time to indulge in some favorite treats. Fortunately, healthy doesn’t have to mean less delicious! If you’re looking for a good-for-you holiday dessert that can please even the most critical sweet tooth, a naturally sweet cherry pie could be just the ticket. You can have your pie and eat it too!

Cherries provide a whole host of health benefits, so pull out the cherries you put up, dried or froze this summer and feel good about enjoying that slice of cherry pie. Here are six reasons why:

* Natural, healthy sweetness: Dark sweet or Rainier cherries both offer pie lovers the perfect dose of juicy sweetness without excess sugar. Cherries boast a lower glycemic index than almost any other fruit, which means they release glucose slowly and evenly, helping you maintain a steady blood sugar level, leaving you feeling full longer and maybe even helping you maintain a healthy weight.

* Anti-inflammatory superpowers: Does your arthritis flair up when the temperature drops? Research shows that cherries contain anthocyanins, which shut down the enzymes that cause tissue inflammation in the exact same way that ibuprofen does. So, enjoying cherries daily may help reduce your need for anti-inflammatories.

* Better sleep in every bite: Keeping your energy up throughout the busy holiday season can be a challenge, but cherries can help you sleep better and feel more rested. Studies show that cherries are a natural source of melatonin, which helps control your body’s internal clock and regulate your sleep patterns. Try eating cherries about an hour before bedtime to help stabilize your sleep cycle.

* Reduced chance of gout attacks: More than 8.3 million Americans suffer from gout, a painful form of arthritis commonly associated with elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. A study by researchers at the University of California at Davis found that people who ate sweet cherries showed reduced levels of uric acid, while a study by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine showed that people who ate cherries, in conjunction with their prescribed medicine, had a 35 to 75 percent lower chance of experiencing a gout attack.

* Covert cancer-fighting agents: A study by the USDA’s Western Human Nutrition Research Center suggests that cherries possess cancer-fighting properties as well. Cherries contain ellagic acid, which appears to be a potent inhibitor to the growth of cancer cells.

* Boosted fiber intake: It’s no secret that Americans don’t eat enough fiber — in fact, many of us are fiber deficient, falling short of the 25-35 grams per day recommended by the USDA Dietary Guidelines. Eating cherries can help you reach the current dietary recommendation of two cups of fruit daily and can contribute to healthy weight maintenance, diabetes prevention and improved cardiovascular health.

While fresh cherries are available only in the summer months, frozen or preserved cherries are an excellent alternative that allow you to enjoy the health benefits of cherries year-round. Northwest Cherry Growers recommend the following easy-to-make sweet cherry pie recipe to celebrate the season:

Northwest Sweet Cherry Pie

Ingredients

2 pie crusts, prepared

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons cherry juice, reserved from pitting (fresh) or from rinsing/rehydrating (preserved)

7 cups (pitted) sweet cherries

3/4 - 1 cup coconut sugar

1 tablespoon almond extract or bourbon-vanilla bean infusion

Directions

1. Using a fork, whisk together the cherry water and cornstarch in a small bowl, then set aside.

2. Stem and pit the cherries, if not already done.

3. Fill pie dish with cherries and blend the remaining volume (about 2 cups or 1/4 the total volume) into a puree. Pour the remaining whole cherries into a mixing bowl and return to the refrigerator (if using frozen cherries).

4. Using a heavy-bottomed pan, gently heat the puree and sugar over low heat until the volume has reduced by 1/3 to 1/2. Constantly stir across the bottom to prevent burning.

5. Once reduced, remove from the heat and stir in the cornstarch slurry until the mix regains translucency. Gently and briefly reheat if needed. Stir in the extract and let the mixture cool to room temperature.

6. Pour the cooled mixture over the whole cherries, gently stirring to incorporate. Pour the final cherry mixture into a 9- or 10-inch prepared pie crust, and top with a second crust. Pinch, crimp and vent the top crust. Brush with a beaten egg if so desired and sprinkle lightly with coconut sugar.

7. Bake at 375 degrees for 55-60 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is steadily bubbling. Aluminum foil may be used around the crust edges to prevent browning during the second half of the bake. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack, and most importantly, allow the pie to cool completely before serving (3-4 hours).

To learn more about the health benefits of cherries, visit www.NWCherries.com.



How Bluetooth hearing aids are transforming the way we live

11/2/2017

(BPT) - Bluetooth technology is steadily expanding the role of modern hearing aids from tiny marvels that make use of artificial intelligence to process sound into true, state-of-the-art multimedia hubs now capable of two-way communication.

The primary goal of hearing aids has always been to improve speech understanding. While this hasn’t changed, manufacturers are now building Bluetooth technology directly into the most advanced hearing aid microchips. This lets consumers directly connect to virtually any wireless electronic device, eliminating the need to wear a body-worn accessory.

Let’s take a brief look at how the latest Bluetooth hearing aids are transforming the way we live.

They can now directly connect to any Bluetooth-enabled phone

According to Dr. Elizabeth Thompson, director of business development and veterans affairs at Phonak, previous generations of hearing aids could only directly connect to an iPhone, which greatly limited people’s options.

Pew Research Center found only 33 percent of American smartphone owners used an iPhone while a whopping 66 percent used the Android operating system,” said Thompson. “Furthermore, another study showed 38 percent of all Americans over age 65 still use a classic flip phone. Until now, there has never been a Bluetooth hearing aid that was truly made for all devices and allowed universal connectivity — including the ability to directly connect to an iPhone, an Android device (e.g., Samsung, LG), or even a classic flip phone that is Bluetooth-ready.”

Bluetooth hearing aids enable truly hands-free calls

The latest Bluetooth hearing aids allow you to answer a phone call with a simple press of a button on the hearing aid. Built-in microphones on the hearing aids themselves feature automatic voice pickup, allowing people to have two-way conversations through their hearing aids. Thompson stated this is the first time this has ever been done with hearing aids.

“This is indeed the first time a hearing aid wearer can have a true hands-free conversation without having to touch the phone at all,” she said. “This is especially convenient in the car, where your phone may be in a pocket or purse, or if you need to have a conversation while leaving your phone on the table or countertop, for example if you’re cooking.”

They stream wireless stereo sound directly from your TV

According to research firm Statista, Americans spend an average of 4.5 hours per day watching TV. And if you are or live with someone who has hearing loss, you probably know that sometimes the volume of the TV can become an issue.

“With a card-sized TV Connector, hearing aid wearers simply plug the device into the back of the TV,” added Thompson. “The ‘plug and play’ TV Connector instantly pairs with Bluetooth hearing aids, allowing viewers to stream high-fidelity TV sound in-stereo at their preferred volume level, independent of other viewers. Wearers have reported a markedly better experience in understanding dialogue, especially when the person on TV is talking fast.”

Bluetooth hearing aids are available right now

While all of these new advances may sound like the future, hearing aids with built-in Bluetooth technology are available today. For more information, visit tryphonak.com or find a licensed hearing care professional who has been specially trained in fitting the latest hearing aid technology.



5 nutritionist-approved tips for better holiday baking

11/1/2017

(BPT) - ‘Tis the season for sweet and savory treats. The holidays bring loads of goodies, but the problem is these temptations can put a big strain on your nutrition goals.

If you’re whipping up some tasty holiday dishes this season, you don't have to choose between your health and favorite indulgences. Transform any recipe into a healthier version simply by following these smart tricks from registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN CSSD.

Flour: Swap 25 percent of the white flour for specialty flours such as almond or oat flour. Since specialty flours do not act the same in baking as white flour, you can’t do a full 100 percent swap, but even just a little will provide more nutrition.

Butter: Try swapping 25 percent of the butter in a recipe with something else creamy such as pureed white beans, mashed banana, pumpkin puree, Greek yogurt, mashed avocado or nut butter. It shouldn't affect the recipe results and cuts down on fat and calories.

Eggs: Not all eggs are created equal. Eggland’s Best eggs have double the omega-3s than ordinary eggs, an “essential” fatty acid that's important for maintaining good health. Since the body cannot make them on its own, you must eat them. Omega-3s also lead to a better baking recipe, as they improve emulsifying qualities. Blatner says Eggland’s Best eggs are the only eggs she recommends to her clients and family for that added nutrition.

Sugar: Decrease the sugar in recipes by 25 percent and add nothing in its place. Recipes will turn out just fine if you pull back some of the sugar, even if you aren’t swapping in something else.

Half-batch: You want Grandma's famous cookies, but you don't need four dozen tempting you for weeks on end. Instead, make a half batch by halving all ingredients in the recipe. Then you can enjoy the food memories without having too much lingering around.

Want some holiday baking inspiration that uses these smart baking tips? Whip up some cute and scrumptious Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars and make your entire crew happy.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 20 min
Yield: 25 cookies

Ingredients:

Cookie Bars
2 Eggland’s Best Eggs (large)
1 (14 ounces) bag sweetened coconut flakes, plus more for topping
2 cups dark chocolate chips
2 cups almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

Glaze
2 cups confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Cookie Bars

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 13-by-9 baking sheet with aluminum foil.

In a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, stir together the coconut flakes and chocolate chips.

Add in the almond milk, vanilla extract, flour, salt, melted butter, brown sugar and eggs and beat until combined.

Pour batter into the prepared baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the bars begin turning golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Glaze

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream and vanilla until smooth.

Gently spread over the cooling bars.

Top with toasted coconut and allow to cool completely before eating.

Tip: Try cutting the bars up and placing them in the refrigerator, they taste even better cold!



America's Diabetes Challenge applauds type 2 diabetes community for tackling top challenges

11/1/2017

(BPT) - More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, and most (90-95 percent) have type 2 diabetes. Whether you live with type 2 diabetes or know someone who does, it can bring many challenges along the way. Last year, America’s Diabetes Challenge, a program from Merck and the American Diabetes Association, invited people to share their stories — both struggles and successes. The response was overwhelming, as thousands of patients and caregivers discussed their experiences managing the disease or supporting a loved one with it.

Allison from Kansas explained that she wants to eat healthy, but isn’t sure where to start. “I have a really hard time eating right because I don’t know what I should have and what I shouldn’t. I do try to eat a lot of salad, but my weakness is pop and sweets,” she said.

Meanwhile, Norma from Ohio described how she has helped her husband throughout his type 2 diabetes journey. “When my husband was diagnosed, we changed our diet and started exercising together. As his wife, I tell him he needs to stay healthy for our family and me, and I think that type of support is important for people who have the disease. It helps them take care of themselves,” she said.

Through these stories, and many others, America’s Diabetes Challenge learned that the type 2 diabetes community faces some common challenges like eating healthy, exercising, sticking to a treatment plan and coping with the disease.

But, these stories also demonstrated the community’s unwavering determination to help improve their diabetes management and reach their blood sugar goals. That’s why, this year, America’s Diabetes Challenge offered tips to help people tackle these common challenges head on:

* Eating healthy: Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring. For extra flavor, people can use salt-free spices and herbs like dried basil, cumin, chili powder and cayenne. Finding ways to enjoy food may make it easier to maintain a healthy diet.

* Exercising: Working out with a friend or partner can make fitness fun, and making a plan with someone can help keep people committed to their exercise goals. People should make sure to talk to their doctor before starting or making any changes to their exercise routine.

* Sticking to a treatment plan: People who are prescribed medication by their doctor may struggle to remember to take it. Using a pillbox that’s filled each week or scheduling reminders on a phone may be helpful.

* Coping with the disease: Whether it’s a doctor, family member or friend, people with type 2 diabetes should surround themselves with others who can support them when they struggle and celebrate with them when they reach a goal.

Award-winning artist Tim McGraw has family, friends and fans impacted by type 2 diabetes. As one of the voices of America’s Diabetes Challenge, he’s encouraged people to show how they’re putting the program’s tips into action. “I’d like to thank all of those who’ve participated in America’s Diabetes Challenge over the years. Whether you’ve made changes to your diet, started a new exercise routine or reached your A1C goal, you’ve all accomplished so much and your dedication is inspiring. Be proud of the progress you’ve made and keep working hard to reach your goals,” said McGraw.

For helpful resources and tips, and to share how you’re putting them into action, visit AmericasDiabetesChallenge.com. Additionally, you can find Spanish-language resources at www.DesafiandoLaDiabetes.com, or join the America’s Diabetes Challenge community by visiting facebook.com/AmericasDiabetesChallenge.



A breath of relief for migraine sufferers

11/1/2017

(BPT) - People who suffer from migraine know that they’re more than just bad headaches.

Migraine is a neurological disorder in which the nerves release inflammatory substances that cause signals to be sent to your brain, resulting in painful throbbing that can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting or sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine is the third most prevalent illness in the world[1], and more than 36 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches.[2]

Melissa H. has suffered migraine attacks for more than 15 years. Frequent migraines have greatly impacted the life of the 35-year-old teacher and mother of a toddler.

“My migraines were affecting every aspect of my life,” Melissa says. “There were times that I wanted to continue my workday or I wanted to spend time with my family, but instead, I had to go lie down in a dark, quiet room to deal with my migraine.”

For migraine sufferers like Melissa, pain relief cannot come fast enough, which often leads many to try a variety of medications.

In January 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved ONZETRA® Xsail® (sumatriptan nasal powder), which uses the most prescribed migraine medication — sumatriptan — but takes a different route. ONZETRA Xsail is the first Breath Powered® nasal medication delivery system for the acute treatment of migraine. The device is activated by a user’s breath to propel medication to the back of the nose, an area that is rich with blood vessels, and provides targeted delivery with the potential for fast absorption.

“When it comes to migraine medication, patients often think of pills, but nasal delivery can offer fast pain relief — and that’s something my patients really appreciate,” says Dr. Anne Calhoun, headache specialist in Durham, NC. “The nose is well-suited to the delivery of migraine medication because of an extensive network of blood vessels that can absorb the medication very quickly.”

In clinical trials of ONZETRA, almost half of migraine sufferers experienced pain relief in as early as 30 minutes (42 percent vs 27 percent on placebo) and 68 percent experienced pain relief in 2 hours vs 45 percent on placebo. In addition, more than 90 percent of patients found ONZETRA Xsail easy to use. For more information about ONZETRA Xsail, talk to your doctor or visit www.ONZETRA.com.

Important Safety Information

What is ONZETRATM XsailTM (sumatriptan nasal powder) used for?

ONZETRA Xsail is a prescription medication approved for the acute treatment of migraine, with or without aura in adults. ONZETRA Xsail is used for people who have been told by a healthcare provider that they have migraine headaches. ONZETRA Xsail is not for the prevention of migraines or for other types of headaches, including cluster headache.

What important information should I know about ONZETRA Xsail?

ONZETRA Xsail may cause serious side effects, including:

  • Heart attack and other heart problems, which may lead to death. Stop using ONZETRA Xsail and get emergency medical help right away if you have any symptoms of a heart attack like shortness of breath or tightness, pain, pressure, or heaviness in your chest, throat, neck, or jaw that is severe or does not go away
  • Changes in color or sensation in your fingers and toes (Raynaud’s syndrome)
  • Stomach and intestinal problems (gastrointestinal and colonic ischemic events)
  • Problems with blood circulation to your legs and feet (peripheral vascular ischemia)
  • Serious allergic reactions (symptoms include hives; tongue, mouth, lip, or throat swelling; problems breathing)
  • Medication overuse headaches. Some people who use ONZETRA Xsail too many times may have worse headaches. If your headaches get worse your doctor may decide to stop your treatment with ONZETRA Xsail
  • Serotonin syndrome, a rare but serious problem that can happen in people using ONZETRA Xsail, especially if ONZETRA Xsail is used with antidepressant medicines called SSRIs, SNRIs, or TCAs. Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms of serotonin syndrome: mental changes such as seeing things that are not there (hallucinations), agitation, or coma; fast heartbeat; changes in blood pressure; high body temperature; tight muscles; trouble walking; or nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Seizures. Seizures have happened in people taking sumatriptan who have never had seizures before

The most common side effects of ONZETRA Xsail are abnormal taste, discomfort of your nose or throat, runny nose, and stuffy nose. This is not a complete list of side effects. Tell your doctor about any side effect that bothers you or does not go away.

Who should not take ONZETRA Xsail?

Do not take ONZETRA Xsail or stop using ONZETRA Xsail if you:

  • Have heart problems or a history of heart problems
  • Have had a stroke, transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), or problems with your blood circulation
  • Have uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Have hemiplegic migraines or basilar migraines. If you are not sure if you have these, ask your doctor
  • Have peripheral vascular disease (narrowing of blood vessels to the legs, arms, stomach, intestines, or kidneys)
  • Have taken other migraine medications in the last 24 hours, including other triptans, ergots, or ergot-type medications. Ask your doctor for a list of these medicines if you are not sure
  • Are taking a medicine called a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). MAOIs cannot be taken within 14 days before or after taking ONZETRA Xsail
  • Have severe liver problems
  • Have an allergy to sumatriptan, the medicine in ONZETRA Xsail, or any of the components in ONZETRA Xsail

What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking ONZETRA Xsail?

Before you take ONZETRA Xsail, tell your doctor about all your medical conditions and all the medicines you take, including prescription medicines, especially antidepressants, and all over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

What should I avoid while taking ONZETRA Xsail?

ONZETRA Xsail can cause dizziness, weakness, or drowsiness. If you have these symptoms, do not drive a car, use machinery, or do anything where you need to be alert.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 800-FDA-1088.

For additional Important Safety Information about ONZETRA Xsail, please see the full Prescribing Information, including Patient Information, and Instructions for Use.



[1] Migraine Research Foundation. Migraine Facts. https://migraineresearchfoundation.org/about-migraine/migraine-facts/. Accessed August 18, 2016.

[2] Migraine.com. Migraine Statistics. https://migraine.com/migraine-statistics/. Accessed August 18, 2016.



A patient's perspective on the path to diagnosis of stomach cancer

11/1/2017

(BPT) - To Nelson Civello, the fullness and mild discomfort he felt in his stomach seemed like nothing at first, but as these symptoms continued, he began to worry that something more serious was going on. After discussing his symptoms with multiple doctors, and receiving a number of diagnoses, Nelson had a lingering feeling that no one was getting to the root of his problem.

“I was told that I had irritable bowel syndrome and an ulcer, but when my doctors did additional testing and ultrasounds, my results came back inconclusive,” Nelson recalls. “At that point, I knew I needed to push for answers and advocate for myself. Finally, after months of searching for answers, I went to a gastroenterologist who diagnosed me with linitis plastica, a form of stomach cancer.”

Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, is often hard to diagnose because early-stage stomach cancer rarely causes symptoms. As the disease progresses, notable symptoms include poor appetite or weight loss, abnormal fullness or pain, vague discomfort in the abdomen and vomiting. Although it is the fifth most common cancer globally, routine screening for stomach cancer is not common in the U.S. compared to countries like Japan where a person is five times more likely to develop stomach cancer. As a result, only about one in five U.S. stomach cancer cases is found at an early stage, before it has spread to other areas of the body. Age can also play a factor, as the average age of diagnosis is nearly 70, with almost two-thirds of people with stomach cancer being 65 or older.

Navigating the treatment journey

Multiple tests and procedures are used to diagnose stomach cancer. In addition to taking a complete medical history and talking through symptoms and potential risk factors, a doctor may also use an endoscopy, take a biopsy or administer imaging tests. “Upon my diagnosis at the age of 67, I reviewed my treatment options with multiple doctors and decided to undergo chemotherapy for 10 weeks followed by a total gastrectomy, which meant the total removal of my stomach.”

Depending on the stage of diagnosis, doctors will discuss multiple treatment options, including a partial or total stomach removal, targeted therapy, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Life after cancer treatment

Nutrition plays a very important role in the treatment and recovery journey for stomach cancer patients. As a patient recovers, the right amount of calories, protein, fats, carbohydrates, water, vitamins and minerals are needed to maintain strength and promote healing. “My wife Patti was instrumental in ensuring I got the right nutrients after my treatments. Following my gastrectomy, I needed to change how I ate — I went from eating three meals a day to eight smaller, healthier meals. She prepared specific nutrient-enriched meals to give me energy throughout my recovery process,” Nelson said.

Meet Nelson Civello

A retired financial services executive and university professor, Nelson enjoys spending time with his family. When he’s not on the golf course, he’s a patient mentor for the stomach cancer community through Debbie’s Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer and a board member for the DeGregorio Family Foundation which funds stomach cancer research.

Support networks for stomach cancer

There are multiple organizations dedicated to raising awareness of stomach cancer and providing education and support to patients, families and caregivers.

“Following my diagnosis in 2013, and throughout my personal experience with stomach cancer, my goal has been to raise awareness around symptoms of stomach cancer and help people advocate for the best healthcare possible,” Nelson said. “As a patient, I saw firsthand the importance of knowing the symptoms and the impact of early diagnosis. If I had waited another six months for a diagnosis, I’m not sure I’d be here today.”

To learn more about stomach cancer, and for resources on the disease, visit Debbie’s Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer (www.DebbiesDream.org), Gastric Cancer Foundation (www.GastricCancer.org), or No Stomach For Cancer (www.NoStomachForCancer.org). For more information about the importance of nutrition while living with stomach cancer, visit StomachCancerWellness.com or ViverHealth.com.



What's the deal with teen driving crashes?

10/30/2017

(BPT) - It’s no surprise that teen drivers get into more traffic collisions than their older counterparts, but why? Some reasons include less driving experience, a higher willingness to take risks and passenger distraction. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than 350 teen drivers got into collisions due to some type of distraction, according to data from 2015. Forty-one of those fatalities were because of other occupants in the vehicle.

Forty-six states and Washington, D.C., limit teens from driving with passengers other than immediate family members until they receive full license privileges. Most often, they’re restricted to only driving with one passenger for the first six months. However, NHTSA teen fatal accident data reveals that 16-year-olds drive with the most passengers, averaging 2.7 occupants who were involved in fatal accidents compared to 2.5 for 17-year-olds; 2.2 for 18-year-olds; and 2.1 for 19- and 20-year-olds.

“Passengers can be a huge distraction in the car, especially for young drivers who may not have the same reaction time as more experienced drivers,” said Randy Petro, Mercury Insurance’s chief claims officer. “Graduated driver’s licenses exist for a reason and parents need to be diligent with their teens to ensure they’re adhering to these rules and not driving around with their friends before the law says they can. Even then, it’s important to keep their focus on the road.”

Passenger distractions aren’t the only causes of teen driving accidents. Here are a few more of which you should be aware.

* Time of day: 342 accidents and 394 fatalities happen at 6 p.m., respectively.

* Day of the week: Weekends are the worst time to drive, but more accidents happen on Saturdays (1,007 accidents and 1,191 fatalities).

* Speeding: 1,505 accidents were directly related to speeding.

Mercury Insurance created the Drive Safe Challenge to provide a platform for parents and teens to have serious discussions about driving. Its goal is to reduce the number of teen crashes and fatalities, and it includes tips to help parents communicate with their kids about appropriate driving behavior, as well as useful information and videos to assist teens with being safe behind the wheel. It has recently been updated to include common causes for teen driving accidents by state. Texas teens, for example, experience the most teen driving crashes with 709, while Washington, D.C., has the fewest at 2.

Be sure to talk to your kids and set ground rules before they get in the car, because being a good driver may even qualify them for an auto insurance discount.



3 steps to a healthier, happier home

10/24/2017

(BPT) - Today, people are more focused on health and wellness than ever before. You know this because you are constantly flooded with advice on what to eat, how (and how much) to exercise, and what to ask your doctors.

All of these things are important but what about the vital role the home plays in your healthy lifestyle? As you prepare for another season of indoor living, it’s time to ask: how can I improve the functionality, efficiency and health of my home?

A healthy, safe and comfortable home is essential for those you love. When winter weather keeps you indoors, it's even more important.

Tackle a few home-health tips now and your family and guests will be comfortable now and any time of year. Review and handle these must-do’s, happy home style, today!

* Adhere to a maintenance schedule. Your body requires continuous maintenance to be at its best; the same is true for your home. Simple tasks, done on schedule, can make your home a safer, more enjoyable place to live. Important items for your to-do list:

- Shut your exterior faucets off before the winter.

- Check the batteries in your smoke detectors each month.

- Clean your gutters.

- Test your sump pump each spring.

- Clean the coils under your refrigerator.

- Make sure your attic, bathroom and kitchen fans are in working order.

These maintenance tasks are easy to tackle. Once done, they will help reduce dirt on your floors and decrease any future mold risk.

* Clean up your air. Did you know indoor air can be five times dirtier than outdoor air? Did you know it can include respiratory irritants and common allergens like mold spores, fungus, pollen, mites and pet dander? Fortunately, these unappealing airborne invaders can be removed continuously by your home air filter. All you need to do is change the filter regularly, about every one to three months depending on your system. The problem — research shows up to 58 percent of us forget to do this regularly or simply don’t!

Canopy, a new subscription-based air filter service, addresses this clean air concern by providing its subscribers with the specific size and qualification air filter they need. These filters are provided on a specific schedule to save homeowners time, energy and money and to avoid a trip to a big box home care store. To learn more about how Canopy can help you improve the air quality in your home, visit canopyair.com.

* Make cleaning a family affair. A clean home is a happy, comfortable place everyone deserves but you don’t need to do it all by yourself. Encourage your entire family to work together instead. Children of all ages can help out with chores matched to their skill level. Set family rules that maximize home care and minimize cleaning chores. For example: no food outside of the kitchen, picking up towels and wiping down surfaces after a shower and removing shoes upon entering from outdoors. Your home is your sanctuary and it should feel that way all the time. Apply the tips above today, and your home will be a happier, healthier place in no time.



Flu facts: Top 5 things you need to know about the flu shot this year

10/26/2017

(BPT) - You hear about it on the news. You see the signs in the pharmacy windows. Even your friends and co-workers are talking about it. The flu shot is a highly discussed topic, and for good reason!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average, 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population — or up to 64.6 million people — gets the flu, and tens of thousands of people are hospitalized every year because of it. Further, the flu can strike anyone, and adults aged 18-64 years old are the most likely to get ill, accounting for 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations. This number goes up in certain areas, and some states — such as Texas, Florida and California — tend to be hit harder by the flu than others.

“Flu-related illnesses are already trending twice as high in 2017 as they were in 2016, and we are seeing an uptick in flu-related visits across the country,” said Dr. Jason Tibbels, MD, board-certified family physician and director for quality programs at Teladoc, the largest and most trusted telehealth provider in the world. “This year, officials want at least 70 percent of Americans to get a flu shot; however, fewer than 50 percent were vaccinated against the flu last season.”

How can you protect yourself and your loved ones from the annual flu outbreak? The first step is to understand the benefits and any potential risks of flu vaccination and then — if it’s right for you — go get the flu shot.

It’s also important to understand that while the vaccine is the best defense in protecting against flu, there’s still a chance that with it, you could get sick. If you do start to experience symptoms, telehealth is an on-demand, anytime, anywhere resource. This means you can access hassle-free medical care from your home during the middle of the night, from your college dorm room, while at the airport for an early morning business trip, and anywhere else you have access to a phone, a mobile app or the web. A telemedicine doctor can assess your symptoms before they worsen. Visit Teladoc.com/flu to learn more about the telehealth benefits that may be available to you to access care when and where you need it.

We asked Teladoc’s Dr. Tibbels why the flu shot is so important this year. Here are his top reasons:

1) It keeps you out of the emergency room. The flu shot reduces the risk of hospitalization due to flu by approximately 50 to 60 percent.

2) It reduces sick days. Missed time at work due to flu-related illnesses causes an additional $16.3 billion in lost earnings annually.

3) It promotes overall health. The flu vaccine is a helpful tool for people with chronic health conditions. Flu vaccination is associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, and is also proven to have reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes and chronic lung disease. Further, vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy, reducing the risk of flu-associated acute respiratory infection by about 50 percent. And getting vaccinated also protects the baby several months after birth.

4) If you do get sick, it may decrease the severity. The flu vaccination does not guarantee protection against the virus; people who get the shot are still at risk of getting sick. However, if you do get sick, the flu vaccination can make your illness milder. If you start to experience symptoms — whether or not you’ve had the flu vaccine — it’s important to see a doctor. Many people have 24-hour access to board-certified and licensed physicians seven days a week via telemedicine from home, work or on the road through a phone or tablet, making it easier than ever to get a diagnosis and start treatment.

5) It helps stop flu from spreading. Did you know that the flu virus can be spread to people within three feet of a sick patient when that patient coughs, sneezes or talks? Getting vaccinated doesn’t just help protect you from the flu; the flu shot is the responsible choice for protecting those around you. Vaccination is especially important for protecting more vulnerable populations, such as babies and young children, the elderly, and people with certain chronic health conditions, like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

“When it comes to the flu, it’s not wise to take a wait-and-see approach,” said Dr. Tibbels. “Talk to a doctor! We’re available all day, every day, all through flu season and beyond.”

To learn more about Teladoc and the level of flu risk where you live, visit Teladoc.com/flu.



Try these stress-busting strategies to get the feast on the table

10/26/2017

(BPT) - The date is circled in red: the day of the big feast. This year, everyone’s coming over to your house for the big event. But just the thought of getting ready raises your pulse and sends a surge of stress through your system.

This time, bring a new mindset to your holiday gathering. You’re putting so much effort into it because you care about your family. This is, after all, a time of year when making memories matters. Which means you deserve a chance to enjoy yourself. But if the night-before preparations of cooking and cleaning keep you up past midnight, you’ll show up feeling stressed and tired at your own party!

This time, show up feeling just as relaxed and ready to enjoy the food as your guests. You don’t have a team of servants or magic elves to help, but the next best thing is smart planning. Implement these time-saving strategies to take the stress out of the frantic final hours before the feast.

Get assistance from the freezer

Experienced cooks know there’s no need to save up all the cooking and baking for the day of the feast. A week before the big event, set aside a day or two for a marathon cooking session, because things like sides, sauces, gravies and desserts can all be put together ahead of time and placed in the freezer. Then you can save the baking and roasting for the day of the feast. Tip: For things that will go from freezer to oven, be sure you have high-quality bakeware that won’t shatter. For example, OXO Good Grips Glass Bakeware is made from borosilicate glass, which is engineered to withstand extreme temperature changes.

Be your own sous-chef

Cooking for a crowd means there will be lots of cutting, slicing, chopping and measuring. Before you start, do all that prepping at one time and consolidate where you can. For example, if you have three dishes that require chopped onion, do all the onion chopping at once. When you’re done, just store it in a glass lidded container. The OXO Smart Seal glass containers can keep your dishes and ingredients fresh and neatly stacked in your refrigerator.

Round up your helpers

A family feast begins with a good plan … and lots of delegation. At least a few weeks beforehand, draw up a master to-do list of things you need to do to get the house ready for guests, from cleaning to decorating to setting the table. Hand out tasks to different family members so everyone plays a role. One easy way to do this is to put each family member in charge of a room to clean and prepare. For example, one can take bathroom duty, making sure it's clean, stocked and company-ready, while another takes on the family room. Hang this list in a common area, so tasks are crossed off as they’re completed.

Order the food

This year, skip the hours of shopping at the grocery store, and try ordering everything on your list online. Whether you opt for a delivery service, or try a grocer’s curbside pickup option, you’ll miss out on the stress of finding parking, nudging your cart through the crowded produce section and waiting in long lines. This will save you time and stress.

The night before, set the table

Nothing beats waking up the morning of the big feast and seeing that your table is ready for company. The place settings are arranged just so, the wine glasses are shining and the serving dishes and utensils are laid out. All you have left is baking, warming and roasting, leaving you with plenty of time to get ready. You may even have time in the morning to relax over that extra cup of coffee!



Protect yourself from medical identity theft [Video]

10/25/2017

(BPT) - Medical identity theft is when someone steals or uses your personal information to submit fraudulent claims to Medicare, and other health insurers, without your authorization. Medical identity theft can disrupt your medical care and wastes taxpayer dollars. Protect your personal information, check medical bills and statements, and report questionable charges or fraud. Learn more at https://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/medical-id-theft/.



A New Kind of Life Insurance for Those Living with Diabetes

10/24/2017

(BPT) - For people living with diabetes, the condition is a part of their everyday life and one that impacts many of their decisions, from balancing what they eat to taking care of their health. One area that might not be top of mind for people living with diabetes is life insurance. That’s because many people with diabetes believe they won't be able to get life insurance if they have the condition.

Research shows that nearly 50 percent of people with diabetes are worried they will not qualify for a life insurance policy and another 45 percent assume it’s too expensive, according to a recent survey commissioned by John Hancock.1 And it's even higher among younger people, with 68 percent of people ages 25-34 worried they won’t qualify.

Dispelling the common myth

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 9.4 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes.2 This equates to roughly 30 million people. In addition, another 33.9 percent (84 million) has pre-diabetes. While people with diabetes recognize the many benefits life insurance can offer — like providing for your family, covering final expenses, and offering peace of mind — there’s a lot of confusion about the topic and a concern that having diabetes will bar them from getting life insurance.

In reality, more than 90 percent of all the people with diabetes who sought life insurance in the past 18 months qualified with John Hancock. In addition, 88 percent of those applicants received a standard or better premium quote.

A new kind of life insurance

If you are living with diabetes and you haven’t thought about life insurance recently, it’s worth taking a look. John Hancock life insurance with Vitality rewards customers for the smarter choices they make every day to improve their health — exercising regularly, eating well and visiting the doctor — things many people, including those with diabetes, are already encouraged to do. Policyholders can earn valuable rewards, including an Apple Watch® Series 3 for $25, plus tax, by exercising regularly,3 $600 in annual savings on healthy food purchases,4 and savings of up to 15 percent on their annual life insurance premiums. It doesn’t require completely changing your habits overnight — small, healthy choices can make a big difference over time.

Getting your questions answered

If you have diabetes and you are without a life insurance policy, you probably have questions. The good news is you’re not alone. Only one third of those with diabetes report they consider themselves knowledgeable about life insurance. The most common questions among those who don't include:

* How much life insurance will I need?

* Will I need a medical exam to get life insurance?

* Can I afford a life insurance policy?

To help you find the answers to these questions, you can speak with one of John Hancock’s Coverage Coaches at 844-235-3002, or visit www.JohnHancockInsurance.com/ADA. Life insurance is an important way to help protect your loved ones, and now your policy can do more by rewarding you for healthy living.

1. This nationwide survey was conducted online by Qualtrics on behalf of John Hancock.

2. CDC. National Diabetes Statistical Report, 2107. CDC. National Diabetes Statistical Report, 2107.https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pdfs/data/statistics/national-diabetes-statistics-report.pdf

3. You can order Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS) for an initial payment of $25 plus tax and over the next two years, monthly payments are based on the number of workouts completed. Upgrade fees apply if you choose Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular), certain bands and case materials. A Retail Installment Agreement with the Vitality Group will need to be signed electronically at checkout. Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS) requires an iPhone 5s or later with iOS 11 or later. Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) requires an iPhone 6 or later with iOS 11 or later.

Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) and iPhone service provider must be the same. Cellular is not available with all service providers. Roaming is not available outside your carrier network coverage area. Wireless service plan required for cellular service. Contact your service provider for more details. Check www.apple.com/watch/cellular for participating wireless carriers and eligibility.

Apple is not a participant in or sponsor of this promotion. Apple Watch program is not available in New York.

4. HealthyFood savings are based on qualifying purchases and may vary based on the terms of the John Hancock Vitality program.

Insurance policies and/or associated riders and features may not be available in all states.

Vitality is the provider of the John Hancock Vitality Program in connection with policies issued by John Hancock. John Hancock Vitality Program rewards and discounts are only available to the person insured under the eligible life insurance policy. Rewards and discounts are subject to change and are not guaranteed to remain the same for the life of the policy.

Premium savings are in comparison to the same John Hancock policy without the Vitality program. Annual premium savings will vary based upon policy type, the terms of the policy, and the level of the insured’s participation in the John Hancock Vitality Program.

Insurance products are issued by John Hancock Life Insurance Company (U.S.A.), Boston, MA 02210 (not licensed in New York) and John Hancock Life Insurance Company of New York, Valhalla, NY MLINY101717101



Get in the know about this hidden, dangerous form of bullying

10/24/2017

(BPT) - Bullying is never acceptable, but food allergy bullying — which happens when children and teens living with life-threatening allergies (LTAs) are teased, ridiculed or even threatened or assaulted with food to which they are severely allergic — is especially dangerous. On the surface, when one child waves, say, peanut butter in the face of a student with a severe peanut allergy, it may seem like just another form of childhood teasing. But to a child with LTAs, incidents like this can make school feel unsafe and escalate from emotional to physical bullying — which can even be life-threatening.

To bring attention to this issue and promote greater acceptance of those living with food allergies, leading allergy advocacy organizations, including Allergy & Asthma Network (the Network), Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT), Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) and Kids with Food Allergies (KFA), along with kaléo, are launching No Appetite for Bullying, an anti-bullying initiative. The campaign aims to make a positive impact on children with food allergies, by encouraging them, their parents, teachers, and peers to be voices against food allergy bullying. Learn more at www.NoAppetiteForBullying.com.

“The problem with food allergy bullying is people — whether children or adults — may not grasp the seriousness of this ‘teasing,’” according to Lynda Mitchell, Founder of KFA. “But kids who have food allergies live with a different reality: they know that one bite could lead to a serious allergic reaction.

Kaléo commissioned an omnibus survey of 1,000 parents of children in elementary through high school, including 750 parents of children without life-threatening allergies (LTAs) and 250 parents of children with LTAs to unearth gaps in knowledge and perceptions that exist around food allergy bullying. According to the survey, 82 percent of parents of children with LTAs who believe children are bullied due to food allergies think that their child has been bullied because of those allergies. However, nearly 80 percent of parents of children without LTAs surveyed indicated that they don’t think food allergies are a reason children are bullied.

Students between the ages of 13 and 17 are invited to visit www.NoAppetiteForBullying.com to join the No Appetite for Bullying Teen Coalition, which will work with the advocacy organizations and kaléo to share experiences, provide support, and discuss solutions to help end food allergy bullying.

“More adults should be aware of the seriousness of this problem so they can help create a safe, positive environment for food allergy sufferers to participate in school and other activities — like every kid deserves,” said Tonya Winders, President and CEO of the Network and mother of a 12-year-old girl who has been bullied due to LTAs.

What can you do?

Education and understanding are essential to change the dynamic around LTAs and food allergy bullying. Kids with food allergies are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and they are entitled to the same education opportunities non-allergic children have.

Get on the same page: Educate your children about food allergies. If your child has been impacted by food allergy bullying, encourage them to join the No Appetite for Bullying Teen Coalition to unite with other students who also want to stand up against food allergy bullying.

Take action: Whether you witness this form of teasing or a child reports it to you, speak up! By sharing your story, you can help other students understand that food allergy bullying is potentially life-threatening and should not be tolerated.

Learn more: Visit www.NoAppetiteForBullying.com for more tips on how you can help students feel supported and safe outside the home.



A message for parents: School eye screenings don't replace a comprehensive eye exam

10/24/2017

(BPT) - With the academic year in full swing, many schools across the country are administering vision screenings to students. Parents mistakenly breathe a sigh of relief upon hearing that their children “passed” the screening. What parents don’t know are the significant limitations of school-based screenings. School vision screenings fail to detect a range of potentially harmful vision issues, the American Optometric Association (AOA) reports.

Unfortunately, nine out of 10 parents think that school-based vision screenings are all their children need to confirm good eye health. But screenings miss up to 75 percent of dangerous eye conditions in children, according to AOA’s new Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guideline: Comprehensive Pediatric Eye and Vision Examination. What’s more, when a vision screening does indicate a possible problem, only 39 percent of children receive the care they need from an eye doctor.

One of the biggest hurdles to detecting poor vision is the child’s awareness of the problem. Most children with vision problems don’t know that other children see better than they do; they think their poor vision is “normal.”

“Healthy eyes and good vision are essential for every child’s development,” says AOA President Christopher Quinn, O.D. “Parents need to know that school vision screenings can miss potentially severe eye or vision problems. They cannot replace a comprehensive exam by a doctor of optometry.”

The AOA, which represents more than 44,000 optometrists, optometric professionals and optometry students in communities across the country, recently issued a new, evidence-based guideline for vision care in children that informs parents and caregivers about protecting their children’s eye health. The guideline, which is based on a three-year review of the latest research, concludes that children should receive a comprehensive eye exam during their first year of life and again between the ages of 3 and 5, before entering first grade and annually thereafter.

“Regular, comprehensive eye exams not only contribute to helping children succeed, they prevent and diagnose serious eye problems that can be more expensive to treat and cause permanent vision impairment if left undetected,” Quinn says.

Vision and academic performance

Multiple studies have linked vision problems with poor academic performance and behavioral issues. In fact, children with undetected and untreated vision problems can exhibit some of the same symptoms as kids with attention-deficit disorders, leading to false diagnoses.

“Good vision is more complex than just being able to see clearly,” Quinn says. “In order to see well enough to perform to the best of their academic abilities, children’s eyes need to focus, track, work together and judge distance and depth. Typical school vision tests only screen for nearsightedness.”

Eye health problems

A comprehensive eye exam by a doctor of optometry can help detect serious eye health and vision problems that in-school screenings simply aren’t designed to catch. These problems include amblyopia, a condition that impairs vision in one of a child’s eyes because the eye and the brain are not working together properly.

According to AOA, parents should keep these four tips in mind when it comes to their children’s eye health and safety:

1. Know that pediatric eye exams with a doctor of optometry are most likely covered by your health insurance plan. Most health insurance plans, including those sold in health insurance marketplaces, cover comprehensive pediatric eye exams.

2. Look for indicators of vision and eye-health issues in your children. Common signals that your child may have a vision problem include covering one eye, holding reading materials close to the face, a short attention span and complaining of headaches or other discomfort. Remember, most children don’t know they have a problem, so they are unlikely to say anything, even if they are struggling.

3. Prevent eye strain by monitoring use of digital devices. Increased exposure to electronic devices in and out of the classroom can cause digital eye strain, including burning or itchy eyes, headaches, blurred vision and exhaustion. AOA recommends following the 20-20-20 rule (taking a 20-second break every 20 minutes and looking at something 20 feet away), blinking frequently and adjusting your child's computer screen to prevent glare.

4. Make sure your kids wear proper eye protection for sports and outdoor activities. Well-fitting, protective eye wear and quality sunglasses that offer UV protection are critical to maintaining key visual skills and preventing injuries.

To learn more about vision health, visit www.aoa.org.



Prepare the perfect turkey for your holiday meal

10/23/2017

(BPT) - Think of the holiday season and answer this question: The holidays are the only time of year I do … what?

Maybe it’s the only time of year you set up a Christmas tree, hang mistletoe or travel to a certain destination. For many, the holidays are also the only time of year that you prepare the traditional holiday meal.

And that can lead to trouble.

Each year in the U.S., one in six people will experience food poisoning. There are 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 patient deaths that can be traced back to foodborne pathogens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's especially dangerous for young children, the elderly, pregnant women and others with weakened immune systems.

Improper food preparation is one of the most common causes of food poisoning, and the risk increases during the holidays when people try to make lavish meals they would otherwise not prepare. To help keep you and your family safe this season, The Partnership for Food Safety Education — supported by Cargill, Costco Wholesale and the Frozen Food Foundation — is launching The Story of Your Dinner campaign and sharing safe preparation tips for a holiday staple: the turkey dinner.

Preparing the perfect holiday turkey this season

* Plan for one pound of meat per person. If a frozen turkey works best for you, allow the bird to thaw for several days in the refrigerator. Generally, you will need to plan one day for every four pounds of turkey to ensure your bird completely thaws. While your turkey is thawing, keep it on the bottom shelf in a rimmed baking pan to prevent juices from spreading.

* Do not rinse your raw turkey. Rinsing the turkey is not a safety step and can increase the risk of spreading bacteria to the sink and other surfaces.

* For optimum safety, cook stuffing in a casserole. Because stuffing is an excellent medium for bacterial growth, it's important to handle it safely and cook it to a safe minimum internal temperature (at least 165 F) as measured with a food thermometer.

* Cook your turkey to at least 165 F and always use a food thermometer to ensure your turkey reaches this safe internal temperature.

* When checking to see if your turkey is done, insert the food thermometer into the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.

* Put extra turkey, stuffing and other leftovers in the fridge within 2 hours. Consume, freeze or discard leftovers within 3 or 4 days.

The annual turkey dinner is a seasonal staple. A little extra preparation can make the meal as satisfying and enjoyable as the rest of the holidays. To learn more about safe food preparation and find a complete turkey roasting chart, visit StoryofYourDinner.org.



Holiday havoc? Consider it handled

10/23/2017

(BPT) - The holiday season is full of magic and wonder - until your flight gets cancelled, your budget is blown and you fall ill at the worst possible time. Fortunately, staying merry despite common holiday conundrums is easier than you think with the right attitude and a few simple steps.

Here are some of the most notorious holiday hurdles, with practical advice for overcoming them and enjoying the best of the season.

Holiday hang-up: Blown budget
The holidays can get expensive fast. Buying something for everyone on your list shouldn't put you in debt. Instead, think outside the box.

Solution: Organize a gift exchange where each person draws one name and buys one gift. Additionally, consider homemade gifts to cut costs, as well as experiences, like taking kids sledding or ice skating.

Holiday hang-up: Sickness
From holiday travelers being confined in planes and trains to loved ones gathering under one room for festivities, it's no surprise that germs are rampant during the holidays. Germs are not a gift anyone wants to receive and they can quickly strip a joyous occasion of all its fun. In fact, a recent survey by Robitussin found that 68 percent of people have been sick and miserable during holiday gatherings and 24 percent have had a holiday gathering ruined because a family member was sick.

Solution: Tis the season of giving, but sharing your germs will get you on Santa's naughty list. One sick person at Christmas dinner can turn into the whole family ringing in the New Year while sick in bed. If you feel ill, be prepared with a medicine like Robitussin Severe Multi-Symptom Cough Cold + Flu, which provides relief for your worst symptoms. If you're still not feeling yourself when festivities are occurring, it's best to stay home. Try putting on comfy pajamas and binge watching your favorite holiday movies while you rest up. Sure, it stinks to miss the fun, but in the long run you're protecting others from getting sick and giving yourself the rest you need to get well again.

Holiday hang-up: Kids get the "gimmes"
Commercialism runs high during the holiday season. Kids' wish lists seem to grow with each passing day. You want them to focus on the "season of giving" and they want to focus on "the season of getting."

Solution: Show kids how good it feels to give back. There are many ways to help those in need, especially around the holidays. Try volunteering at a local nonprofit, donating gifts to a local shelter or assisting an elderly neighbor by shoveling their driveway. Be sure to encourage your kids to participate, too!

Holiday hang-up: Travel problems
Whether it's a missed connection, delayed flight or the weather is too bad to drive, travel is difficult during the holiday season.

Solution: If you're stuck at home, make the best of it with a staycation. Sleep in, make yourself a big breakfast and do all the things you never get to do. Explore the fun that's available in your hometown, whether that's a trip to the museum or splurging on tickets to the local theater. Spontaneous adventures can be some of the most memorable!

Holiday hang-up: You burned the food
Did you mess up Grandma's famous apple pie? Do your gingerbread men look a little deranged? Are your kids concerned that Santa will refuse your holiday cookies? Kitchen fails happen to even the most skilled chefs.

Solution: Always have a backup. An extra store-bought pie or cookies in the cupboard provide peace of mind. Plus, during the holiday crunch, avoid trying new recipes. Best to stick to tried-and-true for the best shot at success.

Holiday hang-up: Unexpected party guests
When your cousin RSVP'd for one but ended up bringing his new girlfriend, there's no need to panic. Unexpected holiday guests can put you in a tailspin, but being flexible is all part of a memorable holiday adventure.

Solution: Don't stress! Now is a good time to remember the old saying, "the more the merrier!" Put out an extra table setting, grab that bottle of wine from the cupboard and slap a bow on the top for a quick gift. Savvy hosts and hostesses will plan ahead by keeping a few extra gifts on hand, so whether there's an extra child looking for a present under the tree or an adult who needs a bit of holiday magic, you're always set with the perfect present.



One Breath at a Time: The Burden of Living with a Rare Respiratory Disease

10/23/2017

(BPT) - People suffering from rare diseases can often have challenges coping with their illnesses. For those affected by a chronic respiratory disease known as Non-Cystic Fibrosis Bronchiectasis (NCFB), repeated infections and flare ups can make disease management a challenge. NCFB is characterized by symptoms including cough, breathlessness and repeated infections caused by mucus pools in the airways that lead to bacterial growth and even can cause some patients to cough up blood. There are limited treatment options indicated for NCFB, making the condition challenging to manage for both patients and physicians.

For NCFB patient Christa, this burden is all too familiar. Christa has battled with the disease for eight years resulting in a significant impact to her daily life.

What started as pneumonia progressively got worse and led to frequent exacerbations that included severe coughing, difficulty breathing and dizziness. It took several years of living with these symptoms before she was officially diagnosed with NCFB.

Christa is not alone, it is estimated that in 2001, 110,000 people in the United States are affected by NCFB, and data suggests that this is a growing concern. For some people with NCFB, the disease is caused by an infection or another underlying disease, but as many as 50 to 80% of diagnosed cases have no known cause.

"Accurate and early diagnosis of NCFB is important as the longer a patient has the disease, the greater the likelihood that it will be severe," said Dr. Michael Nelson, pulmonologist and CHEST Foundation President. "The cycle of illness for people with NCFB begins when the body is unable to clear mucus from the airways, leading to bacterial growth and chronic respiratory infection. Next, inflammation may occur which can increase airway damage and cause the airways to expand, which in turn magnifies the difficulties with clearing mucus."

The unpredictability of Christa's flare-ups has become a major burden in her day-to-day life. For NCFB patients, flare-ups can lead to reduced lung function, hospitalization and an increased risk of death. Furthermore, during an exacerbation of NCFB, patients experience an increase in daily symptoms that can persist for weeks. Beyond the physical symptoms of the disease, research shows that people with NCFB may experience an impact on their quality of life both psychologically and socially. Symptoms can contribute to feelings of isolation for people suffering from this disease, leading to an avoidance of activities they enjoy.

"It's difficult for people to fully understand how much living with NCFB affects not only my daily life, but any plans I hope to pursue in the near or distant future," said Christa. "I make plans and I can't go through with them because I never know when I'm going to have another flare-up or end up in the emergency room. There have been times I have had to miss activities that are very important to me."

People looking for information on NCFB, resources on how to discuss the disease with family or questions to ask a physician can visit https://foundation.chestnet.org



Looking for a Medicare Part D plan? Consider these 3 things

10/18/2017

(BPT) - Many people are surprised to find out that Original Medicare doesn't cover prescription drugs. For help with the cost of your medications, you can choose a standalone Part D plan or a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription coverage, but navigating your options can be complicated.

With Medicare Open Enrollment running from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 - the annual window when you can make changes to your Medicare coverage - now is a good time to learn about how to pick a plan that can best suit your needs.

Kent Monical, senior vice president for Part D at UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, recommends you consider these three things when choosing a plan.

1. Your drugs

Prescription drug plans can vary significantly. Each Part D plan has a list of drugs, called a formulary, which shows the drugs it covers.

"When considering a Part D plan, be sure your medications are covered," Monical said. "Even if you don't expect to change plans, it's important to make sure your drugs will still be covered next year, as plans can change from year to year."

2. Your pharmacy

Most Part D plans have preferred pharmacy networks. People can typically get their drugs for a lower copay when they visit preferred pharmacies.

"Make sure the plan offers access to pharmacies that are convenient for you," Monical said. "Some plans also have mail-order pharmacy benefits, and you can get prescriptions delivered to your home for a lower cost than purchasing from a retail location."

3. Your total costs

"A low monthly premium plan doesn't necessarily mean it will be the lowest-cost plan," said Monical. "You should also understand the other out-of-pocket costs, including the annual deductible and drug copays."

Plans sort drugs into several tiers, with generic or lower-tier drugs generally costing less than drugs on higher tiers. Talk to your doctor about whether a lower-tier drug might be suitable for you, which could help you save money.

The bottom line

Medicare Open Enrollment is a great time to make sure you have the right prescription drug coverage for your health and budget needs. Monical concludes, "Exploring your Part D options now could help you save money in 2018."

For more helpful open enrollment information, visit UHCOpenEnrollment.com.



Make the most of your brain as you age

10/17/2017

(BPT) - It is important to remember the health of our most complex organ: our brain. While the brain constantly changes throughout our lives, it's critical that we take steps to help us stay on top of our game as we age.

Help give your brain a boost in the right direction by implementing these 10 brain-healthy habits.

Get moving

Studies show that being physically active may help reduce some risks to your brain health. It doesn't matter what activity you do as long as you get your heart pumping for 30 minutes most days.

Eat up

By watching your diet, you may be able to help increase your chances of staying engaged as you age. Try eating a healthy, low solid-fat diet - one that is low in saturated and trans fats - with lots of veggies and fruits.

Know your blood pressure

High blood pressure in midlife can have serious effects on your brain health down the road. If your blood pressure is high, talk to your doctor about how to get it under control.

Drink moderately, if at all

Alcohol may affect older adults differently than it had previously and even make them feel "high" without increasing the amount they drink. This can make you more likely to become confused or have accidents.

Get some shuteye

Poor sleep can not only have serious physical effects but can impact memory and thinking, too. Seven to eight hours of sleep a night may help you keep your brain healthy.

Discover a new talent

When you learn new things, you engage your brain and help reduce some risks to it. Challenge your brain on a regular basis by trying something you haven't done before.

Stay connected

Regular engagement in social activities may be good for your brain. Stay connected and make it a point to keep in touch with your family and friends.

Talk to your doctor

As you age, changes in brain function, including short-term memory loss, are expected. If you have questions or concerns, ask your doctor at your next appointment.

Mind your meds

A medication that didn't trigger side effects in the past can cause an abnormal reaction and even change your cognitive function as you age. Talk to your doctor about all of your medications.

Maintain your balance

Regular balancing and strengthening exercises may help reduce your chances of a fall-related head injury. Work to improve your balance and talk to your doctor if you fall.

To learn more about steps that may help keep your brain healthy, visit BrainHealth.gov.



Debunking the 'seasonal' allergy myth and reducing exposure year-round

10/17/2017

(BPT) - Seasonal allergens are a popular scapegoat for a multitude of reactions: sniffling, sneezing and itchy eyes. During the summer months, pollen – one of the most common allergens – is floating around, even visibly so in some places. Researchers approximate that some 50 million in the U.S. alone believe themselves to be victims of seasonal allergies, and spring to be the season that most affects them.

But the idea that we’re more exposed to allergens during one time of year versus another is something of a myth, as the most common allergens are actually found indoors. Pollen is indeed lowest in wintertime, and this is especially true in colder climates. But we're exposed to allergens throughout the year, mainly because many of the most common allergens are actually related to indoor villains like dust mites, animal dander and mold.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to reduce your exposure to allergens, including some pretty unique ones, like washing your hair before bed! But the majority of effective measures focus on the circulation and quality of the air around you. While we can’t do much in the short term to improve the quality of the air outside, the most powerful means of tackling our exposure to allergens comes from addressing the air inside, which is up to five times more polluted than the air outside.

To reduce your allergen exposure throughout the year, consider the following steps:

Not all filters are created equally. The “filter triangle”, the amount of air flow a filter allows and how well it traps particles, must be in balance if the device is to do its job properly. If the filter blocks air flow, that will cause problems, as will one that doesn’t catch enough particles. A high efficiency particulate filter will improve the clean air delivery rate, or the amount of air (in cubic feet) stripped of all particles of a given size per minute. Make sure this measurement matches up with the size of the room, and of course take care to switch out filters in your furnace and air conditioning units as often as possible.

Adjust the humidity level indoors, ideally to less than 50 percent, via a humidifier. Dust mites and mold are the most common allergens indoors, and both thrive in humid environments. Dust mites eat the dead skin cells that we shed, and when the environment is damp, those softened skin cells provide a feast. To reduce dust mites, and the conditions in which they’re most comfortable, it is important to keep humidity levels below 50 percent, according to the AAAAI. The good news is that once an effective humidifier is up and running, most dust mite populations will disappear within a few days.

Purchase an air purifier. Air purifiers help improve the quality of air flow in the rooms of your home by filtering out pollutants, allergens and irritants like cigarette smoke. A purifier like the Atmosphere Sky Air Treatment System, which uses state-of-the-art technology to effectively remove 99.99 percent of particles as small as 0.007 microns as they pass through the unit, lessens exposure to these pollutants, allergens and irritants.

Consider your car. Allergens can enter through your car windows and sunroof, so roll everything up and set the vent setting to recirculate as often as possible. Allergens can also accumulate in your car’s air filters over time, so be sure to have them switched out frequently. Vacuum the seats and any other upholstered surface regularly, as dust mites can settle into the fabric. Be sure to clean up any spills quickly and thoroughly to prevent the accumulation of mold as well.

While it’s nearly impossible to completely rid the environment of pollutants, allergens and irritants, taking proactive, preventative measures can significantly reduce your exposure to common culprits like dust mites, pet dander and mold. Arm yourself with quality filters, the Atmosphere Sky Air Treatment System and a clean car to reduce your exposure to allergens year-round. After all, quality of air is quality of life.



Feeling fatigued? 3 ways women can boost iron intake

10/16/2017

(BPT) - If you’re a woman who feels like you're constantly fighting fatigue, there could be a physical reason for that sluggishness.

In the US, 1 in 10 women, between 12 and 49 years old, are dealing with the results of low iron, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and that can easily lead to extra fatigue and muscle weakness. Unfortunately, iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), particularly affecting menstruating women, pregnant women, vegans and vegetarians, athletes (especially women) and recent blood donors.

"Many women have low iron levels and simply don’t know it," reports 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." "Iron is absolutely critical to some of our most basic functions, like energy production, oxygen circulation and healthy brain function."

The good news is, low iron stores can be easy to correct. Scientists at Mayo Clinic suggest the following remedies:

* Eat more foods rich in iron; these include meat, eggs, soybeans, seafood, beans, peas, peanuts, dark-green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, oatmeal and/or iron-fortified breads, cereals and pastas.

* In conjunction with high-iron foods, eat foods high in vitamin C that promote iron absorption. This group includes citrus fruits and juices, melons, strawberries, kiwi, broccoli, leafy greens, peppers and tomatoes.

* After talking to your doctor, choose an iron-boosting supplement that doesn’t cause unpleasant side effects such as nausea, diarrhea or constipation. Blood Builder, made by MegaFood using nutrients with farm-fresh whole foods, is clinically proven to increase iron stores in women without upsetting your stomach and digestive tract. To support healthy red blood cell production and iron bioavailability, Blood Builder also includes food state folate, B12 and vitamin C delivered through Uncle Matt’s Organic whole oranges.

In addition to fatigue, the most common symptom of low iron, symptoms can also include muscle weakness upon exertion; heart palpitations; pale skin; decreased focus; occasional sadness and/or an inability to stay warm.

Seeking more information about addressing an iron deficiency? Learn more at BloodBuilder.com.



Picking a health insurance plan? Prepare for the unexpected

10/16/2017

(BPT) - As many Americans know, fall is the season when we must select our health benefits for the upcoming year. Choosing a health plan can be a daunting task, but selecting the right coverage protects you and your family's general health needs and can prepare you for an unexpected medical crisis. While no one plans on receiving a blood cancer diagnosis, for example, an estimated 173,000 Americans were diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma in 2017. As there are no means of preventing or early screening for most blood cancers, a diagnosis can often appear without warning. Well-planned health insurance coverage can make an important difference in how patients can fare in fighting the disease.

This year's open enrollment season, which runs approximately from October to December, is your opportunity to consider your health benefits and plan ahead. With the cost of care for major health events and severe illnesses increasing every year, you will want to select a health plan that ensures you and your family are prepared in the case of a health emergency. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) offers three tips to consider when selecting your 2018 health plan.

Compare physician and hospital networks: Be diligent when choosing a plan. While it is important to compare plan prices, including co-payments, deductibles and premiums, it is equally important that your primary care doctor and any specialists you visit are part of the plan's network. Not all plans cover every doctor, hospital or comprehensive cancer center near you, so review the plan's network list carefully. You also can call your doctors and hospitals to ask if they are in the plan's network. If your spouse or children are on your plan, you will need to consider their physicians as well.

Prepare for the unexpected: No one expects to receive a serious diagnosis like blood cancer, but it helps to be prepared. The cost of cancer care is rising at an alarming rate and these costs include more than drugs and doctor visits. From diagnostic tests to hospitalizations to special home health equipment, there are many hidden costs to having a serious illness. In fact, a recent survey conducted by Russell Research on behalf of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society found that 84 percent of adults are not sure how they would cover all medical costs if they were diagnosed with cancer. That's why it's important to ensure that you have the coverage you'll need at an affordable cost.

Pay close attention to the numbers: As you evaluate your coverage options - whether through an employer, Medicare, spouse or your parents - it's important to estimate your health care costs for the following year carefully. Understand what your deductible and co-pays will be and take stock of where coinsurance will be required; review your health bills from the previous year to guide your choice, but make sure you are covered for unexpected health issues as well.

If you purchase health insurance from the federal or state marketplace, the plans you are offered will depend on your location and income. It is very important to make sure your personal information is accurate and up-to-date on the federal website, HealthCare.gov, or on your state's website. Depending on your income, you could qualify to save on your insurance through advance premium tax credits. In fact, 8 out of 10 people who purchase insurance through the marketplace are eligible for lower premiums. Open enrollment in the marketplace will run this year from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15.

If you or a family member had or has cancer, or are at risk for cancer, there is a checklist available at www.cancerinsurancechecklist.org that can help you choose the right plan when shopping on the health insurance marketplace. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society also provides free information and resources about health insurance coverage for people living with cancer at www.lls.org.



Upping your laundry room's wow factor

10/13/2017

(BPT) - Doing the laundry is no longer relegated to dark, musty basements where no one cares to go. Thanks to modern technology, great design and access to innovative ideas online, laundry rooms have moved upstairs and come into their own. In fact, laundry rooms today are right up there with dream kitchens and dream bathrooms — and the more style, function and “wow factor,” the better.

“Laundry rooms are no longer just utilitarian,” said Anitra Mecadon, TV personality and award-winning interior designer. “People want stylish, healthy environments where they can relax, multitask and have some fun while doing the laundry.”

Below are four ways Mecadon recommends to ramp up the wow factor, function and allure of your laundry room:

* High-tech appliances

When looking for washers and dryers today, there are more features than you can imagine. You should consider your needs and desires before starting your search — and we’re talking about more than gas or electric, front- or top-loading, color, budget and space parameters. Today’s “smart” appliances offer custom wash cycles, wrinkle removal, steam cleaning, less noise, delayed start times, moisture sensors with allergen and sanitize cycles and more. There’s even a machine that washes two separate loads with different setting options at the same time. And nearly every machine today is Energy Star-certified for energy efficiency.

* Loads of style

Laundry rooms today can be decorated to complement other rooms in your home — and Pinterest and Houzz offer loads of pictures online to spark your creativity. Laundry rooms can be country French to modern, whimsical to multifunctional — and it’s not unusual to see them in bold or soothing colors, with comfy chairs, statement lighting, flat-screen TVs and docking stations to play music or charge tablets and phones. They also can include windows to let in natural light. If you think white and stainless are your only color options, think again. They can be turquoise, burnt orange, glacial blue, fire engine red, kelly green and even black stainless.

* Function galore

Washing and drying are only part of doing the laundry. There’s sorting, folding, hanging and ironing — and each of those steps needs its own space, supplies and storage. Baskets for sorting and carrying laundry can be wicker, plastic or wood and stored for all to see or out of sight. Counters for folding can be granite, marble, quartz, butcher block or laminate, and many people put them over their washers and dryers as well as around the room. Drying racks made of ladders or upcycled cribs can be creative and functional. Ironing boards can be stand-alone, foldable and stored in cabinets or retractable and out of sight. Washers and dryers can be big or small, stacked or all in one — and even put on pedestals.

* High-performance drywall

When laundry was relegated to the basement, part of the dread of doing laundry was the thought of being surrounded by dampness, mold and mildew — sometimes from washing machine water hose failure causing mold to grow within the wall cavity. Because your washer and dryer introduce water, moisture and heat into the room, it’s important to use drywall with extra protection for your laundry room walls and ceilings — such as moisture-, mold- and mildew-resistant PURPLE XP drywall by National Gypsum. PURPLE XP — which stands for "Xtra Protection" — products are GREENGUARD Gold Certified for indoor air quality, while aiding in the creation of healthier indoor environments.

“I love that prettier and more functional laundry rooms are becoming places people want to hang out and do laundry, but it’s important to think about what’s behind all that style and function — and that’s their walls,” said Mecadon. “Walls and what they’re made of are important and they’re not all the same.”

For more information, go to www.AskForPurple.com.



Every single person needs this essential nutrient. Are you getting enough?

10/12/2017

(BPT) - We've all heard the saying "knowledge is power." When it comes to good health, most people recognize the important role nutrition plays in a healthy lifestyle. However, according to a recent study by the Global Nutrition and Health Alliance (GNHA), despite efforts to eat a balanced diet, 98 percent of people do not get enough omega-3 (O3) to reach the optimal range. People should take action to ensure they are consuming enough omega-3 fatty acids to help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and help support brain, joint and eye health.

This National Health Education Week (Oct. 16-20, 2017), empower yourself with practical tips and knowledge to help ensure you are getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.

1. Get to know the basics

Every human has a basic nutritional need for omega-3 fatty acids. Considered "essential" because the body needs them to function but can't create them on its own, O3 must come from dietary sources. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA), have been associated with overall heart health and improving eye, brain and joint performance as we age. You can find out your O3 levels with the Omega-3 Index test.

2. Eat right

A growing number of expert bodies and health professionals recommend up to 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA per day. Since our bodies don't produce omega-3 fatty acids naturally, you can increase your daily intake of this essential nutrient by eating at least two fatty fish meals per week, as well as fortified food and beverages, such as milk and eggs. Sources of fatty fish include coldwater fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring or sardines.

3. Bridge the gap

In reality, diet alone may not be enough. Study findings show that 82 percent of people believed they didn't need to take a supplement to have a balanced diet, yet almost none of them had an O3 level in the optimal range. Whether it's due to limited access to fresh, quality foods or dietary preferences, if you are like many others who do not consume significant amounts of fish on a regular basis, O3 supplements may be the key to ensuring optimal nutrition.

The GNHA is a group of doctors, scientists, dietitians and health and medical experts focused on educating consumers and health care professionals about optimal nutrition as part of a healthy lifestyle. To learn more about the GNHA study findings, visit http://www.globalnutritionhealth.org/.



Running with Purpose: Athlete Hits Her Stride, Despite a Surprising Asthma Diagnosis

10/11/2017

(BPT) - With temperatures becoming more comfortable, there’s a good chance Brooke Curran is logging miles on a run through her hometown of Alexandria, Virginia. Though her training often requires her to run dozens of miles each time she laces up, Curran wasn’t always a serious runner. In her mid-twenties, she was a stay-at-home mom with three young kids. She took up running then as a way to get out of the house and steal a few moments for herself each day.

“Even if it was just a few miles a couple times a week, it gave me such a sense of accomplishment,” said Curran.

Following the shock of September 11, 2001, she decided it was time to get serious about checking items off her bucket list, and right at the top was running a marathon.

During one of her marathon training runs, Curran experienced shortness of breath and a painful burning in her chest. Having always considered herself pretty fit, she was concerned about the onset of these new symptoms and immediately made an appointment to see her respiratory specialist. He diagnosed her with asthma and exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB).

“People often think EIB and asthma are just the same thing. But even though the symptoms are similar, asthma and EIB are actually very different conditions,” said Dr. Purvi Parikh, a New York City-based allergist and immunologist and national spokesperson for the Allergy and Asthma Network. “As runners begin to lace up their sneakers and get outdoors this time of the year, it’s important to know the difference. EIB symptoms are temporary and can be triggered by aerobic activity – like running – while asthma is characterized by chronic inflammation of the large and small airways of the lungs. Many people with asthma also have EIB.”

Though surprised by her diagnosis, Curran’s doctor reassured her that EIB is a treatable condition. After discussing her symptoms, Curran’s doctor prescribed an inhaler with a dose counter so that she could keep track of how much medication she had left. To prevent EIB symptoms, Curran uses her inhaler 15 to 30 minutes prior to each workout or race, as directed by her doctor.

Since then, EIB hasn’t stopped Curran from hitting her stride. Around the time of her diagnosis, she decided she wanted to unite two of her greatest passions – running and her local community – and launched the RunningBrooke Foundation. Since 2009, Curran has run over 100 marathons, including at least one on every continent – including Antarctica – and at least one in every state, to raise money for her foundation. To date, she has raised more than $1 million for at-risk and underserved kids in Alexandria.

And Curran has no plan of slowing down, now that she is able to manage her EIB symptoms.

“As I travel the world to compete, it’s crucial that I know how many doses remain in my inhaler and if I need to refill before I hit the road for my next run,” said Curran. “Thanks to my dose counter, I can keep track of the medicine that helps me keep running for the kids who need it most.”

To learn more about the RunningBrooke Foundation, visit RunningBrooke.org. For additional information on the importance of dose counters, visit KnowYourCount.com.

Ms. Curran has been compensated for her time in contributing to this program.

July 2017

RESP-41507



8 tips for navigating holiday food temptations

10/11/2017

(BPT) - The holidays throw in a lot of temptations from every direction if dieting or watching your weight. Holiday parties and get-togethers in particular can be a healthful-eating challenge. Caught up in conversation among friends and family, surrounded by tasty food and drinks, it’s easy to lose track of what and how much is being eaten. Registered Dietitian Sarah Galicki offers tips for staying the course through the holidays.


“There are a lot of calories packed into this time of year. You’re doing your holiday baking, people are dropping off candy and treats, there are parties with all-you-can-eat buffets and creamy drinks like eggnog, so it’s important to be prepared. It is possible to navigate the holidays without gaining weight by doing these things.”


Eat first. Never go to a party hungry. If you do, chances are you’ll wind up eating too much, too fast. Eat a snack before you go, such as some Greek yogurt, which is loaded with protein and calcium. Add fruit for extra taste and nutrients, and top with pistachios for crunch and good fats.


Drink wisely. If you want to indulge a little bit, have some champagne or white wine. A 4-ounce glass has approximately 100 calories. By comparison, a cup of traditional eggnog has 344 calories and 19 grams of fat (11 grams saturated fat). Skip the creamy drinks. The best bet is to avoid alcohol altogether if possible. Drink a spritzer made with sparkling water, cranberry and a lime instead. It looks festive, tastes great and has hardly any calories.


Fill up on finger foods. Small, bite-size appetizers limit the calorie impact. A good option? Pistachios. They’re great to snack on; 49 have exactly 150 calories, and they satisfy that crunchy craving. Plus, they’re full of nutrients and fill you up. The healthy fats will help regulate your blood-sugar level throughout the night, which is really helpful if you’re drinking. Wrap some up decoratively and take along for a hostess gift to be sure there’s a healthy choice on hand. And everyone loves pistachios.


Survey your options. Mindful eating is always key in any situation. Once the buffet table opens, take a visual sweep past it before jumping in line and making your selections. This way you’ll avoid piling one of everything onto your plate needlessly when you eventually pass through.


Don’t be first in line. The food in a buffet line looks pretty in the beginning. Once people serve themselves, it’s not as appealing and you’ll eat less.


Get a small plate. This trick helps limit portion size.


Avoid the white stuff. Given other options, skip the white rice, white pasta and white bread. They’re loaded with calories but no nutrients. Choose items with whole grains instead. They’re full of nutrients and have fiber, which will fill you up so you won’t eat as much.


Delight in dessert. Dessert is probably the toughest temptation of all. But there’s no reason to skip. Most of us have a sweet tooth. Satisfy that sweet craving with some fresh fruit. To make sure it’s available, bring some as a hostess gift; it’s always welcome.


“Overall, pace yourself,” advises Galicki. “Enjoy the food and festivities.”



Stopping at Nothing: A 69-Year-Old BMX Racer Overcomes Her Joint Pain

10/11/2017

(BPT) - Ever since her 20s, Kittie Weston-Knauer had experienced osteoarthritis (OA) pain in her hips and knees, but it never stopped her from staying active. In her 40s, she even picked up a new, exciting hobby: BMX, or bicycle motocross racing. Gradually though, despite her active lifestyle, the joint pain increased to the point where, in her 60s, even every day activities, like getting out of bed became nearly impossible.

As Kittie's physical pain grew, it was compounded by emotional pain as she hit a breaking point: realizing she was living her life "on pause" and that joint pain was keeping her from doing the things she loved.

"Pain messes with the mind," says the now 69-year-old Kittie. "I've always been an extreme athlete, and I didn't want the pain to slow me down. I had been racing BMX for the last 27 years so I wasn't about to allow the pain to keep me from having fun. I knew I could no longer continue living my life that way."

As people age, the body changes in ways that many don't anticipate. These changes, including the "aging" of joints, can cause individuals to feel "young at heart but old of joint." This feeling may be a result of OA, the most common form of arthritis that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) affects nearly 27 million U.S. adults. The CDC estimates that 1 in 2 people will be affected by some form of OA in their lifetime.

Despite OA being one of the most common reasons for severe hip or knee pain that can lead to joint replacement surgery, many experience joint pain that is so debilitating it negatively impacts their quality of life, making hobbies or everyday activities more time consuming, strenuous and overwhelming.

A recent online survey, commissioned by DePuy Synthes, of 500 U.S. women aged 45-65 who had hip or knee replacement surgery or plan to have surgery soon, found that most women live with significant hip or knee pain almost every day often for five years or more before opting for surgery. And nearly all women surveyed who received a hip or knee replacement within the last five years felt their life was "on pause" prior to surgery.

For Kittie, she knew what she had to do next. She spoke with a team of healthcare professionals about her options, and together they decided to replace both of her hips and knees within the year. Now that Kittie has undergone joint replacement surgery, she has "hit play" on the activities she loves.

"It's a whole new world out there," Kittie says. "There isn't anything that I can't do in terms of movement: squatting, exercising and BMX racing. The surgery made a difference. I can now do what I like to do."

Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. William Barrett, Medical Director for the Joint Center at Valley Medical Center in Renton, WA, notes that if you are a woman who's suffering from joint pain, be sure to take steps to manage your discomfort. "Speak to a doctor who can help you identify the best treatment for your hip or knee pain. Treatment for osteoarthritis will vary based on one's level of pain and immobility but may include physical therapy, pain medications, or joint replacement surgery," says Dr. Barrett.

These tips may help:

* Simple at-home exercises may potentially help in relieving the pain. For example, stand upright with your back against a wall and feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly bend your knees, sliding your back down the wall. Hold the position for five seconds, then slowly slide back up the wall. Repeat 10 times. Make it a habit to incorporate simple exercises like these into your daily routine.

* It's easy for joints to get stiff when you're sedentary, so make it a point to stay active when possible. You can incorporate extra activity into your day by getting up for a lap around the office every hour or parking your car farther away from your final destination.

It's important to remember that the performance of hip or knee replacements depends on age, weight, activity level and other factors. There are potential risks and recovery takes time. People with conditions limiting rehabilitation should not have these surgeries. Only an orthopaedic surgeon can determine if hip or knee replacement is necessary based on an individual patient's condition.

To learn more about potential treatment options for hip and knee pain as well as helpful resources, visit www.timetohitplay.com.



Morning inspiration: Choosing a better breakfast

10/10/2017

(BPT) - The alarm beeps as you gaze out the window at the soft sunlight welcoming the day. You roll out of bed and your stomach grumbles. You stumble to the kitchen to see how you can tame the hunger pangs, ultimately reaching for a doughnut or prepackaged breakfast bar.

While this may satisfy momentarily, it won't fuel you through the morning. As your blood sugar spikes, you'll feel a short burst of energy followed by a mid-morning crash that leaves you exhausted and hungry. You need to kick the quick fix and instead choose a better breakfast.

When you eat a wholesome meal to start your day, you give your body and mind the fuel it needs all morning long. Whether at home or on-the-go, eating well during the most important meal of the day is easier than many people think. Here are a few tips to keep you satisfied:

Plenty of protein: Protein helps you feel full longer so you're less likely to need a mid-morning pick-me-up. Plus, protein is an important building block for the body, helping support bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. Try adding protein-packed foods to your breakfast, such as meat, beans, nut butters and eggs.

Necessary nutrients: According to Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner, eggs are a classic breakfast food, but there’s one easy change that can supercharge any meal.

“Swapping out ordinary eggs for Eggland’s Best eggs, gets you six times more vitamin D, 10 times more vitamin E, double the omega-3s and more than double the vitamin B12,” says Blatner. “Plus, Eggland’s Best eggs also contain 25 percent less saturated fat than ordinary eggs – that’s why they are the only eggs I serve my family and recommend to my clients.”

Fresh produce: Adding fresh fruits and vegetables to breakfast not only gives you extra vitamins and minerals, it also helps you keep meals fresh and interesting. Add lettuce and sliced peppers to your egg sandwich. Top your oatmeal with chopped peaches or favorite seasonal fruit. Become a mix-master by blending smoothies in endless combinations to satisfy taste buds.

Whole grains: Like protein, whole grains help you to feel satisfied longer, so you don't feel the need to eat until lunchtime. In general, most people need to eat about 6-8 ounces of grains daily, according to the USDA. Half of that should be whole grains. To boost your breakfast, choose whole-grain cereals, stuff a whole-grain tortilla with scrambled eggs, or top whole-grain toast with nut butters.

Want some more breakfast inspiration? Try this recipe straight off the Eggland’s Best Better Egg Food Truck for Anytime Egg Nachos, which features fresh vegetables plus protein-rich beans and nutrient-packed Eggland’s Best eggs. Fans can also visit www.egglandsbest.com/foodtruck from now until Dec. 22, 2017, to enter the first-ever EB Delivers Sweepstakes for a chance to win a visit from the Eggland’s Best Better Egg Food Truck to a city near them! One lucky winner will also receive a private better brunch to enjoy with their friends. Scrambling for another entry? You can enter once per day and also share on Facebook or Twitter for a bonus entry!

Anytime Egg Nachos

Ingredients:

2 Eggland’s Best eggs (large)

1 large (or 2 small) sweet potatoes, washed and sliced into thin chips

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt, divided

1 teaspoon pepper, divided

3 tablespoons milk

1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup finely shredded red cabbage

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup guacamole

1/4 cup pico de gallo or favorite salsa

Sour cream, jalapenos or other additions for serving if desired

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Place sweet potatoes on a large sheet pan in a single layer, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with half the salt and pepper. Don’t overcrowd the pan. (You may need to use 2 sheet pans.)

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Flip sweet potatoes and bake for another 10 minutes or until potatoes are crispy chips.

Coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and bring to medium heat.

Scramble the eggs with milk and remaining salt and pepper, and pour into skillet, stirring often until cooked through. Set aside.

Remove sweet potatoes from oven and top with half of the cheese, followed by the eggs and beans. Top with remaining cheese.

Place back in the oven until cheese is melted about 5-10 minutes.

Remove from oven and place on serving dish.

Top with cabbage, cilantro, guacamole and salsa. Serve immediately.



Find Medicare Confusing? Start Here

10/10/2017

(BPT) - Navigating Medicare can be challenging. In fact, according to a 2017 UnitedHealthcare survey, nearly 40 percent of Medicare beneficiaries find the program confusing. Learning the basics can help you cut through the confusion and make an informed decision about which coverage option may be the right fit for you.

Here's a quick guide to five important Medicare terms to help prepare for the upcoming open enrollment period. What is open enrollment, you ask? Well, read on.

1. Open Enrollment Period

If you are already enrolled in Medicare and want to make changes to your health plan, you can do so during the annual open enrollment period, which runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. For most people, this is the one opportunity each year to make changes to your Medicare coverage.

Changes made during this year's open enrollment period take effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

2. Original Medicare

Original Medicare is made up of Part A and Part B and is offered by the federal government. Simply put, Part A helps cover services such as inpatient care at a hospital or a skilled nursing facility. Part B helps cover doctor's office visits and outpatient physical and occupational therapy services.

According to Dr. Efrem Castillo, Chief Medical Officer for UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, "Original Medicare generally covers 80 percent of health care costs, leaving you responsible for paying the remaining 20 percent. It also does not have an out-of-pocket maximum, meaning that if you have unexpected health care costs, you could end up with a hefty bill."

Original Medicare does not cover things like prescription drugs, long-term care, hearing aids and the exams needed for fitting them, or routine dental or vision care.

3. Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage plans, also known as Medicare Part C, are offered by private insurance companies. Medicare Advantage plans combine Medicare Parts A and B into one plan (which means you only need to carry one card), and can offer additional benefits such as vision, hearing, dental and even gym memberships. Most plans also provide prescription drug coverage.

In addition to the all-in-one coverage, Medicare Advantage plans also have an annual out-of-pocket maximum, making it easier for you to estimate your health care costs, even when facing an unforeseen health event.

4. Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap)

A Medicare Supplement policy is also known as Medigap and is offered by private companies. It can help pay for some things not covered by Original Medicare, such as copays, coinsurance and deductibles. Medigap plans typically have a higher monthly premium but little or no out-of-pocket costs when you access care. However, Medigap plans don't cover prescription drugs, so you would need to enroll in a separate Part D plan.

5. Medicare Part D

Medicare Part D helps cover prescription drugs. Castillo explains, "You have two options for prescription drug coverage. Either enroll in a standalone Part D plan, or you can get drug coverage through most Medicare Advantage plans." Make sure that the plan you select covers the prescription medications you need.

To learn more, visit UHCOpenEnrollment.com.



Don't let the flu bug you this year

10/6/2017

(BPT) - Flu season is upon us, and many healthcare facilities are urging you to start preparing now with vaccines. Ironically, one of the places where you need to be careful is at the doctor's office or healthcare clinic.

The number of people in and out of clinics this time of year increases the chance that someone will leave behind a harmful pathogen. Being in close proximity with people who may already have the flu can put you and your family at risk. You can reduce this risk by following some simple instructions from healthcare cleaning experts.

"Healthcare-acquired infections can be a threat to everyone, especially the elderly and young children," said Steve Zimmerman, director of healthcare services for ServiceMaster Clean, one of the nation's leading cleaning and janitorial service providers. "Most facilities do a good job of sanitizing their waiting areas, but sick people can spread their illnesses through the touch of a door, magazine or pen - leaving you vulnerable to pick up germs you can't see."

The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 9 million to 35 million people will get the flu each year, 140,000 to 710,000 will be hospitalized because of it, and 12,000 to 56,000 will die from the illness. The CDC recommends a vaccination each year for those six months of age and older.

While the vaccine may help protect you from the flu, cleaning experts urge everyone to avoid high-touch areas as much as possible.

What are high-touch areas? In a healthcare setting, Zimmerman defines high-touch surfaces as anything that multiple people will likely touch during their visit. Some high-touch surfaces are hard to avoid, such as door handles and chair armrests. That's why it's wise to wash hands often and use hand sanitizer when necessary. But there are other high-touch areas you can avoid, such as:

* Magazines. These are nearly impossible to disinfect once they have been contaminated. Don't pick them up while you're waiting.

* Toys. Bring your own toys to help prevent your child from picking up an illness from another child.

* Restrooms. They can harbor lots of pathogens unless cleaned often. If you must go, limit touching surfaces in the restroom, wash your hands thoroughly and use hand sanitizer if it's available.

* Ink pens. Think about how many hands touch the ink pens in facilities - whether signing in or filling out paperwork, bring your own and eliminate the possibility of sharing germs.

* Coffee urns. For many Americans, coffee is a must. If you pick up a coffee pot or stop in your favorite coffee shop, take hand sanitizer with you and use immediately after you pour a cup.

Zimmerman also points out that if you schedule visits for the early morning, you are less likely to contract the germs that typically accumulate, since cleaning crews often perform a deep clean at the end of each day.



Are You One of the 4 Million People at Risk for Leaky Heart Valves?

10/5/2017

(BPT) - Did you know nearly one in 10 people aged 75 or older[i] suffers from a leaky mitral valve, or mitral regurgitation? And most don't know it, attributing symptoms of fatigue or shortness of breath to just old age.

In 2009, Kato Pomer was an active 92-year-old woman, still practicing child psychiatry, painting, gardening, and playing with her grandchildren. In August of that year, with little warning, she was rushed to the hospital after experiencing shortness of breath and labored breathing. Kato’s doctors diagnosed her with severe leaky mitral valve, and she needed immediate treatment to live.

Mitral regurgitation is a debilitating, progressive and life-threatening condition impacting 4 million people, like Kato, in the U.S. alone.[ii],[iii],[iv] When mitral regurgitation occurs, the mitral valve (one of the four valves of the heart) does not close completely, causing blood to leak backward into the heart. Due to this backward flow, the heart is not able to efficiently circulate blood through the body, which can cause fatigue, shortness of breath and difficulty performing daily activities.

The consequences of leaving a leaky heart valve untreated can be substantial — people often develop other conditions such as irregular heartbeats, stroke, heart failure and even death.[v],[vi],[vii]

Open-heart surgery has been the standard treatment to repair a leaky mitral valve, and first emerged as a treatment option in the early 1960s. Yet only about 20 percent of patients are candidates for open-heart surgery because of a high risk for potential complications due to other illnesses or advanced age. Medications only help to manage the symptoms without treating the underlying problem.

Kato sought opinions from several doctors, but she was not a candidate for open-heart surgery to correct the problem, and she and her family were told to consider hospice care.

Not willing to give up, Kato enrolled in a clinical trial at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute for Abbott's MitraClip® device. Ten weeks after being rushed to the hospital, Kato underwent the MitraClip procedure.

Now a clinically proven, minimally invasive option, MitraClip has treated over 50,000 patients worldwide, and allows doctors to make a small incision in the leg to travel through the body's network of blood vessels to reach and repair a leaky mitral valve. The goal of treatment is to improve heart function while minimizing symptoms and avoiding future complications.

“Kato's heart was working much harder to pump blood through her body,” said Saibal Kar, MD, director of Cardiovascular Intervention Center Research at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. “MitraClip has added years to Kato’s life and offers hope for patients with leaky valves around the world.”

Now, eight years later, Kato is 100 years young and lives with her daughter in the Los Angeles area, where she loves to spend time with her children and grandchildren, and enjoys her garden and going out for sushi.

Approved by the U.S. FDA in 2013, the device had its own milestone this year when the 50,000th patient was treated for mitral regurgitation.

Patients who have undergone a MitraClip procedure report feeling better almost immediately, have a newfound energy and can often return to activities they enjoy within a few days.

“I was rapidly fading before getting my MitraClip and we thought the end was near. Now, I’m still living a full life at one hundred years old,” said Pomer.

Once implanted in the heart, MitraClip mimics the stitches that a surgeon would make to the flaps of the valve during open-heart surgery. The result is the heart’s ability to pump blood more efficiently, thereby relieving symptoms, improving the patient’s quality of life and allowing them to get back to doing the activities they love — faster.

For more information on MitraClip®, visit https://mitraclip.com/.

For important safety information on MitraClip®, visit https://mitraclip.com/#isi.

This article is sponsored by Abbott.

[i] US National Library of Medicine. Medical Encyclopedia: Mitral Valve Regurgitation. National Institutes of Health, 2015.

[ii] US Census Bureau. Statistical Abstract of the US: 2006, Table 12.

[iii] Nkomo et al. Burden of Valvular Heart Diseases: A Population-based Study, Lancet, 2006; 368: 1005-11.

[iv] Patel et al. Mitral Regurgitation in Patients with Advanced Systolic Heart Failure, J of Cardiac Failure, 2004.

[v] Healthline.com. Mitral Valve Disease. 2016. Accessed September 7, 2017 at: http://www.healthline.com/health/mitral-valve-disease.

[vi] Patient Info. Mitral Regurgitation. 2017. Accessed September 7, 2017 at: https://patient.info/health/mitral-regurgitation-leaflet.

[vii] National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. What is Heart Valve Disease? 2015. Accessed September 7, 2017 at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hvd.



Open talk about open enrollment

10/2/2017

(BPT) - Where does open enrollment - the yearly act of enrolling in employer-provided insurance benefits - fall among other annual must-dos? And how do people feel about the process overall?

The third annual "Open Talk about Open Enrollment" poll took a pulse of the nation's feelings about just that, with surprising results. Read on for the findings:

* Completing open enrollment beats attending a karaoke birthday party. Respondents were asked about a list of activities they would choose to never do again. In this case, most preferred the yearly ritual to activities such as karaoke birthday parties and watching the same cartoon over and over to appease a toddler.

Similarly, when asked to rank (in order of preference) a list of annual to-dos, including open enrollment, the majority said they'd much rather complete the annual ritual over budgeting for the holidays, spring cleaning and raking fall leaves.

* Many would spend 30 spare minutes completing open enrollment. When asked about their preferences on how they would prioritize 30 minutes during their day, the majority of respondents said that they'd spend that time completing open enrollment above all other options, including getting an oil change or a manicure, waiting in line at a coffee house and fitting in a cycling class.

* Age might actually matter. When asked about how they react when receiving open enrollment announcements, those over the age of 45 are more likely to download or set information aside to review with their spouse, compared to their younger counterparts. Ten percent of those under 45 are more likely to talk about benefit selections with their coworkers, compared to only 5 percent of those over age 45.

* Not all are aware of what vision insurance benefits are available when they retire. Just 21 percent of respondents are aware that their employer offers post-retirement vision insurance benefits. However, of those, 82 percent are likely to enroll. On the contrary, if an employer does not offer post-retirement vision insurance, nearly two-thirds either don't plan or don't yet know if they will obtain these benefits elsewhere, through VSP or otherwise.

As the only national not-for-profit vision care and coverage company, VSP strongly advocates access to eye care and eyewear for everyone. Vision insurance is typically one of the easiest, quickest and least expensive benefit options to review and select.

Your eye health and overall wellness are too important to dismiss, so check the vision care box. If you have the benefit option, take it. Learn more at www.SeeMuchMore.com.



The simple plan that can keep your cholesterol in check

10/4/2017

(BPT) - For legendary TV personality and Emmy-award winner Regis Philbin, everything changed on a seemingly ordinary day back in 1992. While in Miami shooting a television commercial, the popular host — who usually plowed forward with his various commitments as though nothing could stop him — experienced something that day that almost did.

“All of a sudden, I was getting pains in my chest,” he recalls. “I thought maybe I was getting sick. I couldn’t believe it but they took me to a local Miami hospital and the doctors there discovered I had a blocked artery. My wife Joy flew down to join me and I had to have an angioplasty.”

The process was a success and Philbin continued on with his busy lifestyle. But 15 years later, his heart health problems returned. “I found out in 2007 that I had to have triple bypass surgery,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t sleep the night before. At 6 a.m. they rolled me into the operating room. I was there at the hospital for the next week, walking up and down the hallways.”

Helping to protect heart health

High cholesterol affects over 100 million Americans and is a major risk factor for heart disease — the number one cause of death in America. Philbin now aims to be a success story, not a statistic.

It has been 10 years since Philbin’s triple bypass surgery, and since then he has been working diligently to ensure he makes it another 10 or more without a heart episode. Today, Philbin works to protect his heart health and keep his cholesterol in check with a simple and effective plan — he monitors his diet strictly, mostly choosing chicken and fish over beef, and follows a strict treatment regimen that includes the right statin medication for him.

"I know every day my statin is working to control my cholesterol," he said.

Lipid expert Dr. Eliot Brinton, M.D., president of the Utah Lipid Center and Fellow of the Fellow of the American Heart Association and National Lipid Association, knows how important statin medication can be in helping patients lower their cholesterol. “For most patients with high LDL cholesterol, a statin is a must. Statins are usually easy to take and lower cholesterol very effectively," said Dr. Brinton.

"Yet, according to a new survey of patients with high cholesterol, more than half of former statin users say they abandoned their statin because of side effects, and about a third say they stopped taking their statin without first discussing it with their doctor. It's important to know that there are several statins, some of which are less likely to interact with other medications, but still lower cholesterol very well. If you're not happy with the statin you're currently taking, please, talk to your doctor to see if another statin may work better for you."

Philbin agrees. When he first started taking a statin, he experienced muscle pain. He spoke with his doctor and switched to the statin that he is now taking, which worked for him. "Most people don't know there are multiple statin medications, and that they can work with their doctors to identify the one that is most appropriate for them," he said.

Take Cholesterol to Heart

Statins have been proven to help reduce cholesterol levels, yet 50 percent of people who are prescribed a statin stop taking their medication within one year of starting it. In many cases, patients don't understand the consequences of stopping their statin.

Philbin wants to change that.

To help patients make better, more informed treatment decisions, Regis and Joy, his wife of more than 35 years, joined Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc. and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Foundation on the new Take Cholesterol to Heart initiative. The campaign encourages patients to speak frankly to their doctors about any challenges with their current statin therapy, and to partner to find another statin that works for them.

"We want to inspire people to talk to their doctor through this Take Cholesterol to Heart initiative," said Joy Philbin. "People with cholesterol or heart issues shouldn't think they are limited to just one treatment option. They can work with their doctor to find a statin medication that works for them."

To learn more about statin medications for high cholesterol and how to support your own health, visit www.TakeCholesteroltoHeart.com. You'll find helpful tips for speaking with your doctor to establish the right statin for you. You can also learn more about your personal cholesterol medication considerations and access a cholesterol 101 management guide, a medication reminder checklist, and additional results of the recent cholesterol survey. Any or all of these resources can help you build a foundation for your cholesterol treatment. Because, as Philbin says, establishing and sticking to the right treatment plan for you can truly make all the difference.



Sharing the road: Safety gear makes cycling safer, but can promote a false sense of security

10/4/2017

(BPT) - As more people are taking to two wheels for commuting and overall fitness, cycling accidents and injuries are on the rise. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2015, 818 cyclists were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the U.S., an increase from 729 in 2014. In addition, more than 45,000 people were injured in bicycle accidents in 2015. More than 80 percent of those killed or injured were male. While safety gear for cyclists is improving thanks to better technology, it is not a fail-safe for sensible cycling.

More bikes, more cars, more distractions

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people who commuted to work via bicycle in 2014 had increased 60 percent over the past decade nationwide. Local governments across the country have made efforts to improve commuting options - such as bike-sharing programs and infrastructure aimed at making bike commuting easier, including increased cycling paths and bike lanes - but in many cases, cyclists are still sharing the road with cars, which are increasing in volume as well. In 2015, there were an estimated 263 million cars on the road in the U.S.

Add more bikes, more cars and the fact that distracted driving has reached dangerous levels, and we have a recipe for disaster. The NHTSA estimates that 660,000 drivers use electronic devices while driving on any given day.

Data from Craig Hospital, a rehabilitation hospital that specializes in the treatment of spinal cord and brain injuries, shows a 290 percent increase in bicycling-related injuries from 2011 to 2016. The majority of these patients have sustained traumatic brain injuries, and according to the hospital's data, these brain injuries are increasing in the level of severity. For example, in 2016, 67 percent of patients who were admitted with cycling-related brain injuries measured at level five or lower (more severe) on the Rancho Los Amigos scale, which measures awareness, cognition, behavior and interaction, compared to 40 percent in 2011.

"The injuries we see from bicycle-auto accidents are becoming more and more severe, likely due to the accidents happening much more quickly. When someone is driving distracted, they don't see a cyclist until it's too late to try to avoid them, so the impact is much greater," said Dr. Alan Weintraub, physician and brain-injury program medical director at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado.

While improvements in safety gear - better helmet technology, sensors for cyclists that can detect oncoming vehicles and more - can certainly help, when a car and a cyclist collide, the cyclist is always at a disadvantage.

"Obviously, patients we see who are wearing a helmet when they are injured typically have a better prognosis than those who are not, but my fear is that as safety equipment improves and becomes more ubiquitous, people can have a false sense of security and take more risks. Helmets or other safety devices should never be a replacement for awareness, caution and following the rules of the road," said Weintraub.

Making it safer to share the road

Cyclists and drivers can take steps to create a safer environment for everyone using the road. NHTSA has provided these guidelines:

Cyclists:

* All bicyclists should wear properly fitted bicycle helmets every time they ride. A helmet is the single most effective way to prevent head injury resulting from a bicycle crash.

* Bicyclists are considered vehicle operators; they are required to obey the same rules of the road as other vehicle operators, including obeying traffic signs, signals and lane markings. When cycling in the street, cyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic.

* Wear bright clothing and use reflective gear; and at night, use a front light and a red reflector or flashing rear light.

* Plan your route and consider which routes have the most accessibility for bikes.

* Assume drivers don't see you.

* Just like drivers, cyclists should avoid distractions like talking on a phone, texting or listening to music that could make it difficult to hear cars.

Drivers:

* Yield to cyclists as you would other cars, and don't underestimate a cyclist's speed.

* Check for cyclists when backing up, at stop signs, and when opening your door when parked.

* When turning right from a lane that can go straight or turn, check to your right for cyclists going straight.

* Follow the rules of the road.

* Give cyclists room and do not pass too closely.



Get salty to fight stress

10/2/2017

(BPT) - Stress. No one wants it, but we all experience it from time to time. Higher levels of stress can cause problems at work and home. But stress is not just hard on your mental well-being; it is also hard on your body and can lead to many negative health outcomes.

Stress levels can increase significantly when economic times are tough. The British Health and Social Care Information Centre found that stress had increased by 47 percent during that country’s recession and stress was the single biggest cause of sickness in the UK, affecting 20 percent of the population. Professor Cary Cooper of Lancaster University, an expert on stress, was alarmed and told The Independent, "I have never seen figures like this before. Stress is a trigger mechanism for a range of conditions, from heart attacks to immune system disorders, mental illness and depression and anxiety.”

Everyone is familiar with comfort foods, but the comfort foods that have been shown to actually reduce stress all contain salt. Stress is characterized in the human body by high levels of cortisol, referred to as the "stress hormone.” Scientific research has shown, in animals and humans, that increased levels of salt consumption are effective in reducing levels of cortisol.

Research from the University of Haifa, published in the science journal Appetite, confirmed the relationship between salt and stress in humans. Researchers found an inverse correlation between salt and depression/stress, especially in women. Craving salty foods may be a biological defense mechanism we evolved to cope with daily stress.

The researchers reviewed data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey using 10,000 individuals and demonstrated that depression and stress were higher in individuals who consumed less salt. The trend was more prevalent in women than men. They noted that the relationship of higher depression with lower salt intake in humans was consistent with the results of animal studies. They also found that young people, up to age 19, selectively choose foods that are higher in salt, indicating a natural feedback mechanism driving them to consume higher salt foods and rewarding them with more vigorous growth.

Other good stress-relieving tips include getting a good night’s sleep and taking time off to focus on relaxation and regular exercise, which has added health benefits. Of course, with exercise, another benefit of salt becomes apparent, as this vital nutrient is necessary to remain properly hydrated and healthy. When you sweat, you lose not just water but also electrolytes (including sodium), which need to be replenished.

Whether they are called comfort foods or mood stabilizers, research indicates salty foods are effective at making us feel better and reducing our heightened stress levels. So, the next time you finish a stressful day and want to wind down and relax, don’t be surprised if you instinctively reach for a salty snack.



Road salt means safe roads

10/2/2017

(BPT) - State and municipal departments of transportation are gearing up their winter maintenance plans to prepare for snow and ice. In addition to plows, road salt is an important tool to keep roads clear. Every year these agencies stockpile sufficient salt to last the winter season and store it in strategically placed barns.

"Snowfighters" (those responsible to clear snow from roadways) are out in force in salt trucks before snow and ice is expected. They pretreat the roads with salt brine, a mix of road salt and water. This brine sticks to the road surface and helps prevent ice from forming in the first place, making winter travel safer. And the safety issue is a substantial one. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation show that there are about 115,000 people injured every year on snowy, slushy or icy pavements and more than 1,600 people killed each year on winter roads.

The good news is that a Marquette University study showed that a good winter maintenance program that uses road salt reduces accidents on winter roads by about 88 percent and can reduce injuries by up to 85 percent.

A key goal for many agencies is tracking their winter maintenance actions in great detail and ensuring that their actions are optimized to meet their goal of safe roads for the driving public. In Idaho, for example, new salt-spreading units allow them to track how much salt they apply to the road, and other sensors allow them to check that the road is responding as expected to the salt application, and is not getting slippery. This also helps reduce costs. They have seen a 29 percent reduction in annual winter maintenance costs since introducing the new technology.

Maintaining mobility is also a big concern, as people need to get to work or the grocery store and kids need to get to school. Clear roads allow ambulances and other emergency vehicles to perform their life-saving services. A study for the American Highway Users Alliance found that the cost of having roads closed down is substantial - between $300 million and $700 million a day for a state in direct and indirect earnings. One study suggested that the costs of maintaining the road system during a winter storm are completely recovered in the first 25 minutes of winter-maintenance activities, because of the improvements in safety and mobility that the improved road conditions bring about.

Care for the environment is also a key issue in safe and sustainable snowfighting. Several studies have shown that when road salt is properly applied at the right time and place to keep roadways safe and passable, environmental impacts can be effectively managed and minimized. Modern roadways are not a natural feature of the environment and are specifically engineered to satisfy our demand for personal and commercial mobility - factors that are basic to the quality of life.

A comprehensive study by environmental researchers at the University of Waterloo and Environment Canada found that when best practices, as outlined in Canada's Road Salt Code of Practice, were used, chloride levels were reduced by half. Another study by the Guelph University Research Review found that recycling stormwater runoff could reduce chloride peaks in streams without adversely affecting road safety. In cooperation with the city of Toronto, researchers used the EPA Storm Water Management Model to design computer-controlled stormwater containment systems to serve as a guide for future mitigation applications.

Salt is our most important winter resource, because it saves lives and protects the economy. It is economical and extremely effective.



6 tips to improve indoor air quality

9/29/2017

(BPT) - Stuffy and runny nose, sneezing, itchy nose and eyes — having allergies can be miserable. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), more than 60 million Americans suffer from asthma and allergies, and nearly 70 percent of U.S. households are affected by indoor allergens.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, where the concentrations of some pollutants are two to five times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.

Your home should be a haven for you and your family, not a trigger for allergies and asthma. To help everyone breathe easier and to increase indoor air quality, consider these smart and simple ideas:

Be smart with bedding

To ensure you sleep well and can breathe easy all night long, invest in allergen-barrier bedding and pillow covers. Wash all sheets, blankets, pillowcases and bedcovers in hot water that is at least 130 F to kill dust mites and remove allergens, recommends the Mayo Clinic. For items that can't be washed (e.g., some children's stuffed toys), place in the dryer for at least 15 minutes at a temperature above 130 F.

Buy confident and seek certification

From vacuums to cleaning products, flooring to humidifiers, look for the asthma & allergy friendly Certification Program seal of approval. The program, administered by AAFA in partnership with Allergy Standards Limited (ASL), is an independent program created to scientifically test and identify products that are better for people with asthma and allergies.

Install a whole-home air cleaner

Home air cleaners work with your existing duct work to filter out nearly all allergens. For example, CleanEffects whole home air cleaner from Trane removes up to 99.98 percent of allergens like household dust , mold spores and certain bacteria and viruses so you don't have to worry about breathing in harmful bacteria or allergy triggers. It's the first whole home air cleaner to receive the asthma & allergy certification.

Use a HEPA-filtered vacuum often

No matter the type of flooring in your home, vacuum regularly with a HEPA-filtered vacuum to remove the maximum number of allergens possible. The Carpet and Rug Institute recommends vacuuming daily in high-traffic or pet areas, vacuuming twice weekly in medium-traffic areas and vacuuming weekly in light-traffic areas, using attachments at carpet edges.

Hire professional carpet cleaners

Many people with allergies choose to remove carpets and replace them with hardwood or tile flooring that doesn't collect allergens as quickly. However, this is not always possible, so if you have carpet in your home, regularly hire professional carpet cleaners to deeply clean carpet to remove embedded particles and other allergy triggers lurking within.

Choose VOC-free paints

Craving a new wall color? When buying paint, look for VOC-free options. VOC stands for volatile organic compounds and these can trigger allergies. To ensure nobody in your family gets itchy eyes or a runny nose when they spend time in your remodeled space, shop smart and always choose VOC-free paints.

These simple tips should dramatically impact your indoor air quality. That means every time your family is at home, everyone can breathe deep and feel their best.



Busting myths and misconceptions about osteoporosis

9/28/2017

(BPT) - One in two women over the age of 50 will suffer a fracture caused by osteoporosis in her remaining lifetime. Despite its prevalence, there are many myths and misconceptions about this "silent" disease. These myths may be a reason why osteoporosis is underdiagnosed and undertreated.

A fragility fracture (breaking a bone by falling from a standing height or lower) can impact day-to-day life, but it can also be an indicator for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. When you have osteoporosis, even daily tasks such as taking your dog for a walk can put you at risk for a fragility fracture of the wrist, leg or even hip. But, a startling 82 percent of postmenopausal women did not identify such fractures as a possible risk factor for osteoporosis, according to results from a recent online survey of over 1,000 postmenopausal women conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Radius Health, in partnership with HealthyWomen and the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

That first fracture should be your cue to talk to your health care professional about treatment options that may lower your risk of breaking a bone again.

"It is critical that postmenopausal women do not dismiss seemingly insignificant fragility fractures as 'clumsiness,' but instead see them as an important indicator for bone fragility, disease progression and the need for intervention," says Dr. Andrea Singer, MD, FACP, CCD, clinical director and trustee of the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

This is just one myth about osteoporosis. There are many others, including:

Myth: Osteoporosis only affects the elderly.

Truth: Osteoporosis often affects women after menopause. Natural menopause can occur as early as age 50. The rate of bone loss after menopause is increased with the accompanying loss of estrogen. Osteoporosis is a progressive disease that lowers the density of bones over time, making them weaker and more likely to fracture.

Myth: Osteoporosis isn't very common.

Truth: Ten million Americans are estimated to have osteoporosis, and more than 8 million of those are women.

Myth: Osteoporosis isn’t that serious.

Truth: More women over the age of 55 were hospitalized in the United States for osteoporosis-related fractures than for stroke, heart attack or breast cancer. Yet, according to the survey, postmenopausal women were more likely to be concerned with a diagnosis of stroke, heart attack and breast cancer than osteoporosis.

Myth: Health care providers will tell you when it's time to test for osteoporosis.

Truth: Research suggests only 2 in 10 older women in the United States who suffer a fracture are tested or treated for osteoporosis. Furthermore, according to the survey, 96 percent of postmenopausal women who have not yet been diagnosed with osteoporosis and who suffered a fragility fracture were not told by their health care provider it could be linked to osteoporosis.

Myth: Getting enough calcium and vitamin D is enough to treat osteoporosis.

Truth: About 3 in 10 postmenopausal women incorrectly believe that drinking milk or taking calcium supplements alone will prevent osteoporotic fractures/breaks, the survey found. While getting enough calcium and vitamin D is critical to keep bones strong, it may not be enough when it comes to treating osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, especially after a fracture. It's important to learn about osteoporosis and talk to your health care professional.

Myth: There is no way to build new bone after menopause.

Truth: About one-quarter of postmenopausal women incorrectly believe there is no way to build new bone at their age, the survey found. The truth is that certain types of treatment for postmenopausal osteoporosis can help build new bone, while others help slow bone loss.

Separating the truths from the myths is an important step in pursuing appropriate care for bone health after menopause. To get more information about osteoporosis, visit the Fractured Truth website at www.fracturedtruths.com. To learn more and find a community of supportive women, visit the Fractured Truth Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FracturedTruth.



Know thrombosis: Tips to prevent deadly blood clots

9/28/2017

(BPT) - When you think of potentially deadly health issues, do you think of a blood clot? According to a recent U.S. survey, only 7 percent of people say they are concerned about blood clots, known by the medical term thrombosis. However, what they might not know is one in four people worldwide die from conditions caused by thrombosis, making it a leading cause of global death and disability.

So, what is thrombosis?

* Thrombosis is the formation of potentially deadly blood clots in the artery (arterial thrombosis) or vein (venous thrombosis).

* When a blood clot forms in the deep veins of the leg, it is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

* If a blood clot travels in the circulation and lodges in the lungs, it is known as a pulmonary embolism (PE).

* Together, DVT and PE are known as venous thromboembolism (VTE), a dangerous and potentially deadly medical condition. DVT + PE = VTE.

“Thrombosis is a significant public health issue about which many people are unfortunately unaware,” says Dr. Gary Raskob, Ph.D., dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and chairman of the World Thrombosis Day Steering Committee. “Understanding the risk factors for thrombosis and if you are at risk, as well as the signs and symptoms, is knowledge that could save your life.”

Some signs and symptoms of DVT include pain or tenderness in the calf and/or thigh; swelling of the leg, foot and/or ankle; redness and/or noticeable discoloration; and warmth.

People with PE often experience shortness of breath, rapid breathing, chest pain (which may be worse during deep breath), rapid heart rate, lightheadedness and/or fainting. Risk factors for VTE include hospitalization, surgery, cancer, prolonged immobility, family history, estrogen-containing medications and pregnancy or recent birth. Given that up to 60 percent of VTE cases occur during or after hospitalization, it’s important to ask your doctor for a risk assessment anytime you are admitted to the hospital.

“Knowing the facts about thrombosis can save your life,” says Mike Albanese, a comedian living with AFib, a common type of irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, which can lead to the formation of a deadly blood clot. “As a comedian, I try to use my shows as a platform to educate others about thrombosis, which can be preventable when you know what to look for.”

VTE-related events cause more deaths each year in the U.S. and Europe than breast cancer, AIDS and motor vehicle crashes combined. That’s why the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH) created a global movement called World Thrombosis Day on Oct. 13 to increase awareness of this often-overlooked condition.

When it comes to thrombosis, knowing the signs, symptoms and risk factors can help you keep life flowing.

For more information about thrombosis, visit worldthrombosisday.org.



5 steps to prepare for open enrollment

9/28/2017

(BPT) - Millions of Americans will select or switch their health benefits plan during open enrollment, so now is the time to prepare for that decision that usually happens once a year.

More than 70 percent of Americans say they are prepared for open enrollment, yet most people struggle to understand basic health insurance terms, according to a recent UnitedHealthcare survey. Only 9 percent of survey respondents could successfully define all four basic health insurance concepts: plan premium, deductible, co-insurance and out-of-pocket maximum.

To help people make the most out of their health benefits, Rebecca Madsen, chief consumer officer of UnitedHealthcare, offers the following five tips.

1. Know your open enrollment dates

Open enrollment isn’t the same for everyone, so there are key dates to keep in mind depending on your situation:

* For the more than 177 million Americans with employer-provided coverage, many companies set aside a two-week period between September and December when employees can select health benefits for the following year.

* For the more than 59 million seniors and other people enrolled in Medicare, their open enrollment runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year.

* Health insurance marketplace or individual state exchange open enrollment runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15.

For most people, changes made to coverage during open enrollment take effect Jan. 1, 2018.

2. Take time to review your options

Every person or family has unique health and budget needs. Take the time to explore your options, and understand the benefits and costs of each health plan so you can find the coverage that works best for you and your family members.

* Check if your current coverage still meets your needs and if your benefits will change next year.

* Determine if the plan is a good fit for your budget, and pay attention to more than just the monthly premium. You should also understand the other out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles, copays and coinsurance.

* Make sure your medications are covered. Even if you don’t expect to change plans, it’s important to ensure your drugs will still be covered next year.

3. Make sure your doctor is in your plan’s care provider network

Even if you don’t make any changes, it’s a good idea to ensure that any doctor you see regularly — or plan to visit in the coming year — is in your benefit plan’s care provider network. If you plan to visit a doctor or hospital outside of the network, be sure to understand how your costs will differ from a network care provider because those costs will most likely be higher.

Also, check if your plan includes 24/7 telehealth services for consultations on minor health issues. Often, telehealth — online, or virtual, visits with a doctor over a computer, tablet or mobile phone — is available to people enrolled in employer-sponsored health plans and group Medicare Advantage plans, as well as select individual Medicare Advantage plans. Virtual visits may provide convenient and affordable access to care for minor medical issues, including allergies, bronchitis and seasonal flu.

4. Don’t forget about additional benefits

Additional benefits such as dental, vision, accident or critical-illness insurance are often affordable options that can protect you and your family. For people enrolled in Medicare, many are surprised to find that Original Medicare doesn’t cover prescription drugs and most dental, vision and hearing services. But many Medicare Advantage plans do, often at a $0 monthly premium beyond the premium for Original Medicare.

5. Take advantage of wellness programs.

Some health plans offer discounts on gym memberships and provide financial incentives for completing health assessments, signing up for health coaching programs, lowering your cholesterol, losing weight, meeting walking goals or stopping smoking. Programs are designed to reward people for making healthy choices and being more engaged in improving their health.

Visit UHCOpenEnrollment.com for articles and videos with information about health benefits and health insurance terms.



People with reduced kidney function miss this important warning sign

9/26/2017

(BPT) - Anyone with a chronic disease knows the importance of monitoring personal health data to keep on top of one’s disease. If you suffer from heart disease, for example, you watch your cholesterol and blood pressure closely, and if you are diabetic, you monitor your blood sugar.

People suffering from reduced kidney function have important health measures to monitor — key among these is their potassium level. Not knowing and keeping track of this important health measure could have serious, and even fatal consequences.

The dangers of high potassium

A naturally existing mineral, potassium is an essential nutrient that helps your body regulate its fluid levels, balance other minerals in the cells and contract your muscles. Potassium can even help lower your blood pressure by warding off the potentially harmful effects of sodium.

However, like sodium, potassium can be harmful to the body if levels in the blood become too high. Because 90 percent of all excess potassium is released through the kidneys, people suffering from reduced kidney function or chronic kidney disease are at an increased risk of suffering from the complications of high potassium. The condition of high potassium is otherwise known as hyperkalemia, and failure to treat it can result in abnormal heart rhythms and even sudden death.

Raising awareness

Despite the potential for serious complications, awareness and understanding of the dangers of high potassium remains low. A new online survey of 488 patients conducted by the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) and Relypsa Inc. finds that 50 percent of the respondents — all of whom have chronic kidney disease — said high potassium was very important to them personally, ranking ahead of heart disease and anemia, diabetes and high cholesterol. Yet while patients said their concern over their potassium levels was real, 80 percent stated they did not know their potassium level. Thirty percent had never heard the term hyperkalemia and 53 percent had no idea what it meant.

In addition, there was a clear gap in perception of the treatment needs associated with high potassium. Although 68 percent of those surveyed had been living with high potassium levels for more than a year, 71 percent felt that managing their high potassium levels was a short-term issue.

Establishing a baseline for future treatment

High potassium poses a potentially serious threat, and 38 percent of respondents report they have needed emergency care because of high levels of potassium in their blood. However, despite potential danger, symptoms of high potassium can be difficult to spot and are sometimes nonexistent. In cases where warning signs do appear, a person may feel shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea or vomiting, heart palpitations or muscle paralysis. However, an absence of any of these symptoms does not always mean a person's potassium levels are within healthy guidelines.

Patients who suffer from chronic kidney disease and other reduced kidney function complications are at an increased risk for high potassium complications and cannot ignore this potential danger. If you suffer from such a condition, talk to your doctor about the dangers of high potassium. A simple blood test can determine your current potassium levels and your doctor can help you develop a treatment regimen to lower and/or manage your potassium levels.

Make the call today. Because your potassium levels are simply too important not to monitor.



4 ways to take back control from breast cancer

9/25/2017

(BPT) - It is no secret that dealing with breast cancer is hard. It can turn lives upside down, inspiring concerns on topics as wide-ranging as maintaining daily routines, paying for treatment and life expectancy. Underlying it all is its emotional toll. According to a survey by Ford Warriors in Pink, 44 percent of breast cancer patients report needing help maintaining a positive outlook, while 43 percent report needing help maintaining their self-confidence. As supporters, we want to alleviate the burdens on our loved ones, yet only 28 percent of Americans say they know how to best support a patient during and after treatment.

Although the emotional journey of cancer is complex and there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are ways you can help those experiencing it feel more in control of their situation. Encourage your loved ones to engage in activities that nourish their spirit and support them in pursuing avenues for self-care to help them maintain a positive outlook on life.

Expand your world. Many patients feel as though breast cancer takes hold of their life as its own. Remind your loved one that cancer is not the center of their world by encouraging them to pursue their passions. “Amidst chemo and radiation, you’re constantly finishing battles. But when life is constantly pushing you down, you need more wins. So I decided to hike through the rainforest in Colombia immediately post radiation,” says breast cancer survivor Lara Mehanna. Participating in new experiences — even those in your own hometown — can allow those who have been touched by breast cancer to refocus on their spirit. Treat your loved one to an experience that aligns with their interests, like a local pottery or cooking class, to provide a much-needed outlet as they continue their fight.

Create peace of mind. Mindful meditation is one method of self-care that helps lower anxiety and stress. As part of her “integrated care” treatment plan, breast cancer survivor Ana Mostaccero practiced meditation and visualization exercises prior to surgery. “Doing these exercises helped me to not only reduce stress, but to begin practicing an all-around mindful life with heightened perspective and appreciation for what my mind and body were experiencing.” Help your loved one tap into their own inner peace by making meditation easily accessible to them. Popular personal meditation app Headspace offers meditations specific to every phase of the cancer journey.

Channel your chi. Breast cancer often brings feelings of being betrayed by your body. “It took a long time to learn to trust my body again,” says survivor Amber Tumbow. “For so long it felt like my own body turned against me in a constant state of battle. I began practicing yoga, and slowly but surely I was able to feel more in control.” Because yoga is a gentle exercise with a variety of modifications, it can be a manageable exercise for patients at different stages of their journey. Start a regular yoga practice with your loved one to encourage regular activity, keep them motivated, and help them reconnect with their bodies. Look for programs like the Wanderlust 21-Day Challenge that can be done at home and are designed especially with breast cancer patients in mind.

Empower with community. Cancer can feel alienating. While patients undoubtedly appreciate the support of family and friends, they can also feel like no one understands what they are going through. Connecting with others who have also experienced cancer can help patients feel less alone. “The greatest blessing was support from fellow survivors, the Models of Courage community,” shares survivor Jessica Ayers. “Being diagnosed so young, I felt alone. Hearing the stories of those who had gone through the same thing as me, and seeing their strength as they offered support, advice and love completely changed my outlook on my disease. It turned me into a warrior.”

No matter what you choose to do, it’s important to let your loved ones know that you are there to support them, on days good and bad. By doing so, you can provide vital support for making your loved one’s journey just a little bit easier. For free patient support resources such as Headspace meditations and the Wanderlust 21-day yoga challenge visit www.fordcares.com.



You need more fruits and veggies: 5 easy ways to get there

9/21/2017

(BPT) - Most Americans understand the importance of including a variety of fruits and vegetables into their diets, but finding inspiration and fresh ideas for incorporating them into everyday meals can be challenging.

Research shows that only 10 percent of Americans are meeting the MyPlate recommendations for daily intake of fruits and veggies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a rule of thumb, half the foods you eat for any given meal should be made up of fruits and veggies — preferably ones incorporating a range of different colors and nutrients.

Daily meal planning is made easier if you turn to your freezer for a little help. Balancing your plate with frozen meals and pizzas and adding fresh side dishes is a simple solution that can help make you feel good about what you’re eating, even with a hectic schedule. Choose your favorite frozen prepared foods and pizzas as the foundation, add side dishes made with fresh fruit and vegetables and you have a balanced meal that is both delicious and nutritious.

Nestlé's Balance Your Plate educational program aims to help you put together delicious and nutritious meals that incorporate 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.

Here are some quick and easy tips for including more fruits and veggies in your diet:

1. Chop, eat, repeat. Not into cooking? Simply buy whatever looks good, wash it, cut into slices and enjoy, perhaps dipping it into salad dressing or a yogurt dip.

2. Shop the frozen-food aisle. Delicious and easy-to-prepare frozen foods such as DiGiorno pizzeria! thin Margherita pizza or Lean Cuisine Ricotta Cheese & Spinach Ravioli provide your family plenty of wholesome meals without requiring lengthy prep time. Simply pair with tasty side dishes made with fruits and vegetables for a balanced meal.

3. Divide and conquer. Each Sunday night mix your favorite veggies into a big salad bowl with a cover, combining Romaine and iceberg lettuce with darker green varieties and throwing in other tasty ingredients that will motivate you to want more; consider slices of grilled meat or shrimp, boiled eggs, or small amounts of nuts, cheeses, dried fruit, etc. Then divide the mix into individual plastic containers for the week’s lunches.

4. Top it off. As soon as your favorite frozen pizza comes out of the oven, boost its nutrient punch by adding pieces of fresh tomato, basil, pineapple, spinach or arugula.

5. Stir it in. Add complementary veggies to your favorite comfort food, like Stouffer's Mac & Cheese. Suggested stir-ins: roasted broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots or butternut squash.

Nestlé’s Balance Your Plate offers two delicious side dish recipes that, when served with your favorite frozen prepared foods, create a perfectly balanced meal you and your family will love.

Arugula and Roasted Pear Salad with Toasted Walnuts

Pairs well with DiGiorno pizzeria! thin Margherita

(Recipe from Hungry Couple of Tasting Spoon Media)

Recipe

4 cups arugula

2 pears

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

* Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

* Slice the pears vertically and scoop out the seeds with a spoon or melon baller. Spread the walnut halves on one side of the baking sheet and layer the pear slices on the other. Place in the oven for about 5 minutes, toss the nuts and flip the pears. Continue roasting for an additional 5 minutes.

* Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey and mustard until fully combined. Season with salt and pepper.

* Assemble the salad by adding the arugula to a large bowl or platter. Top with the roasted pear slices, sprinkle on the walnuts and drizzle with the dressing.

Simple Kale Salad

Pairs well with Lean Cuisine Ricotta Cheese & Spinach Ravioli

(Recipe from Loop88)

Recipe

2 medium bunches kale, stemmed and roughly chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles

Sea salt

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Instructions

Dress kale with olive oil, apple cider vinegar and sea salt, then top with red onion, feta cheese and toasted walnuts.

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



Clinical trials and the vital role they play in furthering cancer research

9/21/2017

(BPT) - The world of health care is one of constant innovation and discovery. New drugs, treatments and ideas are needed to combat the various health problems Americans face every single day. It is an ever-evolving challenge, and as health concerns are conquered, one constant threat remains: Cancer.

According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), cancer will be the leading cause of death by 2030. Even as advances in radiation, chemotherapy and surgical procedures have improved outcomes immensely, now more than ever, additional research is needed. This research comes from many sources, but the most effective way to obtain such valuable information is through clinical trials.

What is a cancer clinical trial?

Cancer clinical trials help researchers determine if a treatment option or drug is safe and effective against certain cancers. Today’s drug development strategies typically incorporate precision medicine approaches into their research platform. Clinical trials are traditionally conducted in four phases.

In phase I trials, a small group of participants are tested to determine the safety of a drug as well as the appropriate dosage and side effects. Phase II trials are similar but involve more participants and test how well a treatment works. Phase III trials enroll even more people—typically in the hundreds or thousands—and usually compare a trial drug to the current standard of care treatment. In many cases, this is the last step before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the drug as a treatment option.

Finally, phase IV trials are undertaken after the FDA has approved a drug. This final stage continues to research the long-term side effects or benefits of drug use.

The latest trials spur the latest advancements

While many trials research specific drugs targeting specific cancers, the possibility exists to conduct such research in a broader format.

“The Targeted Agent and Profiling Utilization Registry (TAPUR) Study is the first-ever clinical trial by ASCO,” says Eugene Ahn, MD, medical director of clinical research at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) at Midwestern Regional Medical Center (Midwestern) in Zion, Ill. “This trial aims to improve our understanding of how commercially available anti-cancer drugs perform on a broader range of cancers by matching drugs to tumors with specific genomic mutations that the drugs are designed to target regardless of their location in the body.”

Each of the targeted therapies included in the study has already been approved by the FDA to treat specific cancers. This trial will collect data on how these anti-cancer drugs perform on patients with advanced cancer types when used outside of their FDA-approved indications. The hope is that by studying these drugs—which are provided at no cost to the study participants—researchers will gain new insights on the drugs’ potential uses.

Taking an active role in a clinical trial

Clinical trials like TAPUR are important for the advancement of cancer care and treatment. If you are considering enrolling in TAPUR or any other clinical trial, its important you know that enrollment is voluntary and a decision between you and your medical oncologist. Ask questions to find out if enrolling in a trial is right for you.

CTCA at Midwestern is one of five CTCA sites and the first location in Illinois enrolling patients in the ASCO TAPUR trial. You can learn more about the TAPUR study by visiting clinicaltrials.gov. The study is registered on the site (NCT 02693535), which includes a list of inclusion/exclusion criteria and other information. You can also learn more by contacting the clinical trials team at clinicaltrials@ctca-hope.com or by calling 888-841-9129.



Winning routines for warding off winter weight gain

9/20/2017

(BPT) - With cold weather and short days, it’s easy to fall off healthy eating and exercise routines. Here are tips on how to eat right and stay motivated to exercise during the winter months from a leading nutritionist and a top celebrity trainer.

EAT RIGHT

Dr. Michael Roussell holds a degree in biochemistry from Hobart College and a doctorate in nutrition from Pennsylvania State University. He is a nationally recognized nutrition consultant and nutrition adviser to Men’s Health, as well as the best-selling author of The MetaShred Diet (2017).

“It’s easy to fall into eating calorie-loaded or nutrient-empty comfort foods in the winter, but take time and plan ahead. The optimum winter foods for weight loss and maintenance are packed with nutrients and filling fiber, so we feel full longer and eat less. Here are five suggestions for your shopping list.”

Pistachios. The fiber-rich green nut makes the perfect wintertime snack for many reasons. Research shows that pistachios promote healthy, stable blood-sugar levels and can help improve various risk factors for heart disease when snacked on regularly.

Winter squash. In season, butternut squash delivers a sweet, nutty flavor for fewer carbs and more fiber than you would expect. It is rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C, both antioxidants that will help keep your immune system in top shape. Add into soup and give your body what it craves: cold weather comfort.

Mushrooms. Mushrooms are a great cold-weather food that is in season all winter long. They are not only a unique source of a potent antioxidant called ergothioneine, but they are also a low-calorie, appetite-filling food that can be roasted, braised or sauteed.

Cabbage. Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage are fibrous low-calorie foods that are perfect for the winter. They also contain powerful antioxidants like glucosinolates that help reinforce your body’s cellular detoxification pathways.

Green tea. Green tea is one of the few truly fat-burning foods. The antioxidants in green tea work to increase the amount of calories that your body burns as heat while also stimulating the liberation of stored fat in your body.

STAY FIT

Julie Diamond of Julie Diamond Fitness is a well-known, highly regarded personal fitness trainer with more than 20 years of experience empowering clients to reach their maximum fitness potential. She trains clients at all fitness levels and ages that run the gamut from celebrities to athletes to moms to anyone who aspires to live a healthier life.

“Every year as the weather gets colder, I hear the same thing: It’s too hard to get motivated to exercise on cold, dark mornings, and by nighttime I just want to get home and eat something warm. But there are tricks to staying motivated to move during the winter months.”

Set a new goal and reward yourself. Whether you want to lose weight, get stronger or move faster, set reasonable and specific goals that involve numbers or tangible accomplishments. Once you’ve attained your goal, treat yourself with a massage, new outfit or whatever tickles your fancy.

Find a workout buddy. Accountability is a great way to stay on track. Make a commitment with a friend or personal trainer for set times. This not only forces you to show up, but it can also make you push harder when you have someone cheering you on — and it’s fun!

Think outside the box. Do something different like a dance class, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) class, join a running group, or grab friends and go ice-skating.

Dress the part. Invest in some new gear. It’s a known fact we all feel better and perform better in the appropriate attire. Invest in a couple of great pieces.

Amp up your playlist. Music motivates. Create a bunch of playlists that get you up and going. Play songs as you get ready.

Focus on nutrition. Food is fuel to get moving. Every week, set yourself up by preparing healthy snacks that you can just grab and go if needed, such as portable pistachios, hard-boiled eggs or chopped vegetables.



Is BPA a thing of Halloween nightmares?

9/19/2017

(BPT) - Now that fall is underway and you’re already growing tired of all the pumpkin-flavored treats, Halloween must not be too far away. That means it’s time to head to the store to pick up the trendiest Halloween decor to guarantee a shocked response from trick-or-treaters. But before you do, have you considered what some of these products are made of? Chances are, some may be polycarbonate plastic made with a safe, common chemical known as BPA.

BPA is a building-block chemical used to make a certain kind of plastic known as polycarbonate, which has unique properties that make products like flashlights lightweight and durable. And its shatter-resistance makes it ideal for use in LED lights to illuminate your Halloween-scape to guide trick-or-treaters to your doorstep.

Before heading to the store, take a look at some of the common ways BPA is used to keep trick-or-treaters spooky and safe on Halloween night:

* Flashlights – For trick-or-treaters, flashlights are a must-have to avoid losing their way. Polycarbonate gives flashlights their strong, shatter-resistant outer casing so trick-or-treaters can spook their way through their neighborhood late into the evening.

* Halloween decorations – Every neighborhood has one house that spares no expense when decorating for holidays throughout the year. But did you know many of those decorations would not be possible without polycarbonate? It makes those spooky plastic tombstones and skeletons durable and shatter-resistant.

* LED lights – To keep your jack-o'-lanterns burning bright into the night, LED lights have become the lights of choice. Polycarbonate plastic allows LED lights to be more durable and energy efficient as well as transparent.

Products made with polycarbonate help keep trick-or-treaters safe on Halloween night, and using BPA to make the polycarbonate for these products is safe as well. BPA is one of the most widely studied chemicals in use today, and when it comes to BPA used in food contact materials, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) answered the question, “Is BPA safe?” with a clear answer — “Yes.”

With Halloween fast approaching, rest assured your trick-or-treater will have a safe and fun Halloween thanks to polycarbonate made from BPA — which isn’t so spooky after all!



Metastatic breast cancer patients tell their stories through art and photography

9/19/2017

(BPT) - This post is brought to you by Eisai Inc.

When most people think of breast cancer, they think of the pink movement, and often times, “beating” the cancer. A diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer (MBC), a late stage of the disease in which the cancer has spread beyond the breast, is different. There is no cure and, until recently, the number of people living with MBC in the United States was basically unknown. A new study from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates more than 150,000 people are living with metastatic breast cancer.

Although the MBC population is larger than ever before, an estimated 17 percent increase from 2000 to 2010, the implication is positive as it means people are living longer in spite of their diagnosis and sheds light on the increased need for more services and research focused on MBC.

The NCI study brings attention to a growing community of people with MBC whose meaningful lives and stories are largely unheard. To give voice to those living with MBC and bring to life the reality of living with MBC, #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project was created by METAvivor, an organization dedicated to funding research focused on the metastatic breast cancer, in partnership with Eisai Inc. #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project uses art to empower people with MBC to share their experiences, educate others about this disease and encourage donations for more MBC research.

“The metastatic community really wants to be involved in research. The more people we can educate about metastatic disease, the more money we can raise for research that will ultimately help us to live longer and better-quality lives,” said Leslie Falduto, who lives with metastatic breast cancer and participated in the project. “Participating in #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project was a very powerful moment for me. I felt confident. I felt like art. I felt good about what I was doing for my community and I felt good about myself.”

The 16 people living with MBC chosen to participate in #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project tell their stories through the powerful and artful combination of body painting and underwater photography. Created by Ren and Keith Dixon, a married couple who have both lost loved ones to metastatic breast cancer, the storytelling begins in an interview with Ren Dixon, the body painting artist. After discussing their MBC experience, Ren visually represents each person’s experiences through the use of vivid color and symbols painted directly on their body. Next, Keith Dixon captures the mood and emotion of the patient’s personal journey through underwater photography.

“It is important for women and men to see that you can live a life, a fruitful and loving life, with metastatic breast cancer,” said project participant Sheila McGlown. “I think #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project brought out the boldness in me. It allowed me to express myself and my life experiences in a way I never thought I would be able to and it made me proud — proud of being a voice for young women, proud of being a voice for African-American women, proud of being a voice for veterans and proud of being a voice for the breast cancer community.”

From July 2017 to October 2018, one patient a month will be showcased, through images and video from the photoshoot, on MBCinfocenter.com and METAvivor’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts (@metavivor). The images will also be featured at an art gallery reception in New York City and made into a calendar. These calendars are available for free with a donation to METAvivor, which can be made at www.metavivor.org/store/. Donations will go to METAvivor to support research specifically for metastatic breast cancer.

A fundamental component of #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project is the belief that women and men with MBC should live their lives as fully as possible and take advantage of all resources available to them. Many educational resources and helpful information about metastatic breast cancer exists at MBCinfocenter.com. To support METAvivor’s ongoing commitment to funding MBC research, which could help those living with this disease, consider making a contribution at https://secure.metavivor.org/page/contribute/thisismbc.



5 tips to keep ticks away

9/19/2017

(BPT) - Researchers are predicting 2017 will be one of the worst years for ticks that we have seen in quite some time — and by all indications, those researchers are correct. People who have found themselves pulling ticks off their pets, children and their own bodies can readily attest to this. The question is, what to do?

While the tick population may be booming and becoming an increasing problem, there are effective measures you can take to prevent them from getting on you and your loved ones.

1. Cover up. One of the easiest ways to keep ticks off of you when you're hiking in tall grass or a wooded area is to make sure you and your family wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and closed-toe shoes. You may think dressing this way during warmer months is anything but comfortable, but if you dress in lightweight, breathable clothing, you’ll be surprised at how cool you can stay.

2. Keep up with your yard. Ticks love a messy yard. They seek out tall grass, patches of weeds and unkempt gardens. Take the time to keep your lawn cut, remove any loose debris and keep the weeds out of your garden. Areas you want to be particularly concerned about are around patios, play areas and anywhere people congregate or pets explore.

3. Protect your yard. Ticks and other pests may seem like an insurmountable problem, almost impossible to avoid or get rid of. But rest easy knowing there is a solution to help protect against these blood-feeding pests. Whether you’re concerned about protecting your family’s health from tick-borne illnesses or need help controlling an infestation, contact a licensed pest control professional to come in and assess the situation. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) can help you find a qualified, local expert to identify and treat your tick problem.

4. Wear insect repellent. Just like you make it a habit to always apply sunscreen when going out on a bright, beautiful day, get in the habit of applying insect repellent any time you are out in an area that might harbor ticks. To be effective, make sure the insect repellent contains at least 20 percent DEET.

5. Perform regular inspections. At the end of the day, take the time to comb through your pet's fur and check them for ticks, even if they are wearing a tick collar. Also, don't forget to do a check on yourself and your children. Since it usually takes between 24 and 48 hours for a tick to attach to a host and transmit diseases like Lyme disease, it’s important to remove them quickly.

To learn more about ticks or other common pests, visit www.pestworld.org. There you’ll find a wealth of information and resources that will help you and your family have a safe and tick-free year.



Emergency preparedness 101: Know how to protect your family against carbon monoxide poisoning

9/18/2017

(BPT) - Few areas of the country are immune to natural disasters or severe weather. Whether you live in a hurricane zone or face icy winters, it is important to prepare your home and family to weather the storm and know the potential health and safety risks that may arise in emergency situations.

Beyond inconvenience, widespread and long-term power outages resulting from storms raise a much more serious concern: carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. While the poisonous gas can come from any fossil fuel-burning appliance or vehicle, the risk posed by generators is of particular concern because of this year’s devastating storm season.

“Simple preparation, along with an understanding of the risks of CO, are key factors for protecting your home and loved ones both during storm season and throughout the year,” said Tarsila Wey, director of marketing for First Alert. “The risk of CO can occur anytime — not just during emergencies — which is why installing and regularly testing CO alarms are an integral part of any home safety plan.”

What is CO?

Often dubbed “the silent killer,” the gas is colorless and odorless, making it impossible to detect without a CO alarm. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, CO poisoning is the No. 1 cause of accidental poisoning in the United States and is responsible for an average of 450 deaths each year.

CO poisoning is notoriously difficult to diagnose — often until it’s too late. Symptoms mimic those of many other illnesses, and include nausea, headaches, dizziness, weakness, chest pain and vomiting. In more severe poisoning cases, people may experience disorientation or unconsciousness, or suffer long-term neurological disabilities, cardio-respiratory failure or death.

Sources of CO may include, but are not limited to, generators, heaters, fireplaces, furnaces, appliances or cooking sources using coal, wood, petroleum products or other fuels emitting CO as a by-product of combustion. Attached garages with doors, ductwork or ventilation shafts connected to a living space also are sources of CO.

What should you do?

The National Fire Protection Association recommends installing CO alarms on every level of the home, including the basement, and within 15 feet of all sleeping rooms. These alarms are the first line of defense against CO poisoning. Checking alarms regularly and following manufacturer instructions for alarms and all home equipment play an equally vital role.

In case of power outage, never use a generator indoors. Portable electricity generators must be used outside only and should never be used in a garage or in any confined area that can allow CO to collect. When running a generator, be sure to remain 15 to 20 feet away from the outside perimeter of the home and be careful to follow operating instructions closely.

Additional areas to consider include the kitchen stove, a frequent source of CO poisoning in the home. Ensure the kitchen vent or exhaust fan is running to limit exposure. For any fuel-burning appliances in the home, make sure to have a professional inspect them regularly to detect any CO leaks. This includes items such as the furnace, oven, fireplace, dryer and water heater.

If you have an attached garage, it is extremely important to never leave your car running inside. Even if the garage door is open, CO emissions can leak inside the home.

CO alarms should be battery-powered or hardwired with battery backup. To help ensure your family is protected, First Alert offers a variety of alarms to meet all needs, including a table-top alarm with a 10-year sealed battery and digital display to see detected CO levels in parts per million. Additional alarm options include plug-in and wall-mount alarms, hardwired alarms with battery backup, and a combination smoke and CO alarm for 2-in-1 protection.

In addition to carbon monoxide alarms, fire extinguishers, along with smoke alarms, should be an integral part of a comprehensive home safety plan.

Most importantly, if your CO alarm sounds, go outside for fresh air immediately and call 911. To learn more about CO safety or other home safety tips from First Alert, visit www.firstalert.com.



Good health at any age: What women should watch out for

9/18/2017

(BPT) - Being healthy is a common goal for many people, but good health does not have a finite endpoint; it’s an ongoing process that unfolds over a lifetime. For women, aging can bring on surprising health changes as they move through the decades of their life. From good nutrition and proper exercise to bone health and vaginal wellness, knowing the changes aging may cause can empower women to better care for themselves and prepare.

“From puberty to pregnancy to menopause, a woman’s body can go through a plethora of changes in her lifetime,” says Dr. Alyssa Dweck, an OB/GYN, author and expert on women’s health. “Once adulthood hits, the next few decades bring about expected, and some not-so-expected, physical, mental and emotional changes. Those changes mean how we care for our bodies will change, too.”

While each woman’s aging experience will be as unique as she is, Dr. Dweck points to some common health changes women may encounter during several decades of their lives:

20s

With puberty completely over, women can begin to identify what is and isn’t normal for their bodies. While diet and exercise are important at any age, during their 20s women begin to understand what is required in order to maintain a healthy weight. Menstrual health may fluctuate during this decade of life and many women will focus on both contraception and feminine hygiene, Dweck says.

“Women ages 21 and older should get a pap smear at least every three years,” she adds.

During this age range, infections are not unusual. In fact, three out of four women will experience a yeast infection in their lifetime. Diets high in sugar and/or alcohol can increase the risk, as well as other factors like staying in a damp bathing suit or tight clothing for extended periods and menstrual cycle fluctuations. For those experiencing an infection for the first time, it’s best to visit the gynecologist to confirm the diagnosis.

30s

During their 30s, women often start to focus on family planning and pregnancy, among other things.

The hormonal changes that occur with pregnancy and/or use of birth control can cause shifts in pH balance, which can lead to infections. Being familiar with yeast infection symptoms from past experience allows women to find quick and easy solutions, like the over-the-counter treatment of MONISTAT(R) in the feminine hygiene aisle of local drugstores. It relieves symptoms four times faster and works on more of the most common strains of yeast than the leading prescription.

Nutrition continues to be important during this decade, whether women choose to begin families or not, as bone loss generally commences in the fourth decade and metabolism slows. Women should adjust their diets and exercise to ensure their caloric intake meets their needs, including maintaining their intake of calcium and eating nutritious, low-fat foods.

40s

Perimenopause can cause significant health changes for women in their 40s, including a decrease in estrogen levels. Something many may find surprising is that at this age, women are at their sexual prime. However, intimate areas become thinner and less elastic in a woman’s 40s, which may cause varying degrees of discomfort.

50s

Most women will experience menopause during their 50s, and while this new stage can cause pH changes, having no more menstruation or erratic cycles can be very freeing. With diminished estrogen, drying can occur in private areas, for which moisturizers and lubricants can be useful. Women should avoid feminine products that are not both dermatologist and gynecologist tested as they can cause yeast infections, Dweck cautions.

At this age, it is more important than ever to maintain a regular exercise routine, including cardio, strength training and flexibility training.

60s and beyond

By this age, most women know their bodies intimately and can quickly tell when something isn’t right. Common health issues that can occur with age include diabetes, arthritis, cancer and heart disease, many of which also cause irregularities in feminine health.

Women should remain active and continue to eat healthily as metabolism slows and bone health decays. Brain health is also important. Along with regular exercise and intellectual stimulation, social interaction with family and friends can help prevent cognitive decline.

“Women will typically know what’s normal for them. There isn’t one normal — just normal for you,” Dweck says. “Women should never be afraid to familiarize themselves with their bodies and ask their doctors questions. Be inquisitive and don’t consider any topic taboo. Good health is a multifaceted process, and gynecological health is an important part of a woman’s overall well-being.”



Prevent falls this fall with a home safety checklist

9/18/2017

(BPT) - After months of sticky heat and humidity, it’s time to put away the shorts and pull out the sweaters because the autumn season is finally here. But, late September brings us more than just cooler temperatures and a wardrobe change. If you or a loved one are over the age of 65, the change in seasons is also an opportunity to think about another kind of fall — the kind that impacts one in four older Americans every year — and the steps we can all take to help prevent them.

According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and account for the majority of emergency room visits for older adults. More than 75 percent of falls happen in or around the house, but fortunately there are ways to evaluate our loved ones’ homes and make them safer for everyday living.

Use the checklist below, based on suggestions from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to help guide your review of the exterior and interior of the property. Many of the safety measures listed can be made at little to no cost, but more significant modifications could require a considerable investment.

Keep in mind, there are financial options available for seniors who want to modify their homes to meet their changing needs. Area Agencies on Aging, state and local governments, and some nonprofits offer grants, loans or other assistance programs for eligible seniors in need of home repairs and modifications.

Older homeowners may also want to consider using a reverse mortgage loan to convert a portion of their home's equity into cash proceeds that can be used for many reasons, including home modifications and maintenance. Unlike a home equity loan, a reverse mortgage requires no monthly principal or interest payments and cannot be frozen or reset.

Borrowers do not have to repay the loan balance until the last eligible spouse permanently leaves the home, or if they fail to meet their loan obligations, which include staying current on property taxes, insurance and any condominium or HOA fees.

For a comprehensive overview of reverse mortgage loans and a Borrower Roadmap to the loan process, visit http://www.reversemortgage.org/Your-Roadmap, a free consumer resource created by the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association.

Home Safety Checklist

Start on the outside:

* Make sure the driveway and any paved walkways are smooth and stable. Seal any cracks before more damage is created. Crumbling or uneven concrete surfaces should be repaired.

* Porch and deck flooring should be flat, even and nonslip. Any loose or broken floorboards should be nailed down or replaced.

* Outdoor steps should have sturdy, easily graspable handrails.

* The porch and entryway should be well-lit and light switches should be easily accessible.

* Consider whether the doorway to the home can be converted to a no-step entrance way. There are many creative ways to achieve this.

Check out the inside:

* Floors should be flat and nonslip; floorboards should be stable and carpets should be free of holes and tears that could create a tripping hazard.

* Throw rugs should be fully fastened to the floor with tacks or double-sided tape, or taken out of the house.

* All stairs and steps should be flat and even, and clutter should be removed.

* Add nonslip treads to stairs that are not carpeted.

* Stairways should have solidly mounted handrails on both sides of the steps if possible, and should be well-lit.

* If you or your loved ones face mobility challenges and stairs are an obstacle to accessing different levels of the home, consider installing a chairlift that will enable them to enjoy all the rooms in the house again.



The top 5 things to know about opioids

9/18/2017

(BPT) - While a decade ago you may not have heard much about opioids, today they make headlines daily. The nationwide epidemic crosses generations and socioeconomic lines, and it's affecting your family, friends and neighbors.

"Opioids have long been used clinically to treat pain, but prior to the 1990s they were primarily reserved for patients with a limited life expectancy, such as for someone with cancer or in a hospice setting," says Dr. W. Michael Hooten, a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist and Pain Clinic specialist. "The potential problems associated with long-term use were secondary considerations."

To help shed light on this growing national problem, Dr. Hooten lends his expert insight on what people need to know about opioids.

Opioids are prescribed for various reasons

Opioids are used to treat a variety of pain disorders. While they are commonly prescribed after an operation, opioids are also used to treat a host of chronic pain conditions including musculoskeletal, abdominal, pelvic, and neuropathic pain.

Length of use varies

"Following surgery, up to one in four patients may use opioids longer than anticipated," says Dr. Hooten. "How long, exactly, depends on several clinical factors."

He notes that after an operation, a patient might use opioids to manage acute pain for three to five days. "When opioids are used for acute postoperative pain, patients should try to use the lowest possible dose." After this short time period, opioids should be replaced with non-opioid pain medicines including Tylenol scheduled to be taken every six hours."

There are alternatives for pain management

There are many alternative options for chronic pain. Dr. Hooten suggests talking with your doctor about:

* Non-opioid analgesics (non-opioid pain medications).
* Interventional treatments such as image-guided spine injections or nerve blocks. * Acupuncture.
* Low-impact exercise such as walking, yoga, Pilates. Consider working with a physical therapist to develop a structured exercise program.
* For advanced pain treatment, spinal-cord stimulation can disrupt the pain stimuli and provide sustained pain relief.
* Work with a pain psychologist who can help teach individuals how to use specialized behavioral and cognitive techniques that could lead to improvements in daily functioning and quality of life.

Opioids can be deadly if misused

"Approximately 90 people per day die in the U.S. from a prescription opioid and/or an illicit opiate overdose," says Dr. Hooten. Many of those are accidental overdoses. “People who take prescription opioids will inadvertently mix them with benzodiazepines (e.g., Valium and Xanax). Dr. Hooten warns that these two drug classes should never be taken together, as the combination can suppress the central nervous system and put the individual at risk of an accidental overdose.

Addiction can happen to anyone

As Dr. Hooten notes, “No one plans to get addicted, but it happens. Using opioids requires a high level of vigilance for the signs and symptoms of addiction."

There are many signs of over-reliance or misuse that families should be aware of. These include an increased preoccupation with the drug, concern about the timing of the next dose or refill, hiding use of the drug, and signs of intoxication like slurred speech and excessive sleep.

If you notice these warning signs, alert your loved one about your concerns. "This might be enough to prompt a change," says Dr. Hooten. "Otherwise relay this information to the prescriber and tell them what’s going on. They can take the correct next steps."

For more information on pain medication and alternatives, or to make an appointment, visit www.mayoclinic.org.



Top 4 tips to help you get the sleep you need

9/14/2017

(BPT) - If you're reading this, there's a good chance you're not getting enough sleep. You could probably use a nap, and you're not alone.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that about 70 million U.S. adults report sleeping six hours or less on average. This is well below the seven or more hours of nightly sleep that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends for optimal health.

It's important for you to get the sleep you need. No matter the age, children and adults report improved alertness, energy, mood and well-being when enjoying healthy, consistent sleep.

However, with different sleep needs for each family member, making sure that everyone gets the sleep they need can be a real challenge. Therefore, families should make it a priority to adopt routines that fit each individual's unique lifestyle and sleep needs.

Whatever your situation, these four tips can help you and your family get on a consistent sleep schedule, sleep better, and in the process, lead healthier lives.

1. Use a bedtime calculator. The National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project has developed a bedtime calculator that can help you generate a customized sleep plan. Simply visit www.projecthealthysleep.org and enter your age and wake-up time. The calculator will tell you what time you need to go to bed to get an adequate amount of sleep. This personalized calculation can help you and your loved ones keep a schedule that allows everyone to get the sleep they need.

The AASM recommends that each age group get the following amount of sleep on a regular basis:

* Infants 4 to 12 months old: 12 to 16 hours (including naps)

* Children 1 to 2 years old: 11 to 14 hours (including naps)

* Children 3 to 5 years old: 10 to 13 hours (including naps)

* Children 6 to 12 years old: Nine to 12 hours

* Teens 13 to 18 years old: Eight to 10 hours

* Adults: Seven hours or more

2. Limit your screen activity. It may be tempting to watch television and scroll through apps until you fall asleep, but this is one of the worst bedtime habits. The blue light emitted from phones, tablets and laptops resets your circadian clock and “tricks” your brain into thinking it’s time to be awake. Late-night screen time is one of the most common sleep hygiene violations, and a new study links binge-watching in young adults with poorer sleep quality, more fatigue and increased insomnia. To promote responsible screen time, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends setting an episode or time limit each night, using one of the apps for your computer, tablet and smartphone that filters out blue light, avoiding use of mobile devices while in bed; and turning off all screens at least a half-hour before your bedtime.

3. Implement a relaxing routine before bed. Studies have shown that children sleep better when they have a bedtime routine. Parents should develop a consistent, nightly routine that includes relaxing, calming activities, like reading a story before bed. Whatever your age, it’s important to turn off your computer or television at least 30 minutes before going to bed. Prepare to go to sleep by doing something relaxing, whether it’s reading, writing in a journal or taking a warm bath.

4. Add daily exercise to the routine. Many people lead busy lives that are mentally tiring but consist of little to no physical activity. This can be a recipe for a poor night’s sleep. Contrary to what you may believe, you don’t have to do an exhausting workout to sleep better. Even small amounts of routine physical activity may improve your sleep and overall well-being.

Getting enough sleep isn’t just a matter of feeling well rested and alert; it’s a necessary component of good health. Sleeping six hours or less per night increases the risk of a stroke, coronary heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Insufficient sleep is such a widespread problem that the CDC has named insufficient sleep a public health problem.

Therefore, it’s important to remember that healthy sleep is not a luxury, it's a necessity. If you’re having trouble sleeping, help is available at more than 2,500 sleep disorders centers that are accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. For more information, visit www.aasmnet.org.



5 tips to keep sniffles and sneezes out of your holiday plans

9/14/2017

(BPT) - With the holidays upon us, there’s a lot to look forward to: seeing old friends, eating too much, wearing ugly sweaters; the list goes on. Likewise, there are a lot of things that might make you sigh: awkward questions from your aunts, arguing about politics and of course, how you’re going to work off all that extra weight in the new year.

One question millions of Americans should keep in mind this holiday season is how to best handle their asthma and allergies. While everyone else is singing along to carols and letting their food digest, others are tearing up, coughing and going into a sneezing fit.

“People don’t realize how many hidden triggers are associated with the holidays and winter season,” said allergist Bradley Chipps, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “Those who suffer from allergies and asthma assume things will ease up once the cold weather hits, but there are other factors that can cause your allergies and asthma to flare. In fact, two-thirds of allergy sufferers have year-round triggers and symptoms.”

To help make the holidays as enjoyable as possible, here are five tips to manage your allergies this season.

An excuse to stay out of the hugging circle. There are a lot of hugs and kisses during the holidays, which can make it easy for germs and viruses to spread. Catching a cold or coming down with the flu is pretty awful, but because those illnesses make asthma and allergy symptoms even worse, those with allergies must take extra precautions. One more reason to avoid the mistletoe!

Watch out for that ... tree! For many, picking out a Christmas tree is a holiday tradition. For others, a tree can be pure misery. Mold on the tree and terpene found in the sap can trigger allergies you thought you had under control. A much better option is to use an artificial tree — just be sure to dust it off! Dust allergies can be a problem year-round.

Keep an eye on holiday treats. Holidays are about food, and people usually share the food they make. As a result, you need to be extra careful about food allergies. If you or your kids have food allergies, let your host know what ingredients should be avoided. If you are hosting, prepare food you know everyone in your clan can eat.

Your nose knows to sniff out those "pleasant" scents. People love to add those little touches to create a cozy holiday atmosphere in their homes. Unfortunately, scented candles, wood-burning fireplaces, aerosols and potpourri can trigger allergies and asthma. There are plenty of other nice touches you can add, but this year, forgo the scents!

Leave the house prepared. Whether it’s someone’s lovable dog, a co-worker wearing too much perfume or a moldy Christmas tree, many triggers exist out there. Before you leave the house, take your medications, and if your allergy and asthma symptoms worsen during the season, be sure to schedule an appointment with your allergist.

If you need help with allergies, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org to find a board-certified allergist in your area. ACAAI member-allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer allergy shots (immunotherapy), and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes.



Try this science-backed way to learn in your sleep

9/13/2017

(BPT) - The brain never rests. If you've shared a room with a sleep-talker or woken from an intense dream, it’s pretty clear the brain is always active, even during sleep.

If we better understand what is happening up there while we rest, perhaps we can direct that activity into something meaningful that improves our lives. Did you know that, for example, sleeping can help you learn a new language? Recent research has shown that while we sleep our brains are solidifying memory, and that has implications for our language skills.

Despite what we’ve seen in science fiction, it turns out that learning in your sleep does not happen by osmosis. You still have to learn the words while you’re awake.

To use an example on how to do this, take the word “tulo.” Before you go to bed tonight, repeat to yourself, “Tulo means sleep.” That’s what it means in the language of Chichewa, which is spoken in the countries of Zambia and Malawi. When you lie down and close your eyes, say it a few more times. “Tulo means sleep.”

What does the brain do while we’re sleeping?

In order to understand how you can use sleep to help you commit the word “tulo” to memory, it’s important to understand something about sleep and brain science.

When you think about it, sleep doesn’t make a lot of sense from an evolutionary standpoint. We hate to lose all that productivity, not to mention that sleep makes animals in the wild vulnerable to predators. We still don’t fully understand why we sleep, but as scientists study sleep in humans and animals, its benefits keep emerging and unfolding. For example, scientists have discovered that sleep flushes toxins from our brains, and dreaming helps us process emotional events.

In 2014, scientists from the Swiss National Science Foundation published study results in the journal "Cerebral Cortex" that could help your “tulo” game. Here, 60 German-speaking students were asked to memorize some Dutch words before 10 p.m., words that were unfamiliar to them. Half the students were then allowed to sleep. As they slept, recordings of the words were played for them. Meanwhile, the other half stayed awake, listening to the recordings.

At 2 a.m., scientists tested the knowledge of the two groups. (The first group was awakened and the second group was still awake.) The group that had slept recalled more Dutch words than the group that stayed awake.

Another finding lends startling insight as to why the sleeping minds might have had better recall. Brain scans taken from the sleeping subjects indicate that their brains responded to the spoken words, helping them solidify a meaningful connection with the words.

Tips for learning in your sleep

Before you leap into your language study, give it a test run with “tulo.” Follow these three steps to see if the insights from the brain and sleep studies help you commit the word to your memory.

Prime the mind: Again, this learning does not happen by osmosis. Before you sleep, it’s important to spend some time with the word “tulo.” Write it down, say it to yourself in a sentence, and tell others about it. "Tulo means sleep." That alone may or may not be enough to help you remember what you need to know, but at the very least, you are creating the conditions.

Create a good sleep environment: You can’t get the full benefits of sleep if you're not getting enough of it, and that also applies when you’re trying to memorize new words. In order to capture these full benefits, make sure you set yourself up for the best possible night’s sleep. Stay away from caffeinated beverages four to six hours before bedtime, exercise regularly, and keep your bedroom dark and quiet, and at the right temperature. Make sure you’re going to bed and waking at the same time every day.

Play a recording: Make a recording of yourself saying, “Tulo means sleep,” and have it play on repeat for a few hours while you’re in dreamland. Be sure and have a sticky note posted near your bed to remind you when you wake up — "what’s that word you have to recall?" When you wake up and read it, chances are, the answer will come right out: “Tulo.”



Organic is always non-GMO, but is non-GMO organic?

9/12/2017

(BPT) - If you’re a parent, you’ve probably come across ongoing debates regarding the term “organic” and what should go into your child’s body. But, what about organic versus non-GMO? A recent study from Perrigo Nutritionals revealed that more than half of moms didn’t know that organic is inherently non-GMO.

So, what’s the real difference? Organic is always non-GMO, but, unlike non-GMO, products labeled organic also guarantee:

* No use of toxic pesticides or chemical/synthetic fertilizers.

* No use of antibiotics or synthetic hormones, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

* Support for organic farming practices and animal health and welfare.

* Regulated by the federal government under the USDA.

"It’s important to understand the difference between these labels so you can make the right nutritional decisions for you family," says Jessica Turner, best-selling author and founder of the Mom Creative blog.

Looking beyond the non-GMO label doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach, especially since purchasing all organic can add up. As a mother of three, Turner believes the following products are worth the extra splurge for organic instead of just non-GMO for your child.

Baby food

As a child starts eating solids, many organizations recommend going organic when it comes to the “dirty dozen,” such as apples, bell peppers, peaches, etc., to avoid pesticides. Purchasing baby food? Make sure you look for the USDA Certified Organic label, not just a non-GMO certified label, to avoid all those chemicals.

Milk

Milk is a nutrient powerhouse when it comes to your child’s nutrition with vitamin D, calcium and protein, but it can sometimes contain not-so-good ingredients. Organic milk brands have no antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides or GMO anything. Going organic also supports a better life for the cows since they have access to pastures.

Infant formula

The Perrigo Nutritionals study said 43 percent of moms purchased organic foods for their babies when they started eating solids, but only 10 percent purchased organic infant formula. So why not choose organic for your baby from the very beginning? Choosing organic brands may be worth the extra investment since it will ensure you are avoiding pesticides and hormones.

Skin care

Skin care products, like lotion, diaper cream, shampoo and soap, are being absorbed into a baby's bloodstream. Since their skin is more porous than adults' skin, products from organic/natural lines may be worth the extra splurge to ensure your child is being exposed to the fewest chemicals.

At the end of the day, if you’re not sure, err on the side of buying organic since organic is always non-GMO, plus more. For more information on organic versus non-GMO, visit www.choose-organic.com.



Should you be eating more salt?

9/11/2017

(BPT) - You can find them on the side of most every product at your local grocery store. They are plain and kind of boring but nutrition labels were designed to contain vital information for good health and wise food choices. These labels tell you the number of servings in a container, how many calories per serving, and what amounts of vitamins and essential nutrients they contain.

However, they don’t just give you the raw data, they also tell you what percentage of your daily allowance of needed nutrients you are getting. When it comes to sodium, however, that may be a problem. The daily allowances are based on the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, with guidance from the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The current FDA Dietary Guidelines call for a maximum daily sodium allowance of 2,300 mg, well below what the average American eats, which is about 3,400 mg per day of sodium. But, when the IOM studied this issue and released their report in 2013, “Sodium Intake in Populations: Assessment of Evidence,” they found no evidence to lower the daily allowance below 2,300 mg per day and some indication that doing so would be harmful.

An increasing amount of research is contradicting the FDA’s sodium guidelines. A 2014 study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the healthy range for sodium consumption was between 3,000 and 6,000 mg per day and eating less than that may increase the risk of death or cardiovascular incidents. And a 2011 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that low-sodium diets were more likely to result in death from cardiovascular disease.

Low-salt diets can lead to insulin resistance, congestive heart failure, cardiovascular events, iodine deficiency, loss of cognition, low birth weights and higher rates of death. Dr. Michael Alderman, editor of the American Journal of Hypertension and former president of the American Society of Hypertension, has repeatedly cited his concern that a population-wide sodium reduction campaign could have unintended consequences.

Very few countries in the world meet the government recommendations. A study of almost 20,000 people in 33 countries shows the normal range of consumption around the world is 2,800 to 4,800 mg/day. This is consistent regardless of where people get their food, from home-cooked meals, prepackaged meals or restaurants.

The new nutrition labels were supposed to go into place this year, but now the FDA has indefinitely delayed their implementation. This could allow them time to adjust the sodium limits to more accurately reflect the evidence.



Tips for choosing the Medicare plan that's right for you

9/12/2017

(BPT) - Fall and winter don’t just bring cooler temperatures and the holidays — the final seasons of the year also mean open enrollment for Medicare. For most seniors in the United States, the period between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7 is the only time they can switch or make changes to their Medicare insurance plan.

“As people age, their health care needs evolve,” says Dawn Maroney, chief growth and strategy officer for Alignment Healthcare. “When that happens, they may find the Medicare plan they first chose when they became eligible no longer meets all their needs. This open enrollment period is their yearly opportunity to re-evaluate whether to continue with their plan or switch to another, with changes becoming effective the first of the new year.”

Medicare basics

Most Americans are aware that Medicare is a government program designed to ensure people older than 65 have access to affordable health insurance. The program can also cover people younger than 65 who have certain disabilities.

The Medicare program has four parts, according to Medicare.gov: A, B, C and D.

* Medicare Part A helps pay for in-patient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility and hospice care.

* Medicare Part B helps cover care by doctors or other health care providers, outpatient services, some medical equipment and some preventive services.

* Medicare Part C (also known as Medicare Advantage) covers everything included in parts A and B, and usually includes Medicare prescription drug coverage as part of the plan. Medicare Advantage plans may include extra benefits and services for an extra cost. Medicare-approved private insurance companies, such as Alignment Healthcare's Alignment Health Plan, run Medicare Advantage plans.

* Medicare Part D helps cover the cost of prescription medications and is run by Medicare-approved private insurance companies.

Original Medicare versus Medicare Advantage

Most people think of Medicare parts A and B as Original Medicare, in which the government pays directly for the health care services received. People with Original Medicare can see any doctor and hospital that accepts Medicare in the country, without prior approval from Medicare or their primary care physician. Most people do not pay a monthly premium for Part A if they paid taxes while working; everyone pays a monthly premium for Part B, based on income. The standard premium for Part B in 2017 was $134 per month, which is deducted from the individual's Social Security benefits.

Original Medicare pays for about 80 percent of the total costs of health care. The patient is responsible for the remaining 20 percent, which can mean high out-of-pocket costs in the event of a hospitalization or other events requiring significant medical attention. To offset the financial burden of that 20 percent, some people choose to purchase supplemental insurance, called Medigap.

Private insurance companies offer Medigap to cover things Medicare doesn’t, such as deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance — but, keep in mind, Medigap only supplements Original Medicare benefits. Further, if you do not apply for Medigap in the first six months of becoming eligible, there's no guarantee that an insurance company will sell you a Medigap policy.

With Medicare Advantage, government-approved private companies administer health plans that cover everything Original Medicare does, but can do so with different rules, costs and restrictions that can change every year. For example, a private Medicare plan may require your physician to request permission before performing a procedure in order to be paid by the plan. Medicare Advantage plans, however, usually cover extras that Original Medicare does not, like dental care, vision services, hearing exams and gym memberships.

Most Medicare Advantage plans also include prescription drug coverage (Medicare Part D), which is not included in Original Medicare, at no additional cost. If you elect to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you still have Medicare — this means that you must still pay your monthly premiums for parts A and B, in addition to a monthly premium for Part C, if applicable. Many Medicare Advantage plans are available for no additional monthly premium.

Considerations when choosing

When choosing between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage, you should consider these questions:

* How likely is it your health needs will change down the road? Since health changes as you age, chances are your treatment needs will, too. If you don’t enroll in the additional insurance and drug coverage when you first sign up for Original Medicare, you may pay a monthly penalty for enrolling later and may not be eligible for additional Medigap coverage.

* Are you still working past age 65? If so, you will probably want to enroll in Part A, because there generally are no monthly premiums, and it may supplement your employer’s insurance plan. You might choose to delay enrolling in Part B, but it depends on your health coverage. Everyone has to pay a monthly premium for Part B.

* Is it more important to you to have lower or no premiums or lower out-of-pocket costs? With Original Medicare, you may pay more out of pocket without supplemental insurance and prescription drug coverage. Medicare Advantage includes supplemental insurance and sometimes prescription drug coverage, too.

* How important is it to keep your doctor? Original Medicare is accepted by any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare, without referral. Medicare Advantage plans allow you to select a doctor from the plan network, which is usually very large; your current health care providers are likely to be in the network already.

* Do you regularly take prescription medication for chronic conditions? Prescription drug coverage is not included in Original Medicare, and if you fail to sign up for Part D at the time you enroll, you could pay a penalty for adding it later. Most Medicare Advantage plans do cover prescription drugs.

“Medicare Advantage allows patients to receive the care they need to stay well and keeps their budgets in check with set costs and annual maximums,” Maroney says. “It’s an ideal solution for patients who need frequent care or who struggle to meet medical expenses.”

To learn more about Medicare, visit www.Medicare.gov. For information about Alignment Healthcare and its affiliated Medicare Advantage plans, visit www.alignmenthealthcare.com.



4 tips when considering supplements

9/8/2017

(BPT) - Whether you're looking for an extra competitive edge or trying to increase the effectiveness of your daily workout, you have most likely considered adding nutritional supplements to your fitness routine. Diet, exercise and everyday lifestyle are all factors that can help determine the right supplements for you.

“It’s not uncommon for people who’ve never tried nutritional supplements to have some misconceptions about them,” says Don Saladino, a fitness and nutrition expert who trains celebrities and is a brand advocate for Garden of Life SPORT. “People may think supplementation is only for die-hard athletes, but every human being is an athlete. We do things each day like move, carry items and change direction. Carrying a baby, hauling groceries or running across the street — these are the exact same patterns an athlete needs to perform, which is why it’s important to learn about all the options available and how they can help.”

As you’re considering nutritional supplements, keep these points in mind:

* Power up with protein — Adding a protein-rich sports supplement to your diet provides many benefits. Protein fuels workouts, aids in muscle recovery after exercise and extends energy throughout the day. Supplements can provide needed nutrients that are difficult to get through diet alone. Adding protein powder into a smoothie or snacking on a protein bar can help incorporate necessary nutrients like antioxidants into your daily diet.

* Match your supplement to your objective — An exercise regimen can greatly benefit from a system of supplementation. Various nutrient-rich supplements are designed to be taken before you exercise, and others following exercise. For example, pre-workout supplements such as Garden of Life SPORT Energy + Focus incorporate ingredients intended to improve focus, such as organic coffeeberry, and optimize energy production, such as B12. Post-exercise supplements such as SPORT Organic Plant-Based Recovery can help your body recover faster from the rigors of vigorous exercise.

* Pick your best protein — Protein is a key component of sports nutrition, since it helps build muscle mass and supports muscle recovery post-workout. When a supplement contains all nine of the essential amino acids that the body can’t produce on its own, it contains “complete proteins.” You can get these essential amino acids from different protein sources, such as plant-based protein or whey protein. Plant-based proteins are great for people following a vegetarian or vegan diet, and they are especially effective at enhancing post-workout recovery. Whey protein is designed to refuel and repair muscles and can help maximize muscle growth when supplementing with regular exercise.

* Keep it clean — It’s important to be aware of what’s in your supplement. Just as you choose organic foods and beverages for their ingredient transparency, you wouldn’t want a nutritional supplement that’s made up of chemicals. Look for a truly clean sports nutrition system that’s designated with the Certified USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified seals, as well as by Informed-Choice for Sport and NSF Certified for Sport.

“Working out is good for you — whether you choose to supplement or not. But the right nutritional supplement can help maximize the benefits of your exercise regimen and improve how you feel during everyday life activities,” Saladino says.

Nutritional supplements may be the fuel your body needs to reach the next level of performance, whether it's putting that extra weight into your workout or lifting an extra child at home.

To learn more about clean sport supplements, visit www.gardenoflife.com/sport.



Medicare Advantage: 20 years, 20 million people and 4 factors

9/5/2017

(BPT) - In 1997, the federal government created the Medicare + Choice program — later renamed Medicare Advantage — to enhance consumer choice and more efficiently deliver Medicare benefits to older Americans.

You may have heard of Medicare Advantage, but maybe you don’t know exactly what it is, what it offers and how it can help you.

Today, Medicare Advantage serves almost 20 million people — a nearly 50 percent increase from even five years ago, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Here are four important factors in why people choose Medicare Advantage:

1. Simplicity and convenience. Medicare Advantage plans combine all your Medicare coverage, including Original Medicare (Parts A and B), and often prescription drug coverage, into one plan so you only have one card to carry.

2. Predictable costs. Managing your health care costs can be especially important if you are living on a fixed budget. Many Medicare Advantage plans offer additional benefits for a $0 premium beyond the premium for Original Medicare and have set limits on what you have to pay out of pocket. Brian Thompson, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, explains, “Original Medicare generally covers about 80 percent of a person’s costs for doctor visits and other outpatient care, leaving the individual responsible for the rest, with no limit to what that cost may be. Medicare Advantage, on the other hand, offers peace of mind and helps you plan your health care expenses by capping how much you may have to pay out of your own pocket in a given year.”

3. Care Coordination. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) analyzed 3 million Medicare claims and found that Medicare Advantage members have shorter hospital stays and fewer readmissions within 30 days of leaving. Medicare Advantage plan members are also more likely to receive preventive care to keep chronic illnesses in check, according to researchers.

A possible explanation for the favorable outcomes: care coordination. Thompson says, “The health care system is complex. With Medicare Advantage plans, doctors work as a comprehensive team, led by a primary care doctor, and together with the health plan, they help members receive the care they need. This can create more convenience and value for the member and ultimately lead to better health.”

4. Choice. Thompson also points out that “every day more than 10,000 baby boomers turn 65, and they expect to have choices.” Medicare Advantage plans come in a wide variety of options, so people can choose one that meets their unique health and budget needs. Many offer programs to support people with diabetes and other chronic conditions, and most offer additional benefits not covered by Original Medicare. Perks may include prescription drug, dental, vision and hearing coverage, home visits, 24/7 access to health care professionals and gym memberships.

If you want to learn more about Medicare and options available to you, visit MedicareMadeClear.com. You can also learn more about Medicare Advantage at UHCMedicarePlans.com.

Plans are insured through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or one of its affiliated companies, a Medicare Advantage organization with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in the plan depends on the plan’s contract renewal with Medicare.



Baseball legend steps up to the plate to raise awareness of fatal lung disease

9/1/2017

(BPT) - All-Star centerfielder Bernie Williams is taking on a new role as an advocate for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) awareness in honor of his dad Bernabé who lost his life to this rare and fatal lung disease. In this new role, he’s teamed up with Boehringer Ingelheim on Breathless(TM) (www.BreathlessIPF.com), a national education campaign that offers hope to those with IPF and their loved ones — and helps them get the information and support they need.

Williams’ dad’s battle with IPF began in the '90s, at a time when Williams’ career with the Yankees was in full swing. Bernabé, who had been in perfect health his whole life up until then, began to experience breathlessness and disruptive coughing fits, and the Williams family became concerned.

“My dad was a role model to me — and my biggest fan. When I was a kid, long before there were any thoughts of me becoming a professional baseball player, we’d go out to the local field and play catch for hours just because I enjoyed it — and it was time for the two of us together,” said Williams. “My dad was such an important part of my life. So when he started to have health problems, I became worried — and scared.”

After seeing several doctors and years of misdiagnoses, Bernabé finally saw a lung specialist, or pulmonologist, who accurately diagnosed him with IPF and explained the fatal nature of the disease — a devastating reality for the entire Williams family. Over the years that Bernabé battled IPF, Williams flew from New York to Puerto Rico to help care for him — even missing an occasional Yankees game to be by his side.

Bernabé’s breathlessness eventually progressed to the point where he could barely participate in regular telephone calls with Williams without becoming winded, and everyday tasks like walking up stairs or bending over to pick something up turned into difficult struggles. Finally, and sadly, in May 2001, Bernabé lost his fight to IPF and passed away at the age of 73.

Bernie Williams teams up with the Breathless(TM) campaign

Unfortunately, the Williams family is not alone. As many as 132,000 people are affected by IPF in the U.S., and there are approximately 50,000 new cases diagnosed each year — enough to fill some baseball stadiums. Worse still, since the symptoms of IPF, including breathlessness during activity, a dry and persistent cough and chest discomfort, are similar to more common diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma, the disease is regularly misdiagnosed — sometimes by multiple doctors and for multiple years.

Williams is now on a mission to turn his family’s heart-wrenching experience into a chance to help others, and he wants anyone who thinks they may be suffering from IPF to talk to a lung specialist sooner rather than later, so that they may be accurately diagnosed early and prescribed an appropriate treatment regimen.

“IPF is a disease that has touched my life in a very profound and personal way,” said Williams. “When my dad was diagnosed with IPF, we didn’t have the information and tools we needed available to us, so now I want to educate and empower others who are affected by this difficult and oftentimes deceiving disease — but I need your help spreading the word.”

Williams is encouraging everyone to visit www.BreathlessIPF.com, where there are a number of helpful IPF resources that you can share with your loved ones through social media. A few minutes of your time — and a few simple clicks — may just provide someone with the information they need to take action.



Tips for safely recycling household batteries

9/1/2017

(BPT) - Do you have a pile of used household batteries hidden in your junk drawer or a coffee can in the garage? You know you should be environmentally responsible and recycle them, but you aren’t sure where to start, so the pile grows larger.

But did you also know that extra precautions are required when storing and recycling batteries? Some retain a residual charge even after they can no longer properly power a device. These batteries can be a safety risk because their power has not been completely used up and they can combust or spark, causing a fire or other safety incident.

That’s why it’s important for anyone with used batteries to embrace some simple safety tips when storing them. Call2Recycle's consumer battery recycling program offers these recommendations for safely protecting your batteries to avoid any issues:

1. Bag each battery in its own clear plastic bag before placing it in a storage container. If a bag isn’t available, you can tape the terminals with clear packing, non-conductive electrical or duct tape. Avoid masking, painter and Scotch tape; opaque bags or any wax products. Make sure the label is visible.

2. Store the batteries in a cool, dry place. Incidents can occur when batteries (or the devices they power such as a cellphone or tablet) are exposed to inclement or excessively hot weather. Store them in a plastic container; avoid metal or cardboard.

3. Keep an eye out for damaged batteries. If you see a swollen or bulging battery, immediately put it in a non-flammable material such as sand or kitty litter in a cool, dry place. Do not dispose of it in the trash. Contact Call2Recycle, the manufacturer or retailer immediately for instructions, especially if the label says it is Lithium or Lithium-Ion.

4. Drop them off within six months. Store old batteries no longer than six months. Make sure they are bagged or taped before dropping them off for recycling.

You can drop off rechargeable batteries for free at a Call2Recycle public drop-off site anywhere in the U.S. The online locator can help you find a nearby site; its Recycle on the Way feature helps you add a recycling stop on your errand run. Retailers such as The Home Depot, Lowe’s and Staples also accept them for recycling.

For single-use batteries, like AA, AAA, 9-volt, etc., you can drop them off at select Call2Recycle participating locations, buy your own Call2Recycle recycling box for your home or office or contact your local community recycling center for other options.

All household batteries can be recycled. In particular, metals in rechargeable batteries can be repurposed into other products such as new batteries, stainless steel pans and golf clubs. By recycling, you can be assured that your used batteries will be kept out of the landfill.

For more information, visit www.Call2Recycle.org.



6 simple steps to avoid distracted driving

8/31/2017

(BPT) - Mobile phones have become an essential part of life for most people, helping them stay connected and increase productivity. However, this technology can also be a distraction when driving, which puts everyone on the road at risk.

More than one-quarter of all car crashes involve phone use, both with handsets and hands-free, the National Safety Council reports. Considering many states and countries don't yet compile and report data on cellphone use following a crash, this number is likely much higher.

Distracted driving isn't just an issue for young adults. High technology use means this is a problem across generations. For professionals in particular, the expectation to stay productive and reachable means a constant temptation to use cellphones when driving.

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 mobile phones 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. Cargill's Chairman and CEO David MacLennan just marked the one-year anniversary of following the policy.

"I had to try the policy myself first," says MacLennan. "Once I knew what it would take to go completely cellphone free in my car, I could then make it work for our entire company."

Based on his experience, MacLennan offers these six simple steps for anyone looking to eliminate distracted driving yet stay productive and responsive to your job.

1. Auto response
Use a free automated response app to let callers know that you’re driving and can’t take the call. You can personalize the response so incoming calls or texts receive a text message saying you're on the road.

2. DND
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.

3. Block drive times
Just as you schedule meetings, use shared calendars to block times you’ll be driving. This alerts anyone else connected to your calendar when you’ll be out of touch.

4. Out of sight, out of mind
A study by AT&T found that 62 percent of drivers keep their phones within reach in the car. Put yours where you can’t see or reach it, such as in the back seat.

5. Pull over
If you must take a call while on the road, let it go to voicemail and pull over in a safe location to return the call. Plan pull-over "cellphone stops" along your route if needed.

6. Avoid all distractions
Cellphones aren't the only cause of distracted driving. Eating, grooming and reading are activities people try to tackle while driving. Be smart and simply stay focused on the road.

Driving safely should be everyone's top concern when behind the wheel. These simple steps can make it easier to resist the temptation to pick up the phone or do another activity that can wait until you've arrived, safely, at your destination.



Is your hearing loss a barrier to a happy life?

8/31/2017

(BPT) - Sheliadawn Fitch would wonder if it really was possible for her to hear again. But she would shove aside those thoughts, overcome by fear and uncertainty, telling herself she was doing okay.

Not that you could blame her. The vivacious Texan had been through a lot, having lost much of her ability to hear speech when she was around 40 years old. Following an air bag injury, she suffered from an ear infection that led to her profound hearing loss. Fitch’s hearing aids didn’t go far enough to restore quality hearing, so they were useless.

She suspected she was a good candidate for cochlear implants, but the idea of going through with the procedure struck her with fear.

“I really thought that since I was an excellent lip reader that I could get by just fine,” says Fitch, who is now 54.

Eventually, things got worse. She faced missing out on fully participating in her daughter’s wedding and she was stricken when she realized people were actually avoiding her.

“Not only did that hurt my feelings, I was always the type who was overly involved in school, community and church events,” Fitch says. “Things just weren’t working out for me or my lifestyle.”

The silent affliction

Fitch is far from alone. Hearing loss is one of those silent afflictions that impacts millions. In addition, it tends to cut people off from the world so the general population may not realize just how widespread it is.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 36 million Americans have hearing loss, affecting 17 percent of our adult population. When you look at the older adult population, the rate of hearing loss is even more startling. It affects one third of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74, and nearly half of those over the age of 75, the NIDCD further states.

What’s more, a high percentage of people with hearing loss, like Fitch, find ways to cope with it rather than pursue treatments. Only 30 percent of adults ages 70 and older who can benefit from hearing aids try them, according to the NIDCD. Others with more severe hearing loss, like Fitch, may be reluctant to pursue other solutions such as cochlear implants.

This exile from the world can be lonely as well as debilitating. In several studies cited by the NIDCD, researchers have found the isolation imposed by hearing loss is one underlying cause of depression and decreased cognitive function found in adults who become prisoners in their muted world.

Is it time to look for a different solution?

If you’ve tried hearing aids but wondered if you were a candidate for cochlear implants, here are three signs that confirm you may be suffering from the effects of severe or profound hearing loss.

1. You avoid your hearing aids.

Fitch was outfitted with hearing aids. At first she was overjoyed she could hear sounds again, but it eventually dawned on her that something critical was missing from the quality of those sounds.

“I was hearing, but not really understanding,” says Fitch. “Everything was louder. I needed clarity, not just volume.”

In fact, Fitch got headaches from straining to sift through the din of background noise to understand what people were saying to her. Eventually, she had to abandon them and rely on her lip-reading skills.

2. Family dynamics are becoming strained.

With more severe hearing loss that’s not helped by hearing aids, you may notice changes in how your friends and family interact. Family members may frequently comment on the too-loud television or radio, or note the noise is interfering with their sleep. Perhaps they’re showing more frustration and impatience because they’re frequently misunderstood or asked to repeat themselves.

3. You dread rather than look forward to special occasions.

When there’s ongoing hearing loss, family milestones and special occasions may come with a special sense of dread and sadness, driving painful choices. Do you suffer through an unpleasant event or do you stay home and disappoint your family? Perhaps a family member who serves as your “human hearing aid” can’t attend and you can’t face the idea of attending alone without your “ears.”

Finding courage to take the next step

After seven-and-a-half years of living with hearing loss, it was the upcoming wedding of her daughter and the arrival of her future grandchildren that brought Fitch to the tipping point. She realized she “might miss all of it.” That startling idea finally gave her enough courage to ask a doctor for help.

One option for Fitch and others who suffer from profound hearing loss is a Cochlear Nucleus Implant System (www.cochlear.com). While hearing aids only amplify sounds, cochlear implants help make them louder and clearer. Improving the clarity of hearing may help someone better understand speech in both quiet and noisy situations. There are two primary components of the Cochlear Nucleus System: the implant that is surgically placed underneath the skin and the external sound processor. To receive the implant, Fitch needed a CAT scan and clearance from her doctor. Several weeks after the surgery, her new Cochlear system was activated.

“And I heard and understood from that day on,” she says.

“I didn’t miss those wedding vows, or the dance music afterwards, and most importantly, I heard my grandbabies cry their first cries.”

Views expressed herein are those of the individual. Consult your hearing health provider to determine if you are a candidate for cochlear implant technology. Outcomes and results may vary.



Survey: Millennials manage pain with healthy lifestyle choices

11/6/2017

(BPT) - Spending their days hunched over phones, tablets or computers and their free time at spin class or playing sports, millennials are the next generation poised to experience chronic pain. Millennials say acute and chronic pain are already interfering with their quality of life.

But while older generations are more likely to turn to medication for pain relief, millennials’ preferred method is lifestyle changes such as exercising, eating right, quitting smoking and losing weight, according to a nationwide survey commissioned by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA).

The survey found that millennials were half as likely as baby boomers to have turned to opioids to manage pain, and 1 in 5 millennials regret that they used the highly addictive painkillers.

But while the results reflect a positive trend, they also reveal a knowledge gap. The survey found many millennials were:

* More likely to obtain opioids inappropriately. Ten percent of millennials (ages 18-36) obtained opioids through another household member’s prescription, compared to 3 percent of Gen Xers (37-52), 1 percent of baby boomers (53-71) and none of the silent generation (72-92).

* More likely to think it’s OK to take an opioid without a prescription. Nearly 30 percent of millennials thought it was OK to take an opioid without a prescription, compared to 20 percent of Gen Xers, 12 percent of baby boomers and 3 percent of the silent generation.

* Less likely to dispose of leftover opioids safely. In fact, 1 in 5 millennials said they “did not know” the best way to safely dispose of opioids, and only 37 percent were aware that a collection center at a local police station, hospital pharmacy or drug store was the best method of disposal.

“It’s encouraging that millennials see the value of opting for safer and often more effective methods of managing pain,” said ASA President Dr. Jeffrey Plagenhoef, “But clearly they are in need of further education because using opioids initially to treat pain can turn into a lifelong struggle with addiction.”

Learning how to manage pain is vital: 75 percent of millennials say they have had acute pain (which comes on suddenly and lasts less than three months) and nearly 60 percent have experienced chronic pain (which lasts longer than three months). The source of that pain is reflective of millennials’ lifestyle, including technology use, migraines and sports injuries.

People in severe pain who don’t find relief through lifestyle changes can see a physician who specializes in pain management, such as a physician anesthesiologist, to address pain before it interferes with quality of life.

To help all generations cope with pain, ASA offers the following tips:

* Take a break from devices and gaming. To avoid aches from smartphone, tablet and gaming overuse, use devices at eye level instead of looking down for long periods of time, which puts strain on your neck and back. To avoid digital eye strain, look away from the screen every 20 seconds and don’t sit too close.

* Don’t be a weekend warrior. Whether you plan to hit the basketball court after many years away or do CrossFit weekly, ease into it. Warm up your muscles and stretch to avoid pain and injury. If you think you’ve been injured, see a pain management specialist right away.

* Remember to move. Whether you’re in the library studying or at a desk job, get up and move at least once an hour, if not more.

* Get healthy. Take charge of your health now and engage in healthy lifestyle changes before chronic pain sets in. Maintain a healthy weight and eat a balanced diet. Quit smoking.

* Take and dispose of opioids the right way. If prescribed opioids, ask questions about taking them appropriately. If you have leftover opioids, dispose of them at a collection center at a local police station, hospital pharmacy or drugstore. This will ensure that others who have not been prescribed the opioids do not have access to them.

For more information about pain treatment, visit the ASA’s pain management page at www.asahq.org/whensecondscount.



Understanding how medications interact with vitamins

8/30/2017

(BPT) - Technology, science and research are offering a personalization powerhouse at our fingertips, including products made specifically for us delivered to our doorsteps. We wear personal fitness trackers to track our steps, sleep and heart rates. Personal trainers design fitness routines made just for us. We understand that our family history, lifestyle choices and even genetics are predictive of our health needs and this information is integrated into our health care plans. But with all of this personalization, nutritional supplement options still deliver the same cookie-cutter solutions.

According to New Nutrition Business and its report “10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition and Health 2017,” personalized nutrition is the next big nutrition movement, as people want individually tailored diets. When creating a personalized nutrition plan, it’s important to take into account holistic well-being; however, deciding what is truly right for you can be confusing.

“Personalized nutrition shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s not a catchy-named pack of vitamins or nutrition plans curated from a few questions about how you want to feel; it needs to include everything that makes you unique, down to the medications prescribed by your doctor,” said Dr. Michael Roizen, original chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic, co-author of the new book "Age-Proof: Living Longer without Running Out of Money or Breaking a Hip" and Vitamin Packs science advisory board member. “Technology is creating amazing advances in personalized nutrition, but it’s only as good as the data it can collect and the information you are willing to share.”

Medication and nutrition interactions

Nearly 50 percent of the U.S. population is taking prescription medications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 68 percent of Americans are taking dietary supplements, based on Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) estimates.

With several new personalized vitamin subscription services launching, it’s important to select one that takes into account your diet, physical fitness, sleep patterns, lifestyle habits and family health history as well as medication use. Some drugs can deplete nutrients while others add nutrients to the body. One subscription service, Vitamin Packs, delivers customized vitamins and nutritional supplements in daily packs based on what it learns during a free nutritional assessment. Its technology cross-examines more than 650 possible medication interactions and recommends only what an individual’s body needs.

Mixing meds and nutritional supplements

* Taking a statin? You will want to add Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) because the average blood concentration of CoQ10 in blood plasma decreases within 30 days by an average of 50 percent.

* Taking a medication for allergies or inflammation? Consider adding vitamin D and calcium. These types of medications may reduce calcium absorption, which can lead to unnecessary bone loss. Supplementing with vitamin D and calcium together may support bone health and calcium absorption.

* Taking a blood pressure medication? You should know that taking an iron supplement two hours before or after taking this type of medication can decrease its absorption rate.

* Taking a synthetic thyroid hormone? Look at your supplement facts to be sure you’re avoiding soy, iron and calcium. Soy, iron and calcium, if taken within four hours of a synthetic thyroid hormone, may reduce the absorption rate.

Personalized nutrition should be focused on the whole person. Be sure to consult your health care practitioner before starting any dietary supplement regimen.



Advocate for your care: Recognizing and tracking symptoms of a rare blood cancer

8/25/2017

(BPT) - Living with a rare disease can present a unique set of challenges, as people may experience symptoms for years before receiving an accurate diagnosis. Once diagnosed, it may be challenging to locate a physician familiar with this rare disease, or to even connect with other patients facing the same diagnosis. For patients with polycythemia vera, or PV, a rare, chronic and progressive blood cancer that affects approximately 100,000 people in the United States, recognizing the symptoms of the disease can be even more challenging because they can vary over time and from patient to patient.

“Patients living with rare diseases don’t always know what to ask their doctor as they work to manage their disease, where to turn for resources, or what signs and symptoms to look for,” says Ellen Ritchie, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. “PV can develop slowly and get worse over time. Its symptoms can be hard to spot, so it’s critical that those diagnosed with PV understand the symptoms and discuss any changes with their physician, as these symptoms may be a sign that their disease is not under control.”

Recognizing Symptoms

The symptoms of PV can sometimes be difficult for patients and healthcare providers alike to recognize. Some people living with PV may be asymptomatic, having no symptoms at all. Others could have symptoms for years before receiving an accurate diagnosis. While not a comprehensive list, PV symptoms may include:

* Itching (especially after a warm shower)

* Dizziness

* Abdominal pain or discomfort

* Sweating (at night or during the day)

* Feeling of fullness, even when you haven’t eaten

Approaches to Tracking Symptoms

There are many approaches to tracking PV symptoms. Keeping a regular diary to record symptoms or changes in symptoms is one approach. There are also online trackers such as the PV Tracker Tool that can help patients monitor their PV symptoms. This tool can record previous entries and compile those results for sharing with your healthcare professional. Beyond tracking symptoms, it’s important to talk with your physician about your symptoms and to be knowledgeable about your disease.

What to Ask Your Physician

To ensure you have an informed conversation with your healthcare professional, come to all appointments prepared with a list of questions, as well as a rolling log of symptoms and any changes in their severity experienced since the last checkup. Possible questions you may wish to ask your physician include:

1. What are my target blood counts, and what are my actual blood counts?

* Hematocrit (volume of red blood cells)

* White blood cell count

* Platelet count

2. What is my treatment plan to keep my PV under control?

“All people diagnosed with rare diseases should advocate for their care and take an active role in managing their disease with their healthcare provider,” says Dr. Ritchie. “It is important to create a routine that not only includes monitoring blood levels, but also recognizing, tracking, and talking about symptoms with a healthcare professional.”

For tools to help track PV symptoms and additional tips on managing PV and other MPNs, visit VoicesofMPN.com.



5 tips to make family mealtimes more mindful

8/29/2017

(BPT) - The hectic workday is over. As you pull into your driveway, you feel relief because you’ve finally escaped the cranky co-workers, the deadlines and traffic jams. Now you can spend the next few hours relaxing at home with your family. What better way to enjoy this time than with a delicious meal together?

Sometimes, the lingering stress can be hard to shake, especially if you’re in a rush to get dinner on the table. You can shed your stress and make this time together more meaningful. Consciously ease into the transition from work mode to family mode, and use these tips to make your evening meal more relaxing and mindful.

1. Take a breath.

As soon as you get home, just take a few minutes and chill out. What you’ll want to do is shake off any lingering “fight or flight” stress response that’s making you feel tense and on edge. With deep breathing techniques — the kind that get your belly moving — you’ll lower your heart rate and feel much calmer. Sit in your favorite chair, soften your gaze and start those long, drawn-out inhales and exhales, counting your breath if needed. Just by transitioning into this calmer state, you’ll set the right mood and standard for the rest of the evening.

2. Give the devices a timeout.

Being mindful is all about staying in the present and following each action with intention and awareness. But when your mobile device is pinging from the latest Facebook update, text message or news alert, that can distract us from this calm and aware state of mind. For now, while you’re preparing and eating the meal, put the devices out of reach — or in another room, if that’s practical.

3. Include the kids.

With devices out of the way, it’s also much easier and more pleasant to focus on the people in the room. If your kids are hanging around the kitchen, take it as a sign they want to be with you, so use this time to connect. A great way to do this is to include kids with the meal preparation. The youngest ones can rinse fruits and vegetables, cut soft foods with a butter knife and tear lettuce. Older kids can help measure ingredients, stir and whisk, and eventually peel foods with a paring knife.

4. Simplify your menu.

Eliminate the stress of getting weeknight meals on the table, and build a list of delicious go-to meals that you can prepare with ease. For example, this recipe for Easy Shrimp Kabobs will allow you to get the entrée ready in minutes, plus the skewers and easy dips will make this a fun favorite with the kids. For more ideas and inspiration to make the weeknight meals more mindful and relaxing, visit seapak.com/recipes.

5. Slow down and savor the food.

Give yourself a few moments for mindful eating. Before earnest conversation begins, put your focus on the food you've taken the time to prepare. Put down your fork, and pay attention to the flavors, the textures and how you respond to them. No matter how hungry you are, don’t rush. Mindful eating is all about pacing yourself and staying in the moment to experience the delicious meal you are eating.

After a long day, you can make the evening meal more relaxing and enjoyable by bringing a mindful approach to dinnertime. When it’s time to eat, you’ll be in the right state of mind to enjoy your food, as will the people around you.

Easy Shrimp Kabobs

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 12-ounce package SeaPack Popcorn Shrimp

Wooden skewers

Dipping sauces, such as tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, barbecue sauce and ranch dressing

Instructions

Preheat oven to 450 Fahrenheit.

Place shrimp on baking sheet in a single layer so shrimp are not touching.

Bake 5 minutes on the middle oven rack, then turn shrimp over.

Bake another 5-6 minutes until shrimp are hot and crispy.

Using a fork to hold the hot shrimp in place, slide shrimp onto wooden skewers.

Serve with small sides of sauces for each person. For example, use tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, barbecue sauce and ranch dressing.

Source: The blog A Helicopter Mom via SeaPak.com.



Want to lose weight? Research proves a big breakfast is the first step

8/29/2017

(BPT) - If you want to lose weight, you're not alone. More than half of Americans desire to shed pounds, according to Gallup. This goal inspires people to take action in many ways, from increasing exercise to modifying meals.

One thing many people do is skip breakfast in order to lower calorie intake. While this may seem like a good idea to lose weight, research proves otherwise. In fact, eating a big breakfast followed by smaller meals throughout the day is the best method for weight loss.

A new study in The Journal of Nutrition investigated the relation between meal frequency and timing and changes in body mass index (BMI). The study found that "eating less frequently, no snacking, consuming breakfast and eating the largest meal in the morning may be effective methods for preventing long-term weight gain."

“When you eat your meal matters," says Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner. "The best way to eat for energy and weight is to eat a big breakfast, smaller lunch and light dinner because it mimics our days' activities."

Blatner explains that people are typically most active in the beginning of the day and so need the most fuel then. They slow down as the day progresses, and by dinnertime they need less fuel.

"But it’s not just about eating anything in the morning," she cautions. "It’s important to pick nutrient-dense foods to fuel your day right."

Blatner provides three tips for creating a wholesome breakfast that will give you energy and support your weight-loss goals:

1. Fruits and veggies

Wake up your taste buds and give your body important vitamins by eating a rainbow of colorful fruits and veggies. Try shopping the farmers market for locally sourced in-season produce. A quick frittata with egg and chopped veggies or a smoothie bowl topped with fresh fruit will satisfy. If fresh produce isn't available, frozen has optimum nutrients so it is a smart alternative.

2. Whole grains

Make whole grains part of your breakfast and you'll feel fuller for longer. Oatmeal is a classic whole-grain breakfast option. Use whole-grain pancake mix to whip up some flapjacks. Bake muffins with whole-grain flour. Make cornbread with whole cornmeal. When shopping for cereal or other breakfast products, look at the label to ensure it's made with whole grains.

3. Proteins

Eggs are a great source of protein and nutrients for breakfast, but not all eggs are created equal. Swap out ordinary eggs for Eggland’s Best eggs, and you’ll get great taste and superior nutritional benefits with 10 times more vitamin E, six times more vitamin D, more than double the omega-3s, more than double vitamin B12 and 25 percent less saturated fat.

Short on time in the morning? Try Make Ahead Breakfast Bowls that can be frozen and microwaved in minutes for a satisfying start to your day.

Make Ahead Breakfast Bowls

Ingredients:

12 Eggland’s Best eggs (large)
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, chopped into 1-inch cubes
1 green pepper, seeded then chopped into 1-inch chunks
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 green onions, chopped
toppings: tortilla chips, salsa, avocado
6 individual-sized containers with lids

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

On a large baking sheet, place potatoes, peppers and onions in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoned salt and ground black pepper. Toss until evenly coated.

Roast for about 30-40 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown and tender, stirring and rotating pan halfway through cooking.

Meanwhile, crack Eggland’s Best eggs into a large bowl, then season with salt and pepper and whisk until smooth.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat then spray with nonstick spray and add eggs.

Scramble until the eggs are just barely cooked through and still slightly glossy, then scoop onto a plate and set aside.

Divide the potatoes and scrambled eggs evenly between the containers then set aside to cool.

Once cool, sprinkle with cheese and green onions, then cover and refrigerate. Freeze any portions that aren’t eaten within three days.

To reheat from frozen: microwave for 1 1/2 minutes then stir and continue microwaving until food is reheated, stirring between intervals. Top with optional toppings, then serve.

Tip: Store in individualized microwave-safe containers with lids to make these bowls ready to reheat and go.



It takes a village: Integrated care team gives hope back to dialysis patient

8/28/2017

(BPT) - Six years ago Francis Hogan was doing what he loved most: playing golf. After his usual game, his ankle was swollen and painful. When he visited the doctor, he discovered the swelling wasn’t because of an injury. Something was seriously wrong.

Hogan’s kidneys were failing. He was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a condition that scarred his kidneys, leading to end stage renal disease (ESRD). He needed to start dialysis or receive a transplant to survive. After a failed transplant, Hogan began dialysis treatments.

Hogan spends about 12 hours a week on a dialysis machine that cleans his blood. At one point, he had to track over 20 pills a day — a common daily average for dialysis patients. Also, Hogan’s risk for hospitalization increased: Most dialysis patients spend about 11 days a year in the hospital.

“Dialysis patients are some of the most medically fragile in our health care system,” said Bryan Becker, MD, chief medical officer of Integrated Kidney Care (IKC) at DaVita. “They need a tremendous amount of support managing their condition to reduce the risk of repeated hospitalization.”

Fortunately, Hogan qualified for treatment at an ESRD Seamless Care Organization (ESCO), a Comprehensive ESRD Care Model administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. ESCOs are groups of dialysis centers, nephrologists and other providers who join together to coordinate care for Medicare beneficiaries with ESRD. The ESCO model encourages providers to think beyond their traditional care delivery roles to provide patient-centered care that addresses health needs inside and outside of the dialysis center.

Hogan’s ESCO is one of several run by DaVita. His care team includes a dedicated nurse practitioner and registered nurse in addition to his nephrologist and DaVita center staff. The increased resources and focus on care coordination have made a big difference for Hogan.

The care team reduced Hogan’s daily pills in half by coordinating with his other specialists to create a better prescription plan. And, after a recent surgical procedure, the team not only managed his transition back to DaVita but also recognized something was different about him.

“He wasn’t interested in conversation and wouldn’t say his usual ‘Good morning!’” said Debbie Abbonizio, Hogan’s nurse practitioner. “He often lost his words, wasn’t hungry and couldn’t walk short distances without stopping.”

The team met consistently until the root cause of Hogan’s symptoms was identified. After ruling out several possible diagnoses, the team found his recommended post-treatment target weight was too high. Extra fluid was accumulating in his body and toxic waste was gathering in his bloodstream, causing his symptoms.

Hogan’s target weight was adjusted and the extra fluid slowly decreased from his body. He soon regained his health and began to greet his care team with a cheerful “Good morning!” again.

“I feel fortunate to have a team observing and supporting me daily,” Hogan said. "It gives me confidence to better manage my condition."

Hogan also is grateful to feel better so he can spend quality time with the love of his life, Carol, his wife of 57 years.

“Currently less than 10 percent of dialysis patients on Medicare have access to IKC programs,” said Dr. Becker. “Yet these programs can make a significant impact on patients’ health-related quality of life. Why not make them available to all Medicare patients on dialysis?”

To learn more about DaVita’s IKC programs, visit VillageHealth.com.

The statements contained in this document are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of CMS. The authors assume responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in this document.



Tips to make sure your fire extinguisher is at the ready

8/28/2017

(BPT) - You check your alarms regularly and practice your family escape plan — but are you overlooking an essential component of home safety? Having fire extinguishers and knowing how to use them is an important part of maintaining a safe home for you and your family.

“In America, a fire starts in a residential home every 86 seconds and the rapid protection offered by fire extinguishers can make the difference between minor or insignificant damage and greater tragedy,” said Tarsila Wey, director of marketing for First Alert, the most trusted brand in home safety. “However, because many Americans have never activated a traditional fire extinguisher before, many do not understand the essential role that fire extinguishers play in a home safety plan, and lack the confidence and know-how to use them properly.”

Follow these tips on fire extinguisher placement and usage to help ensure you and your family are properly prepared in case of emergency:

Compare features: Two of the most important features in fire extinguishers are size and intended use. Larger commercial fire extinguishers meant for public spaces may be too heavy or unwieldy for some family members. Select a home fire extinguisher that weighs 3 pounds or less. Other features to look for include a metal valve and trigger, which offer the durability of a commercial-grade extinguisher, as well as an easy-to-read color-coded gauge for accurate measurement. Spray times vary by make and manufacturer, so select extinguishers that perform above the standard and feature longer spray times. Remember, a fire extinguisher that has been discharged is no longer effective, so consider rechargeable extinguishers that can be recharged by a certified professional if the unit is used.

Keep it in reach: When seconds count, having an extinguisher nearby is crucial for rapid response. For this reason, place an extinguisher in each area of the home where a fire could potentially occur, including the kitchen, living room, each bedroom and the garage. In most cases, one extinguisher is likely not enough protection for an entire household. In addition, make sure that every responsible member of your household (including house sitters and babysitters) knows where each fire extinguisher is placed. The National Fire Protection Association recommends installing fire extinguishers close to room exits so that you can discharge it and quickly escape if the fire cannot be controlled.

Know your ABCs: While they may all look similar, fire extinguishers have very specific ratings that indicate what kind of fire they are designed to extinguish. Extinguishers with a Class A rating can put out fires caused by wood, paper, trash and other common materials, while Class B rated extinguishers are intended for gasoline and flammable liquids. Class C rated extinguishers are meant for fires caused by electrical equipment, such as frayed cords. For general protection, it’s best to select a multirated extinguisher, such as the First Alert Rechargeable Home Fire Extinguisher, that’s capable of handling most types of household fires.

Know how to use it: A simple way to remember proper usage instructions is with the acronym PASS:

* Pull the pin on the extinguisher

* Aim the nozzle low toward the base of the fire

* Squeeze the trigger

* Sweep the nozzle from side to side

Frequently repeat the acronym when practicing your family escape plan so that if a fire occurs, the response will be automatic.

Know when to go: Combating small fires with an extinguisher is one component of a fire response plan, but the primary goal should be safe escape. The first step in any scenario should be to call 911. In addition, a fire extinguisher is no substitute for having — and regularly practicing — a home fire escape plan, and ensuring that proper functioning smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are installed throughout the home to provide early detection. Keep in mind that alarms and fire extinguishers aren’t designed to last forever, and must be replaced at least every 10 years.

To learn more about fire safety, visit FirstAlert.com.



Turning 65? Choosing the right Medicare Part D plan starts with 4 simple rules

8/28/2017

(BPT) - If you’re turning 65 in 2017 or 2018, you’re one of 10,000 people who become Medicare-eligible each day. Choosing Medicare prescription drug coverage can be confusing, especially for the first time. You may have questions about which plan fits your healthcare needs and budget or how to enroll. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you know these four rules.

Rule #1: Lower premium plans may mean higher costs. Plans with a lower premium may end up costing more in the long run if they have higher drug copays, which can really add up.

Rule #2: Not every plan covers every drug. Drug lists (formularies) can change every year and so can the drugs you take. Be sure to check your plan’s formulary each year to make sure any medications you take are covered.

Rule #3: Check that there are pharmacies close to you. That way, it’s easier to fill your prescriptions. Select a plan with a wide range of “preferred” pharmacies, which typically offer lower co-pays than standard pharmacies in the network. Also, see if using a home delivery pharmacy or a 90-day supply could lower your costs even more.

Rule #4: Look for 24/7 access to pharmacists and Medicare experts who can answer questions about your medicines and offer drug safety tips, money-saving alternatives and expertise in drugs to treat specific conditions.

Also, remember to check the Medicare Part D plan’s Star Rating. This is the overall quality and performance rating (out of 5 stars) based on member satisfaction surveys and other measures by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

For more information, please visit www.Medicare.gov or www.RoadmapForMedicare.com. To talk to an Express Scripts Medicare adviser, call 1.866.544.3794, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week (TTY users: 1.800.716.3231).



Meet today's organic shopper

8/24/2017
The organics category is growing in just about every measurable way: in volume, dollars spent and even in conversations in the media.
When consumers dabble in organic produce, they are more likely to purchase organic goods like organic snacks or organic cotton sheets. This means it is important for retailers that sell organic products across departments to pay attention to trends in organic produce.
The organic shopper
“Organics are becoming mainstream, and shoppers are beginning to choose organic items over conventional items,” says Michael Castagnetto, vice president of sourcing for Robinson Fresh. “In our survey with U.S. consumers who buy produce, we found that 51 percent of respondents purchased organic produce and of those, 73 percent purchased both conventional and organic produce during the same trip.”
Research indicated that the organic shopper of today is most likely under the age of 35 or has young children living at home. Organic purchases are also highly correlated to household income.
Millennials, Generation X and baby boomers all show a preference for organic produce.
Why organic is becoming mainstream
“In the past, purchasing anything organic was an emotional-based purchase,” continues Castagnetto. “However, for today’s casual shopper, organic purchases are increasingly becoming more of an impulse purchase. The way that produce is merchandised makes a difference in how consumers make purchasing decisions.”
How organic produce is purchased
Here are the main factors people cite when asked why they go organic:
* The freshness and quality of the produce: 73 percent of respondents ranked this as a top driving factor
* The price of the produce: 61 percent of respondents rank this as a top driving factor
* The packaging the produce comes in
* Whether the organic produce is locally grown
To learn about information on the buying habits surrounding conventional and organic produce, visit the Robinson Fresh website at www.robinsonfresh.com.

(BPT) -



How to build healthy habits for the school year and beyond

8/22/2017

(BPT) - Bells are ringing across the country as kids settle into classrooms for a year full of fun, friendship and plenty of learning.

While exciting, adjusting to new school schedules is a hectic time. Healthy habits are often forgotten as the focus shifts to studies, assignments and extracurriculars.

"Parents and caregivers can make a big difference in helping kids lead a healthy lifestyle during the back-to-school season and beyond," says Deanna Segrave-Daly, a mom and registered dietitian. "A few proactive steps can set kids up for success in and out of the classroom."

Segrave-Daly offers six easy ideas you can try to help encourage your kids to build healthy habits that last a lifetime:

Prioritize sleep

Sleep is something families often sacrifice due to busy schedules. Remember, kids need significantly more sleep than adults to support their rapid mental and physical development, according to the National Sleep Foundation. School-age children should strive for nine to 11 hours of sleep each night. Establish a nighttime routine and prioritize sleep every night.

Eat breakfast

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day — especially for our kids. Help them jump-start their day with a quick breakfast of healthy foods like fruit, eggs and whole-grain cereal. For those busy mornings, grab fridge-free, GoGo squeeZ YogurtZ, made with real low-fat yogurt and fruit, for a wholesome option they can easily eat in the car or bus with a banana, toaster waffle or whole-wheat toast.

Encourage exercise

Kids should do at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hopefully some of this physical activity can take place during the school day, but there are lots of easy ways to build healthy activity into daily life at home. Make a habit of going on a family walk after dinner (a great chance to unwind and reconnect) or challenge kids to bring their books up the stairs or to another room one at a time. Take 10-minute “dance party” breaks during homework or see who can jump rope the longest.

Manage screen time

It's important for families to be mindful of screen time for kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids ages 2-5 limit screen use to one hour per day of high-quality programs. For children 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media and monitor the types of media used.

Snack well

Kids love to snack, and it’s important to keep nutritious options on hand for when hunger strikes — it helps them avoid emergency vending machine stops. Stock your pantry with healthier snacks like GoGo squeeZ applesauce pouches. These fridge-free pouches, made from natural ingredients, are easy to grab on the way to soccer practice, music lessons or the playground. They’re also an easy lunchbox addition!

Adjust the attitude

Mental wellness is part of overall wellness. Keep in mind the power of a positive attitude toward education. Encourage kids to look at issues from different angles, appreciate diversity and be resilient. Have conversations with children and truly listen to their concerns to build trust and solve problems.

Finally, it's the adult role models in a child's life that really set them up for success.

"If you model healthy habits, your child is likely to follow your lead," says Segrave-Daly. "Try to routinely eat well, sleep well, exercise and have conversations about the good and bad parts of your day. Your kids are paying attention even when it seems like they aren’t!"



My Experience with Dog Flu: A Dog's Point of View

8/22/2017

(BPT) - Recently, I got really sick. I had just spent a fun-filled week with all my friends at doggie daycare while my family was on vacation. Shortly after they brought me home, I started coughing a lot. It was really hard to breathe and I started vomiting. I didn’t feel like eating anything and I was tired all of the time. I was miserable. One of my family members missed a couple days of work to try to nurse me back to health. One time we spent the whole night in the bathroom hoping the steam from the hot shower would help my nasty cough. I know it was hard for her as she has a busy job, but she was as scared as I was. When it was clear I wasn’t getting any better, my family decided to take me to my veterinarian, who ran some tests and found that I had contracted H3N2, a new strain of canine influenza (CIV), also known as dog flu.

What We Learned About Dog Flu

My family didn’t know anything about H3N2, but my vet said she was happy that they brought me in to see her. My vet knew a lot about dog flu and was able to answer all of our questions. We were surprised to learn that even though a lot of people don’t know about it, H3N2 has been spreading rapidly across the United States since the first case was reported in 2015. My vet also shared that:

* Social dogs like me, who go to doggie daycare, dog parks, groomers, or really anywhere that dogs, cats and humans come into contact with one another, are at the highest risk for exposure to and contracting dog flu

* Because most dogs have no natural immunity to this highly contagious disease, nearly every dog who comes across it will become infected

* H3N8, a relatively less intense strain of dog flu, has been in the United States for more than 13 years, but it can also spread very quickly, like the H3N2 strain

* In most dogs, dog flu manifests as some coughing, a runny nose and a slight decrease in appetite and energy

* H3N2 can also cause respiratory problems and vomiting, and serious cases of either strain can lead to pneumonia and even death in severe cases

* The common kennel cough vaccine doesn’t protect against dog flu

Dogs Are Social Animals – That Puts Us At Risk

One of my favorite things in the whole world is running around and playing with my friends at doggie daycare and at the dog park, as well as when I go get my bath, haircut and nails trimmed. My vet told us that this was probably how I got sick. Because we can have trouble letting our families know when we’re not feeling well, people may accidentally take contagious dogs out and about, inadvertently causing CIV to spread between dogs that come into contact. Even drinking out of the same water bowl or chewing on community dog toys can expose us to the disease.

However, my vet told my family that because of how contagious the dog flu is and because it can be contagious for up to three weeks, it was important that I stay home from the dog park, groomer or doggie daycare for a while. She compared it to how my little family members stay home from school when they’re sick, in order to keep their classmates healthy. I’m so glad my family listened to my vet—I certainly didn’t want to get any of my friends sick!

Prevention Is the Best Approach

When my vet gave us my diagnosis, she also said that there is no specific treatment or medicine for dog flu, so the best protection is vaccination. Most veterinarians recommend the dog flu vaccine. There is even a combination vaccine that helps to protect against both strains of dog flu, H3N2 and H3N8, which means one less shot for me!

If This Dog Could Talk: Tour to Prevent Dog Flu

Before we left my vet, she told us about the If This Dog Could Talk: Tour to Prevent Dog Flu and we downloaded a copy of the new tour album, created in collaboration with Merck Animal Health and The Dogist photographer Elias Weiss Friedman. The album contains hundreds of beautiful pictures of dogs and shares important information with pet parents about the dog flu. My family and I had so much fun looking at all of the photos and sharing them with our friends—many of whom also had never heard of dog flu before. We all learned about dog flu the hard way, but hopefully you won’t have to!

Visit dogflu.com to download the free tour album for you and the dog you love to see some amazing doggie photos and learn how to keep your pup safe, happy and healthy!



A mother's loss sheds light on need for better asthma control

8/21/2017

(BPT) - For people living with asthma, managing the condition becomes part of their daily life. But some may not know that, in spite of their best efforts, their asthma may still be uncontrolled.

Benjamin Buckley was one of those people. Ben, as he was known, was just 7 years old when he died from asthma-related complications in 2014. Now, Ben’s mother, Cristin Buckley, is sharing his story in an effort to help raise awareness of just how serious asthma can be.

According to Cristin, it was a normal Saturday morning in the Buckley household. Ben went to his sister’s basketball game with the rest of the family, but when the game ended, Ben asked if he could go home and use his nebulizer, as he was experiencing an asthma attack.

Later that day, Cristin received a frantic call from her husband and daughter and came home to find Ben had collapsed in the driveway. Police and paramedics were already on the scene performing CPR. They were able to start Ben’s heart, but he was unconscious and not able to breathe on his own. He remained in a coma for five days until he passed away.

“What we didn’t realize was that Ben was using his rescue inhaler way more than he should have been. We were refilling it once a month,” said Cristin. “The pharmacy just kept refilling the prescription, so we didn’t think it was an issue. Looking back now, we know his asthma was uncontrolled.”

And it appears the Buckley family is not alone, as studies indicate that asthma is responsible for deaths every day in the United States, most of which are believed to occur in patients with uncontrolled asthma.

“Uncontrolled asthma can have a huge impact on a patient’s health,” said Dr. Purvi Parikh, a New York City-based allergist and immunologist and national spokesperson for the Allergy and Asthma Network. “Patients may not know the signs — but if someone is using their rescue inhaler more than twice a week, and their asthma is interrupting daily activities and sleep, they should really talk to their doctor immediately to assess if it is uncontrolled.”

Cristin’s number one priority today is that Ben’s asthmatic twin brother Adam, now 11 years old, is equipped to handle an attack on his own. To ensure he is prepared, Cristin takes Adam for his annual check-up with his allergist before the school year starts.

“Make sure their doctor takes the time to sit down and teach them how to properly use their inhaler,” Cristin said. “People think they can just put it in their mouth and take a few puffs and it works just fine, but so much medicine is wasted or doesn’t get into the lungs because they’re not taking a deep enough breath.”

Another one of her main priorities, particularly before school starts, is to make sure all of Adam’s inhalers have enough medicine in them. As such, Cristin relies on inhalers fitted with dose counters to help both her and Adam better manage his asthma. A dose counter works by showing the user exactly how many doses are left in the inhaler — similar to looking at a bottle of pills to see how much medicine is left.

“I think dose counters are one of the best things ever invented,” Cristin said. “Before they were integrated into inhalers, you were blindly leading your child. You had no idea how much medicine was left.”

Dr. Parikh also noted that the addition of a dose counter to asthma management can create a helpful dialogue between patients and their doctors. She explained how the dose counter allows the doctor to see how much medicine has been used since the previous visit and determine if a patient is using their rescue inhaler too frequently.

“When using an inhaler that does not include a dose counter, you really are taking a gamble on your life,” said Cristin.

For additional information on the importance of dose counters, visit KnowYourCount.com, and for more on Ben and Cristin’s story, visit www.BenWasHere.org.

Mrs. Buckley has been compensated for her time in contributing this program.

RESP-41523

August 2017



3 activities to help you move safely after knee surgery

8/17/2017

(BPT) - Most patients undergoing knee surgery want to know when they’ll be able to return to a pain-free, active lifestyle and do the things they once enjoyed before knee pain took over. For 58-year-old Kathleen Cohan, this meant a desire to return to mountain biking, hiking and skiing — activities she had always loved to do as a youth and continued to enjoy with her husband in their hometown of Golden, Colorado.

Cohan recently participated in a clinical trial to treat persistent knee pain caused by a meniscus tear. After receiving the NUsurface Meniscus Implant — the first “artificial meniscus” — she completed a six-week rehabilitation program and was ready to return to doing the things she loved.

“The NUsurface Meniscus Implant changed my life. It feels great to not have to worry before I choose an activity about how much pain I’ll be in afterward,” Cohan says. “My husband and I recently went on a 100-mile mountain bike trip, and I climbed a 14,000-foot peak last month and my knee didn’t bother me at all. The implant gave me a chance to extend my activity level as long as I possibly can.”

Three months after surgery, most patients have completely recovered and are able to return to many activities that were too painful or difficult previously. Once you’ve been cleared by your doctor, the safest way to restart activity after meniscus surgery is to find activities that avoid placing unnecessary stress on your knee joint. Here are three activities to help you move safely after knee surgery:

1. Walk (don’t run!). Experts say walking outside your home three to five times each day is one of the best ways to regain your knee strength. While you may need to adjust the length of your step and speed, you will be able to spend more time walking for exercise once your muscle strength improves.

2. Dance. While you should avoid high-impact moves like jumping or lifts, ballroom dancing and gentle modern dancing are great ways to use leg muscles, engage in aerobic activity and have fun! Just be sure to avoid abrupt movements or twists that could potentially put your knee out of alignment.

3. Swim. Once the wound has healed, many people choose swimming as their exercise of choice as it’s not a weight-bearing activity and therefore reduces stress to the joints. If your knee is still a bit tender, opt for water aerobics or pool walking.

Want to mix it up? You can feel safe doing many other recommended activities such as yoga, golf, boating, aerobics or rowing. If you have experience prior to your surgery doing more intense activities, like Cohan, your doctor may give you the go-ahead to resume cycling, hiking, cross-country skiing and doubles tennis. Whichever activity you choose, remember that rushing into activities before you’ve recovered sufficiently may put you at risk for complications, so be sure to check with your doctor first before resuming any activity after meniscus surgery.

To be eligible for the NUsurface Meniscus Implant clinical studies, you must be between the ages of 30 and 75, and have pain after medial (the inside of the knee) meniscus surgery at least six months ago. To find a study site near you, visit www.activeimplants.com/kneepaintrial.



Are you safe from BPA? The answer may surprise you

8/16/2017

(BPT) - Based on how much you’ve heard about bisphenol A (BPA) in recent news articles, it would be perfectly understandable if you concluded that BPA is public enemy No. 1. It’s apparently everywhere at unsafe levels, and there is no way to escape.

Or is there? There must be somewhere we can go to avoid being harmed, but where? You will find the answer in a peer-reviewed study that was just published in the scientific journal Environmental Pollution.

At the outset, the researchers note, “[t]o evaluate BPA’s potential risk to health, it is important to know human daily intake.” After all, too much of almost anything would pose a risk to health. What we need to know is how much BPA people are actually exposed to and whether those levels pose a risk to health.

What the researchers realized is that an enormous amount of data on exposure to BPA is already available. It just wasn’t all in the same place where it could be most useful, until now.

It’s well known that people quickly eliminate BPA from the body through urine after exposure. Measuring BPA in urine is considered the best way to evaluate exposure to BPA since what goes in (i.e., exposure) comes out in urine where it’s easy to measure.

What the researchers did was search the scientific literature for studies that measured levels of BPA in urine. They found more than just a few studies: “[i]n total, we obtained over 140 peer-reviewed publications, which contained over 85,000 data [points] for urinary BPA concentrations derived from 30 countries.”

The researchers then sorted the data by age group (adult men and non-pregnant women, pregnant women and children) and country to assess where in the world exposure levels were safe or unsafe. That assessment was done by comparison of exposure levels with safe intake limits set by government bodies worldwide.

The results may surprise you: “[i]t is evident that the national and global estimated human BPA daily intakes in this study are two to three orders of magnitude lower than that of the TDI [Tolerable Daily Intake]…recommended by several countries.” In other words, actual exposure to BPA is hundreds to thousands of times below the safe intake limit.

Due to the large volume of data, the researchers considered their results to be representative, meaning they can be relied upon as an accurate measure of exposure to BPA worldwide. The results also provide very strong support for the views of government bodies worldwide on the safety of BPA.

For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) answers the question “Is BPA safe?” with the unequivocal answer “Yes.” Similarly, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) stated “BPA poses no health risk to consumers of any age group (including unborn children, infants and adolescents) at current exposure levels.”

So, to return to where we started, where in the world are you safe from BPA? Based on the data, and a lot of it, the answer is very simple — everywhere.



The key ingredient to a successful school year

8/16/2017

(BPT) - Now that school is in session, you’ve likely returned to the routine of nightly homework and packing lunches in the morning. One thing that helps ensure a safe and successful school year is polycarbonate plastic made from bisphenol A (BPA).

BPA is a building-block chemical used to make a plastic known as polycarbonate, which helps make many of the items we use throughout the school year safe, durable and reliable. This kind of plastic makes products, like lab goggles or eyeglasses, lightweight and clear. Plus, its shatter-resistant nature keeps classrooms productive and safe.

Check out our list of must-have items for school and take a look at how BPA is used in these popular items:

Sports equipment

For aspiring varsity athletes, polycarbonate is especially important. Strong, shatter-resistant polycarbonate is used to make helmets, sports safety goggles and visors used in football and lacrosse to keep athletes safe and performing at the top of their game.

Eyeglasses

When hitting the books hard, sometimes your eyes need a helping hand. Polycarbonate is used in lenses, making them highly shatter-resistant and extremely lightweight. This means looking cool and having a comfortable wear, while being protected from accidental mishaps in a book bag.

Electronic equipment

Accidents happen, but thanks to polycarbonate, students can avoid disaster. Laptops, tablets and cell phones are durable and break-resistant, and polycarbonate films help to prevent scratches on the screens.

Lab safety goggles

To prevent accidental injury to the eyes, lab safety goggles are an essential part of every school’s science projects. Polycarbonate gives these goggles their clear, shatter-resistant and lightweight properties.

Products made with polycarbonate help keep us (and our students) safe and set for a successful school year, and using BPA to make the polycarbonate for these products is safe as well. BPA is one of the most widely studied chemicals in use today, and government agencies around the world, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) all agree: BPA is safe in consumer products.

So confidently fill that backpack with these back-to-school basics to set yourself up for a successful school year.



5 tips to solve separation anxiety in your pet

8/14/2017

(BPT) - With good weather and flexible work schedules, summer time is the best season for spending some extra time with your pet. However, once fall comes, the kids aren’t the only ones in the family that experience the back-to-school blues. Separation anxiety can happen for many reasons among pets, but with the changing routine and lack of attention due to busy schedules, back-to-school is a common time when pet owners may start noticing changes in their dog or cat’s behavior. To support them during this time Dr. Kurt Venator, Purina’s Chief Veterinary Officer offers five tips to address separation anxiety in pets.

1. Get your pet into a routine. Pets love routines because it makes them feel secure. During the summer, kids are always around to make things entertaining and exciting. When they suddenly disappear, some cats and dogs will feel sad and confused while others may experience real separation anxiety. It’s important to get your pet acclimated to the change by replacing their old schedule with a new one. This new schedule should include allocating time to play after work and keeping a consistent schedule when coming and going from the house.

2. Burn off some energy. Some pets deal with separation anxiety by engaging in negative or destructive behaviors, such as howling, excessive barking or chewing on inappropriate objects. A great way to keep your dog from doing this is to take them on a walk in the morning before you leave the house to help burn off some of that extra energy. For cats, consider playing with them at night as well — whether it’s making them chase a feather wand or play with a ball.

3. Create an interactive environment. Back-to-school season is a great time to buy your pet a new, interactive toy to play with. This will help mentally stimulate them and keep them occupied during the day when children are away at school. For dogs, chew toys are a way for them to relieve their anxiety, frustration and boredom. For cats, creating a play area — including scratching posts and cat furniture — can keep them entertained even when you’re not home.

4. Turn up the tunes and start with baby steps. Try leaving some soothing music on at your home while everyone is out of the house. The music will help drown out distracting noises that your dog may mistakenly associate with their family coming home. Some animal shelters have even found that playing calming music helps animals in their facilities relax. Additionally, help your pets adjust to a new routine by providing them with clear cues. For example, jingling your car keys prior to leaving for work each day can provide your pet with an important audible cue and ultimately, help with the transition to a new family schedule.

5. Spend time with your pet. It’s important to remember that while you may have had a long day, your pet may have been sitting at home feeling lonely, waiting for you to come home. Spending some quality time with your pet at the end of the day is critical to helping keep them active and mentally sharp. It may be tough to fit into a busy work schedule, but be sure to build some interactive time — whether it’s a walk or cuddle session —to benefit both you and your pet.

For more information on helping your pet deal with separation anxiety, check out this article on Purina.com.



STIs and Relationships: What a Diagnosis Really Means

8/16/2017

(BPT) - Please see IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION ABOUT VEREGEN® (sinecatechins) Ointment, 15% below.

Embarrassment. Panic. Regret. These are just some of the reactions the phrase “sexually transmitted infection” (STI) can conjure. If you’re diagnosed with an STI while in a relationship, you may also wonder “Is my partner infected?,” “Can I infect my partner?” and “How do I keep us both safe?”

Initiating a conversation with your partner as soon as possible is vital to protecting the health of both individuals. When approaching this important discussion, consider the following:

  • Know the facts and realities. There are approximately 20 million new cases of STIs in the U.S. every year.[i] In fact, the most common STI in the country, human papillomavirus – or HPV – is so common that nearly all sexually active people get it at some point in their lives.[ii]
    • Discussion tip: Reinforce the fact that STIs are common, and many are curable and all are treatable.[iii]
  • Avoid placing blame. A diagnosis while in a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean infidelity. Consider the possibility that infection could have occurred prior to the start of your relationship. There are many STIs – like those caused by HPV, including genital warts – that may not cause physical symptoms for weeks, and in some cases even months, or years after infection.[iv]
    • Discussion tip: Don’t dwell on what might have happened in the past. Keep the conversation focused on what comes next.
  • Have a plan. Remember how shocking it can be to be faced with an STI diagnosis. Take the conversation a step further by not just sharing your diagnosis, but by coming prepared with information on diagnosis and treatment that can help inform a plan of action.
    • Discussion tip: Suggest visiting a dermatologist, gynecologist, or primary care doctor for testing, and to receive treatment, if needed. It can be valuable to work as a team, so suggest taking on the next steps together.

After being diagnosed with an STI, you should talk to your doctor about treatment. If you and your partner have external genital or perianal warts, for example, there are provider-administered and patient-applied prescription therapies you can consider with your doctor.[v]

One patient-applied prescription treatment recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for appropriate patients with external genital and perianal warts is VEREGEN® (sinecatechins) Ointment, 15%.[v] In two clinical studies, VEREGEN® was proven to provide complete clearance of external genital and perianal warts in the majority of patients compared against a “vehicle” (placebo) (53.6 percent VEREGEN® vs. 35.3 percent vehicle) when applied 3 times daily for up to 16 weeks, or until complete clearance of all warts (baseline and new warts occurring during treatment).[vi]

If you or your partner have external genital or perianal warts, or think you may have external genital or perianal warts, talk to your doctor about whether VEREGEN® may be right for you. And, visit www.VEREGEN.com for additional information and resources, and to learn more about whether you are eligible to receive the VEREGEN® Instant Savings Card.

Remember that contracting an STI doesn’t have to be a relationship deal-breaker. By arming yourselves with the facts, coming up with a realistic plan of action, and supporting each other, you and your partner can end up with a relationship stronger than ever before.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

Do not use VEREGEN® Ointment, 15% if you are allergic to any ingredient in this product. Do not use VEREGEN® Ointment, 15% for warts in the vagina, cervix, or inside the anus. Avoid contact with your eyes, nostrils and mouth while ointment is on your finger(s).

Avoid use of VEREGEN® on open wounds. Do not expose skin that has been treated with VEREGEN® to the sunlight, sunlamps or tanning beds. Tell your doctor if you are using any other type of skin product on the area to be treated. Avoid sexual contact (genital, anal or oral) when VEREGEN® Ointment, 15% is on your genital or perianal skin. If you do choose to have sexual contact, you must wash off the ointment carefully before having protected sexual contact as the ointment may weaken condoms and vaginal diaphragms.

Be sure to tell the doctor if you have a weak immune system, if you are pregnant or nursing a baby, or if you have used VEREGEN® before. Avoid using this product in patients younger than 18 years of age or for longer than 16 weeks. If your warts do not go away or come back after treatment contact your doctor.

The most common side effects with VEREGEN® Ointment, 15% are local skin and application site reactions including: redness, itching, burning, pain, sores, swelling, hard spots, and rash with blisters. For more information, consult your healthcare professional.

INDICATION

VEREGEN® (sinecatechins) is indicated for the topical treatment of external genital and perianal warts (Condylomata acuminata) in immunocompetent patients 18 years and older.

Please see the SUMMARY OF INFORMATION ABOUT VEREGEN® (sinecatechins) Ointment, 15% below.

SUMMARY OF INFORMATION ABOUT VEREGEN® (sinecatechins) Ointment, 15%

The Risk information presented here is not comprehensive. To learn more, talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist about VEREGEN®.

The FDA-approved product labeling can be found at www.VEREGEN.com.

What is VEREGEN® Ointment?

VEREGEN® Ointment is a medicine for skin use only (topical) for the treatment of warts on the outside of the genitals and around the outside of the anus. It is not a treatment for warts in the vagina, cervix, or inside the anus. Your doctor may recommend examination and screening tests (such as a Pap smear) to evaluate these areas.

Who should not use VEREGEN® Ointment?

Do not use VEREGEN® Ointment if you are allergic to an ingredient in VEREGEN® Ointment. The list of ingredients is at the end of this leaflet.

What should I tell my doctor before using VEREGEN® Ointment?

Tell your doctor about all your health conditions and all the medicines you take including prescription, over-the-counter medicine, vitamins, supplements, and herbals. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are:

  • pregnant or planning to become pregnant, as it is not known if VEREGEN® Ointment can harm your unborn baby. Your doctor will determine whether the benefit outweighs the risk.
  • breastfeeding, as it is not known if VEREGEN® Ointment can pass into your milk and if it can harm your baby.
  • using any other type of skin product or have open wounds on the area to be treated. VEREGEN® Ointment should not be used until your skin has healed from other treatments applied to the same area.
  • immunocompromised. This means that your immune system cannot fight infections as well as it should.

How should I use VEREGEN® Ointment?

  • Use VEREGEN® Ointment only on the area affected exactly as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Wash your hands before and after application of VEREGEN® Ointment. A small amount of the ointment should be applied to all warts using your finger(s), dabbing it on to ensure complete coverage and leaving a thin layer of the ointment on the warts as directed by your doctor.
  • Apply VEREGEN® Ointment three times per day—in the morning, at noontime and in the evening.
  • Do not wash off the ointment from the treated area before the next application. When you wash the treatment area or bathe, apply the ointment afterwards.
  • Treatment with VEREGEN® Ointment should be continued until complete clearance of all warts, but no longer than 16 weeks. If your warts do not go away, or if they come back after treatment call your doctor.
  • VEREGEN® Ointment is not a certain cure for warts on your genitals or around your anus. New warts may develop during or after the use of VEREGEN® Ointment, and may need treatment.

What should I avoid while using VEREGEN® Ointment?

  • Do not apply VEREGEN® Ointment on open wounds or into the vagina or into the anus.
  • Genital warts are a sexually transmitted disease, and you may infect your partner.
  • Avoid sexual contact (genital, anal or oral) when VEREGEN® Ointment is on your genital or perianal skin. If you do choose to have sexual contact, you must wash off the ointment carefully before having protected sexual contact as the ointment may weaken condoms and vaginal diaphragms. Talk to your doctor about safe sex practices.
  • Avoid contact with your eyes, nostrils and mouth while ointment is on your finger(s).
  • Women using tampons: insert the tampon before applying the ointment. If you need to change your tampon while the ointment is on your skin, avoid getting the ointment into the vagina.
  • Uncircumcised men treating warts under the foreskin should retract the foreskin and clean the area daily.
  • Do not expose the genital area treated with VEREGEN® Ointment to sunlight, sunlamps or tanning beds.
  • Do not cover the treated area. Loose-fitting undergarments can be worn after applying VEREGEN® Ointment.
  • VEREGEN® Ointment may stain your light colored clothes and bedding.

What are the possible side effects of VEREGEN® Ointment?

The most common side effects with VEREGEN® Ointment are local skin and application site reactions including:

  • redness
  • itching
  • burning
  • pain
  • sores
  • swelling
  • hard spots
  • rash with blisters

Many patients experience itching, reddening or swelling on or around the application site during the course of treatment. Some of these side effects could be a sign of an allergic reaction. If you experience open sores or other severe reactions at the locations you applied VEREGEN® Ointment, stop treatment and call your doctor right away. You may experience other side effects of VEREGEN® Ointment that are not mentioned here. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information. Patients should be aware that new warts may develop during treatment as VEREGEN® Ointment is not a cure.

How should I store VEREGEN® Ointment?

  • Store VEREGEN® Ointment refrigerated or up to 77°F (25°C).

  • Do not freeze.

  • Make sure the cap on the tube is tightly closed.

  • Safely throw away VEREGEN® Ointment tubes that are out of date or are empty.

Keep VEREGEN® Ointment and all medicines out of the reach of children.

General advice about prescription medicines

Medicines are sometimes prescribed for conditions that are not mentioned in patient information leaflets. Do not use VEREGEN® Ointment for a condition for which it was not prescribed. Do not give VEREGEN® Ointment to other people, even if they have the same symptoms you have. It may harm them. Do not use VEREGEN® Ointment after the expiration date on the tube. This is a summary of the most important information about VEREGEN® Ointment. If you would like more information, talk with your doctor. You can ask your pharmacist or doctor for information about VEREGEN® Ointment that is written for the doctor.

What are the ingredients in VEREGEN® Ointment?

Active ingredient:

A defined green tea extract named sinecatechins.

Inactive ingredients:

Isopropyl myristate, white petrolatum, cera alba (white wax), propylene glycol palmitostearate, and oleyl alcohol.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Please visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

If you have a product complaint about VEREGEN®, please call PharmaDerm customer service at 1-800-525-8747.

This article is sponsored by PharmaDerm. © 2017 PharmaDerm. All rights reserved.

Veregen® is a registered trademark of Medigene AG, D-82152 Planegg/Martinsried, Germany.

###



[i] CDC. CDC Fact Sheet: Incidence, Prevalence, and Cost of Sexually Transmitted Infections in the United States. https://www.cdc.gov/std/stats/sti-estimates-fact-sheet-feb-2013.pdf. Accessed May 9, 2017.
[ii] CDC. Genital HPV infection - Fact Sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm. Accessed May 9, 2016.
[iii] CDC. CDC Infographic: The Lowdown on How to Prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases. https://www.cdc.gov/std/prevention/lowdown/the_lowdown_infographic_poster_30x20.pdf. Accessed May 9, 2017.
[iv] White C. Genital warts: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Nlmnihgov. 2015. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000886.htm. Accessed May 9, 2017.
[v] CDC. 2015 Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines. https://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/. Accessed May 9, 2017.
[vi] Veregen (sinecatechins) [prescribing information], Melville, NY: PharmaDerm a division of Fougera; Revised 2012.
Please see IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION ABOUT VEREGEN® (sinecatechins) Ointment, 15% below.
Embarrassment. Panic. Regret. These are just some of the reactions the phrase “sexually transmitted infection” (STI) can conjure. If you’re diagnosed with an STI while in a relationship, you may also wonder “Is my partner infected?,” “Can I infect my partner?” and “How do I keep us both safe?”
Initiating a conversation with your partner as soon as possible is vital to protecting the health of both individuals. When approaching this important discussion, consider the following:
? Know the facts and realities. There are approximately 20 million new cases of STIs in the U.S. every year.i In fact, the most common STI in the country, human papillomavirus – or HPV – is so common that nearly all sexually active people get it at some point in their lives.ii
o Discussion tip: Reinforce the fact that STIs are common, many are curable, and all are treatable.iii
? Avoid placing blame. A diagnosis while in a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean infidelity. Consider the possibility that infection could have occurred prior to the start of your relationship. There are many STIs – like those caused by HPV, including genital warts – that may not cause physical symptoms for weeks, and in some cases even months or years after infection.iv
o Discussion tip: Don’t dwell on what might have happened in the past. Keep the conversation focused on what comes next.
? Have a plan. Remember how shocking it can be to be faced with an STI diagnosis. Take the conversation a step further by not just sharing your diagnosis, but by coming prepared with information on diagnosis and treatment that can help inform a plan of action.
o Discussion tip: Suggest visiting a dermatologist, gynecologist, or primary care doctor for testing, and to receive treatment, if needed. It can be valuable to work as a team, so suggest taking on the next steps together.
After being diagnosed with an STI, you should talk to your doctor about treatment. If you and your partner have external genital or perianal warts, for example, there are provider-administered and patient-applied prescription therapies you can consider with your doctor. v
One patient-applied prescription treatment recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for appropriate patients with external genital and perianal warts is VEREGEN® (sinecatechins) Ointment, 15%.v In two clinical studies, VEREGEN® was proven to provide complete clearance of external genital and perianal warts in the majority of patients compared against a “vehicle” (placebo) (53.6 percent VEREGEN® vs. 35.3 percent vehicle) when applied 3 times daily for up to 16 weeks, or until complete clearance of all warts (baseline and new warts occurring during treatment).vi
If you or your partner have external genital or perianal warts, or think you may have external genital or perianal warts, talk to your doctor about whether VEREGEN® may be right for you. And, visit www.VEREGEN.com for additional information and resources, and to learn more about whether you are eligible to receive the VEREGEN® Instant Savings Card.
P-VRG-1346266 6/2017 Page 2 of 5
Remember that contracting an STI doesn’t have to be a relationship deal-breaker. By arming yourselves with the facts, coming up with a realistic plan of action, and supporting each other, you and your partner can end up with a relationship stronger than ever before.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
Do not use VEREGEN® Ointment, 15% if you are allergic to any ingredient in this product. Do not use VEREGEN® Ointment, 15% for warts in the vagina, cervix, or inside the anus. Avoid contact with your eyes, nostrils and mouth while ointment is on your finger(s).
Avoid use of VEREGEN® on open wounds. Do not expose skin that has been treated with VEREGEN® to the sunlight, sunlamps or tanning beds. Tell your doctor if you are using any other type of skin product on the area to be treated. Avoid sexual contact (genital, anal or oral) when VEREGEN® Ointment, 15% is on your genital or perianal skin. If you do choose to have sexual contact, you must wash off the ointment carefully before having protected sexual contact as the ointment may weaken condoms and vaginal diaphragms.
Be sure to tell the doctor if you have a weak immune system, if you are pregnant or nursing a baby, or if you have used VEREGEN® before. Avoid using this product in patients younger than 18 years of age or for longer than 16 weeks. If your warts do not go away or come back after treatment contact your doctor.
The most common side effects with VEREGEN® Ointment, 15% are local skin and application site reactions including: redness, itching, burning, pain, sores, swelling, hard spots, and rash with blisters. For more information, consult your healthcare professional.
INDICATION
VEREGEN® (sinecatechins) is indicated for the topical treatment of external genital and perianal warts (Condylomata acuminata) in immunocompetent patients 18 years and older.
Please see the SUMMARY OF INFORMATION ABOUT VEREGEN® (sinecatechins) Ointment, 15% below.
SUMMARY OF INFORMATION ABOUT
VEREGEN® (sinecatechins) Ointment, 15%
The Risk information presented here is not comprehensive. To learn more, talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist about VEREGEN®.
The FDA-approved product labeling can be found at www.VEREGEN.com.
What is VEREGEN® Ointment?
VEREGEN® Ointment is a medicine for skin use only (topical) for the treatment of warts on the outside of the genitals and around the outside of the anus. It is not a treatment for warts in the vagina, cervix, or inside the anus. Your doctor may recommend examination and screening tests (such as a Pap smear) to evaluate these areas.
P-VRG-1346266 6/2017 Page 3 of 5
Who should not use VEREGEN® Ointment?
Do not use VEREGEN® Ointment if you are allergic to an ingredient in VEREGEN® Ointment. The list of ingredients is at the end of this leaflet.
What should I tell my doctor before using VEREGEN® Ointment?
Tell your doctor about all your health conditions and all the medicines you take including prescription, over-the-counter medicine, vitamins, supplements, and herbals. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are:
o pregnant or planning to become pregnant, as it is not known if VEREGEN® Ointment can harm your unborn baby. Your doctor will determine whether the benefit outweighs the risk.
o breastfeeding, as it is not known if VEREGEN® Ointment can pass into your milk and if it can harm your baby.
o using any other type of skin product or have open wounds on the area to be treated. VEREGEN® Ointment should not be used until your skin has healed from other treatments applied to the same area.
o immunocompromised. This means that your immune system cannot fight infections as well as it should.
How should I use VEREGEN® Ointment?
• Use VEREGEN® Ointment only on the area affected exactly as prescribed by your doctor.
•Wash your hands before and after application of VEREGEN® Ointment. A small amount of the ointment should be applied to all warts using your finger(s), dabbing it on to ensure complete coverage and leaving a thin layer of the ointment on the warts as directed by your doctor.
• Apply VEREGEN® Ointment three times per day—in the morning, at noontime and in the evening.
• Do not wash off the ointment from the treated area before the next application. When you wash the treatment area or bathe, apply the ointment afterwards.
• Treatment with VEREGEN® Ointment should be continued until complete clearance of all warts, but no longer than 16 weeks. If your warts do not go away, or if they come back after treatment call your doctor.
• VEREGEN® Ointment is not a certain cure for warts on your genitals or around your anus. New warts may develop during or after the use of VEREGEN® Ointment, and may need treatment.
What should I avoid while using VEREGEN® Ointment?
• Do not apply VEREGEN® Ointment on open wounds or into the vagina or into the anus.
• Genital warts are a sexually transmitted disease, and you may infect your partner.
• Avoid sexual contact (genital, anal or oral) when VEREGEN® Ointment is on your genital or perianal skin. If you do choose to have sexual contact, you must wash off the ointment carefully before having protected sexual contact as the ointment may weaken condoms and vaginal diaphragms. Talk to your doctor about safe sex practices.
• Avoid contact with your eyes, nostrils and mouth while ointment is on your finger(s).
•Women using tampons: insert the tampon before applying the ointment. If you need to change
P-VRG-1346266 6/2017 Page 4 of 5
your tampon while the ointment is on your skin, avoid getting the ointment into the vagina.
• Uncircumcised men treating warts under the foreskin should retract the foreskin and clean the area daily.
• Do not expose the genital area treated with VEREGEN® Ointment to sunlight, sunlamps or tanning beds.
• Do not cover the treated area. Loose-fitting undergarments can be worn after applying VEREGEN® Ointment.
• VEREGEN® Ointment may stain your light colored clothes and bedding.
What are the possible side effects of VEREGEN® Ointment?
The most common side effects with VEREGEN® Ointment are local skin and application site reactions including:
o redness
o itching
o burning
o pain
o sores
o swelling
o hard spots
o rash with blisters
Many patients experience itching, reddening or swelling on or around the application site during the course of treatment. Some of these side effects could be a sign of an allergic reaction. If you experience open sores or other severe reactions at the locations you applied VEREGEN® Ointment, stop treatment and call your doctor right away. You may experience other side effects of VEREGEN® Ointment that are not mentioned here. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information. Patients should be aware that new warts may develop during treatment as VEREGEN® Ointment is not a cure.
How should I store VEREGEN® Ointment?
• Store VEREGEN® Ointment refrigerated or up to 77°F (25°C).
• Do not freeze.
•Make sure the cap on the tube is tightly closed.
• Safely throw away VEREGEN® Ointment tubes that are out of date or are empty.
Keep VEREGEN® Ointment and all medicines out of the reach of children.
General advice about prescription medicines
Medicines are sometimes prescribed for conditions that are not mentioned in patient information leaflets. Do not use VEREGEN® Ointment for a condition for which it was not prescribed. Do not give VEREGEN® Ointment to other people, even if they have the same symptoms you have. It may harm them. Do not use VEREGEN® Ointment after the expiration date on the tube. This is a summary of the most important information about VEREGEN® Ointment. If you would like more information, talk with your doctor. You can ask your pharmacist or doctor for information about VEREGEN® Ointment that is written for the doctor.
P-VRG-1346266 6/2017 Page 5 of 5
What are the ingredients in VEREGEN® Ointment?
Active ingredient:
A defined green tea extract named sinecatechins.
Inactive ingredients:
Isopropyl myristate, white petrolatum, cera alba (white wax), propylene glycol palmitostearate, and oleyl alcohol.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Please visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
If you have a product complaint about VEREGEN®, please call PharmaDerm customer service at 1-800-525-8747.
This article is sponsored by PharmaDerm. © 2017 PharmaDerm. All rights reserved.
Veregen® is a registered trademark of Medigene AG, D-82152 Planegg/Martinsried, Germany.
###
i CDC. CDC Fact Sheet: Incidence, Prevalence, and Cost of Sexually Transmitted Infections in the United States. https://www.cdc.gov/std/stats/sti-estimates-fact-sheet-feb-2013.pdf. Accessed May 9, 2017.
ii CDC. Genital HPV infection - Fact Sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm. Accessed May 9, 2016.
iii CDC. CDC Infographic: The Lowdown on How to Prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases. https://www.cdc.gov/std/prevention/lowdown/the_lowdown_infographic_poster_30x20.pdf. Accessed May 9, 2017.
iv White C. Genital warts: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Nlmnihgov. 2015. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000886.htm. Accessed May 9, 2017.
v CDC. 2015 Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines. https://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/. Accessed May 9, 2017.
vi Veregen (sinecatechins) [prescribing information], Melville, NY: PharmaDerm a division of Fougera; Revised 2012.


Age ferociously with this eating game plan

8/16/2017

(BPT) - A healthy diet and lifestyle are our best weapons against age-related diseases.

Becci Twombley is sports dietitian for USC Athletics and Angels Baseball, overseeing the nutrition of 650 collegiate athletes and the 200 players within the Angels organization. The healthy practices she employs to keep her athletes fighting strong also apply as preventative measures for staying fit and active as we age.

“It’s vital at any age to adopt good habits to live a long and healthy life,” says Twombley. “Exercise and move 30 minutes a day and along with that, pay attention to what you put in your body.” Twombley’s prevention plan starts with a “food first” approach.

Diet has a profound impact on two of the leading causes of age-related illnesses and conditions: inflammation and being overweight, Twombley says. “Maintaining a healthy heart and blood vessels are two of the most important things anyone can do, along with keeping one’s weight under control.”

Eating a healthy diet does not need to be a chore, she claims. It is all a question of smart choices. Picking the right foods not only makes a difference in health risks, but also positively affects performance throughout the day at work and at home.

While the answer is not in a single food, or even a handful, adding nutrient-rich foods is part of a winning game plan. Twombley recommends these "All Americans" of the functional food group.

Pistachios

Pistachios are a multitasking nut with proteins and healthy fats, as well as three types of antioxidants. Those antioxidants help to decrease blood pressure and allow for good muscle recovery. Large population studies show that people who regularly eat nuts, such as pistachios, have a lower risk of dying from heart disease or suffering a heart attack. They’re also good for the eyes and skin, and have been found to positively promote weight maintenance.

Cherry juice

Twombley serves tart cherry juice to her athletes after their workouts as its targeted antioxidants help with muscle recovery, improving recovery time. In addition, it boosts sleep quality to help prevent anxiety and stress later in the day.

Greek yogurt

Plain Greek yogurt is a nutrient-packed snack that has many health benefits. High in protein, it can boost energy and muscle mass, which decreases as we age. It can also benefit digestive health if it contains probiotics. Check the label to see if it contains live and active cultures.

Beets

The deep red root vegetable increases the size of blood vessels, improving the flow of oxygen that can get to muscles and tissues. For anyone with high blood pressure or suffering from cardiovascular disease, this is a good food to include.

Milk

A good hydration beverage that has protein, vitamin D and calcium like we often hear, milk also contains electrolytes for good muscle contraction.

Salmon and grass-fed beef

Both are high in omega-3, which is a good healthy fat profile for overall heart health. They also decrease inflammation in the long term. Inflammation causes a lot of the diseases we fear as we age, whether it’s diabetes or cardiovascular health.

Beyond these foods Twombley identifies, the noted nutritionist has more tips for healthy eating.

* Look for different colors of foods at different times. Make sure they’re incorporated throughout the day.

* Eat often and in a good portion size.

* Shop for high quality whenever possible and pay attention to ingredients.

* Maintain balance. Make sure your plate has carbohydrates, protein and healthy fat in the correct amounts. Add fruits and vegetables to that to get the antioxidants.

* And finally, have a plan. Plan what you’re going to eat that day and stick to it.



How to Tackle a Dust-Free Renovation

8/14/2017

(BPT) - Kristen Johnson* loved her home, her family and their active lifestyle. She’d never want to change a thing — except for her foyer and adjoining dining room. When she and her husband first moved into their home, they had intended to refinish the hardwood floors in those areas in a darker stain to better fit their style, but life got in the way. Twelve years, two boys and countless birthday parties, pets and indoor soccer games later, their floors were covered in scuffs, scratches and stains, and some of their walls needed repair. To complicate matters even further, they had a wraparound staircase with a wood-tone banister that would also need to be refinished if they decided to change their floor.

With their big family reunion and a house full of people just weeks away, Johnson and her husband knew it was time to make a change. However, they couldn’t afford to disrupt their busy schedules, and they didn’t want to deal with the hassle of renovation dust getting all over their ceiling fans, cupboards or worse — especially with their son’s dust allergies. They knew if they decided to take on this renovation project, they’d need it finished quickly, and they’d need the entire project to be as dust-free as possible.

What’s the big deal about renovation dust? Beyond creating a huge mess, renovation dust is also a health concern. As any homeowner who has embarked on an interior renovation project knows, the resultant dust gets everywhere — even inside closed cabinets and in adjacent rooms. However, as problematic as the mess is, dust-related health hazards are of even greater concern, particularly to allergy sufferers. Traditional methods of mitigating dust usually involve extensive prep work, like hanging plastic sheeting and taping off doors, or doing a thorough post-renovation top-to-bottom cleaning. Both options are extremely time-consuming.

Is there a better way to handle renovation dust? There is a better way to handle renovation dust: by collecting it right at the source like the pros do. Professional contractors are used to dealing with renovation dust, and given the volume of work they do, they create dust far more frequently and in much greater volumes than the average homeowner or DIYer. Rather than spend valuable time on prep work or post-project cleanup or suffer through the use of uncomfortable dust masks, they use dust collection tools that capture and contain dust immediately as it’s created, before it can become a mess or airborne health hazard.

How Johnson tackled her dust-free renovation. Because of their tight timeline, Johnson and her husband decided to take on some of their renovation themselves using supplies purchased at their local hardware store, but they let the professionals handle the tricky floor/banister redo.

To repair their drywall, they patched the damaged areas using joint compound and a drywall sander, which together cost about $130. To make the sanding process dust-free, they added a Dust Deputy, which they connected directly to the drywall sander and to their wet/dry vacuum. They found that this combination captured virtually all the dust generated by the sanding. They noticed no dust in the air, and the Dust Deputy prevented the fine drywall dust from clogging their vacuum filter.

Even though they had the flooring contractor tackle the floor and banister, they saved a few dollars by removing the varnish from the banister and other hard-to-reach areas themselves. To do this, they applied a gel varnish remover using a brush (together about $20), then scraped the wet varnish residue using a Viper Scraper attached to their Dust Deputy and wet/dry vacuum. The scraper captured the residue, and the Dust Deputy contained it for disposal, without it ever reaching, or damaging, their vacuum.

Their big splurge was on the floor refinishing, which they left to the pros to tackle (about $2,500). To keep that process dust-free, they selected a dust-free contractor in their area who used a cyclonic Oneida Vortex dust collection system with HEPA filtration. In the end, they finished the project virtually dust-free and just in time for their family reunion, and they were very pleased with the results!

*Kristen’s last name has been changed for privacy.



Is your family expanding? Protect what matters most with these nursery safety checks

8/14/2017

(BPT) - You may have chosen the perfect color palette and all of your nursery furniture, but have you thought about some key safety checks?

“The arrival of a baby means you have to take a look at your home in a whole new light,” said Tarsila Wey, marketing director for First Alert, the most trusted brand in home safety. “Take the time now to help ensure your home is safe and secure.”

First Alert has outlined some crucial tasks to accomplish before the little one makes his or her appearance:

Maintain crib safety

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two-thirds of children’s deaths under the age of one are caused by suffocation. Make sure that, when prepping the nursery, the crib meets safety standards, and avoid loose bedding or soft toys in the crib. After the baby arrives, the infant should sleep alone and be placed on his or her back on a firm surface.

Check your smoke alarms

Smoke alarms help protect your family, but in order to do so the alarms need to be present — and working. Install a working smoke alarm in the nursery and ensure that the rest of the home is properly equipped. The National Fire Protection Association recommends smoke alarms inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.

Residential smoke alarms need to be replaced at least every 10 years. To find out whether it’s time to replace the smoke alarms in your home, simply look on the back of the alarms where the date of manufacture is marked. The smoke alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date (not the date of purchase or installation).

Protect from the “Silent Killer”

Often dubbed “the silent killer,” carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless gas that is impossible to detect without an alarm. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, CO poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning in the United States and is responsible for an average of 450 deaths each year. Standard CO alarms are designed to alert people to high levels of CO (30-70 parts per million), which can be fatal.

However, lower levels of CO have also been proven to be harmful to infants. Fully protect your newborn from both high and low levels of CO with the Onelink by First Alert Environment Monitor, which provides protection for those most vulnerable to CO levels as low as 9 parts per million, and peace of mind for parents. Compatible with Apple HomeKit and Alexa Skills, it also monitors temperature and humidity, and notifies users of changing conditions.

Update the escape plan

It is important to plan and practice an escape plan for your home in the event of a fire. According to an NFPA survey, only one of every three American households has actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. This is even more important with the addition of a new member to your family. As a family, walk through the home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. Identify two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. For the second story, place escape ladders near windows, and practice setting it up so you’ll be able to use it correctly and quickly in an emergency. Make sure everyone understands the plan, with special attention to carrying the newborn. Choose an outside meeting place that is a safe distance from your home, and make sure to practice your escape plan twice a year — and before the baby comes.

Create an emergency call list

Even though everything we need is on our smartphones these days, when a babysitter or nanny is with your infant, they might not be as prepared in case of an emergency — and you might not be either! Having an emergency contact list readily available can potentially save time and make everything go a little more smoothly when there is a crisis. Make sure the list includes family numbers, poison control, non-emergency numbers for police and fire departments, and neighbors’ phone numbers.

To learn more about fire and carbon monoxide safety and the Onelink Environment Monitor, visit FirstAlert.com or FirstAlert.com/Onelink.



Pets help seniors stay healthier and happier, wherever they live, studies show

8/14/2017

(BPT) - French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Collette once said, “Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet.” Pets provide meaningful social support for owners, and they can be especially beneficial for seniors. Ample research shows pet ownership delivers physical and mental health benefits for seniors, regardless of whether they’re living on their own or in a senior living community.

However, many older Americans still mistakenly believe moving into a senior living community means they’ll have to leave their pets behind. In fact, the fear they’ll have to give up a beloved pet is among the top emotional reasons seniors don’t want to move into senior living, according to author and senior real estate specialist Bruce Nemovitz. In an informal survey by Nemovitz, seniors ranked losing a pet as emotionally jarring as having to leave their familiar homes and possessions.

“Senior living communities like Brookdale Senior Living are all about supporting the physical health and mental well-being of residents,” says Carol Cummings, senior director of Optimum Life. “For many senior citizens, pets are an important part of their lives. It makes sense to preserve the bond between pet and senior owner whenever possible.”

Physical benefits

Pet ownership benefits senior citizens in multiple ways, research shows. Older people who own dogs are likely to spend 22 additional minutes walking at a moderately intense pace each day, according to a recent study by The University of Lincoln and Glasgow Caledonian University. Published in BioMed Central, the study also found dog owners took more than 2,700 more steps per day than non-owners.

Multiple studies have also concluded that pet ownership can help lower blood pressure, contribute to improved cardiovascular health and reduce cholesterol.

Mental health

Interacting with pets also has many mental health benefits, especially for seniors. Spending time with pets can help relieve anxiety and increase brain levels of the feel-good neurochemicals serotonin and dopamine. Pets can help relieve depression and feelings of loneliness.

The online journal Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research reports multiple studies indicate dementia patients who interact with animals become more social, are less agitated and have fewer behavioral issues.

Pets in senior living settings

“For too long, some senior living communities didn’t recognize the value of allowing residents to bring their pets with them,” Cummings says. “That has definitely changed.”

For seniors looking for a community that will accept their pets, Cummings suggests a few questions to ask:

* What is your pet policy and what type of animal do you consider a pet? Generally, small dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, rats, hamsters, fish, turtles and other small companion animals qualify for pet policies. Seniors should check to be sure their pet meets the standards of the community.

* What is your pet health policy? Typically, senior living communities that accept small pets will want them to be current on all vaccinations and have regular exams by a licensed veterinarian. Pets will also need to have any required state- or county-issued licenses.

* What, if any, kind of training do you require pets to have? Requiring dogs to be house-trained and cats to be litter-trained is standard. Communities will also want to know your pet is well-behaved and not aggressive. They may ask you to have pets obedience trained.

* Do you offer any assistance with pet-related tasks? Most communities will require residents be able to care for pets themselves, including feeding, walking, potty needs and health needs.

“Moving into a senior living community is a big change, one that most residents find positive,” Cummings says. “They gain freedom from home maintenance tasks and household chores, a socially rewarding environment, and as-needed support for healthcare and daily care. As long as seniors are still able to care for their pets, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be allowed to bring their best friends with them to their new homes.”



Enjoy the latest trend in swimming pools

8/14/2017

(BPT) - It was supposed to be a community swimming pool, but many people stayed away because they couldn't tolerate the biting, nose-curdling odor of chlorine. Others experienced breathing and skin problems.

So the Evergreen Commons senior center in Holland, Michigan, converted its 65,000-gallon chlorine pool into a saltwater pool. People who had stayed away are now coming back, getting exercise and therapy, while socializing with others.

The senior center is hardly alone. Across the country, traditional chlorine pools are being converted into saltwater pools, sometimes called saline pools.

Swimmers noticed the difference right away after the switch, making their pool experience much more enjoyable. The new system also meant softer water without harsh chemicals that sometimes required a shower to wash off.

Homeowners and pool managers have many motivations for converting pools from chlorine to salt, including:

* Simplified, more convenient maintenance. Saltwater pool owners don't have to buy, transport, store and handle hazardous chlorine chemicals. This saves time and money.

* Water that's gentle on skin, eyes, nose and hair. Saltwater pools have approximately one-tenth the salinity of ocean water and about one-third the salinity of human tears, with no unpleasant chlorine smell.

* A more environmentally friendly approach. Routine pool maintenance doesn't involve the handling and storage of manufactured chlorine and lessens the need for other potentially hazardous chemicals.

How do they work?

Saltwater pools use a generator to convert the salt into mild chlorine that keeps the pool free of harmful bacteria. This chlorine is added to the water at a constant rate, displacing the bad smell and burning irritation we normally associate with chlorine and maintaining the right amount. Once the chlorine sanitizes the pool it converts back to salt. The process continues, over and over again, conserving the salt and keeping sanitizer levels balanced.

The technology for a saltwater pool was first developed in Australia in the 1960s and today more than 80 percent of all pools Down Under use this system. In the United States, saltwater pools first began to see use in the 1980s and have grown exponentially in popularity. According to data published in Pool & Spa News, today there are more than 1.4 million saltwater pools in operation nationwide and an estimated 75 percent of all new in-ground pools are saltwater, compared with only 15 percent in 2002.

The other good news for homeowners and pool managers is that pool salt is far cheaper than traditional chlorine. This is a big reason why so many hotels and water parks in the United States have already made the switch. The initial construction and installation of an electrolytic converter is very small and easily made up in maintenance savings. Even converting an existing chlorine pool to saltwater pool can pay off quickly.



5 baby formula myths debunked

8/11/2017

(BPT) - Baby feeding has many pervasive myths, especially about infant formula. Here are five of those myths debunked by Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, family physician and co-author of The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year:

Myth 1: Breast is best.

Fact: It depends on the mother and her baby. Baby formulas are a completely acceptable, doctor-approved and time-tested option when feeding baby. Breastfeeding is hard. It seems like it should be natural and easy, but so often it isn’t. A recent study conducted by Perrigo Nutritionals found more than half of moms experience issues when it comes to breastfeeding baby with low breast milk supply being the top concern. Additionally, while only 18 percent of new moms expect to introduce infant formula to baby during the first three days of life, 45 percent relied on infant formula during those first days. If you experience breastfeeding challenges, look to formula as an ally.It can be used as a supplement while breastfeeding to provide some relief, or used exclusively, depending on mom and baby’s needs. Consider talking with a friend who has nursed her babies, your pediatrician, a lactation consultant or a local La Leche League.

Myth 2: You have to sterilize your baby’s bottles.

Fact: You do not need to sterilize your baby's bottles. This is another time saver for you! You should sterilize new bottles and nipples before you use them for the first time. Simply put them in boiling water for five minutes. After that first time, however, you probably don’t need to sterilize them again.

Instead, you can run bottles and nipples through the dishwasher. Or if you’re “old school,” wash them in hot, soapy water. Rinse them carefully to remove any soap residue.

Myth 3: Babies prefer warm formula.

Fact: Not necessarily. It’s perfectly fine to feed your baby formula at room temperature (if it’s freshly prepared), or even a little cool from the refrigerator. Your baby is most likely to prefer his or her formula at a consistent temperature. In other words, if you start warming it you’ll probably have to continue warming it.

Here’s an easy way to warm your baby’s bottle: Set the filled bottle in a container of warm water and let it stand for a few minutes. Check the temperature of the formula on the inside of your wrist before feeding it to your baby. It should feel lukewarm, not hot.

Myth 4: Measuring formula isn’t a big deal — just “eyeball it.”

Fact: The instructions for preparing your baby’s formula are important. Follow the directions on the label carefully. If you put too little water in your baby’s formula, it can give baby dehydration or diarrhea. If you put too much water in the formula, you’re watering it down and your baby isn’t getting enough nutrients. It’s critical to measure carefully each time.

Myth 5: Brand-name formula is best.

Fact: Nationally advertised, brand-name formula and store-brand formula are practically identical but have different effects on your family budget! Did you know all infant formulas sold in the United States must meet the same FDA standards and offer complete nutrition for baby? That means store-brand formula is nutritionally comparable to nationally advertised brands.

So, what’s the main difference? Store-brand formulas cost less because they don’t spend millions of dollars on marketing.

Once you get into the groove of feeding your baby, it will all feel like second nature. And then it will almost be time to give up the bottle!



Top tips for making back to school a success

8/9/2017

(BPT) - Summer days are getting shorter. Summer fun is winding down for the season. Bedtimes are starting earlier. And parents seem to be oddly excited.

Back to school is right around the corner.

For most kids, the thought of going back to school can be a drag. But it doesn’t have to be.

Marley Dias, 12-year-old founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks, knows a thing or two about balancing extracurricular activities and back-to-school readiness.

According to Marley, preparing for back to school is the key to success. “Tweens know, going back to school can be stressful and to conquer it with a smile takes guts,” said Dias. She offers these seven simple tips for parents to help make a smooth transition back to school.

1. Get Back to a Routine

A healthy routine is essential to getting your body clock back on schedule. A week before school starts, the family should wake up early and eat a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner. For that week, everyone should try to go to bed at a reasonable hour.

2. Power Your Inner Potential

Seventy percent of the immune system is located in your gut. I take a daily probiotic like Renew Life Ultimate Flora Kids Probiotic to stay healthy and operate at my best. Probiotics help keep my gut healthy, which improves my sleep, mood and memory, all important aspects to being a good student, especially during the first few weeks when you still feel sluggish from summer.

3. Reconnect with Friends

Your kids’ friends have been away at camp, on vacation or visiting relatives all summer long. Chatting with friends gets kids excited about the new school year and helps avoid the back-to-school jitters.

4. Set Goals

Having your kids set goals helps them attack the school year with purpose. Challenge them to improve at a subject, try a new sport or make a new friend. Ask them to write down their social and academic goals; you can't get anywhere without a plan!

5. Shop!

Indulge in a new outfit or cool locker supplies for your kids. Buy those fun items, but also the functional ones that last throughout the year.

6. Getting Organized at Home

Getting organized now helps them tackle all of those upcoming assignments. Help them review old work to jog their memory. Plan outfits the night before. Pre-pack lunches and snacks. Post all assignments and activities in a visible spot in the house. And lastly, set up a home homework space. Kids need a dedicated place to focus.

7. Pick a Place to Just Breathe

Pick a peaceful spot at home where kids and parents can practice deep breathing and relaxation. The school year is a hectic time. Take a moment to push pause on all electronics. This quiet moment will help each member of the family prep their mind and body for everything the school year brings.

Getting back into a routine after summer takes guts. Make sure yours are up for it. To help keep your complex digestive system thriving and restore good bacteria, visit www.RenewLife.com. #beinghumantakesguts



Diabetes impacts younger people more often: Are you at risk?

8/8/2017

(BPT) - Every 17 seconds someone in the United States is diagnosed with diabetes. What's even more surprising is diabetes is growing fastest among younger people, outpacing the rate of heart disease, substance abuse and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

A new study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) shows that the impact of diabetes continues to grow and is increasing most rapidly among those age 18 through 34. The 4.7 percent growth in diabetes impact for younger adults from 2013 through 2015 corresponds to this age group’s spike in obesity rates, a key contributor to the onset of diabetes.

Diabetes ranks third in terms of its health impact nationally on quality of life and cost for the commercially insured population among the more than 200 conditions measured by the Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Health Index. The “health impact” of a specific condition reflects the prevalence and severity for that condition as well as the years of life lost due to disability and risk of premature death.

The report, “Diabetes and the Commercially Insured U.S. Population,” represents an analysis of the BCBS Health Index data on diabetes, which leverages the claims of more than 40 million BCBS members.

Younger people may not be as focused on their health and many may not be aware they are at risk for diabetes at their age. The first step is to understand the risk and the next step is to take action. Type 2 diabetes is preventable with thoughtful, proactive measures.

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are many ways to lower your risk of developing diabetes, including:

Weight: Staying at a healthy weight can help you prevent and manage problems like prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol. Keep tabs on your weight by weighing yourself at least once per week. Stay active and strive to watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
Physical activity: Physical activity can do a lot for your overall health. Set your alarm to get up and stretch or walk around the house or office at least every 30 minutes throughout the day. A walking buddy or workout friend can support you while you both work toward your goals.
Healthy eating: Eating healthy is one of the most important things you can do to lower your risk for Type 2 diabetes. Cut back on calories and fat in your diet. Choose lean meats, whole grains and fill half your plate with non-starchy veggies such as carrots, broccoli and green beans. Consider keeping a journal of what you eat and have fun trying new healthy recipes.
Finally, speak with your doctor about any concerns you have. Your doctor is able to provide individualized insight into your risks and guide you to how you can prevent diabetes and live healthier. For more information, visit www.bcbs.com.


5 things parents need to know about HPV

8/7/2017

(BPT) - Being a parent means looking out for your kids. When they were small it meant making sure they wore a helmet, crossed the street carefully and wore sunscreen. As they get older, the health challenges they face change. As they become adolescents, you can’t always be with them, so you warn against things like the dangers of alcohol and drugs and sharing too much on social media. But what about human papillomavirus (HPV) — a virus that can cause certain cancers and diseases? Learning about health risks your children may be exposed to as adolescents or young adults that can affect them later in life is the first step toward helping to protect them.

You may have heard about HPV, but you may not be aware of the impact it may have. As your children become adolescents it’s more important than ever to be their health advocate and learn about potential future health concerns, including HPV.

Here are five HPV facts for parents:

1. HPV is more common than you may think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, and there are approximately 14 million new HPV infections in the United States each year. Half of these infections occur in people ages 15-24. For most, HPV clears on its own. But for others who don't clear certain types, HPV can cause significant consequences in both males and females.

2. When HPV does not clear, it can cause certain pre-cancers, cancers and other diseases. These can develop very slowly and may not even be diagnosed until years later. There's no way to predict who will or won't clear the virus.

3. You may have only heard of HPV as a cause of cervical cancer in women, but there are other HPV-related diseases that can affect males, as well as females. Certain types of HPV cause cervical, vaginal and vulvar pre-cancers and cancers in females and other HPV types cause genital warts and anal cancer in males and females.

4. HPV often has no visible signs or symptoms, so many people are not even aware that they have it. This means people can pass on HPV without knowing it. It may take only one sexual encounter to be infected with HPV. HPV can be transmitted through experimentation that involves genital contact of any kind — intercourse is not necessary but is the most common.

5. You may think it’s too soon to worry about how HPV could affect your son or daughter, but the best time to get the facts about HPV is before they may be exposed.

As a parent you never stop looking out for your kids, and the more we learn about health risks for our children, the more we can do to help protect them as they grow up. Take action now, while you are still managing your adolescent’s health care. Speak with your child’s doctor for more information and be sure to ask about ways to help prevent HPV-related cancers and diseases, including vaccination.



Shop for health care with these websites and apps

8/7/2017

(BPT) - As our nation seeks solutions to help improve the health care system, there is at least one goal we can all agree on: the importance of making health care quality and cost information more accessible.

This is an important effort that has the potential to help improve health outcomes and make care more affordable — laudable goals considering the nation’s health care system ranks among the least efficient in the world, according to a recent Bloomberg analysis.

More widespread use of health quality and cost resources may be part of the solution. Providing health care prices to consumers, health care professionals and other stakeholders could reduce U.S. health care spending by more than $100 billion during the next decade, according to a 2014 report by the Gary and Mary West Health Policy Center.

That is in part because there are significant price variations for health care services and procedures at hospitals and doctors’ offices nationwide, yet a study by Families U.S.A. concluded that higher-priced care providers do not necessarily deliver higher-quality care or better health outcomes.

Fortunately, there are many new online and mobile resources that help enable people to access health care quality and cost information, helping them to comparison shop for health care as they would with other consumer products and services. And people are starting to take action: Nearly one-third of Americans have used the internet or mobile apps during the last year to comparison shop for health care, up from 14 percent in 2012, according to a recent UnitedHealthcare survey.

These resources are far more accurate and useful than those of past generations, and in some cases provide people with estimates based on actual contracted rates with physicians and hospitals, including likely out-of-pocket costs based on their current health plan benefits. Some resources also include quality information about specific physicians, as determined by independent standards.

There are many resources people can consider when shopping for health care. In addition to online and mobile resources, people can call their health plan to discuss quality and cost transparency information, as well as talk with their health care professional about alternative treatment settings, including urgent care and telehealth options. Public websites, such as www.uhc.com/transparency and www.guroo.com, also can help enable access to market-average prices for hundreds of medical services in cities nationwide.

These resources can help people save money and select health care professionals based on objective information. A UnitedHealthcare analysis showed that people who use online or mobile transparency resources are more likely to select health care providers rated on quality and cost-efficiency across all specialties, including for primary care (7 percent more likely) and orthopedics (9 percent more likely). In addition, the analysis found that people who use the transparency resources before receiving health care services pay 36 percent less than non-users.

As people take greater responsibility for their health care decisions and the cost of medical treatments, transparency resources are becoming important tools to help consumers access quality care and avoid surprise medical bills.



Fighting head lice can start with a conversation with your doctor

8/7/2017

(BPT) - "Your child has head lice" is news no mother wants to receive. Not only can this common condition affect the child at home and at school, but it can also throw a family’s life off balance for days or even weeks.

Results of the new “Facts of Lice” online survey of 1,000 millennial moms (ages 18-35) and 350 pediatric health care providers (HCPs) suggest that some millennial moms may be receiving mixed messages from various sources about managing head lice. The “Facts of Lice” survey was conducted by ORC International on behalf of Arbor Pharmaceuticals between March 28 – April 10, 2017. Respondents were members of an online panel that agreed to participate in online surveys and polls.

Nearly all of the HCPs surveyed (95 percent) said that at least one parent had reported treatment failure using an over-the-counter (OTC) head lice treatment in the past year. Still, the majority (51 percent) of HCPs surveyed continue to recommend OTC treatment as a first-line option for their patients.

Considering a report stated that some parents may try OTC treatment up to five times before successfully eliminating head lice, the time and money commitment can become significant. Approximately 68 percent of millennial moms surveyed who had experienced head lice in their households reported they had failed to treat it successfully.

While head lice are not dangerous and do not carry any diseases, the survey explored the social and emotional impact the condition can have. Almost all (97 percent) millennial moms surveyed say they worry about the consequences of head lice on their children and households, including lost time at school (58 percent), inconvenience of an infestation (49 percent), fear of their child being bullied (45 percent), personal anxiety (44 percent), criticism from other parents (39 percent), ruined clothing or property (27 percent) and their own lost time at work (24 percent). Furthermore, 77 percent of moms surveyed say that their child was negatively affected, either socially, mentally, and/or physically, by having head lice.

The “Facts of Lice” survey findings highlight an opportunity for more effective conversations between parents and HCPs about head lice management. To address these findings, Arbor Pharmaceuticals developed educational resources to arm moms with tools to encourage conversations with their child’s doctor and promote understanding of how to get a head lice infestation under control and combat associated misinformation and stigma.

If you have received the news from your child's school that your child has head lice, or you received a note saying he or she has been exposed and you suspect an infestation, it's important to reach out to your doctor. Your doctor will be able to provide you with advice for treating head lice as quickly as possible. Some important questions to ask include:

1. What is the most effective way to control head lice?

2. What head lice treatments do you recommend?

3. Does my child need to stay home from school?

4. What can I do to eliminate head lice from my home?

5. How can I help so my child doesn't feel embarrassed or isolated?

More head lice tools and information, including more questions to ask your doctor, can be found at FactsofLice.com.



Travel tips to keep bed bugs at bay

8/4/2017

(BPT) - Planning an upcoming trip – maybe a long weekend getaway, or a family vacation before the kids head back to school, or perhaps you’re a road warrior who travels frequently for work? No matter what type of trip you have planned, you’ve probably already put together a packing list of what to take along.

But here’s a question: Is there anything on your list you could use if you were to come into contact with bed bugs? Don’t worry, you’re not alone – insects of any kind are the last thing on most people’s minds when planning for paradise. Nevertheless, if you’re not careful, bed bugs could become a most unwelcome part of your travel plans.

Bed bug 101

Research from Ortho shows that 50 percent of Americans know someone who has had bed bugs. However, if you’ve never encountered these pests before, your first question is, naturally, what are they?

A bed bug is a non-flying insect that feeds on the blood of mammals, like human beings. Bed bugs are small — roughly the same size as an apple seed — with flat bodies. Their flat shape is what allows them to hide in small spaces.

How to spot a bed bug infestation

It doesn’t matter if you’re staying at a 2-star or 5-star hotel, bed bugs do not discriminate and infestations can happen anywhere. If your hotel room has a bed bug infestation, the first thing you may notice is an odor. Many people say it smells sweet like almonds or musty.

When first arriving at your room, place your luggage in the bathtub where bed bugs cannot reach. Then, physically look for bed bugs, checking the seams and folds of your mattress and behind the bed frame and headboard. Remember, bed bugs are very small, so they can easily hide in nooks and crevices. As you check these places, look for shed bed bug skin or black dots (fecal spots) as evidence of their presence.

To determine whether the place you're staying has bed bugs, you can use a product like Ortho Home Defense Bed Bug Trap, a pesticide-free, portable trap that uses a newly identified attractant pheromone to lure, detect and trap bed bugs in under an hour. To use, place the trap in key areas where bed bugs may hide, such as under the bed’s headboard. Then, release the attractant to lure bed bugs out of hiding. In about an hour, check the trap to determine whether you have an issue.

Carry these affordable traps with you whenever you travel and you can go to bed each night assured you’re not sharing your room with bed bugs. If your trap shows your room has bed bugs, immediately contact hotel management to understand your lodging alternatives.

Enjoy your home alone

Remember, even the briefest stay in an infested room could be enough for some of these insects to hitch a ride home with you. Because bed bugs love dark places, the folds of your luggage make for a welcoming environment. Pack a travel-sized aerosol spray on trips, such as Ortho Home Defense Dual-Action Bed Bug Killer, and treat your suitcase before returning home.

When you return home, inspect the seams of your luggage for visible bed bugs. Finally, confirm you didn’t bring any home by placing a trap near your bed or sleeping area. Fortunately, with a little knowledge and the right tools, protecting yourself and your family is easy.

For more information about the Ortho Home Defense Bed Bug Trap, and other products to treat bed bugs, visit Ortho.com/BedBugs.



More than fun: 5 tips for planning a healthy vacation

8/2/2017

(BPT) - Taking a vacation is more than a fun getaway from the daily drudges of life. Turns out, travel has a multitude of benefits that can impact your health and wellness, too.

Beyond stress reduction, vacations can improve heart health, mental health and personal relationships. In fact, men who take annual vacations are 32 percent less likely to die from heart disease, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association. Women benefit too: Those who take vacations twice or more per year are “less likely to become tense, depressed or tired, and are more satisfied with their marriages,” according to the Wisconsin Medical Journal.

Wellness travel is growing 50 percent faster than travel as a whole, according to a survey from the Global Wellness Summit. This includes spas, adventure and fitness-themed trips. But that doesn't necessarily mean you need to go on a yoga retreat to get the healthy benefits of travel. Consider these five tips for adding a healthy dose of wellness to your next vacation.

Intentionally disconnect: A whopping 42 percent of employees feel obligated to check email during vacation and 26 percent feel guilty even using all of their vacation time at all, according to Randstad. Make it a point to focus on the present and ignore your phone or limit checking it to once per day. If email or social media is hard to resist, sign out of those apps for the length of your vacation.

Relax by the water: Water is a natural element that inspires relaxation, but also provides lots of opportunity to play. For example, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, offers visitors an incredible 60 miles of ocean to explore, including the famous Intracoastal Waterway. Go to visitmyrtlebeach.com to learn more about how to relax on the sand by day and fall asleep to the calming waves of the ocean by night.

Try a new activity: Trying something new can have positive mental and physical benefits. Never tried kayaking or paddle boarding before? Give it a whirl. Want to take a yoga class? Sign up for an introductory lesson on the beach. Feeling brave? Go skydiving, zip-lining or parasailing. Whether you end up discovering a new hobby or just have a one-time adventure, you're sure to fully enjoy the experience.

Get into nature: Many health studies show the benefits of being outside, so make sure to plan plenty of time to explore Mother Nature on your trip. In addition to fresh air, take a hike at a local park and explore new scenery. When in Myrtle Beach, for example, you can take a morning jog through Huntington Beach State Park, meditate at Brookgreen Gardens or plan a family bike ride at Myrtle Beach State Park.

Eat well by eating right: Going out to eat is a fundamental part of vacationing for most people, but that doesn't mean you need overindulge so much that you feel sluggish throughout your trip. To eat well, plan sensible meals that feature fresh local ingredients, such as fruit, vegetables and the daily catch of fish. You'll enjoy regional flavors that tantalize the palate without the heavy foods that drag you down.



Looking for balance? Fighting fatigue? Your diet might be a place to start

8/1/2017

(BPT) - Adults today are constantly searching for balance in life. While balance can be broadly defined, in simple terms it is rooted in equal proportions. The human body demands an equilibrium in order to sustain proper mental, physical and spiritual health. But, achieving balance can be difficult when everyday personal and environmental stresses (such as work, poor diet, harsh sunlight and pollution) expose the body to cell-damaging oxidative stress.

The obstacles to reaching balance are only growing due to shifting lifestyle choices. Today’s adults are active and trying to cram more into a 24-hour day than ever before. In fact, fatigue is a common issue for working adults.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of adults are not getting the nutrients they need to keep their bodies properly fueled to meet the demands faced in a single day. In fact, according to a survey from Instantly, more than 53 percent of Americans skip breakfast at least once a week, while 12 percent never have breakfast at all. The World Health Organization recommends eating at least 400 grams, or five servings, of fruits and vegetables per day, but approximately 75 percent of people worldwide fail to meet that minimum recommendation, creating significant nutrient gaps.

Let’s face it, it can be tough to eat a healthy and well-balanced meal morning, noon and night. For that reason alone, supplements, which fill in nutrient gaps, can ensure you get the right quantities and varieties of nutrients your body needs. Supplements are becoming a critical part of the everyday routine for those looking to do it all and still ensure optimal nutrition. When you incorporate the adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals into your diet, particularly plant-based supplements that add phytonutrients, you can easily fill nutrient gaps and achieve optimal nutrition. By following a few easy steps, you can be on the path to achieving balance.

Educate yourself on your body’s needs

The first step in achieving nutritional balance is understanding the nutrients your body needs to function properly. Knowing what phytonutrients are, and the health benefits associated with them, is key. Phytonutrients are nutrients found in fruits, vegetables and other sources. They are associated with a variety of health benefits, such as eye, bone, joint and heart health, as well as supporting the immune system and brain health. Many phytonutrients are also powerful antioxidants that help fight cell-damaging free radicals.

Taking a multivitamin or multi-mineral supplement each day is a great way to fill in nutrient gaps. Amway’s Nutrilite Double X, for example, is a supplement that delivers a comprehensive and balanced range of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to help your body’s natural antioxidant defense mechanisms fight cell-damaging free radicals and support whole body health. Nutrilite Double X contains 12 essential vitamins, 10 essential minerals and phytonutrients from 22 fruits, vegetables and herbs sourced from plants grown on Nutrilite-certified organic farms and Nutricert-certified supplier farms.

The vitamin B family is made up of eight B vitamins, each of which helps your body form energy. Your body requires a regular supply of B vitamins in order to support energy-yielding metabolism. Most importantly, B vitamins need to be taken in the right amounts and at the right times. Amway’s Nutrilite Vitamin B Dual-Action supplement provides your body with an instant and extended release of B vitamins to create and sustain energy within the body. Knowing when to take vitamins and supplements and the right quantities you need is critical to achieving optimal health.

“Amway’s Nutrilite Double X supplement is strategically designed to provide key vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients your body needs,” said Steve Missler, Principal Research Scientist at Amway. “Together with Vitamin B Dual-Action, these two products help provide the body with the quality nutrients needed to function properly and maintain a healthy balance. However, as with all nutrition plans, it is important to consult with a medical professional or health expert to determine your specific nutritional needs.”

Achieve nutrient balance

When it comes to finding the right supplement, another tip is to look for third-party verifications of product quality. Nutrilite Double X and Vitamin B Dual-Action supplements are certified by NSF International, an independent, accredited organization that conducts rigorous tests to assure consumers that products contain what is stated on the label.

It is important to ensure that the supplement you choose is also gentle on your stomach. Starting your day with a healthy breakfast along with a supplemental source of phytonutrients and B vitamins can help ensure you get optimal nutrition throughout the day.

Achieving nutrient balance and fighting fatigue do not need to be uphill battles. Coffee and energy drinks can be effective for short-term needs, but are not the solution. There are many ways to proactively supplement your diet with the nutrients you need and to help fight fatigue before it begins. Supplements are an easy, safe and effective way to ensure you get enough vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, while also ensuring you get the right B vitamins to help fight fatigue. Jump start your day with essential phytonutrients and B vitamins and help your body endure your active life.



Is your child protected from preventable illnesses at school?

8/1/2017

(BPT) - Fall is an exciting time for kids — seeing old friends, getting to know new classmates, learning new skills and exploring classrooms. But with all this fun and interaction, it’s important to remember one of the best ways to keep your child safe and healthy is to make sure he or she is up to date on their vaccinations. Vaccines have made many once-common serious childhood diseases rare today. They are safe, effective and they save lives.

“It’s critical to make sure that you and your children receive vaccinations according to the schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control,” says John Meigs, Jr., MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “Vaccines are important not only for school-age children, but for babies and young children, pregnant women, teens and pre-teens, adults and seniors.”

How exactly do vaccines work? According to the patient education website familydoctor.org, “Vaccines contain weakened versions of a virus or versions that look like a virus (called antigens). This means the antigens cannot produce the signs or symptoms of the disease, but they do stimulate the immune system to create antibodies. These antibodies help protect you if you are exposed to the virus in the future.”

Much like how an athlete trains to prepare for competition, vaccines train your immune system to respond in case the body is exposed to the virus. If it is, it knows exactly how to fight it off. Vaccines help you stay healthy, and if you do get sick, it might be less severe or for less time when compared to others who have not been immunized.

The CDC lists recommended immunizations for the prevention of 17 diseases to protect people from birth through old age. All states require children to be vaccinated against certain communicable diseases in order to attend school.

Information about recommended immunization schedules for people of all ages is available at familydoctor.org. On aafp.org, you can find an interactive map showing vaccine-specific coverage levels for each state.

If anyone in your family is behind on their vaccinations, it’s easy to catch up. Speak with your family physician about creating a plan. You might even be able to schedule vaccine-only visits, meaning you won’t even need an exam.

Concerned about costs? Vaccines are typically covered by health insurance, so it’s likely you won’t have to pay anything. If you don’t have health insurance, reach out to your state public health department. Many offer assistance programs that provide vaccines at a reduced cost.

Visit familydoctor.org for health information the whole family can use.



Mandy Moore's Advice to Pursuing Life Goals

7/27/2017

(BPT) - You hear a lot about dreams in our society these days. Companies tell you to “dream big” or “dream fearlessly.” Yet no one tells you to “dream prepared.” And when you get down to it, this last idea may be the most important because it’s the preparation that can help you as you pursue personal goals and life adventures.

In a 2017 online survey conducted by Kelton Global and sponsored by Merck of 2,013 women ages 18 to 40, the majority listed financial stability, emotional development, relationship security and career growth as their top priorities.

Comparatively, only about 40 percent of those surveyed listed starting or growing a family as a current priority, regardless of whether or not they currently have children. When it comes to family planning, birth control can play an important role for those looking to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. However, among the 908 birth control users surveyed, more than one in four women considered their birth control options for less than 15 minutes before making a decision.

For women, adventures are different and finding balance among all their priorities can help them be more prepared to take on what’s next. That’s why Merck teamed with actress and singer-songwriter Mandy Moore on Her Life. Her Adventures., an educational campaign encouraging women to know their options and set priorities, including talking to their doctor about family planning and birth control, to help them feel better prepared for whatever lies ahead.

Moore has been in the spotlight since a young age and as she has built her career, balancing her priorities has become more important than ever. “My life has been full of so many adventures and through it all, setting long-term goals and having a plan in place has helped me get to where I am today,” she says. “Whether it’s landing your dream job, traveling to a new country, or pursuing your education, the important thing is to plan, know your priorities and stay focused on your goals, whatever they may be.”

To help prioritize your goals, Moore offers the following tips:

Find Your Passion

What are you passionate about? Whatever it is, Moore recommends working it into your life as much as possible. “Growing up, music was a passion of mine which opened the door to my acting career,” she says. “Now, I’m really fortunate that I get to incorporate music into my acting. Getting to this point was an adventure filled with opportunities and challenges along the way, but it was all part of my journey that helped me get to where I am today.”

Bring Your Passions into Your Daily Life

If you’re passionate about writing, consider taking creative writing workshops or pursuing a career in editing. If you’re passionate about fitness or the outdoors and you can’t work in these fields, incorporate exercise or a walk outside into your lunch breaks. And if you’re itching to explore something new, consider traveling to a new location. Experience the tastes, sights and sounds of a new place — there are so many options to choose from.

Make Note of Your Current (and Long-Term) Priorities

As you embark on your next life adventure — whether it’s with your finances, career or next big trip — don’t forget about family planning. In 2011, nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States were unplanned, oftentimes due to inconsistent or incorrect use of birth control. And it’s important to remember that any woman of reproductive age can have an unplanned pregnancy; it doesn’t only occur in teenagers.

“Understanding your priorities and planning can help you pursue your goals,” Mandy says. “That’s why I’m excited to team up with Merck on the Her Life. Her Adventures. campaign to encourage women to think about their priorities, including family planning and birth control, and talk with their doctor to explore their options.”

Visit Her Life. Her Adventures. to learn more about this campaign, find helpful information and tips on planning ahead, and join Mandy and other adventurers as they share their stories on Instagram and Facebook. To learn more about all family planning and birth control options, including reversible daily, non-daily and longer-term ones, talk to your doctor.



Fighting the morning clock? 9 no-fail ways to get out the door on time

7/27/2017

(BPT) - As the sun shines through the curtains, you hit the snooze button again. Suddenly you bolt up, realizing you're running late. You skip breakfast, grab your bag and rush out the door. Stress levels skyrocket and your day has barely begun.

The race against the clock at the start of the day is a common problem. Mornings shouldn't be difficult and certainly not something you dread. To get out the door on time and with a grin on your face, consider these nine no-fail tips.

Bedtimes aren't just for kids: A great morning starts the night before. A regular bedtime is as important for adults as it is for children. Go to bed with the goal of getting seven to nine hours of sleep, as is recommended for adults by the National Sleep Foundation.

Use the night prior to your advantage: Mornings flow smoothly when you do a lot of prep work the evening before. That means select outfits, pack bags and backpacks, and organize any paperwork before you hit the hay.

Stock the fridge for health and convenience: It’s always smart to have delicious and nutritious ingredients in your fridge like fresh fruits, veggies and eggs. Eggs are especially versatile and packed with nutrition. Look for eggs with added nutritional benefits like Eggland’s Best eggs. In a hurry? Try Eggland's Best Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs for a ready-to-eat lunch or snack.

Meal prep on Sunday: Another fridge-friendly tip is to do Sunday prep for the week. For example, chop up veggie spears or fruits and place in individual containers for easy grab-and-go snack options to pair with your hard-cooked eggs.

Learn to love the alarm: Rather than just setting one alarm for waking up, try setting several to keep your morning routine on track. For example, set one for when it's time for breakfast and another as a five-minute warning for departure.

Eliminate distractions: The fewer distractions you have, the better your chances of meeting the morning clock. That means resist the urge to check your smartphone or have a rule that the TV remains off until all morning tasks are complete.

Check it and forget it: It can be highly effective to make a specific list with morning to-do's for you and your family members. As each task is complete, you get the satisfaction of marking it off your list, plus it keeps the morning moving quickly.

Adjust your attitude: A positive attitude doesn't only start your day out on the right foot, it can also help you stay focused so when you're racing against the clock, you win every time (and with a smile on your face).

Don't forgo breakfast: The most important meal of the day doesn't have to take a lot of time. Make-ahead breakfasts and easy recipes are your key to a delicious morning without running late.

These delicious Make Ahead Breakfast Bowls will fuel your family throughout the day with superior nutrition. By choosing Eggland’s Best eggs, you get six times more vitamin D, 25 percent less saturated fat, more than double the omega-3s and vitamin B12, and 10 times more vitamin E than ordinary eggs.

Make Ahead Breakfast Bowls

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, chopped into 1-inch cubes

1 green pepper, seeded then chopped into 1-inch chunks

1 onion, chopped

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon seasoned salt

salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

12 Eggland’s Best Eggs (large)

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

3 green onions, chopped

toppings: tortilla chips, salsa, avocado

6 individual-sized containers with lids

PREPARATION

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. On a large baking sheet, place potatoes, peppers and onions in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoned salt and ground black pepper. Toss until evenly coated.

3. Roast for about 30-40 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown and tender, stirring and rotating pan halfway through cooking.

4. Meanwhile, crack Eggland’s Best eggs into a large bowl, then season with salt and pepper and whisk until smooth.

5. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then spray with nonstick spray and add eggs.

6. Scramble until the eggs are just barely cooked through and still slightly glossy, then scoop onto a plate and set aside.

7. Divide the potatoes and scrambled eggs evenly between the containers, then set aside to cool.

8. Once cool, sprinkle with cheese and green onions, then cover and refrigerate. Freeze any portions that aren’t eaten within three days.

9. To reheat from frozen: microwave for 1 1/2 minutes, then stir and continue microwaving until food is reheated, stirring between intervals. Top with optional toppings, then serve.



Focusing on Family Health: August is National Immunization Awareness Month

7/27/2017

(BPT) - National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), held each year in August, is a great time to review your family’s vaccination records. NIAM was established to encourage people of all ages to make sure they are up to date on the vaccines recommended for them and their family members.

Vaccination is considered to be one of the greatest public health achievements of the last two centuries. Over time, successful vaccination campaigns have contributed to the elimination (or near-elimination) of some diseases in the US.

Eating well, staying active and getting enough sleep are all great ways to help live a healthy lifestyle. But keeping up-to-date with recommended vaccines is an important part of doing everything you can to help protect your family’s health.

August is an ideal point in the year to consider seasonal health check-ups, to address the upcoming flu season and back to school time.

Flu season occurs in the winter; but flu outbreaks can happen as early as October and can last as late as May.

Today vaccines can help to protect against 14 diseases before age two, but it is also important to know that vaccines are not just recommended for infants. There are vaccines recommended for school-age children, from preschoolers to college students. Making sure that children receive all their vaccinations on time is one of the most important things you can do as a parent to help protect your children.

In the US, most young children receive many of the recommended vaccines, but there is room to improve vaccination rates among all groups, including adolescents and adults.

It’s important to help make sure that everyone in your family gets their recommended shots, at the recommended time.

To learn more, talk to your healthcare provider about vaccines that may be recommended for you and your family, and visit www.vaccinesandyou.com.

This information was provided by Merck

VACC-1190361-0000
08/16



7 ways to snack like a pro this football season

7/26/2017

(BPT) - Football season is quickly approaching, which means it will soon be time for tailgating or watching the big game on TV. For many of us, this time of year is tough on our diet and exercise plans, but it doesn't have to be, according to Bryan Snyder, registered dietitian and director of team nutrition for the Denver Broncos.

Snyder, who is responsible for keeping the year-round nutrition strategies for the team’s players on track, also knows the pitfalls for fans. “Nutrition goals can fall by the wayside when leisure time includes snacking or party fare,” Snyder says. “We tend to make poor choices when it comes to snacking, earning it a bad rap. But in fact, by picking healthy and tasty options, anyone can come out a winner on game day.”

Snyder recommends these tips for better snacking in his healthy eating playbook for football season and throughout the year.

1. Plan ahead.

Cut and slice your fruits and vegetables the day before you plan on eating them. That way when you find yourself hungry and ready for a snack, you will already have the hard part finished. Grab your pre-cut veggies and dip them in low-fat ranch dressing or hummus to help get you through the day. This is a great way to add some healthy vegetables to your tailgate menu. Perhaps you could make a strawberry banana smoothie with Greek yogurt the night before and leave the pitcher in the refrigerator for a quick grab-and-go snack as you run out the door.

2. Snack on foods that are healthy and will fill you up.

How many times do we eat a snack and 10 minutes later we’re hungry? The perfect snack strikes a great balance of healthy carbohydrates along with protein, fiber and antioxidants. One of the healthiest and best snacks is pistachios. With 1 ounce of pistachios, you get 6 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, healthy fats and 6 percent of your daily value of iron. Plus, pistachios contain antioxidants, which help our immune systems stay strong and fight off diseases. One serving of pistachios contains only 160 calories.

3. Aim for whole grains.

The last thing you probably think about as you get ready for the big game is setting out snacks that contain whole grains. However, eating whole grains may reduce your chances of developing chronic diseases like heart diseases, and incorporating whole grains isn't as hard as it seems. One option you could have available is whole grain crackers and cheese. Try whole grain Wheat Thins instead of potato chips as a healthy substitution.

4. Stay hydrated with water.

Our bodies have a difficult time distinguishing between being hungry or thirsty. Often, we feel like we are hungry when in reality we simply may be thirsty and/or dehydrated. One study found that people who drink water 20-30 minutes before starting their meals eat about 75 fewer calories per meal. Considering we may be snacking for three hours while watching the game, these calories will add up.

5. Replace fatty protein with lean proteins.

Hamburger sliders are a staple of many tailgating menus across the country, but sometimes we just want a good burger. While eating a fatty hamburger in moderation isn’t the worst thing in the world, there are certainly some leaner options to choose. Instead of going to the grocery store and picking up the first piece of beef available to grill for the game, look at either a leaner beef option or a different meat altogether. For example, a better option for protein would be a 97 percent lean ground beef to make sliders or hamburgers. Another option would be to simply choose ground turkey instead of ground beef to make patties to throw on the grill.

6. Don’t be afraid of veggies.

Despite what your buddies may think, it is not against the law to eat vegetables at a tailgate party. More than likely, there will be some grilling before the big game. Don’t be afraid to throw some zucchini, mushrooms or even asparagus on the grill to complement the other items you are cooking. You can also chop up some veggies and serve with low-fat ranch dressing or hummus.

7. Have a backup plan

You might be heading to the game on Saturday or Sunday, and you plan on meeting up with some friends before the game to tailgate. In this case, you may have zero healthy choices to pick from while you are snacking and eating before the game. It is always good to have a backup plan. Healthy bars, nuts or a piece of whole fruit are easy and portable so you have a go-to backup plan. Trail mix and pistachios are easy to throw in your bag for the game or to have around your house for a snack. Plan ahead and bring some small snacks with you, so you don’t indulge in hours of unhealthy snacking, like my Pistachio and Date Energy Bites (recipe below). Great for tailgating, this portable and delicious snack is healthy and gives a great variety of protein and antioxidants to not only fill you up, but give you an immune system boost as well.

Pistachio and Date Energy Bites

Serves 20-25

Ingredients:

1 cup dried cherries

8 ounces dates

1/2 cup local honey

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon flax meal

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup pistachios (shelled)

Pinch of Kosher salt

3/4 cup pistachios (Finely ground)

Instructions:

Combine dates, honey, chia seeds, flax meal and salt in food processor and mix. Add small amount of honey if it's too thick.

Remove and add to mixing bowl. Incorporate pistachios, cherries, oats and dark chocolate chips, and mix until combined.

Use desired portion scoop or portion by hand. Roll bites in finely ground pistachios, coating the whole bite. Store in the refrigerator.



One man's struggle with PTSD, 40 years later

7/25/2017

(BPT) - Bobby Barrera’s career as a Marine ended abruptly at age 21. While in Vietnam, on his first mission, a land mine explosion took his right hand at the wrist and left arm at the shoulder, and left him with severe burns over 40 percent of his body and face.

Coping with the physical challenges of his injuries and struggling to find a new purpose for life was almost easy compared to dealing with the psychological impact of war trauma: something that would remain with Bobby for the next 40 years.

Bobby went on to marry and have a family. His children had children, and he created a fulfilling and meaningful life for himself. He returned to college to earn a master’s degree in guidance and counseling. For nearly four decades, Bobby counseled veterans with mental health challenges caused by war and volunteered with DAV (Disabled American Veterans), a veterans service organization that helps veterans of all generations get the benefits and services they’ve earned. He went on to become the national commander of DAV in 2009. What Bobby didn’t realize — or want to admit — was that for more than 40 years, he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

It wasn’t until Bobby and his wife moved to San Antonio, Texas, to retire that his PTSD symptoms became overwhelming. After moving, Bobby felt immediately lost. Being new in town, losing his network of friends, no longer working and coping with chronic pain triggered long-suppressed symptoms of PTSD. Soon, the nightmares began. Then came mood swings, increased anxiety, and feelings of isolation and hopelessness — and eventually, thoughts of suicide.

Bobby’s wife pushed him to seek help — which led to a PTSD diagnosis. He questioned how he could have overlooked his own signs of PTSD for so many decades, while helping countless other veterans who struggled with it.

PTSD symptoms are caused by experiencing traumatic events and not by an inherent individual weakness. Roughly 15 percent of Vietnam veterans are impacted by PTSD, and an estimated 20 percent of recent war veterans have symptoms of PTSD or depression. It can lead to a higher risk for unemployment, homelessness or suicide.

Bobby is learning how to cope with his diagnosis. He is meeting more people, getting involved at church and spending time with his family. He began to volunteer again. His recovery is ongoing. Bobby credits his wife for encouraging him to ask for help and believes that doing so gave him yet another chance at life.

If you are struggling with symptoms of PTSD, you are not alone. Resources are available at www.DAV.org/veterans/resources. If your situation is critical, please call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.



Mangos bring families together around the world

7/25/2017

(BPT) - Ayesha Curry was raised by great women who instilled in her a passion for cooking. This passion has helped Ayesha both launch her career and prioritize spending time with her family in the kitchen. But even as a celebrity chef, author and foodie, Ayesha sometimes struggles to think of new, wholesome and delicious meals to bring to her table. When she finds herself needing a little food inspiration, Ayesha turns to the experiences and flavors of her childhood.

Mango love runs deep

Ayesha grew up with a Jamaican grandmother who had mango trees in her backyard, so eating and cooking with the fruit reminds her of home. A lot of people don’t know this, but mango is the world’s most popular fruit and iconic in many cuisines across the globe. While its sweetness and versatility make it a perfect addition to any favorite dish, mango is also delicious on its own and is often simply paired with the spices of the country.

In Ayesha’s home, not only does everyone love mango for its incredible flavor, but because it’s a superfruit. At 100 calories per cup, mangos are packed with vitamins and nutrients, and are a good source of fiber, making them a perfect food for any family.

Make it with mango!

When Ayesha is in the mood for something special and with a little cultural flare, she whips up her Jerk-Rubbed Chicken Skewers and Mango Salsa. Jerk chicken is a family-favorite recipe for Ayesha, and adding the sweet flavor of mango gives it a delicious twist.

Jerk-Rubbed Chicken Skewers with Mango Salsa

Servings: 4-6 skewers


Ingredients:

Mango Salsa

2 cups mango, chopped

1/4 cup red onion

1/4 cup cilantro

1/2 tbs lime juice

1 tsp jalapeno, finely diced

1/4 tsp salt and pepper


Jerk Chicken Rub & Skewers

3 cloves minced garlic

3 tbs olive oil

1 shallot, finely minced

1 tbs fresh thyme leaves, finely minced

1 tbs brown sugar

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp ground clove

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 pound chicken breast, cubed

Skewers, soaked in water


Instructions:

Mango Salsa

Combine all ingredients. Let sit and allow flavors to meld while you prepare the chicken.

Jerk Chicken Rub & Skewers

Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Coat cubed chicken well with the rub. Marinate for 30 minutes or more. Skewer 4-6 pieces of chicken per stick. Cook on a grill pan at medium high heat. Turn frequently to avoid burning. Cook for about 15 minutes or until juices run clear. Place the chicken on or off the skewer and spoon the Mango Salsa on top.

Get your hands on a perfect mango

Mangos are available year-round, so you can always get your hands on a perfect mango. If you’d like to make mango your go-to ingredient, here are some tips and tricks Ayesha shares with family and friends:

  • Selection. To find a ripe mango, just squeeze gently. A ripe mango will be slightly soft like a peach or avocado.
  • Ripening. Keep unripe mangos at room temperature. Once ripe, mangos can be moved to the refrigerator to slow down ripening for several days.
  • Cutting. To cut a mango, simply slice off the sides of the fruit, avoiding the large seed in the center. Once you have these two sides, you can slice or dice as needed. Then, simply scoop it out of the skin. You can also cut around the seed to get two extra slices of mango and let your kids gnaw on the seed!

Mangos at the grocery store

While there are many mango varieties to covet, Ayesha’s kids love Honey mangos because they’re super sweet and creamy! Here’s a quick look at the most common mango varieties you’ll find in U.S. grocery stores:

Honey. Sweet, creamy and vibrant yellow. Small wrinkles appear when fully ripe. Peak availability is March – June.

Francis. Rich, spicy and sweet, with yellow skin and green overtones. Peak availability is April – June.

Haden. Rich in flavor with fine fibers, often bright red with green and yellow overtones. Peak availability is March – May.

Keitt. Sweet and fruity, with juicy flesh, limited fibers and green skin. Peak availability is July – September.

Kent. Sweet and rich, dark green mangos with red blush. Peak availability is December – February and June – August.

Tommy Atkins. Mild and sweet, these dark red mangos are the most widely grown variety coming into the U.S. Peak availability is March – July and September – October.

Who will you share the mango love with today?

Learn More

Visit www.mango.org for additional information on mango nutrition, selection tips, cutting methods and much more.



New FDA-approved method of lung cancer detection gives many hope

7/24/2017

(BPT) - Each year, more people die of lung cancer than any other form of cancer — more than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. The American Cancer Society estimates of the 224,000 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed each year, 155,000 will succumb to the disease.

Many have heard the statistics about lung cancer, but for those who have lived through it, or who have a friend or loved one battling the disease, these numbers are even more personal and frightening. The low five-year survival rate (five to 14 percent) for late-stage lung cancer patients makes the search for a way to treat this deadly disease all the more urgent.

Genetic breakthroughs

To beat cancer, early detection is critical. Scientific research over the past several decades has revealed that cancer is a disease primarily caused by changes — or mutations — in the genes. This discovery has led to a major shift in how early cancer can be detected and treated. Now, researchers are able to identify mutations in the genetic code that are most likely to cause potentially deadly cancers. This has led to the development of new testing technology and drugs that target those specific mutations.

This approach is in stark contrast to traditional detection methods that are limited in their ability to test for a small number of specific mutations linked to only one possible treatment. This painstakingly long process can take several weeks to identify an effective treatment.

In a matter of days, modern techniques using next-generation sequencing technology can save valuable time by avoiding the need to run multiple tests by simultaneously screening tumor samples for multiple mutations and multiple potential therapies. The new technology also reduces the likelihood of subjecting patients to unnecessary and invasive secondary biopsy procedures.

New advancements in early detection and treatment

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the Oncomine(TM) Dx Target Test, a first-of-its-kind genetic screening solution that can detect multiple gene mutations associated with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) from a single tissue sample. The test has also been approved to aid in selecting which specific FDA-approved NSCLC treatment the patient may be eligible for.

Take action and talk to your doctor

A recent survey by the Journal of Precision Medicine showed that only about a third of patients and caregivers had a good understanding of genomic tools for cancer detection. That’s why talking to a doctor, loved ones and others about new techniques like sequencing-based tests to help inform more effective treatment options is important. Doctors and healthcare networks have a responsibility to their patients to provide the most effective innovations so patients receive the best care possible.



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."