Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Straight Talk About Drug Benefit Plans

(NAPSI)-While drug benefit plans have become more common, there are still aspects of these benefits that some consumers can find confusing.

To help clear up the mysteries, here is some useful information courtesy of the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy.

• Are all generic drugs put through an FDA approval process?

Yes. Generic drugs are just as effective as their brand-name counterparts, and every generic drug must be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The reason that generic drugs cost less--sometimes as much as 75 percent less--is because they aren’t advertised or marketed, which is very expensive, and because the generic manufacturer didn’t have to pay for research and development costs.

• Why does your insurance plan have different co-payments for different drugs?

To encourage patients to use the medications that cost the least, drug plans may make the co-payments for those medications the lowest. This can save money for everyone--the plan, your employer and you.

Many drugs can do the same thing or produce the same results. Your employer, your Medicare Part D plan or your union--or whoever is providing your drug benefit--has a budget, the same as you do.

It’s their job to cover as many people as possible within that budget and keep premiums as low as possible. So after the insurance plan does a thorough clinical analysis of the available medications to treat a condition, it negotiates the price with the manufacturers.

• What’s the difference between co-insurance and a co-payment?

A co-payment is always the same amount of money--for example, a plan might charge $5 for any generic drug, $15 for a preferred brand-name drug and $20 for any nonpreferred brand-name drug. But a co-insurance payment varies, because it is a percentage of the cost. As a result, if you have 50 percent co-insurance, a $100 drug will cost you $50 and your plan would pay the other $50.

Some plans use a mixture of the two payment options, charging co-payments for generics and preferred brand-name drugs, but co-insurance on nonpreferred drugs. Be sure you understand your plan before you go to the pharmacy.

For more information about managed care pharmacy and drug benefit plans, visit www.amcp.org.

To encourage patients to use the medications that cost the least, drug plans may make the co-payments for those medications the lowest.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

College Scholarship Helps Students with Asthma

(ARA) – Even as the class of 2008 enjoys the milestones of their senior year, many are already well into their preparations for college. Scholarships are an important way for some students to help fund a college education, though identifying available awards can be daunting. However, if you are one of the many high school students affected by asthma, there’s a special option for you.

Applications are now being accepted for Schering-Plough’s “Will to Win” college scholarship program, which recognizes high school seniors with asthma who are pursuing higher education.

“Every day, teenagers overcome the challenges of living with asthma and achieve great things,” says Mike Tringale, director of external affairs at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. “The ‘Will to Win’ Scholarship Program recognizes these young asthma patients who are dedicated to properly managing their disease and have not let the condition impede their ability to excel.”

Scholarships of $5,000 will be awarded to two high school seniors in each of five categories: performing arts; visual arts; community service; athletics and science. Each applicant must demonstrate outstanding performance and a documented track record of achievement in one of these categories. Applicants must also have received at least one separate award related to their category.

All high school seniors with asthma who will graduate in 2008 and hold a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale are eligible to apply. All scholarship winners will be required to supply documentation of U.S. citizenship, acceptance to an accredited college and enrollment in college in the fall 2008 semester.

For additional information, applications and entry rules, please visit the Web site www.schering-ploughwilltowin.com or call (800) SCHERING.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Community News You Can Use

Could Your Child Have Autism?

(NAPSI)-Once considered a rare disorder, autism is now diagnosed in one in every 150 children, with boys nearly four times more likely than girls to receive a diagnosis. For parents who believe their child may have autism, it is important to ask questions, get answers and seek appropriate treatment.

What Is Autism?

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder,” which means that it manifests itself differently for every individual, varying in the severity and type of symptoms.

While there are strong and consistent commonalities, there is no single behavior that is always typical of autism and no behavior that would automatically exclude an individual from receiving a diagnosis.

A basic rule for treating autism is the earlier the intervention, the better. Getting the right help at the earliest stage of life can help a child gain the skills he or she needs to be successful. If you’re worried your child may have autism--or feel something just isn’t quite right--you should:

1. First and foremost, follow your instincts. Don’t assume that your child will catch up.

2. Share your concerns with your pediatrician. Consider seeing a doctor who is familiar with autism. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers an online pediatrician referral service, searchable by specialty and location.

3. Utilize early intervention services available in every state. The government provides free services for children with disabilities. Consult the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities at www.nichcy.org and your local early intervention lead agency at www.nectac.org/search/mapfinder.asp. The lead agency is required to provide a timely evaluation, typically within 45 days of being contacted. If your child is experiencing significant developmental delays in one or more of the following areas, you’re eligible for free early intervention services: cognitive, physical, communication, social, emotional or adaptive skills.

4. Get a diagnosis. Autism can be diagnosed as early as 18 months old. Many children are diagnosed before age 5, although many children get misdiagnosed or not diagnosed until later in life.

5. Seek help from community service and treatment providers like Easter Seals. Start by visiting autism.easterseals.com.

To learn more about autism, find services at an Easter Seals near you or help Easter Seals change the lives of people living with autism by becoming a donor or volunteer, visit autism.easterseals.com.

Early intervention, diagnosis and treatment are crucial for children with autism.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Quitting Time: A Look at Smoking and Preventing Diabetes and Heart Disease

(ARA) - It’s well known that smoking causes cancer. But did you know that smoking may also raise your risk for type 2 diabetes? Or that it’s a major factor in nearly half of heart attacks? It’s never easy to stop smoking, but millions of people have quit - and you can, too. Now might be the time to give it a try.

Cigarettes contain more than 4,000 chemicals, including ammonia and substances found in rat poison. No matter how long you’ve smoked, you’ll be healthier just 20 minutes after you quit, as your pulse rate goes back to normal. That reduces the stress on your heart. After just three days, the nicotine leaves your body and each breath comes easier. What about financial benefits? A pack-a-day smoker saves about $150 after one month without cigarettes, more than $1,800 after one year and close to $50,000 after 25 years.

About four out of five smokers would like to quit. Are you one of them? Here are some tips to get smoke-free:

* Make a Plan. Write down the reasons you want to stop smoking. Maybe you want to be around to see your kids graduate. Or be able to spend time with your grandchildren in the extra 10 years, on average, you’ll live as a nonsmoker. Then stock up on distractions -- carrots, pretzels or sugar-free gum.

Choose your official “Quit Day.” According to Dr. Ann L. Albright, president of Health Care & Education at the American Diabetes Association, “The day you quit should be during a time that you expect your life to be fairly calm so that stress won’t tempt you to smoke and withdrawal symptoms won’t significantly interfere with your life.” Then throw away matches, lighters and ashtrays.

* Get Help. Quitting cold turkey works for some. But more succeed by blunting the discomfort of withdrawal. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can help. Options include the nicotine patch, gum, lozenges, inhaler or nasal spray. For some, prescription medicines such as bupropion (Zyban) or varenicline (Chantix) are more effective than NRT in reducing the craving for nicotine. Talk with your doctor about the best option for you.

* Get Support. When you’re fighting the urge to smoke, don’t go it alone. To speak with a counselor, call the National Network of Tobacco Cessation Quitlines at 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669) or the National Cancer Institute’s Smoking Quitline at 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848).

* Stay Strong. The urge to smoke lasts about four minutes. Do what you can to wait it out. Many people go back to smoking in their first week without cigarettes. Stay strong, day by day, until you’re smoke-free for a full seven days. Then treat yourself with that new CD you’ve been wanting. “It’s a good idea to plan rewards for sticking to your goal, such as going to a movie for each week you don’t smoke,” Dr. Albright says. After three months, the chances that you’ll smoke again drop sharply. Going 90 days without a cigarette could end up giving you a longer life.

* Keep Going. Visit www.smokefree.gov to learn more about what it takes to quit smoking for good.

It might not seem this way sometimes, but most people don’t smoke. For example, in Massachusetts only 15 percent of adults are smokers. And throughout the United States, nearly half of all adult smokers have already quit. To learn more about how quitting smoking can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383), e-mail AskADA@diabetes.org or visit www.CheckUpAmerica.org. You can also learn more at cdc.gov/tobacco/quit_smoking.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Maintaining Men’s Health

(NAPSI)-Physicians may be able to offer good news to many of the over 26 million men in the United States who suffer from enlarged prostate, a natural condition that disrupts daily activities.

Enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), is a common condition that affects more than half of all men over the age of 60. Most men notice symptoms such as frequent urination, particularly at night, or difficulty trying to go, but assume the problem is just part of the aging process. Although the condition is not cancerous, if left untreated it can cause permanent urinary problems.

Symptoms of BPH that men should watch for include:

• Frequent or sudden need to urinate

• Interrupted sleep due to the need to urinate

• Weak, variable or dribbling stream

• Difficulty beginning urination

• Pain or burning during urination

• Sensation that the bladder is not completely empty after urination

In order to maintain good health and enjoy a worry-free lifestyle, most men who suffer from enlarged prostate choose to seek medical treatment. In the past, medication or surgery was favored; however, more men are now choosing a minimally invasive laser therapy that dramatically improves symptoms without the complications of more invasive surgery.

Although some symptom relief may be attained through taking medications, they do not permanently treat BPH. Medication is a costly alternative that must be taken every day for the rest of your life to maintain symptom relief and may even stop working over time. Side effects of medication can include dizziness, nasal congestion, low blood pressure and erectile dysfunction or even impotence. Taking medications also does not necessarily eliminate the need for surgery in the future.

Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP) is an invasive surgical procedure that usually provides long-lasting relief; however, the procedure can cause side effects such as incontinence, the inability to control your bladder and erectile dysfunction or impotence. Because anesthesia is involved, there is also the risk of general surgical complications. TURP typically requires a three-day hospital stay and most patients are catheterized for four days. Furthermore, activities are restricted for six weeks as TURP requires a lengthy recovery time.

With all those factors in mind, many men are opting for GreenLight™ Laser Therapy instead of TURP. GreenLight is a one-time, outpatient procedure that delivers immediate symptom relief without the side effects or expense of medication, or the risks associated with invasive surgery. The procedure, which is covered by Medicare and most private insurance, uses laser energy to remove enlarged prostate tissue, resulting in an open channel for urine to flow through. Most patients return home within a few hours after the procedure and can return to normal, nonstrenuous activities within days.

For more information or to find a physician nearby, visit www.greenlightforbph.com.

Many men are enjoying a more vigorous lifestyle thanks to a new way to treat an old problem.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Link Between Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Cosmetic Industry

24-7 -- American women have grown tired of the billion dollar cosmetic industry not addressing 21st century needs. By not providing cosmetic brushes That promotes comfort, provides an easy grip or help alleviate pain in the fingers associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Rheumatoid Arthritis and other Musculoskeletal Disorders. Ask.com writes" the force place on the fingers, hand and wrist by repetitive task contributes to CTS"

"Women are three times more likely to have carpal tunnel syndrome than men. Although there is limited research on why this is the case, scientists have several ideas. It may be that the wrist bones are naturally smaller in most women, creating a tighter space through which the nerves and tendons must pass. Other researchers are looking at genetic links that make it more likely for women to have musculoskeletal injuries such as CTS. Women also deal with strong hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause that make them more likely to suffer from CTS."Medic 8 Family Health Guide(May 2008)" the three fingers affected by musculoskeletal pain such as carpal tunnel syndrome are the thumb, index and middle finger.

Denise Brown Hubbard a makeup artist for the past 25 years; suffers from hand and finger pain do to carpal tunnel syndrome; she explains" the technology exist to develop cost effective cosmetic brushes to address pain in the fingers associated with Musculoskeletal Disorders the findings stem for 4 years of research" as stated by the Curtis National Center. "CTS is from constant muscular contractions, the tendons that move the fingers go through the carpal tunnel. Chronic over working of the tendons causes them to swell with cause's pressure on nerves. This starts the carpal tunnel symptoms." Denise explains" the pain from those disorders are sometimes felt in the fingers and that is what the cosmetic industry have the ability to address. By developing brushes to contour, the digital bone structure of the fingers instead of resting on top of the bones will relieve pressure on the three fingers affected most by musculoskeletal pain. Focusing on the Digital Bone Structure of the fingers to relieve stress, will provide comfort, an easy grip and ultimately help reduce the pain in the fingers that come from musculoskeletal disorders."

According to Curtis National Hand Center "recognized as the largest most experienced hand center in the nation" statement on Hand Injuries and Conditions "the hand is involved in almost every activity we undertake from the moment we wake until we end our day. Yet we often take our healthy hands for granted. It is when we can not use our hands that we realize how vital they are each minute of our lives."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Integrating Adult Vaccines into Your Routine Care

(ARA) - Every year, nearly 50,000 Americans, mostly adults, die from diseases that vaccination can prevent and millions more need to be hospitalized, get too sick to care for loved ones, like children or elderly parents, and are forced to miss work. They also run the risk of spreading illness to those close to them.

“Not getting vaccinated leaves adults all over our country vulnerable to illness, suffering and death,” said Dr. William Schaffner, MD, president-elect of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “A greater effort is needed to help more adults understand the importance of vaccination.”

Despite the availability of many safe and effective vaccines for adults, a recent survey conducted by NFID showed that Americans have a lot of wrong ideas about vaccines and the diseases they prevent.

Nearly Half of Adults Surveyed Said They Are Not Concerned about Vaccine-preventable Diseases and One-fourth Do Not Know They Are Serious and Can Be Life-threatening

The truth is that vaccine-preventable diseases can be both serious and life threatening. Every year, influenza kills 36,000 Americans and causes over 200,000 hospitalizations. Influenza has been tied to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and asthma flare-ups. Pneumococcal disease can cause pneumonia, meningitis and bloodstream infection, known as sepsis; it kills up to 5,000 Americans every year.

One in Three Adults Are Not Concerned about Spreading Illness to Their Friends, Family Members and Co-workers

Infectious diseases spread easily and can have devastating consequences when they infect vulnerable people. Pertussis (whooping cough) causes illness among adults, but is most harmful when spread to infants, who are at the greatest risk of complications and death. CDC recently reported that a health care worker in the newborn nursery of a general hospital gave pertussis to 11 different infants over a three-month period in 2004. Five of the 11 infants had to be admitted to a pediatric intensive-care unit, but fortunately all survived. The health care worker got pertussis vaccine as a child, but immunity decreases over time and the booster vaccine that might have prevented this outbreak was not available at the time of this outbreak. It is now recommended for all adolescents and adults up to age 65.

Four in 10 Adults Say They Were Vaccinated as a Child, so They Do Not Need to be Vaccinated Again

It is important to receive appropriate vaccinations at all ages. While some vaccines are only given during childhood, others require booster doses for adults. There are also new vaccines that were not available when today’s adults were children. For example, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which prevents cervical cancer in women, is now available and recommended for females starting at 11 years of age. Shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine is recommended for individuals 60 years and older, because they are at the highest risk of this disease. Shingles can cause a very painful rash and lead to shingles pain syndrome, which is hard to treat and can last for years.

About One in Eight Adults Say They Are too Busy to Get a Vaccine and about One Fourth Think Vaccines Are too Expensive

Most insurers provide coverage for vaccinations, so cost may be much less of an issue than many adults think. What’s more, the cost of not getting vaccinated can be high. Hepatitis B causes liver disease, and takes the lives of 5,000 people every year, costing roughly $700 million in health care and lost productivity, like through people missing work. Adults can call their health insurance plan to find out whether it covers the vaccinations they need. Vaccines are also often offered at local health clinics.

Talk to Your Doctor about the Vaccines You Need

Vaccines play a key role in protecting adults and their close contacts from dangerous, and sometimes life-threatening, diseases. That is why NFID has published a Call to Action, encouraging adults to seek vaccination. Adults are urged to talk to their doctor about what vaccines they need.

For more information about vaccines and the diseases they prevent, visit NFID’s Web site at www.nfid.org.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Saturday, July 19, 2008

“Got Back Pain?” How Back Injuries From Everyday Activities May Cause Painful Muscle Spasms

(NAPSI)-Physicians hear it all the time: “I was just doing some work around the house, and the next thing I knew I could hardly move. My back really hurts!”

These painful acute back injuries have many causes--lifting a child the wrong way, hitting a baseball harder than expected after sitting on the couch all winter, or bending over to weed your garden on a sunny day. What many people do not realize is that the intense pain felt after an acute back injury may be accompanied by muscle spasms.

“I see many patients with acute back pain, and what they don’t realize is that muscle spasms may also be causing discomfort,” explained Arnold J. Weil, M.D., of Non-Surgical Orthopaedics in Atlanta, Ga.

A muscle spasm occurs when a muscle tightens, usually resulting from an injury. A wide range of factors can trigger a muscle spasm, such as overexertion, bending or stretching, which results in injury causing muscle strain or rupture or irritation to a nerve that connects to a muscle. However, muscle spasms can also result from more sedentary activities such as sitting at your computer too long. During a muscle spasm, the muscle often feels like it is clenched in a hard knot and, as a result, may create pain, restrict movement or limit activity.

Muscle spasms are very common. A recent Harris Interactive survey found that four out of five U.S. adults said they have experienced muscle spasms. The most common causes of acute muscle spasms were routine day-to-day activities--household chores, work, gardening, mowing the lawn or lifting heavy objects.

Seeking medical attention early may help relieve painful muscle spasms. “Some people may try to tough it out,” commented Dr. Weil. “What they don’t realize is that there are treatments that may relieve the muscle spasm and associated pain. They don’t need to suffer. By visiting a doctor when you first injure your back, you may get early relief and make sure that there are no serious underlying injuries.”

The good news is that there are many treatments for muscle spasms. Simple steps can help prevent muscle spasms or make them less intense. These include stretching regularly, knowing your limits, pacing yourself and giving your body time to rest after an activity.

Health care professionals may also recommend medicines to treat acute muscle spasms and relieve the pain. For additional information about how to prevent and treat muscle spasms, visit www.TreatMuscleSpasms.com

Friday, July 18, 2008

Helping Women Have Healthy Relationships

(NAPSI)-From quitting smoking to cutting fat from their diets--and even finding time to meditate--women are increasingly taking steps to remain happy and healthy.

Still, about 40 million American women experience symptoms that negatively affect their sense of well-being, relationships and health every day--and far fewer talk about it with a doctor.

These women suffer from one of several types of sexual disorder, the most common being Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), commonly referred to as low sex drive.

Sexual activity has many health benefits and is an important part of committed relationships. But those with HSDD are rarely in the mood for intimacy and this problem can be quite distressing to them.

It is thought that the condition may be associated with a decrease in testosterone, a hormone that affects many things, including sex drive, and that decreases naturally in women who have gone through menopause either naturally or after surgery.

Finding Relief

Women with HSDD are invited to participate in the Bloom Study. This medical research study will examine the safety and effectiveness of the investigational medication LibiGel®, which is applied daily to the skin on a woman’s upper arm as a possible treatment for HSDD. The study is currently looking for area women at least 30 years of age who have lost their sex drive.

Qualified participants must have gone through either menopause or had their ovaries removed.

LibiGel was developed by BioSante Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a publicly traded pharmaceutical company (Nasdaq: BPAX) focused on developing products for female sexual health. Its first product to market, Elestrin™, was approved by the FDA for the treatment of moderate to severe hot flashes and is currently marketed in the U.S.

The company hopes that the experience gained in bringing Elestrin to market will help pave the way for the LibiGel® program--and that could be good news for women and their relationships.

For more information on the Bloom Study, or to participate, visit www.BloomStudy.com or call (877) BLOOM-81.

About 40 million women experience symptoms that negatively affect their lives, relationships and health every day.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

UGA Study: Regular Walking Nearly Halves Elderly Disability Risk

Older adults can decrease their risk of disability and increase their likelihood of maintaining independence by 41 percent by participating in a walking exercise program, according to a new University of Georgia study.

The study, which appears in the current issue of the Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy, also found that walking program participants increased their peak aerobic capacity by 19 percent when compared to a control group and increased their physical function by 25 percent.

“In the past decade, researchers have focused on the benefits of strength training in maintaining independence, but until now we didn’t have good evidence using an objective performance measure that a walking program would improve physical functioning,” said study co-author M. Elaine Cress, professor of kinesiology and researcher in the UGA Institute of Gerontology. “Our study found that walking offers tremendous health benefits that can help older adults stay independent.”

The researchers randomly assigned 26 low-income adults aged 60 and older to either a walking exercise group, which met three times a week for four months, or a nutrition education control group. Initially, the group would walk for 10 minutes continually. As the weeks progressed, they increased their walking time to 40 continuous minutes. Each session began with a 10-minute warm-up and ended with a 10-minute cool-down that included balance and flexibility exercises.

Trudy Moore-Harrison, the lead author of the study and a former UGA doctoral student, explained that the researchers focused their study on low-income individuals because people with fewer financial resources are less likely to be physically active and are more likely to have chronic health conditions and lack health care coverage. Moore-Harrison added that walking doesn’t require any special equipment other than a pair of comfortable shoes, which makes it a simple and low-cost way for people to become active. Moore-Harrison supervised the group, but the researchers said that motivated community members could lead similar groups across the country.

Getting people to stick with exercise programs can be notoriously difficult, but the researchers found that every single member of the group stayed with the program for its four-month duration. “People really enjoyed the program,” said Moore-Harrison, now a post-doctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. “It gave them an opportunity to make new friends and get to know their neighbors.”

The researchers measured the aerobic capacity of the participants using a treadmill test and found that while the control group saw an 9 percent decline in aerobic capacity over the four-month study period, the aerobic capacity of the walking group increased by 19 percent over the same time period.

“Aerobic capacity is really the engine that we draw upon for doing the things we want to do, whether it’s cleaning up around the house or running a marathon,” Cress said. “By increasing their aerobic capacity, the walking group was better able to perform their daily tasks and had more energy left over for recreational activities, like going out dancing.”

The researchers assessed health status and bodily pain through questionnaires and examined disability by measuring performance on factors such as balance and walking. Physical functioning was measured through both questionnaires and through tests that measured how well the volunteers performed daily activities such as climbing a flight of stairs and putting on and removing a jacket.

The researchers found that physical function increased by 25 percent in the walking exercise group, compared to a decrease of 1 percent in the control group. And while the control group saw their risk of disability increase over the four-month period, the walking exercise group saw their disability risk go from 66 percent to 25 percent – a decrease of 41 percent in just four months.

“We know that walking is good for you, but too many people still aren’t doing it,” Moore-Harrison said. “This study shows that just walking on a regular basis can make a huge impact on quality of life.”

The research was supported by the UGA Institute of Gerontology Seed Grant, the Northeast Georgia Area Agency on Aging and the Georgia Gerontology Consortium Seed Grant. The research was done in cooperation with the Athens Housing Authority.

By Sam Fahmy

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Diabetes on the Rise in U.S.

As diabetics, David and Susan Dowdy know what they eat directly affects their blood sugar levels and lives. To combat the disease, the Brunswick, Ga., couple eats more healthful and exercises more.

“Before, I ate chocolate cake, brownies and lots of ice cream,” he said. “Now I eat apples when I want a sweet snack.”

Since January, David has lost 25 pounds and his wife has lost 30. In addition to watching their diets, they take daily 30-minute walks. By dieting and exercising, he has been able to stay on oral medication and avoid insulin shots.

On the rise in U.S.

Like the Dowdys, 24 million Americans are afflicted with diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since 2005, 3 million Americans have become diabetic. That’s an increase of 15 percent.

“Another 57 million people have abnormally high blood sugar levels that indicate prediabetes,” said Connie Crawley, a health and nutrition specialist with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.

“If the current trend continues, the CDC estimates that by 2030, 400 million people will have diabetes.”

Monitor blood sugar level

If a person’s fasting blood sugar level is 126 or more or is 200 or more nonfasting, that person is probably diabetic, she said. A fasting blood sugar level between 100 and 126 may indicate prediabetes.

The U.S. population has become more diverse and now includes more ethnic groups that are at greater risk for diabetes, she said, including American Indians and those from African, Asian or Latin descent.

The increase is also due to Americans being older, overweight and inactive.

Diabetes is common in Dowdy’s family. But despite the fact that it’s a hereditary condition, Crawley said it’s not inevitable.

Exercise and weight loss

If an at-risk, overweight person loses 7 percent of her body weight and begins exercising at a moderate pace for 30 minutes a day 5 days a week, her risk for diabetes is cut by 58 percent, according to the Diabetes Preventions Program. For overweight, at-risk adults over age 60, the risk is cut by 71 percent. The workouts can be split into three 10-minute exercise sessions.
“You don’t even need to get to an ideal body weight to see the benefits,” she said.

Decreasing the fat around the middle of the body is essential. Men whose waists are less than 40 inches and women whose waists are less than 35 inches are less likely to get diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Positive diet and exercise lifestyle changes are twice as effective as taking metformin, a drug known to control blood sugar, Crawley said.

“Fortunately, many people see their blood sugars improve even before they lose much weight, just by eating smaller portions of healthier foods and starting to move more,” she said.
To check your diabetes risk, take the risk test on the American Diabetes Association Web site www.diabetes.org/risk-test.jsp. Those at risk should have an annual blood glucose check by a doctor.

By Sharon Omahen
University of Georgia

Got the Workday Blues?

(ARA) - With all the sunshine and warm weather, we all want to spend time outdoors doing our favorite activities like working in the garden or playing our favorite sports. But for many of us, that's not an option during the workday.

It's only natural to feel a little down about being stuck inside all day when the weather is so nice outside, says Julia Kennedy, career services director for Everest Universities throughout North America. If you do have a case of the summertime work blues, Kennedy says there are many ways to cheer yourself up.

For example, if you have a window, open it to let the fresh air in. You can also bring nature into your office by putting a bouquet of flowers on your desk or creating a desk-sized rock garden. You should also try to spend as much time as possible outdoors and build in special times for getting out of the office. You can pack your lunch and eat it outdoors, or take an afternoon coffee break to walk around the block. Lastly, Kennedy suggests that you talk to your boss about flex-time or working from home once a week, if you really want to fit more freedom for outdoor time into your schedule.

But if your dislike of your job goes deeper than simply the summertime blues, Kennedy says your dissatisfaction should be taken seriously. "Everybody has a bad day at work, but if you're having a lot of bad days, you might have the workplace blues, and they can have a real effect on your quality of life," she says.

Kennedy suggests asking yourself the following questions to fairly assess your current work environment: Do you feel trapped at work? Do you dread going to work in the morning? Do you see real potential for advancement at work? Do you have a good relationship with your boss? Do you constantly dream of the weekends?

"Ask yourself, 'How often am I feeling this way? Am I blaming my boss or co-workers for the way I'm feeling consistently?' Once you're aware of the reasons why you feel a certain way, it usually becomes quite obvious what change is necessary," Kennedy adds.

New evidence from north of the border shows that Americans are not alone in our work problems. In fact, half of all Canadians report suffering from occasional bouts of work-induced blues, according to a December 2007 survey commissioned by Everest College of Business, Technology and Healthcare -- Ontario’s leading career college.

Feelings of job dissatisfaction can range from mild frustration to consistent feelings of unhappiness. On the same survey by Everest College of Business, 22 percent of respondents indicated that their salary was the most depressing thing about their job, whereas 12 percent said a lack of opportunity for career advancement was. Perhaps more troubling, 40 percent of respondents believed that their current job did not offer a lot of opportunity for advancement.

“If you are reaching a moderate level of job dissatisfaction and have not yet started thinking about alternatives, it’s time to start learning about new opportunities of which there are many,” says Kennedy. “Career fit is important to happiness on the job. Retraining can play a key role in changing lives for the better and most of our students are working while learning new skills to transition to a new career path.”

If you are thinking of making a career change, Kennedy recommends evaluating these factors: your interests; value system; skill level; opportunities in the market; and which fields, industries or companies seem attractive. “Your career needs to fit with your personality and interests, and support your goals for the future,” adds Kennedy. "Most importantly, remember that you deserve to be happy and fulfilled in your professional choice."

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Seniors Fight Age-Related Eye Disease With Breakthrough Treatment

(NAPSI)-When Bonnie Conway began to experience vision loss due to an eye disease known as wet age-related macular degeneration, or wet AMD, she worried that she might have to leave her job. As Borough Manager of her local community, Conway relies heavily on her sight to complete her bookkeeping, filing and letter writing duties.

More than 15 million American seniors live with some form of AMD, a leading cause of blindness in people over 60. There are two forms of AMD, dry and wet. While all cases begin as the dry form, it is the wet form that accounts for about 90 percent of all AMD-related blindness.

Wet AMD can result in sudden and severe loss of a person’s central vision, and can worsen rapidly without treatment. Like many of the 1.7 million people with the advanced form of the disease, Conway had difficulty reading and the faces of her friends and loved ones became blurry.

“I was a big reader. The most frustrating thing for me was losing the ability to read without a magnifying glass,” said Conway. “I started to accept that my wet AMD would eventually get so bad that I’d have to give up my job.”

But in August of 2006, Conway’s eye doctor, a retina specialist, began treating her with monthly injections of Lucentis® (ranibizumab injection), which is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of wet AMD. Since starting treatment, Conway’s vision has improved from 20/80 to 20/40 on the eye chart.

“Bonnie was one of the first patients in our practice to receive Lucentis, and because she’s continued to come for treatment every month, her vision has improved and she’s been able to continue her normal activities,” said Dr. Miguel Busquets of Associates in Ophthalmology.

In clinical studies of Lucentis, nearly all patients (90 percent) treated once a month maintained their vision for up to two years. About 40 percent of patients’ vision actually improved by three lines or more on the study eye chart at two years, though a few patients have experienced some vision loss.

Because AMD advances so quickly, and can cause sudden and irreversible loss of vision, early diagnosis and treatment are critical. The National Eye Institute recommends that people aged 60 or older schedule eye exams every two years, and anyone who notices changes in vision should receive an eye exam right away.

Lucentis is a prescription medication given by injection into the eye. Lucentis has been associated with detached retina and serious eye infection and should not be used in patients who have an infection in or around the eye. Increases in eye pressure have been seen within one hour of an injection. Although uncommon, conditions associated with eye- and non-eye-related blood clots (arterial thromboembolic events) may occur. Serious side effects included inflammation inside the eye and, rarely, effects related to the injection procedure such as cataract. The most common non-eye-related side effects were nose and throat infection, headache, and respiratory and urinary tract infections. The most common eye-related side effects were the feeling that something is in your eye, and increased tears.

If your eye becomes red, sensitive to light, painful or has a change in vision, you should seek immediate care from your eye doctor.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Choose Flip Flops Carefully for Back to School, Say Chiropractors

PRNewswire-- Despite the cooler weather, many young adults continue to wear slides, flip flops and sandals throughout school season, according to Okabashi Brands -- in the locker room, on campus, in the dorm or as an after sports "recovery" shoe.

But, according to Dr. Leo Bronston, DC, a practicing doctor of chiropractic for 30 years in western Wisconsin and member of the American Chiropractic Association, those slip on shoes are also changing the way kids and young adults walk, leaving them open to infection and leading to possible sprains or heel, toe or foot pain.

"Young adults focus on shoes that look good, but most don't consider how supportive they are or how they're affecting the body's mechanics, says Dr. Bronston. "Down the line, these kids are likely to experience knee, ankle and lower-back pain as a result of their footwear choices."

One popular shoe that can present problems is the flip-flop. Bronston points out that while popular, most flip flops offer poor shock absorption, one can even get stress fractures, as a result of the repetitive forces on the feet.

"Everyone needs to pay attention to their feet, especially the young and those that own several pairs of flip flops," cautions Dr. Bronston.

Bronston does recommend a selection of Okabashi sandals endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association, "because they have a footbed designed with some very important features to ensure safety, shock absorption, arch support and overall better foot health."

When selecting flip flops, Dr. Bronston advises young adults and parents to look for the following features to minimize pain and injury:

-- Make sure they are slip-resistant -- many injuries, such as fractures and sprains, occur from falls on wet surfaces.

-- Make sure the material has some type of anti-microbial treatment.

-- Make sure flip flops are flexible, yet have a firm enough foot bed for support.

-- Look for a stimulating footbed -- the foot has receptors at the bottom that help balance us.

-- Make sure the flip flop fits properly -- most people grip flip flops with their toes to keep them from falling off, causing stress on the entire foot and sometimes causing inflammation of the tissue.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Three Great Workouts You Can Do Anytime, Anyplace

(ARA) – With the cost of everything so high these days, people are looking for ways to trim their budgets. Among the most obvious places to cut back, eliminating that morning cup of coffee, bringing a lunch from home instead of dining out and canceling those services you can really do without – like cable TV and that gym membership you don’t really use much anyway.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t stay active, however. Numerous studies have shown that regular exercise is a critical part of staying healthy. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), regular exercise helps people maintain a healthy weight and delay or prevent the onset of diabetes and heart problems.

Regular activity is so important, in fact, that the Federal Government recommends American adults get at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to head down to the gym, which can be more of a chore than a fun activity, not to mention expensive.

Here are some ideas for getting that 30 minute workout anytime, anyplace:

1. Most employers offer an hour long lunch break and two 15-minute breaks throughout the day. Use some of that time to get up and get moving.

If you work in a tall building with lots of floors, use your break time to go up and down the stairs. If stair climbing is not an option, walk around the building at a brisk pace a couple of times a day, stopping occasionally to stretch.

2. If you’re a stay-at-home mom or dad, turn the baby stroller into work-out equipment.

Head on down to the park or just around the block with baby once or twice a day and as you move, use the stroller as a piece of work-out equipment. You can jog behind it, incorporate walking lunges and use bands for resistance training. Not only will you get the benefit of exercise, your baby will love it.

3. Take up sports hula hooping.
Ten minutes worth of vigorously wiggling your hips and moving around can burn off 110 calories, which is about as much as you’d burn if jogging or running an 8-minute mile. But burning calories quickly isn’t the only benefit the activity offers. It also promotes correct body alignment from the circular motions and proper posture in the upper body.

Substitute that light, plastic hula hoop your kids play with for a weighted one like the Acu Hoop offered by California’s Sports Hoop, Inc., and you can get even more health benefits.

When swiveled for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, weighted sports hoops can provide cardiovascular benefits, help tone muscles, burn calories and fat and facilitate weight loss. Do it religiously every day, and you can trim your waist two inches and lose four pounds every month until fit.

Weighted hoops come in a variety of styles and sizes, ranging from 1- to- 6-pounds in weight. No matter which one you choose to use, here’s how to get started:

1) Find enough space around you. Keep your feet one foot wide. Relax your knees, waist and body.

2) Relax your elbows. Lift the hoop and place it tightly against the back of your waist.

3) Grasp the hoop and keep it in a horizontal position before swinging out. Do not position the hoop at a tilt.

4) Horizontally swing out the hoop against your waist, fast and powerfully. Move your waist immediately.

5) Move your waist in a circular motion, all around pressing against the hoop.

6) Keep your motion fast enough to match the circulation speed of the hoop for it to stay up on your waist.

“The best thing about hula-hooping,” says personal trainer Rosemary Torres, “is it can be done anytime, anywhere.”

It is estimated there are now more than one million people throughout the United States using Sports Hoops as their major waist-trimming fitness equipment. For more information on the weighted hoops offered by California Sports Hoop, Inc., or to place an order, visit www.sports-hoop.com or call toll free (866) 700-5668.

Courtesy of ARAcontent