Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Medicare AAA Screening Benefit Now Offered For 12 Months

(NAPSI)-A one-time, free Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) screening for at-risk Medicare beneficiaries is now available for 12 months after enrollment. Men who have smoked sometime during their life, and men and women with a family history of AAA, qualify for the free screening benefit as part of their Welcome to Medicare Physical Exam.

AAA is an enlargement or "bulge" that develops in a weakened area within the largest artery in the abdomen. The pressure generated by each heartbeat pushes against the weakened aortic wall, causing the aneurysm to enlarge and, in time, weaken. If undetected, the aneurysm becomes so large, and its wall so weak, that rupture occurs.

Nearly 200,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with AAA annually; approximately 15,000 of these cases may be severe enough to cause death if not treated. Talk to your family physician about being screened for AAA and see a vascular surgeon if AAA is detected. Visit VascularWeb.org for more vascular health information.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Afternoon Snacking Key To Achieving Weight-Management Success

(NAPSI)-Here's food for thought: In an attempt to stay on track with weight-management goals, more than 57 percent of women surveyed try to skip their afternoon snack. But waiting too long between meals may lead to unhealthy eating at the next meal. Instead, snacking on items containing whole grains and fiber can stave off afternoon hunger and help weight managers achieve their goals.

In the survey commissioned by Kellogg Company, Opinion Research Corp. found that 44 percent of women cited afternoons as their prime time for snacking. This long stretch between lunch and dinner presents weight managers with a tricky moment of truth: how to satisfy their hunger without sacrificing their goals.

"We know from talking with consumers that planning snacks ahead of time is important to assist in your weight-management goals while you are at work or on the go," says Julie Salmen, R.D., Kellogg Company. "But with a savory, crunchy snack like Special K® Crackers, women now have a snack that provides eight grams of whole grains and one gram of fiber in a 90-calorie portion to help them stay on track."

Afternoon snacking is a great way to stay on track with weight-management goals. But with 42 percent of women saying they reach for candy or chips in the afternoon, it can also lead to bad snacking decisions. Choosing a snack option like new Special K® Crackers, which contain 90 calories per 17 crackers, will help achieve a new you in the New Year.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Caring For Ailing Spouse May Prolong Your Life

(SPM Wire) To give is better than to receive, a recent University of Michigan Psychological Science study has revealed, as older people who cared for an ailing spouse for at least 14 hours a week lived longer than others in the study who did not.

"These findings suggest that caregivers may actually benefit from providing care under some circumstances," said U-M researcher Stephanie Brown, lead author of the study report. "Previous studies have documented negative health effects of caregiving. But the current results show that it is time to disentangle the presumed stress of providing help from the stress of witnessing a loved one suffer."

Brown and colleagues analyzed seven years of data in this study. Taking into consideration a nationally representative sample of 1,688 American couples, age 70 and older, the analysis limited the focus to only couples that lived on their own.

Earlier work by Brown showed that providing social support to loved ones, friends and neighbors, benefited the giver in terms of mortality rates, and helped with the coping process following spousal loss.

These new findings in unison with her earlier work refresh the case for altruism in marriage. Indeed, in sickness or in health, it is crucial to stand together.

"We don't know yet exactly how caregiving motivation and behavior might influence health," says Brown, "but it could be that helping another person - especially someone you love - relieves some of the harmful stress effects of seeing that person suffer."

Even though a great majority of people - roughly 81 percent - said they received no help at all from their spouse in the study, the researchers theorize that deeply-engrained evolutionary factors favor altruism when individuals rely on one another. This may be why those who spent the most time caring for their spouse lived longer than others in the study.

Brown will continue to study altruism and caregiving through 2009 with the support of the National Science Foundation, trying to understand more closely the rewards of giving and of selflessness in matrimony.


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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

When Taking Care Of Your Cough, Accurate Dosing Is Key

(NAPSI)-During the winter, cold-related cough is increasingly common as respiratory germs spread easily. Avoiding the spread of germs is the first step to keeping you and your family healthy. Remember to practice frequent hand washing, avoid contact with people affected with cold and flu and use a germ-killing disinfectant to clean surfaces.

Cough control is important for good personal and public health. According to the Centers for Disease Control, many serious respiratory illnesses can be spread through coughing. Severe cough may also interfere with a patient's daily life-affecting everything from sleep to physical activities to mental alertness.

While there is no cure for the common cold, selecting the right therapy is important. The choices for controlling cough are more limited following recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) action to remove more than 200 prescription cough medicines containing hydrocodone from the market because of reports about medication errors and confusion over naming. Questions and answers about the FDA's enforcement action regarding unapproved hydrocodone drug products are available at www.fda.gov/cder/drug/unapproved_drugs/hydrocodone_qa.htm.

A recent study, "Accuracy of oral liquid measuring devices: Comparison of dosing cup and oral dosing syringe," published in 2008 in The Annals of Pharmacotherapy, also highlights concerns about accurate dosing. The study, conducted by P. Sobhani, J. Christopherson, P.J. Ambrose and R.L. Corelli, found that 85 percent of caregivers measured an excessive dose of liquid medication when using a dosing cup; only 4 percent measured an accurate dose with the cup.

For patients 6 years of age and older who are suffering from a cold-related cough and are not finding symptomatic relief through over-the-counter remedies, a new course of antitussive treatment is available: TussiCaps® (hydrocodone polistirex/chlorpheniramine polistirex) extended-release capsules. TussiCaps® is the first and only FDA-approved hydrocodone/chlorpheniramine capsule for the relief of cold-related cough in adults and children 6 years of age and older, providing powerful cough suppression for up to 12 hours.

"TussiCaps® utilizes hydrocodone, which is a well-tolerated and powerful antitussive, providing patients with up to 12 hours of cough relief in an encapsulated form conducive to accurate and safe dosing," said Herbert Neuman, M.D., chief medical officer and vice president, Regulatory Affairs, Covidien Imaging Solutions and Pharmaceutical Products. "TussiCaps® is biologically equivalent to Tussionex® liquid but offers the precision and convenience of a capsule to patients who need powerful cough relief."

When faced with a cold or cough, medication should be selected carefully. Patients should first consult their physician or pharmacist to discuss their specific symptoms and review any existing health conditions and other medications they are currently taking. Always check to see that the product is the right medicine for your symptoms and avoid medicines that treat symptoms you're not experiencing.

TussiCaps® is contraindicated in children under the age of 6 due to the risk of fatal respiratory depression and in patients with a known allergy to hydrocodone or chlorpheniramine. The most common adverse reactions include sedation, drowsiness and mental clouding, which may impair the mental and/or physical abilities required for potentially hazardous tasks. As with other drugs in this class, there is the possibility of tolerance and/or dependence, particularly in patients with a history of drug dependence. See package insert for full prescribing information for TussiCapsÆ.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Linda Dano, Actress and Television Personality, Shares her Tips for Managing Depression During the Holidays

By Linda Dano, Emmy-Award Winning Actress and Depression Advocate

(ARA) - The holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy, but for the millions of American’s with depression, this time of year can be difficult. I know personally how stressful it is to face an array of demands, including work, parties, shopping, baking, cleaning, caring for elderly parents or kids on school break, and scores of other chores, in an effort to have a perfect holiday. This season may be especially difficult given America’s anxiety over the current economy. That’s why it is important that people with depression take steps to alleviate added holiday stress in an effort to make their symptoms of depression easier to manage.

Symptoms of depression can include the hallmark emotional signs like sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest in usual activities or irritability, in addition to physical symptoms, which may surface as aches and pains, fatigue or lack of energy, changes in sleep patterns or appetite.

The good news is there are things that you can do to help you stay on track. Take some time to make a list in a journal of the things that might trigger your symptoms this holiday season. Share this list with a loved one so that, together, you can devise an action plan to cope should the need arise.

Just remember, feelings of sadness and loneliness do not automatically “turn off” during the holiday season. Continue working with your physician and your loved ones, and be sure to make time for yourself to get away from the stresses of the holidays.

Also, keep in mind that the holidays can be a good time to give thanks for the positive things in life. Be sure to take a moment during this holiday season to thank your loved ones for all the help they have given you.

Here are some more helpful tips:

* Seek support. Reaching out to friends and family for support can be important. Research suggests an inverse relationship between social support and risk for major depressive disorder. Friends and family can not only be a source of emotional support, but can help out with everyday chores that still need to get done.
* Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities.
* Learn to say no. Believe it or not, people will understand if you can't do certain projects or activities. If you say yes only to what you really want to do, you'll avoid feeling resentful, bitter and overwhelmed.
* Don't abandon healthy habits. Don't let the holidays become a dietary free-for-all. Continue to get plenty of sleep and schedule time for physical activity.
* Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do.
* Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, having some associated physical complaints, and unable to face routine chores. Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional about therapy and available treatment options.

Remember, one key to minimizing the effects of holiday-related stress on depression is knowing the triggers that worsen your symptoms and the steps to manage those situations. Always speak with a doctor if you suspect you or someone close to you may be experiencing depression. By recognizing the signs and symptoms and speaking with a doctor, you can get the help you need.

Have a safe, healthy and happy Holiday season.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Monday, December 22, 2008

How to Avoid New Year's Resolution Relapse

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While millions of Americans will resolve to quit smoking January 1st, many will be puffing away again by Valentine's Day. It doesn't have to be that way. With the Stay Quit Monday idea, smokers can strengthen their commitment by quitting each and every week, increasing their chances of making this the year they quit for good.

"We know there's a high relapse rate for first-time quitters and that it takes a number of attempts for most people to stop smoking altogether," says Frances Stillman, who co-directs the Institute for Global Tobacco Control at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Using each Monday to reaffirm their goal of quitting is a sensible way to stay on track," she suggests.

It's simple math. "For most people who quit, it takes from 7 to 10 tries," says Sid Lerner, Chairman of the Healthy Monday Campaign. "We urge smokers to think about it realistically and use the start of each week to recommit to breaking their addiction. If you just try once a year on your birthday or New Years, those 'tries' can add up to a decade before you finally quit, but if you try every Monday, and keep at it, chances are good you may succeed within a single year."

"Many smokers will be inspired this New Years to take an important first step towards a smoke-free life. They can use Stay Quit Monday to reinforce their commitment," said Donald Distasio, CEO of the American Cancer Society, Eastern Division, adding, "If you're resolving to quit, call your American Cancer Society Quitline at 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org. We can help you stay quit."

"Quitting smoking is a marathon, not a 100-yard dash," said Dr. John C. Norcross, Distinguished University Fellow at the University of Scranton. "It helps to set a specific quit date as long as you understand that it's just that - a beginning. Without realistic expectations, focusing on a single day to quit can be self-defeating, because it promotes all-or-nothing thinking. Instead, realistically prepare for the long haul, not the short trip." Norcross has written extensively about New Year's resolutions.

"We think of Monday as the January of the week," says Healthy Monday President Peggy Neu. "Our research indicates that people view Monday as an opportunity for a fresh start and are more likely to start a healthy regimen on Monday than any other day."

"Expect occasional slips in your resolutions," Norcross advises. "Most successful resolvers slip in January. But a slip need not be a fall; pick yourself up and recommit to your resolution." In fact, one study Norcross cites showed that 71% of successful resolvers said their first slip had actually strengthened their efforts.

"Stay Quit Monday is perfect for someone like President-elect Obama," Lerner mused. "Here's a guy who wants to quit, who's ready to quit, but who's very busy, with a stressful job and who just needs that extra motivational push each week to stay on track."

A report last year from the Institute of Medicine says that "motivating more quit attempts among people who now make none, and more frequent quit attempts among those who now try to quit" is one of five requirements for achieving higher cessation rates.(1)

Smoking is responsible for nearly one in five deaths in the United States and globally it's the number one cause of preventable death. Dean Michael Klag, of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, called smoking a big part of a "chronic disease pandemic," adding, "If we sharply reduce tobacco use, it will have a tremendous impact on cancer, heart disease, respiratory diseases and other tobacco-related diseases."

Your Stay Quit Monday Toolbox
While quitting is hard, you can get help each week from HealthyMonday.org.

-- Get weekly Monday messages at About.com's quitsmoking.about.com
-- Check in with the American Cancer Society's Quitline at 1-800-ACS-2345
every week or visit cancer.org
-- Visit smokefree.gov for expert advice and tools weekly to help you
stay on track

For more resources on quitting smoking and staying quit, visit the Stay Quit Monday page on the Healthy Monday website at HealthyMonday.org/stayquit.

The Stay Quit Monday campaign is a Healthy Monday project of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University Newhouse School of Public Communications.

(1) Institute of Medicine. 2007. Ending the Tobacco Problem: A Blueprint for the Nation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Feed the Immune System for the Cold and Flu Season

(ARA) - Our immune systems are smart. The immune system, when exposed to new flu and cold viruses, learns to recognized and react to seasonal strains of the invaders. The system also remembers bugs it has seen before. But we’re a mobile society -- each year, world travel brings new strains of germs and virus home, forcing the immune system to deal with new invaders it has never seen. This is why the Center for Disease Control makes yearly changes to the flu vaccine, hoping to predict which bugs will arrive in the U.S. on a seasonal basis.

A flu vaccine may help during cold and flu season, but there’s no guarantee for full protection. Extra efforts are needed to avoid seasonal germs -- including a healthy diet, exercise and nutritional supplements. Here are some suggestions for extra immune support during the 2008-09 flu season:

Diet can make a difference. Prevention Magazine recently published a list of immunity-boosting foods, including: lean beef in moderation for its zinc content; orange vegetables including sweet potatoes and carrots (for vitamins A and D); mushrooms such as shitakes, which may help white blood cells act more aggressively against foreign invaders and a cup of black or green tea daily which provides powerful anti-oxidant activity. Also included in the list was yogurt containing active probiotic cultures, which help balance the immune system in the digestive tract.

According to ABC news, turmeric, a rich, flavorful spice, "has been used for centuries as part of Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicines, in addition to being used for cooking. Turmeric is found in every yellow curry, and its golden color is the result of curcumin, a polyphenol with strong cold and flu-fighting properties. Although the mechanism is unclear, a 2008 study published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications found that curcumin prevents some immune cells from responding to stimulants and so has modulating and anti-inflammatory effects. Other studies have also shown the immune-boosting properties of curcumin in turmeric, however these have not been confirmed in humans."

Turmeric is found naturally as the rhizome part of the turmeric plant and it looks very similar to ginger. The powdered spice is made by boiling, drying and grinding the root. The powder has antiseptic qualities when applied topically and often is used on cuts, burns and bruises. This spice is available as an encapsulated supplement at health food stores.

In addition to a healthy diet, a supplement brought to the U.S. from Russia is a favorite of many doctors. Del-Immune V (www.delimmune.com) has been clinically tested to show a significant increase in immune activity, and may provide significant support to avoid colds and flu. The muramyl peptides in Del-Immune V act as switches in the immune system, and are responsible for dramatically elevating immune activity our bodies. “I have used this in several hundred patients and have found it to be safe, reliable and very effective,” says Dr. Roger Mazlen, of Rosslyn, N.Y.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Choosing A Nursing Home

(NAPSI)-About 3 million Americans depend on nursing homes at some point during each year to provide lifesaving care. How can you best choose the nursing home that is right for you or a loved one? Medicare's Nursing Home Compare Web site, of course!

Nursing Home Compare at www.medicare.gov/NHCompare provides quality ratings for each of the nation's 16,000 nursing homes. Each facility is rated from a low of one star to a high of five based on quality of care measures.

Consulting with a panel of experts from academia, patient advocacy and nursing home provider groups, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) developed the rating system based on a nursing home's performance in three critical areas:

• How a facility performed on its health inspection surveys over time;

• How the nursing home scored on a set of quality measures; and

• What staffing levels the nursing home maintains.

A five-star designation means the facility rates "much above average"; four stars indicates "above average"; three means "about average"; two is a "below average" rating, with one star indicating that a facility rates "much below average." The ratings, created by CMS, are updated quarterly.

Making Informed Decisions

"Because conditions within a nursing home can change, this system is not intended to be the only tool caregivers can use in selecting the right nursing facility for a loved one," said Kerry Weems, CMS acting administrator.

Weems adds that in addition to visiting the site before selecting a facility, people should:

• Consult with their physician;

• Talk to the state's nursing home ombudsman;

• Talk to the state's survey and certification office;

• Visit the nursing home.

Finding Care Options

To learn more about all care options, visit www.medicare.gov/caregivers. The site has information about in-home services, nursing homes and alternatives to nursing homes.

www.medicare.gov

1-800-MEDICARE

TTY 1-877-486-2048.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Slow Economy Slows Smokers' Quit Attempts

(NAPSI)-If you're stressed out about the economy and smoking more, you're not alone. According to a new poll, 77 percent of current smokers report increased stress levels due to the current state of the economy and two- thirds of those smokers say this stress has had an effect on their smoking.

The survey was conducted for the American Legacy Foundation®, a national public health foundation devoted to keeping young people from smoking and helping all smokers quit. Among the survey findings:

• One in four smokers stressed about the economy say this stress has caused them to smoke more cigarettes per day, a statistic that's higher among women (31 percent) than men (17 percent).

• Those smokers with lower household incomes are especially affected by the financial crisis. A greater percentage of stressed smokers with a household income of less than $35,000 reported smoking more cigarettes per day (38 percent) due to the current state of the economy. "We are especially concerned about how the economy is impacting those struggling to quit and stay quit," said Cheryl G. Healton, Dr.P.H., president and CEO of the American Legacy Foundation. The survey found that 7 percent of current smokers surveyed had started smoking again due to stress over the economic crisis, even though they had previously quit. Furthermore, 9 percent of stressed-out former smokers said the state of the economy had tempted them to start smoking again. Even more telling, 13 percent of stressed smokers say their stress about the economy has caused them to postpone their plans to quit.

Smokers can visit www.becomeanex.org to learn more about how to quit successfully and how to build their own personalized quit plans.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tips for Keeping 10 Common Health-Related New Year’s Resolutions

(BUSINESS WIRE)--It’s that time of year again. Everyone is vowing to strive for a healthier life in the coming year, after indulging during the holidays. People typically have well-meaning aspirations when it comes to setting their New Year’s resolutions. Actually sticking to those resolutions can be a bit more difficult. The personal health coaches at Gordian Health Solutions, Inc., who help individuals choose healthier behaviors every day of the year, want to share some of their expert tips for keeping 10 common New Year’s resolutions.

According to Gordian’s health coaches, it is important to make goals and resolutions as “SMART” (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Rewarding, Timely) as possible. They encourage setting a broad goal and then developing realistic action steps that can be used to achieve that goal. The health coaches also recommend keeping the original motivation behind the goal in mind, and ensuring a support system is in place if needed. Following are 10 common healthful resolutions—and helpful, practical ideas to make them “SMARTer”:

* “Start Working Out.” Make the action steps of your resolution more specific, like “I will walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes, three to four times a week” or “I will wear a pedometer to work, park farther from the door and take the stairs instead of the elevator to get in more steps per day.”
* “Lose Weight.” Make your goal more achievable and timely, like “I will lose 5 pounds by the end of the month.” Then come up with action steps involving nutritional changes, exercise, etc.
* “Eat Better.” Change your thinking from “I’m going on a diet” to “I’m making lifestyle changes to improve my eating habits.” Consider keeping a food journal to find specific areas you can change. Specific action steps to take might include “I will limit eating sweets to twice per week” or “I will reduce my consumption of fast food from three times per week to once per week” or “I will increase my servings of fruits and vegetables to five per day.”
* “Quit Smoking.” Set a realistic quit date. Make sure you are not setting yourself up for failure by trying to quit during an especially stressful time. If you’re a heavy smoker, talk to your doctor and consider using nicotine replacement therapy such as nicotine patches, gum or medications. Clear your home of all smoking-related paraphernalia (cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays, etc.). Set action steps to reduce your tobacco intake slowly, like “I will cut back by one cigarette per day over the next week.” Also think about a plan to deal with cravings and challenging situations.
* “Reduce Stress.” Identify and write down your stressors. Identify positive steps you can take when feeling stressed and what sources of support you have. A realistic action step might be something like “During times of stress, I will practice deep breathing techniques, write in a journal or go for a walk to clear my head.”
* “Give Up Fast Food.” It is not always possible for some people to give up all fast food, so begin by familiarizing yourself with the healthier options on fast food menus. Try using restaurants’ websites to look up nutrition information, or pick up nutrition pamphlets inside restaurants. Work toward planning ahead and packing nutritious meals to take with you. Set a specific, achievable action step like “I will eat at fast food restaurants no more than once a week.”
* “Stop Drinking Soda.” It may not be realistic to cut out all soda from your diet at once. Think about ways to decrease the amount of soda you are drinking. For example, try mixing diet soda into regular to cut the calories, or try substitutions like flavored water, unsweetened tea or green tea. An example of a measurable action step to set might be “I will decrease the number of sodas I drink from one per day to two per week.”
* “Drink More Water.” Ask yourself how you can increase your water intake. Set realistic, specific steps you can take, like “I will get a refillable water bottle to carry with me” or “I will replace calorie-laden beverages with water or flavored water.”
* “Get More Sleep.” Think about ways you can reach this goal. An example of an action step might be “I will go to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual and avoid caffeine late in the day.” Set a specific bedtime, and stick to a consistent schedule to get your body adjusted. Families with children can especially benefit from having a consistent routine for getting to bed at the same time each night.
* “Cut Back on Alcohol.” Quantify how much alcohol you are drinking now. Decide what might be a realistic amount to cut back to. For example, if you typically go out on the weekend and drink six or eight beers, limiting yourself to two beers might be your goal. If needed, devise a step-by-step plan with action steps like “I will remove alcohol from the home” or “I will avoid situations where alcohol will be served.” Identify supportive people (or join a support group) that can help you keep your resolution.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

ADHD In Adults: A Real And Treatable Medical Disorder

(NAPSI)-We all know friends, co-workers or family members who are disorganized, always late for appointments, and constantly starting tasks and not finishing them. You may even recognize these behaviors in yourself and may sometimes feel that people think you're lazy, unfocused, or irresponsible, when you know that's not the case. If this sounds familiar to you, you may have a real medical disorder called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a psychiatric behavioral disorder that is estimated to affect 4.4 percent of US adults aged 18 to 44*, or nearly 10 million adults in the United States. The symptoms of ADHD-inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity-make it difficult to pay attention, be organized, complete tasks, and maintain relationships.

While many people think of ADHD as a childhood disorder, up to 65 percent of children with the disorder may still exhibit symptoms into adulthood. However, many adults may not know that the symptoms of ADHD tend to present differently in adults than in children. In adults, inattention may present as difficulty completing and changing tasks, hyperactivity as inner restlessness, and impulsivity as finishing others' sentences during conversations.

"The symptoms of ADHD may impact millions of adults at work, at home, and in relationships," said Lenard A. Adler, MD, Director of the Adult ADHD Program at NYU Langone Medical Center, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine, and author of Scattered Minds: Hope and Help for Adults with ADHD (G. P. Putnam's Sons 2006). "Although there is no cure for ADHD, there are treatment plans available that may help successfully address ADHD symptoms. It's important to speak with a doctor if you think you may have the disorder."

To help raise awareness of ADHD in adults as a real and treatable medical disorder, a coalition of organizations have joined together to develop the national multimedia public service announcement (PSA) campaign Adult ADHD Is Real. These patient advocacy groups include the ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO), Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), and Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD). Shire also supports the campaign.

The Adult ADHD Is Real PSA campaign aims to encourage those who think they may have the disorder to take the World Health Organization (WHO) adult ADHD self-screener on the campaign's Web site, AdultADHDisReal.com and to speak with their doctor about an evaluation and possible diagnosis.

AdultADHDisReal.com also offers:

• Information about the symptoms of ADHD in adults and how they manifest differently in adults than in children

• Resources to help people choose an ADHD professional

• Links to coalition patient support groups for additional information and assistance in managing ADHD in adults

Fortunately, it's never too late for adults to seek an ADHD diagnosis. Talk to your doctor if you think you may have ADHD. The right treatment plan can help control your symptoms so you can stay focused and organized, get things done at home and work, and help improve relationships. For more information and resources on ADHD, visit AdultADHDisReal.com.

Visit AdultADHDisReal.com to learn more about ADHD.

*This statistic is based on results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, a nationally representative household survey, which used a lay-administered diagnostic interview to access a wide range of DSM-IV disorders. Figure calculated based on 4.4% estimated prevalence of ADHD in US adults aged 18-44 extrapolated to the full US adult population.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Annual Enrollment Period is Halfway Over

/PRNewswire/ -- Medicare Today reminds seniors that the Medicare Prescription Drug Part D annual enrollment period is halfway over -- running from November 15 to December 31, 2008. The open enrollment period is an opportunity for seniors to review and change the prescription drug program under which they are currently enrolled or for those not enrolled in a Part D plan to enroll.

During these challenging economic times, seniors need to ensure their drug benefit plan meets their health care and pocketbook needs. The Medicare Part D prescription drug program is designed to provide greater access to prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries -- regardless of income, health status, or prescription drug usage.

"It is extremely important for beneficiaries, especially those with limited income, to take advantage of the choice, convenience and cost savings that Medicare's prescription drug plans offer them," said Mary R. Grealy, President of the Healthcare Leadership Council, a coalition of the nation's leading health care companies and organizations.

Heading into its fourth year, seniors continue to give the program high remarks, with 90 percent reporting that they are satisfied with their plan, up 12 points since the beginning of the program, according to a national survey released by Medicare Today, a project of the Healthcare Leadership Council. The survey also shows nearly 71 percent say they have reduced their spending on prescription drugs. With Medicare Part D, seniors save $1,200 a year on average on prescription drugs.

"The survey is yet more evidence that the Medicare prescription drug benefit provides seniors with the flexibility they need to choose a plan that's right for them," said former U.S. Senator and Medicare Today Co-Chairman John Breaux.

While millions of seniors are enjoying the benefits of Part D, there are still millions of eligible seniors that have not enrolled. There are a wide variety of choices in coverage plans that fit every senior's budget. Affordable Medicare drug benefit plans are available in all 50 states, and the plan options vary in costs and the drugs that are covered. Beneficiaries with limited income and resources may qualify for extra help to pay the costs of their Medicare Part D plan.

Seniors want to be certain they're making the right choice from among the different plans available. For more information visit www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE.

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Pool And Spa Safety Law Aimed At Preventing Drain Entrapments of Children Goes Into Effect This Week

Failure to comply with Congressionally-enacted law can result in closure

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is again reminding public pool and spa owners and operators nationwide that the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act becomes effective on December 19, 2008. This law requires installation of anti-entrapment drain covers and other systems as outlined in the Act.

The Pool and Spa Safety Act was enacted by Congress and signed by President Bush on December 19, 2007, and is designed to prevent the tragic and hidden hazard of drain entrapments and eviscerations in pools and spas. Under the law, all public pools and spas must have ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007 compliant drain covers installed and a second anti-entrapment system installed, when there is only a single main drain. Congress gave all affected pool and spa operators one year to comply with this law.

Public pools and spas that operate year-round are expected to be in compliance by December 19, 2008. CPSC staff has taken the position that seasonal public pools and spas that are currently closed must be in compliance with the law on the day that they reopen in 2009.

"Our mission at the CPSC is to keep American families safe," said Nancy Nord, CPSC Acting Chairman. "CPSC will enforce the requirements of this pool and spa safety law with a focus on where the greatest risk of drain entrapment to children exists, such as wading pools, pools designed specifically for toddlers and young children, and in-ground spas, particularly where these types of pools and spas have flat drain grates and single main drain systems."

Nord added, "State health and enforcement agencies share the responsibility to ensure this law is properly enforced. I recommend these agencies take the same approach as CPSC concerning enforcement priorities."

Pool and spa operators are encouraged to continue working as diligently as possible to come into compliance, as the agency and state Attorneys General are empowered to close down any pool or spa that fails to meet the Act's requirements.

For more information about the Pool and Spa Safety Act, how to comply, and which companies have been certified to manufacturer drain covers and safety vacuum release systems, please log on to: www.cpsc.gov/whatsnew.html#pool .

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Volunteering Together Brings Families Closer

(ARA) - From rising energy costs to escalating prices at the grocery store, Americans are feeling the pinch in their pocketbooks. Traditionally the holiday season can be a time for individuals and families to think of donating to charities, yet some may find it more viable to give of their time.

Just 13 percent of Americans who donate to charitable causes expect to increase their giving at the end of the year, according to a recent survey by Grizzard Communications Group. Whether you can make a financial donation or not, there are many opportunities to give from the heart and help those in need.

“For our family, it started with a holiday party we organized for our local nursing home two years ago,” explains John Henris of Washington DC, a volunteer for Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly. “We wanted our children to be aware of people in their community in need and in turn we created a rewarding volunteer experience for our whole family.”

It is important for parents to set an example for their children in making community service a part of their everyday life. Children can see first hand what it means to take action and learn how satisfying such an experience can be. In the case of the Henris family, 11-year old Madeline has even involved her friends in their family volunteering activities and they like to brag about how “cool” it is.

Volunteering actually brought Bill and Charron Andrews of North Carolina together more than 25 years ago when they each started providing support at the Chicago chapter of Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly. They subsequently married and their now-grown daughter recently gave a concert and donated the proceeds to Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly. Dave and Linda Rulison helped organize a holiday party for elders in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula back in the 1980s and have been volunteering ever since, recruiting both their sons and extended family members to assist.

Here are some tips on how to create a worthwhile volunteering experience for your family:
1. Look for organizations and opportunities which will allow you to involve your whole family in the volunteer effort. You can look at it as your “gift” of community service, as well as an opportunity for extended family to bond in a common activity.

2. Don’t rule out volunteer opportunities because you think you are too busy with your own family commitments. There are many social service agencies, like Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly, where you can make a difference just through weekly phone calls to a senior or that have activities you can share with other family members or friends. For more information, visit www.littlebrothers.org

3. Use a one-time event, like an annual visit to a shelter or soup kitchen, to investigate other programs that the organization sponsors throughout the year where you can extend your support.

4. Consider creating or tapping into an existing intergenerational program that allows children to interact with seniors in your community. John Henris and his family created a program called “Life Stories” in which they organize a small group of seniors to visit a local school to be interviewed by students in a history class.

5. Be sure to ask the intended organization about the volunteer opportunities available for all age groups in your family. Even if there is a recommended age restriction for on-site participation, you might be able to prepare some of the items at home with the help of your children or have them assist in other aspects of the volunteer effort.

Giving the gift of time not only gives to those in need, but it can be a powerful bonding experience for the whole family.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Resolving The Myths And Facts Of Diarrhea

(NAPSI)-It's one of the most uncomfortable issues to talk about but, unfortunately, diarrhea is also one of the most commonly reported illnesses in the United States. Diarrhea falls second only to respiratory infections, with the average adult suffering four bouts of acute diarrhea per year. When it comes to treating diarrhea, there are many different opinions. But as it turns out, all you need to know are the facts.

Here are some of the questions you may be hesitant to ask and the answers you should know:

Q. I've heard that there are many causes of diarrhea. What are some I should know about?

A. There are many things that can trigger diarrhea. Some of the more common causes include viral infections, like those due to rotavirus or norovirus (aka Norwalk virus), bacterial infections from contaminated food or water, lactose and gluten intolerance, and certain medications such as various blood pressure treatments and the magnesium found in some antacids. Caffeine or alcohol consumed in excess, which can stimulate the intestines, can also cause diarrhea. Lastly, some women may have diarrhea before their menstrual cycle due to hormonal changes.

Q. Is it true that it's best to let diarrhea run its course?

A. That's a common myth. Many people might say that diarrhea is a sign of a "bug" in the system that needs to run its course. Although one of the most common causes of diarrhea is a virus, diarrhea is not always an immune response to get rid of an infection -it can be a result of a disruption to your digestive system. To date, there is no data supporting the idea that treating diarrhea will prolong an illness.

Q. I have diarrhea. What should I do now?

A. If you have diarrhea, be sure to avoid foods or beverages that may make your symptoms worse. Dairy products, like ice cream or cheese, greasy foods, citrus fruits and sugary treats are all examples of foods to avoid when you have diarrhea. Diarrhea can also lead to dehydration, so be sure to reduce your risk by drinking plenty of clear liquids.

You may also want to consider an over-the-counter medication like IMODIUM®A-D or IMODIUM® Multi-Symptom Relief. Products such as these can be an effective way to manage diarrhea when used as directed. Not only is IMODIUM® Multi-Symptom Relief the only anti-diarrheal brand that also relieves the symptoms of gas, cramps, bloating and pressure, but research also shows that it works 33 percent faster than the fastest prescription anti-diarrheal medicine (loperamide HCl) to relieve diarrhea.

For additional information, please visit www.imodium.com.

Q. Should I be concerned if I have frequent bouts of diarrhea?

A. If you experience diarrhea that persists for more than two days, you should talk with your doctor. Frequent diarrhea may also be a sign of a food intolerance or allergy to milk or wheat products, which are common culprits. Talking with your doctor about your symptoms will help him or her determine the correct diagnosis and prescribe an appropriate treatment.

Q. What can I do to help avoid diarrhea in the future?

A. While there's no one preventative measure that can be taken to avoid future bouts of diarrhea, there are certain precautions you can take. For example, be sure to wash your hands to avoid spreading germs. You can also make sure the food you consume, such as meat and poultry, is cooked to the proper temperature.

When it comes to treating diarrhea, there are many different opinions. But as it turns out, all you need to know are the facts.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Preventing A Common Childhood Foot Problem

(NAPSI)-Parents can prevent one of the most common childhood foot problems by following some simple recommendations.

Foot and ankle surgeons say ingrown toenails are a condition they treat frequently in children. Surgeons say many kids hide their ingrown toenails from their parents, even though the condition can cause significant pain. The problem is that ingrown toenails often break the skin, allowing bacteria to enter and cause an infection.

Tight shoes, tight socks and incorrect toenail trimming cause most pediatric ingrown toenails, according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS). In other cases, children may inherit the tendency for nails to curve.

FootPhysicians.com provides parents these recommendations:

• Make sure children's shoes fit. Shoe width is more important than length. Make sure that the widest part of the shoe matches the widest part of your child's foot.

• Teach children how to trim their toenails properly. Trim toenails in a fairly straight line. Don't cut them too short.

• Never try to dig out an ingrown toenail or cut it off. These dangerous "bathroom surgeries" carry a high risk for infection.

• Have a qualified doctor treat a child's ingrown toenail. A minor surgical procedure can eliminate the pain and often prevent the condition from coming back.

A foot and ankle surgeon may prescribe antibiotics if there's an infection.

One thing parents can do to reduce their child's pain is to soak the affected foot in room-temperature water. Then gently massage the side of the nail fold.

For more information on ingrown toenails in children, visit FootPhysicians.com.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Recession-Proof Your Workout

FF Note: The cart paths around Peachtree City in Fayette County are the perfect place to practice recession proofing your workout.

(NAPSI)-Sometimes, when looking to save money, monthly gym memberships are among the first expenses to be cut. Yet the stress of financial uncertainty can take a physical toll on people and can even encourage unhealthy habits. Often, foods seen as better for the budget are not great for battling the bulge, leading to more weight gain and a decline in overall health. Here are some tips to recession-proof your workout and stay motivated when you can't get to a fitness center or sports club:

1. Find a buddy and commit to one weekly athletic activity. Exercise doesn't have to feel like work-even something as simple as riding a bicycle on Saturday mornings or playing racquetball or basketball every Tuesday night can help burn calories and improve circulation. The emotional benefits of these regular, fun activities can have a big effect, too.

2. Walk every day. When it comes to both weight management and fighting the negative effects of aging, doctors cite walking as the foundation for all other exercises-it increases your stamina and has the highest compliance rate. Some experts even say that skipping a daily walk is the equivalent of skipping a full night of sleep.

3. Track your development with simple, easy-to-use home fitness gadgets. Having a "personal trainer" in your pocket can help keep you motivated and ensure that all your effort isn't wasted energy. For instance, Life Fitness offers a line of exercise gadgets exclusively available at CVS/pharmacy and on CVS.com. The line includes Digital Pedometers that track distance covered and calories burned on those daily walks and a Dual Watch and Heart Rate Monitor. It looks and acts like a regular sports watch but can actually track the intensity of your fun activities and workouts, ensuring you reach your target heart rate. The Digital Body Scale provides weight, body fat percentage and body mass index (BMI) measurements in an easy-to-read format to assess progress over time.

Spending time at a gym is always a good idea, but whether you are time starved or just being frugal, cutting back on membership doesn't have to mean cutting out healthy habits.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Caffeine May Be Good For Your Brain

(NAPSI)-Your morning cup of coffee may be more than just an eye-opener. Research has confirmed that sleep-deprived individuals have improved memory and reasoning after consuming caffeine. Plus, research has also linked moderate levels of caffeine to a reduced rate of cognitive decline in women, as well as reduced risk of certain brain and nerve diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

According to a recent study, women who consumed at least three cups of caffeinated coffee per day (approximately 300 mg) had a slower rate of cognitive decline than women who consumed one cup or less. This benefit has been attributed to the caffeine in the coffee and appears to increase with age.

Another potential benefit relates to Alzheimer's disease. A progressive and fatal brain disease, Alzheimer's can cause forgetfulness, disorientation and personality changes. However, research has shown that caffeinated coffee may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer's or slow its progression. Studies conducted on the aging population have provided evidence of these effects. However, more research is needed to determine just how caffeine might reduce Alzheimer's risk.

Caffeine may also help reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease. Parkinson's is characterized by nerve cell loss in the brain, which can cause reduced mobility and/or tremors. Several studies have found an association between regular consumption of caffeinated coffee and reduced risk of Parkinson's. There is currently no cure for Parkinson's, and this research may offer a way to help reduce the risk. However, more research is needed to determine caffeine's specific benefits.

These benefits for the brain and nervous system have been observed at moderate levels of up to 300 mg of caffeine per day. Certain groups of individuals, such as children, pregnant women and those with a history of cardiovascular disease, may be more sensitive to caffeine's effects and should discuss their caffeine consumption with their health care provider. For more information, visit www.ific.org/publications/reviews/caffeineir.cfm.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

New Study Disputes Ongoing Controversy Over Memory Screenings

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the nation faces a public health crisis related to Alzheimer's disease, a new report released today by the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) disputes an ongoing controversy over the value and utilization of memory screenings. The report shatters unsubstantiated criticism and instead emphasizes the safety and cost-effectiveness of these tools and calls on Congress to develop a national dementia screening policy.

The study, entitled "Memory Matters," sheds light on the debate as the nation's aging population, which is most at risk for the chronic brain disease, is booming, and as Americans in general are anxious about healthcare concerns and costs.

"This is a real world problem of escalating proportions that requires real world solutions," said Richard E. Powers, M.D., chairman of AFA's Medical Advisory Board and one of the authors of the report. "Our nation must elevate age-related health issues to a high priority, and memory screenings need to be a critical part of that discussion."

Eric J. Hall, AFA's president and CEO, said the report serves as a "wake up call" to the public and medical professionals, as well as to policymakers.

"Lifting the barriers to early detection is long overdue," Hall said. "Conversations about brain health are not taking place. We must educate and empower consumers to talk openly about memory concerns, particularly with primary care providers, so they get the attention and quality of life they deserve."

The release of the report comes just in time for holiday gatherings -- a time when many families recognize changes, or possible warning signs of dementia, in their loved ones. Awareness of warning signs is not a substitute for a structured screening or consultation with a primary care provider, according to the authors.

Current research supports memory screenings "as a simple and safe evaluation tool that assesses memory and other intellectual functions and indicates whether additional testing is necessary," the authors said. "Screenings also can reassure the healthy individual and promote successful aging."

Performed in medical or community settings, a screening typically consists of a series of questions and tasks and takes about five to ten minutes to administer.

One main argument against memory screening is the unsubstantiated assertions of potential adverse consequences, the report said. However, the authors emphasized that screening results do not represent a diagnosis.

"Screening tests in general simply help determine whether diagnostic tests should be considered," the authors said. "A 'positive' result from a memory screening should never be interpreted as a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease or a related illness or other illnesses -- no more than a 'positive' mammogram means an individual has breast cancer."

Some conditions that cause symptoms of dementia, such as hormone imbalances and vitamin deficiency, can be reversed. Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia, is irreversible. The incidence of dementia doubles approximately every five years in individuals between the ages of 65 and 95.

"It is irresponsible to leave the disease undetected to the extent it is now when there are safe tools available to increase earlier detection," the authors declared. "The implementation of screening programs in the community healthcare system can rectify the failure of current diagnostic practices...and significantly improve case identification."

According to the study, it is estimated that missed diagnoses are greater than 25 percent of the dementia cases and may be as high as 90 percent.

It emphasized that early identification of dementia benefits the person with the disease, the caregiver, the family and society, including cost benefits, noting that most researchers agree that most available medications for Alzheimer's disease are best given when the individual has mild symptoms. Other benefits include adoption of healthy lifestyles; participation in support groups; home safety modifications; and long-term care planning.

Citing the absence of a national strategy on dementia screening in particular and dementia in general, the authors suggested a national policy that includes forming a panel of consumers and experts to craft screening recommendations; guidance by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on when providers should screen for cognitive impairment; recommendations to promote intellectual health; and medical school training on dementia and memory problems.

AFA officials noted that community-based screenings, such as those provided on AFA's National Memory Screening Day each November, have tremendous value.

"They serve as a catalyst for participants to then raise the issue of memory concerns with their primary care providers. That is powerful in and of itself," Hall said.

In addition, Powers said, "Screenings offer an opportunity to deliver positive messages to people that they should make lifestyle changes to protect their brains as much as possible."

Demand for screenings is evidenced by the success of AFA's recent sixth annual National Memory Screening Day held on November 18, during which an estimated 50,000 people were given free confidential memory screenings and educational information at nearly 2,200 community sites nationwide. During the prior year's event, approximately 16 percent of individuals who had a face-to-face screening scored positive and were referred to their primary care providers for follow-up. An AFA survey of participants revealed that fewer than one in four with self-reported memory complaints had previously discussed them with their physicians despite recent visits.

The study was authored by Richard E. Powers, M.D., J. Wesson Ashford, M.D., Ph.D., chairman of AFA's Memory Screening Advisory Board, and Susan Peschin, MHS, AFA's vice president of public policy. The full report is available for download at www.alzfdn.org.

The Alzheimer's Foundation of America is a New York-based national nonprofit organization focused on providing optimal care to individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, and their families, and is made up of more than 950 member organizations nationwide. For more information, call 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

New Hope On Horizon To Fight Disease Affecting The Elderly

(NAPSI)-Americans are living longer than ever and as a result have more time to spend with family, to travel and to enjoy life.

People born in 2005 will live nearly 78 years on average, the National Center for Health Statistics predicts. By comparison, in 1955, the average American was expected to live for only 69.6 years.

Not only are seniors living longer, but America's pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies are now working on over 2,000 new medicines to help them face the health challenges that arise from aging.

According to a new report released by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), medicines, which offer great promise to treat and prevent diseases such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, are currently being tested in clinical trials or are awaiting final approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Topping the health challenges seniors confront today are heart disease, cancer and cerebrovascular disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hypertension alone affects 67 percent of those 65 or older. Chronic lower respiratory disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and flu and pneumonia round out the list of severe chronic diseases that are the leading causes of death in older Americans.

Among the new medicines now in development are 150 for diabetes, which affects 12.2 million Americans age 60 and older; 62 for eye disorders that contribute significantly to late-life disability; and 91 for Alzheimer's disease, which could afflict 16 million people by 2050 without further advances in treatment or prevention. Other medicines target depression, osteoporosis, Parkinson's disease, prostate disease, bladder and kidney diseases, and other debilitating conditions.

Among the many experimental therapies is a medicine that could potentially prevent or reverse the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

For more information, visit the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Web site at www.phrma.org. For additional information on diseases and other health issues affecting the elderly, visit the National Institute on Aging at www.nia.nih.gov.

Over 2,000 new medicines are currently being tested to help seniors face the health challenges that arise from aging.

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Screening Makes A Difference For Cancer Prevention

(NAPSI)-American women can now screen for-and help prevent-the human papillomavirus (HPV). That's fortunate, as new data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 25,000 annual cases of cancer were attributed to HPV.

"Cervical cancer, the most common HPV-related cancer to affect women worldwide, is 100 percent preventable with routine screening," says internist, author and speaker Dr. Marie Savard.

Certain types of HPV are responsible for causing abnormal cervical cells to develop, which can eventually turn into cancer. A new HPV vaccine can effectively prevent infection with two of the cancer-causing types of the virus in girls and young women, but continued screening with a Pap and-for women age 30 plus-the HPV test is important as well.

"Two screening tests performed at well-woman appointments-the Pap smear and the HPV test-can significantly decrease the risk of cervical disease or cancer," explains Dr. Savard. "That's because the vaccine only offers partial protection. Women can empower themselves by knowing the medical guidelines and what screening tests are right for them."

All Women Need Pap Smears But The HPV Test Helps Those Most At Risk

An estimated 80 percent of sexually active women will get HPV at some point in their lives, but the good news is that infections usually clear up on their own. Doctors encourage all women to get annual Pap smears to check for abnormal cells caused by persistent HPV infections.

However, experts recommend that women 30 and older-who are most likely to develop cervical cancer-also get the HPV test, which can be done on the same sample of cells used for a Pap and is covered by most insurance plans. Only one HPV test-the digene HPV Test-is currently FDA approved to detect the presence of high-risk types of the virus. This newer test can help doctors and nurses identify and keep a closer eye on women who are at greatest risk for cervical disease.

Dr. Savard explains that the Pap alone may not be enough to protect older women, since studies have shown that it fails to identify women with precancerous cells 15 to 50 percent of the time. Screening accuracy increases to nearly 100 percent by combining both tests for women 30 and older.

"If you're over 30, it's essential that you talk with your doctor or nurse about combined screening with the Pap and HPV test. Now is the perfect time to take charge of your own health and remind other women in your life that we can prevent cervical cancer," says Dr. Savard.

Visit www.theHPVtest.com for more information.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Taking The Benefits Of Dark Chocolate To Heart

(NAPSI)-There's good news for chocolate fans who are concerned about their health. While dark chocolate has come to be recognized for its antioxidant benefits, a new study indicates eating it may also have vascular health benefits.

According to the study-conducted by the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center-dark chocolate can have a positive impact on blood pressure and blood vessel function.

The study, which used Hershey's Extra Dark Chocolate and Hershey's Natural Cocoa, is the largest of its kind to examine the short-term benefits of solid dark chocolate and cocoa-containing beverages on blood pressure and blood vessel function.

The results of the study, recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that consuming dark chocolate (75g) as well as natural cocoa (22g) lowered blood pressure and improved endothelial function in 45 participants two hours after consumption.

The study's release comes on the heels of Hershey's Extra Dark Chocolate, a rich dark chocolate featuring 60 percent cacao, earning renowned health and fitness expert Bob Greene's Best Life seal of approval-the first chocolate bar to earn that distinction.

"Our study demonstrated impressive enhancement of endothelial function following the acute consumption of dark chocolate and cocoa," said David L. Katz, M.D., MPH, principal investigator of the study and director of the Prevention Research Center. "The results are exciting because they show that dark chocolate, a highly popular treat long associated with pleasure, has health-promoting properties as well."

Greene will incorporate dark chocolate and natural cocoa as he helps consumers to develop balanced, healthy lifestyles through his book, "The Best Life Diet," and the companion Web site TheBestLife.com.

To learn more, visit the Web sites at www.hersheys.com and www.thebestlife.com.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Dealing With Depression: A Serious Medical Condition

(NAPSI)-Many people may be surprised to learn a few facts about the medical condition known as depression. This disorder causes sadness that interferes with daily life. It is a medical condition, not a normal reaction to such life situations as the death of a loved one or the loss of a job.

"People with depression may not realize that their feelings could be due to a medical condition," said Amir Qaseem, M.D., of the American College of Physicians (ACP). "A loss of interest in daily activities, decreased ability to think or concentrate, lack of energy or change in weight or sleeping patterns could be signs of depression. If people experience these symptoms for more than a few weeks, they should talk to their doctor."

Any stressful situation, such as a financial or economic crisis, may trigger a depressive episode. Depression may be more prevalent during the late fall or winter months when a reduced amount of natural sunlight can trigger seasonal affective disorder (SAD). During these months, some people may also experience deep sadness, dread or loneliness due to the holiday season.

Options to manage depression include drug therapy, counseling or both. If drug therapy is prescribed, so-called "second-generation" drugs are often used because they are effective and have fewer side effects than older, "first-generation" drugs.

A guideline recently released by ACP found no substantial differences in effectiveness or quality of life among second-generation antidepressants.

"Second-generation drugs have different adverse effects but are equally effective for treating depression," said Dr. Qaseem. "Doctors should make treatment decisions based on side effects, cost and patient preferences and make necessary changes in therapy if the response is not sufficient after six to eight weeks. Doctors should also assess patient status and adverse effects on a regular basis starting within one to two weeks of starting the treatment."

Adverse effects can range from mild, such as constipation or diarrhea, to severe, such as suicidal thoughts. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises that all patients receiving antidepressants should be closely monitored on a regular basis for increases in suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Drug treatment should continue for four to nine months after a satisfactory response in patients with a first episode of depression. For patients who have had two or more episodes, an even longer duration of therapy may be beneficial to prevent relapse or recurrence.

ACP (www.acponline.org), the nation's largest medical specialty society, is an organization of more than 126,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists and medical students.

Depression is a medical condition that can be treated with drug therapy, counseling or both.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Rising Health Costs Prompt Women to Neglect Health

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new survey released today by the National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC) highlights another troubling aspect of the current financial crisis: many women have failed to seek health care for themselves or their families to save money. Findings also indicate that many women say their health has gotten worse over the past five years and that the primary cause women cite for this decline is stress. In addition, while the vast majority of women are emotionally prepared to grow older, the majority do not feel financially prepared.

"Today's financial crisis and increasing health costs are clearly impacting women's decisions around health care, and their physical and emotional well-being," said Elizabeth Battaglino Cahill, RN, executive director of NWHRC. "It's hard to stay calm and relaxed given our hectic lives -- even in the best of times. But women need to understand that skimping on health care to save them money may cost them more in the long run. They also need to learn how to better manage their stress, both about their health and their finances."

Conducted by Harris Interactive, the fourth annual, national Women T.A.L.K. survey explored issues related to women's health specifically around women's attitudes about health care costs as well as healthy aging.

Stress Takes a Toll on Women's Physical and Emotional Health

A significant number of women report making sacrifices in order to reduce their expenditures on health care and that their health is declining.

-- Nearly half of women (45%) have failed to seek medical care in the
past year because the cost was too high. This includes skipping
doctor's visits, recommended medical procedures and medication for
themselves or their families.
-- Hispanic women were most likely to have skipped health care in the
past year (58%) versus white (43%) or African American (42%)
women.
-- In addition, more than 40% of women report their health has declined
over the past five years and the most common reasons given for this
were stress and weight gain.


"Long-term stress and weight gain can significantly increase women's risk for other health problems," said Battaglino Cahill. "Women need help in managing stress and part of that equation is good nutrition and regular exercise. There are many simple, no-cost steps they can take to manage stress including eating better, exercising, deep breathing, meditation and organizing and prioritizing activities."

As part of their ongoing commitment to women's health and wellness, NWHRC has created an online wellness center featuring tips and advice that address some of the key issues revealed in the survey, www.healthywomen.org/wellness.

Women are at Ease with Aging

The survey also sought to understand women's attitudes towards aging, their perceptions about aging healthfully, and the steps they are taking to ensure their health as they grow older. An encouraging outcome of the survey is that women tend to have positive feelings toward aging and more commonly view it as an adventure and an opportunity versus a struggle or something to be depressed about. They tend to be inspired by others who also have positive attitudes and stay active as they grow older.

-- Tina Turner is the celebrity over the age of 50 that women admire
most. She was selected by twice the margin of their next top choices -
Sophia Loren and Diane Keaton.
-- These celebrities inspired them in terms of overall health most
commonly because the celebrity has remained active as she's grown
older (66%), stays physically fit and active (65%) and has a positive
attitude toward aging (58%).


Women personally engage in a variety of activities to feel good about their physical health as they age. They are most likely to say that not smoking is the most important one (26%), followed by exercising regularly (19%), visiting the doctor annually for a physical (18%), and maintaining a healthy diet (14%).

Women also undertake a variety of activities to feel good about themselves in terms of personal appearance as they age.

-- The activities women rate as most important in this area are to
maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly (each cited by 21% of
women).
-- The next most common actions taken are to wear flattering clothing
(15%) and use moisturizer (14%).


When it comes to healthy aging, financial issues are also at the forefront of women's minds.

While eight in ten women feel prepared or very prepared to grow older in terms of emotional health, and close to two-thirds feel prepared in terms of knowledge of aging issues, physical health and social support, just 42% of women feel prepared to grow older in terms of financial security.

-- When asked what other information women need to feel more prepared for
growing older, the top answer was financial information, cited by 51%
of women.
-- Other common responses include retirement information (46%), medical
information (42%) and information about health insurance options
(41%).

To visit the online wellness center, go to the National Women's Health Resource Center's Web site at www.healthywomen.org/wellness. Or for further highlights of the annual Women T.A.L.K. survey visit the NWHRC's online newsroom at www.healthywomen.org/newsroom.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Better New Year's Resolutions For Men's Health

(StatePoint) Most men's New Year's resolutions sound the same: we all want to get healthier and make or save more money.

This year, why not get a little more specific in ways that delve beyond simply trying to quit smoking, drink less or exercise more? This year, resolve to get healthier by developing a plan for keeping your prostate healthy and preventing prostate cancer.

The shocking truth is that a man is 35 percent more likely to get prostate cancer than a woman is to get breast cancer - yet it's a topic most men and their families never address before they are diagnosed. And it's not just an old man's disease. While 75 percent of new cases occur in men over 50, many younger men have had to face prostate cancer as they approached their 40th birthdays.

The good news is there are many ways to keep your prostate healthy, especially if you buckle down and get proactive about it.

"There are a number of easy things you can do, ranging from getting annual screenings to developing the right eating and lifestyle habits that can help promote good prostate health," says Dr. Jonathan Simons, CEO and President of the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

For starters, speak with your doctor about when to get tested. Early detection and treatment are the best weapons against prostate cancer. With early treatment, the five year survival rate is more than 90 percent - among the highest of all types of cancers.

The American Cancer Society recommends all men over 50 get checked yearly and those with family histories begin at 45. In short: all men over 40 should speak with their doctors to develop proactive prostate health plans that are right for them.

But visiting the doctor is only one thing that should be on your agenda.

"There are strong indicators in our research that diet and lifestyle are very important with this particular form of cancer," said Dr. Meir Stampfer, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health. "When we look at men from other cultures like in Asia, the rates of prostate cancer are significantly lower than in the U.S. Yet when these same men move here, within one generation, the rates increase very rapidly. We believe there is a clear correlation to how we live and eat."

Here are some things you can resolve to do in your daily life:

* Eat prostate-healthful foods. Eat more broccoli and drink pomegranate juice. The science may be complicated, with talk of antioxidants, compounds and electrons. But the conclusions are clear: consuming broccoli and pomegranate juice or pomegranate extract is good for the prostate.

* Don't char meat. Charring meats at high temperatures can produce cancer-causing carcinogens that lodge in the prostate. These may cause errors in reading and replicating DNA, resulting in mutations that contribute to prostate cancer formation. Flip meat often so the outside does not burn, marinate meat in ingredients that don't create crusts, precook burgers in the microwave, and scrape off charred material. Try broiling or stir-frying meats instead of grilling them.

* Eat less meat. You don't need to become vegetarian, but consider replacing chicken, beef, veal or lamb with soy protein or fish, taking a page from the Asian diet.

* Keep fat off your middle. Research indicates men with more belly fat are at a higher risk for prostate cancer. So consult your doctor and start an exercise plan and maintain an active lifestyle.

For more information on prostate cancer prevention, detection and treatment visit www.pcf.org.


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