Friday, January 30, 2009

Traditional Risk Factors Often Miss Heart Disease Warning Signs

/PRNewswire/ -- Traditional risk factors such as age, standard cholesterol levels and blood pressure do a poor job of predicting heart disease risk in younger, healthy adults with a family history of early heart disease. That's according to a recent study published in Clinical Cardiology, which revealed that "emerging risk factors," including detailed cholesterol measurements such as HDL(2) and remnant lipoprotein particles, play a much greater role in determining heart disease risk than previously thought.

The study is titled Prevalence of Emerging Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Younger Individuals with a Family History of Premature Coronary Heart Disease and Low Framingham Risk Score. It is the latest in a series of clinical studies showing that the traditional Framingham risk score doesn't always do a good job of estimating that risk, especially among people in their mid-30s to early 60s.

Measurement of emerging clinical and lipid risk factors in the study was done with the VAP(R) (Vertical Auto Profile) Cholesterol Test from Atherotech, Inc. Physicians are increasingly using such detailed cholesterol testing to more accurately identify their parents' true risk of heart disease, allowing for treatment and lifestyle changes that can decrease the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Atherotech Chief Medical Officer James Ehrlich, M.D., said the study is consistent with a growing body of research revealing how poorly the office-based exam using Framingham analysis and traditional cholesterol testing performs in identifying true cardiac risk.

"Clearly it is time for physicians to take a much more sophisticated and individualized approach to cardiac risk assessment," said Ehrlich, "which may include imaging tests and more revealing and accurate cholesterol profiling such as the VAP Test." The evidence is growing that younger individuals and most women would have been considered at such low risk by standard tests in the months prior to their heart attacks that they would not have even qualified for preventive therapy, explained Ehrlich.

The VAP Test, which is covered by most insurance providers and Medicare, provides physicians with direct measurement of LDL (bad cholesterol), HDL (good cholesterol) and all relevant cholesterol subclasses. These important but often overlooked subclasses include non-HDL, particle number as determined by accurate apoB, and emerging risk factors such as Lp(a), low-density lipoprotein remnants and small dense LDL.

The VAP Test is also the only commercially available advanced lipid profile that routinely reports all three lipoprotein parameters -- LDL, non-HDL and apoB -- considered necessary by the 2008 expert consensus guidelines issued by the American Diabetes Association and American College of Cardiology.

In the Clinical Cardiology study, researchers evaluated 89 younger men and women (average age of 47) with a family history of premature coronary heart disease (CHD) and who had a low Framingham risk score. The risk factors included in the Framingham calculation are age, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, treatment for hypertension and cigarette smoking. Patients with existing CHD or CHD equivalents were excluded.

The most common emerging risk factor for heart disease that was missed using traditional cholesterol testing methods was low HDL(2). The second most overlooked emerging risk factor was high levels of triglyceride rich remnant lipoproteins such as IDL (intermediate density lipoproteins) and very low density lipoproteins (VLDL(3)). Low HDL(2) was present in 72 percent of the study group, and high levels of IDL + VLDL(3) were present in nearly half (49 percent) of patients. In addition, 38 percent of the participants had coronary atherosclerosis as reflected in EBCT derived coronary calcium scores, and 24 percent of the participants had "at-risk" levels of C-reactive protein (above 3 mg/dl).

All patients were screened for emerging clinical and lipid risk factors with the VAP Test. Researchers noted that only 11 percent of the participants would have been prescribed lipid-lowering therapy based on current National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III guidelines.

The authors concluded that, "The Framingham risk score underestimates cardiovascular risk in individuals with a family history of premature CHD, and screening for emerging cardiovascular risk factors may better assess CV (cardiovascular) risk in these patients."

People with a family history or an existing condition of diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease -- or who are already taking cholesterol - lowering medication -- are candidates for the comprehensive VAP Test. The VAP Test is available nationwide. For more information call 877.901.8510 or visit

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's Time To Move It To End MS

(NAPSI)-There's encouraging news for people with multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease of the central nervous system with which someone is newly diagnosed each hour of the day.

MS research has reached a watershed year, with more than a dozen therapies moving through the pipeline that hold promise of new and improved treatments for the disease. But there is so much more that needs to be done to achieve a world free of MS. That makes the commitment to advance MS research even more important-and there are many ways in which you can help.

One easy way is to volunteer to help raise funds and awareness. The new administration has in- troduced a "Renew America Together" initiative calling all Americans to serve their communities by volunteering.

From the National MS Society's Web site, you can find various ways to build the MS movement. Whether you volunteer, bike, walk, advocate, educate or support, every action is a unique way to serve and demonstrate your commitment. It also helps motivate the potential millions of people who want to-and can-do something about MS now.

MS Awareness Week, from March 2 to 8, is a great time to get started and "Move It to end MS."

Congress has supported the goals and ideals of the week with a congressional resolution.

To find out ways in which you can serve and encourage others to do so, visit

You can even find out how you can share your own video story, download Web banners, sign up to participate in or volunteer for Walk MS or Bike MS, or locate a special event offered by a chapter near you.

Progress can't wait. You can Move It during MS Awareness Week and throughout the year to come.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Jiffy Lube(R) Seeks to Raise $1.5 Million for American Heart Association's Go Red For Women(TM) Movement

/PRNewswire/ -- Jiffy Lube today announces the launch of the second year of its nationwide campaign to support the American Heart Association's Go Red For Women(TM) movement. Starting January 28, more than 85 percent of Jiffy Lube locations across the U.S. will participate in the Jiffy Lube Maintenance Partners for Life campaign, which emphasizes the importance of maintaining a healthy heart and a healthy vehicle. Jiffy Lube seeks to raise $1.5 million to help fight heart disease, which would exceed last year's total of $1,034,757. One hundred percent of the funds will benefit Go Red For Women initiatives.

Prevalence of Heart Disease

Nearly 2,400 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day -- an average of one death every 37 seconds. In fact, heart disease is the nation's number one killer of women and men. Despite more women dying of heart disease than the next five causes of death combined, only 21 percent of women view heart disease as their greatest health threat.

"We're very excited to continue our partnership with the American Heart Association's Go Red For Women movement, which has made such a positive impact in the fight against heart disease," said Rick Altizer, president of Jiffy Lube International. "We were so blown away by the positive response and overwhelming support from our system and customers alike. We look forward to a long and rewarding relationship with the AHA."

Making Contributions

Between January 28 and March 16, customers at participating service centers can support this cause with a donation of $3. In return, donors will receive a Jiffy Lube Maintenance Partners for Life savings book containing heart-healthy recipes, as well as $100 in savings from Jiffy Lube, Perfumania and Yankee Candle. Funds will be donated to local American Heart Association chapters in the communities in which they are raised. In addition, for each Jiffy Lube Gift Card(SM) purchased during the campaign, both online or at participating service centers, Jiffy Lube will donate $1 to Go Red For Women.

Healthy Hearts & Healthy Vehicles

Jiffy Lube Maintenance Partners for Life leverages the strong parallels between properly maintaining both heart health and vehicle health, and educates people on smart preventive maintenance of their bodies and vehicles. Maintaining a healthy heart and healthy vehicle is a matter of choice; the right choices can turn into life-saving actions. Regular visits to the doctor, along with a proper diet and exercise regime help keep both the body and heart healthy. Likewise, following the vehicle manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule can help keep a vehicle running properly. Simple choices can provide long-term benefits; to learn about choices that can benefit your heart health, visit

"Jiffy Lube has demonstrated extraordinary dedication to the fight against heart disease," said David Josserand, American Heart Association Board Chairman. "Its Maintenance Partners for Life campaign touches many lives by raising awareness and much-needed funds across the nation. We're extremely grateful for the contributions Jiffy Lube has made to this cause and we look forward to working collectively to reach our Go Red For Women goals."

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Survey Highlights People with Parkinson’s and Caregivers’ Needs

(ARA) - In the United States, nearly one million people are affected by Parkinson’s disease, with one person diagnosed every nine minutes. That means that in the time it takes you to boil pasta, make a pot of coffee, or write a quick e-mail, one more person has been diagnosed.

Although many Americans are affected by this devastating disease, a new survey unveiled a need for increased education on key issues in the management of Parkinson’s disease. The “Parkinson’s Knowledge and Needs Exchange" survey was commissioned and funded by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media designed and conducted the survey on behalf of Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., in collaboration with the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.

This survey is the first of its kind in a decade to explore the dynamics between people living with the disease, their caregivers and the neurologists who treat them. Key findings reveal a great need for the development of resources that can improve disease management, as well as the opportunity to educate people of existing resources. Some of these resources include support groups, educational Web sites and information available through physicians.

Communication is one of the key barriers to optimal disease management for the community.

While people living with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers take an active role in discussions with their doctor, survey findings reveal a need for resources and tools to help enhance the quality of communication during doctor’s office visits. In fact, nine out of 10 people with Parkinson’s disease surveyed, would find a discussion guide with sample questions for the doctor to be a useful resource and 87 percent of caregivers agree. The survey also found that unless the patient and/or caregiver brought up particular issues, neurologists did not discuss them because they were concerned with overwhelming the patient and/or caregiver (59 percent of neurologists surveyed reported this).

Although the disease generally progresses slowly, over time even the most basic daily routines, like socializing with friends and family members, earning a living, and taking care of the home, may be affected. When asked, a majority of neurologists felt that financial concerns are the greatest obstacle for caregivers, and yet, this topic was only discussed with 35 percent of caregivers. Further, more than half of caregivers surveyed would like their physician to discuss the financial or legal impact more often during their disease management discussions. In addition, nearly one in four neurologists does not discuss healthy lifestyle changes with people living with Parkinson’s disease or caregivers, despite nearly all physicians (85 percent) thinking that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is an obstacle for both groups. Recent studies have shown that stretching, strengthening, and balance training may improve gait, speed, balance, and participation in activities of daily living, and regular exercise can help people with PD stay more flexible, improve posture, and make overall movement easier.

Education in and out of the doctor’s office.

It is important that people living with Parkinson’s and their caregivers continue to educate themselves and are able to find appropriate answers to their questions easily and effectively. In today’s fast paced, technology-based society, it’s easy to quickly become overwhelmed in a quest for answers. In fact, more than three-fourths of neurologists’ patients and caregivers state that a single resource would be helpful in disease management.

Resources that support people with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers are available, and yet, more than half of all caregivers and patients surveyed are not taking advantage of the tools provided by patient advocacy groups and educational Web sites.

Support groups, educational Web sites and resources available through physicians can offer helpful advice on:
* Exercise: 92 percent of people living with Parkinson’s disease would be interested in a form of exercise designed for people with the disease
* Making a home Parkinson’s disease friendly: 84 percent of people with Parkinson’s disease and 81 percent of caregivers expressed interest in this topic
* Parkinson’s clinical studies: 63 percent of people living with Parkinson’s disease and 70 percent of caregivers said information from a Parkinson’s organization would motivate them to join a clinical trial. For more information please visit

Also, the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation developed the Parkinson’s Information Service (PINS), a unique toll-free/online service, which connects people with questions about Parkinson’s disease to trained PDF information specialists.

Parkinson’s disease is a potentially debilitating neurological condition, impacting movement. The average age of a person diagnosed with the disease is 60. It is the second most common chronic neurological disorder in older adults after Alzheimer’s. Symptoms include tremor, muscle rigidity, slowed motion, shuffling gait, and a loss of facial expression. The symptoms vary from individual to individual, but become more severe over time. While promising research is being conducted, there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease.

Although there are obstacles and educational barriers within the Parkinson’s community, there are educational tools and resources, and future materials to support patients, caregivers and physicians. There are great opportunities to increase collaboration and begin overcoming some challenges and better manage this disease.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Playing Parent To Mom And Dad

(NAPSI)-Baby boomers should be forgiven if they sometimes compare their aging parents to their children. We become concerned when they're ill and they drive us crazy by misplacing everything from their keys to their eyeglasses.

It's an issue increasingly facing "the sandwich generation"-the nearly 10 million Americans trying to simultaneously juggle raising their kids and taking care of one or more aging parents. A few frantic phone calls from a confused parent who's "lost" something is usually enough to convince an adult child that action must be taken.

Some of these problems share the same solution many parents use to keep their young children from losing things: labeling their belongings.

"The right labels are versatile enough to provide organizational solutions for any age range," says Amy Lipton, the U.S. president of a label-making company called Stuck on You. "That includes those in their golden years."

Lipton's bright, easy-to-see labels can help keep track of clothing, eyeglasses, toiletries, pills, TV remotes and other daily-use items. They're also waterproof and durable, making them great for elderly parents-whether in assisted living or on their own-who are constantly losing track of small belongings or even wheelchairs and other expensive medical equipment like canes and walkers.

What's more, for those seniors who do live in either nursing homes or some type of assisted-living arrangements, the special Stuck on You medical and allergy alert labels provide a heads-up to nursing and dining room staff regarding things like food and drug allergies, diabetes and memory impairment since they can be custom-printed with any vital information (including emergency contact details).

Indeed, the labels can even help seniors with dementia since they may be customized with unique icons that are easy to spot. Studies have shown that pictures and symbols are easier to recognize than words.

Labels aside, doctors say it's important to talk with your parents about how frequently they misplace items and other changes you may have noticed in their behavior.

To avoid alarming them, Stella Henry, R.N., an eldercare specialist who has been quoted in Time, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, says to make clear that your chief concern is your parents' well-being. "If you say 'you have to do this or do that,' you'll lose them," she explains. "Instead, say something like, 'Mom, I'm concerned about you. It makes me worried to see you like this.'"

For more information on labeling items for seniors, visit

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Heart Health for Everyone

Every year we try to convince ourselves to adopt healthy habits that will reduce our risk of heart disease. Even though we understand the importance of making these changes, our American lifestyle makes it hard to do.

Weight control is one of the main ways to reduce the risk of heart disease. Over 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. Much of the problem is due to physical inactivity, large portion sizes and eating out too often. Sadly, we are passing these habits on to our children, who are likely to develop heart disease even sooner than their older relatives.

Portion control can be difficult. Most of us clean our plates no matter how much we are served. Research shows that if people are given larger portions, they eat one-third more no matter how hungry they are. A good strategy at home is to use the smallest plate, bowl or cup available.

Serving sizes at restaurants have exploded in the last 15 years. To cut back, share a meal with someone else. You will save calories and money. If half an entrée is not enough, order an additional vegetable soup made with broth or a salad with light dressing on the side. If you are alone and cannot share, take the extra food home to eat the next day. If you ask, some restaurants will serve smaller lunch portions at supper.

At fast-food restaurants, order the junior sizes and ask for those special sauces, which usually add 100 to 200 calories and lots of fat, to be left off.

To quickly estimate your portion, think of a deck of cards. This is equal to about four ounces or half of a cup. A serving of meat, chicken or poultry or a portion of rice, potatoes or pasta should be about this size.

No matter where you eat, fill your plate with streamed vegetables and fresh fruits. Replace red meat with salmon, tuna, trout or other fish (not fried) at least twice a week. Also have nonfat and reduced-fat milk, yogurt and cheese. These are the best foods for your heart.

Eat more non-starchy vegetables like green beans, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, carrots and salad greens. To add flavor to vegetables, season them with herbs and spices or lemon juice instead of salt and sprinkle on a little olive or canola oil. If you have high triglycerides, eat less bread, potatoes, white rice and pasta. When you do eat bread, choose whole-wheat.

Make sure whole-wheat flour is first on the ingredient list. Wheat flour or enriched wheat flour are not the same as whole-wheat flour.

Use fruit for dessert and snacks. It is the original fast food and can be taken anywhere and easily carried in a purse, pocket or insulated lunch bag. You will be less tempted to have dessert if you know you have fruit readily available. Keep fruit portions to the size of a baseball. Again, larger servings may increase carbohydrate levels too much in those with triglyceride problems.

Eating right is important, but so is being active.

Walking briskly for 30 minutes a day reduces heart disease risk by about 32 percent. Increasing daily exercise to 60 minutes is even better for weight control. Consider both planned exercise, like riding an exercise bike or doing water aerobics, and activities of daily living like taking the stairs, doing yard work, walking to errands or washing the car.

By Connie Crawley
University of Georgia

Connie Crawley is a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension nutritionist with the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Physicians Agree Moderate Weight Loss Will Help Patients Manage Their Type 2 Diabetes

/PRNewswire/ -- Physicians say they are counseling their overweight type 2 diabetes patients to lose weight, but patients say that the message is not getting through, according to a new survey announced today by the Behavioral Diabetes Institute.

Eight in 10 physicians surveyed said that they discuss weight issues with their patients every/almost every visit, yet half as many patients - only four in 10 - report having these discussions with such frequency. In particular, roughly half of overweight patients and a third of obese patients say their physician seldom or never discusses their weight with them.

Almost all of surveyed physicians (85 percent) acknowledge that losing even a little weight can help manage type 2 diabetes. When discussing weight issues with their patients, 90 percent of physicians surveyed report that they tell their overweight patients to lose weight. However, when the surveyed patients were asked whether or not their doctor ever suggested that they lose weight, only 66 percent of them said yes.

"Type 2 diabetes is often associated with obesity. Losing weight can help to improve blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol and so much more. But it is notoriously difficult to lose weight and to keep it off and this can be even more difficult for someone with diabetes," said Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute William Polonsky, PhD, CDE. "Genetics and our immediate, food-rich environment play large roles in making weight loss tough, but disconnects between physicians and patients can make weight loss efforts even more difficult and frustrating."

The phone survey conducted by Yankelovich, part of The Futures Company, assessed the behaviors, opinions and attitudes of 703 people with type 2 diabetes and 200 physicians that treat patients with type 2 diabetes. The survey was conducted in the fall of 2008 on the heels of the release of the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes consensus statement placing increased focus on weight management as a treatment consideration in type 2 diabetes care.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 23.6 million people in the United States have diabetes, an increase of more than 3 million in two years. This means that 7.6 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes, mostly type 2 diabetes, which is linked with obesity, improper diet and a lack of exercise. Estimates show that another 57 million people have pre-diabetes, a condition that puts people at increased risk for diabetes. In addition, about two-thirds of US adults--133.6 million--are overweight. Of these, 63.3 million are obese.

The survey also found that when physicians and their type 2 diabetes patients are talking about weight loss, it is not always in specifics. While more than half of patients do report having been referred to a dietitian or diabetes educator, told to eliminate certain foods from their diet and receiving literature about weight loss, only 27 percent of patients say their physician prescribed specific recommendations for exercise and less than 20 percent say their physician suggested a commercial diet plan such as Weight Watchers. And, even though more than half of the physicians said their patients understand that diabetes medications can cause weight gain, only 34 percent of surveyed patients report being warned by their physician that this could occur.

In addition to the communication gap, the survey found a number of other barriers impacting physicians' and patients' abilities to properly manage weight as part of diabetes treatments.

-- Physicians see patients' reluctance to change lifestyle as the biggest
barrier to achieving the level of care they would like for their
-- While some physicians say that their patients don't try hard enough to
lose weight, they also recognize that willpower alone is not enough.
However, nearly half of surveyed patients (46 percent) believe that
losing weight is mostly a matter of willpower and if they try hard
enough, they can lose weight.
-- Physicians see the lack of support for education services and
prevention by the healthcare system as another major barrier to
successful treatment of type 2 diabetes.

"There are effective strategies for overcoming the weight management obstacles patients with type 2 diabetes face. Physicians and patients can start by talking together about the best ways to manage weight by developing a comprehensive plan of action that includes diet, exercise and the right medications," Dr. Polonsky said.

For more information about behavioral strategies for successful weight loss and diabetes management, visit the Behavioral Diabetes Institute (

Easy Tips for Patients with Type 2 Diabetes to Successfully Manage Their Weight:

-- Ask your doctor about diabetes therapies that help control blood
glucose and weight
-- Work with a diabetes-knowledgeable dietitian or diabetes educator to
develop a realistic weight loss plan and set specific goals for action
-- Educate your loved ones about diabetes and your needs; ask for their
-- Adjust your immediate home environment so that it supports, rather
than sabotages, your weight loss efforts
-- Create new eating and exercise habits

Easy Tips for Physicians to Successfully Manage Their Type 2 Diabetes Patients' Weight:

-- Don't be reluctant about discussing the importance of weight loss
issues with your patients, but do so in a way that is not blaming,
shaming or judgmental.
-- Refer your patients to weight loss programs and health care
professionals in your area who specialize in nutrition and weight
-- Provide your patients with basic tools to enable them to make
appropriate lifestyle changes
-- Reinforce the importance of setting manageable, achievable goals
-- Encourage your patients to be patient with their own efforts and
progress; acknowledge with them that weight management is not easy and
occasional setbacks are common
-- In a collaborative and caring manner, remember to ask your patients
how they are doing each and every visit

About the survey

The Behavioral Diabetes Institute and Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. collaborated on the design of the survey. The survey was sponsored by Amylin and conducted by Yankelovich, part of The Futures Company, assessing the behaviors, opinions and attitudes of 703 people with type 2 diabetes and 200 physicians that treat patients with type 2 diabetes. The survey was conducted in October and November of 2008. The margin of error for the physician study is +/- 6.9 percent and for the patient study it is +/- 3.7 percent.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Five Facts About Diabetes

(NAPSI)-With so much health information readily available, it's often hard for the 24 million Americans living with diabetes to separate fact from fiction. To help people with diabetes better understand how to manage the disease, the National Diabetes Education Program provides five facts about diabetes.

Fact #1: Diabetes is a serious disease. It can lead to serious complications such as heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and lower limb amputations. People with diabetes can take steps to manage it and lower their risk for complications. Make healthy food choices, be physically active, and stay at a healthy weight. Good diabetes care includes managing the ABCs of diabetes-as measured by the A1C test, blood pressure, and cholesterol-to help avoid having a heart attack, stroke, or other problems.

Fact #2: The only way to know for sure what your levels are is to check your blood glucose. The absence of symptoms of high blood glucose is an unreliable guide for judging glucose control, since symptoms may not occur until blood glucose reaches high levels. Diabetes is often called a "silent disease" because it can cause serious complications even before you have symptoms. Set your blood glucose targets with your diabetes care team. Ask your health care team to show you how to self-monitor your blood glucose. Keep a record of your results, and share them with your team. Also, know your A1C goal and keep a record of your test results, which reflect your average blood glucose levels over the past three months. It is the best way to know how well your blood glucose is controlled overall.

Fact #3: Small amounts of foods that contain sugar can be part of a healthy meal plan. If you choose to eat sweet foods, just have a small amount at the end of a healthy meal, not every day, or have a piece of fruit rather than a sugary snack.

Fact #4: A healthy meal plan for people with diabetes is a healthy meal plan for everyone. Eat foods that are high in fiber and low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars. Healthy foods include a colorful mix of fruits and vegetables, fish, lean meats, chicken or turkey without the skin, dry peas or beans, whole grains, and low-fat or skim milk and cheese. Ask your health care team for a healthy meal plan.

Fact #5: Physical activity is safe-and essential-for people with diabetes. Talk to your health care team about ways to safely increase your daily physical activity. Being physically active can help people with diabetes improve their blood glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight. It also helps improve strength, flexibility, and balance. Start by setting small goals until you reach at least 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. Brisk walking is a good way to move more.

For more information about diabetes, download or order the free Tips to Help You Stay Healthy tip sheet developed by the National Diabetes Education Program at or call 1-888-693-NDEP (6337); TTY: 1-866-569-1162.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Ancient "Superfood" Promotes Healthy Endurance

(NAPSI)-A growing number of people are finding that an ancient "superfood" has a prominent place in a modern, healthful dietary regimen.

The chia plant has a rich history of use in ancient cultures. In pre-Columbian civilizations, such as that of the Aztecs, chia seeds were used as a high-energy food and were a staple of the daily diet. Some ancient civilizations used chia for the preparation of medicines, nutritional blends, even paints.

The ancient Mayan civilization also relied heavily on chia for its dietary needs. In fact, modern Mexico's state Chiapas derives its name from the Nahuatl word "chiapan," which means "chia river," an indicator of the plant's prominence in ancient cultures. Historical records also indicate that the Indians of the southwest United States also ate chia to boost endurance for running and other extended physical activities.

When the Spanish came to the Americas in the 16th century, they abolished the use of certain native crops such as chia because of their association with religion. And for nearly 400 years, chia was grown only in small quantities in isolated areas of Mexico and Central America.

Then, in 1991, a program called the Northwestern Argentina Regional Project was established by farmers and various public agencies in Argentina, Bolivia and the United States to study and produce alternative crops such as chia. Researchers recommended its production in order to improve both the economic prospects for South American farmers and the nutrition of Western diets. And today, chia is considered an excellent source of protein, calcium, fiber, vitamins and minerals. In addition, chia oil is one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Functional Product Trading S.A., the world's largest chia producer, invested more than 10 years in seed selection and research to develop Benexia Chia Seed. Benexia is a gluten-free whole grain, organically grown and naturally harvested. It can be eaten right from the plant, mixed with food, drink or ground into flour for baking. And adding the chia to food can give it an excellent nutritional profile--without compromising taste.

To learn more, visit the Web site at

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Keeping Germs At Bay In The Hospital

(NAPSI)-When most patients go to the hospital, it is with the hope of "getting better." Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way.

Health care-acquired infections are a growing concern in the United States-causing complications for patients and significant economical burdens to the health care system. In some cases, hospital-acquired infections result in death-with almost 100,000 patients dying each year.

"Bacteria found in hospitals are often resistant to many antibiotics, making hospital-acquired infections difficult to treat," says Gary W. Procop, MD, FCAP, a pathologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. "In hospitals, bacteria can easily spread from patient to patient, health care worker to patient, or from environmental sources to the patient."

Pathologists are physicians who examine cells and tissues to diagnose disease and illnesses. Dr. Procop specializes in microbiology and infectious disease pathology.

Two of the most common hospital-acquired infections are Staphylococcus aureus, particularly methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), and Clostridium difficile-commonly known as "C. diff." MRSA is a kind of bacteria that causes "staph" infections; it can live on common surfaces, such as a table, for weeks and can be transmitted when someone touches it.

The most common place to come in contact with C. difficile is in a health care setting. It can live on bedrails, cart handles, bedpans, toilets, stethoscopes, telephones and remote controls. When you touch a contaminated surface and then your mouth, you can become infected.

"Something as simple as hand washing greatly decreases your chances of contracting or spreading an infection while staying in the hospital or visiting friends or family members," says Dr. Procop.

All hospitals should have a hospital infection control program, which includes promoting good hand washing among health care workers and isolating or rooming infected or colonized patients together.

The College of American Pathologists, an advocate for high-quality, cost-effective patient care, recommends that hospital infection control programs monitor the rates of hospital-acquired infections and promote interventions that reduce patients' risks for these infections at their institutions.

As with many illnesses, your best defense is a strong offense. Wash your hands with warm soapy water for 15 to 30 seconds while you are in the hospital and before and after visiting a loved one. In addition, be sure that your doctor and nurse wash their hands before and after examining you. If they don't, offer a gentle reminder.

For more information about preventing and understanding diseases, visit the Web site at

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Prevention Key In The Fight Against Heart Disease

(NAPSI)-Heart health is a topic most Americans hear about often, yet despite their knowledge, many simply tell themselves "if it's going to happen, it's going to happen." What they often don't realize is that heart disease is largely preventable.

"Now more than ever before, we have the tools to stack the deck in favor of prevention," says Stephen Devries, M.D., preventative cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and the Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness in Chicago.

Devries uses a blend of natural therapies combined with conventional, high-tech therapies when treating patients at risk for heart disease. Some of the nonpharmaceutical approaches he finds most effective are dietary changes, the use of supplements, and treatment aimed at addressing the mind and body connection.

Diet for Risk Reduction

A healthy diet is among the best ways to avoid cholesterol buildup, which can increase your risk of developing heart disease. Doctors recommend limiting nutrient-void foods like sweets and food high in fat and calories, and recommend more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which contain sterols to help block the absorption of cholesterol.

"Most people underestimate the potency of diet for prevention," says Devries, who favors a Mediterranean diet that has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 70 percent. Mediterranean diets include six daily servings of vegetables, two daily servings of fruit, two fish meals per week, exclusive use of olive and canola oils, limited intake of red meat and no processed carbohydrates such as cereal, soda or white flour.


Over-the-counter supplements may be an alternative to prescription cholesterol-lowering medicines for those who are unwilling or unable to take prescriptions due to a history of side effects. Supplements commonly used by Devries include fish oil, red yeast rice extract and plant stanols/sterols.

• Fish Oil-The active ingredients are omega-3 fatty acids, called DHA and EPA, which can lower fats called triglycerides and help convert "bad" cholesterol (LDL) to a healthier form. Fish such as salmon, herring and sablefish contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

• Red Yeast Rice Extract-Compounds found in this supplement can lower LDL cholesterol levels as much as 20 to 30 percent. Due to potential side effects, this supplement requires regular monitoring with blood tests and should only be taken under doctor supervision.

• Plant stanols/sterols-Found in some margarine and in pill form, plant stanols/sterols can lower the absorption of cholesterol in the digestive tract.

Devries cautions that supplements available over the counter can still cause side effects and should only be taken under a doctor's supervision.

Beyond Cholesterol

Family history plays a key role in one's risk of developing heart disease. In addition to standard blood pressure and cholesterol tests, Devries recommends that anyone with a strong family history have additional blood tests to gauge inherited risk. While not widely available, tests such as those to measure Lp(a), a "sticky fat," C-reactive protein that measures inflammation, and a test for LDL particle size (large, fluffy particles are preferable to small, dense ones) can all be important tools for determining heart disease risk.

"These new blood tests allow us to go far beyond cholesterol to examine very serious inherited risks that were unknown a short time ago, but can now be treated," says Devries.

Mind/Body Connection

Stress, anger and depression can have a strong impact on heart health that researchers are only just beginning to fully understand. To address the correlation between the mind and body, centers such as Northwestern Memorial's Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and the Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness have incorporated cardiac behavioral medicine into their practice.

"The mind and heart are intricately connected. Stress-reducing techniques such as acupuncture, biofeedback and healing touch can lower stress, reduce blood pressure and keep your heart strong and healthy," says Devries.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Is Jack Frost Nipping At Your Nose?

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Severe temperatures are hitting most of the country this week, but cold weather is no excuse to sit inside over the long winter months. If you do go outside for some fresh air and exercise, make sure to guard yourself from frostbite. When body tissues are frostbitten, skin cells become damaged -- sometimes permanently. Therefore, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has some suggestions to help keep your skin safe from the cold.

"It takes only minutes for exposed skin to become frostbitten if the temperature falls below 20 degrees Fahrenheit and the wind is blowing at 20 miles per hour or more," says Taizoon Baxamusa, MD, spokesperson for the AAOS. "Your hands, fingers, feet, toes, and ears are especially susceptible, so you need to take special care protecting them."

Frostbitten areas may feel numb or hard and frozen, and may appear waxy, white, or grayish. Symptoms such as cold sensitivity, numbness, or chronic pain may last for years after an incident of frostbite; in extreme cases, the frostbitten tissue may be permanently damaged and need to be amputated.

The AAOS offers the following tips to help prevent frostbite:
-- Dress appropriately.
-- Light, loose, layered clothing provides both ventilation and
insulation. Top your outfit with a water-repellent (not
waterproof) fabric.
-- Additionally, check for gaps in your clothing (such as between
your glove and sleeve) that might expose bare skin to the cold.

-- Take special care to protect your head, hands and feet. Substantial
heat loss occurs through the scalp, so head coverings are vital.
-- Mittens are warmer than gloves, and two pair of socks (wool over
lightweight cotton) will help keep your feet warm.

-- If you plan on being out in the cold for a prolonged period, do not
drink or smoke. Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine leave the skin more
prone to thermal injury.

-- If you get wet, get inside and remove the wet clothing as quickly as

-- Check yourself every half-hour or so for signs of frostbite. If your
toes, fingers, ears or other body parts feel numb, get inside.

If you do get frostbite, you should seek medical attention. Should you be unable to see a physician immediately, follow these tips to prevent further injury:

-- Get to a warm room as soon as possible and call for medical
assistance. You can have warm drinks, such as broth or tea.

-- Rest the injured areas (avoid walking on frostbitten feet, for
example) and elevate them slightly.

-- Take off any wet or restrictive clothing.

-- Warm the affected area by immersing it in warm (NOT HOT) water for at
least 30 to 45 minutes, or until it feels warm and sensation returns.
During warming, you may feel severe pain and the injured area may
swell and change color.

-- Do not do anything that will further injure the frostbitten tissue.
Leave blisters intact, and cover them with a sterile or clean cloth
until you are seen by a physician.

-- Do not rub the area with your hands, with snow, or with anything else.

-- Do not start to warm the affected area if there is any chance that it
will be exposed to the cold again.

-- Do not use dry heat, such as from a heating pad, sunlamp, fire, or
radiator, to try to warm the area. Because the skin is numb and will
not feel the heat, it can easily be burned.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Arthritis Foundation Launches Nationwide Movement Encouraging People to Move to Prevent and Treat Arthritis

/PRNewswire/ -- The Arthritis Foundation today announces the launch of Let's Move Together, a nationwide movement created to improve the quality of life of the one-in-five Americans living with the pain of arthritis.

Let's Move Together is designed to inspire people to move every day to prevent or treat arthritis, encouraging daily physical activity for better health and participation in their local Arthritis Walk--an annual event that promotes fun and fitness.

By the year 2030, an estimated 67 million people in the U.S. will be affected by arthritis, up from current estimates of 46 million. Even more alarming is the fact that the prevalence of osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, continues to rise even though it can often be prevented by staying active through enjoyable physical activities such as walking.

"Physical activity, such as walking, is crucial to managing joint pain, improving mobility and reducing fatigue often associated with arthritis," said Patience White, M.D., chief public health officer for the Arthritis Foundation. "It is our hope that the Let's Move Together movement will lead people to take action, both to improve their own lives and the lives of others with arthritis."

People can join Let's Move Together by contacting their local Arthritis Foundation chapter or visiting The Web site offers exercise tips and other suggestions on ways to creatively incorporate movement into daily activities, including links to the Arthritis Foundation Life Improvement Series programs offered to help people become active through arthritis-friendly exercise. The site also showcases uplifting stories of people who are battling arthritis by staying active, a physical activity tracker to help keep users moving all year, and information about Arthritis Walk events around the country. Visitors can even read a blog from others participating in the movement or contribute to message boards on a variety of movement-related topics.

"The Let's Move Together program educates people that is it important to move every day not just one day out of the year," added Dr. White. "By launching this movement in January we hope that people will commit to daily physical activity and continue to move together throughout the year."

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From Outer Space To The Eye Clinic

(NAPSI)-A device developed for the space program is now also valuable for eye care patients as the first noninvasive early detection device for cataracts, the leading cause of vision loss worldwide.

Researchers from the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) collaborated to develop a simple, safe eye test for measuring a protein related to cataract formation. If subtle protein changes can be detected before a cataract develops, people may be able to reduce their cataract risk by making simple lifestyle changes, such as decreasing sun exposure, quitting smoking, stopping certain medications and controlling diabetes.

"By the time the eye's lens appears cloudy from a cataract, it is too late to reverse or medically treat this process," said Manuel B. Datiles III, M.D., NEI medical officer and lead author of the study. "This technology can detect the earliest damage to lens proteins, triggering an early warning for cataract formation and blindness."

The new device is based on a laser light technique initially developed to analyze the growth of protein crystals in a zero-gravity space environment. NASA's Rafat R. Ansari, Ph.D., senior scientist at the John H. Glenn Research Center and co-author of the study, brought the technology's possible clinical applications to the attention of NEI vision researchers when he learned that his father's cataracts were caused by changes in lens proteins.

Several proteins are involved in cataract formation. One known as alpha-crystallin binds to others, keeping them from forming a cataract. However, humans are born with a fixed amount of alpha-crystallin, so if the supply becomes depleted due to radiation exposure, smoking, diabetes or other causes, a cataract can result.

The technique may also prove useful in early detection of other diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's in which an abnormal protein may be found, added Dr. Ansari. "By understanding the role of protein changes in cataract formation, we can use the lens not just to look at eye disease but also as a window into the whole body."

"This research is a prime example of two government agencies sharing scientific information for the benefit of the American people," said NEI director Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D.

The DLS technique will now assist vision scientists in looking at long-term lens changes due to aging, smoking, diabetes, LASIK surgery, eye drops for treating glaucoma and surgical removal of the vitreous gel within the eye, a procedure known to cause cataracts within six months to one year. It may also help in the early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, in which an abnormal protein may be found in the lens.

For more information, visit and

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Great Eating And Lifestyle Tips For Heart Health Month

(StatePoint) From Valentine's Day to Heart Health Month, February is all about matters of the heart. It's a time to tell loved ones they matter. And what better way than to help you and your sweetheart get healthier than through smart lifestyle choices?

Heart and cardiovascular disease continue to be the number one killer in the U.S., according to medical statistics. With this in mind, every year since 1963 Congress and the President have proclaimed February "American Heart Month." It's a great time to get the whole family started on a healthier path.

"As a doctor and a food executive, I've seen many, many people unnecessarily suffering from heart ailments," says Dr. Peter Praeger, a practicing heart surgeon and founder of Dr. Praeger's Sensible Foods. "We all know that bad eating and lifestyle habits are direct contributors to heart disease, so why not make a change in your family's lives simply by making some better choices?"

Here are some basic heart health tips from Dr. Praeger that you and your loved ones can follow:

* The key to being healthy is moderation and exercise. Keep this in mind when setting healthy living goals.

* Get your blood pressure and cholesterol screened starting at the age of 14.

* Make simple changes in your lifestyle to become more active, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

* Walking two miles per day can help keep your heart healthy.

* Focus on eating sensibly most of the time, but don't deprive yourself of all the foods you enjoy.

* Make sure your grocery list includes foods that are all-natural and preservative-free, such as Dr. Praeger's Sensible Foods products.

* Eat more fiber. Eating fiber from fruits, vegetables, and grains may help lower your chances of getting heart disease.

* Try to avoid foods high in trans fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.

* When purchasing vegetables, keep in mind that the more colorful they are, the more heart-protective antioxidants they typically contain.

For ideas for heart healthy foods, visit

"The key to heart health and general health is to make healthful eating and lifestyle choices, no matter how old you are," stresses Dr. Praeger.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

People With Type 2 Diabetes Need To Focus On Weight Management Year-Round

(NAPSI)-Many Americans spend the early part of each year trying to lose holiday weight or gear up for swimsuit season. But, for the one in four adult Americans with type 2 diabetes, the need to lose weight is not just wishful thinking, it is a medical necessity and could help address the growing diabetes epidemic.

Obesity and diabetes are closely related metabolic diseases that are affecting the world at epidemic levels. A recent report from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that nearly 24 million Americans are currently living with type 2 diabetes. Moreover, in the U.S. alone, there are close to 134 million adults who are overweight, and more than 63 million of whom are obese.

A dramatic increase in the prevalence of obesity has led to an associated rise in the prevalence of many obesity-related diseases, including type 2 diabetes, which has seen an increase of more than 3 million people in the past two years. Additionally, there are many more Americans who have prediabetes and have a markedly increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the coming years.

Diabetes and Weight-

A Vicious Cycle

There is a very strong link between type 2 diabetes and body weight; 90 percent of people living with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.

"Weight management plays a critical role in determining whether or not a person with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes will be able to delay, or even prevent, the progression of their condition," says Dr. Lawrence Blonde, director of the Ochsner Diabetes Clinical Research Unit in the Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, La.

Excess weight often contributes to the development of diabetes, but for people with or at risk for type 2 diabetes, weight loss is often difficult to achieve. Traditional therapies for controlling blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes often do not address the importance of weight loss in overweight or obese patients. In fact, many of the medications commonly used to control blood glucose, such as sulfonylureas or thiazolidindiones (TZDs), can actually be associated with weight gain.

Breaking The Cycle

Modifying lifestyle to include a healthy diet and regular physical activity and working with a doctor to identify the right medication or combination of medications is critical to the successful management of type 2 diabetes. This will also help achieve positive overall health outcomes by contributing to improvements in control of blood glucose, cholesterol and other blood lipids and blood pressure. Weight management can also help improve the quality of life of people with type 2 diabetes and provide motivation to continue with their doctor's treatment recommendations.

Moderate and sustainable weight loss in overweight or obese people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes can be achieved by taking the following steps:

• Meet with an appropriately trained health care professional- usually a registered dietitian-to learn the basics about healthy eating;

• Talk to your doctor about what medications are best for you and mention your concern about weight;

• Increase your physical activity; If approved by your doctor, even a modest increase can be very beneficial;

• Involve your family, it takes a group effort to support your lifestyle changes;

• Find more information about how to improve your lifestyle using resources such as the American Diabetes Association ( and the National Diabetes Education Program (

"Weight management plays a critical role in determining whether or not a person with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes will be able to delay, or even prevent, the progression of their condition."

Dr. Lawrence Blonde, director of the Ochsner Diabetes Clinical Research Unit, Ochsner Medical Center, New Orleans, La.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Leading Gerontologist Shares Secrets To Longevity And Good Heart Health

(NAPSI)-With resolutions set and Heart Health Month approaching in February, Americans continue to seek greater health, well-being and the secrets to aging gracefully.

"The average person is built genetically to live to 90, but the lifestyle choices that we make are key factors that help propel us to that age," says Dr. Thomas Perls, one of the nation's leading gerontologists and author of "Living to 100." He adds, "People have this idea that the older you get, the sicker you get, when in fact our studies show that many are living healthily well into their 90s. So it becomes more the case that the older you get, the healthier you've been."

Dr. Perls shares unexpected tips that can add quality years to your life.

Absolutely Positive: One of the key factors to aging well is to be optimistic. Having a positive outlook on life and not allowing stress to get to you can increase your life expectancy and enhance your quality of life. Although our personalities are often innate and are stable throughout life, it is possible to alter reactions and keep unnecessary overreacting at bay. Focus on mind over matter, and try lightening your emotional load with humor. Laughing helps people relax and stay alert, so get together with friends for a game of charades or pop in your favorite sitcom.

Floss for Life: Flossing daily is one of the easiest ways to maintain the health of your smile and body. Perls' review of the medical literature revealed that flossing daily can add 1.5 years to your life expectancy. Not flossing regularly can cause inflamed gums. The inflammatory substances and bacteria that subsequently collect in your gums can surprisingly go on to greatly increase your risk for heart disease, as well as other serious health conditions such as stroke and Alzheimer's disease. Choose a floss that is comfortable to use, so you'll be encouraged to floss more often. Glide Comfort Plus gently wraps around the fingers and teeth, making for a more enjoyable flossing experience.

Antioxidants 101: Antioxidant nutrients such as selenium produce powerful enzymes that act in neutralizing damaging particles in the body. Intake of these antioxidants improves your chances at healthy aging. Load up on tomatoes, flaxseed, and dark greens such as broccoli, kale and spinach, all known for containing substances that likely decrease risk for age-related maladies.

Make it a Monday: Designate a specific day of the week to start healthy habits, whether it be flossing daily or solving a Sudoku puzzle. Research indicates that lack of structural support for a healthy lifestyle is among the primary reasons that people are unable to initiate and sustain healthful practices. Start on a Monday; it's the day to set goals, to refocus, to recommit. People organize their lives around the week, which initiates with a Monday, so why not start this Monday?

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Solutions For Chronic Diseases

(NAPSI)-Through prevention, early diagnosis and better disease management-combined with innovative medical research-lives can be saved and health care costs can be lowered.

That's just as well, because according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic conditions are now responsible for 70 percent of all deaths and 75 percent of health care spending in America.

What's more, 80 million Americans now suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease. Five thousand Americans visit an emergency room every day as a result of asthma. And every 72 seconds, another American develops Alzheimer's disease.

Teenage obesity has tripled in the last 20 years and one of every three children is predicted to develop diabetes. These children are likely to experience a lifetime of serious health issues associated with these conditions.

The good news is, there's a broad and growing consensus among America's pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, health care providers, patient advocates, policymakers, community groups and business and labor leaders that addressing the problem of chronic diseases is a critical part of any successful effort to reform health care in America and reduce health care costs.

For example, pharmaceutical research companies are working on a wide array of new and better treatments, including 277 new medicines to fight heart disease and stroke-the leading cause of death in America. In addition, there are now in development over 750 new medicines to treat cancer, more than 200 to treat conditions affecting children and 900 to help treat and prevent diseases affecting the elderly.

Working together, Americans can create better incentives and rewards for people to both stay healthy and seek early medical intervention when needed. We can also do a better job of teaching children how important eating right and exercise are to a lifetime of good health, and find ways to help seniors stay physically and mentally active.

To learn more about efforts to reduce the toll and cost of chronic diseases, visit the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease at For more information on new medicines being developed by America's pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, visit And for an overview of chronic disease prevention and health promotion, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Managing Cancer-Related Stress

(NAPSI)-While an illness such as cancer can be one of life's most stressful events, there are resources people can turn to for help in managing the stress.

If you are currently coping with cancer or have a loved one who is, the best resource for information on overcoming daily challenges is Cancer.Net (, the patient information Web site of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

On the site you will find information devoted to the following stress-relief techniques:

Handling Fatigue

A common side effect of cancer and cancer treatment is fatigue. It can be tough for people with cancer to adjust to lower energy levels, but it is important to listen to your body. Don't be afraid to say "no" when asked by others to do tasks. Also, it is more important than ever to conserve your energy and get regular exercise.

Physical Activity

Regular physical activity reduces the effects of fatigue. It also provides stress relief and helps prevent muscle loss.

Cancer.Net has specific advice about physical activity for people undergoing treatment and cancer survivors.

Healthy Eating

Staying healthy is key to maintaining the energy needed to deal with stress. ASCO has developed nutrition and cooking resources for people with cancer on Can cer.Net that are aimed at overcoming the appetite-suppressing side effects of treatment and incorporating nutrients that prevent infections.


Laughter is a proven stress reliever. For people with cancer, humor creates hope and is a means of acknowledging their illness in a less threatening way both for themselves and their family and friends.

Keeping A Journal

Studies have shown that keeping a journal is a highly effective way to lower anxiety. Writing down stressors is a safe outlet for expressing feelings and may help bring back a sense of control.

Support Groups

It is important for people with cancer to remember that they are not alone. Support groups can help many people cope with the emotional aspects of cancer by providing a place to share experiences and learn from others who are living with cancer.

More in-depth advice and links to specific resources can be found at

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

New Survey Reveals Majority of Women of Child-Bearing Age Unaware Folic Acid Should Be Consumed Before Pregnancy

/PRNewswire/ -- A new March of Dimes survey conducted by the Gallup organization and funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals only 11 percent of women of childbearing age said they knew that folic acid should be consumed prior to pregnancy. Nearly 40 percent of American women of childbearing age (ages 18-45), say they take a daily multivitamin supplement containing folic acid. However, the rate drops to 27 percent among women 18 to 24 years old.

Additionally, a separate March of Dimes survey conducted by International Communications Research and funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reveals only 17 percent of Spanish-speaking women of childbearing age in the United States are taking a multivitamin containing folic acid daily, according to the first- nationally representative folic acid awareness survey to focus on this population.

This January, as part of National Birth Defects Prevention Month, the Grain Foods Foundation has joined with the March of Dimes to remind all women of child-bearing age of the important role folic acid plays in preventing birth defects.

Daily consumption of the B vitamin folic acid beginning before pregnancy is crucial as birth defects of the brain and spine known as neural tube defects (NTDs), such as spina bifida, can occur in the early weeks following conception, often before a woman knows she is pregnant.

"Folic acid is the most important vitamin women can take to help prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine, and it's most important that they start taking it before they get pregnant and continue to take it after," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes.

The March of Dimes urges all women of childbearing age to consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily beginning before pregnancy and continuing into the early months of pregnancy. Bread, crackers, bagels, pasta, pretzels and tortillas made from fortified, enriched white flour are popular and important sources of folic acid. In fact, enriched grain products have been fortified with twice the amount of folic acid found in whole grain products.

"Enriched grains are an easy, inexpensive and delicious way for women to get essential vitamins such as folic acid," noted Judi Adams, MS, RD and president of the Grain Foods Foundation.

In fact, 2008 marked the ten-year anniversary of folic acid fortification to enriched flour. Since the FDA issued the mandate in 1998, neural tube defects (NTDs), including spina bifida, have declined by 26 percent. To commemorate the ten-year anniversary of folic acid fortification to enriched flour, the Grain Foods Foundation and the March of Dimes developed the Folic Acid for a Healthy Pregnancy seal, making it easier for women to identify enriched grain products that have been fortified with folic acid. An English and Spanish-language version of the Folic Acid for a Healthy Pregnancy seal currently appear nationwide on package of select enriched grain products.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

New Initiative Urges Women to Address Men's Health this New Year

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Nine out of 10 women in the United States are unaware that if their husband or male partner experiences symptoms like fatigue, depressed mood and increased waistline it could be related to a condition known as low testosterone, or Low T, according to survey results announced today by Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Inc. For women resolving to talk to their husbands or boyfriends about making their health a priority this New Year, one important aspect to consider is low testosterone. Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has introduced a toll-free number, 1-866-996-LowT (5698), available through the end of January, and expanded Web site offerings at to support women who are encouraging the men in their lives to have an annual medical exam this year and consider talking about symptoms that may be related to Low T.

The survey of women with husbands or male partners over 40, found that women are twice as likely as men to prompt their partners to have an annual medical exam. Further, 65 percent of women said that worrying about their husband or male partner's overall health will affect their anxiety levels in 2009, and one part of overall health is low testosterone, which also includes symptoms such as fatigue, depression and sexual dysfunction. As women enter the New Year with the men in their lives' health in mind, these new tools offer them easily-accessible information including a low testosterone screener, tips on starting a conversation with men about Low T, facts on the relationship between Type 2 diabetes and low testosterone, and treatment options for low testosterone.

"Thirteen million men in the U.S. age 45 and older suffer from low testosterone, but less than 10 percent are receiving treatment. Not enough men are aware of what the symptoms are, and they should consider talking to a physician," said Harry Fisch, M.D. Professor of Clinical Urology, Columbia University, New York Presbyterian Hospital. "Women play an active role in their husband's health; if they are better informed about the signs and symptoms of treatable medical conditions such as low testosterone they can help make a big impact in the health of their male partners."

Survey Key Findings

-- Women reported that time away from work would be the leading obstacle keeping their husband or male partner from a doctor's visit in 2009; more than a quarter of women (27 percent) also said that fear and lack of motivation would play a role in preventing a doctor's visit.

-- 82 percent of women responded that their spouse or male partner was more likely to discuss changes in cardiovascular health, eyesight or hearing with them after an annual medical exam than changes in weight or sexual function.

-- Women were two times more likely to attribute symptoms, such as fatigue and depressed mood, to thyroid disease or diabetes than to the possibility that the men lives may be suffering from low testosterone.

-- Not surprisingly, on average women report that the men in their lives spend five times more hours a month watching television than addressing their personal health; less than a quarter (21 percent) said that long-term health is most important to their husband's or male partner's daily life.

"The New Year is the perfect opportunity for men to take time out to address their overall health, including Low T, by having an annual medical exam, and discussing any questions or concerns that they might have with their physicians," said Dr. Elizabeth M. Mutisya, vice president of U.S. Medical Affairs and chief medical officer, Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Inc. "We are pleased to announce the launch of 1-866-996-LowT and as part of our ongoing commitment to educating men and their loved ones about low testosterone." and 1-866-996-LowT provide fast and easy ways to learn about Low T. These resources include an interactive quiz to determine a patient's potential for having Low T, ways to engage in conversations with a doctor about symptoms associated with low testosterone, and a guide to help women have a productive dialogue about low testosterone with the men in their lives.

About the Survey

Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Inc. commissioned Opinion Research Corporation to survey 406 women married or in a relationship with men over 40 years old to assess the role women play in their partner's health. The random phone survey also explored respondents' opinions about how well their male partner managed his health in 2008 and his level of dedication to his health versus other activities in his life.

The margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points for the total sample in each survey. The study was conducted December 4-8, 2008.

About Low Testosterone

It is estimated that hypogonadism, also known as low testosterone, affects more than 13 million men in the United States age 45 and older. Because signs and symptoms of low testosterone are subtle and often overlap with other common medical conditions, low testosterone is frequently undiagnosed. Signs and symptoms of low testosterone include low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, depressed mood, reduced muscle mass and strength, increased fat body mass and decreased bone mineral density.

Men with chronic conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and asthma/COPD, are also more likely to have low testosterone compared to other men. Below normal levels of testosterone can be confirmed by a blood test. Testosterone treatment is designed to elevate a hypogonadal male's testosterone levels into the normal physiologic range, which may alleviate symptoms related to low testosterone. As with any medication, patients should work with their physician to weigh treatment benefits and risks.

-- Do not use androgen therapy if:

- You are a man with known or suspected prostate cancer, or if you have breast cancer.

- You are a woman who is breastfeeding, pregnant, or may become pregnant.

-- Patients treated with androgens may be at an increased risk for prostate cancer. Your doctor will likely monitor for prostate cancer before and during treatment with androgens.

-- Patients with benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) who are treated with androgens are at an increased risk of worsening of BPH symptoms.

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General Mills, NBC's The Biggest Loser and Feeding America Partner to Launch Pound For Pound Challenge

/PRNewswire/ -- General Mills, NBC's The Biggest Loser and Feeding America today announced they are partnering to launch the Pound For Pound Challenge, an initiative that encourages Americans to lose weight and feed the hungry. For every pound dieters pledge to lose this new year, a pound of groceries will be delivered to a local food bank.

"More and more people need help getting food on the table in these troubling economic times, but the Pound For Pound Challenge is helping to meet the demand for donations in a big way," said Vicki B. Escarra, president and CEO, Feeding America. "By providing more food resources for Americans, individuals and families can spend their money on other equally important basic necessities like rent or mortgage, utilities and transportation."

While 130 million people are overweight in the United States, 35 million Americans are at risk of hunger. The new Pound For Pound Challenge gives Americans the opportunity to fight the hunger crisis and help families in their neighborhoods by simply pledging to lose weight and get healthy. People can simply visit or and enter their weight loss goals to join the Challenge.

"General Mills has a long-standing commitment to nutrition and wellness, and we're thrilled to support a cause that will not only provide hunger relief but also encourage Americans to get healthier," said John Haugen, vice president, Health and Wellness at General Mills. "By joining the Challenge, Americans are helping themselves while helping the one in eight Americans who struggle with hunger."

In addition to pledging to lose weight, Americans can donate directly at and look for Pound For Pound lids and seals on specially-marked General Mills products. For each lid or seal mailed in, General Mills will donate 10 cents, enough to provide a pound of groceries, to Feeding America. General Mills brands carrying the lid or seal include Yoplait Light(R), Cheerios(R), Honey Nut Cheerios(R), MultiGrain Cheerios(R), Total(R), Fiber One(R) (Cereal, Bars, Muffin Mix, Pancake Mix, and Yogurt), Green Giant(R) Valley Fresh Steamers(TM), Chex Mix(R) 100 Calorie, Warm Delights(R) Minis, Bisquick(R) Heart Health(R), and Cascadian Farm(R) (Cereal and Bars).

Lids and seals will appear on select products for a limited time only, but shoppers have until December 31, 2009 to mail them. Between the donations for weight loss pledges and product lids and seals, General Mills hopes to contribute up to $775,000 to Feeding America during the Pound For Pound Challenge.

The Pound For Pound Challenge will make its national debut on January 6 during the season seven premiere of NBC's The Biggest Loser (8 p.m. EST), encouraging Americans to lose weight, improve themselves, and ultimately lead a healthier lifestyle.

"The Biggest Loser seeks to inspire people to make healthier lifestyle choices and now through the Pound For Pound Challenge, we're committed to tackling the serious hunger epidemic in the United States. By signing up Americans will not only be making a pledge to get healthy for themselves, but they will be providing food and, more importantly, hope for others," said Mark Koops, Managing Director of Reveille, the production company behind NBC's The Biggest Loser.

The Biggest Loser has become an established primetime hit for NBC. Since its debut in 2004, The Biggest Loser has grown to become a lifestyle brand, anchored by The Biggest Loser Club ( as well as The Biggest Loser Meal Plan, and New York Times best-selling books, cookbooks and DVDs. The show provides the perfect platform to raise awareness of this important problem and inspire action. The Challenge will be actively integrated into the show, and viewers will get updates on the Pound For Pound Challenge throughout the entire season.

"Our show inspires so many people to commit to a healthier lifestyle, and we're excited that motivation will help secure millions of pounds of groceries for local food banks," said Bob Harper, trainer, NBC's The Biggest Loser. "Starting January 6, viewers will watch as the show's contestants also commit to their own health, and throughout the season viewers will learn how their own weight loss efforts are helping provide millions of pounds of groceries for others."

Food banks across the nation are facing unprecedented demand for food, and help is needed to keep this crisis from worsening. Becoming a part of the hunger crisis solution, however, is easy to do with the Pound For Pound Challenge.

To join the Challenge or contribute directly to Feeding America, visit or

The Pound For Pound Challenge is a large-scale cause marketing program amplified by its partnership with NBC's The Biggest Loser. It is arguably one of television's largest advertiser-funded charitable integrations to date and was conceived by Reveille and General Mills.

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Living With Bipolar Depression

(NAPSI)-The more you know about a condition such as bipolar disorder, and in particular the depressive episodes of the condition, the better able you may be to manage it if you or someone you care about is ever among the estimated 8 million American adults who may be living with the disorder.

Unlike ordinary sadness or loss, bipolar depression is persistent and can significantly interfere with thoughts, activity and physical health. Overall, most people with the disorder experience depressive episodes three times more often than manic episodes.

If not controlled, bipolar depression can affect a person's ability to do normal, day-to-day activities. Therefore, it's important to talk to your health care provider to develop a treatment plan that is appropriate for you. This may include medication, counseling and exercise.

"When people think about bipolar disorder they tend to forget how debilitating the depressive episodes of the disease can be," explains Janet Taylor, M.D., MPH, clinical instructor of psychiatry at Columbia University-affiliated Harlem Hospital. "For people with this problem, managing the depressive symptoms, such as prolonged periods of sadness and loss of energy, may require ongoing support from a medical professional as well as family and friends."

If you think you are experiencing these symptoms, or are currently on treatment for bipolar disorder, it's important to keep a few things in mind:

• Talk to family and friends. Be honest with yourself. If something doesn't feel right, acknowledge it and discuss your feelings of ongoing sadness with loved ones. They may be able to help.

• Maintain healthy habits. Get regular sleep, eat well, allow time for physical activity and avoid alcohol because this may aggravate your symptoms.

• Plan "me" time. Do activities that make you happy. Spend time with friends, read a book, go to dinner, volunteer or reconnect with your childhood and build a snowman this winter.

• Talk to your doctor. If you are currently on medication, continue working with your doctor to refine your treatment plan. If current treatment is not working, be open and honest with your doctor to make adjustments and get the appropriate treatment in place. If you're new to therapy, it's important to speak with your doctor to assess your treatment plan on an ongoing basis.

For more information, on bipolar depression, talk to your doctor, and visit

"When people think about bipolar disorder they tend to forget how debilitating the depressive episodes of the disease can be."

Dr. Janet Taylor of Columbia University-affiliated Harlem Hospital

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Make the Most Important Investment This Year -- Invest in Your Health

(ARA) - Obesity is a mounting health problem locally and worldwide. More than 1 billion adults globally are overweight, and at least 300 million are obese, according to the World Health Organization.

Obesity not only takes a toll on personal health, it can inflict a huge monetary cost on individuals as well as the economy in general:

* When compared with their healthy-weight counterparts, healthcare spending among the obese is 37 percent higher, reports The Policy Journal of the Health Spheres.

* The rise in obesity contributed to the increase in spending related to diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Fortunately, a sustained 10 percent weight loss may reduce an overweight person’s lifetime medical costs by $2,200 to $5,300 by lowering costs related to hypertension and high cholesterol, among many other related illnesses. Additionally, sustaining a 5 to 10 percent weight loss over six months or longer has been shown to improve health by helping to:

* Lower the risk of heart disease.
* Reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
* Reduce the risk of some kinds of cancer.
* Reduce the strain on joints.

So if weight loss is your resolution this year, or you want to make an important investment in your health, consider an approach that is not just designed to take weight off, but to help you change your behavior.

Just in time for the new year, Weight Watchers has introduced the Momentum program which encourages smarter food and lifestyle choices. Your weight loss plans can absolutely stay on track in 2009, but it’s important to choose a weight-loss plan that truly teaches you how to make healthy, sustainable changes.

Here are Weight Watchers 10 Tips for a Healthy 2009:

* Look for low-calorie substitutions that don’t sacrifice taste. For example, switching from mayo to mustard can add to big calorie savings over time.

* Losing weight with a friend or group of friends really helps with weight-loss success.

* Ounce for ounce, the nutrition in fruits and vegetables can’t be beat. To get the best blend of nutrients, include as many colors as possible.

* Put a napkin over your plate as soon as you’re satisfied -- it’s like turning off a light switch.

* Purge unhealthy food from your pantry, freezer and fridge.

* Make physical activity as convenient as possible. Keep your sneakers and jacket ready and nearby for short, frequent walks.

* Try creating a new favorite dish. Visit for delicious recipe ideas.

* Wear something you feel fabulous in -- a compliment goes a long way in sustaining motivation.

* Set new goals to keep yourself motivated. Goals do not have to be weight related.

* Know what you’re doing. Write down what you’re eating each and every day to keep you on target.

To find out more, visit a Weight Watchers Meeting for free or go to

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Nicotine Addiction: A Women's Health Crisis

(NAPSI)-Cigarette smoking kills more than 173,000 women in the United States each year. In addition to the risks both men and women face from smoking, women are at risk for a unique set of complications, including certain cancers and problems with fertility and pregnancy.

In addition, a recent study showed that smoking is even more dangerous to women's hearts than men's. In fact, women who smoke have heart attacks nearly 14 years earlier than women who don't smoke. But for men, the difference is much smaller. Male smokers have heart attacks about six years earlier than men who don't smoke.

A Cycle of Addiction

Even with all these risks, many women continue to smoke cigarettes. In fact, in the United States, 17.4 percent of adult women currently smoke. This may be because cigarettes contain a very addictive chemical called nicotine.

"Many women who smoke understand the risks, but they become dependent on nicotine because of the feelings of satisfaction and pleasure it gives them," explained Patricia Nez Henderson, M.D., MPH, vice president, Black Hills Center for American Indian Health. "They also get into a daily routine, like taking smoke breaks with co-workers or smoking after meals, and it becomes incredibly hard to break out of those patterns."

Overcoming the Urge

When smokers try to quit, they may experience withdrawal symptoms that cause them to slip up and have a cigarette.

People trying to quit can:

• Work with a doctor to set up and stick to a quit plan.

• Ask friends and family to help them stay away from cigarettes and "triggers" that make them want to smoke.

• Take medication to help quit smoking and participate in counseling.

"If a woman is considering quitting, the best thing she can do is tell her doctor she's ready. Together, they can come up with a plan that fits her lifestyle and needs," added Dr. Henderson.

It's Never Too Late

At any stage of life, smokers can decrease their health risks by quitting. Also, women who quit smoking before becoming pregnant or trying to become pregnant can reduce the risk of infertility, miscarriage, low birth weight and infant heart defects.

Examples of the potential impact on a smoker's health from quitting include:

• Within five years, a woman's risk of dying may decrease by 13 percent.

• Within five years, the excess risk of death from coronary heart disease decreases 62 percent; cerebrovascular disease (stroke) decreases 42 percent, and lung cancer decreases 21 percent.

• Within 10 years of quitting, the risk of dying of respiratory disease decreases by 18 percent.

Twenty years after quitting smoking, a woman's overall risk of dying may decrease to the level of a nonsmoker.

To learn more about how to quit smoking, visit for resources including a useful checklist to make it easier to talk to a doctor about quitting.

This information is courtesy of Pfizer Inc.

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