Thursday, December 09, 2010

Flu Tips for People with Asthma

/PRNewswire/ -- Allergy &Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA), leading patient advocacy group for people with asthma and allergies, urges everyone with asthma and their family members (over 6 months of age) to get a flu shot.

"People with asthma are at high risk of developing complications from the flu, so it's important to do everything possible to avoid getting sick," explains Carol Jones, RN, AE-C, Director of AANMA's Patient Support Center. "That means getting everyone in the household (except babies under 6 months of age) vaccinated against flu every year. It takes up to 2 weeks for the vaccination to take full effect, so to protect your holidays, get your vaccinations today."

"The flu shot is Step 1 in flu prevention," agrees David Callahan, MD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "This year's flu vaccine will protect against three different flu viruses: the 2009 H1N1 virus and two others expected to circulate. Everyone with asthma who is 6 months and older should get a flu vaccination, whether or not they got the H1N1 vaccine last year."

CDC also says some children younger than 9 may need two doses of flu vaccine to be protected; and no one with asthma should receive the nasal spray vaccine (FluMist®).

Other tips for people with asthma:

* Ask your healthcare provider to update your written, customized Asthma Action Plan with specific flu and cold precautions. (Don't have one? e-mail editor@aanma.org for a sample.)
* Treat cold or flu symptoms early and aggressively. Activate your Asthma Action Plan at the first sign of symptoms to reduce airway inflammation and keep breathing tubes clear.
* Make sure all of your medications are up-to-date, including inhalers and nebulizer solutions.
* Check your nebulizer equipment: Is it clean? Do you need new tubing or medicine cups? Does your child need a new, larger mask? Replace them now if necessary.

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Are Energy Beverages Safe to Drink When Exercising?

The resurgence of exercise has been accompanied by multiple supplements, sports drinks, and energy beverages that promise to enhance performance, muscle growth, and recovery. But the question remains: Are energy beverages safe?

"One can of an energy beverage during one session of exercise is safe for most healthy individuals," says John Higgins, M.D., lead author from The University of Texas Medical School in Houston. However, he states, "excess consumption and consumption with other caffeine-containing beverages or alcohol may lead to adverse effects and possibly death."

The United States is the world's largest consumer of energy beverages by volume, and consumption is primarily among people ages 11 to 35 years. The most common ingredient is caffeine, which ranges from 50 milligrams (mg) to 505 mg per 16-ounce serving.

A peer-reviewed journal, Mayo Clinic Proceedings publishes original articles and reviews dealing with clinical and laboratory medicine, clinical research, basic science research and clinical epidemiology. Mayo Clinic Proceedings is published monthly by Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research as part of its commitment to the medical education of physicians. The journal has been published for more than 80 years and has a circulation of 130,000 nationally and internationally. Articles are available online at www.mayoclinicproceedings.com.

The Partnership at Drugfree.org Launches First-of-Its-Kind Resource To Help Parents in Crisis Understand and Navigate Adolescent Drug and Alcohol Treatment

/PRNewswire/ -- Nine million of America's teens and young adults are struggling with drugs and alcohol(1), yet unlike most other adolescent health issues or diseases, parents have not found a concise path to resources and support for teen drug and alcohol addiction. In response, The Partnership at Drugfree.org has launched Time To Get Help (http://timetogethelp.drugfree.org), a first-of-its-kind website and online community to provide parents of teens and young adults with lifesaving information when families are in crisis and facing their child's addiction. It offers comprehensive insight into adolescent alcohol and drug abuse, dependence and addiction; support from top experts and other parents who have been there; and treatment options for their child and family.

The Need: Trial and Error Dominate Struggle to Find a Solution

Of the nine million teens and young adults needing treatment, two million are between the ages of 12-17, and ninety percent of those are not getting the help they need.(2) Research from the 2009 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, sponsored by MetLife Foundation, also shows that parents of teens in trouble are more likely to go to the Internet for help, yet they often struggle with confusing and convoluted intervention and treatment information. This results in frustration and misssteps in their ongoing search for the 'perfect' treatment options for their child.

"If you search the web for 'teen drug problem,' you find more than 300,000 results. If you do a search for 'drug treatment,' the number climbs to more than 31 million. With millions of pages of information, it's no wonder parents are uncertain of where and who to turn to when dealing with teen addiction," said Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org. "Time To Get Help bridges the gap between the questions parents have when it comes to their child's drug and alcohol addiction and the answers and resources they desperately need for treatment. It was created with parents – and for parents – as one destination to find easy-to-use, non-judgmental and science-based information and support."

"Time To Get Help comes right at the time when you know your child has a problem and you don't know where to go. You don't know who to talk to," said Melissa Gilbert, spokesperson for The Partnership at Drugfree.org. "Dedicated to treatment, it gives you the precise knowledge and resources you need to help a child in crisis. And the site's online community provides parents a place to breathe, a place to feel safe and to know that they are not alone."

Addressing the need for clear, available information for parents, the new peer-to-peer resource offers two practical e-Books, both free of charge, that educate them on what they need to know about youth intervention and treatment. The downloadable e-Books and new site provide the most current information and cutting-edge advice from experts including the Treatment Research Institute (TRI), one of the field's leading research groups specializing in addiction and substance use issues. TRI's senior researchers and the organization's own Science Advisory Board helped to translate research into the most effective and practical tools for parents at Time To Get Help.

Housed under the "Get Treatment" and the "Learn" sections of The Partnership at Drugfree.org's newly relaunched website, the Intervention e-Book helps parents respond when they think or know their child is using alcohol or other drugs. The organization's Treatment e-Book provides advice and guidance when it appears their child may need treatment for a serious drug problem, including the right questions to ask a prospective treatment program and tips on how to pay for treatment.

"Too many treatment providers, as well as society at large, blame parents for the youth's addiction or ignore them in the recognition, treatment and recovery process," said Gayle A. Dakof, PhD, member of The Partnership at Drugfree.org Science Advisory Board and Research Associate Professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "This is why Time To Get Help is so important. The site not only gives parents access to the highest quality information and treatment for their children, but also underscores the important fact that they are not part of the problem, but a critical part of the solution."

Along with its "Community" section where parents can share their stories, Time To Get Help also features "Helping Hand," where difficult questions can be asked and peer-to-peer and expert advice on intervention, treatment and recovery are offered. Under "Make a Plan," worksheets and guides help direct a parent's conversation with treatment program staff in deciding which one is the best fit for their child and checklists help them take care of their own emotional needs while going through these times.

Time To Get Help was guided by the input and real-world experiences of the organization's Parent Advisory Board, including mom Patricia Genereux. "I struggled to understand my daughter's behavior. I asked myself if it was common young adult behavior or something more. We didn't understand how best to get an intervention or if one was even appropriate." She continues, "I wish we had been able to click on Time To Get Help to help navigate through the maze of information. The tools, conversation examples and guidance on the site help families understand the disease itself, prevention measures, intervention, treatment and recovery. It's the best start any parent could hope for to learn, find support and take action."

Opening up about these difficult issues isn't always easy. In response, the site's online community allows parents to connect and ask questions – openly or anonymously. The forum helps them wherever they are on their path, from those who recently discovered their child is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction to those who need support with treatment and recovery.

"Receiving support from others who have been through what you are going through can be very powerful and helpful, and often one of the most effective ways to stay hopeful, inspired and sane," said Lorraine McNeill-Popper, a mom and a member of The Partnership at Drugfree.org Parent Advisory Board. "You will find out that you are not alone in this fight against addiction and learn from other parents."

Time To Get Help was sponsored by Purdue Pharma and by a leadership grant from an anonymous donor. For more information, visit http://timetogethelp.drugfree.org/.

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Monday, December 06, 2010

The Flu is Still Here: Get Vaccinated!

It's that time of year again!  While many Georgians will be sharing gifts and warm wishes this holiday season, the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) is reminding you to get vaccinated so you are not sharing the flu.


"Georgians should continue to do their part to prevent the spread of the flu by getting vaccinated," said Dr. Anil Mangla, DCH's Director of Infectious Diseases and Immunizations program and State Epidemiologist.  "Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect you, your loved ones and your community from the flu."

The flu season typically begins in October and can last until May.  Georgia is currently experiencing moderate flu activity with no deaths.  People can decrease their chances of getting the flu by practicing basic flu safety tips such as washing your hands often with soap and water or using hand sanitizer, staying at home when you are sick, coughing into the bend of your elbow and receiving a seasonal flu vaccination.

This year's seasonal flu vaccination protects against three influenza viruses, including the 2009 H1N1 strain, and is available at local county health departments, pharmacies and clinics.  This is the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a universal recommendation for everyone 6 months and older to receive a seasonal flu vaccination.  It is especially recommended for those at high-risk of flu complications to seek vaccination.  High-risk groups include:

  • Children 6 months through 18 years of age
  • People 50 years and older
  • People with chronic diseases such as diabetes or asthma
  • People living in nursing homes or long-term care homes
  • Women who are pregnant
  • Health care providers
In addition to the flu shot, DCH recommends that Georgians keep their immune system strong by eating a healthy diet, getting an adequate amount of sleep daily, managing their stress and engaging in regular physical activity.

While this is the season for sharing and caring, let's not share the flu.  Get vaccinated and happy holidays!

For additional information on immunizations, log onto www.georgiahealthinfo.gov.

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Saturday, December 04, 2010

National Influenza Vaccination Week to be held December 5-11, 2010

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has set aside the week of December 5-11, 2010 to observe this season's National Influenza Vaccination Week. The week-long emphasis on flu vaccination was established to highlight the importance of continuing influenza vaccination, as well as fostering greater use of flu vaccine after the holiday season into January and beyond. National Influenza Vaccination Week provides an opportunity for public health professionals, health care professionals, health advocates, communities, and families from across the country to work together to promote flu vaccination before the traditional winter peak in flu activity.

With three strains of flu expected to circulate in the 2010-2011 season, it is important that everyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated if they haven't already done so, to protect themselves and their loved ones from flu. The three flu strains identified by the CDCs' Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices are an A/H3N2 strain, a B strain and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic strain. This year's flu vaccine provides protection against all three strains and approximately 160 million doses of the vaccine have already been distributed nationwide.

The universal flu vaccine recommendation, which encourages everyone 6 months of age and older to be vaccinated, took effect this flu season, "The new vaccination recommendation shows the importance of preventing the flu in everyone," says Dr. Anne Schuchat, Assistant Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service and CDC's Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "People who do not get vaccinated are taking two risks: first, they are placing themselves at risk for the flu, including a potentially long and serious illness, and second, if they get sick, they are also placing their close contacts at risk for influenza."

"The bottom line is, anyone—even healthy people—can get sick from the flu," said Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh, M.D., M.P.H. "Lead the way to better health for all by getting your flu shot."

One of the many goals for NIVW is to engage at-risk audiences who are not yet vaccinated, hesitant about vaccination, or unsure about where to get vaccinated. Each day of National Influenza Vaccination Week is designated to highlight the importance for certain groups such as families, older adults, and people with high risk conditions like diabetes, asthma and heart problems, to get vaccinated. The kickoff day, Sunday, December 5th, will emphasize the importance of the universal vaccination recommendation, because everyone needs to be protected from flu.

State and local public health departments and other partners are encouraged to participate in planning their own NIVW events. For more information about National Influenza Vaccination Week, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/nivw/ or http://www.flu.gov, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' dedicated flu website.

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

HHS announces the nation’s new health promotion and disease prevention agenda

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today unveiled Healthy People 2020, the nation’s new 10-year goals and objectives for health promotion and disease prevention, and “myHealthyPeople,” a new challenge for technology application developers.

For the past 30 years, Healthy People has been committed to improving the quality of our Nation’s health by producing a framework for public health prevention priorities and actions.

“The launch of Healthy People 2020 comes at a critical time,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Our challenge and opportunity is to avoid preventable diseases from occurring in the first place.”

Chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, are responsible for seven out of every 10 deaths among Americans each year and account for 75 percent of the nation’s health spending. Many of the risk factors that contribute to the development of these diseases are preventable.

“Too many people are not reaching their full potential for health because of preventable conditions,” said Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh, M.D., M.P.H. “Healthy People is the nation’s roadmap and compass for better health, providing our society a vision for improving both the quantity and quality of life for all Americans.”

The Healthy People initiative is grounded in the principle that setting national objectives and monitoring progress can motivate action, and indeed, in just the last decade, preliminary analyses indicate that the country has either progressed toward or met 71 percent of its Healthy People targets.

Healthy People 2020 is the product of an extensive stakeholder feedback process that is unparalleled in government and health. It integrates input from public health and prevention experts, a wide range of federal, state and local government officials, a consortium of more than 2,000 organizations, and perhaps most importantly, the public. More than 8,000 comments were considered in drafting a comprehensive set of Healthy People 2020 objectives. Based on this input, a number of new topic areas are included in the new initiative, including:

• Adolescent Health
• Blood Disorders and Blood Safety
• Dementias, including Alzheimer’s Disease
• Early and Middle Childhood
• Genomics
• Global Health
• Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being
• Healthcare-Associated Infections
• Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health
• Older Adults
• Preparedness
• Sleep Health
• Social Determinants of Health


Healthy People is also issuing a special challenge to encourage developers to create easy-to-use applications for professionals who are working with the new national health objectives and state- and community-level health data.

“This milestone in disease prevention and health promotion creates an opportunity to leverage information technology to make Healthy People come alive for all Americans in their communities and workplaces,” said Chief Technology Officer Todd Park. “The ‘myHealthyPeople’ apps challenge will help spur innovative approaches to helping communities track their progress using Healthy People objectives and targets as well as develop an agenda for health improvement.”

HHS is also launching a newly redesigned Healthy People Web site that allows users to tailor information to their needs and explore evidence-based resources for implementation. The Web site is located at: www.healthypeople.gov. For more information about myHealthyPeople, go to www.challenge.gov/

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

With whooping cough on the rise, help keep your child healthy and in school

(ARA) - Recently, several states including California, South Carolina, Texas, Ohio and Michigan have reported a rise in whooping cough cases. California health officials have declared whooping cough an epidemic in the state, and several infants have died.

Families with school-aged children should make sure their kids are up to date on recommended shots. Children who are not up to date are at risk of catching and spreading serious diseases, including whooping cough.

Whooping cough is highly contagious and spreads easily in places like schools where people are in close contact. Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a respiratory infection that usually starts like a cold and then turns into a bad cough over time. Whooping cough may lead to pneumonia or rib fracture and other complications in adolescents and adults. The cough can last three months and lead to hospitalization and missed work or school days.

School nurse Deb Robarge, from the National Association of School Nurses, has seen whooping cough first-hand. Her own son developed the disease as a college student, even though he had been vaccinated as a child.

"It's terrible to see your child suffer from a disease that could have been prevented," says Robarge. "It's so important to make sure your children are up to date on their vaccines to help keep them healthy for school."

The best way to help prevent whooping cough is to get vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Protection from the childhood whooping cough vaccine starts to wear off after approximately five to 10 years, leaving preteens, adolescents and adults at risk of catching and spreading the disease. As long as certain criteria are met, the CDC recommends that adolescents aged 11 to 18 years old receive one dose of the Tdap vaccine-a booster vaccine which helps protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).

Many states have adopted Tdap vaccination requirements for school entry. Starting this year, states including Indiana, Alabama, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee require that students of a certain age receive the Tdap vaccine.

Others states with Tdap vaccination requirements include: Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Kansas and New York.

Robarge and the National Association of School Nurses offer some tips for parents to help keep children healthy and in school:

* Talk to your health care provider to ensure your preteen or teen is up to date on recommended vaccines for their age group and caught up on any missed vaccinations

* Get vaccinated, too. Not being up to date on vaccinations can put adults and their families at risk of catching and spreading serious diseases such as whooping cough

* Remember that your school nurse is a great resource for information on vaccination and other health care topics

* Encourage your child to wash his or her hands often and cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing

* Avoid close contact with people who are sick

GlaxoSmithKline has provided funding, editorial and other assistance to the National Association of School Nurses for this campaign.



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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Concussion is a serious injury in contact sports

(ARA) - When your son ends up on the bottom of the pile chasing down a fumbled football, or your daughter and her teammate jointly perform sideways dives to keep the volleyball from hitting the floor, you probably catch your breath, hoping no one gets hurt.

And usually, the players involved pick themselves up off the ground, brush the dust off their hands, and the game continues.

But concussions, when sudden trauma causes damages to the brain, are a common injury to the head in contact sports, and an estimated 3 million sports-related concussions happen every year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, when it comes to the leading causes of traumatic brain injury for young people, ages 15 to 24 years, contact sports come in second only to motor vehicle accidents.

"While the majority of concussions are self-limited, meaning the body will heal itself, catastrophic events can occur and we do not yet know the long-term effects of multiple concussions," says Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, chair of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Sports Neurology Section. The AAN recently drafted a new position statement targeting policymakers with authority over determining policy procedures for when an athlete suffers from concussion while participating in sports.

The AAN's position statement offers help for parents, coaches, administrators and sports team health officials at all levels - from elementary school through professional leagues:

* If the athlete is suspected of suffering a concussion, the athlete should not be allowed to return to play until he or she is seen by a physician with training in the evaluation and management of sports concussions.

* An athlete should not play if he or she is still experiencing symptoms from a concussion.

* A certified athletic trainer should be present at all sporting events, including practices, where athletes are at risk for concussion.

"We need to make sure coaches, trainers and especially parents, are properly educated about how serious concussions can be, and that the right steps have been taken before an athlete returns to the field," Kutcher says.

If your athlete suffers a concussion, make sure he or she receives medical attention as soon as possible. Treatment should be taken to ensure there is proper oxygen supply, blood flow is moderated and blood pressure controlled. Other precautions can include X-rays of the skull and neck areas, or even a CT scan.

If the concussion is very severe, rehabilitation involving physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy is an option, as well as psychiatric help and social support.

To learn more about dealing with concussions, visit www.aan.com/patients.


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CDC Spotlights Global Efforts to Address Antibiotic Resistance

/PRNewswire/ -- Antibiotic resistance is one of the world's most pressing public health threats. To bring attention to this increasing problem, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government partners will observe its third annual Get Smart About Antibiotics Week on Nov. 15-21, 2010. The national campaign will highlight the coordinated efforts of CDC, state and local health departments, and non-profit and for-profit partners to educate the public about antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic use in both community and healthcare settings.

"Antibiotics are essential to combat life-threatening bacterial infections," says Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of CDC. "Unfortunately, misuse of antibiotics is widespread and contributes to resistance. We have to better promote appropriate use of antibiotics to preserve these life-saving tools."

Taking or prescribing antibiotics when they are not needed creates additional health risks. And, antibiotic use can lead to antibiotic resistance – when bacteria change in a way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of antibiotics. As resistance increases, a patient's risk of complications or death from an infection also increases. Additionally, antibiotic-resistant bacteria have the potential to spread between people and cause severe infections. Reducing unnecessary antibiotic use can reduce avoidable adverse events including Clostridium difficile infections (a potentially deadly diarrheal infection) and allergic reactions.

"Antibiotics are a shared resource – and, for some infections, are becoming a scarce resource," says Dr. Lauri Hicks, medical director for CDC's Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work program. "The problem is we expect antibiotics to work for every illness, but they don't. If you have a cold, antibiotics will not work for you."

In conjunction with Get Smart About Antibiotics Week 2010, CDC unveiled its new Get Smart for Healthcare program to complement the existing Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work program. Get Smart for Healthcare will focus on improving antibiotic use in hospitals and nursing homes. The goal of the Get Smart for Healthcare program is to ensure that these facilities are using antibiotics wisely by implementing proven strategies.

Data from published studies show that:

* Approximately 50 percent of antibiotics are unnecessarily prescribed or inappropriate.
* More than $1.1 billion is spent annually on unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions for respiratory infections in adults.
* Antibiotic-resistant infections lead to worse outcomes for patients, including higher mortality.


The 2010 observance of Get Smart About Antibiotics Week is an international collaboration, which will coincide with European Antibiotic Awareness Day and a Canadian observance day, both scheduled for Nov. 18, 2010.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Clearing The Air on Exercise and The Common Cold

/PRNewswire/ -- As the weather turns colder, the U.S. launches itself full-force into cold and flu season. While recent research has correctly reported that exercise can help prevent the common cold, experts with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommend caution for people who are considering an intense workout while they're sick. In fact, there are some cases in which exercise could do more harm than good.

ACSM Fellow David C. Nieman, Dr.P.H., says that moderate exercise (30 minutes a day, on most, if not all, days of the week) actually lowers the risk for respiratory infections. Prolonged, intense exercise, on the other hand, can weaken the immune system and allow viruses to gain a foothold and spread.

"The good news, for the majority of fitness enthusiasts who put in 30-60 minutes of exercise most days of the week, is that the number of sick days they'll take during the common cold season is reduced by at least 40 percent," said Dr. Nieman.

People who are already sick should approach exercise cautiously during their illness. To help people decide whether to hit the gym or stay in bed, Dr. Nieman offers the following recommendations:

* DO exercise moderately if your cold symptoms are confined to your head. If you're dealing with a runny nose or sore throat, moderate exercise is permissible. Intense exercise can be resumed a few days after symptoms subside (in cases of the common cold).
* DON'T "sweat out" your illness. This is a potentially dangerous myth, and there is no data to support that exercise during an illness helps cure it.
* DO stay in bed if your illness is "systemic" – that is, spread beyond your head. Respiratory infections, fever, swollen glands and extreme aches and pains all indicate that you should rest up, not work out.
* DON'T jump back in too soon. If you're recovering from a more serious bout of cold or flu, gradually ease back into exercise after at least two weeks of rest.


"In general, if your symptoms are from the neck up, go ahead and take a walk," said Dr. Nieman. "But if you have a fever or general aches and pains, rest up and let your body get over the illness."

Dr. Nieman also encourages people to engage in moderate-intensity exercise before getting a flu shot. After exercise, he said, the body responds better to the vaccine and gets a boost in immunity.

For more information, check out "Exercise and the Common Cold," ACSM's fact sheet dedicated to the relationship between safe exercise and illnesses. This fact sheet, written by Dr. Nieman, is part of a Current Comment fact sheet series available online at www.acsm.org.

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 40,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

HHS announces new tobacco strategy and proposed new warnings and graphics for cigarette packs and advertisements

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today unveiled a new comprehensive tobacco control strategy that includes proposed new bolder health warnings on cigarette packages and advertisements. Once final, these health warnings on cigarettes and in cigarette advertisements will be the most significant change in more than 25 years. These actions are part of a broader strategy that will help tobacco users quit and prevent children from starting.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of premature and preventable death in the United States, responsible for 443,000 deaths each year. Thirty percent of all cancer deaths are due to tobacco. Each day 1,200 lives of current and former smokers are lost prematurely due to tobacco-related diseases.

“Every day, almost 4,000 youth try a cigarette for the first time and 1,000 youth become regular, daily smokers,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Today marks an important milestone in protecting our children and the health of the American public.”

The strategy includes a proposal issued by the Food and Drug Administration titled Required Warnings for Cigarette Packages and Advertisements. Specifically, the proposed rule details a requirement of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act that nine new larger and more noticeable textual warning statements and color graphic images depicting the negative health consequences of smoking appear on cigarette packages and in cigarette advertisements. The public has an opportunity to comment on 36 proposed images through January 9, 2011.

By June 22, 2011, FDA will select the final nine graphic and textual warning statements after a comprehensive review of the relevant scientific literature, the public comments, and results from an 18,000 person study. Implementation of the final rule (September 22, 2012) will ultimately prohibit companies from manufacturing cigarettes without new graphic health warnings on their packages for sale or distribution in the United States. In addition, manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers will no longer be allowed to advertise cigarettes without the new graphic health warnings in the United States. By October 22, 2012, manufacturers can no longer distribute cigarettes for sale in the United States that do not display the new graphic health warnings.

“Today, FDA takes a crucial step toward reducing the tremendous toll of illness and death caused by tobacco use by proposing to dramatically change how cigarette packages and advertising look in this country. When the rule takes effect, the health consequences of smoking will be obvious every time someone picks up a pack of cigarettes,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. ” This is a concrete example of how FDA’s new responsibilities for tobacco product regulation can benefit the public’s health.”

The FDA action is part of a broad department-wide strategy that was announced by Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh, M.D., MPH. While progress has been made, smoking remains particularly high with low-income and within certain racial/ethnic groups and in certain populations, including people with mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders. Ending the Tobacco Epidemic: A Tobacco Control strategic Action Plan outlines specific, evidence-based actions that will help create a society free of tobacco-related death and disease.

“We are at an unprecedented time in our nation’s history to protect the public’s health from tobacco use, the leading cause of preventable, premature death in the United States,” said Dr. Koh. “It will take renewed commitment from every sector of society to end the tobacco epidemic.”

In addition to the announcements made today, other recent tobacco control and prevention efforts include:

The Affordable Care Act is giving Americans in private and public health plans access to recommended preventive care, like tobacco use cessation, at no additional cost.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) invested $225 million to support local, state and national efforts to promote comprehensive tobacco control and expand tobacco quitlines.

The Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT) aims to stop the illegal sale of tobacco products over the Internet and through mail order, including the illegal sale to youth.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA) gives FDA the authority to regulate the manufacture, marketing and distribution of tobacco products. Significant progress has already been made by restricting the use of the terms “light,” “low,” and “mild,” banning characterizing fruit, candy, and spice, flavors from cigarettes, and putting in place restrictions on the sale and distribution of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products to youth.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) raised the federal cigarette tax by 62 cents per pack. Raising the price of tobacco products is a proven way to reduce tobacco use, especially among price-sensitive populations such as youth.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Less Stress, But Atlantans Still Worry

/PRNewswire/ -- Money, work and the economy are significant causes of stress for residents of the Atlanta metropolitan area, although fewer Atlanta residents report having high levels of stress this year, according to a survey released today by the American Psychological Association (APA) and conducted online by Harris Interactive in August 2010. Accompanying the lower stress levels is an increase in the number of residents concerned about housing costs, with 48 percent reporting housing costs a stressor in 2010 compared to 36 percent in 2009.

While news reports indicate that the nation's economy is improving, the survey showed more residents this year in Atlanta say that money is a significant cause of stress (80 percent in 2010 vs. 70 percent in 2009). Yet, even with the increase in stress regarding money, fewer Atlanta residents say they are doing enough to manage their stress this year than they did previously (55 percent in 2010 vs. 62 percent in 2009). Furthermore, while 70 percent of Atlanta residents feel that managing stress is important, less than half (40 percent) admit they do an excellent or very good job of it.

Although Atlantans are reporting lower levels of high stress (27 percent in 2010 vs. 37 percent in 2009), their stress is still higher than what they consider healthy (5.8 on a 10-point scale in 2010 compared to 3.8 reported as a healthy level of stress). The stress levels of Atlanta residents may be affecting their health-- survey numbers show that more people reported that they were told by their healthcare provider they were depressed (20 percent in 2010 vs. 10 percent in 2009) or had anxiety (10 percent in 2010 vs. 7 percent in 2009). And, the percentage of Atlanta residents who report their health as excellent or very good dropped from 42 percent in 2009 to 34 percent in 2010.

Lack of will power remains the number one barrier to change for Atlantans -- three out of ten adults (31 percent) continue to cite this as the reason they have not made the lifestyle adjustments recommended by their healthcare providers. Money appears to play a larger role in making behavior change this year, with almost a quarter (21 percent) of Atlanta residents reporting that it is too expensive for them to make the lifestyle and behavior changes recommended by their healthcare provider, compared to 13 percent in 2009.

In terms of job satisfaction, Atlanta residents report feeling as satisfied with their job as last year (67 percent in 2010 vs. 66 percent in 2009). However, more Atlanta residents reported job stability as a stressor (51 percent in 2010 vs. 45 percent in 2009). At their jobs, only a third (33 percent) of Atlantans say they are satisfied with how their employer helps employees handles work-life balance compared to nearly half (48 percent) in 2009.

"It's great news that people in the Atlanta area are reporting lower stress levels than in previous years, especially since we know there is a strong connection between chronic stress and serious health problems, " said Atlanta-area psychologist Dr. Angela Londono-McConnell, the public education coordinator for the Georgia Psychological Association. "But it is important to remember that even if stress is lower, it is still being reported as higher than what Atlanta residents consider healthy. Atlantans can manage their stress levels better by adopting healthy lifestyle changes."

At a national level, the annual Stress in America survey shows that Americans appear to be caught in a vicious cycle where they manage stress in unhealthy ways, and lack of willpower and time constraints impede their ability to make lifestyle or behavioral changes. In general, Americans recognize that their stress levels remain high and exceed what they consider to be healthy.

The national survey also found that while reported stress levels across the nation remain similar to last year, fewer adults report being satisfied with the ways that their employer helps employees balance work and personal life demands, and in general, concern about job stability is on the rise.

To read the full report on Atlanta and the United States, visit www.stressinamerica.org.

Stress in America is part of APA's Mind/Body Health public education campaign. For additional information on stress and lifestyle and behavior, visit www.apa.org/helpcenter and read the campaign blog www.yourmindyourbody.org . Join the conversation about stress on Twitter by following @apahelpcenter and #stressAPA. Get your questions answered on November 10 at 2:00 p.m. EST for a live chat with psychologists at www.facebook.com/americanpsychologicalassociation.

Methodology

The Stress in America Survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Psychological Association between August 3 and 27, 2010, of 1,134 adults aged 18+ who reside in the U.S. In addition, an oversample of 213 adults living in the Atlanta MSA was collected. MSAs are a formal definition of metropolitan areas produced by OMB (Office of Management and Budget). These geographic areas are delineated on the basis of central urbanized areas —contiguous counties of relatively high population density. Counties containing the core urbanized area are known as the central counties of the MSA. Additional surrounding counties (known as outlying counties) can be included in the MSA if these counties have strong social and economic ties to the central counties as measured by commuting and employment. Note that some areas within these outlying counties may actually be rural in nature. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. To read the full methodology, visit www.stressinamerica.org .

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.

Harris Interactive


Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com . 

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Friday, November 05, 2010

Substance Found in Red Wine May Help Treat Malaria

/PRNewswire/ -- A compound found in the skin of grapes and used to make red wine may help fight severe malaria, raising hopes of finding a new adjunctive therapy against an illness that kills an estimated 1 million people a year, according to a study presented today at The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 59th Annual Meeting.

Resveratrol, which in earlier studies has been found to have beneficial anti-cancer effects and may protect the heart, had not previously been associated with fighting malaria or other infectious diseases.

A new National Institutes of Health study suggests that treatment of parasite-infected red blood cells with resveratrol significantly reduces their ability to adhere to the body's cells lining small blood vessels. That reduction in binding to blood vessels is predicted to greatly lessen the probability of developing severe clinical manifestations of malaria, according to the study.

The study suggests that resveratrol, which is commercially available, can be used in combination with antimalarial chemotherapy to improve the survival chances of people with severe malaria.

"Our results demonstrate the possibility of a new therapy to treat severe malaria," said Jordan A. Zuspann of the National Institutes of Health, who presented the work at the ASTMH session. "We hope that we have identified a way to ameliorate the severity of malaria in young African children."

Malaria is caused by a parasite that is transmitted from one human to another by the bite of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. In humans, the parasites travel to the liver, where they eventually enter the bloodstream and infect red blood cells. The parasites multiply inside the red blood cells, which then rupture within 48 to 72 hours, infecting more red blood cells.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are 300-500 million cases of malaria each year around the world – more than there are people in the United States. The parasites have developed resistance to some antibiotics, placing a premium on the discovery of new drug therapies in order to save lives.

Zuspann said that further investigation is needed to confirm these early but promising results.

"Our goals include pinpointing the mechanism that causes the effect within parasite-infected red blood cells that we have already documented, as well as possibly collecting similar data in endemic regions to further strengthen our study," said Zuspann.

"As we work toward eliminating malaria, it's essential that we control and treat the disease as much as possible," said ASTMH President Edward T. Ryan. "Any potential breakthrough in malaria treatment needs to be ardently pursued and studied. That's why funding for research in this area remains so critical. "

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Experts in Arthritis - For Patients Living in the Atlanta Region Update on Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Pediatric Arthritis

/PRNewswire/ -- This is a one-time offering in Atlanta, held in conjunction with the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, the world's foremost gathering of rheumatology health professionals. A free public seminar for people with arthritis who live in the Atlanta area, and people who care about them, this is a unique opportunity to learn from world-class experts.

The world-class experts will inform patients about current scientific evidence and management strategies in the treatment and care of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and pediatric arthritis. They will discuss the role of the patient in disease management, as well as the role of nutrition and exercise. They will then engage in a direct exchange with the experts on advances in clinical practice and research in question and answer sessions.

Arthritis affects more than 46 million Americans, including more than 300,000 children. With our aging baby boomer population, and increasing obesity, the incidence of bone and joint diseases, especially osteoarthritis, are expected to escalate over the coming 10-20 years. The purpose of the Bone and Joint Decade is to raise awareness of this situation, and to bring about an increase in prevention education, and in research which is the means to improve diagnosis and treatment.

The United States Bone and Joint Decade and American College of Rheumatology, event organizers, are collaborating with the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Occupational Therapy Association, American Physical Therapy Association, Arthritis Foundation, Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals, the Arthritis Program - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory University, Grady Health System, Morehouse School of Medicine, as well as the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases to organize this gathering for patients and their families. Around 100 patients are expected to attend.

The U.S. Bone and Joint Decade (USBJD) which is part of the global Bone and Joint Decade, is an initiative to raise awareness of musculoskeletal health, stimulate research and improve people's quality of life. For more information on the USBJD, please visit www.usbjd.org.

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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Change Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Batteries When Changing Clocks This Weekend

/PRNewswire/ -- When you change your clocks this weekend, remember to change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms too. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges consumers to make a habit of replacing smoke and CO alarm batteries when the time changes. Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 7 this year.

"Properly working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms can save lives by alerting you to a fire or to poisonous carbon monoxide in your home," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "In order to work properly, alarms need fresh batteries at least once every year."

In addition to changing batteries every year, CPSC recommends consumers test their alarms monthly. Place smoke alarms on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas and inside each bedroom. CO alarms should be installed on each level of the home and outside sleeping areas. CO alarms should not be installed in attics or basements unless they include a sleeping area. Combination smoke and CO alarms are available to consumers.

Fire departments responded to an estimated 385,100 residential fires nationwide that resulted in an estimated 2,470 civilian deaths, 12,600 injuries and $6.43 billion in property losses annually, on average, from 2005 through 2007.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that consumers cannot see or smell. An average of 181 unintentional non-fire CO poisoning deaths occurred annually associated with consumer products, including portable generators, from 2004 through 2006.

CPSC is sponsoring a nationwide carbon monoxide poster contest to increase awareness about the dangers of CO in the home. The poster contest is open to all middle school students in grades 6, 7 and 8 through December 31. Each of nine finalists will receive $250 in prize money. The grand prize winner will be awarded an additional $500. More information about the contest is available at www.challenge.gov/cpsc. Encourage your middle school student to participate.

CPSC also urges consumers to test electrical outlets in their homes that are equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters, also called GFCIs or GFIs. A GFCI is an inexpensive electrical device that can be installed in a home's electrical system to protect against severe or fatal electric shocks. If you don't have GFCIs, have them installed by a qualified electrician.

Test the GFCI after installation, at least once every month, after a power failure and according to the manufacturer's instructions. See our GFCI Fact Sheet for more information about GFCIs, where to install them and how to test them. [http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/099.pdf]

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Home remedies: Expert guidance on what works, and what doesn't

(ARA) - When it comes to taking care of your family and yourself, your health is no place to cut corners. Many home remedies, however, can help save you money - and preserve your health - when used wisely to supplement regular care or emergency care from your doctor.

"While patients should always see their doctors for regular checkups and treatment for significant medical issues, it is possible to supplement that care with cost-effective home remedies," says Dr. Philip Hagen, a preventive medicine expert at Mayo Clinic and editor-in-chief of the new "Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies." "Common ailments often have simple treatments that could save families hundreds of dollars in medical costs each year."

Whether motivated by the need to cut costs in an uncertain economy or the desire to simplify their lives, many Americans are looking for information about home remedies and self-care. From ear pain and minor eye ailments to varicose veins, a host of ailments can be addressed with home remedies.

Mayo Clinic experts offer guidance, both in the new book and online, for anyone interested in trying some home remedies:

* Chili pepper seed, when used as a rub applied directly to the skin, may ease aching joints.

* Ginger is thought to relieve nausea, and many Asian cultures incorporate it into their diets as a digestive aid.

* A neti pot, a small pot with a long spout, may help reduce sinus inflammation caused by allergies.

* Insomniacs may find relief by inhaling the fragrance of lavender.

* Plant-derived compounds like soy have estrogen-like effects that may help ease hot flashes for women going through menopause.

* A humidifier may help ward off colds by increasing the moisture in the air of your home. Cold viruses thrive in dry conditions.

* Vinegar is thought to reduce nail fungus. Soak your feet for 15 to 20 minutes in a mixture of one part vinegar, two parts warm water. Rinse your feet well and pat dry when done.

Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies also recommends you keep certain items on hand for general care and minor first-aid issues, including:

* Bandages of various sizes, gauze, paper or cloth tape, antibacterial ointment and antiseptic solution to deal with cuts.

* Cold packs, gauze, burn spray and an antiseptic cream to treat burns.

* Aids such as a thermometer, aspirin (for adults only) and acetaminophen for children to treat aches, pain and fever.

* Cold packs, elastic wraps and finger splints for sprains, strains and fractures. Remember, however, that serious injuries require treatment from a medical professional.

"Home remedies may not be appropriate for treating every situation all the time; when in doubt, it is always best to consult a medical professional," Hagen says. "But it may be possible to care for minor health issues at home, or to use home remedies to enhance the care you're already receiving from your doctor."

"Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies" is available at bookstores nationwide. You can find more health guidance on home remedies and many other health issues at www.MayoClinic.com.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Be Neighborly This Halloween – Respect Every Bite!

“While Halloween has grown into a day that most children look forward to all year, it can be quite scary for those with food allergies, and not because of ghosts and goblins”

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Millions of costumed children will be gleefully knocking on doors this Halloween expectantly waiting for candy to be dropped into their trick-or-treat bags. For approximately 4 percent of children in the U.S. with food allergies, those treats could contain ingredients harmful to them.

FAAN (the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network) urges residents to be mindful of the safety measures that children with food allergies must take on Halloween and every day. Many sweet treats contain at least one of the top eight allergens. As FAAN has emphasized throughout the year with the 2010 theme, “Respect Every Bite,” it’s important for individuals with food allergies to protect themselves and for those without food allergies to remember that certain ingredients can be potentially life-threatening for others.

While many parents of children with food allergies prepare for this day by keeping safe candies on hand for trading, others might want to consider offering non-food treats as an alternative for trick-or-treaters this Halloween. Inexpensive options include Halloween stickers, pencils, and erasers, as well as small toys.

“While Halloween has grown into a day that most children look forward to all year, it can be quite scary for those with food allergies, and not because of ghosts and goblins,” said FAAN CEO Julia Bradsher. “Children with food allergies need your help preventing allergic reactions.”

FAAN offers a safe alternative by way of its annual Trick-or-Treat for Food Allergy program. Anyone can sign up at www.foodallergyevents.org for a special Trick-or-Treat bag that can be used to collect funds for food allergy research, education, awareness, and advocacy programs. It’s a great way to take the worry out of collecting potentially unsafe treats, while earning prizes. This program was made possible by Abbott Nutrition, maker of EleCare®.

For parents of children with food allergies who do plan on trick-or-treating for candy, remember to check the ingredient labels (even if your child has eaten the product before, as companies can reformulate recipes), and to remind your child not to eat any candy that has not been checked by a trusted adult.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Georgia Children Facing Deadly Health Crisis

/PRNewswire/ -- Childhood obesity has become a threatening epidemic in Georgia. Weighing in just below Mississippi, Georgia has the second highest rate of childhood obesity in the United States. Nearly one in three children ages 10 to 17 in Georgia is considered to be overweight or obese (National Survey of Children's Health, 2007), and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta is continuing to witness a steady rise in obesity cases at all three of its hospitals.

Stephanie Walsh, M.D., Medical Director of Child Wellness at Children's, treats several children in a clinic where some of her young patients weigh more than 500 pounds. This problem is so severe that Children's has averaged 15 weight-loss surgeries each year since 2007.

Childhood obesity is a chronic illness that can cause serious long-term diseases and disabilities. Obese children can develop health issues that are typically seen only in adults, such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, joint problems and chest pains. Physicians have even begun to see cases of polycystic ovarian syndrome and fatty liver disease in obese children.

"Several children in Georgia are overweight or obese," Dr. Walsh said. "In addition to being obese, these children are at risk for problems like kidney and liver failure, risk of amputation and cardiovascular disease."

The causes of childhood obesity are complex. Poor nutrition and lack of physical activity influenced by factors including family dynamics, school systems and societal norms are all thought to contribute to the issue. Family influence plays a strikingly large role in childhood obesity; in fact, children with an obese parent are 50 percent more likely to be obese themselves.

Moreover there are huge discrepancies between how people think they are eating and what doctors are actually seeing on the scale. According to new statewide research, regardless of their children's BMI category, most parents seem content overall with their family's eating habits (The Marketing Workshop Inc 2010). Children echoed their parents' sentiments with most also seeming satisfied with their own eating habits.

"We have gotten used to meals on the go, fast food and eating in front of the television," Dr. Walsh said. "Thirty years ago, we used to live more active lifestyles. Now sadly, obese children are more likely obese adults, and this may be the first generation of kids who live shorter lives than their parents."

While childhood obesity can be a deadly problem, it is also a costly one. According to an Emory University study, if current trends continue, Georgia's health-care costs directly related to obesity will increase from its current annual cost of $2.5 billion to nearly $11 billion by 2018.

"The crisis of childhood obesity is the responsibility of every Georgia citizen," Dr. Walsh said. "As a society, we need to take ownership and act immediately on this issue for the sake of the future health of Georgia's population."

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Heart Attack: New Hope in Delaying Brain Damage in Cardiac Arrest Victims

/PRNewswire/ -- After a heart attack and the victim stops breathing, a process of irreversible brain damage starts to occur within 3 to 4 minutes. Or does it?

While researching cardiac arrest, Jeffrey Dobkin read about a boy drowning in icy waters. Although submerged for over half an hour the boy was rescued, resuscitated, and recovered completely. No brain damage.

Dobkin wondered: How can someone drown and experience no brain damage. What delays brain damage in drowning victims. In an emergency can it be applied to heart attack victims?

Dobkin's research pointed to yes. He believes brain damage that occurs when someone's heart stops beating can be delayed for up to an hour.

"Cold water drowning victims survive without brain damage because of the triggering of the 'Mammalian Diving Reflex.' This natural reflex is solely responsible for delaying brain death," says Dobkin. "And the specific trigger of the diving reflex is a facial immersion in cold water."

"Dobkin's Technique to delay brain damage in heart attack victims is simple: Immediately apply cold, wet compresses to the face of the victim."

His technique is an emergency time-buying procedure to delay brain damage until emergency medical personnel arrive. It works in conjunction with CPR.

The Dobkin Technique is application of cold wet compresses to the face and eye area. "The eyes, the ophthalmic nerve, are the trigger points," says Dobkin. The Dobkin-Trigger Technique immediately starts to delay brain damage and gives emergency medical personnel a much greater "golden window" to respond to non-breathing victims than 4 minutes.

The Dobkin Technique works in heart attack victims - the fourth largest cause of death in the U.S. His technique works to delay brain damage when the oxygen supply to the brain of a person is shut off (Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy) for any reason: drug overdose, choking, stroke, suffocation, electrocution. It works at a critical time—on the scene: before initial resuscitation can be started by medical personnel.

The Dobkin Technique to Delay Brain Damage can be found at The Brain Injury Foundation website. Write to the Foundation at P.O. Box 100, Merion Station, PA 19066. Additional information: info@BrainInjuryFoundation.org website: www.BrainInjuryFoundation.org

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Free Diabetes Screening and Education Event Offers Assistance to More than 200 People in Downtown Atlanta

/PRNewswire/ -- More than 200 people attended a free community diabetes program at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Saturday to learn more about the risk factors for diabetes as well as receive free health screenings. The Institute for Health Protection coordinated the program, which Ebenezer Baptist hosted with support from Roche Diabetes Care, makers of ACCU-CHEK® diabetes products and services.

"Roche is proud to sponsor these free screening and education programs," said Luc Vierstraete, senior vice president and general manager, Roche Diabetes Care North America. "We hope that many members of the community take advantage of these opportunities to learn more about diabetes and how they can live healthier, active lives."

Attendees were offered free and confidential health screenings, free physician consultations and free education materials. They also benefited from clinical and community experts who shared their expertise and perspective during a panel discussion and question and answer session.

"Diabetes is a growing problem nationally and our local community is not exempt," said Georgia State Sen. Nan Orrock. "That's why education and health fair programs like the one held today at Ebenezer Baptist Church are so important. I was glad to see so many people take advantage of the free screenings to learn more about preventing and managing Type 2 diabetes."

The program in Atlanta is part of a series focusing on diabetes that IHP and Roche Diagnostics have been conducting across the country. The overall goal for these programs is to provide educational information for those at risk for developing diabetes as well as those who are currently living with diabetes. In addition to providing free health screenings, a panel of local healthcare providers presents valuable and relevant information. This interactive program provides participants with information and tools to help better manage Type 2 diabetes and/or take measures to prevent its onset.

The next free community diabetes program will be Oct. 30 at Jefferson State Community College, Shelby-Hoover campus, in Birmingham, Ala.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Many Georgians in the Dark When Protecting Their Eyes From the Sun

/PRNewswire/ -- When it comes to working and playing in the great outdoors, many Americans know they should keep their skin protected from the sun; however, a new survey from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia (BCBSGa)'s parent company and Transitions Optical, Inc. indicates that the majority of active participants are unaware of the potential damage the sun can have on their eyes – and the eyes of their children – when they are outside, no matter the time of year.

The results of an online omnibus survey of 2,500 Americans ages 18 and older conducted on behalf of BCBSGA's parent company and Transitions indicate that many participants rarely consider the potential risks to their vision from the sun. In fact, when thinking about the harmful effects of extended sun exposure, the majority of participants focus on things like sunburn (92 percent), skin cancer (91 percent), heat stroke/exhaustion (82 percent), dehydration (78 percent) and wrinkles (77 percent).

According to the survey, many participants were unable to identify the basic facts about sun exposure on their eyes, particularly when it came to children's increased risk of ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. For example, only a third of participants (36 percent) know that children's eyes are at greater risk from the effects of UV rays than adults.

Additionally, the survey reports that nearly four in ten consumers (37 percent) find it difficult to wear protective eyewear like sunglasses as much as they should. The top reason most participants say they don't wear protective eyewear more often is because they forget to bring it with them. Nine out of ten participants (90 percent) say that if a convenient, effective way to protect their eyes and their child's eyes were available, they would be likely to purchase the product.

"Many parents tell us they tend to think more about the sun's effect on their child's skin rather than on their eyes," said Jeff Spahr, staff vice president of Vision and Voluntary Services for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia. "And many parents with children 18 and younger say they're more likely to tell their child to put on sunscreen than protective eyewear when they go outdoors."

"We know how important it is to protect one's eyes from the sun," said Spahr. "We believe that our vision benefit offerings should provide our members with a viable solution to protecting their eyes, and because of this, we now offer Transitions lenses as a covered benefit for members. These lenses automatically protect eyes from UVA and UVB rays, and offer a convenient solution for our members who wear corrective lenses."

Additional survey results include:

* Nearly six out of ten participants (58 percent) agree there are times they don't adequately protect their eyes from the sun even though they know they should. Furthermore, four out of ten participants (41 percent) report that when they go outdoors, they rarely think about protecting their eyes from the sun.


* Older Americans are significantly more likely than younger Americans to believe that people should start protecting their eyes from the sun in early childhood.


* More than half of the participants (55 percent) say they wish they would've taken better care of their eyes when they were younger.


* When asked to identify whether the statement "children's eyes are at greater risk from the effects of UV than adults" is true or false, nearly half of parents of children 18 and younger (48 percent) said they didn't know.


"We believe this national survey revealed a number of findings about most consumers' views and habits towards eye protection," said Spahr. "As a result, we're using this information to provide the products, tools and materials that will help people protect their eyes and their children's eyes from the sun as fiercely as they protect their skin."

"The survey findings suggest that more education and awareness about protective eyewear for sun exposure is essential, especially for children," said Pat Huot, director of Managed Vision Care for Transitions Optical, a provider of photochromics to optical manufacturers. "Long-term UV exposure has been linked to eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration and other eye diseases later in life, so it's important to make sure people are doing everything they can to maintain healthy eyes."

According to the Vision Council, a recent cost analysis shows that eye disease health care expenditures reach $16 billion each year, an amount that exceeds expenditures for breast cancer ($7.2 billion), lung cancer ($5.6 billion) and HIV ($9.4 billion).

The omnibus survey was conducted online among a national sample of 2,500 Americans ages 18+ (balanced to Census). Fielding took place in July 2010 by Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS). The survey has a margin of error of +/- 1.96% at the 95% confidence level, meaning if the study were replicated, the study findings would be within 1.96 percentage points 95 times out of 100.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

American Red Cross Launches Citizen CPR Campaign to Educate 5 Million People in Hands-only CPR by End of 2011

/PRNewswire/ -- With the increasing importance of compression only or "hands only" CPR in many cardiac emergencies, the American Red Cross today announced an initiative to educate 5 million people in 2011 about the use of this potentially lifesaving technique.

Hands-only CPR is a technique that involves simply using chest compressions on an individual who has suffered sudden cardiac arrest. The technique involves no mouth to mouth contact and is best used in emergencies outside of hospitals where a bystander has seen another person suddenly collapse.

The American Red Cross is the nation's largest provider of CPR and first aid training, and the new Red Cross initiative includes several different ways in which the public can learn hands-only CPR:

* In early 2011, the Red Cross will launch a 30-minute, instructor-led "Citizen CPR" skills training so the average person can quickly and easily learn the hands only technique.
* People can now go to www.redcross.org to download a free PDF instructional guide and watch a two-minute video on the hands-only CPR technique.
* The Red Cross already offers a product to help people learn hands-only CPR at home. That product can be purchased at www.redcross.org and retails for $9.99.


"Emergencies are more common than most of us know," said Dr. David Markinson, a Red Cross advisory council chair. "We could increase the likelihood of surviving cardiac emergencies that occur outside a hospital by putting more victims within a few steps of lifesaving assistance. In a life-threatening situation, performing hands-only CPR is better than doing nothing at all."

As part of the initiative, the Red Cross is urging high schools to add hands-only training to their graduation curriculum and urging businesses to train 25 percent of their employees in the technique, in addition to those who need full CPR training because of their role as workplace responders.

The Red Cross will continue to offer consumers a choice in their CPR training. In addition to the new "Citizen CPR" hands-only course, the Red Cross will continue to offer courses with a full CPR certification using both compressions and rescue breaths. That's because full CPR with rescue breaths is still best in the health care setting and for children, adolescents, drowning victims, or people who collapse due to breathing problems.

Health care professionals such as doctors, nurses, paramedics, EMTs and workplace responders should continue to be certified in CPR using compressions and rescue breaths.

Any form of CPR is no substitute for emergency medical attention. In an emergency situation, always call 9-1-1, start CPR and continue it until help arrives.

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Lost Sense of Smell? Falling Out of Bed at Night? It May Be Parkinson's Disease

/PRNewswire/ -- The National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) is launching today the first-ever bilingual, Parkinson's toll-free Helpline 1-800-4PD-INFO (1-800-473-4636). Specialists, such as social workers and nurses, can answer caller questions in both English and Spanish. In addition, NPF is offering a new, free brochure titled, "10 Early Warning Signs of Parkinson's Disease." The toll-free number and free brochure are for all who have questions about the disease; especially those people who have limited access to information and local resources.

Recent data suggests that higher incidents of Parkinson's disease (PD) occur in Hispanics and those living in certain rural communities than the general population (1). Moreover, according to Joyce Oberdorf, NPF President and CEO, experience shows that many people who speak Spanish or who live in rural, underserved locales, as well as those who live in economically distressed areas, most frequently lack access to quality health care, including the latest information on PD.

"We're launching the Helpline and new brochure to raise awareness about Parkinson's disease, and to reach people who live in areas that have little or no information on how to recognize its early warning signs," states Oberdorf. "Many often mistakenly attribute the first symptoms of PD to the normal aging process, resulting in severe consequences later. But recognizing the symptoms and getting an accurate diagnosis early offers the best chance of living a longer, healthier life."

Initial PD symptoms include: trouble moving or walking, tremor or shaking, stooping or hunching over, small handwriting, loss of smell, trouble sleeping, soft or low voice, having a serious or mask-like facial expression, dizziness or fainting and constipation.

"The Helpline is our way of saying that you don't have to face Parkinson's alone," explains Oberdorf. "Wherever you live, you can call and talk to an experienced health care professional to get the help you need in real time."

For each call to the NPF Helpline, PD specialists provide connections to resources and local networks of support through NPF's 43 Centers of Excellence, 43 chapters and over 900 support groups nationwide. Specifically, PD specialists help callers locate resources in their area, as well as send them an informational packet that will help them be fully informed on their next visit to the general practitioner or movement disorder specialist.

In addition to assisting people with PD, the Helpline is also for their caregivers, family and loved ones; it can become an integral part of a support system for anyone affected by PD. Oberdorf adds, "If you call the Helpline, you will speak to a real person who understands your needs and will help break the isolation all too many patients and caregivers feel."

The NPF Helpline is made possible through the generous support of the Medtronic Foundation and thousands of people with Parkinson's and their families.

For more information, visit: www.parkinson.org/helpline . The Helpline hours are Monday—Friday, 9 am—5 pm (ET). People with questions about PD may also send them to NPF at helpline@parkinson.org .

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Study will see if calm mind can mean healthy body

A new study is under way at Emory testing the value of meditation in helping people cope with stress. The Compassion and Attention Longitudinal Meditation Study (CALM) will help scientists determine how people’s bodies, minds and hearts respond to stress, and which specific meditation practices are better at turning down those responses.

“Anything that affects the normal functioning and integrity of the body tends to activate a part of the immune system that’s called inflammation,” says Charles Raison, associate professor in Emory’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and principal investigator of the study.

“Inflammation includes processes that the immune system uses to deal with virus or bacteria, or anything foreign and dangerous,” says Raison, clinical director of the Emory Mind-Body Program. “Data show that people who practice meditation may reduce their inflammatory and behavioral responses to stress, which are linked to serious illnesses including cancer, depression and heart disease.”

Raison and principal contemplative investigator, Geshe Lobsang Tenzin

Negi, senior lecturer in the Department of Religion, collaborated on a 2005 study at Emory showing that college students who regularly practiced compassion meditation had a significant reduction in stress and physical responses to stress. Negi, who is president and spiritual director of Drepung Loseling Monastery, designed the compassion meditation practices.

The success of the initial study led the pair to embark on the expanded protocol for adults.

The CALM study has three different components.

The main component, which is funded by a federal grant, is called the “Mechanisms of Meditation.” This aspect of the study compares compassion meditation with two other interventions — mindfulness training and a series of health-related lectures. Participants are randomized into one of the three interventions.

A second component involves the use of an electronically activated recorder (called the “EAR”) that is worn by the participants before beginning and after completion of the meditation interventions.

The recorder will be used to evaluate the effect of the study interventions on the participants’ social behavior by periodically recording bits and pieces of ambient sounds from participants’ daily lives.

The third component involves neuroimaging of the participants to determine if compassion meditation and mindfulness meditation have different effects on brain architecture and the function of empathic pathways of the brain.

Secular compassion meditation is based on a thousand-year-old Tibetan Buddhist mind-training practice called “lojong.” Lojong uses a cognitive, analytic approach to challenge a person’s unexamined thoughts and emotions toward other people, with the long-term goal of developing altruistic emotions and behavior toward all people.

Mastering meditation takes dedication and time.

“Meditation is not just about sitting quietly,” says Negi. “Meditation is a process of familiarizing, cultivating or enhancing certain skills, and you can think of attentiveness and compassion as skills.

“Meditation practices designed to foster compassion may impact physiological pathways that are modulated by stress and relevant to disease.”

Raison and Negi hope to show that centuries of wisdom about the inner mind and how to nurture it, combined with Western science about how the body and brain interact, will be tremendously helpful to humanity, personal well-being and health.

By Kathi Baker

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Falls are the Leading Injury-Related Cause of ER Visits

/PRNewswire/ -- If you or someone you know has been treated in the emergency department recently after suffering a fall, you are not alone. Unintentional falls are the leading injury-related reason for why people seek emergency care, with almost 9 million visits occurring each year, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The nation's emergency physicians are prepared to care for anyone injured from a fall," said Dr. Sandra Schneider, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "But it's important to look around your everyday environment and minimize the risk to not only for yourself, but for others as well. There is a reason that unintentional falls are common injuries with our patients. They can happen at any time, any place and happen to anyone."

Facts About Unintentional Falls:

* Falls are the leading cause of unintentional home injury deaths, accounting for 33 percent of deaths, according the Home Safety Council (HSC).
* Falls account for more than 40 percent of nonfatal injuries (HSC).
* The two highest risk age groups are children under five and older adults over 70 years old.
* For children, the most severe falls are generally associated with baby walkers, windows and play equipment, including trampolines.
* For older adults, falls are associated with lower-body weakness, problems with balance and walking, visual impairment, chronic illness or a history of stroke.


Preventing Unintentional Falls:

* Remove clutter from your home. Don't leave objects on the stairs or walkways.
* Use nightlights in the bedroom, hall and bathroom. Be sure the tops and bottoms of stairs are well lit.
* Repair loose stairway carpeting or boards.
* Consider adding hand grip bars in a bathroom and shower area, especially for the elderly or those with disabilities.
* Make your home or work area easily accessible for the elderly or those with disabilities if they frequent that area. You can do that by moving furniture or objects on the floor that could cause tripping hazards.
* Especially for elderly people, remove throw rugs and tack down other rugs to avoid tripping. Also consider using a panic button (as a pendant, wristband or necklace).
* Be sure the bottom of the tub or shower has a non-skid surface.
* Wear helmets and other protective gear if biking, motorcycling or playing any type of contact sport.
* Inspect child playground equipment to make sure it is age appropriate and in good condition.
* Play areas should be covered with padding, such as shredded mulch, wood chips, gravel or fine sand.
* Keep stairs clear of toys and other items that could cause someone to trip. If young children are allowed on stairs, teach them to hold the handrail and always tie their shoes so they avoid tripping.
* Set up locking gates near stairs to block young children if they are too young to be on them.
* Windows that open for children as young as 5 years old install window guards with quick release mechanisms that can opened easily in case of a fire.


"A fall can be a sentinel event in the life of an older person, potentially marking the beginning of a serious decline in function or the symptom of a new or worsening medical condition," said Dr. Schneider. "Identifying the cause of the fall and making appropriate interventions to improve function are as critical as treating injuries if future falls are to be prevented and quality of life and longevity are to be improved."

To see ACEP's Home Safety Checklist, go to http://www.acep.org/workarea/downloadasset.aspx?id=8716.

ACEP is a national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Georgia Southern University Researcher Finds Healthcare Navigators Cost Effective for Breast Cancer Patients

A Georgia Southern University researcher has found that pairing breast cancer patients with a professional to help them navigate their way through the health care process may not only save lives, but also has potential for  saving substantial amounts of money in the health care system.

Georgia Southern University Professor Talar Markossian, along with Professor Elizabeth Calhoun from the University of Illinois at Chicago, conducted the research as part of the Chicago Cancer Navigation Project (CCNP) for which professor Calhoun is the principal investigator. CCNP’s goal is to reduce the time between an abnormal screening result, like a mammogram, and a definitive diagnosis.  Markossian and Calhoun’s research shows that navigating patients through the health care system has potential for increasing one year in the life of a breast cancer patient at a cost of $95,000 per patient, per year.

“The results of this research are very clear,” Markossian explained. “If left undetected and untreated, breast cancer develops into more advanced stages, and hence, it becomes more costly to treat the disease and the chances of surviving the disease decreases. Also, the chain of events that begin with an abnormal result on a cancer screening can be overwhelming for a patient in many different ways. Providing patients with access to a health care professional who can help them navigate their way through the maze of doctors, tests, treatments and financial paperwork can save the life of a breast cancer patient at a comparatively reasonable price.  So, this study shows bringing a health care professional on board to navigate for a patient is cost-effective.”

Markossian, who is a faculty member in Georgia Southern University’s Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, explained that health care navigators help patients with a variety of hurdles they may face after they receive an abnormal result on a cancer screen. The navigators do everything from making sure that a patient’s proper medical and test information is on hand for doctor’s visits to helping the patient find financial support and coordinate follow-up visits with physicians.

The study’s findings were published in a recent edition of The Health Policy Journal.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Radio Disney AM 590 and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Challenge Georgia's Students to 'Get Active Get Fit!'

/PRNewswire/ -- Radio Disney AM 590 teams with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia (BCBSGA) to promote childhood health and wellness through the "Get Active Get Fit!" School Challenge. The program, hosted by Radio Disney, will be implemented in 150 elementary schools in 127 districts beginning Oct. 4 through Nov. 27, furthering a commitment to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle among 85,770 of Georgia's school-age children.

Designed to motivate kids and families to achieve fitness together by engaging in fun activities, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia "Get Active Get Fit!" School Challenge will award Radio Disney Dance Parties in Georgia to the top 20 schools with the highest percentage of participation. Superintendents registered their schools for the challenge and the chance to win new gym equipment (valued at $500) for a school in their district.

"According to CDC reports, Georgia has one of the nation's highest incidences of childhood obesity," said Dr. McCormack, Medical Director for BCBSGA. "Initiatives like 'Get Active Get Fit' are the change agent needed to get Georgia's children more active and engaged in physical fitness."

This challenge comes in advance of the implementation of House Bill 229, passed by the state legislature last year, which does not require body mass index testing of students, but does require physical education teachers in the 2011-2012 school year to test students in first through 12th grades in the areas of endurance, strength and flexibility, as well as take students' weight and height measurements for awareness.

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