Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wanted: a new generation of lifesavers

(ARA) - When she spotted the dying man, Desiree Rossi took action when no one else would. Although a crowd of adults surrounded the collapsed body near Desiree's bus stop in Pawtuckett, R.I., they were frozen - but not her. Rossi ordered an adult to call 9-1-1 and then she started CPR. She was 17.

Paramedics arrived and took the man to a local hospital where he was stabilized.

"I couldn't believe that no one stepped in - that it took a 17-year-old kid to be the one to take action," said Rossi, who had been trained in CPR just six months earlier at her high school.

Rossi's story illustrates a huge obstacle to overcoming the dismal survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest: lack of bystander action. Less than 8 percent of victims who suffer cardiac arrest at home, at work or in other public places survive. And fewer than one-third of cardiac arrest victims gets CPR from a bystander.

"Getting people to act when someone suffers sudden cardiac arrest is critical to the victim's survival," said Michael Sayre, M.D., chairman of the American Heart Association's Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee. "Time is not on the victim's side. Four to six minutes is the window of opportunity for someone to act before it is too late."

The American Heart Association wants more people to take action and help cardiac arrest victims. The association is helping create the next generation of lifesavers at Bethebeat.heart.org, where teens can learn the basic skills of CPR and how to use an AED.

"Teens can learn how to save lives and play an important role by setting an example for their friends, families and neighbors about the need for CPR and AED training," Sayre said. "They can also encourage the adults in their lives to learn learn CPR."

Be the Beat features games, educational videos and interactive quizzes. Songs with 100 beats per minute (the correct rate for chest compressions when administering CPR) are also available on the website.

And the association recently simplified the steps of CPR with Hands-Only CPR. When a teen or an adult suddenly collapses, there are two easy steps: (1) Call 9-1-1; and (2) Push hard and fast on the center of the chest until professional help or an AED arrives.

Getting formal CPR training is also easier than ever. Visit americanheart.org/CPR to find a class in your neck of the woods, or order a self-directed CPR training kit at cpranytime.org to learn at your own pace.

The American Heart Association wants 1 million people, including teens, to learn about CPR during CPR Week June 1-7. Learn more at www.cprweek.org.

"Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at anytime," Rossi said. "It happens all the time. You never know when you'll need to use CPR."

Courtesy of ARAcontent
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

CDC Report Highlights States' Abilities to Support Physical Activity

/PRNewswire/ -- Many states do not have the policy or environmental measures in place to help their residents meet the recommended levels of physical activity to promote health, according to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The State Indicator Report on Physical Activity 2010 includes data about individual behaviors related to physical activity, as well as the presence or absence of physical features and policies that can make being physically active either easy or hard to do.

The report looks at community access to parks or playgrounds, community centers, and sidewalks or walking paths in neighborhoods. The data showed substantial limits to the number of parks and other areas where physical activity would be convenient.

According to the report, only 20 percent of blocks have parks within a half mile of their boundaries, and only 17 percent of blocks have a fitness or recreation center within that distance.

"Regular physical activity is essential to overall health and can also help people maintain a healthy weight and reduce their risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases," said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "This state indicator report provides a measure for a state's ability to support physical activity and shows where a state has been successful and where more work may be needed."

The report also noted that only 17 percent of the nation's high school students say they get at least an hour of physical activity each day, the minimum recommended for this age group.

One underlying reason for adolescents' sedentary lifestyles may be the lack of easy ways for youth to be physically active in their communities and schools. Only 50 percent of young people reported having access to parks, playgrounds, community centers, and sidewalks that make physical activity convenient.

The report also finds that schools and childcare centers cannot be counted on as a place where young people can get the physical activity they need during the week. Only eight states require children to be engaged in moderate or vigorous physical activity in their licensed, regulated child care centers. Only 20 states require or recommend scheduled recess for elementary students, while 37 states require elementary, middle and high schools to teach physical education.

"Today's report shows that too many kids are spending too much time in front of a computer or a TV or a video game or have limited access to physical activity because they live in neighborhoods that aren't safe, go to schools where P.E. classes have been cut or live in communities where there are no sports leagues or afterschool activity programs," said First Lady Michelle Obama. "We need parents and teachers, business and community leaders and the public and private sectors to come together to create more opportunities for our kids to be active so they can lead happy healthy lives."

"An active lifestyle, combined with healthy eating, is the number one way to prevent obesity and key to preventing a host of serious obesity-related diseases," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "As we mark National Physical Fitness and Sports Month in May, President Obama is challenging every American to make physical activity, fitness, and sports part of their daily routine. Today's report shines a spotlight on the additional need for safe and convenient places for Americans to be physically active in their communities."

"The places where we live, work, learn, and play affect the choices we make, and in turn, our health," said William Dietz, M.D., Ph.D., director of CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. "As chronic diseases place an increasing burden on the nation's health care system, the need for improving policies and environments for physical activity is more important than ever. This report can help states, communities and others work together to increase the number of Americans who live healthier lives by creating communities that support and encourage physical activity."

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NBA Legend Bob Lanier and Atlanta Dream Forward Angel McCoughtry Join Vaccines for Teens Educational Campaign to Urge Local Teens to Get Vaccinated

/PRNewswire/ -- Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Lanier along with Atlanta Dream forward and Vaccines for Teens spokesperson Angel McCoughtry teamed up with NBA Cares and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) to bring Vaccines for Teens to the Atlanta community. Vaccines for Teens is a national awareness campaign designed to educate teens and their parents about the importance of vaccination against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases.

To tip off the campaign locally, Lanier and McCoughtry appeared at Drew Charter School in Atlanta, Georgia to urge parents of preteens and teens to discuss adolescent vaccinations with their family physicians.

Teens are at risk for influenza, including seasonal strains and the pandemic influenza A (H1N1) virus, as well as other serious infectious diseases such as meningococcal disease (including meningitis) and whooping cough (pertussis). The basketball superstars and local community leaders agree that because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other leading medical groups recommend vaccination for preteens and teens against influenza, meningococcal disease, whooping cough and human papillomavirus (HPV), it is now more important than ever to help protect preteens and teens in the Atlanta area from potentially life-threatening complications of these diseases.

"Vaccination can help teens grow into healthy adults, and is beneficial for the students at Drew Charter School and for teens throughout the Atlanta area," said McCoughtry. "In basketball, the best offense is a good defense, and the same holds true for protecting teen health."

Adolescent Immunization is More Important than Ever in Atlanta

Although the CDC and other leading medical groups recommend vaccination against influenza, meningococcal disease and whooping cough immunization rates for all three diseases among preteens and teens remain alarmingly low in Georgia, where fewer than half of teens between 13 and 17 years of age have been vaccinated against meningococcal disease and whooping cough.

Adolescent immunization in Georgia is a very important community health issue. Between 26,897 and 107,591 Atlanta residents suffer from influenza annually, yet immunization rates fall short each year. When parents get ready to send their children back to school in the fall, they should also prepare to have their families immunized against influenza as soon as vaccine is available. It's never too early to begin thinking about the flu.

Meningococcal disease and whooping cough affect people in the Atlanta area every year. In 2008, 18 cases of meningococcal disease were reported in Georgia, including three deaths. Parents also need to know meningococcal disease can spread from person to person through common summer activities, such as sharing water bottles or eating utensils and living in close quarters at camp.

In addition, cases of whooping cough have increased in DeKalb County over the past several years.

"With teens in such close contact in classrooms and on school sports teams, these infectious diseases can spread easily from student to student," said Yolanda Wimberly, M.D., Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. "Vaccination is a safe and effective way to help teens stay protected, yet immunization rates remain low among adolescents."

Teens and their parents can learn more about risk factors for getting sick with vaccine-preventable diseases, and the benefits of vaccination, by visiting www.vaccinesforteens.net.

About Vaccine-preventable Adolescent Diseases

Immunization is critically important for adolescents because they are at risk for serious and potentially life-threatening diseases.

Influenza

Influenza is a viral infection that can become serious enough to keep teens home from school, sports and other activities. It can sometimes result in a visit to the hospital or lead to serious complications like pneumonia or even death. Vaccination is the best protection against the spread of the influenza virus. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated against influenza each year. Vaccination begins as soon as vaccine becomes available, usually in August, and continues into spring or as long as the influenza virus is in circulation. In most seasons, influenza virus activity peaks in February or March, so vaccination throughout the entire influenza season is beneficial and recommended.

Meningococcal Disease / Meningococcal Meningitis

Although rare, meningococcal disease, including meningitis, is a serious, life-threatening infection that moves quickly and can lead to death within 24 to 48 hours of first symptoms. Early symptoms may be similar to influenza, making it difficult for health-care providers to diagnose. The CDC recommends that all preteens and teens 11 through 18 years of age be vaccinated against meningococcal disease at the earliest possible health-care visit - ideally, during the routine 11- or 12-year-old check-up.

Pertussis, Commonly Called "Whooping Cough"

Pertussis is one of the most common respiratory diseases in American teens and adults. It causes a prolonged cough that can last weeks or months and can result in pneumonia or hospitalization. Teens and adults can spread pertussis to younger children, who can develop a life-threatening pertussis infection. The CDC recommends a single booster dose of Tdap vaccine for people 11 through 64 years of age; immunity to the whooping cough vaccine decreases over time, so teens who don't receive a booster vaccine may become vulnerable to this disease.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Hoopnotica Partners with HealthCorps & Joins Dr. Oz in the Fight to End Childhood Obesity

(PR.com)-- Hoopnotica® is pleased to announce its ongoing commitment to fitness and health education through a new partnership with HealthCorps®, a proactive health movement with an in-school educational and mentoring program in 50 schools in nine states.

HealthCorps was founded by Dr. Mehmet Oz, heart surgeon and host of the nationally syndicated talk show, “The Dr. Oz Show,” to address the child obesity and mental resilience crises affecting communities across the country. His goal was to show American students and communities the value in taking charge of their health and making more beneficial lifestyle choices. The organization’s high school program activates and educates youth and faculty about their bodies, their environments and their abilities to affect them.

Based on the success of two pilot programs in Los Angeles, HealthCorps will launch Hoopnotica® fitness programs in additional schools during the fall 2010 semester.

According to HealthCorps President Michelle Bouchard, "HealthCorps wants to get and keep more Americans moving, so we’re excited to bring the world of hooping back to high schools across the nation with our partner, Hoopnotica. We have seen first-hand how this fun and easy activity helps students get in shape by themselves or with their friends."

HealthCorps’ curriculum is focused on nutrition, fitness and mental resilience. To encourage students to incorporate exercise into their daily lives, the Coordinators who educate and mentor teens look for fun and easy ways to stay active, such as hula hooping.

Hoopnotica® will raise funds to support HealthCorps through the sale of a branded Fitness Hoop that reflects the HealthCorps logo and its signature green and red colors and red heart. The HealthCorps Hoop, priced at $49.99, will be sold with a complimentary instructional DVD to help hoopers perfect Hoopnotica moves at home. The adult sized Hoopnotica fitness hoop measures 43 inches in diameter, weighs 1.5 lbs and is the perfect size for teens and adults. The hoop will be available for sale beginning May 15th exclusively at www.hoopnotica.com and 100% of profits will directly benefit HealthCorps through the end of the year.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Red Cross Survey Finds More Than Two-thirds of Americans Experience a Summer Emergency

/PRNewswire/ -- A new Red Cross survey shows that 68 percent of Americans have been involved in some kind of summer emergency, ranging from insect bites, heat stroke and broken bones to more life-threatening situations. One in every four people say they have been in a situation where someone needed CPR.

The survey of more than 1,000 adults found that Americans say they are most comfortable giving CPR to family members, friends and coworkers, with less than half very likely to perform CPR on a stranger. The survey showed that physical appearance was a significant factor when people are deciding to perform CPR on a stranger, and men with a disheveled or sloppy appearance were the least likely to receive assistance, with only half of respondents saying they would very likely try to give them CPR.

Americans plan to be very active this summer, as the survey found that more than 40 percent will go hiking or camping and almost 75 percent will go swimming. While people expect to be active, the Red Cross found that many were not confident they knew what to do in an emergency -- less than two-thirds felt confident helping a heat stroke victim and fewer than half could help someone with an allergic reaction to an insect or snake bite.

Previous Red Cross research found that nearly 90 percent of Americans say they want to be prepared for an emergency, but they don't know where to start or what to do.

"With so many people outdoors camping, hiking and swimming, it's important that someone in every household get trained in CPR and first aid skills," says Connie Harvey, health and safety expert for the American Red Cross. "Learning these lifesaving skills is easier and more convenient than you might think, and Red Cross training can help people prevent and respond to life's emergencies -- big or small.

"People can learn basic skills in just a few hours from Red Cross online lessons, products you can purchase for home instruction, and courses available through local Red Cross chapters," Harvey added.

This year, the Red Cross is offering a new Wilderness and Remote First Aid course designed to teach people how to respond to emergencies when help is delayed . In addition, the Red Cross teaches swimming and water safety skills to over 2 million people each year, trains millions in life-saving skills through its Lifeguarding and CPR/AED courses, and offers life-saving training for young people through its Babysitter Training courses.

More information about Red Cross courses can be found at www.redcross.org or contact your local Red Cross chapter for a schedule of class times and locations.

Details: Telephone survey of 1,018 U.S. Adults 18 years and older from March 26-29, 2010 conducted by Infogroup | ORC. Margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

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With This Year's Swimming Season Just Around the Corner, CDC Issues Report on Unhealthy Public Pools and Need for Increased Testing

/PRNewswire/ -- Unhealthy pools are more common than you may think. Newly released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) underscores the importance of protecting yourself and your family at the pool this summer. The CDC reports a disturbing statistic: About 1 out of 8 public pool inspections conducted in 13 states in 2008 resulted in pools being closed immediately due to serious code violations. The venues that had the most disinfection violations were kiddie/wading pools and water play areas.

Improperly chlorinated water puts swimmers at risk for recreational water illnesses like diarrhea and ear and skin infections. This summer the CDC is encouraging all swimmers to be activists - check your pool water and immediately report any problems to pool staff. Test strips are a quick and easy way to measure if there is adequate chlorine to kill germs and if pH is in the proper range. Swimmers can take action to protect themselves with free pool test kits offered by the Water Quality & Health Council on its website.

"You can't always trust your fellow swimmer to practice healthy swimming habits," said Chris Wiant, Chair of the Water Quality and Health Council. "But, what you can do is test the chlorine level and pH of the water to make sure your pool is properly treated - and immediately approach pool staff if it is not."

Test strips are an easy way to check the water and maintain a healthy pool. When testing pool water, swimmers should be sure that the free chlorine level is between 1.0 and 4.0 parts per million (ppm) and the pH registers between 7.2 and 7.8.

Last year's survey by the Water Quality and Health Council found that one in five Americans pee in the pool. Urine, as well as sweat and even sunscreen, contains nitrogen that eats up some of a pool's free chlorine, making it less effective in fighting off waterborne germs. To ensure on-the-spot protection, it is important to regularly adjust a pool's chlorine levels.

Young children, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to those germs that cause recreational water illnesses (RWI). These illnesses are on the rise. In just two years, between 2005 and 2006, 78 outbreaks were reported in 31 states - the largest number of outbreaks ever in a two-year period. Close to 4,500 people were affected.

"Chlorine and pH are a key defense against germs that can make swimmers sick," said Michele Hlavsa, Chief of the Healthy Swimming Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "When you visit a public pool, you can test the water yourself to help ensure a healthy swimming experience."

Are you swimming in an unhealthy pool? You can use your senses to recognize the signs:

-- CANNOT SEE the floor drain in the deep end of the pool;
-- CANNOT HEAR the pool pump running;
-- SMELL a strong chemical odor; or
-- FEEL sliminess on tile walls.


Free test kits are available on the Water Quality and Health Council website. For more information on preventing recreational water illnesses, please visit the CDC's website.

The Water Quality & Health Council (WQHC) is a body of independent scientific experts, health professionals and consumer advocates who serve as advisors to the Chlorine Chemistry Division of the American Chemistry Council, an industry trade association.


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Georgia Allergy Sufferers Can Save Money By Skipping the ER and Heading to Urgent Care and Retail Health Clinics for Relief

/PRNewswire/ -- In this economy, allergy sufferers are looking for relief from more than sneezing, runny noses, and itchy eyes. And, according to a recent study, they can find relief for both their symptoms and their wallets, saving anywhere from $50 to $400 in out-of-pocket costs* per visit if they skip the emergency room and head to urgent care and retail health clinics when they are unable to see their primary physician.

"When possible, we recommend that our members visit their primary care physicians for non-emergency treatment," said Dr. Robert McCormack, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia (BCBSGA) medical director. "If that's not an option, in cases where patients are looking for treatments related to allergies and colds--such as sinus infections, sore throats, ear infections and bronchitis--it just makes more economic sense to go to a retail health or urgent care clinic."

In addition, the study, conducted by HealthCore, Inc., BCBSGA's parent company's outcomes research subsidiary, showed that few patients who received care at retail health clinics or urgent care clinics needed follow-up care for their ailment, implying that they received the appropriate level of care, said John Barron, HealthCore director for health plan research.

Members may pay less by using retail health clinics, often located in retail stores, supermarkets and pharmacies, or urgent care clinics, typically staffed full-time by physicians, rather than hospital emergency rooms for mild upper respiratory ailments commonly associated with allergies and the common cold.

The comprehensive study of members in 14 states found that nearly one in five ER visits (19.4 percent) were for non-emergencies, including conditions such as upper respiratory infections, sore throats, or urinary tract infections. This is during a time when ER visits have increased 31 percent in 2005 over 1995 and ER waits to see a physician have increased from 38 minutes in 1997 to 56 minutes in 2005, according to federal government statistics.

Bronchitis, one of the more expensive conditions to treat, cost $646 to treat in the ER, compared with $97 for an urgent care visit and $54 for a retail health clinic visit, according to the study. Average costs for ER visits for all conditions studied ranged from $441 for the ER to $98 for urgent care and $52 for retail care. These costs represent total costs, including the portion paid by the health plan member.

The HealthCore study showed that for every member treated at retail health clinics, about 15 others are treated in the ER for the same condition.

The study also looked at overall costs to treat individual episodes over a two-week period for ailments associated with allergy, cold and flu, along with conjunctivitis and urinary tract infections. In this case, ER episodes cost an average $500, while urgent care cost $150 and retail health clinic cost $90.

Generally, retail health clinics and urgent care clinics may be used for the following:

-- Minor allergic reactions
-- Mild asthma
-- Coughs, sore throat
-- Bumps, minor cuts, scrapes
-- Rashes, minor burns
-- Sprains, strains
-- Minor fevers, colds
-- Minor headaches
-- Ear or sinus pain
-- Burning with urination
-- Eye swelling, irritation, redness or pain
-- Back pain
-- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
-- Minor animal bites
-- Vaccinations
-- X-rays
-- Stitches

Emergency rooms should be used for those with the following conditions:
-- Any life-threatening or disabling condition
-- Sudden or unexplained loss of consciousness
-- Chest pain; numbness in the face, arm or leg; difficulty speaking
-- Severe shortness of breath
-- High fever with stiff neck, mental confusion or difficulty breathing
-- Coughing up blood or a wound that won't stop bleeding
-- Severe abdominal pain
-- Major injuries
-- Possible broken bones


*Savings are based on the difference in patient co-pays, as well as those patients with high deductible plans who may pay the entire cost of the ER visit.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Safety Tips Emergency Physicians Say Will Help You Stay Out of the ER This Coming Memorial Day Weekend

/PRNewswire/ -- Fun in the sun, by the pool, on a boat or at a barbeque can quickly send you to the emergency department on Memorial Day if you don't plan ahead, the nation's emergency physicians warned today.

"We want people to have fun on Memorial Day weekend, which officially kicks off summer," said Dr. Angela Gardner, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "But having fun also means staying safe, using good judgment and taking simple precautions that will help keep you out of the ER and most importantly, keep you alive."

The American College of Emergency Physicians has put together the top five tips that you and your family should follow in order to stay safe and healthy over the holiday weekend.

Tip 1: Food Safety -- To avoid food poisoning, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture recommends cooking fresh poultry to 165 degrees, hamburgers to 160 degrees and beef to at least 145 degrees. Refrigerate all perishable food within 2 hours, 1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90 degrees. To guard against cross-contamination of bacteria, keep uncooked meats away from other foods.

Tip 2: Grill Safety -- Emergency physicians see firsthand the dangers associated with an outdoor grill. Consumers should thoroughly clean a grill of any grease or dust. Check the tubes leading into the burner for any blockages from insects or food grease that can cause an uncontrolled fire. Replace any connectors which can lead to a gas leak and keep lighted cigarettes, matches or open flames away from a leaking grill. Do not use a grill in a garage, breezeway, carport and porch or near any surface that can catch fire. Also, always follow the manufacturer's instructions that accompany the grill.

Tip 3: Water Safety -- To prevent drowning, avoid alcohol when swimming or boating. Wear a lifejacket whenever you are on a boat. Make sure young children are supervised at all times when near the beach, on a boat, or by a pool or hot tub. Don't swim alone or in bad weather. Learn to swim and teach your children to swim. We also recommend that you learn CPR in case of an emergency.

Tip 4: Sun Safety -- Protect against sunburn and heat stroke. Wear sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15 or higher and apply it generously throughout the day. Wear a hat outdoors and a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes. Drink plenty of water, especially when in the sun or if you are sweating heavily. If you feel faint or nauseous, get into a cool place immediately.

Tip 5: Travel Safety -- Do not drink and drive or travel with anyone who has been drinking. Wear your seatbelt at all times. Make sure your vehicle has been properly serviced and is in good working shape before a long road trip. Familiarize yourself with your surroundings if you are in an unfamiliar place and know where the nearest emergency room is to you at all times in case of an emergency.

"Many of the factors that will determine your safety over Memorial Day weekend or any time this summer will come down to good decision-making and common sense," said Dr. Gardner. "As someone who sees the consequences up close, my best advice is, know your limits, be mindful of certain risks and stay smart."

MedicAlert Foundation pioneered the first medical identification and emergency medical information service in 1956 to provide people with a simple but effective method for communicating their medical conditions. Since the organization's founding, MedicAlert Foundation has provided services and products that help to protect and save lives for its 4 million members worldwide. For more than 50 years, the nonprofit foundation has relayed vital medical information on behalf of its members to emergency responders so they receive faster and safer treatment. MedicAlert IDs alert emergency personnel to a member's primary health conditions. In addition to its 24-hour emergency response service, MedicAlert Foundation also provides family and caregiver notification so that members can be reunited with their loved ones. For more information, visit www.medicalert.org.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Federal Report Finds Early Births Decline in Most Categories

/PRNewswire/ -- For the first time in three decades, the nation - and most states - saw a two-year decline in preterm birth rates, indicating that strategies implemented over the past seven years have begun to pay off, according to the March of Dimes.

"In 2003, we began a national campaign to reduce the terrible toll of premature birth because every baby deserves a healthy start in life," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "In every state, our volunteers are working with policy makers to improve the quality of perinatal care, and determine best practices for reducing preterm birth. We are thrilled with this sign of sustained progress."

This week, March of Dimes Medical Director Alan Fleischman, MD, will testify about preterm birth and infant mortality before the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. At the May 12 hearing, he will discuss preterm birth's effects on child health and development, interventions to stop unnecessary c-sections and early inductions and other recommendations for reducing preterm birth. Dr. Fleischman also will urge Congress to reauthorize the PREEMIE Act (P.L. 109-450), which supports expanded research, education and other projects to help reduce preterm birth rates.

Despite the improvement, each year in the United States, more than half a million infants are born too soon. Preterm birth (birth before 37 weeks gestation) is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually. It is a leading cause of infant death, and babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifetime health challenges, including breathing problems, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and others.

Nationally, the preterm birth rate declined four percent between 2006 and 2008 from 12.8 to 12.3 percent of live births, according to the report: "Are Preterm Births on the Decline in the United States? Recent Data From the National Vital Statistics System," by Joyce Martin et al., released today by the National Center for Health Statistics, (NCHS).

Preterm birth rates are down in 35 states. Rates declined for both late preterm (34 to 36 weeks gestation) and early preterm births (before 34 weeks gestation). Rates also declined among the major racial and ethnic groups, for mothers under the age of 40, and regardless of the method of delivery, according to the NCHS report.

The NCHS report pointed out that between 2006 and 2008 the preterm birth rate declined five percent among both non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black mothers. Hispanic mothers also experienced a slight decline over the two-year period.

Also, preterm birth rates declined four percent for babies delivered by a cesarean section. Among vaginal deliveries, preterm birth rates declined regardless of whether or not labor was induced, although there was a larger decline in induced vaginal deliveries.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies®, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. For detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit PeriStats at marchofdimes.com/peristats.

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Aetna, Magic Johnson Enterprises to Host Free “Magic@50” Community Health & Fitness Expo in Atlanta

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aetna (NYSE:ΑET) announced today that it and Magic Johnson Enterprises (MJE) will be co-hosting a free “Magic@50” Community Health & Fitness EXPO on Saturday, May 15, at the Vicars Community Center (838 Cascade Road SW, Atlanta, GA 30311).

“32 Ways to Be a Champion in Business.”

The EXPO is free and open to the public, running from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. A variety of free screenings from local health care professionals will be available to attendees at the EXPO. This includes screenings for HIV, diabetes, high blood pressure and proper dental care.

There will be a number of other activities taking place throughout the day, including cooking demonstrations by celebrity chef Marvin Woods at 10 and 12:30. From 11:15-12:30, there will be a panel discussion among local health care leaders focusing on key health and wellness issues in Atlanta’s African-American community, with emphasis on the impact to people age 50 and above.

Following the panel, Aetna’s Laurel Levy will present on behalf of the Aetna Foundation a grant for $40,000 to Vanetta Keyes, the president and executive director of the Center Helping Obesity in Children End Successfully, Inc. (CHOICES). CHOICES promotes weight management and lifestyle changes through nutrition education, peer socialization, physical activity and community involvement.

"Aetna and Magic Johnson Enterprises are both committed to helping people understand the health resources available to them, and encouraging them to take a more active role in their health and wellness,” said Floyd Green, head of Community Relations and Urban Marketing for Aetna. "This EXPO is a great example of how we are working together to reach people in their community and provide them with valuable information that can help them lead healthier lives."

In addition to the free health screenings, cooking demonstration, panel discussion and grant presentation, there will be nearly 30 informational exhibitor booths from community organizations and businesses dedicated to health, wellness and fitness.

Before the EXPO starts, there will also be a three-mile “fitness walk” led by the Concerned Black Clergy nonprofit organization (this walk will begin at the Kroger on 3425 Cascade Road). The Grand Marshall of this walk is “General” Larry Platt, a prominent civil rights activist in Atlanta who recently gained fame for his audition performance on the ninth season of American Idol.

Attendees at the event will also have the chance to enter raffles for autographed memorabilia from Earvin “Magic” Johnson, including a basketball and jersey as well as copies of his book, “32 Ways to Be a Champion in Business.” Mr. Johnson will not attend the expo, but his likeness and voice will be part of a special “Magic@50” advertising campaign that will include direct mail and placements in local newspapers and on local radio stations.

Additional “Magic@50” activities

This EXPO is the continuation of the “Magic@50” campaign that Aetna and MJE started in November 2008. Since that time, other highly successful free “Magic@50” Community Health & Fitness EXPOs have taken place in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. In addition, last October, Mr. Johnson delivered a presentation sponsored by Aetna to more than 4,000 individuals at AARP’s National Event & EXPO, Vegas@50+. This presentation focused on the importance of improving health literacy and maintaining health and wellness for people over 50.

Later this year, Aetna and MJE will team up to hold two more “Magic@50” Community Health & Fitness EXPOs in Detroit and Oakland, California.

Grassroots promotion of the “Magic@50” Community Health & Fitness EXPO is coming from distribution of 25,000 free community newspapers throughout the Atlanta market. Entitled Urban Call, this publication features informative health-related articles on behalf of Aetna and Magic Johnson Enterprises.

In addition, as part of this broader program, Aetna and MJE have developed a unique website (www.aetnamagicat50.com) that highlights various elements of the “Magic@50” campaign. The site includes event listings and a number of exclusive videos with Mr. Johnson describing how he has faced personal challenges with his health and in business, as well as ways that the Aetna/Magic Johnson Enterprises alliance can help improve health literacy. The site also contains articles from Urban Call on Aetna’s commitment to diversity and addressing racial and ethnic inequalities in health care, as well as a glossary of common health insurance terms. More local event information can be found at www.facebook.com/magicat50.

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Friday, May 07, 2010

Stay balanced: health and lifestyle tips to better manage diabetes

(ARA) - Diabetes affects more than 23 million people in the United States, with type 2 diabetes representing 90 to 95 percent of those cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But the good news is that people with type 2 diabetes can find balance in their lives with a structured plan that includes proper nutrition and regular exercise.

From families to careers to busy social lives, people with diabetes have to manage much more each day than just their condition. Finding time to make exercise, regularly scheduled meals and relaxation part of a daily routine can be a challenge. In fact, more than 55 percent of people with type 2 diabetes say their hectic schedules get in the way of their management plans, with 20 percent ranking it as their number one challenge, according to a recent survey by the International Diabetes Center (IDC) and Abbott.

"Diabetes shouldn't define the lives of people living with the condition," says Mother Love, author, TV personality and ambassador for the American Diabetes Association Research Foundation. "It's all about having the right tools for a successful diabetes management plan that will help them find balance for a healthier, better life."

Mother Love, who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1990, made smart nutrition and exercise changes, lost weight and learned to successfully manage her condition. She shares her tips on how to create a successful diabetes management plan:

* Build a team: Create a support team of healthcare professionals, friends and family that you can rely on to reach your health goals. Be sure to consult with your healthcare team to create a diabetes management plan that works for you and includes a balanced diet, exercise, blood-glucose monitoring and medication, if needed.

* Take control of your diet: Say goodbye to poor eating habits like empty-calorie midnight snacks or skipping breakfast and say hello to regularly scheduled, nutritious meals. Nearly half of people with diabetes say eating healthy is most difficult first thing in the morning or late at night, according to the IDC survey. When you're juggling a hectic schedule, nutrition products like Glucerna cereals, snack bars and shakes are a convenient food choice. They are great-tasting and specially formulated to help minimize blood sugar spikes, which can lower A1C levels when used as part of a diabetes management plan. Use Glucerna products under medical supervision.

* Get a move on: Being overweight is a major risk for diabetes, but according to the CDC, it can be prevented or delayed with moderate weight loss and exercise, so get off the couch and get moving. Whether it's swimming, walking or even doing vigorous housework, incorporate exercise into your daily routine. At least 30 minutes of activity, five to seven days a week, will help you get healthy and make the condition more manageable.

* Treat yourself well: Maintaining a balanced, harmonious lifestyle is a key to effectively managing diabetes. Stress is part of daily life for everyone, but too much can be harmful to a person with diabetes because it affects blood glucose levels. Set aside time each day to relax and do the things you enjoy. Write your thoughts in a journal, think of something funny, do yoga or get a massage - anything that will help you unwind.

Making smart, healthy lifestyle changes and adopting a positive mindset can help you find the balance necessary to live a healthier, fuller life. For more information about diabetes or how to create a management plan, consult your physician and visit glucerna.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Seniors: Take Advantage Of Free Medicare Diabetes Tests

(StatePoint)  Do you have diabetes and not know it?

Approximately seven out of 10 adults aged 65 or older have diabetes or pre-diabetes and many don't know it. Almost half of older Americans with diabetes aren't aware they have the disease.

Fortunately, Medicare has been offering free diabetes screening to those at risk since 2005. But utilization has been low and many seniors remain undiagnosed. In fact, less than 10 percent of those eligible have taken advantage of the tests.

That's why Oscar-winner Olympia Dukakis and her husband, actor Louis Zorich, are urging at-risk adults 65 and older to get screened. In partnership with Novo Nordisk, a world leader in diabetes care, they are spearheading an educational program known as "Ask.Screen.Know." The program encourages people enrolled in Medicare to ask their healthcare providers about free diabetes screenings in order to know their blood sugar levels and what actions to take.

For Dukakis and her husband, this program hits close to home. Having been married for 47 years, the couple recently got tested and Zorich learned he has type 2 diabetes.

"When we learned that less than 10 percent of people with Medicare have taken advantage of the diabetes screening benefit, we knew we had to do something," said Dukakis. "So we joined forces with Novo Nordisk to share our story. We asked, got screened and now know where our health stands relative to diabetes."

With a history of diabetes in Zorich's family, the time was right to be screened. "We want to be around for as long as possible for each other, and our family," said Zorich. "Now that we know I have diabetes, we can manage the disease the right way, by exercising more and eating better."

Why Screen?

When your body doesn't make enough insulin or prevents the insulin you produce from working properly, this could lead to diabetes. The condition requires that individuals do the work their bodies used to do automatically to maintain the insulin/glucose balance. The risk of type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, increases as you get older, often because people typically exercise less, lose muscle mass and gain weight as they age.

If left undiagnosed or unmanaged, diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney disease, foot amputation, heart disease and stroke. 

But these issues often can be avoided.

Free Screenings

Medicare offers free diabetes screening for enrolled adults 65 and older who have at least one risk factor. These factors include family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and a history of diabetes during pregnancy.

Aside from telling if you have diabetes, these tests also can identify a condition known as pre-diabetes. With pre-diabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. 

If doctors suspect diabetes in patients with normal fasting blood glucose levels, they may recommend an oral glucose tolerance test, which also is covered by Medicare.

To obtain benefit information about the Medicare diabetes screening benefit, learn more about diabetes and pre-diabetes, and keep track of your blood sugar numbers, visit AskScreenKnow.com. The site even invites users to send personalized e-mails or voicemails from Dukakis to family members and friends, to help spread the word about the free Medicare diabetes screening.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Healthy habits: Boosting fiber in your child's diet

(ARA) - With a looming childhood obesity epidemic, many physicians and dieticians are emphasizing the importance of fiber in children's diets. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who eat plenty of fiber are less likely to develop obesity, heart disease and gastrointestinal problems, including constipation.

Still, a recent Kellogg Company study showed that nine out of 10 children do not get enough fiber in their diet. And for the 4.3 million kids with food allergies, getting the daily recommended amount of fiber can be even more challenging.

Fiber basics

A good guideline for children is to use the "Age Plus Five" rule to calculate the daily grams of fiber needed. For example, a 4-year-old should eat 9 grams of fiber per day.

So where will all this fiber come from? Fiber is the part of fruits, vegetables, and grains that is neither digested nor absorbed by our digestive system. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, and it is important to get both types in your children's diets.

Insoluble fiber, which is mainly found in cereal or whole grains, promotes overall gut health and is helpful in preventing constipation. Soluble fiber, found mainly in fruits and vegetables, helps lower cholesterol levels and slows the body's absorption of sugar.

Most fiber-rich foods contain both insoluble and soluble fiber, so if you feed your children a wide variety of high-fiber foods throughout the day they should be able to meet their daily requirements.

As a rule of thumb, foods are considered to be good sources of fiber if they have at least 2.5 grams or more per serving. Good sources of fiber include fruits like apples and bananas; vegetables such as corn, peas or spinach;lentils, beans and other legumes; and breads or cereals that contain whole wheat or multi-grains.

Fiber and food allergies

If your little one has food allergies, getting the recommended amount of fiber can be even more challenging because their diet is restricted. Fiber-rich foods that are unlikely to be allergenic include apples, pears, melons, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, green beans, pumpkin and zucchini.

"Fiber is particularly important for children with food allergies and related gastrointestinal conditions," explains registered dietician Steven Yannicelli, Ph.D., vice president of medical and scientific affairs for Nutricia North America, manufacturer of Neocate. "Studies have shown that fiber has numerous healthful benefits, especially for those suffering from constipation which may be found in children with food allergies."

If your child's food allergies restrict his or her fiber intake, an elemental formula with added prebiotic fibers, like Neocate Junior with Prebiotics, can help to meet daily requirements without the risk of an allergic reaction.

Prebiotics are a special type of soluble fiber which nourishes the friendly bacteria present in the gut. Supporting the growth of good bacteria helps clear out the bad bacteria, because the two compete for food and shelter in the GI tract. Prebiotic fibers provide a good source of soluble fiber to help maintain regularity and gastrointestinal health, and support a healthy immune system.

Increasing fiber intake

If you find your child is not meeting his or her daily fiber recommendations, be sure to increase the amount gradually. Suddenly increasing fiber in large amounts can result in some discomfort, such as cramps, bloating and gas.

Also, be sure your child drinks plenty of water. Otherwise, fiber may actually contribute to constipation rather than preventing it.

By getting your child to eat a wide variety of fiber-rich foods, you will help promote a healthy habit that will likely continue later in life.

For more information on nutrition for children with food allergies, visit foodallergyliving.net.

Courtesy of ARAcontent



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National Arthritis Awareness Month in May Highlights Importance of Physical Activity

/PRNewswire/ -- For the 46 million Americans with arthritis and many more at risk in the United States, moving is the best medicine to fight arthritis pain. This May during National Arthritis Awareness Month, the Arthritis Foundation is kicking off a nationwide awareness campaign to encourage all Americans to make physical activity part of their daily routine.

Already the nation's most common cause of disability, a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report published in the May issue of Preventing Chronic Disease finds that the burden of arthritis is greater for African-Americans and Hispanics. These two groups are nearly twice as likely as whites to have severe joint pain and work limitations and 1.3 times as likely to have activity limitations.

Among the overall population, the impact of arthritis is expected to escalate significantly in decades to come. One in five adults in the United States (46 million people) has arthritis and an estimated 67 million people will be affected by 2030. With the combination of inactivity, obesity, injury and the aging of Americans, the rising prevalence of osteoarthritis, the most common form, is expected to escalate the severe health and economic effects of this disease.

"Fortunately, there are simple steps everyone can take that will make a big difference. Just a small amount of weight loss and 30 minutes of daily physical activity can help reduce arthritis pain, increase mobility and lead toward a more active, independent life," said Dr. Patience White, vice president of public health for the Arthritis Foundation.

In an effort to encourage all Americans to take simple steps that will prevent or decrease the pain and disability of osteoarthritis, the Arthritis Foundation joined the Ad Council to launch the Fight Awareness Pain campaign. The new multimedia campaign demonstrates that "moving is the best medicine" and features messages about the importance of physical activity and weight reduction in preventing and managing the pain associated with osteoarthritis.

The Arthritis Foundation offers the following tips to prevent and decrease the pain and disability of osteoarthritis.

-- Make movement a daily routine. Incorporate exercise into your daily
life, even if you only add a daily walk of 15 to 30 minutes. If pain
or being overweight makes it difficult to exercise, try one of the
Arthritis Foundation's Life Improvement Series Programs, which apply
less stress to joints.
-- Control your weight. For every one pound you lose, that's four pounds
of pressure off each knee. Losing as little as 11 pounds may reduce
joint pain and help prevent knee osteoarthritis. For those already
living with arthritis symptoms, losing 15 pounds can cut knee pain in
half.
-- Know your risks. Although heredity and other factors can put a person
at risk for developing osteoarthritis, a healthy lifestyle can play a
significant role in preventing and successfully managing
osteoarthritis. Find out your risk for osteoarthritis and get a
personalized plan to reduce your risks at fightarthritispain.org.

National Arthritis Awareness Month Action

The Arthritis Foundation is encouraging people with arthritis and the many more at risk to make physical activity part of their daily routine. To get started, go to fightarthritispain.org. Then, celebrate National Arthritis Awareness Month and your commitment to move at an Arthritis Walk event. Visit letsmovetogether.org to find an Arthritis Walk in your community and for a movement tracker to set goals and stay on track.

The Arthritis Foundation (www.arthritis.org) is the leading health organization addressing the needs of the 46 million Americans, including 300,000 children, living with arthritis, the nation's most common cause of disability. The Foundation helps individuals take control of arthritis by providing public health education; pursuing public policy and legislation; supporting research and conducting evidence-based programs to improve the quality of life for those living with arthritis.

The Ad Council (www.adcouncil.org) is a private, non-profit organization that marshals talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities to produce, distribute and promote public service campaigns on behalf of non-profit organizations and government agencies. The Ad Council addresses issue areas such as improving the quality of life for children, preventive health, education, community well-being, environmental preservation and strengthening families.

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Monday, May 03, 2010

In Conjunction with Asthma Awareness Month, the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute Urges Communities to Take Steps to Reduce Indoor Air Pollution

/PRNewswire/ -- In light of Asthma Awareness Month, the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) reminds families and communities to be proactive about minimizing their exposure to airborne chemicals and other indoor air pollutants.

Studies have shown that inhalation exposure to chemicals like volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and indoor particulate matter pollution can increase the risk of asthma and other respiratory complications in children. And according to the American Lung Association, VOCs can cause severe asthma symptoms in people who already suffer from the disease.

"Science has consistently shown a link between indoor air pollution and asthma severity -- particularly among children," says Dr. Marilyn Black, founder of GEI. "Since people spend 90-percent of their time indoors, Asthma Awareness Month is the perfect time to emphasize the importance of creating healthier indoor environments."

Simple steps that families and communities can take to help reduce indoor air pollution include regularly ventilating homes, offices, and classrooms; avoiding the use of harsh cleansers, solvents, and deodorizers; allowing new furniture and home decor to off-gas, or air out, outside for several days before bringing inside; and choosing only third-party certified low-emitting products.

Experts agree that source control, which includes the strategic selection and use of products that have been independently certified for low chemical emissions, is the most effective way to combat indoor air pollution. For more information, visit www.greenguard.org and www.lungusa.org.

Key Asthma Statistics
-- Twenty-three million people in the U.S.--including 7 million
children--suffer from asthma.
-- Worldwide, it's estimated that 300 million people suffer from asthma.
-- At least 250,000 deaths worldwide are attributed to asthma each year.
-- Globally, the number of people with asthma is expected to grow by more
than 100 million by 2025.
-- In the U.S. alone, asthma is the third-leading cause of
hospitalization among children under 15 years old, and is responsible
for 13 million missed school days each year.
-- Approximately 4 million children in the U.S. have suffered an asthma
attack in the last year.
-- Asthma accounts for roughly 500,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. each
year.
-- Asthma accounts for 217,000 emergency room visits and 10.5 million
physician office visits in the U.S. every year.
-- Asthma accounts for approximately 10.1 million missed work days in the
U.S. each year.
-- The annual economic cost of asthma in the U.S. is $19.7 billion. That
includes $14.7 billion in direct costs and $5 billion in indirect
costs, such as lost productivity.




Sources: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Center for Health Statistics; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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2010 Long Term Care Guide Announced; Includes Healthcare Reform Update

/PRNewswire/ -- Many Americans seem confused and immobilized by a key part of the recent Health Reform legislation, the CLASS Act, which will offer a form of long term care insurance for working people and others who may become disabled. "CLASS" stands for Community Living Assistance Services and Supports, and the program, a legacy of the late Senator Edward Kennedy, is intended to offer new choice and security for millions now at risk. But, "we find that the public doesn't know how to react," says Denise Gott, Chairman of the Board of LTC Financial Partners LLC (LTCFP), one of the nation's most experienced long term care insurance agencies.

"On one hand," says Gott, "many people hope the CLASS Act can take care of their long term care insurance needs. On the other hand, they're not sure. They wonder if private LTC insurance may be better for them in their particular situation. They're conflicted and stymied."

To help clarify the matter, Gott's organization developed and will soon publish the 2010 Long Term Care Guide, a special report that includes a Healthcare Reform Update. "We think it will answer the top questions on people's minds," says Gott. These questions include:

* If the CLASS Act program doesn't become operational until 2012 or 2013, what are the risks of waiting until then to decide between that and private long term care insurance?

* With the public plan, I hear people will need to pay premiums for 5 years before becoming eligible for benefits; how does this compare with private LTC insurance?

* How much are long term care services likely to cost should I need them; and will the public plan pay enough benefits to cover all those costs?

* If I get a private LTC policy now, could I later decide to enroll in the public plan as well, for extended benefits?

Such questions cry out for answers now, Gott asserts. "Millions will be automatically enrolled in the public plan, with payroll deductions, unless they decide to opt out; but that decision requires knowledge."

Expected to be available in print by June, the 2010 Long Term Care Guide will be an insert in a revised edition of Dignity for Life - Five Things You Should Know Before Considering Long Term Care Insurance. In digital form, the special report is available now at no cost at http://www.ltcfp.us/long-term-care-guide/.

LTCFP and LTC Hotline are sponsors of the "3 in 4 Need More" campaign -- http://www.3in4needmore.com/ -- which seeks to inform the public that "at least 70 percent of people over age 65 will require some long-term care services at some point in their lives," according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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