Posts tagged with "preventive medicine"

Boost Your Immune System and Your Heart Health

Boost Your Immune System

In the past few months, the U.S. has witnessed one of the worst flu seasons since the swine-flu pandemic of 2009. A recent study suggests that the flu doesn’t just cause aches, chills, and fatigue but it may also increase the risk of a heart attack. The study shows a six-fold increase in heart attacks shortly after people get the flu. Take preventive measures today to take care of your heart and body to prevent the flu or reduce its effects if you get the flu.1

The flu season usually begins in October or November and peaks between December and February, and can last as late as May, according to the CDC. Each year, the flu is estimated to cause between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths and up to 710,000 hospitalizations in the U.S.1

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu shot. The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology recommend the shot for people with heart disease.

Another way to protect yourself against disease is to improve your heart health. The American Heart Association has started a ‘Healthy For Good’ revolutionary movement to inspire you to create lasting change in your health and your life, one small step at a time.

Eat Smart 

A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons against cardiovascular disease. Eating healthy doesn’t mean dieting or giving up the foods you love.

  • Eat more plants! When you eat a vegetarian diet, be sure to add foods rich in iron, Vitamin B12, Calcium, and Zinc.
  • Limit sweets, fatty or processed meats, solid fats like butter, and salty or highly processed foods.
  • Avoid bad fats (solid or saturated fats from animal sources like meat, dairy, and tropical oils) and incorporate healthier fats (nontropical liquid oils, nuts and seeds, avocados, and fatty fish) into your diet.
  • Stock your kitchen with fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Ditch the processed and junk foods!
  • Instead of eliminating foods you love, concentrate on eating smaller portions.
  • Eat reasonable portions, even when you’re served more than you need (Split an entrée when dining out).

Move More

A good starting goal is at least 150 minutes a week, but if you don’t want to sweat the numbers, just move more! Find forms of exercise you enjoy and will stick with, and build more opportunities to be active into your routine.

  • Start walking – begin with a few minutes each day, and add more minutes each week.
  • Find ways to make walking fun, whether that’s changing your route, inviting friends or listening to your favorite podcast.
  • Don’t skip out on your warm-up, 5-10 minutes is a good rule of thumb.
  • Get the whole family moving – adding exercise is easier when it’s a shared activity.
  • Make time during a busy day for activity by going for a brisk walk during your lunch break or taking the stairs as often as possible.
  • Cool down after a workout to help your body reset and recover a little bit easier – this is the best time to stretch when your muscles are still warm.
  • Turn TV time into a workout – during every commercial break do a body weight exercise (squats, push ups, jumping jacks).

Add Color

An easy first step to eating healthy is to include fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack. All forms (fresh, frozen, canned and dried) and all colors count, so go ahead and add color to your plate – and your life!

  • To mix up your spaghetti routine, add an imposter pasta such as one made from black bean, edamame, chick pea or a vegetable pasta such as zucchini noodles.
  • Roast vegetables in high heat to caramelize and bring out their natural flavors; don’t overdo it with salt or sauces.
  • Grill fruits to unlock a deeper sweetness and give their color some char.
  • Add color to your plate with the 5 main color groups: red and pink, blue and purple, yellow and orange, white and brown and green. Check out healthyforgood.heart.org for examples from each group. 
  • Look at your plate each time you eat, and if it’s too beige, add a serving of fruits or vegetables.
  • Go meatless – add mushrooms in place of beef, go with veggies and beans in your stir fry or use thick cut eggplant in place of chicken.

Be Well

Along with eating right and being active, better health requires getting enough sleep, practicing mindfulness, managing stress, keeping your mind and body fit, and connecting socially.

  • Be more active, limit caffeine before bed, and establish a better sleep routine.
  • Neutralize your racing mind by acknowledging thoughts as they come and letting them pass freely.
  • Focus on healthy outlets for stress, like taking a walk, journaling, volunteering or a hobby that you love.
  • Take time out for you – use your vacation days, whether you go on a big trip or just hang at home for a staycation.
  • Don’t overlook your emotional and mental health – get help if you need it to manage stress, anxiety, depression or grief.
  • Practice deep breathing techniques by inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth slowly and deliberately.
  • Take preventive measures to avoid stress, like leaving a few minutes earlier to avoid being late, or avoiding busy roads so you can stay calm while driving.
  • In high-anxiety situations, give yourself some space – take a walk and come back later when tensions subside.

 Prevent the Flu2

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against the flu viruses.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • If you are sick with a flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
  • If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness.
  • Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines and are not available over-the-counter.
  • Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.

References:

  1. American Heart Association: https://news.heart.org/flu-blankets-nation-new-study-links-virus-heart-attacks/
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/prevention.htm
Cold vs Flu

The Difference Between a Cold and The Flu

Have you ever shown symptoms and wondered whether you have a cold or the flu? This is because having a cold and having the flu can display similar symptoms. Check out the chart below, find out which infection you have, and follow the day-by-day advice given below.
 USPM Cold vs Flu Infographic

Cold

Day 1

Hold off on calling the Doctor.
There is no prescription drug that your doctor can prescribe that will shorten the length of the common cold. A cold is a viral infection that cannot be treated by antibiotics, which fight bacterial infections. Furthermore, antiviral drugs are used to ease symptoms of the flu, so it cannot be used to calm a cold. However, you can take the following over-the-counter drugs to ease the pain of the common cold:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
  • Naproxen (Aleve)

Practice extra good hygiene

When we are sick, we often want to stay home. However, if you venture out into the public it is extremely important to take extra measures to not spread what you have. To help stop the spread of germs:

 

Do not:
  • Touch others
  • Cough/Sneeze into your hands (then touch another object)

Do:

  • Wash hands with soap and water regularly (Especially after sneezing and/or coughing)
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Cough or sneeze into a cloth (ig. tissue, your upper sleeve, elbow)
  • If you use a tissue, make sure to put in a trashcan
  • Consider taking vitamin C

Days 2-4
Avoid exhausting yourself
When it comes to exercise, moderate activity may help a little, but working out until you sweat may even prolong your symptoms according to Dr. Marvin M. Lipman, M.D.
Take preventive measures and prepare for what comes next
As shown in the chart above, a sore throat is likely the first symptom to roll around. Shortly after, symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, and runny nose start developing. If you are a fan of taking the non-drug route, here are a few suggestions of what you can do to ease these symptoms:
  • Honey or salt-water gargle to ease sore throat
  • Saline nasal spray to east congestion
  • Eat warm soup or drink warm beverages to thin mucus

 5+ Days
Consider calling your healthcare provider
If your symptoms do not improve or are worsening, think about reaching out to your healthcare provider. The common cold is a viral infection, but you could also be developing a bacterial infection, which would require antibiotics. You may have another issue, such as allergies (immune reaction to a foreign substance in the body, bronchitis (inflammation of the bronchial lining), or pneumonia (infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs).

Flu

Day 1
Stay home
On the first day of having the flu you are highly contagious, so it is best to not spread germs. The flu usually lasts for 1-2 weeks but after a few days, symptoms may ease, and you can reconsider going out. Have someone bring in some flu-survival basics such as: 
  • Tissues 
  • Easy-to-eat foods 
  • Over-the-counter medications 
  • Chicken soup
Don’t push yourself too hard
As the flu settles in the body, it needs plenty of rest. Instead of pushing yourself too hard doing daily tasks, climb into bed and get the rest your body deserves. Doing too much, especially in the early stages of illness, can weaken your body.
Ask your doctor for an antiviral drug
These drugs can shorten the duration of the flu by a day and reduce the risk of pneumonia and other complications. However, it only works if you start taking it 48 hours after the onset of symptoms. Examples of antiviral drugs are Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and Zanamivir (Relenza). Use caution with these drugs, especially if you are: 
  • 65 years or older 
  • Younger than 5 years old 
  • Pregnant or just had a baby 
  • Have a chronic disease such as asthma, heart disease, or other chronic diseases
  • Remember to consult with your physician before taking any medication

The flu often starts off with a temperature over 100° F. To ease head and body aches that come with the flu, you can take: 

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
  • Naproxen (Aleve)

Days 2-4

Fluids, Fluids, Fluids!
Fevers can increase the chances of becoming dehydrated, so drinking plenty of water is a must. Try mixing a salty liquid such as chicken or vegetable broth and a sweet liquid like tea, juice, or iced fruit pops. According to Patricia A. Stinchfield, a pediatric nurse practitioner, the mixture will replace electrolytes, promote full hydration and may help thin out thick mucus. 

Monitor your temperature
A low-grade fever itself is not harmful, however, it can mean that you are still contagious. Monitoring your temperature can keep you up to date on if your temperature spikes or not. In young children, temperature spikes may trigger seizures. 

Reach out to your healthcare provider if needed
Watch out for complications such as difficulty breathing or swallowing, or if you experience disorientation. These are signs that indicate pneumonia, bronchitis, or dehydration. The individuals vulnerable to these conditions are:

  • Children
  • Elderly
  • People with chronic conditions

You should also reach out to your healthcare provider if drinking or urinating become difficult or is painful.


Days 5-6

Invest in some natural remedies
After a few days of having the flu in your system, the body aches and fevers may by gone but sore throat and cough often continue for a while longer. Here are a few good remedies that will be useful during this time: 

  • Lozenges
  • Honey
  • Salt-water gargle
  • Plenty of tea or soup

If you feel that you are recovering and have been without a fever for 24 hours, then you many consider getting back to school or work.


7+ Days

Do not panic
Like mentioned above, the flu can last up to 1-2 weeks. If you feel that you are in the process of recovering, just continue what you have been doing and little by little, you should be on your way to full recovery. 

Call your healthcare provider
If you are not improving or you are showing signs of complications, you may be developing pneumonia, sinusitis, or another health-related issue. Call you healthcare provider to learn more about what you can do.


References
1. https://www.consumerreports.org/medical-symptoms/treating-a-cold-or-the-flu-day-by-day-guide/
2. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/etiquette/coughing_sneezing.html
3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/
Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction

Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 21.5 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2014. Almost 80% of individuals suffering from a substance use disorder in 2014 struggled with an alcohol use disorder.1Drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will. Drugs change the brain in ways that make quitting hard, even for those who want to change.2

Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs.

These brain changes can be persistent, which is why drug addiction is considered a “relapsing” disease—people in recovery from drug use disorders are at increased risk for returning to drug use even after years of not taking the drug. As with other chronic health conditions, treatment should be ongoing and should be adjusted based on how the person responds.

What happens to the brain when a person takes drugs?2 

Most drugs affect the brain’s “reward circuit” by flooding it with the chemical messenger dopamine. This reward system controls the body’s ability to feel pleasure and motivates a person to repeat behaviors needed to thrive, such as eating and spending time with loved ones. This overstimulation of the reward circuit causes the intensely pleasurable “high” that can lead people to take a drug again and again.

As a person continues to use drugs, the brain adjusts to the excess dopamine by making less of it and/or reducing the ability of cells in the reward circuit to respond to it. This reduces the high that the person feels compared to the high they felt when first taking the drug—an effect known as tolerance.

They might take more of the drug, trying to achieve the same dopamine high. It can also cause them to get less pleasure from other things they once enjoyed, like food or social activities.

Long-term use also causes changes in other brain chemical systems and circuits as well, affecting functions that include:

  • Learning
  • Judgment
  • Decision-making
  • Stress
  • Memory
  • Behavior

Despite being aware of these harmful outcomes, many people who use drugs continue to take them, which is the nature of addiction.

Can drug addiction be cured or prevented?2

As with most other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, treatment for drug addiction generally isn’t a cure. However, addiction is treatable and can be successfully managed. People who are recovering from an addiction will be at risk for relapse for years and possibly for their whole lives. Research shows that combining addiction treatment medicines with behavioral therapy ensures the best chance of success for most patients.

The good news is that drug use and addiction are preventable. Results from National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded research have shown that prevention programs involving families, schools, communities, and the media are effective for preventing or reducing drug use and addiction. Although personal events and cultural factors affect drug use trends, when young people view drug use as harmful, they tend to decrease their drug taking.

Therefore, education and outreach are key in helping people understand the possible risks of drug use. Teachers, parents, and health care providers have crucial roles in educating young people and preventing drug use and addiction.

Treatment for Drug Abuse3

Drug addiction can be treated, but it’s not simple. It must help the person do the following:

  • Stop using drugs
  • Stay drug-free
  • Be productive at home, at work, and in society

Successful treatment has several steps:

  • Detoxification
  • Behavioral counseling
  • Medication (for opioid, tobacco, or alcohol addiction)
  • Evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
  • Long-term follow-up to prevent relapse

Medications can be used to manage withdrawal symptoms, prevent relapse, and treat co-occurring conditions.

Behavioral therapies help patients:

  • Modify their attitudes and behaviors related to drug use
  • Increase healthy life skills
  • Persist with other forms of treatment, such as medication

Finding Treatment Services

Visit https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov to find a treatment service near you or call SAMHSA’s National Helpline:

  • 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
  • 1-800-487-4889 (TTY)

Free and confidential information in English and Spanish for individuals and family members facing substance abuse and mental health issues – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Road to Recovery

If you or a family member are recovering from drug addiction, focus on the following to help prevent relapse:

  • Keep going to your treatment sessions.
  • Try mindfulness breathing, yoga or meditation to reduce stress.
  • Avoid triggers such as spending time with the people you used drugs with, places, things, or emotions that can make you want to use drugs again.
  • Take care of your body to help it heal from the harmful effects of drug use and to feel better. Be sure to add daily exercise, and eat healthy foods.
  • Find new activities and goals to replace the ones that involved drug use.
  • Spend more time with family and friends you lost touch with; consider not seeing friends who are still using drugs.

Resources

Get Help from Your Doctor 

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you or someone you know is addicted to prescription drugs and needs help stopping or you’re not sure where to start. Reach out to your doctor if you are having withdrawal symptoms that concern you. Your doctor can help you get connected to the care you need.


References

  1. https://americanaddictioncenters.org/rehab-guide/addiction-statistics/
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction
  3. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction

 

Eating and cooking better for diabetes

Eating Better and Exercising for Diabetes Management

Diabetes is a leading cause of heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and amputation. It also leads to more sick days and less productivity on the job. The good news is, type 2 diabetes can be prevented, and it isn’t as hard as you might think. Losing just 7% of your body weight (which translates to 14 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds) and exercising moderately (like brisk walking) 5 days a week can reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes by 58%. Lifestyle changes can also prevent or delay diabetes complications.1

Nutrition and physical activity are important parts of a healthy lifestyle whether you have diabetes or not. Along with other benefits, following a healthy meal plan and being active can help you keep your blood glucose level, also called blood sugar, in your target range. To manage your blood glucose, you need to balance what you eat and drink with physical activity and diabetes medicine, if you take any.

Becoming more active and making changes in what you eat and drink can seem challenging at first. It is easier to start with small changes and get help from your family, friends, and your health care team. Eating well and being physically active most days of the week can help you:

  • Keep your blood glucose level, blood pressure, and cholesterol in your target ranges
  • Lose weight or stay at a healthy weight
  • Prevent or delay diabetes problems
  • Feel good and have more energy

What foods can I eat if I have diabetes?

Eat smaller portions. Learn about serving sizes and how many servings you need in a meal. The key to eating with diabetes is to eat a variety of healthy foods from all food groups, in the amounts your meal plan specifies.

The food groups are:

  • Vegetables
    • Nonstarchy: includes broccoli, carrots, greens, peppers, and tomatoes
    • Starchy: includes potatoes, corn, and green peas
  • Fruits — includes oranges, melon, berries, apples, bananas, and grapes
  • Grains — at least half of your grains for the day should be whole grains
    • Includes wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, and quinoa
    • Examples: bread, pasta, cereal, and tortillas
  • Protein
    • Lean meat
    • Chicken or turkey without the skin
    • Fish
    • Eggs
    • Nuts and peanuts
    • Dried beans and certain peas, such as chickpeas and split peas
    • Meat substitutes, such as tofu
  • Dairy — nonfat or low fat
    • Milk or lactose-free milk if you have lactose intolerance
    • Yogurt
    • Cheese

Eat foods with heart-healthy fats, which mainly come from these foods:

  • Oils that are liquid at room temperature, such as olive oil
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Heart-healthy fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel
  • Avocado
  • Use oils when cooking food instead of butter, cream, shortening, lard, or stick margarine1

What foods and drinks should I limit if I have diabetes?

Foods and drinks to limit include:

  • Fried foods and other foods high in saturated fat and trans fat
  • Foods high in salt, also called sodium
  • Sweets, such as baked goods, candy, and ice cream
  • Beverages with added sugars, such as juice, regular soda, and regular sports or energy drinks

Drink water instead of sweetened beverages. Consider using a sugar substitute in your coffee or tea.

If you drink alcohol, drink moderately — no more than one drink a day if you’re a woman or two drinks a day if you’re a man. If you use insulin or diabetes medicines that increase the amount of insulin your body makes, alcohol can make your blood glucose level drop too low.1

How much can I eat if I have diabetes?

Two common ways to help you plan how much to eat if you have diabetes are the plate method and carbohydrate counting. Check with your health care team about the method that’s best for you.

Plate method

The plate method shows the amount of each food group you should eat. This method works best for lunch and dinner. You can find more details about using the plate method from the American Diabetes Association.

Carbohydrate (carb) counting method

Carb counting involves keeping track of the amount of carbs you eat and drink each day. Because carbs turn into glucose in your body, they affect your blood glucose level more than other foods do. Carb counting can help you manage your blood glucose level. If you take insulin, counting carbs can help you know how much insulin to take.1

Most carbs come from starches, fruits, milk, and sweets. Try to limit carbs with added sugars or those with refined grains, such as white bread and white rice. Instead, eat carbs from fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and low-fat or nonfat milk. Learn more about diabetes meal plans at American Diabetes Association.

Why should I be physically active if I have diabetes? 

Physical activity is an important part of managing your blood glucose level and staying healthy. Physical activity:

  • Lowers blood glucose levels
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves blood flow
  • Burns extra calories so you can keep your weight down if needed
  • Improves your mood
  • Can prevent falls and improve memory in older adults
  • May help you sleep better 2

What physical activities should I do if I have diabetes? 

  • Ask your health care team what physical activities are safe for you. Many people choose walking with friends or family members.
  • If you have been inactive or are trying a new activity, start slowly, with 5 to 10 minutes a day. Then add more time each week.
  • Walk around while you talk on the phone or during TV commercials.
  • Do chores, such as work in the garden, rake leaves, clean the house, or wash the car.
  • Park at the far end of the shopping center parking lot and walk to the store.
  • Take the stairs instead of elevator.
  • Make your family outings active, such as a family bike ride or a walk in the park. 2

References:

  1. http://www.diabetes.org/in-my-community/awareness-programs/stop-diabetes-at-work
  2. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/diet-eating-physical-activity
Stress and Heart Health

Stress and Your Heart’s Health

You may be surprised to learn that you might be bringing unnecessary stress into your life by your own choices and lifestyle habits. It’s important to remember, even during times of stress, anxiety, or depression, that your heart health is vital to both your mental and physical wellbeing.

During stress, your body releases adrenaline, the hormone that temporarily causes your breathing and heart rate to speed up, and raises your blood pressure1. These are normal reactions (the “fight or flight” response) that help you prepare to face a stressful situation. Constant stress, however, can have a negative wide-ranging effect on emotions, some of which include:

  • Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or pain
  • Neck ache, back pain, muscle spasms
  • Unexplained or frequent “allergy” attacks
  • Chest pain, palpitations, rapid pulse
  • Depression, frequent or wild mood swings
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts
  • Increased frustration, irritability, edginess2

Prolonged or chronic stress increases cortisol, the stress hormone, and can wreak havoc on your health by compromising your immune system and contributing to many diseases including high blood pressure. Research shows that excessive stress can affect lifestyle behaviors and factors that increase the risk of heart disease3.

  • Sudden stress increases the pumping action and heart rate resulting in rising blood pressure.
  • Stress alters the heart rhythms posing a risk for rhythm abnormalities in people with existing heart rhythm disturbances.
  • Stress causes certain blood cells to become stickier.
  • Stress impairs the clearance of fat molecules in the body making it more difficult to lose weight.
  • Stress that leads to depression appears to be associated with an increased intima-medial thickness (a measure of the arteries that signifies worsening blood vessel disease)2.

Heart disease accounts for 1 in 7 deaths and remains the number 1 cause of death in the United States4.


Stressors, any event that causes the release of stress hormones, can be different for each person. Stressors can be helpful during emergency situations, meeting deadlines or reaching your goals. But stressful situations, such as divorce or job loss, can produce long, low-level stress that over time wears down the body’s immune system and increases the risk of heart disease and a variety of other health problems5.

When stress persists, it can often affect various organs and tissues all over the body including:

  • Nervous system
  • Musculoskeletal system
  • Respiratory system
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Endocrine system
  • Gastrointestinal system
  • Reproductive system6

Tips to Reduce Stress

While we’re unable to rid ourselves from all inevitable stressors, fortunately, there are lifestyle changes and stress-reduction techniques you can practice to improve your response to stress and help minimize its damaging effects on your heart and overall health.

  • Exercise. When you exercise, your body releases natural, mood-lifting chemicals that help you feel better. Your workout doesn’t have to be extreme; a short walk every day is all it takes.
  • Nutrition. Eating meals that are balanced and portion-controlled will keep you mentally and physically healthy.
  • Sleep. Poor sleeping habits can have a harmful effect on your mood. It is important to get plenty of sleep and rest. Most people need about seven to eight hours each night.
  • Social Support. Talk with friends and family frequently. Think about joining a special-interest class or group. Volunteering is a great way to meet people while helping yourself and others.
  • Deep Breathing. Taking a deep breath is an automatic and effective technique for winding down.
  • Meditation. Studies have suggested that regular meditation can benefit the heart and help reduce blood pressure.
  • Humor. Research shows that humor is an effective mechanism for coping with acute stress. It is recommended to keep a sense of humor during difficult situations. Laughter can release tension and help you maintain perspective, but it can also have physical effects that reduce stress hormone levels in your body.
  • Avoid Alcohol Use. If you are going to drink alcohol, limit how often you drink, and practice moderation as alcohol may increase your risk of depression.
  • Recognize When You Need Help. If you continue to have problems, are unable to overcome the difficult circumstance, or are thinking about suicide, talk to a professional counselor, psychologist or social worker2,7.

Adopting and maintaining healthy lifestyle behaviors is instrumental in preserving your health and preventing disease. Health is more than just the absence of disease; it is a resource that allows you to reach your goals, satisfy your needs and cope within your environment for more good years®.


References

  1. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/StressManagement/HowDoesStressAffectYou/Stress-and-Heart-Health_UCM_437370_Article.jsp#.WV0hu1GQxQI
  2. A.D.A.M. Stress
  3. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/StressManagement/HowDoesStressAffectYou/How-does-depression-affect-the-heart_UCM_460263_Article.jsp#.WVo-IlGQxQI 
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361287/
  6. https://www.stress.org/stress-effects/
  7. nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus
Impact of Alcohol on Health

Impact of Alcohol on Health

We know nutrition and exercise are ways to improve our health, but it’s also important to discuss alcohol consumption and the impact of excessive alcohol use on our health. Drinking excessively is harmful, but it can be controlled and prevented. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol use leads to about 88,000 deaths in the U.S. each year and shortens the life of those who die by almost 30 years.1

What’s considered a ‘drink’?

  • 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol by volume)
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol by volume)
  • 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol by volume)
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits such as vodka, whiskey, gin, etc. (40% alcohol by volume)

Do you know the signs of excessive alcohol use?

Signs of excessive alcohol useSource: CDC1

Binge drinking is the most common, costly, and deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the U.S. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours. Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent.2

Who binge drinks?

  • One in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about eight drinks per binge.
  • Binge drinking is most common among younger adults aged 18–34 years old.
  • The prevalence of binge drinking among men is twice the prevalence among women.2

The Cost of Excessive Alcohol Use

Excessive drinking cost the American economy $249 billion in 2010:

  • Workplace productivity: $179 billion (72%)
  • Healthcare: $28 billion (11%)
  • Criminal Justice: $25 billion (10%)
  • Collisions: $13 billion (5%)3

Binge drinkers account for most of the cost at $191 billion (77% of the total cost). For more details, visit the CDC.

Short-Term Health Risks

Excessive alcohol use has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions. These are most often the result of binge drinking and include the following:

  • Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns.
  • Violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence.
  • Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels.
  • Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners. These behaviors can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) among pregnant women.4

Long-Term Health Risks

Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including:

  • High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems.
  • Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon.
  • Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance.
  • Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
  • Social problems, including lost productivity, family problems, and unemployment.
  • Alcohol dependence, or alcoholism.4

By not drinking too much, you can reduce the risk of these short- and long-term health risks.

Life-Threatening Signs of Alcohol Poisoning Include:

  • Inability to wake up
  • Vomiting
  • Slow breathing (fewer than 8 breaths per minute)
  • Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)
  • Seizures
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, paleness5

Alcohol Poisoning Deaths

According to the CDC, most people who die of alcohol poisoning are non-Hispanic whites (68%). Additionally, 76% of deaths are men and 24% are women. Alcohol poisoning deaths vary by state and are most common among middle aged adults.5

Alcohol poisonings by state

Image Source: CDC5

What is Moderate Drinking?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate drinking as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. In addition, the Dietary Guidelines do not recommend that individuals who do not drink alcohol start drinking for any reason.

However, there are some people who should not drink any alcohol, including those who are:

  • Younger than age 21.
  • Pregnant or may be pregnant.
  • Driving, planning to drive, or participating in other activities requiring skill, coordination, and alertness.
  • Taking certain prescription or over-the-counter medications that can interact with alcohol.
  • Suffering from certain medical conditions.
  • Recovering from alcoholism or are unable to control the amount they drink.

By adhering to the Dietary Guidelines, you can reduce the risk of harm to yourself or others.

Alcohol Use Disorders

Alcohol use disorder is when your drinking causes serious problems in your life, yet you keep drinking. You may also need more and more alcohol to feel drunk. Stopping suddenly may cause withdrawal symptoms.

You may have an alcohol use disorder if you:

  • Have little or no control over the amount you drink, when you drink, or how often you drink.
  • Tried to limit or stop your drinking but found you could not.
  • Had withdrawal symptoms when you tried to stop drinking. (These symptoms include tremors, anxiety, irritability, racing heart, nausea, sweating, trouble sleeping, and seizures.)
  • Have put yourself in a dangerous situation (such as driving, swimming, and unsafe sex) on one or more occasions while drinking.
  • Have become tolerant to the effects of drinking and require more alcohol to become intoxicated.
  • Have continued to drink despite having memory blackouts after drinking or having frequent hangovers that cause you to miss work and other normal activities.
  • Have continued to drink despite having a medical condition that you know is worsened by alcohol consumption.
  • Have continued to drink despite knowing it is causing problems at home, school, or work.
  • Start your drinking early in the day.6

Screening Tests

There are many screening tests that doctors use to check for alcohol use disorders. Some of these tests you can take on your own. The CAGE test is an acronym for the following questions. It asks:

  • Have you ever felt you should CUT (C) down on your drinking?
  • Have people ANNOYED (A) you by criticizing your drinking?
  • Have you ever felt bad or GUILTY (G) about your drinking?
  • Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning, to steady your nerves, or to get rid of a hangover (use of alcohol as an EYE-OPENER [E] in the morning)?
  • If you responded “yes” to at least two of these questions, you may be at risk for alcoholism.6

Screening in the Doctor’s Office

Primary care doctors should screen adults for alcohol misuse, according to guidelines from the U.S Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Health care providers can give people identified at risk brief behavioral counseling interventions to help them address their drinking.

Medications for Alcohol Use Disorders

Oral naltrexone (ReVia, generic) and acamprosate (Campral, generic) are effective medications for treating alcohol use disorders, according to a 2014 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Alcoholism Resources

The following organizations are good resources for information on alcoholism:


References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/pdfs/alcoholyourhealth.pdf
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/onlinemedia/infographics/cost-excessive-alcohol-use.html
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/alcohol-poisoning-deaths/infographic.html#infographic
  6. A.D.A.M., Inc.
Root Cause of Disease

Treating the Root Cause of Disease, Not Just the Symptoms

Our country is amid a population health transformation. Healthcare is moving from treating symptoms to finding and treating the root cause of disease. With healthcare costs on the rise and 51% of all mortality1 being directly attributable to lifestyle choices, people have more control over their health than they think. For example, 85% of all type 2 diabetes diagnoses (and the side effects associated with the disease) are preventable!1

The ultimate goal is to reduce healthcare utilization and costs by improving the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. U.S. Preventive Medicine (USPM) has a vision to Empower Communities to Add Life to Their Years and Years to Their Life…One Person at a Time!  We approach population health management as a population of one. It starts with one, it starts with you. It starts with each one of us.

There are three tiers of preventive medicine that when combined, can create sustainable healthy individuals and workplaces:

  • Primary: Wellness/Health Promotion
  • Secondary: Early Detection
  • Tertiary: Early Intervention Care Management

While many wellness companies address primary and secondary prevention, they fail to address disease acuity and risk management. This is where the highest costs can come from. Care management includes treating the chronic conditions with a personalized care plan, care coordination, and treatment plan adherence.

Even with an interactive web portal or a convenient wearable device, technology alone is not enough to drive sustainable behavioral change. The personal touch of coaching and care management combined with innovative technology drives a much higher level of engagement. USPM’s coaching philosophy recognizes the unique circumstances, environments, experiences, and social impacts that affect individuals. This recognition helps us view each individual as a complex, multidimensional person who can make decisions for him or herself.

The Preventive Plan® wellbeing program provides a customized roadmap for everyone to follow to better manage their health. The Plan outlines the risks, action items and educational information that are meaningful to an individual, and avoids short duration, high-intensity programs and cookie-cutter approaches that don’t last or deliver high levels of sustainable behavioral change.

A personalized plan can only be created once all the factors are taken into consideration for each individual. Someone who has a medical condition such as asthma, back and neck pain, coronary artery disease (CAD), or depression will have a tailored and unique set of action plans to address health risks.

This is why U.S. Preventive Medicine believes and supports the high-touch model of wellness. Our team of health coaches and care managers provide a supportive, non-judgmental learning experience and help identify barriers, assist with strategies and goal setting, monitor progress, and provide positive feedback to guide individuals toward a better quality of life by reducing risks and achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

In addition, USPM offers programs to increase member resiliency to everyday stress. We have partnered with the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute to evolve traditional wellness into whole-person wellbeing. By integrating precision analytics to include stress and mental health conditions, we address the root-cause of illness.

In one health system over 6 months, our work on reducing and managing participant stress resulted in:

  • 35% decrease in perceived stress
  • 29% decrease in depersonalization
  • 27% decrease in emotional exhaustion

“Higher levels of resilience were found to have beneficial effects on worker’s perceptions of stress, psychological responses to stress, and job-related behaviors related to stress regardless of difficult environments. Faced with especially difficult work environments, workers with higher levels of resilience seem able to avoid absences and be more productive than workers with low resilience.”2

Evolve beyond wellness to comprehensive population health management. Address the root cause of risk and rising health care costs with evidence-based interventions, precision analytics, and a guaranteed quantifiable return on investment.


References

  1. Mokdad AH, et.al. Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000. JAMA. 2004; 291:1238-1245.
  2. “The Positive Effect of Resilience on Stress and Business Outcomes in Difficult Work Environments”, Andrew Shatte´, PhD, Adam Perlman, MD, MPH, et al. JOEM: Volume 59, Number 2, February 2017.
June is Men's Health Month - Take Charge of Your Health

Men: Take Charge of Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month and we would like to focus on increasing awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. Take charge of your health now by seeking regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury. Men can proactively take care of their health as they age with annual physicals and screenings, a well-balanced diet, exercise, and keeping up-to-date with flu shots and vaccinations.

Did you know?

Compared to women, men are more likely to:

  • Smoke
  • Drink alcohol
  • Make unhealthy or risky choices
  • Put off regular checkups and medical care1 

The good news is it’s never to late to start taking better care of your health.

What can you do to take charge of your health?

See a doctor for regular checkups even if you feel fine. This is important because some diseases don’t have symptoms at first. Plus, seeing a doctor will give you a chance to learn more about your health.

You can also take care of your health by:

  • Getting screening tests that are right for you
  • Making sure you are up to date on important shots
  • Watching out for signs of health problems like diabetes or depression
  • Eating healthy
  • Getting and staying active

It’s not too late to start healthier habits. Make eating healthy and being active part of your daily routine. A healthy diet and regular physical activity can help lower your:

  • Blood pressure
  • Blood sugar
  • Cholesterol
  • Weight

By keeping these numbers down, you can lower your risk of serious health problems like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Help prevent health problems by:

  • Drinking alcohol only in moderation
  • Quitting smoking

If you have a concern about your smoking or alcohol consumption, talk with a doctor or health care professional for advice.

Make small changes every day.

Small changes can add up to big results – like lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes or heart disease.

  • Take a walk instead of having a cigarette.
  • Try a green salad instead of fries.
  • Drink water instead of soda or juice.

Talk about it.

Don’t be embarrassed to talk about your health. Start by talking to family members to find out which diseases run in your family. Share this information with your doctor.

Get preventive care to stay healthy.

Many people think of the doctor as someone to see when they are sick. But doctors also provide services – like shots and screening tests – that help keep you from getting sick in the first place.

Get screening tests to find problems early.

Screenings are medical tests that doctors use to check for diseases and health conditions before there are any signs or symptoms. Screenings help find problems early, when they may be easier to treat.1

  • Get your blood pressure checked at least once every 2 years.
  • Talk to your doctor about getting your cholesterol checked. You could have high cholesterol and not know it.
  • If you are age 50 to 74, get tested regularly for colorectal cancer. Ask your doctor what type of colorectal cancer screening test is right for you.
  • If you are a man age 65 to 75 and have ever smoked, talk with your doctor about your risk for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).
  • If you feel stressed, anxious, or sad, ask your doctor to screen you for depression. Most people with depression feel better when they get treatment.

Ask your doctor about taking aspirin every day.

If you are age 50 to 59, taking aspirin every day can lower your risk of heart attack and colorectal cancer. Talk with your doctor about whether daily aspirin is right for you.

Men’s Cancer Screenings 

Every year, more than 300,000 men in the United States lose their lives to cancer.2 The most common kinds of cancer among men in the U.S. are:

    • Skin cancer
    • Prostate cancer
    • Lung cancer, and
    • Colorectal (colon) cancer

Colorectal (colon) cancer: If you are 50 to 75 years old, get tested. Talk to your doctor. The schedule depends on the type of test used.

Lung cancer: If you are 55 to 80 years old and are a heavy smoker or a past smoker who quit within the last 15 years, ask your doctor about a low-dose CT scan every year.

Prostate cancer: Talk to your doctor. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends against PSA screening for men who do not have symptoms.

Skin cancer: Talk to your doctor. The USPSTF has concluded that there is not enough evidence to recommend for or against routine skin cancer screening.

Eating Healthy: The Basics

Eating healthy means getting enough vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients – and limiting unhealthy foods and drinks. Eating healthy also means getting the number of calories that’s right for you (not eating too much or too little).

Be sure to get plenty of:

  • Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products
  • Seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans, peas, seeds, and nuts

It’s also important to limit:

  • Sodium (salt)
  • Added sugars – like refined (regular) sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, and honey
  • Saturated fats, which come from animal products like cheese, fatty meats, whole milk, and butter, and plant products like palm and coconut oils
  • Trans fats, which may be in foods like stick margarines, coffee creamers, and some desserts
  • Refined grains which are in foods like cookies, white bread, and some snack foods3

To get a personalized Daily Food Plan to help you choose healthy foods, visit www.choosemyplate.gov.


References

  1. https://healthfinder.gov/healthtopics/population/men/doctor-visits/men-take-charge-of-your-health#the-basics_1
  2. https://blogs.cdc.gov/cancer/2016/06/13/mens-cancer-screening-cheat-sheet/
  3. https://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/health-conditions-and-diseases/diabetes/eat-healthy
Depression affects more than we think

Depression Affects More Than We Think

Depression is a common but serious medical condition that can cause severe symptoms affecting how you think, feel, and act. The CDC estimates that more than 1 out of 20 Americans 12 years of age and older reported depression symptoms in 2009 – 2012.

Major depressive disorder is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States.

  • Each year about 6.7% of U.S. adults experience major depressive disorder.
  • Women are 70% more likely than men to experience depression during their lifetime.

Depression has also been associated with several chronic diseases, making it one of the most common complications of chronic illness. People diagnosed with a chronic medical condition (heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.) have a higher risk of depression, and it’s also true that people with depression are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and Alzheimer’s among others.

Chronic mental health conditions are becoming increasingly widespread across the U.S. and if not addressed could cost up to $3.5 trillion by 2030 – $3.4 trillion in medical costs and another $140.8 billion in societal costs. Like other chronic illnesses, mental health conditions contribute heavily to productivity losses, but can also worsen unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, and incarceration.

Learn the signs and symptoms of depression and promote the benefits of early identification and intervention. Once diagnosed, a person with depression can be treated in several ways. The most common treatments are medication and psychotherapy.

Signs and Symptoms Include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment

To Help a Friend or a Relative

  • Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement.
  • Talk to him or her, and listen carefully.
  • Never dismiss feelings, but point out realities and offer hope.
  • Never ignore comments about suicide, and report them to your loved one’s therapist or doctor.
  • Invite your loved one out for walks, outings and other activities. Keep trying if he or she declines, but don’t push him or her to take on too much too soon.
  • Provide assistance in getting to the doctor’s appointments.
  • Remind your loved one that with time and treatment, the depression will lift.

If you have depression, you may feel exhausted, helpless, and hopeless. It may be extremely difficult to take any action to help yourself. But as you begin to recognize your depression and begin treatment, you will start to feel better.

To Help Yourself, Keep Busy

There is a lot to do in life. There is a lot to do every day! Staying busy can help direct your thoughts away from what may be troubling you. Try to focus on important daily routines:

  • Work and hobbies
  • Household projects
  • Social and family gatherings
  • Volunteering in the community

If you get overwhelmed, consider delaying tasks, setting priorities and breaking up projects into manageable bits.

Exercise Regularly

Some people find that regular aerobic exercise improves their symptoms as much as antidepressant medication. Others find that their mood improves by getting out in the sun more often. You might combine the benefits of both by increasing your activity outdoors.

People new to regular exercise should increase their activity level gradually. A good place to start is to add steps to your daily commute, errands, and chores.

Get Enough Sleep

Deep sleep helps the body’s cells grow and repair themselves from such factors as stress. So, getting enough sleep may improve your ability to function while awake. To improve the quality of your sleep, be sure to eat healthy foods, exercise at least moderately on most days, and create a sleep-friendly environment:

  • Avoid caffeine and other stimulants during the day.
  • Block out light and noise.
  • Establish a bedtime routine: Go to bed at the same time each night and do something relaxing before getting into bed (take a warm bath, listen to pleasant music).
  • Reduce screen time before bed

Talk to a Friend, Have Some Fun

Don’t try and deal with what you are going through alone. Talk to someone on a regular basis. And while you are at it, put some fun into your life!

In case of an emergency, call:

  • Your doctor.
  • 911 or go to a hospital emergency room to get immediate help or ask a friend or family member to help you do these things.
  • The toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889) to talk to a trained counselor.

For more information, call:

  • Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: 800.826.3632
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): 800.950.6264
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): 866.615.6464

References

Get motivated to start or amp up your physical activity

Create an Active Lifestyle for More Good Years

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month to raise awareness of the importance of active living. Physical activity is for everyone. No matter what shape you are in, you can find activities that work for you. Together, we can rise to the challenge and become more active during the month of May and beyond! Some activity is better than none. The more you do, the greater the health benefits and the better you’ll feel.

The physical activity guidelines recommend that adults:

  • Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. Moderate activity includes things like walking fast, dancing, or swimming.
  • Do muscle strengthening activities like lifting weights or using exercise bands at least 2 days a week.

If you haven’t been active before, start at a comfortable level. Once you get the hang of it, add a little more activity each time. Then try getting active more often.

What kinds of activity should I do?

To get all the health benefits of physical activity, do a combination of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.

  • Aerobic activities make you breathe harder and cause your heart to beat faster. Walking fast is an example of aerobic activity.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities make your muscles stronger. Muscle-strengthening activities include lifting weights, using resistance bands, and doing push-ups.

Did you know?

When you are not physically active, you are more likely to:

  • Get heart disease
  • Get type 2 diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high blood cholesterol
  • Have a stroke

Build up over time

Start by doing what you can, and then look for ways to do more. If you have not been active for a while, start out slowly. After several weeks or months, build up your activities—do them longer and more often.

Walking is one way to add physical activity to your life. When you first start, walk 10 minutes a day on a few days during the first couple of weeks. Add more time and days. Walk a little longer. Try 15 minutes instead of 10 minutes. Then walk on more days a week.

Pick up the pace. Once this is easy to do, try walking faster. Keep up your brisk walking for a couple of months. You might want to add biking on the weekends for variety.

Do it your way

Pick an activity you like and one that fits into your life.

  • Find the time that works best for you.
  • Be active with friends and family. Having a support network can help you keep up with your program.
  • There are many ways to build the right amount of activity into your life. Every little bit adds up and doing something is better than doing nothing.

Make physical activity a part of your life

Physical activity experts say that spreading aerobic activity out over at least 3 days a week is best. Also, do each activity for at least 10 minutes at a time. There are many ways to fit in 2 hours and 30 minutes a week. For example, you can do 30 minutes of aerobic activity each day, for 5 days.

On the other 2 days, do activities to keep your muscles strong. Find ways that work well for you. Talk to your health care provider about good activities to try.

Keep it up, step it up

  • To get more health benefits, add more time of aerobic physical activity.
  • Try to move from 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-level activities a week to 5 hours or more a week.

To learn more, visit www.healthfinder.gov and type “activity” in the search box.

My Drive to Exercise WorksheetFREE Worksheet

Download a FREE My Drive to Exercise Worksheet to help get you going to exercise. Identify the benefits you hope to achieve from active living as well as any potential roadblocks.

 


References:

  1. https://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/health-conditions-and-diseases/diabetes/get-active
  2. https://health.gov/PAGuidelines/pdf/adultguide.pdf?_ga=1.180799588.236832206.1486744829
Opioid, painkillers, substance abuse epidemic in the workplace

Opioid and Substance Abuse & Addictions – A Hidden Workplace Epidemic

Each day, 46 people die from an overdose of prescription painkillers in the U.S. Additionally, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2012, enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills.1

Close to 19,000 people fatally overdose on opioids each year, which has caused poisonings to overtake motor vehicle crashes as the no. 1 cause of unintentional death among adults in the U.S.2

“Drug poisonings, largely from opioid painkillers, now eclipse car crashes as the leading cause of preventable death among adults. Nearly half of Americans are personally impacted by prescription drug addiction, with 44% knowing someone who is addicted to a prescription pain reliever. Seventy-five percent of those struggling with a substance use disorder are in the workforce, revealing a hidden epidemic that many employers are struggling to address.”3

Key findings from the employer survey conducted by the National Safety Council3 include:

  • 81% of respondents’ policies are lacking at least one critical element of an effective drug-free workplace program.
  • 88% are interested in their insurer covering alternatives to pain relief treatment so that employees can avoid taking opioids.
  • 70% would like to help employees struggling with prescription drug misuse return to their positions after completing treatment.

Painkiller Prescriptions by State

Painkiller Prescriptions by State

 

Source:  https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/pdf/2014-07-vitalsigns.pdf#page=3

Why are Opioid Painkillers Risky?

People who take opioid painkillers for too long and in doses too large are more at risk of addiction and more likely to die of drug poisoning. Opioids are being overprescribed. According to National Safety Council, four out of five new heroin users started by misusing prescription painkillers.4

Who is At Risk of Addiction?

Research5 indicates that certain factors increase risk, such as:

  • Personal or family history of addiction or substance abuse
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Long-term use of prescription opioids
  • Taking or using multiple drugs, especially drugs for anxiety, depression or other mental health issues

“Addiction should be viewed as a treatable chronic condition like diabetes or heart disease rather than (as) a moral failing. Some people may be more susceptible to addiction due to genetic factors. Organizations that handle this well provide support through their employee assistance programs by offering access to counseling and recovery services that may include medication-assisted treatment, when appropriate.” said Gregory Eigner, MD, FAAFP, USPM Board of Directors.

What Can You Do

  • Avoid taking prescription painkillers more often than prescribed.
  • Dispose of medications properly, as soon as the course of treatment is done, and avoid keeping prescription painkillers or sedatives around “just in case.”
  • Help prevent misuse and abuse by not selling or sharing prescription drugs. Never use another person’s prescription drugs.
  • Talk to your children about proper use of prescription medicines.
  • Get help for substance abuse problems at 1-800-662-HELP. Call Poison Help 1-800-222-1222 if you have questions about medicines.

The National Safety Council provides a free Prescription Drug Employer Kit to help employers establish policies and manage opioid use at work. To request the kit, visit http://safety.nsc.org/rxemployerkit.

For more resources about prescription drug abuse, visit nsc.org/rxpainkillers.


References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/opioid-prescribing/
  2. http://www.nsc.org/learn/NSC-Initiatives/Pages/prescription-painkillers-issues-with-chronic-noncancer-pain.aspx
  3. http://www.nsc.org/Connect/NSCNewsReleases/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=182
  4. http://www.nsc.org/learn/nsc-initiatives/pages/prescription-drug-abuse.aspx
  5. http://www.nsc.org/learn/NSC-Initiatives/Pages/prescription-painkiller-risks.aspx
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/opioid-prescribing/
Does a Laugh Per Day Keep the Doctor Away?

Does a Laugh Per Day Keep the Doctor Away?

The average adult laughs 17 times a day while a child laughs 300 times a day.1 There is a reason why we have always heard that laughter is the best medicine. Both humor and laughter can be effective self-care tools to help us cope with stress, especially in the workplace. Finding humor and laughter in stressful situations can give us a sense of perspective on our problems. And it’s good for our health.

“Studies from around the world have shown that an atmosphere of humor results in better patient cure, less anesthesia time, less operating time, and shorter hospital stays.”1

Here are just a few health benefits related to laughing.

  • Improves your mood – can lessen depression, anxiety and help you relax.
  • Improves your immune system – positive thoughts from laughter release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses. Laughter boosts the number of antibody-producing cells, which leads to a stronger immune system.2
  • Activates multiple organs – stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles.

“Laughter causes the release of beta-endorphins in the hypothalamus, which leads to the release of nitric oxide, which dilates the vessels. And there’s more. Nitric oxide is a chemical that also protects the heart by reducing inflammation and preventing the formation of cholesterol plaque.”2

Laughing is much more than an emotional response to something funny, it also evokes a physical response. Laughing exercises several muscles in the body, including your abdomen, back, shoulders, and facial muscles. Also, laughter is a great workout for your respiratory system! Much like physical activity, such as running, which increases the endorphins that are released by your brain, laughter has the same effect on your body.

So in addition to healthy eating and exercise, add some time for laughter throughout your day to improve your health.

Make Time for Humor Daily

  • Catch up on your favorite TV comedy show
  • Practice laughing for 5 minutes
  • Play with children or pets
  • Host game night with friends
  • Find humor in a stressful situation
  • Share a good joke or a funny story
  • Go to a “laughter yoga” class
  • Listen to a comedy show while working out
  • Spend time with people who make you laugh

References

  1. http://www2.ca.uky.edu/hes/fcs/factshts/hsw-caw-807.pdf
  2. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2013/02/want-a-healthy-heart-laugh-more/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2762283/
  4. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/video/laugh-therapy

 

 

Investing in Our Future: Our Children

Investing in Our Future: Our Children

It’s easier to establish healthy behaviors during childhood than having to change unhealthy behaviors during adulthood. Chronic conditions are becoming increasingly common among children and adolescents in the U.S. Did you know that about 1 in 4 adolescents suffers from a chronic condition such as diabetes and asthma?1

Obesity On the Rise

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The percentage of U.S. children aged 6 to 11 years who were obese increased from 7% in 1976-1980 to nearly 18% in 2011-2014. The percentage of adolescents aged 12 to 19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 21% during the same period.”1

Developed by the CDC, The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model brings together public health, education, and school health to improve health and learning. Children with chronic conditions may miss more school days which reduces their time for learning and may result in lower academic achievement. It’s important to manage these conditions effectively with the right nutrition and ample physical activity. Healthy behaviors are practices ingrained early in childhood and it’s essential that children and adolescents have a healthy school and healthy environment in order to succeed.

Physical Activity

Schools and parents can help increase the quantity and quality of physical education and physical activity during and after school hours. Benefits of physical activity have been proven to help build muscles and healthy bones, and improve strength and endurance. Physical activity can aid in managing weight, reducing stress and increasing self-esteem – which may positively impact children’s academic performance.

Diet and Nutrition

Creating healthy eating habits early in childhood life helps set the path to a healthier adulthood. Healthy eating along with physical activity help support proper growth and development and can prevent health problems such as obesity, diabetes, etc. Teaching and including children in healthy meal preparation and cooking is a great way to reinforce healthy eating habits as well.

Focus on Prevention

Did you know that:

  • 51% of all causes of death in the U.S. are attributable to lifestyle behaviors many of which are preventable through healthy lifestyle behaviors?2

  • 85% of all type 2 diabetes and its side effects are preventable?2

While some life events are out of our control and cannot be prevented, it’s clear that we can prevent many of the health problems by engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviors. Schools, parents, and health care practitioners can help educate children and adolescents to make smart food choices, exercise to build strong bodies and monitor their health and any chronic conditions they may have.

Manage Chronic Conditions

To reduce school absenteeism schools, parents, and health care practitioners can help by using proven practices to better manage chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, food allergies, etc. For more information about managing chronic conditions, visit www.cdc.gov, then click on Diseases & Conditions.


References

  1. CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/healthy-schools.htm
  2. Mokdad AH, et.al. Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000. JAMA. 2004; 291:1238-1245
Cutting the Risk of Chronic Disease with Physical Activity

Cutting the Risk of Chronic Disease with Physical Activity

Heart disease and stroke are two of the leading causes of death in the United States. Physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of these chronic diseases including high blood pressure, stroke, coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and many more. As you age, it’s important to protect your bones, joints and muscles. Not only do they support your body and help you move, but keeping bones, joints and muscles healthy can help ensure that you’re able to do your daily activities and be physically active. Physical activity can help your thinking, learning and keep your judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression, help you sleep better and give you a longer, healthier life.

Physical Activity vs. Exercise 

  • Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles resulting in energy expenditure or simply put, moving!
  • Exercise is planned, structured, repetitive and intentional movement intended to improve or maintain physical fitness.

Measuring Physical Activity Intensity

The talk test is a simple way to measure relative intensity. In general, if you’re doing moderate-intensity activity you can talk, but not sing, during the activity.

If you’re doing vigorous-intensity activity, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

Examples of Moderate-Intensity: 

  • Walking fast (3 miles per hour or faster, but not race-walking)
  • Bicycling on level ground or with few hills (slower than 10 miles an hour)
  • Tennis (doubles)
  • Yoga
  • General gardening
  • Pushing a lawn mower

Examples of Vigorous-Intensity: 

  • Race walking, jogging or running
  • Swimming laps
  • Bicycling fast (10 miles per hour or faster)or on hills
  • Jumping rope
  • Heavy gardening (continuous digging or hoeing)
  • Hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack

Rule of thumb: 1 minute of vigorous-intensity activity is about the same as 2 minutes of moderate-intensity.

Exercise Helps Control Weight: Exercise helps prevent excess weight gain and helps maintain weight loss. Engaging in physical activity helps you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. If you can’t do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day by taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Exercise Combats Health Conditions and Diseases: No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Regular physical activity helps prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and more.

Exercise Boosts Energy: Regular physical activity improves your muscle strength and boosts your endurance. Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently, which gives you more energy to go about your daily chores.

Exercise Improves Mood: Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.

How Much Exercise Do You Need?

  • Children 6 to 17 years old: 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day.
  • Adults 18 years to 64 years old: 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. Plus 2 or more days of muscle-strenghtening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
    • Or 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week. Plus 2 or more days of muscle-strenthening activities that work all major muscle groups.
    • Or an equivalent mix of moderate – and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and muscle-strenthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups.
  • Older Adults 65 years or older: 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. Plus 2 or more days a week of muscle-strenthening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms.)
  • Healthy pregnant or postpartum women: 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity spread throughout the week.

Walking Is a Good Start, So, Where Do I Begin? 

The first thing you should do is talk to your doctor. This is especially important if you have not been regularly active or have a chronic illness that may limit the amount of time you exercise. Once your doctor says it’s okay, put on a pair of well-fitting sneakers and start walking!

To receive the most benefit, you should take 10,000 steps a day, which can be measured by a pedometer or by adding an app on your phone. About half of your 10,000 steps can come from everyday physical activities like walking the dog, climbing stairs (instead of taking the elevator), gardening, housework (especially sweeping, mopping or vaccuum cleaning floors), and washing your car are just a few.

How To Get Started 

  • Initial goal: Walk at a comfortable pace for about 10 minutes, three times a day 5 to 7 days per week (for ex., to a neighbor’s house and back).
  • Step it up: Walk at a comfortable pace for 15 minutes twice a day (for ex., to the end of the street and back).
  • Add distance: Walk for 15 minutes twice a day to a distance of a street and a half. (This means you have to walk a little faster to cover the increase in distance).
  • Increase frequency: Walk the new distance three times (three laps) once a day in less than 30 minutes.

Being active is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Start improving the quality of your life today and increase your life span by starting a plan to do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.


References

Keep Your Heart Healthy from Heart Disease

Keep Your Heart Healthy from Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease. The good news? Heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for people to make healthier choices.

You can make healthy changes to lower your risk of developing heart disease. Controlling and preventing risk factors is also important for people who already have heart disease.

To lower your risk:

  • Monitor and control your weight.
  • Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  • Get active and eat healthy.

 Am I at risk for heart disease? 

You are at higher risk for heart disease if:

  • You are a woman over age 55
  • You are a man over age 45
  • Your father or brother had heart disease before age 55
  • Your mother or sister had heart disease before age 65

As you get older, your risk for heart disease and heart attack increases. But the good news is that heart disease can be prevented.

 What is heart disease? 

When people talk about heart disease, they are usually talking about coronary heart disease (CHD). It’s also called coronary artery disease (CAD). This is the most common type of heart disease.

When someone has CHD, the coronary arteries (tubes) that take blood to the heart are narrow or blocked. This happens when cholesterol and fatty material, called plaque, build up inside the arteries.

Plaque is caused by: 

  • Fat and cholesterol in the blood
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Too much sugar in the blood (usually because of diabetes)

When plaque blocks an artery, it’s hard for blood to flow to the heart. A blocked artery can cause chest pain or a heart attack.

What is a heart attack? 

A heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart is suddenly blocked. Part of the heart may die if the person doesn’t get help quickly.

Common signs of a heart attack include: 

  • Chest pain (or feeling pressure, squeezing, or fullness in your chest)
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper body – like the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach (above the belly button)
  • Trouble breathing (while resting or being active)
  • Feeling sick to your stomach or throwing up
  • Feeling dizzy, light-headed, or unusually tired
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat

Not everyone who has a heart attack will have all the signs. Don’t ignore changes in how you feel. Signs of a heart attack often come on suddenly. But sometimes, they develop slowly – hours, days, or even weeks before a heart attack happens.

Talk to your doctor if you feel tired for several days, or if other health problems (like pain or trouble breathing) bother you more than usual. Call 911 right away if you or someone else has signs of a heart attack. Don’t ignore any signs or feel embarrassed to call for help. Acting fast can save a life. Call 911 even if you are not sure it’s a heart attack.

 Keep Your Heart Healthy

Take steps today to lower your risk of heart disease and heart attack. Follow the tips below to help prevent heart disease.

  1. Eat healthy and get active.
  2. Monitor and control your weight.
  3. Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.
  4. Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.
  5. If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  6. Talk with your doctor or nurse about steps you can take to prevent type 2 diabetes.
  7. Manage your stress.

When it comes to your heart, what you eat matters. Follow these tips for heart-healthy eating.

  1. Eat less saturated and trans fat. Stay away from fatty meats, fried foods, cakes, and cookies.
  2. Cut down on sodium (salt). Look for the low-sodium or “no salt added” types of canned soups, vegetables, snack foods, and lunch meats.
  3. Get more fiber. Fiber is in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. To save money, buy vegetables and fruits that are in season, frozen, or canned.
  4. Look for fat-free or low-fat milk products. Or choose soy products with added calcium.
  5. For breads, cereals and grains with more than one ingredient, make sure whole wheat or another whole grain is listed first.
  6. Choose lean cuts of meat and other foods with protein.

References

1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: https://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/health-conditions-and-diseases/heart-health/heart-healthy-foods-shopping-list

2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: http://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/health-conditions-and-diseases/heart-health/keep-your-heart-healthy

How to Create Healthy Eating Habits for Life

How to Create Healthy Eating Habits for Life

An eating pattern can be defined as the combination of foods and beverages that make up an individual’s complete dietary intake over time. It represents all of what individuals habitually eat and drink, and these dietary components work together to impact health. A healthy eating habit should be tailored to the individual’s personal, cultural and traditional preferences as well as food budget. An individual’s healthy eating pattern will vary according to their calorie level. Healthy eating habits can help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient needs, and reduce risk for chronic disease. The most nutritious or nutrient-dense foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seafood, eggs, beans and peas, unsalted nuts and seeds, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and lean meats and poultry – all with little or no saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.

  1. Create healthy eating habits across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choosing a healthy eating habit at an appropriate calorie level can help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient needs, and reduce risk for chronic disease.
  2. Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across all food groups in recommended amounts.
  3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Create an eating habit low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components.
  4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain.
  5. Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities.1

Key Recommendations1

Create healthy eating habits that account for all food and beverages within an appropriate calorie level and include:

  • A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups— dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products
  • Oils

A healthy eating pattern limits:

  • Saturated and trans fats
  • Added sugars, and
  • Sodium

Several components of the diet should be limited which are of particular public health concern, and the specified limits can help individuals achieve healthy eating habits within calorie limits:

  • Consume less than 10% of calories per day from added sugars
  • Consume less than 10% of calories per day from saturated fats
  • Consume less than 1 teaspoon of salt per day

If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation – up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men – and only by adults of legal drinking age.

How much should you eat?

You should eat the right amount of calories for your body, which will vary based on your gender, age, and physical activity level. Find out your daily calorie needs or goals with the Body Weight Planner by visiting www.supertracker.usda.gov/bwp.

Nutritional needs should be met primarily from foods. Individuals should aim to meet their nutrient needs through healthy eating patterns that include nutrient-dense foods. Foods in nutrient-dense forms contain essential vitamins and minerals and also dietary fiber and other naturally occurring substances that may have positive health effects. In some cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements may be useful in providing one or more nutrients that otherwise may be consumed in less than recommended amounts.

Healthy eating patterns are adaptable. Individuals have more than one way to achieve a healthy eating pattern. Any eating pattern can be tailored to the individual’s socio-cultural and personal preferences.

Consult with your healthcare professional before making significant changes in diet and nutrition.

Tips to Save More at the Store2

Stretch your dollar with these helpful tips:

  1. Eat before you shop. Grocery shopping hungry can lead to impulse buying and unhealthy food choices.
  2. Read the sales flyer. Sales flyers are usually released mid-week and can be found at the store’s entrance, in the newspaper, or on their website.
  3. Use coupons – but only for items that you know you’ll use. If you don’t need an item right away, save the coupon and see if it goes on sale.
  4. Look up and down for savings. Stores often stock the priciest items at eye level. You can save big by looking at the upper and lower shelves too.
  5. Check for store brands. Most stores offer their own brand of products that often cost less than name brands.
  6. Choose fresh foods. Stores typically stock shelves from back to front, placing the newest items behind the older ones. Reach in the back for the freshest items especially in the produce, dairy, and meat aisles.
  7. Ask for a rain check. If a sale item has run out, ask the store for a rain check. This allows you to pay the sale price after the item is restocked.
  8. Join your store’s loyalty program. Most stores offer a free loyalty program. Get special offers and discounts that non-members do not.

References:

  1. Health.gov, Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020: http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-1/healthy-eating-patterns/
  2. ChooseMyPlate.gov: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/budget-save-more
Effects of Smoking on Your Health & Free Resources to Help You Quit

Effects of Smoking on Your Health & Free Resources to Help You Quit

Smoking is a leading cause of cancer and the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Since the first Surgeon General’s report in 1964 more than 20 million premature deaths can be attributed to cigarette smoking. Research continues to identify diseases caused by smoking, including such common diseases as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and colorectal cancer. Additionally, exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke has been causally linked to cancer, respiratory, and cardiovascular diseases, and to adverse effects on the health of infants and children.**

CDC Risks from Smoking

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/infographics/health-effects/index.htm#smoking-risks

Smoking can cause cancer and block your body from fighting it:

  • Poisons in cigarette smoke can weaken the body’s immune system, making it harder to kill cancer cells. When this happens, cancer cells keep growing without being stopped.
  • Poisons in tobacco smoke can damage or change a cell’s DNA. DNA is the cell’s “instruction manual” that controls cell growth and function. When DNA is damaged, a cell can begin growing out of control and create a cancer tumor.*

Doctors have known for years that smoking causes most lung cancers. It’s still true today, when nearly 9 out of 10 lung cancers are caused by smoking cigarettes. Smokers have a greater risk for lung cancer today than they did in 1964, even though they smoke fewer cigarettes. One reason may be changes in how cigarettes are made and the chemicals they contain. Although cigarette smoking has declined significantly since 1964, very large disparities in tobacco use remain across groups defined by race, ethnicity, educational level, and socioeconomic status and across regions of the country.

Treatments are getting better for lung cancer, but it still kills more men and women than any other type of cancer. In the United States, more than 7,300 nonsmokers die each year from lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke – combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke breathed out by smokers.

Smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body including: blood, bladder, cervix, colon and rectum, esophagus, kidney and renal pelvis, larynx, liver, lungs, mouth and throat, pancreas, stomach, trachea, lung, and bronchus. Men with prostate cancer who smoke may be more likely to die from these diseases than nonsmokers. Smokeless tobacco, such as chewing tobacco, also causes cancer, including cancers of the esophagus, mouth and throat, and pancreas.*

How Can Smoking-Related Cancers Be Prevented?*

Quitting smoking lowers the risks for cancers of the lung, mouth, throat, esophagus, and larynx. Within 5 years of quitting, your chance of getting cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half. 

Ten years after you quit smoking, your risk of dying from lung cancer drops by half. If nobody smoked, one of every three cancer deaths in the United States would not happen.

Quitting smoking improves the outlook (the prognosis) for people with cancer. People who continue to smoke after diagnosis raise their risk for future cancers and death. They are more likely to die from cancer than nonsmokers and are more likely to develop a second (new) tobacco-related cancer.

Help With Quitting Smoking 

For support in quitting, including free coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to local resources, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). There are also free online resources at https://www.smokefree.gov.


References:

(*) https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/health_effects/cancer/index.htm

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/cessation-fact-sheet

https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/

(**) https://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/exec-summary.pdf

Diabetes: Prediabetes, Risks, and Prevention

Diabetes: Prediabetes, Risks, and Prevention

Did you know that more than 29 million Americans are living with diabetes? There are 1.4 million new cases each year alone in the U.S. In addition, 86 million Americans are living with prediabetes, the stage just before diabetes when not all the symptoms are present that warrant a diagnosis.1

Diabetes Facts and StatisticsWhat Are the Risk Factors? 

  • Age: As we age we are more at risk for developing diabetes. Specifically, being over the age of 45 puts you at higher risk.
  • Weight: Being overweight can put you at risk for diabetes. The more fat we have in our bodies the more resistant our cells are to insulin, a hormone produced by our pancreas.
  • Family History: Has anyone in your immediate family (mother, father, sister or brother) been diagnosed with diabetes?
  • Race: Diabetes occurs more often in individuals who are African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic/Latino-American, and Pacific Islander backgrounds.
  • Physical Inactivity: Exercising less than 3 days a week can put you at risk.
  • History of Gestational Diabetes: Were you ever diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy? Or had a baby who weighed 9 pounds or more?
  • High Blood Pressure: Have you been told that you have high blood pressure, a reading of 140/90 or higher?
  • Low HDL Cholesterol: Is your “good” cholesterol less than 35 mg/dL?
  • Abnormal Triglyceride Levels: Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood stream. Levels of triglycerides above 250 mg/dL can put you at increased risk.

 

Are You at Risk? 

To find out if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, complete the Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test on American Diabetes Association website. 

There are several ways to diagnose diabetes. Each way usually needs to be repeated on a second day to diagnose diabetes. Testing of your blood glucose levels should be carried out in a health care setting (such as your doctor’s office or a lab) and you should follow the advice and instructions of your health care professional.

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a condition that can lead to type 2 diabetes and heart disease. When you have prediabetes, your blood glucose (sugar) levels are higher than normal but are not high enough to be called diabetes. Diabetes can lead to many health problems, so it’s better to prevent it in the first place. You can take steps to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes and heart disease.3

How Can You Prevent or Delay Diabetes?

You can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes from developing by:

  • Cutting back on calories and saturated fat.
  • Losing weight.
  • Increasing your daily physical activity.4

If you’re overweight, losing 7% of your total weight can help you a lot. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, your goal would be to lose 14 pounds.

How Do You Decide What to Do? 

You don’t have to make big changes. Small steps can add up to big results. Talk with your health care team to make a plan. Always consult with a health care professional before starting any exercise program. A good goal for most people is:

  • Walking briskly for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
  • Being more active throughout the day by parking further from the store, or taking the stairs.

Make a plan to eat less fat and calories. You can meet with a dietitian to talk about what to eat and how to lose weight. You might try:

  • Starting each dinner with a salad of leafy greens. Salad provides nutrients and fills you up. Then you might eat less of any high-calorie foods that might come later.
  • Switching from regular soda and juice to no-calorie water.

Visit diabetes.org/prediabetes to learn more about managing your prediabetes. For recipes and meal planning, visit Recipes for Healthy Living


References:

1. http://www.diabetes.org/

2. http://main.diabetes.org/dorg/adm/adm-2016-fact-sheet.pdf

3. http://www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/prediabetes/

4. http://professional.diabetes.org/sites/professional.diabetes.org/files/media/All_About_Prediabetes.pdf

Financial Fitness: Essential to Your Employees’ Wellbeing

Financial Fitness: Essential to Your Employees’ Wellbeing

About half of Americans believe they are unprepared for a sudden financial need such as the purchase of a new car, appliance or furniture or a significant home repair, according to Gallup Daily tracking survey through 2015.1

So how can we get financially fit? How do we find balance between spending and saving – between living in the present and saving for life’s unexpected financial needs? And why is this important?

First let’s define financial wellbeing – it is defined as a state of being wherein you:2

  • Have control over day-to-day, month-to-month finances;
  • Have the capacity to absorb a financial shock;
  • Are on track to meet your financial goals; and
  • Have the financial freedom to make the choices that allow you to enjoy life.

Organizations that don’t implement financial wellbeing into their wellness programs are missing the  mark. In a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, money is a somewhat or significant source of stress for 64% of Americans but especially for parents of children below the age of 18 and younger adults (77% of parents, 75% of millennials, ages 18 to 35, and 76% of Gen Xers, ages 36 to 49).3

The added financial stress has a significant impact on many Americans’ lives.

“Some are putting their health care needs on hold because of financial concerns. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans say that they have either considered skipping (9 percent) or skipped (12 percent) going to a doctor when they needed health care because of financial concerns.”3

Many adults are coping with health and lifestyle challenges and are beginning to recognize the connection between stress and physical and mental health.

  • Money and work remain the top two sources of very/somewhat significant stress, but in 2015, for the first time, family responsibilities emerged as the third most common stressor (54 percent).
  • The majority of adults report having at least one chronic illness (67 percent). In addition, many adults lack exercise and remain sedentary for much of the day. More than 10 percent of adults also report having a mental health-related diagnosis (13 percent for anxiety disorder and 16 percent for depression).
  • About two in five adults (39 percent) report overeating or eating unhealthy foods in the past month due to stress, compared to 33 percent in 2014.
  • Adults in urban areas have a significantly higher reported stress level on average than those in suburban and rural settings (urban: 5.6 on a 10-point scale, vs. 5.0 for suburban and 4.7 for rural).
  • Almost one-third of adults report that stress has a very strong or strong impact on their body/physical health and mental health (31 and 32 percent in 2015, compared to 25 and 28 percent in 2014, respectively).4

To help employees improve their financial fitness, organizations should provide financial education, programs, and other content into their wellness programs.

Here are 6 ways employees can improve their financial wellbeing:

  1. Make a simple plan to monitor and track your spending habits and to gain control over your financial decision making.
  2. Have a budget and stick to it. Set short-term and long-term goals to provide structure for your financial decision making. For example, set a spending budget for the holidays. More stuff doesn’t mean less stress.
  3. Spend some time researching before making major financial decisions to ensure you make the most-informed financial decisions.
  4. Get smart about money – Use free educational resources available at http://www.consumerfinance.gov.
  5. Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to your own standards. Don’t purchase things to keep up with the Joneses. Instead think about long-term impacts of every purchase.
  6. Avoid impulse shopping. Keep your spending under control by stopping to think about whether you need that purchase or postpone the purchase to a later date if you can.

References

  1. Gallup, Inc. “Half of Americans Unprepared for Sudden Financial Need.” http://www.gallup.com/poll/188009/half-americans-unprepared-sudden-financial-need.aspx?g_source=FINANCIAL_WELLBEING&g_medium=topic&g_campaign=tiles
  2. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “Financial well-being: The goal of financial education.” January 2015: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201501_cfpb_report_financial-well-being.pdf
  3. American Psychological Association. “Money Stress Weighs on Americans’ Health” 2015, Vol. 46, No.4 http://www.apa.org/monitor/2015/04/money-stress.aspx
  4. http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2015/highlights.aspx
5 Things We Can Do To Cut The Prevalence of Chronic Disease

5 Things We Can Do To Cut The Prevalence of Chronic Disease

Today’s health care costs in the United States are a consequence of poor health. Poor health has cost consequences to organizations, industry and our economy. The impact of poor health on employers includes not only the medical and pharmacy costs but also costs from productivity losses. “As of 2012, 117 million Americans have one or more chronic illnesses, which account for 75% of all health care costs and 70% of deaths in the United States.”1,2

However, there is a light at the end of the health care cost crisis tunnel, and that is prevention. In fact, 96% of all Medicare dollars are spent on chronic conditions that have lifestyle health risk factors.3

Michael Roizen, M.D., Chair Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, has determined that there are five behaviors that mitigate chronic disease:

  • walking 30 minutes a day,
  • eating healthy,
  • not smoking,
  • having a waist size that is less than half of your height, and
  • drinking alcohol only in moderation.

If an individual engages in these five behaviors, they typically spend 33% to 50% less on health care costs compared with people who have health risks. Currently, only 4% of Medicare beneficiaries possess these five health behaviors. If 75% of all Americans had these characteristics, more than $600 billion and perhaps up to $1 trillion per year could be saved.4,5,6,7


Dr. Roizen and Dr. Loeppke VideoWatch this video where Dr. Roizen from the Cleveland Clinic and Dr. Loeppke from U.S. Preventive Medicine discuss the 5 things you can do to reduce your risk of chronic disease.

Watch Video!

 

 


Be part of the movement to prevent the health risk factors that lead to chronic disease, to help us move from a reactive sick care system to a proactive health care system.

Here’s to More Good Years®!


References:

  1. Shin-Yi Wu and Anthony Green, Projection of Chronic Illness Prevalence and Cost Inflation (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Health, 2000).
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,“ Chronic Disease Overview,” 2016. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/overview.htm
  3. Partnership for Solutions, Chronic Conditions: Making the Case for Ongoing Care (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2004).
  4. Michael F. Roizen, M.D., and Ted Spiker, This Is Your Do-Over: The 7 Secrets to Losing Weight, Living Longer, and Getting a Second Chance at the Life You Want (New York, NY: Scribner, 2015), introduction, xxiii.
  5. Agneta Åkesson et al., “Low-Risk Diet and Lifestyle Habits in the Primary Prevention of Myocardial Infarction in Men: A Population-Based Prospective Cohort Study,” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 64 (13) (2014): 1,299–1,306.
  6. Andrea K. Chomistek et al., “Healthy Lifestyle in the Primordial Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Among Young Women,” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 65 (1) (2015): 43–51.
  7. Meir J. Stampfer et al., “Primary Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease in Women through Diet and Lifestyle,” The New England Journal of Medicine 343 (2000): 16–22.
Employee Wellness Program

5 Ways to Spread Workplace Wellness

Look around and you’ll notice we are spending the greatest amount of our time at work; most full-time employees will spend over 2,000 hours at work every year, some even more. This not only minimizes the amount of time we have to spend with family and do the things that make us happy, but it also makes it more difficult to fit in the required physical activity and to make healthier nutrition choices.

We are seeing rates in health care spending on the rise – but also increased rate of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, heart failure, hypertension, and obesity; many of these could be prevented with a few behavior modifications in our nutrition and physical activity.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United States spends far more on health care than any other nation, yet the life expectancy of the average American is only 78.3 years, which is lower than the average and the lowest among the top health care spending nations. Chronic diseases are responsible for 7 out of 10 deaths every year in the United States, and treating people with chronic diseases accounts for 86% of our nation’s health care costs.¹ Our lifestyle choices in this country are partially to blame.

Spending more on health care is not making us healthier nor bringing us longevity; we are realizing that prevention is considerably cheaper than managing any health condition and/or chronic disease. As a result, wellness is getting a lot of attention lately as we become more aware that we own our health and have complete control of our wellness.

Many businesses are adopting new approaches and beginning to implement workplace wellness programs – which are proving essential for creating and maintaining healthier, happier, hard-working employees while reducing the costs of health insurance claims, absenteeism and receiving maximum productivity in return. Happy, healthy employees are more productive. It’s nothing short of a win-win symbiosis.

So, what is a workplace wellness program? A successful workplace wellness program enables employees to increase control over, and improve, their health by offering healthier opportunities and empowering them to make healthier choices with ease.

The wellness program may offer risk assessments, screenings, flexibility for time to exercise, healthier snacking options in vending machines, behavior modification, educational and tobacco cessation programs, and much more. Access to a wellness program gives the employee the opportunity to take care of their health on a more regular basis and reduce stress. Offering incentives may also be used to encourage employee participation and increase engagement.

Here are a few low-cost tips to get you started on spreading workplace wellness and transforming your organization into one of the best places to work:

  1. Healthy Pantry Club: Start a healthy pantry stocked with healthy choices essential to a healthy diet and productivity at work. Keep it junk-food free by stocking it with healthy snacks, fresh fruits, vegetables and low-sugar, low-sodium drinks. A contribution box for employees to donate to keep the pantry stocked is a great way to get everyone involved.
  2. Fitness Trackers: Fitness trackers can encourage employees to increase their steps while being more active through participation in challenges that will keep them motivated and mindful of their health and nutrition choices. Office challenges are a fun way to increase steps and also build camaraderie. Award prizes for the top stepper, wellness champion, best effort, etc.
  3. Office Gym or Gym Memberships: Transform an unused office or space into a gym by adding yoga mats, free weights, and other fitness equipment. This helps the strapped-for-time employee fit exercise into their busy schedule. Subsidize or reimburse gym membership fees bringing fitness within reach for all employees to help create a routine they can stick with.
  4. Walking Meetings: Incorporate moving meetings to stimulate creativity and new ideas by walking around the building. Physical activity gives you energy and makes you feel more alert.
  5. Wellness Communications: Communication is the key to a successful wellness program. Get employees excited and engaged by sending wellness communications that provide ideas, strategies, short articles, tips, recipes, reminders and more. Create awareness posters and flyers to display around the office and coordinate your content with the seasons of the year, and monthly health observances.

Remember, it’s not the number of extravagant perks you offer, it’s how successful you are at fulfilling the employees’ basic human and emotional needs to foster a healthy, conscious, and happy environment that inspires employees to be their best.


Written by: Sonia Rosemond, USPM Marketing Content Designer


References:

http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/

https://data.oecd.org/healthres/health-spending.htm

http://www.oecd.org/unitedstates/Briefing-Note-UNITED-STATES-2014.pdf

http://stats.oecd.org/index.aspx?DataSetCode=HEALTH_STAT

http://www.oecd.org/els/health-systems/health-data.htm

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