Tag Archives: Health

The Longest Day- Is Happening Today!

For the people involved in this event, this challenge is one day. For people with Alzheimer’s, it’s every day. Run, walk, bike or challenge yourself to some other endurance activity to honor those facing Alzheimer’s. Learn More

On June 20, 2012, the longest day of the year, participants across the northern hemisphere will push their limits in a sunrise-to-sunset relay to raise awareness and funds for the fight against Alzheimer’s. It’s one day to honor the passion, dedication and strength displayed by people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers every day.

Join us for year one of this exciting and innovative event! The Longest Day allows you to participate with ultimate flexibility – you choose your activity, route and time of day to get active. The only rule is that someone on your team is in motion throughout the 16 hours of daylight on the longest day. The Alzheimer’s Association will provide fundraising support and connect you to a virtual community of other participants. We’ll also be cheering you on throughout The Longest Day!

Each team member pledges to raise a commitment fee and is asked to raise a minimum of $100/hour of activity (suggested minimum: $400). Participants will receive a virtual fundraising toolkit, an event day experience kit (including a T-shirt and awareness and celebration materials) and ongoing staff support to help plan a great day and reach fundraising goals. Through smartphone technology and social media, every participant will be able to showcase their efforts and share their stories as part of the global movement to fight against Alzheimer’s.

We’re in it until Alzheimer’s is finished. Show your support for the cause by donating to a team or participant in The Longest Day. Give to honor the more than 35 million people worldwide who are living with Alzheimer’s and the countless caregivers who face this disease so bravely every day.

Follow the event now and donate!

http://act.alz.org/site/PageNavigator/longest_day_home.html?utm_source=ALZ.ORG&utm_medium=Peel&utm_campaign=Longest%2BDay

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Heatstroke: A deadly hazard of summer

To avoid heatstroke, avoid strenuous physical activity outside during the hottest time of the day, if possible.
To avoid heatstroke, avoid strenuous physical activity outside during the hottest time of the day, if possible.

(CNN) — Michael Musick is all too familiar with the toll heat can take on the human body.

He was helping his father put up hay on their family farm three weeks ago when his vision began to blur. His legs became weak and his muscles cramped.

“If you keep pushing it, after you see the stars, then everything goes black and you pass out,” said Musick, 46, who lives on a farm near Honaker, Virginia. This was the third time in five years that he had a heat-related illness, but this was the most severe. This time, he passed out twice.

“It’s pretty classic for folks. If they continue to have episodes of heat-related illness, they usually get worse each time,” said Dr. S. Hughes Melton, practicing physician in Lebanon, Virginia, who treated Musick for heatstroke.

A normal body temperature is around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but in heatstroke the body can warm up to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher in 10 to 15 minutes. Death or permanent disability can result from heatstroke if not treated immediately.

The risk of heatsroke is up this week because of heat wave across the nation. Twelve states are under heat advisories from the National Weather Service as of Wednesday, including Musick’s Virginia. And even areas of the country that aren’t under heat advisories, such as Newark, New Jersey, and New York’s JFK airport, hit record highs Tuesday.

“When you have the kind of heat wave that we’re having now, we start to get worried,” said Dr. Janyce Sanford, chair of emergency medicine at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

America under heat stress

This summer’s heat has already claimed at least one life: a 51-year-old man in Granite City, Illinois, died because of excessive heat, according to the Madison County coroner. He was found unresponsive in his mobile home, where the air conditioner was not working, according to CNN affiliate KMOV. The preliminary cause of death is heatstroke.

Between 1999 and 2003, there were 3,442 reported deaths resulting from exposure to extreme heat, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During that time Arizona had the highest number of deaths related to hyperthermia, which happens when the body overheats (heatstroke is a form of it), followed by Nevada and Missouri.

Elderly people and young children, as well as people with chronic severe illnesses, are at highest risk of heatstroke.

Heat hurts your insides too

There are a few different forms of heat-related illnesses.

Heat cramps are usually considered mild, and can be treated with liquids and going into a cool environment. More severe is heat exhaustion, which involves elevation of body temperature, headaches, nausea and vomiting.

And then there is heatstroke, which is the most life-threatening. Heatstroke resembles heat exhaustion but may additionally involve neurological symptoms such as confusion and dizziness, or even coma. The body can no longer sweat, and internal temperature skyrockets.

Geoff Stoker, 24, remembers sweating profusely at soccer camp in high school and then, after three days, the sweating stopped altogether. He lost desire to eat, and vomited. His father, a surgeon, treated him for heatstroke at home, and he had no long-term side effects.

In Musick’s case, the heatstroke temporarily diminished his kidney function to about 50%.

Patients may also lose water weight through dehydration, said Dr. Sylvia Morris, hospitalist at Emory University Hospital Midtown in Atlanta, Georgia. A hospitalist is a physician whose focus is patients within a hospital.

Sanford’s hospital typically sees one or two chronically ill elderly patients who live without air conditioning and develop heatstroke in any given summer. But she believes the South sees fewer cases because people in that region are more acclimated to high outdoor temperatures; they’re more used to having to deal with heat than in other parts of the United States.

Treatment

In severe cases, patients must be admitted to the intensive care unit, where medical staff watch body temperature carefully. A 48-hour hospital stay would usually be necessary, Sanford said.

“If you can get them to treatment fairly quickly, they’ll survive it,” Sanford said. Chronic illnesses can complicate recovery, however.

Treatment focuses on cooling the patient down to a normal body temperature. If the patient has a clear airway, breathes normally and has normal circulation, medical staff will remove his or her clothes and spray cool water while a fan is blowing, Sanford said. Cool intravenous fluids also bring body temperature down.

Musick’s wife Teresa, recognizing heatstroke symptoms, drove him to the hospital when she noticed that his speech was slurred and his blood pressure was dropping. The emergency room staff gave him an IV, and the next day he followed up with Melton, who gave him two more IV bags.

“His body is not able to cool itself effectively, and so for him, he needs to avoid prolonged working in the heat. That’s really his only option at this point, because I don’t think his body will adapt,” Melton said.

Avoiding heatstroke

To protect yourself, try to avoid strenuous physical activity outside during the hottest time of the day — between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

People who must work outside should make sure they drink plenty of water every half-hour or so and take breaks in a cool environment if possible, Sanford said. Wearing lightweight, light-colored clothing and a wide-brimmed hat can also help.

You can tell if you’re dehydrated by looking at your urine, Melton said. If you’ve had adequate amounts of water, your urine will probably look light in color; darker means you should drink more.

And make sure you check on the elderly, especially if they don’t have air conditioning, Morris said. They should spend time in cool places such as a library or a mall to get a break from the heat, she said.

5 tips for surviving extreme heat

Kidney, liver and heart problems are all conditions that should make patients extra aware of the heat, and they should talk with their doctors about heat exposure, said Morris.

“People tend to forget to drink. By the time you’re thirsty, it’s really too late,” Morris said.

Musick said his problem is that he doesn’t like to drink water so much, and his hydration concerns his wife. But over the past three years he’s made an effort to get at least 8 glasses a day in his system.

Since his most recent heatstroke, he’s been resting and hasn’t been out on the farm.

“I am really pushing the hobby of farming to be retired,” Teresa Musick said.

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN
July 14, 2011 6:18 a.m. EDT

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Checking Your Blood Pressure at Home

You don’t always have to go to your doctor’s office to have your blood pressure checked; you can monitor your own blood pressure at home. This is especially important if your doctor recommends your blood pressure be monitored on a regular basis.

Tips for Checking Your Own Blood Pressure

There are certain factors that can cause blood pressure to temporarily rise. For example, blood pressure normally rises as a result of:

  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Cold temperatures
  • Exercise
  • Caffeine
  • Certain medicines

Try to avoid as many of these factors as you can when taking your blood pressure. Also, try to measure your blood pressure at about the same time each day. Your doctor may want you to check your blood pressure several times during the day to see if your pressure fluctuates.

Before Checking Your Blood Pressure

  • Find a quiet place to check your blood pressure. You will need to listen for your heartbeat.
  • Make sure that you are comfortable and relaxed with a recently emptied bladder (a full bladder may affect your reading).
  • Roll up the sleeve on your arm or remove any tight-sleeved clothing, if needed.
  • Rest in a chair next to a table for 5 to 10 minutes. Your arm should rest comfortably at heart level. Sit up straight with your back against the chair, legs uncrossed. Rest your forearm on the table with the palm of your hand facing up.

Step-by-Step Blood Pressure Check

If you purchase a manual or digital blood pressure monitor (sphygmomanometer), follow the instruction booklet carefully.

The following steps provide an overview of how to take your left arm blood pressure on either a manual or digital blood pressure monitor. Simply reverse the sides to take a blood pressure in your right arm.

1. Locate your pulse

  • Locate your pulse by lightly pressing your index and middle fingers slightly to the inside center of the bend of your elbow (where the brachial artery is). If you cannot locate your pulse, place the head of the stethoscope (on a manual monitor) or the arm cuff (on a digital monitor) in the same general area.

2. Secure the cuff

  • Thread the cuff end through the metal loop and slide the cuff onto your arm, making sure that the stethoscope head is over the artery (when using a manual monitor.) The cuff may be marked with an arrow to show the location of the stethoscope head. The lower edge of the cuff should be about 1 inch above the bend of your elbow. Use the fabric fastener to make the cuff snug, but not too tight.
  • Place the stethoscope in your ears. Tilt the ear pieces slightly forward to get the best sound.

3. Inflate and deflate the cuff

If you are using a manual monitor:

  • Hold the pressure gauge in your left hand and the bulb in your right.
  • Close the airflow valve on the bulb by turning the screw clockwise.
  • Inflate the cuff by squeezing the bulb with your right hand. You may hear your pulse in the stethoscope.
  • Watch the gauge. Keep inflating the cuff until the gauge reads about 30 points (mm Hg) above your expected systolic pressure. At this point, you should not hear your pulse in the stethoscope.
  • Keeping your eyes on the gauge, slowly release the pressure in the cuff by opening the airflow valve counterclockwise. The gauge should fall only 2 to 3 points with each heartbeat. (You may need to practice turning the valve slowly.)
  • Listen carefully for the first pulse beat. As soon as you hear it, note the reading on the gauge. This reading is your systolic pressure (the force of the blood against the artery walls as your heart beats).
  • Continue to slowly deflate the cuff.
  • Listen carefully until the sound disappears. As soon as you can no longer hear your pulse, note the reading on the gauge. This reading is your diastolic pressure (the blood pressure between heartbeats).
  • Allow the cuff to completely deflate.
  • If you released the pressure too quickly or could not hear your pulse, DO NOT inflate the cuff again right away. Wait one minute before repeating the measurement. Start by reapplying the cuff.

    If you are using a digital monitor:

    • Hold the bulb in your right hand.
    • Press the power button. All display symbols should appear briefly, followed by a zero. This indicates that the monitor is ready.
    • Inflate the cuff by squeezing the bulb with your right hand. If you have a monitor with automatic cuff inflation, press the start button.
    • Watch the gauge. Keep inflating the cuff until the gauge reads about 30 points (mm Hg) above your expected systolic pressure.
    • Sit quietly and watch the monitor. Pressure readings will be displayed on the screen. For some devices, values may appear on the left, then on the right.
    • Wait for a long beep. This means that the measurement is complete. Note the pressures on the display screen. Systolic pressure (the force of the blood against the artery walls as your heart beats) appears on the left and diastolic pressure (the blood pressure between heartbeats) on the right. Your pulse rate may also be displayed in between or after this reading.
    • Allow the cuff to deflate.

    If you did not get an accurate reading, DO NOT inflate the cuff again right away. Wait one minute before repeating the measurement. Start by reapplying the cuff.

    4. Record your blood pressure.

    Follow your doctor’s instructions on when and how often you should measure your blood pressure. Record the date, time, systolic and diastolic pressures. You should also record any special circumstances like any recent exercise, meal, or stressful event.

    At least once a year, bring your blood pressure monitor with you to your doctor’s visit to check the machines accuracy. This is done by comparing a blood pressure reading from your machine with one from the doctor’s office machine.

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Flu Season Makes a Late Appearance

Our thoughts may be on spring, but reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that winter’s companion—seasonal influenza—is making a late appearance in the U.S.

Flu Checklist

Flu cases are now widespread in two states (Calif., Colo.), and an increasing number of states are reporting regional flu activity. The CDC expects this activity to rise in the coming weeks.

Flu Prevention
The flu virus can spread from a cough, sneeze or even talking. To avoid getting or passing the flu to others, follow these prevention tips:

  • Get a flu shot every year. It’s not too late! Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to minimize illness and death.
  • Practice good health habits to maintain your body’s resistance to infection by eating a balanced diet, drinking lots of fluids and getting a good night’s rest.
  • Stop the spread of germs by washing your hands with soap and water, covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze with a tissue and minimizing contact with sick people.
  • Stay home when you are sick. Adopt business/school practices that also encourage employees/students to stay home when sick.
  • The flu is contagious, with the ability to infect others a day before symptoms appear and up to a week after becoming sick. Children may be contagious for an even longer period.
  • Staying home will help protect those around you from the flu virus—at work, at school or at the grocery store.

Caring for Those with the Flu
If someone in your household has the flu, follow these tips:

  • Designate one person as the caregiver.
  • Avoid sharing items such as pens, towels, sheets, blankets, food or eating utensils unless cleaned between uses.
  • Disinfect doorknobs, switches, handles, computers, telephones, toys and other surfaces that are commonly touched around the home or workplace.
  • Wash everyone’s dishes using very hot water and soap.
  • Wash your hands after handling dirty laundry.
  • Wear disposable gloves when in contact with or cleaning up body fluids.

To learn more about how to stay healthy this flu season, read our Preparedness Fast Facts.

By American Red Cross

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

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Study showed oxaliplatin improved colon cancer patient survival

Stage III colon cancer patients in the general population who receive adjuvant treatment for the disease have an improved rate of survival when oxaliplatin is added to 5-fluorouracil (5FU), according to a study published Jan. 20 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Colon cancer is a leading global cause of both illness and death; with an estimated 101,340 cases among Americans in 2011. Roughly one third of diagnoses are stage III or node-positive disease. In randomized clinical trials (RCTs), adding oxaliplatin to adjuvant 5FU is known to improve outcomes of patients with stage III colon cancer. But the effect of this combined therapy outside RCTs is unknown. In addition, fewer than 2% of patients with the cancer enroll in RCTs, and participants are known to be generally younger, healthier and less racially diverse than the overall cancer patient population.

In order to determine the effects of combined therapy in stage III colon cancer patients in the general population, Hanna K. Sanoff M.D., and assistant professor of Medicine, Hematology and Oncology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and colleagues, gathered data from patients using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registry linked to Medicare claims (SEER-Medicare), among other cancer registries. All patients had stage III colon cancer, received chemotherapy within 120 days of surgery, and were age 75 years or younger. Overall survival (OS) was then compared between patients treated with combined therapy and standard chemotherapy.

The researchers found that adding oxaliplatin to adjuvant therapies for stage III colon cancer in patients of the general cancer population was just as effective as in patients from RCTs. The addition of oxaliplatin showed improved survival across various practice settings, including those with older and minority patients as well as patients with greater comorbidity. “Physicians and patients should be reassured from our findings that oxaliplatin is associated with marginally but consistently superior survival for patients diagnosed before age 75 years in community settings,” the authors write. They feel that now that combined therapy has proven efficacious in the general population, it is important to home in on high –risk subgroups such as patients over age 75, racially diverse minorities, and those with co morbid conditions.

By Journal of the National Cancer Institute

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January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

What is Cervical Health Awareness Month?

The United States Congress designated January as Cervical Health Awareness Month. During January, you may wish to highlight issues related to cervical cancer, HPV disease and the importance of early detection. Some of the issues you may wish to highlight are personal stories of women and family members/caregivers battling issues related to their persistent HPV/precancer and/or cervical cancer. You may wish to highlight recent advances and research in the prevention, detection and treatment of cervical cancer or HPV. You can highlight the success of your local/regional early detection cervical cancer screening and treatment programs and human-interest stories on the importance of early detection, education and the emotional issues related to battling cervical cancer and HPV.

Cervical Health Awareness Month 2012

Each January is recognized as Cervical Health Awareness Month. Each year in the U.S. approximately 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and more than 4,000 lives are lost as a result. This doesn’t take into account the many thousands of women who have cervical abnormalities and abnormal Pap tests for reasons other than cancer, but who still undergo expensive and inconvenient follow-up exams and treatments.

Cervical Cancer Is Preventable

Cervical cancer is caused by specific types of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a common infection that almost everyone who is sexually active will have at some point. There are vaccines that block the types of HPV most often found with cervical diseases, and screening tests (such as Pap tests and HPV tests) that can identify women most at risk. We can prevent cervical cancer!

  • Vaccinate early (females and males ages 9-26 are eligible)
  • Pap test regularly (beginning at age 21)
  • HPV test when recommended

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New Year’s Resolutions to Exercise Pay Off for Heart Disease Patients

ACSM research links exercise with reduced risk of death in patients with existing heart disease

INDIANAPOLIS – In all parts of the world, the start of a  new year inspires adults to give up junk food, join a gym or make  healthier choices. For one group, the resolution to become more active  could literally be the difference between life and death. Research  released today by the American College of Sports Medicine finds that  being more physically active can help adults suffering from heart  disease keep premature death at bay.

The study, “Physical  Activity and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk: Possible Protective  Mechanisms?” is published in this month’s issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®,  the official journal of ACSM. The research team, which included Lee  Ingle, Ph.D., examined the relationship between moderate-to-vigorous  physical activity and mortality risk in patients with cardiovascular  disease.

“It is well established that regular,  moderate-to-vigorous physical activity reduces the risk of future  cardiac events in healthy individuals and individuals with existing  cardiovascular disease,” said Ingle, an academic with the Carnegie  Research Institute at Leeds Metropolitan University in the United  Kingdom. “What are not well understood are the biological mechanisms  responsible for reducing the burden of risk. We examined the extent to  which changes in typical cardiovascular risk factors explained the  association between physical activity and death in individuals with  cardiovascular disease.”

The study included 1,429 participants,  both male and female, with physician-diagnosed heart disease. At a  baseline visit, participants reported demographic information, health  status, disease history, smoking habits and physical activity levels.  Shortly after the baseline visit, nurses recorded medication and body  mass, collected blood samples, and measured blood pressure and resting  heart rate. Within seven years, 446 of the 1,429 participants died.  Death certificates linked 213 of the deaths to cardiovascular disease.

Participation  in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at least three times per week  was associated with a much lower risk of cardiovascular-related death.  Physically active participants demonstrated significantly lower levels  of body mass, diabetes and inflammatory risk. Metabolic risk factors  (including body mass index, total-to-HDL cholesterol ratio, and  physician-diagnosed diabetes) and inflammatory markers (including  C-reactive protein) explained an estimated 12.8 percent and 15.4  percent, respectively, of the association between physical activity and  mortality risk.

“The main finding from this study was that  moderate-to-vigorous physical activity reduces the risk of future  cardiac events, in part, by improving metabolic and inflammatory risk  markers in patients with cardiovascular disease,” said Ingle.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart diseases is the leading cause of death in the U.S. The Exercise is Medicine® initiative offers public tools to help adults combat chronic conditions, such as heart disease, with physical activity.

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The  American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and  exercise science organization in the world. More than 45,000  international, national and regional members and certified professionals  are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to  provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and  sports medicine.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise® is the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, and  is available from Lippincott Williams & Wilkins at 1-800-638-6423.  For a complete copy of the research paper (Vol. 44, No. 1, pages 84-88)  or to speak with a leading sports medicine expert on the topic, contact  the Department of Communications and Public Information at 317-637-9200  ext. 133 or 127.

The conclusions outlined in this news release  are those of the researchers only, and should not be construed as an  official statement of the American College of Sports Medicine.

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Diet to Prevent & Treat Arthritis

At least one out of five Americans, 46 million, suffer from arthritis, a painful disease that cripples and inflames the joints.

According to a “Today Show” article by nutrition expert Joy Bauer, adopting a proper diet for arthritis can treat and even prevent some symptoms. Besides helping to maintain a healthy weight, Bauer says a nutritious diet may decrease the inflammation of joints:

Because arthritis is a disease of inflammation, the most effective and logical treatment is anything that fights inflammation When it comes to specific foods you should eat, an anti-inflammatory diet involves avoiding foods that make inflammation worse (saturated fat, trans fat and simple refined carbohydrate) and eating plenty of foods that reduce inflammation.

Bauer lists a variety of anti-inflammatory foods, including those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, and most importantly, antioxidants such as vitamin C and carotenes, which may even prevent arthritis by protecting the body from free radicals:

Inflammation produces free radicals, those cell-damaging molecules that are formed in response to toxins or natural body processes. The synovium is just as prone to this kind of damage as the skin, eyes, or any other body tissue. Antioxidants protect the body from the effects of free radicals, and are a critical part of an anti-inflammation diet. Research has demonstrated that certain antioxidants may help prevent arthritis, slow its progression and relieve pain.

Certain spices, such as ginger and turmeric, are also an easy and effective way to adopt an anti-inflammatory diet.

For the complete list of anti-inflammatory foods and the rest of the article, click here.

By http://www.thirdage.com/

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Top 10: Holiday Advice for Caregivers and Other Caregiver News

We’ve been reading so much great advice for caregivers this holiday season, we felt it was worth a blog post just to highlight some of these informative articles. If you’re a caregiver to an aging friend or loved one, take a few minutes to read up on some useful tips that can help you travel your caregiving journey with ease.

  1. Ryan Malone, of Inside Elder Care, never fails to impress with his expert insights. His latest blog post talks about the recent Gallup poll that really drills down caregiver statistics in the U.S. Some of them are not surprising, but some will be shocked to learn just how many folks are caring for a loved one these days — and the level of sacrifice they make each day in order to do so.
  2. Registered nurse, former caregiver (for her father), current long-distance caregiver (for her mother) and our friend (we’re proud to say!), Shelley Webb of Intentional Caregiver, gives us 11 New Year’s resolutions caregivers can make this holiday season in a guest post for Maturity Matters.
  3. If you’re planning to move a loved one in the near future, check out these ten tips from AARP. And for more awesomeness from AARP, read this post if you have a caregiver on your shopping list this holiday season for some excellent caregiver gift ideas. Thinking cruises and spa getaways? Think again: an empathetic ear, a little help. You know, those intangibles that are far more valuable than expensive gifts!
  4. Montgomery Media offers tips for caregivers to de-stress this holiday season. Top of the list? Don’t forget to take care of yourself, so you can provide better care for your loved one. We’ve heard it many times, but caregivers get so caught up in caring for loved ones they easily forget this very important task.
  5. Tax season is rapidly approaching, and Forbes has some information on tax breaks to help caregivers ease the financial burden.
  6. American Medical News talks about how technology can connect doctors and caregivers. Easy communication is critical between the two, as caregivers must stay in control of their loved one’s care needs.
  7. The San Francisco Chronicle features a press release covering a new approach to caregiving for the Alzheimer’s/dementia patient. The Pines Education Institute of S.W. Florida partnered with Teepa Snow, a nationally-recognized dementia care expert, to produce a series of educational DVDs to aid caregivers.
  8. MSN takes a humorous approach to identifying the signs of Alzheimer’s disease with “7 Signs Santa Has Alzheimer’s.” This light-hearted approach excellently conveys critical signs caregivers and loved ones should look out for, especially if visiting a long-distance aging loved one over the holidays.
  9. The holidays are supposed to be a joyous time, yet many aging and disabled adults find themselves with a case of the holiday blues. If your loved one is having a difficult time this holiday season, check out these tips from Care.com to help.
  10. La Mesa Courier features a great list of tips for making this holiday season a joyous one for your aging loved ones. Try cooking a special meal together, listening to their stories from the past or taking a nostalgic ride around town.

There are so many more to share. What’s your favorite holiday tip for caregivers? Give us some ideas in the comments and we’ll feature your tips in an upcoming blog post!

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Understanding Heart Aging and Reversing Heart Disease

Overview:

The heart is an amazing muscle that beats around 100,000 times a day. It is essentially a complex pump that is able to adjust blood pressure, flow, and volume in order to provide your body with all the blood it needs. Your heart is constantly adjusting to what you are doing and the state of your body. As you age, your heart adjusts to the needs of an older body. These adjustments come with trade-offs, leaving the heart more vulnerable to disease and other problems.

Your Heart’s Job:

Everyday your heart must beat more than 100,000 times to pump 1,800 gallons of blood through more than 60,000 miles (if stretched end-to-end) of blood vessels. Your heart also must adjust the rate and force at which it pumps based on your activity level. As we age, changes in the body require that the heart adjusts how it works. For example, the buildup of fat in the arteries, known as atherosclerosis, causes the heart to work harder to pump all that blood through narrower tubes.

The Aging Heart:

Heart disease is a leading cause of death. As we age, our heart compensates for clogged arteries by working harder and raising blood pressure. These changes put the heart at risk and impact our quality of life:

  • 40 percent of deaths for people aged 65 to 74 are from heart disease (60 percent for those over 80).
  • From age 20 to 80, there is a 50 percent decline in the body’s capacity for vigorous exercise
  • In your 20s the maximum heart is between 180 and 200 beats per minute. At 80, it is 145.
  • A 20-year-old’s heart can output 3.5 to 4 times the heart’s resting capacity. An 80-year-old can output 2 times resting capacity.
Aging Arteries:

Arteries take oxygen-rich blood away from the heart and deliver it to the body. As we age, our arteries become stiffer and less flexible. This causes our blood pressure to increase. The heart has to adjust to the increase in blood pressure by pumping harder and changing the timing of its valves. These adjustments leave the heart more vulnerable. To stay young at heart, protect your arteries by:

  • exercising
  • controlling your blood pressure
  • watching your cholesterol
Thickening of the Left Ventricle:

Researchers have noted that the wall of the left ventricle of the heart becomes thicker with age. This thickening allows the heart to pump stronger. As our blood vessels age, they become narrower — causing blood pressure to increase. The heart compensates for this by becoming stronger and pumping with more force.

Mitral Valve Closes More Slowly:

The mitral valve closes more slowly with aging. This is because the rate of blood flow from the left ventricle decreases as it relaxes more slowly. It relaxes slower because it grows thicker with age (see above).

Exercise Capacity Shrinks:

As the heart ages, it becomes less able to respond rapidly to chemical messages from the brain. Researchers do not know exactly why the heart does not respond as fast to messages to speed up and adjust to increased activity. The result is the body cannot exercise as long or as intensely as before. This shows up as shortness of breath — a sign that oxygen-rich blood is not moving fast enough through the body because the lungs are trying to breath in more oxygen.

“Sitting” Heart Rate Lowers:

The heart rate of an older person while sitting is slower than a younger person (but the same when lying down). It is thought that this slower rate is from a decline in the heart-brain communication because fibrous tissue and fatty deposits have built up on the on nerves connecting the heart and brain. To compensate, the heart increases the volume of blood in circulation by raising the diastolic blood pressure.

The Heart Can’t Squeeze as Tightly:

Because of the increase in diastolic blood pressure, the heart also stretches larger each beat, giving a stronger pump in order to have a stronger contraction to pump the excess blood volume (called the Frank-Starling mechanism). But because of the greater diastolic pressure, the heart can’t squeeze as tightly.

Heart Enlarges:

The heart of a healthy 70-year-old has 30 percent fewer cells than a 20-year-old’s heart. When heart cells die, the other cells must stretch and grow to stay connected. An older person’s heart cells may be up to 40 percent larger than a younger persons.

Keep Your Heart Healthy and Reverse Heart Disease

Your heart is only as healthy as your arteries. Work hard to keep your arteries healthy by:

Source About.com

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