After a heart attack, as many as 1 in 4 survivors will have another one. Lifestyle changes and working closely with your doctor to manage your health can help minimize the risk of a repeat event. Talk to your doctor about a secondary prevention plan, and consider other steps like these.
How to Reduce Your Risk for Another Heart Attack
(Family Features) After a heart attack, as many as 1 in 4 survivors will have another one. Lifestyle changes and working closely with your doctor to manage your health can help minimize the risk of a repeat event.
“A heart attack is a life-changing event,” said Nieca Goldberg, MD, American Heart Association volunteer and medical director of NYU Women’s Heart Program. “What many people don’t realize is the hidden risks that led to your first heart attack can be managed and, by doing this, you may reduce your risk of having another one.”
Because up to 80% of heart attacks are preventable, it’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations for reducing your risk. Talk to your doctor about a secondary prevention plan, and consider other steps like these from the American Heart Association’s secondary prevention program, nationally sponsored by Bayer:
Take your medications as prescribed. Certain medicines can lower your risk of another cardiac event. That’s why it’s important to understand your medications and take them correctly. Taking aspirin as recommended by a doctor is one way to help prevent another attack. No one should start, stop or modify an aspirin regimen without first speaking with their doctor. Aspirin is not appropriate for everyone, so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen.
Manage your risk factors. After a heart attack, it’s important to manage risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes by taking medications as prescribed, quitting smoking, eating healthier and getting active.
Attend your follow-up appointments. Attending your follow-up appointments helps your doctors keep track of your condition and recovery. You can make the most of your time with your doctor by preparing a list of questions and concerns along with a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements. Bringing a trusted friend or family member may help as well.
Participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program. Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program designed to help you recover after a heart attack. You should have received a referral to cardiac rehab when you were discharged from the hospital; if you didn’t, ask your doctor if this program is right for you.
Get support. It’s normal to feel scared, overwhelmed or confused after a heart attack. Getting support from loved ones or people who have also experienced a heart attack can help you cope. Connect with other heart attack survivors and caregivers through local support groups or the American Heart Association’s free online Support Network.
Take Charge of Your Heart Health
Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, but your lifestyle can be your best defense.
Stop smoking. If you smoke, quit. If someone in your household smokes, encourage him or her to quit. It may not be easy, but it’s even harder to live with chronic heart disease or recover from a heart attack.
Choose good nutrition. A healthy diet is one of the best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease. Research shows eating 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day may lower blood pressure over time.
Lower cholesterol. Fat lodged in your arteries can trigger a heart attack or stroke. Reduce your intake of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, and get moving. If diet and physical activity alone don’t get those numbers down, then medication may be the key.
Lower blood pressure. Shake that salt habit, take your medications as recommended by your doctor and get moving. An optimal blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury).
Be physically active. Research has shown that at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and keep your weight at a healthy level.
Reduce stress. Some studies have noted a relationship between coronary heart disease risk and stress. This may affect the risk factors for heart disease and stroke. For example, people under stress may overeat, start smoking or smoke more than they otherwise would.
Learn more about ways you can thrive after a heart attack at heart.org/oneisenough.
Content courtesy of the American Heart Association’s secondary prevention initiative.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
American Heart Association
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a component of the cannabis plant lacking the “high” associated with marijuana, and right now products claiming to contain CBD are everywhere — from gummies to cocktails, ice cream to hand cream, and more. An estimated 64 million consumers, according to a January 2019 Consumer Reports survey, have tried products containing CBD in the past two years alone. But do you know what you are buying - and taking?
(BPT) - Before you reach into that jar of CBD gummies, or add some CBD oil to your bath, proceed carefully. Do you really know what’s in that “miracle cure” that you purchased online or at the health store for anxiety or your aching back?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a component of the cannabis plant lacking the “high” associated with marijuana, and right now products claiming to contain CBD are everywhere — from gummies to cocktails, ice cream to hand cream, and more. An estimated 64 million consumers, according to a January 2019 Consumer Reports survey, have tried products containing CBD in the past two years alone.
With widespread marketing that is largely unregulated, CBD purchased online or at stores is often promoted as a one-stop product for a range of potential health benefits, such as relieving stress, soothing aches and pains, reducing inflammation or improving sleep.
Interest in — and access to — CBD increased with the passage of the Farm Bill which removed CBD derived from hemp (a variety of cannabis that contains very low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC) from the list of controlled substances. Although CBD products are now available online or in many stores, health or medical claims made by the product manufacturers are still subject to regulation by the FDA to ensure consumer safety. Through all the current interest surrounding CBD one critical question remains: Are widely available CBD products safe and effective?
Separating fact from fiction
The contents and dosage of CBD products sold in retail stores or online are often unknown and not consistently, if at all, regulated. To navigate the current environment, consumers first need to understand that not all CBD products are equal:
So, what’s the bottom line for the millions of people currently using CBD products? As the saying goes, the smart consumer is the wise consumer. The FDA approval process is considered by many to be the gold standard in the medical field and was put in place to protect patients. Taking unregulated CBD products that lack scientific evidence can pose health risks, particularly for very sick patients who may be looking for hope in these products, in part, because of unproven health claims.
You deserve to know what you’re taking
It can be difficult to know if CBD products actually contain what they claim. A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that almost 70% of all CBD products sold online did not contain the amount of CBD stated on the label — 42% contained a higher concentration of CBD than the label claimed, and 26% of the products contained less. Twenty percent included enough unlabeled THC to cause intoxication, especially in children. The FDA also evaluated some of these products and found that they did not contain the levels of CBD that they claimed. More studies and regulations are needed to ensure these products are safe for consumer use.
An important moment in the evolution of CBD occurred in June 2018 when the FDA approved Epidiolex® (cannabidiol) oral solution CV, the first prescription CBD medicine. Because it is a prescription, available in pharmacies just like any other FDA-approved medicine, it is legal throughout the entire U.S. when prescribed by a licensed health care professional. It is the only FDA-approved CBD product currently available.
“The approval of Epidiolex is historic not only for the long-awaited relief it provides patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two very difficult-to-treat epilepsies, but also for the parameters it has put in place for how a CBD medicine should be studied to understand its safety profile and efficacy,” said Justin Gover, CEO of GW Pharmaceuticals, plc, the company responsible for Epidiolex. “We hope that this opens the door for further well-controlled clinical studies of CBD in other medical conditions to achieve FDA approval and ensure patients are getting the medicines they deserve.”
This sponsored article is presented by Brandpoint.
The stark reality is that more and more Americans each and every day find themselves taking on the role of caregiver for a family member. This can present immense physical and emotional challenges. The first steps suggested here can help you find some balance as you navigate your caregiver journey.
(BPT) - Caring for a loved one with a chronic illness is something millions of Americans do every day. Whether it is a parent, spouse, extended family member or friend, the stress of caring for another adult can take a toll.
"I have to do absolutely everything for her," explains Anthony Cowels, whose 71-year-old wife, Florence, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1986. As he watched her disease progress, his caregiver responsibilities grew. What's more, for some of the years Cowels also cared for his elderly parents, compounding his responsibilities.
"It has been a long journey of caregiving," says Cowels, 70. "I try not to let it overwhelm me. I always look for ways to do better." Cowels learned to care for both himself and his wife better through useful tools, education and friendship and by joining a caregiver support group. He says he can "interact with others who identify with my situation.”
Family caregiving: A growing trend
Cowels represents a growing number of Americans who care for older or aging loved ones. About 41 million family caregivers in the United States provided an estimated 34 billion hours of care to an adult with limitations in daily activities in 2017, notes the AARP report Valuing the Invaluable: 2019 Update. What's more, as the population ages, caregiving demands are increasing while the pool of potential caregivers is decreasing.
As the Valuing report states, "Americans will have more older relatives or close friends to potentially care for than children in about 15 years. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that, by the year 2035, adults ages 65 and older will outnumber children under the age of 18 for the first time in U.S. history. This fundamental demographic shift is the result of the aging of the U.S. population, increasing longevity, and a declining birth rate. "
Caring for yourself
In addition to helping with self-care activities like bathing, dressing and going to the bathroom, family caregivers today often perform complex medical tasks, including wound care, giving injections and handling medical equipment. The tasks that were once provided in hospitals and health care clinics are increasingly the responsibility of family and friends, who are often given little training or support.
While many family caregivers often report positive feelings in their role such as a sense of purpose or connection with their loved one, it often comes with feelings of being overwhelmed. Exhaustion, worry, loneliness and financial stress are common challenges caregivers face. If you also work a full-time job, it can be even more difficult to balance your needs and responsibilities.
While you may not achieve perfect balance, it is important to prioritize your physical and mental wellbeing, so you can be there for the person you care for. These first steps can help you find some balance as you navigate your caregiver journey:
It is important for family caregivers to stay mentally and physically healthy so they can provide the best care possible to the growing number of people who need support. For helpful tips and caregiver resources, visit www.aarp.org/caregiving.
A diagnosis like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) means lifestyle changes throughout every aspect of life, including financially through direct costs of care as well as indirect costs like missed school or work. There are a number of resources like these that can help IBD patients manage the financial impact of the disease, many of which depend on the patient’s stage of life.
Managing the Cost of IBD
(Family Features) A diagnosis like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) means lifestyle changes throughout every aspect of life, including financially. IBD has many direct costs of care, like clinic visits, radiology studies, procedures and costly medications. There are also indirect costs such as missed work or school.
There are a number of resources that can help IBD patients manage the financial impact of the disease, many of which depend on the patient’s stage of life. For example, young adults transitioning into the workforce and off their parents’ insurance may find their needs quite different from older adults who are approaching Medicare eligibility.
Evaluate your IBD needs and select an affordable insurance plan. When you turn 26, you age out of your parents’ health insurance plan. Your options may include enrolling in a plan sponsored by your employer or your spouse’s employer; purchasing a plan in the health insurance marketplace (you can enroll 60 days before you turn 26 and the timeframe ends 60 days after your birthday); purchasing insurance on the individual market; purchasing COBRA (a temporary health insurance plan that is extended under your parents’ plan for up to 18 months); or going on Medicaid, if you’re eligible.
To decide what’s right for your situation, start by listing your current health care providers and health services. Review the insurance plan you are considering and check whether your current providers, medications and hospital are covered in the plan, and whether they are considered in-network (more cost-efficient) or out-of-network (higher out-of-pocket costs).
You’ll want to weigh potential expenses, including the monthly premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, copays and coinsurance, if applicable. Also be aware of the distinctions between medical and pharmacy coverage. This will give you a realistic picture of what you can expect to spend on a monthly and annual basis.
For assistance with your options, consider speaking with an insurance specialist or help center, such as the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s IBD Help Center, which can help you review available plans and find one best suited for your needs.
Participate in a savings program. If you have the option of participating in a Health Savings or Flexible Spending Account, these personal savings programs can help pay your out-of-pocket costs. You contribute a certain amount of untaxed money to the account each year, which can be used toward expenses like prescriptions, deductibles, copayments and coinsurance.
Each program has distinct guidelines on factors, like payment and carrying over unused funds, so it’s important to do thorough research before selecting a plan.
Enroll in manufacturer assistance programs. Depending on your specific circumstances, you may be eligible for assistance from your prescription manufacturers or lab testing companies. In addition to drug copay discount programs and pharmaceutical financial assistance programs, you might be able to access help to offset the cost of certain procedures.
Your health care provider or pharmacist may have information on available programs, or you can visit manufacturer websites and other resources like crohnscolitisfoundation.org/managingcosts.
Investigate grants, foundations, and other assistance programs. Other types of financial assistance are also available. Pharmaceutical companies, the Patient Advocate Foundation, and several other foundations offer college scholarships to IBD patients.
Purchase coordinated or supplemental Medicare insurance. As you approach the age of 65, you enter an enrollment period (3 months prior and 3 months after your birthday) when you are eligible to apply for Medicare, a federal health insurance program. In addition to original Medicare, you have the option of purchasing additional insurance for added health care coverage and benefits, such as a Medicare Advantage Plan (Medicare Part C) or Medigap plan.
Enroll in federal and state savings programs. If you have or are eligible for Medicare Part A, and if you have limited income and resources, your state Medicaid program can help determine whether you qualify for one of the Medicare Savings Programs.
State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (sometimes referred to as SHIP programs) have different names in different states but all provide free one-on-one telephone counseling and advice services, personal face-to-face counseling sessions, public education programs and media presentations for assistance with Medicare programs (including Part D) and Medicaid.
If you have limited income and resources, you may qualify for help paying for prescription drugs. The Medicare Extra Help Program is for Medicare Part D recipients and recipients of both Medicare and Medicaid who have limited income and resources to help pay for prescription drugs.
Apply for financial aid through pharmaceutical companies. Another option, if you are eligible, is to enroll in financial assistance through the drug manufacturers. Funds are available from several manufacturers and non-profits to help patients cover copays and pay their out-of-pocket costs.
Pharmaceutical patient assistance programs are separate foundations set up by the drug manufacturers to provide financial assistance to people who cannot afford their medications. You need to demonstrate financial need when you apply for these programs.
While on private insurance, you may be able to use drug copay cards. The drug company will pay for a portion of the drug and the out-of-pocket cost to the patient is considerably lower. However, drug copay discount cards are generally no longer available to patients when they transition off private insurance onto Medicare.
Investigate grants, foundations and other assistance programs. Additional assistance may be available through other foundations. Find these and other resources to assist in planning your IBD medical expenses at crohnscolitisfoundation.org/managingcosts.
Lower Your Medical Costs
1. Compare prices and select in-network providers. Always ask if your labs and support team members (all providers, not just your gastroenterologist) are in network.
2. Not all pharmacies charge the same, so shop around. Online pharmacies can often be less expensive (for example, a 90-day supply can often be the same cost as a 30-day supply).
3. Check your bill. According to the Medical Billing Advocates of America, billing advocates and other health professionals estimate up to 80% of medical bills contain errors.
4. If insurance refuses to pay, talk to your healthcare provider about appealing the insurance company’s denial.
Photos courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation
Every day nearly 200 people die from an overdose of drugs or from alcohol poisoning, with opioids responsible for the majority. Recognizing the signs and knowing how to respond to medical emergencies, including carrying and administering naloxone in cases of opioid overdose, can literally save lives. Here are tips from the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) on what to do in case of a suspected overdose.
(BPT) - Every day nearly 200 people die from an overdose of drugs or from alcohol poisoning, with opioids responsible for the majority. Recognizing the signs and knowing how to respond to medical emergencies, including carrying and administering naloxone in cases of opioid overdose, can save lives, says the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA).
“The tragic increase in overdose deaths is an alarming and devastating issue that touches so many of us,” said ASA President Mary Dale Peterson, M.D., MSHCA, FACHE, FASA. “If you can identify an overdose or alcohol poisoning, you are more likely to react quickly, making the difference between life and death for a family member, friend or stranger.”
Physician anesthesiologists have a critical role in fighting against overdoses, starting with managing patients’ pain after surgery or chronic pain in responsible ways. During Physician Anesthesiologists Week, Jan. 26-Feb. 1, ASA is joining forces with U.S. Surgeon General VADM, Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H., to empower everyone to recognize the following signs of an overdose or alcohol poisoning:
Any one of these signs should prompt a call to 911 for emergency medical care. Never leave an unconscious person alone, as they may be at risk of dying, including by choking on his or her own vomit. If an opioid overdose is suspected, naloxone should be administered immediately, if available. Naloxone is administered by injection or nasal spray and access to it is expanding on a state-by-state basis. It can be prescribed by a physician and often is carried by police officers and emergency medical responders. Additionally, it’s increasingly available over the counter at some pharmacies.
“To stem the tide of the opioid overdose epidemic, we need everyone to consider themselves a first responder. We need to encourage everyone in our communities to carry naloxone and know how to use it,” said U.S. Surgeon General, VADM, Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H., a physician anesthesiologist who issued a Surgeon’s General’s advisory in 2018 calling for increased awareness and use of the medication. “When on hand, naloxone may mean the difference between life and death, and can be a first step to getting someone onto the pathway of recovery.”
Anyone who takes opioids to manage their pain may be at-risk for an overdose. In recent years, opioids were the go-to pain reliever for everything from backaches and injuries to post-surgical and chronic pain. In 2017, more than 190 million prescriptions were written for opioids. While they can be effective for short-term pain, chronic use can lead to abuse. Every day 130 people die from opioid overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“ASA strongly agrees with the Surgeon General and supports policies that promote access to naloxone and safe and effective pain management care,” said Dr. Peterson. “All of our members have a significant interest in reducing misuse, abuse and diversion of opioids that have led to unintended deaths.”
To learn more about the critical role physician anesthesiologists play before, during and after surgery, visit asahq.org/WhenSecondsCount. ASA also offers an opioid overdose resuscitation guide that provides guidance on symptoms of an overdose and how to help.
Migraine headaches are literally life-altering, chronic health concerns for millions of Americans. In this article, we examine the latest medical research and examine the most common reasons why you may be getting constant migraines.
Migraines are not an easy thing to deal with. For most people, the onset of a migraine calls for a dark room and resting in bed. Although migraines seem to happen out of nowhere, there are usually some reasons why they even appear in the first place. Therefore, the following list includes some of the most common reasons why you may be getting constant migraines.
Recent studies have concluded that stress is the number one factor when it comes to the reason why people are getting migraines. In fact, over 50 percent of people associate their migraines with stressing. Look back to your past few weeks at work or school. Figure out what things are causing you great stress and how you can reduce those triggers. You can then add additional preventive measures, such as getting relaxation therapy, setting aside time for exercise and making sure you get enough sleep each night. If you find yourself spending a lot of time on the computer, the stress combined with eye strain and electromagnetic fields (emfs) may just make your headaches worse.
Although rarer than most reasons, vision problems such as nearsighted, farsighted, or astigmatism can be the reason behind your migraines. Often, it is the pressure to work on our computers for long hours, or your eyes are simply losing their strength as you age. You should have a regular eye exam to test for common eye disorders. This will provide you with some treatment options; however, reducing the amount of computer/phone time should also be practiced as well.
One of the most overlooked reasons for migraines is medication overuse. As the old saying goes, too much of something good can be bad. This is essentially the reasoning behind this theory. Medication that is continuously used and in heavy doses may cause you to experience those constant migraines. Therefore, people are recommended to cycle off their medication in order to remove any harmful toxins that may reside within them. Often, people need to get special help from a doctor to withdraw from these medications that put them at risk for rebound pain or dependency. Note that you should first consult with your physician about this theory and work together to reduce your medication enough to where migraines are either entirely gone or significantly reduced.
Although the information above describes the most common triggers for migraines, there are plenty of more reasons to go around. Also, people can suffer migraines depending on certain situations and conditions that are unique to them. Therefore, it is always recommended that you research some of the reasons behind your migraines and speak with a medical professional in order to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
If you’re among the millions of people in the United States who suffer from a chronic illness, you may use “sharps” to manage your medical condition at home or on the go. Consider this information about sharps and steps for safe and proper disposal.
Understanding Medical Sharps and Safe Disposal Options
(Family Features) If you’re among the millions of people in the United States who suffer from a chronic illness, you may use “sharps” to manage your medical condition at home or on the go. For example, many people with diabetes self-inject at least two insulin shots every day, and conditions including allergies, arthritis, cancer, infertility, migraines and psoriasis, among others, may also require the use of a sharp to administer medication.
A medical term for devices with sharp points or edges that can puncture or cut skin, sharps may be used at home, at work and while traveling to manage medical conditions. Examples of sharps include:
However, disposing of those medical sharps safely may be a concern. In fact, in interviews conducted by SafeNeedleDisposal.org with sharps users, people who use needles and lancets to manage their medical conditions believe it is their responsibility to dispose of sharps safely, but lack clear, factual information on how to do so. Existing information does not always personalize disposal guidelines for people in every state or locality.
“SafeNeedleDisposal.org helps people in the United States make sense of safe sharps disposal options nearest to their home, work or wherever is convenient,” said Larry Ellingson, vice president of the National Diabetes Volunteer Leadership Council. “This resource is much needed for people who regularly use needles to manage health conditions like diabetes and want to do the right thing with their used sharps.”
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, sharps not disposed of properly may cause injury. Consider these three steps for safe and proper sharps disposal:
For more information on safe disposal of sharps, visit SafeNeedleDisposal.org.
Photos courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
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