Palliative Care: An Extra Layer Of Support For People Living With Serious Illness
(NAPSI)—As anyone who has or is caring for a loved one with a serious illness knows, managing care and treatment can be a round-the-clock effort that can put enormous strain on both the patient and the family. A specialized type of medical care called palliative care can help people living with a serious illness by alleviating pain, other symptoms and stress at the same time they are receiving treatment for their underlying disease.
Debbie, a hairdresser, business owner and grandmother, is just one of many people who has benefited from receiving palliative care. Debbie was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer that affects the bone marrow. One of the complications of Debbie’s cancer was pain in her hands and feet. The pain made it difficult for her to handle everyday activities and became so debilitating that Debbie was not able to work for a year and a half. “The pain made me shut myself out, stay in my room,” she said.
Debbie was referred to a palliative care team that included board-certified palliative care specialists and other specialists who focused on relieving the symptoms, discomfort and anxiety associated with her illness. Debbie’s palliative care team worked with her to help control her pain, evaluate treatment options and provide emotional support.
The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. “Palliative care can alleviate the toll that life with a serious illness can take on families,” said Diane E. Meier, M.D., director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), a national organization dedicated to increasing access to quality palliative care services. “Palliative care puts control and choice back in the hands of the patient and family, and it can extend patients’ lives.”
Five Things Palliative Care Can Do for Patients and Their Families
• Manage pain and other symptoms, such as nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, sleep problems and depression
• Evaluate treatment options and establish treatment goals
• Explain what to expect throughout the illness
• Help you cope with worry, stress or depression
• Help with communication between you and your other doctors
Thanks to the palliative care team, Debbie has returned to work. The help and guidance offered by her palliative care team allowed her to gain the emotional and physical strength to carry on with her daily routine. “I would not be sitting in this chair right now if it wasn’t for the program,” Debbie said. “I feel I’m in the driver’s seat.”
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New Study Finds 3D Mammograms 41 Percent More Accurate
(NAPSI)—My colleagues and I recently published results of the largest study of its kind on 3D mammograms, and the outcome is big news for women: This new screening method finds 41 percent more invasive cancers than traditional mammograms and decreases the likelihood of false alarms. This can help save women’s lives, since 3D mammograms help doctors find breast cancer early, when it’s most treatable.
Considering that one in eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in her life, access to the best screening technology is very important.
For the patient, the test itself is very similar to an ordinary 2D mammogram. However, for the doctor, much more information is available. In a way, it’s like the difference between an open book and a closed book. If you only look at the cover, similar to traditional mammography, you can’t see what is inside. However, 3D mammography is like being able to open the book, seeing everything in between, page by page. This allows doctors to look at different layers of breast tissue and helps us find cancers that might be hidden behind normal tissue. This ultimately allows us to diagnose potential problems more accurately.
One reason our study is so significant is the sheer number of mammograms reviewed. Because it is 10 times larger than other studies to date, and because the data came from both academic and community health care settings, it tells a compelling story about the effectiveness of 3D mammography.
More and more patients across the country now have the opportunity to receive 3D exams because more and more doctors are adopting this new standard in mammography.
For further facts on the benefits of 3D mammography, talk to your doctor and visit www.3Dmammogram.com for a list of some 3D mammography providers nearby.
• Dr. Friedewald is a radiologist and co-medical director of the Caldwell Breast Center at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. She was lead author of The Journal of the American Medical Association article “Breast Cancer Screening Using Tomosynthesis in Combination With Digital Mammography” (JAMA, 6/25/14).
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Cancer Survivor’s Tips
(NAPSI)—While being diagnosed with cancer can make you feel vulnerable, surviving cancer can make you feel invincible. So says Melanie Young, host of the weekly radio show “Fearless Fabulous You” on W4WN, in her book “Getting Things Off My Chest: A Survivor’s Guide to Staying Fearless and Fabulous in the Face of Breast Cancer.”
The 10 things she learned from having cancer are no different from those healthy people should live by, she says. They are:
• Be physically active with daily aerobic exercise.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Make smart food choices.
• Lower alcohol intake.
• Use sunscreen daily.
• Reduce/manage stress.
• Get enough sleep.
• Don’t smoke or use recreational drugs.
• Be vigilant about your health care, including annual exams, screenings and vaccinations.
• Focus on positive energy and make quality time for yourself and loved ones.
The book is available at http://www.melanieyoung.com.
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Stop The Snore: Sleep Apnea Action Urgent For Those At Risk
Life-Threatening Sleep Illness Afflicts at Least 25 Million Americans and Counting
(NAPSI)—The nation’s sleep experts agree: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)—a potentially life-threatening disease involving episodes of complete or partial airway obstruction during sleep—is dangerously on the rise. The National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project is urging anyone with symptoms of OSA to pledge to stop the snore and talk to a doctor about sleep apnea.
“Research shows that the number of sleep apnea sufferers continues to increase—the disease afflicts at least 25 million American adults, and most of them remain untreated, increasing their risk of cardiac disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes and obesity,” said Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and a national spokesperson for the Healthy Sleep Project, a collaboration by the AASM, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Sleep Research Society (SRS). “Fortunately, many of the damaging effects of sleep apnea can be stopped, and even reversed, through diagnosis and treatment by a board-certified sleep specialist.”
How do you know if you should talk to a doctor about OSA? According to the Healthy Sleep Project, here are five warning signs for sleep apnea:
Snoring. Besides being a nuisance to your bed partner or roommate, loud and frequent snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea. While not everyone who snores has this sleep illness, snoring is a warning sign that should be taken seriously.
Choking or gasping during sleep. When snoring is paired with choking, gasping or silent breathing pauses during sleep, it’s a strong indicator of sleep apnea.
Fatigue or daytime sleepiness. “Sleep apnea can leave you waking in the morning feeling tired, even after a full night’s sleep,” said Morgenthaler. “Excessive daytime sleepiness often occurs because sleep apnea causes numerous arousals throughout the night, and your body isn’t getting the quality sleep it needs.”
Obesity. An adult with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher is considered to be obese, and the risk of sleep apnea increases with the amount of excess body weight.
High blood pressure. A staggering 67 million Americans have high blood pressure, which is about one in every three adults. Between 30 and 40 percent of adults with high blood pressure also have sleep apnea, and getting treatment for sleep apnea is a proven means of decreasing blood pressure.
If these symptoms describe you, then you have a high risk for OSA. If you’re ready to talk to a doctor about sleep apnea, the Healthy Sleep Project encourages you to visit stopsnoringpledge.org to pledge to stop the snore and find a local sleep specialist at an AASM-accredited sleep center.
“A common misconception is that sleep apnea only affects older, overweight men,” said Morgenthaler. “This widely-held assumption is wrong: anyone can have sleep apnea, regardless of gender, age or body type—even if you’re not overweight.”
Your doctor may decide you need an objective sleep study, which will provide the data needed to make an accurate diagnosis. Once diagnosed, the most commonly recommended treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, which provides gently pressurized air through a mask, keeping your airway open and making it easier to breathe. For patients who are unable to tolerate CPAP, or who seek alternatives, knowledgeable sleep specialists may be able to offer other treatments.
“Obstructive sleep apnea is a chronic disease that has a negative impact on the health and well-being of millions of people in the U.S.,” said Janet B. Croft, PhD, senior chronic disease epidemiologist in CDC’s Division of Population Health. “It is important to discuss the warning signs for sleep apnea with your doctor to determine if you are at risk.”
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Flu-Fighting Information For Older Americans
(NAPSI)—If you or someone you care about is among the nearly one in three Americans who help an elderly family member make health care decisions, here are a few facts and tips that can help you have far more than the germ of an idea about the flu and what to do about it:
• A flu shot is the most effective way to protect yourself and your family from catching the flu.
• It takes up to two weeks for your immunity to build up after getting a flu shot.
• It’s important to get the flu shot every year because the immunity provided by the vaccine declines over time.
• To help combat germs, wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your mouth and eyes. Touching such everyday items as door handles and other surfaces can be difficult to avoid.
• Getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, managing stress, drinking adequate fluids, and eating nutritious food are all healthy habits that can help to keep your immune system in top condition during flu season.
• Children younger than age 5 are at high risk for flu-related complications. For school-age children, remind them of the importance of hand washing and using tissues when they sneeze. The influenza vaccine is not approved for children younger than 6 months of age.
• Pregnant women are more susceptible to getting sick, including catching the flu, because their immune systems are weaker than usual. During pregnancy, the flu can escalate quickly and be complicated by infections such as fetal distress or pneumonia.
• A new survey from CVS/ pharmacy found that 61 percent of U.S. adults don’t know that the Fluzone High-Dose vaccine contains four times the antigens as the regular flu vaccine. This can be especially important for people over 65 who have a greater risk of developing severe flu-related illness. For more information on the differences in flu shots, visit www.cdc.gov/flu.
• Getting the flu shot can be very affordable. Flu vaccines are now fully covered as a preventive service under the Affordable Care Act and available at no cost through most insurance plans, including Medicare Part B. In addition, CVS/pharmacy offers $1 million in flu shot vouchers to uninsured people through a donation to Direct Relief, a nonprofit organization that brings medicines and supplies to health care providers worldwide. Direct Relief will distribute these vouchers, good for a flu shot at any CVS/pharmacy or CVS/minute clinic, to health clinics across the U.S.
• You can get a flu shot any day with no appointment needed, even evenings and weekends, at more than 7,700 CVS locations across the country. For members of the ExtraCare Rewards program, getting the shot also means a 20 percent off CVS Shopping Pass.
To learn more, go to www.cvs.com/flu or call (800) 746-7287.
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Lifting The Weight Of Life’s Pressures
(NAPSI)—When it seems like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, the answer may be—more weight...in a special weighted blanket, that is.
Here’s the blanket statement on how it works:
Weighted blankets can be a safe and effective nondrug therapy for anyone seeking a solution for loss of sleep or need for calm.
“In psychiatric care, weighted blankets are one of our most powerful tools for helping people who are anxious, upset and possibly on the verge of losing control,” says occupational therapist Karen Moore. “These blankets work by providing input to the deep pressure touch receptors throughout the body,” she adds. “Deep pressure touch helps the body relax. Like a firm hug, weighted blankets help us feel secure, grounded and safe.”
Weighted blankets can be used to provide relief and comfort in cases of:
• Sensory disorders
• Sleep disorders
• AD/HD (attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder)
• Asperger’s and autism spectrum disorder
• Restless leg syndrome (RLS) and fidgeting legs due to chemotherapy treatments, menopause symptoms and fibromyalgia
• Anxious feelings and panic symptoms, stress and tension
• Dental anxiety
• Menopause symptoms.
Occupational therapists and doctors also recommend weighted blankets for Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, bipolar disease and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As SFC David DeMarco, U.S. Army, Retired, says, the “calming” effect can assist with restless sleep and PTSD.
They work because the deep pressure stimulation that happens when you get a hug is similar to cuddling up with a weighted blanket. “Pressure is calming to the nervous system,” says Temple Grandin, who invented the squeeze machine.
To make it easier to achieve this comfort, Mosaic Weighted Blankets® are filled with just enough nontoxic Poly-Pellets to provide deep pressure touch stimulation without uncomfortable restriction.
The blankets are custom made for each person to get the right size and weight. They can cover the whole body for sleeping or just the legs. Lap blankets and wraps are also available, and they all come in a variety of fabrics and patterns that appeal to children and adults.
Mosaic Weighted Blankets® relieve the mind, relax the body and release the spirit, letting the rested and calmer you shine through. For more information, call (512) 567-8943 or visit www.mosaicweightedblankets.com.
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Survivor Day Changes Lives
|(NAPSI)—Eric Marcus was 12 years old when his father, a World War II Navy veteran, took his life. “Everyone pretended he died of pneumonia,” Marcus recalled, “but like a lot of kids who live through this kind of thing, I figured it out in real time—of course, I didn’t say a word.”
Thirty-eight years later, Marcus’s sister-in-law died by suicide. “I decided I couldn’t do it alone this time,” he said. That’s how he found himself at an International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day event two weeks after her death. “It was a revelation. For the first time in my life, I was in a room full of people just like me, who knew what I was going through without me having to explain anything.”
International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, which has been held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving since 1999, will be marked this year on November 22 in 250 locations in the U.S. and around the world. The locally sponsored events, which are supported by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), include keynote speakers, small group discussions, and a screening of AFSP’s new documentary, The Journey. The film chronicles the stories of a diverse group of suicide loss survivors and how each survivor is weathering the loss of a loved one.
“It’s funny—well, not funny—but so often in my life, I’ve felt as if I was the only person in the world who had experienced this kind of loss,” Marcus said. “At Survivor Day, I discovered I was part of a community that extends from my hometown to every corner of the earth. I’m sorry that anyone else has had to live through this kind of trauma, but it’s really nice to know that I’m not alone.”
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Medical Progress For The Future
(NAPSI)—The ability of the United States to solve major health challenges like Ebola or the Enterovirus D68, or find cures for other deadly or disabling diseases like cancer or Alzheimer’s, could depend on what you do in the voting booth.
That’s because, when armed with information about your candidates’ views, you can make voting decisions that will help determine the speed of U.S. medical progress.
Here’s where the Ask Your Candidates! (AYC!) initiative comes in. Established by Research!America, a nonprofit organization working to make medical research a higher national priority, the nonpartisan Ask Your Candidates! initiative helps voters gain insight into the priority their candidates place on accelerating research to combat known illnesses or emerging threats that devastate families or become public health crises.
Funding Medical Research
There are two main sources of funding for medical research, and they are both crucial to achieving medical progress: federal support and private-sector investment. Congress has significant influence over both: 1) it determines annual funding levels for publicly supported research at universities, academic health centers and other institutions, and 2) it crafts laws affecting the return on private-sector investment in medical research and development.
Because few businesses can attract investors for pre-commercial science, Americans have traditionally devoted about 1 percent of health care tax dollars to financing basic research, which paves the way for better diagnostic tools, treatments and cures.
Research!America and a team of national partners are spearheading an initiative that encourages voters to reach out to their candidates through e-mail, Twitter or Facebook and ask them to comment on the future of medical progress. A link on the AYC! website enables voters to personalize and send an e-mail to their candidates. Voters can also view candidate responses on the site.
Some voters have asked about their candidates’ support for research to fight cancer or another illness; others have asked broader questions, such as:
• Where does speeding up medical progress fit among your priorities for Congress?
• How will you encourage innovations that improve the health of Americans?
• Does Congress do enough to support science that leads to treatments and cures for disabling and deadly diseases?
• Is enough medical research done on helping wounded warriors?
• Government investment in medical research is dropping. Do you think that’s right?
• Most private-sector medical research occurs in the United States, where it creates jobs and exports. Should keeping it here be a priority?
There is no “good” or “bad” question from voters. And there is no “right” or “wrong” response from candidates. AYC!’s purpose isn’t to endorse an answer or candidate; voters and candidates alike hold a diversity of views on the relative importance of medical progress and how to best achieve it.
Taking The Next Step
Whether you are a voter or a candidate, you can visit the website at www.askyourcandidates.org to get involved. It could be your involvement that makes a difference.
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