Health

Doctor's Visit and Alcohol Use

Diabetes Life-Saving Skills Molecular Testing Private Health Insurance Exchanges Pathology Off-Season Training Keeping Seniors Safe

Your Next Doctor’s Visit May Include Questions About Alcohol Use

(NAPSI)—While often portrayed as funny in movies and on TV, intoxication and alcohol abuse are no laughing matter. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 30 percent of the U.S. population misuses alcohol.

An estimated 38 million adults in the U.S. drink too much alcohol. But how much is too much? For men, it’s more than four drinks per day or more than 14 in a week. For women, it’s more than three drinks in one day or more than seven in a week.

So if your doctor or nurse asks you about how much you drink, don’t be defensive. It’s just one more way they are working to help you stay healthy.

Many Consequences Of Abuse

Each year, there are 85,000 deaths related to alcohol misuse. Alcohol misuse plays a role in many health problems including liver disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers, problems with mental functioning, and depression.

It’s also been found to contribute significantly to injury and deaths from falls, drowning, fires, motor vehicle crashes, murders and suicides. Drinking alcohol while taking prescription medications can cause dangerous levels of sleepiness and also lessen the potential benefit of the medication.

And for expectant women, alcohol not only affects the mother but the development of the unborn child and could cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

There are also economic consequences. Alcohol misuse is said to impact the American economy to the tune of $223.5 billion.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) recently recommended that health care professionals ask adults about their drinking habits and provide counseling to those who drink at a risky or hazardous level. The Task Force is an independent panel of experts—including doctors, nurses, medical directors and academics—that examines the latest scientific evidence and makes recommendations on preventive services and screenings.

“When people misuse alcohol, there can be serious consequences for themselves, their families and their communities. Alcohol misuse is the cause of tens of thousands of deaths each year in the U.S.—deaths that could have been prevented,” says Task Force member Sue Curry, Ph.D. “The good news is that primary care professionals can identify adults who engage in risky or hazardous drinking and, through brief counseling, help them drink more responsibly.”

Screening Can Be Key

Alcohol screenings involve talking to patients about drinking habits, which typically starts by answering a set of questions related to how much and how often alcohol is consumed.

Some of the interventions that may help with alcohol misuse include action plans, drinking diaries, stress management, and problem-solving techniques to address how and when alcohol is misused.

The Task Force recommends that primary care professionals screen all adults over the age of 18 about their drinking habits. For those identified as possibly misusing alcohol, physicians should offer counseling and discuss interventions that may help.

A Tireless Health Advocate

The work of the Task Force is to evaluate and identify critical preventive health services that a primary care professional can perform as well as steps that people can take.

Consumers may want to consider making changes in their lifestyle and avoiding unhealthy actions—such as alcohol misuse—that can have a negative impact on a person’s life.

For more information, visit www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org.

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Delicious Dishes For Those With (Or Without) Diabetes

(NAPSI)—Good news for the nearly 26 million Americans who have diabetes! The American Diabetes Association has published three new cookbooks that can make creating great meals easy and fun. Better news for everyone is that even if you do not have diabetes, these recipes are a delicious way to enjoy healthy eating.

1. Diabetes & Heart Healthy Cookbook: More Than 160 Delicious Recipes for Everything From Snacks to Desserts, Second Edition, from the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association: Foods healthful for people with diabetes are also good for those with heart-health issues. This expanded cookbook offers new recipes, new twists on old classics and updated meal-planning advice. Each recipe has full nutritional information and exchanges and can help you eat and feel better. So can this:

• Enjoy foods from all the food groups. Include fiber-rich, whole-grain foods; legumes, nuts, seeds; vegetables, fruits, lean meats, skinless poultry and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

• Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity a week.

• Limit daily intake of cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams.

• Keep intake of sodium to less than 2,300 mg per day.

• Limit alcohol consumption to one drink a day for women, two drinks a day for men.

2. The Diabetes Fast-Fix Slow-Cooker Cookbook: Fresh Twists on Family Favorites: Slow-cooker meals are inexpensive, healthful and generally hassle-free. Nancy S. Hughes’ new book brightens familiar favorites with fresh, seasonal ingredients and ways to dramatically improve flavor and texture. Chapters include appetizers, snacks, beverages, sandwiches, soups and chilis, stews, ragouts, meatless entrées, sides and desserts.

Each of the 150 recipes meets the American Diabetes Association’s nutritional guidelines and features complete nutrition information and food choices or exchanges.

3. Simply Smoothies: Fresh, Fast & Diabetes-Friendly: Linda Gassenheimer shares a terrific solution to the need for meals on the go that are not laden with fats, calories and sugar—smoothies.

She offers 60 easy and delicious meals and snacks to curb cravings and keep you satisfied. Each recipe has complete nutritional information and diabetic choices and exchanges.

Learn More

These and other American Diabetes Association books are available on ShopDiabetes.org, by calling (800) 232-6733, and wherever books are sold. For further facts and tips in English and Spanish, call the American Diabetes Association at (800) 342-2383 or you can visit www.diabetes.org.

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New Course Teaches Parents Lifesaving Skills

(NAPSI)—For parents and child care providers, the stats about accidental injuries of children up to age 19 are daunting—but you can protect your own kids.

The Problem

More than 12,000 children die from accidental injuries each year and more than 9.2 million are treated in the ER for nonfatal injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

A Solution

To provide first aid and CPR skills, along with peace of mind, the American Heart Association—the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke—has a new online course, Heartsaver Pediatric First Aid CPR AED, Part One.

The course is designed to meet the training needs of child care providers in almost all 50 states but it’s also a robust resource for parents, grandparents, teachers, babysitters or anyone responsible for the care and safety of children. The Web-based, self-directed program uses real-life scenarios and interactive lessons to teach day care workers and others how to manage infants’ or children’s illnesses and injuries until emergency medical services arrive. Child care providers and others will learn critical first aid skills, ranging from how to create a safe environment to prevent injuries in the first place, to lifesaving CPR.

“Reacting quickly and effectively in an emergency is vital because unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death of U.S. children,” said Jeff A. Woodin, Lieutenant Firefighter/National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians Paramedic. “This unique hybrid course with online and hands-on skill components educates child care providers and parents about the four steps of first aid and a variety of first aid skills,” said Woodin, who is Immediate Past Chair of the AHA First Aid Subcommittee and a member of the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation First Aid Task Force.

The training course is an all-in-one solution to learn four key steps in giving first aid: prevention, being safe, calling 9-1-1 and taking action. Additionally, the course includes adult CPR/AED, child mask, infant mask and asthma care training. The course meets the regulatory requirements for child care workers, but its contents are also invaluable skills for parents to learn so they are empowered to care for their children in the event of an emergency.

Learn More

Additional information about pediatric first aid and CPR is at www.heart.org/safekids. To learn more about the American Heart Association’s CPR and First Aid programs, call (877) AHA-4CPR or visit heart.org/cpr. To join or learn more about the AHA, call (800) AHA-USA1.

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Molecular Testing Offers Health Benefits

(NAPSI)—When it comes to health care, big things are happening at the smallest level. That’s the word from experts who say that medical tests known as molecular diagnostics represent one of the most important steps in medicine in the last century.

Molecular diagnostics are tests that detect specific genetic sequences and proteins to help doctors make individualized and thus more effective medical decisions for patients, according to the experts at the Society for Women’s Health Research.

For example, statistics show that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, making it almost as dangerous as heart disease.

Now, thanks to molecular diagnostics, a simple blood test can detect certain gene mutations, enabling physicians to understand future risk for breast cancer. And, in cases of metastatic breast cancer, they can determine how patients will respond to a personal treatment plan.

To learn more about molecular diagnostics, visit www.SWHR.org.

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The Power Of Private Health Insurance Exchanges

(NAPSI)—With our nation in the midst of a health care revolution, government-driven health insurance exchanges are grabbing headlines, often for the wrong reasons. From political haggling to technical gaffes, it’s been a bumpy road for federal- and state-run public exchanges.

For private insurance exchanges, however, the story couldn’t be more different. In fact, it is these private exchange programs that will likely be the bigger—and better—option for many small businesses and workers in America.

While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) put a spotlight on government-run exchanges, private versions have been operating for nearly 20 years in numerous states. Thanks to health care reform momentum, private exchanges are poised to transform health care for the estimated 60 million U.S. workers employed by small businesses.

According to a 2013 report by Booz & Company, “Health insurance in the U.S. is at the cusp of a major transition from an employer-driven payor model to a model directly involving many more employees and consumers. Private health insurance exchanges with a defined contribution approach represent a significant step toward catalyzing this change.”

So what is a private exchange? It is a marketplace of health insurance and related benefits offering access to a single or multiple health plans in one, unified program. Working directly with insurance brokers, employers purchase insurance through the exchange. Employees then choose from reputable carriers such as Aetna, Kaiser Permanente, Anthem Blue Cross or others, depending on the specific exchange.

Through a private exchange, employers allocate a set amount of dollars toward the program through what’s called “defined contribution.” This provides cost controls while supporting an employee’s health care.

For workers, an exchange offers choice and flexibility. They select and purchase their coverage from available options. If they want to upgrade their plan or add other benefits like life insurance beyond what’s covered by the employer contribution, they have the option to pay to do so.

With more than 55 percent of all U.S. workers employed by businesses with one to 50 people, private exchanges are proving to be an especially powerful, viable and valuable option.

In California, the nation’s most populous state and where approximately 12 percent of the country’s residents live, more and more of its 3.4 million-plus small businesses are turning to private exchange solutions.

Take CaliforniaChoice, for example. The nation’s first-ever private exchange established over 18 years ago works with brokers and small businesses as the state’s only private exchange. It offers multiple health plans and other business-related products and services in one, easy-to-use program. Today, CaliforniaChoice serves more than 10,000 employers and 150,000 members statewide.

“If you are a small-business owner, private exchanges help drive down health care costs and reduce administrative burdens in an increasingly complex regulatory environment, all while expanding the benefit choices for your employees,” said Ron Goldstein, president and CEO of CaliforniaChoice.

He added, “Well-run private exchanges are very effective because they are held to the highest free-market standards. They must deliver value—the best service, choices and prices—in order to stay competitive.”

While media attention around federal- and state-operated exchanges will likely persist in the near term, established private exchanges such as CaliforniaChoice will continue to quietly build steam. In fact, private exchange participation nationally is projected to exceed public exchange enrollment by 2018, says a 2013 report by Accenture.

Given this trend, employers may be wise to take advantage of private exchange programs when seeking solutions to cost-effectively address the changing landscape of traditional employee benefits programs.

For more information about private health insurance exchanges, visit www.calchoice.com.

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Meet Health Care’s Secret Weapons: Pathologists

(NAPSI)—The next time you or someone you care about needs hospitalization or just a medical test, your well-being could depend on a medical professional you may have never even see: your pathologist.

Who Are Pathologists?

Pathologists are board-certified physicians who use technology such as digital imagery, advanced screening tools, molecular-based diagnoses and others that were once just imagined to identify and diagnose disease. Pathology and laboratory results comprise as much as 70 percent of the information in a patient’s health record.

Pathologists are investigators on whom every medical specialist relies to provide a range of services, from prenatal testing to cancer screening, to guide the clinical team on how to treat their patients. The right test at the right time can make all the difference in diagnosis, treatment and recovery. The pathologist’s pursuit of precision extends across a continuum of care during a patient’s lifetime.

What Pathologists Do

For example:

• By helping health care providers pick the right test at the right time, unnecessary testing and unnecessary procedures are avoided.

• Pathologists use molecular testing to look for multiple drug-resistant organisms in patients and identify those at high risk for a surgical site infection so doctors can proactively treat that patient and avoid the problem.

• They’re on call to examine samples taken during surgery and to review those results, which can be life-changing.

• Pathologists also provide data and data analysis about the entire population of patients so doctors can determine who’s likely to be at high risk for cardiac disease, vascular disease and diabetes. Seeing trends lets doctors be proactive and plan for what the community needs. The diagnostic truths that pathologists reveal can help all of society lead better, healthier lives.

Where To Learn More

For more information about pathologists and laboratory medicine, visit the College of American Pathologists (CAP) at www.cap.org and on Twitter @Pathologists, or watch CAP’s YouTube Channel to learn more about how pathologists are involved in your health and your family’s well-being.

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Off-season Tips For Your Young Athlete

(NAPSI)—Increasingly, young athletes who want to take their game to the next level have to find additional training opportunities to supplement their school or town program.

While the process of evaluating or designing an off-season training program can be challenging for a parent, it doesn’t have to be that way. To help, here are some tips:

• Start by signing your child up for a camp or clinic. Camps provide athletes with an introduction to group training and can be a great way for kids to get used to playing against local or out-of-town competition. In a typical camp, kids will practice with their peers and get exposed to different coaching styles. While the length of camps vary, they usually only last a few days.

It is important to remember, however, that camps can get pricey and athletes need rest. Avoid scheduling a summer full of back-to-back camps to prevent athlete burnout.

• Stay active and healthy throughout the off-season. Parents can help their athletes by making exercise—and the right diet—key parts of an off-season routine. Even parents without a sports background can contribute to their child’s success. Timing athletes, counting reps, completing drills and taking children on bike rides, trail runs or to a local swimming pool are easy ways to provide support.

• Seek the help of a private coach or trainer. A private coach can create a customized, sport-specific training program for your athlete during the off-season. In addition, many private coaches can provide guidance in skill development, but they can also help your athlete when it comes to film study, competition strategy, flexibility and agility work, and weight-training regimens.

While locating the right coach for a student athlete can be challenging, there is a resource that can help. A site called CoachUp.com connects athletes with private sports coaches across the country for one-on-one and small-group coaching sessions.

One-on-one coaching is a wise investment for any parent. In fact, the cost of private coaching has become comparable to that of camps and can even cost less.

Beyond sports-specific skill coaching, a private coach can also serve as a personal mentor and be a resource for athletes with injury concerns or expose them to a new sport they lack experience in.

To learn more about finding a coach for your student athlete and constructing an off-season program, visit www.CoachUp.com.

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Design Tips That Can Help Keep Seniors Safer

(NAPSI)—Investing a little time and effort to create a safer environment for a senior can pay dividends when it comes to preventing falls.

This is significant, since falls that result in injury are one of the more serious threats faced by seniors. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one out of three older adults (65 or older) falls each year. In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency rooms; 662,000 of those patients were hospitalized.

To help, here are some tips from stylist, designer and host of the HGTV show “Secrets from a Stylist,” Emily Henderson.

She stresses that when considering a space for a senior citizen, it’s important to put thought into the little things, such as the shape of a counter or color of a duvet.

“The fact is that seniors and older adults are more prone to safety hazards and falls at home due to low balance, low vision and poor furniture choices,” says Henderson.

An expert on teaching her viewers and clients how to manipulate spaces to serve a purpose, she suggests the following:

• Get well rounded—Oval or circular tables without glass tops help keep rooms open and safe.

• Light the way—Place soft lighting near the bed and ensure that cords are tucked away to prevent tripping.

• Provide colorful contrasts—Walls, trim and floors should be in neutral or warm colors and should stand out from each other.

• Give bedding a boost—Create an inviting bed with pillows, throws and upholstery in different textures that contrast with the wall color.

• Stylize the storage—Add storage with an ottoman that has a hidden compartment or surface trays to minimize clutter in the space.

Henderson puts her tips into practice through her partnership with Sunrise Senior Living, which offers assisted living communities for seniors around the country. As part of the partnership, Sunrise holds an annual Suite Style Contest, in which a member of the Sunrise community can win a complete makeover of his or her suite from Henderson.

“Emily’s design tips and philosophy align closely with our goal of creating each Sunrise suite with comfort, convenience and safety in mind,” said Jeff Fischer, head of Operations. “We’re thrilled to be able to partner with Emily and offer our residents the chance to win a personalized suite.”

To learn more, visit www.sunriseseniorliving.com/the-sunrise-difference/design.aspx.

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