Health

Blood Pressure Under Control

Walk Every Day Disability.gov Healthcare Cost Increases Kids' Snacking Make Breakfast Count Hydrated Skin Healthy Lifestyle, Healthy Breasts

Keeping High Blood Pressure Under Control

(NAPSI)—There’s helpful news for those with high blood pressure. By taking a few simple, practical steps, they can have a better chance of keeping their blood pressure under control. This can be significant. Data have shown that many Americans with high blood pressure do not have their blood pressure controlled to a healthy level.

An estimated 78 million adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure. The National Center for Health Statistics reported that from 2007-2010, more than 80 percent of people with high blood pressure were aware they had it, but only about half had their blood pressure under control.

Collaboration Is Key

According to the American Heart Association, people being treated but still not reaching their target blood pressure—typically, a level less than 140/90 millimeters of mercury—should be a health care priority.

A key to better control, they say, is a good doctor-patient partnership. If you’re one of the millions of Americans battling high blood pressure, here are some solutions to help you collaborate with your health care provider and get your blood pressure under control:

• Ask about your blood pressure at each annual checkup. If it’s high, check your blood pressure regularly between appointments—at home, a pharmacy or another facility. Follow up with your doctor according to his or her recommendations.

• Become a tracker. Keep a log of your medication, your blood pressure levels, and even questions for your doctor as they come to mind. Online tools, such as www.Heart360.org, can help.

• Be flexible. It may take a while to get to your blood pressure goal, and it may take more than one medicine in addition to lifestyle changes to get you there. Keep in close touch with your health care provider along the way to create the best plan for yourself.

• Know yourself. What keeps you from keeping up with your medicines? Eating healthy? Losing weight? Be aware of your barriers to better health and talk with your doctor about them. Your provider or clinic may have suggestions or know programs that can help.

Once your treatment program becomes routine, maintaining a lower blood pressure is easier. Remind yourself that by managing your blood pressure, you are lowering your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Learn more online at www.heart.org. Walgreens is a proud supporter of the American Heart Association and offers free blood pressure testing in all of their pharmacies.

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How Small Steps Today Can Lead To Big Benefits Tomorrow

(NAPSI)—For many people, it’s important to remember that big changes begin with small steps.

For example, consider the case of Ravida Benjamin, RN. She was an overweight, insulin-dependent diabetic for most of her life when she decided to take control of her health. Through her work as a nurse with Kaiser Permanente in Hawaii, she had seen firsthand the health complications that can affect diabetic patients.

“I thought, ‘for my family, I’d like to get healthy,’” she remembered.

Benjamin started small, first by adding fruits and vegetables into her diet. Eventually, she began walking every day. As Benjamin began losing weight and noticing positive changes in her body, she became more motivated to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

Benjamin used programs offered by Kaiser Permanente to find healthy meal ideas, learn the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, and find encouragement from others sharing her journey.

Over time, she lost more than 60 pounds and no longer has to take insulin shots to keep her diabetes in check.

“Go for a short walk and build,” encouraged Benjamin. “I’ve gone from walking 30 minutes a day to 120 minutes uphill when I have a day off.”

Acknowledging that getting healthy is a challenge, Benjamin suggests, “Start small, don’t get discouraged. You might slip, but that’s OK.”

Even when making small lifestyle changes, however, it can be hard to know where to start. To help, Jack Der-Sarkissian, M.D., a family medicine doctor with Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles, offers five tips for getting and staying healthy:

• Eat breakfast. Start the day with a big nutritious breakfast, eat a good-sized lunch and have something small for dinner. Avoid soda and fruit juice, which contain lots of calories that don’t benefit your body.

• Walk. Starting a new exercise regimen can be tough, especially for those who sit all day at work. In the beginning, just try to move. Walking for 30 minutes a day, five days a week benefits your body mentally and physically.

• Take sleep seriously. The average person sleeps only six hours per night, while research shows the body needs seven to eight hours to function properly. Lacking sleep affects both minds and bodies.

• Cut out cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. Even using these substances every now and then has negative effects on health.

• Nurture your healthy relationships. Keeping your mind stimulated and happy by being social with friends, family and colleagues also has physical health benefits.

For more information about getting healthy and Kaiser Permanente’s healthy lifestyle programs, visit www.kp.org. To watch a video about Ravida Benjamin’s story, visit Kaiser Permanente’s Care Stories blog at www.kp.org/carestories.

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Let Disability.gov Guide You To Helpful Information

(NAPSI)—Whether you have a disability or are helping a family member get assistance, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the number of disability programs and services that are available nationwide. There is a solution for you. Simply visit Disability.gov, the federal government’s website for people with disabilities and their families, to find information across 10 topics: Benefits, Civil Rights, Community Life, Education, Emergency Preparedness, Health, Employment, Housing, Technology and Transportation.

Disability.gov’s “Guide Me” tool makes searching on the site easier by walking visitors through four steps:

Step One: Choose an Audience. Do you have a disability or are you helping someone else?

Step Two: Select a Topic. Do you want to learn how to apply for disability benefits or find a job?

Step Three: Pick a State. Do you want to view resources from your community or another state?

Step Four: Review Your Summary. Review your choices from the three previous steps and decide if you want to see your search results or start a new search.

Please share this information and visit www.Disability.gov to get started! You can also subscribe to email alerts and the Disability Connection newsletter or follow the site on Facebook, Twitter and Disability.Blog.

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One Surprising Cause Of Health Care Cost Increases

(NAPSI)—Many Americans are asking their representatives what’s being done about a well-intentioned health care cost-cutting program—that’s actually having the opposite effect.

The original idea was to help not-for-profit hospitals cover some of the costs associated with treating low-income patients by making pharmaceutical companies provide large discounts to hospitals that treat many Medicaid patients. The discounts were to be for medicines used in an outpatient setting, such as chemotherapy drugs.

The Problem

The program, called 340B, is now used by many hospitals to get discounts on medicines for insured patients. The hospitals then pocket the difference—unfortunately, they are not required to pass on savings to patients—and use it to fund executive salaries and other unintended uses. As the Affordable Care Act expands Medicaid eligibility, more patients on Medicaid will mean more hospitals are eligible for discounts.

Additionally, some hospitals with the benefit of 340B discounts are buying up—or partnering with—private clinics, which would not on their own qualify for discounts.

According to The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), this drives up the cost of care. For example, JAMA says, the widening disparity in drug revenue between 340B and non-340B hospitals shifts patients out of the comfort of a private clinic setting and into the hospital setting, where care is typically more expensive than the same care delivered in the physician’s office. The net result is an overall increase in health care spending.

A recent study from Avalere Health found that chemotherapy costs as much as 25 percent more in the hospital outpatient setting than in dedicated cancer clinics.

What’s more, 340B hospitals are now allowed to contract with for-profit pharmacies in order to sell discounted medicines at full price to patients.

An Answer

The program has now received attention from Capitol Hill. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter of inquiry to a major drugstore chain referencing a claim that 340B would make the pharmacy a minimum of $250 million over five years.

Grassley asked the pharmacy to detail its profits from the 340B program, as well as to explain whether it would reinvest that money back into underserved communities.

What You Can Do

You can express an opinion on this or any issue to your senators and representatives at www.senate.gov and www.house.gov.

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Take Kids Snacking Into The Wild With Mangos

(NAPSI)—The next time you’re looking for creative ways to enhance some of your kids’ go-to favorites, consider this: Snacking now accounts for more than half of all eating occasions in the U.S. Parents are increasingly challenged to create quick bites that give kids the energy and nutrition they need.

The good news is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. With fresh mango, it’s easy to transform kitchen staples into snack time adventures. Mango is available year-round and its versatility makes it an excellent addition to your family’s meal plan. It’s packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals and all for just 100 calories per cup.

Stacking nutrient-rich mango and berries with dessert items such as brownies and marshmallows on a kebab can make for fun treats for kids to prepare. Mango popsicles are another popular go-to treat. Just puree fresh-cut mango in a blender or food processor, pour into ice cube trays, insert a Popsicle stick and freeze.

When selecting a mango, don’t judge the fruit by its color. Instead, squeeze it gently to find a ripe mango that “gives” slightly like a peach or avocado. Store your ripe mangos for up to a week in the refrigerator until you’re ready to whip up your favorite snack or keep slices and cubes frozen for up to six months in an airtight container.

Just like adults, kids eat with their eyes first, so it can be fun to turn a traditional personal-size pizza into a Lion Pizza with mango and red bell pepper slices for the mane. The sweet and slightly tangy mango is a good substitute for tomato, making it a natural complement to Italian-style dishes.

You can even pair this Lion Pizza with a viewing of Disney’s “The Jungle Book”—available for the first time on Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital HD on February 11—and you’re likely to create a roaring good time that your kids won’t forget.

Now that you’re in the party mood, think about an adventure-filled, five-night vacation for your family. You can “like” Mango Board on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mangoboard and enter the Jungle Jetsetter Giveaway for your chance to win a Funjet Vacations family getaway to Punta Cana with all-inclusive accommodations at the RIU Palace Punta Cana courtesy of Funjet Vacations.

Lion Pizza
4 servings
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 8 Minutes

4 whole-wheat pitas

1 cup low-sodium pizza sauce

½ cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese

½ cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese

8 pepperoni slices

8 black olive slices

1 large ripe mango, peeled, pitted, cut into thin strips

1 large red bell pepper, seeds removed, cut into thin strips

4 mushroom slices

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spread ¼ cup pizza sauce on one side of each pita. Sprinkle ? cup mozzarella cheese in the center of each pita. Sprinkle ? cup cheddar cheese around the outer edge of each pita. Place two pepperoni slices in the middle of each pita and top with two olive slices to make the lion’s eyes. Alternate mango and red pepper strips around the edge of each pita, creating the lion’s mane. Add a mushroom slice in the center of each pizza for the lion’s nose. Place the pitas on a large baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and let cool for 2-3 minutes. Serve warm.

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Up Close & Personal With U.S. Olympic Snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler

(NAPSI)—Gretchen Bleiler took up snowboarding at the age of 10 during gym class in Colorado and was hooked instantly. Her passion led to a successful career on the slopes. She won an Olympic silver medal in Torino in 2006, made the 2010 U.S. Olympic team and grabbed four X Games gold medals. As an Olympic Legend, Bleiler shares some top tips to stay focused and at the top of your game each day.

Wake Up On The Bright Side

A morning meditation sets the tone for your entire day and helps you focus. Bleiler, who is training to become a meditation instructor, maintains that “this one simple act helps to ground me and keep me in the moment.” Set aside a few minutes a day first thing in the morning and, eventually, work up to 30 minutes.

Make Breakfast Count

“If I’m fueled properly, my day is so much easier and it all begins with breakfast,” says Bleiler. She loves a bowl of her favorite cereal but, when rushing out the door, she opts for a new Kellogg’s® Nutri-Grain Fruit & Oat Harvest cereal bar to keep her satisfied as she conquers the halfpipe. The healthy, on-the-go cereal bar delivers a hearty combination of protein, real fruit and whole grains that helps Bleiler thrive, not just survive, the whole morning.

Surround Yourself With Motivators

Your well-being can be easily influenced by those around you. Surround yourself daily with those who are a joy to be with, and whose presence supports and encourages you. Others may drain you of your energy. Bleiler’s husband, family, coach and positive friends help remind her that her medals are a wonderful achievement, but if you’re so focused on the goal, you’re missing the journey of getting there.

Learn More

Keep tabs on Bleiler at facebook.com/GretchenBleiler and @GretchenBleiler. Learn more about how you can rise and thrive with new Kellogg’s® Nutri-Grain Fruit & Oat Harvest cereal bars that keep Bleiler at the top of her game at www.facebook.com/NutriGrain.

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The Light Side Of Hydrating

(NAPSI)—Good news for the estimated one in three women with dry or dehydrated skin: Scientists have discovered some simple solutions.

While skin that’s merely dry is uncomfortable, when skin suffers from dehydration, moisture is lost rapidly. Skin feels tight and looks dry, flaky and aged, as premature lines and wrinkles appear more prominent.

Explains Dr. Adam Geyer, consulting dermatologist for Kiehl’s Since 1851, “Very dry skin is characterized by a lack of water and lipids in the superficial layers of the skin. What very dry skin needs is not simply any old heavy moisturizer—it needs an effective one that penetrates well and integrates into the stratum corneum to deliver moisture continuously, day and night.”

In response, the scientists at Kiehl’s Since 1851 created Ultra Facial Cream Intense Hydration. Its key ingredient, Enriched Hyaluronic Acid, is really two hydrating molecules that deliver concentrated hydration pockets and fill the cracks in dry skin for deep hydration.

In addition, those of any skin type can complement any moisturizer with Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Masque. While you sleep, the intensive moisturizing treatment helps boost skin’s ability to retain water, for long-lasting hydration and a healthier, youthful appearance.

For more information about Ultra Facial Cream Intense Hydration and the Ultra Facial collection, visit www.kiehls.com/Ultra-Facial-Intense-Cream.

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Healthy Lifestyle, Healthy Breasts: What You Need To Know

(NAPSI)—By this time of year, New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside for many people. But with spring right around the corner, why not show yourself some love by making your breast health a priority? One in eight women will get breast cancer1, and now is the perfect time to take charge of your health.

Many women know the link between healthy habits—like losing weight, eating well and exercising—and overall wellness. But they may not realize that those same healthy lifestyle factors can have a big impact on their risk for breast cancer.2

You may think that if you don’t have a family history of breast cancer, you’re not at risk. Last year, Angelina Jolie’s powerful story shed light on the importance of BRCA testing among women with a strong family history of breast cancer. However, unlike Ms. Jolie, 80 percent of women who develop breast cancer have little-to-no family history.

To achieve optimal breast health, here are some steps you can take to live your healthiest.

Learn Your Risk For Breast Cancer with BREVAGen™. BREVAGen is a clinically-validated, noninvasive test that uses DNA analysis to more accurately predict a woman’s risk of developing sporadic, non-familial breast cancer. After a simple cheek swab and lab analysis, BREVAGen provides five-year and lifetime predictive risk assessments to more accurately evaluate a woman’s risk. It’s the first genetic risk prediction test to have been validated in a large scale, peer-reviewed, case-controlled study. Once you know your risk for breast cancer, you can work with your doctor to develop the screening action plan that’s right for you.

Maintain a Healthy Body Weight. You probably already know that excess body weight could put you at risk for health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol3, but did you know that obesity and weight gain are linked to breast cancer? According to the American Cancer Society, obesity increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer that develops after menopause. This risk is about 1.5 times higher in overweight women and about two times higher in obese women.2

Get Physically Active. Nearly 70 percent of Americans don’t get enough physical activity.3 Getting a move on is good for your heart, but you might be surprised to learn that some evidence indicates that women who exercise regularly have a 10 to 20 percent lower risk of breast cancer compared with women who aren’t physically active.2 Experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week.2

Eat Healthy. One of the best ways to maintain a healthy weight is to eat well. Aim for at least 2.5 cups of vegetables and fruit per day, and avoid processed meat and red meat.2

Quit Smoking. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health.3 New research found that current smokers are at greater risk of breast cancer when compared to women who have never smoked.2

There are some risk factors that you can’t control, such as family history, age or genetics. Until there is a breakthrough cure for all types of breast cancer, one of the best things you can do for your health is to focus on what you can control: knowing your risk for breast cancer with the BREVAGen predictive risk test and focusing on your modifiable risk factors like your weight, physical activity level and smoking status. To learn more about breast cancer, visit www.cancer.org and for more information on how to identify breast cancer risk, visit www.brevagen.com.

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