Oral Health and Literacy

Diets MS Treatment Options Medicare Rx Savings Improve Your Heart Health Healthy Habits Blanket Your Health Benefits of Swimming

Help Kids Have Healthy Minds, Healthy Mouths

(NAPSI)—The National Education Association (NEA) revs up more than 45 million readers—young and old—every year through Seuss-tastic events that encourage children to be in the company of a good book.

This year, NEA is encouraging children to pick up a book AND a toothbrush.

Why encourage brushing? Here’s a statistic that may be a surprise to many: American students miss more than 51 million hours of school every year because of oral health problems. That means a loss of critical instruction time—especially in early grades where reading skills are an important focus and one of the building blocks of future learning.

“NEA’s Read Across America has been successful in cultivating a nation of readers because we help kids see how much fun reading can be,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.

How Educators Are Helping

NEA, the leader in advocating for children’s literacy, is teaming up with Renaissance Dental through its award-winning Read Across America program to deliver a very important message: 2 x 2 + 20 = good oral health and literacy habits.

What’s the reason behind this equation? Asking children to brush for two minutes, two times per day, plus read for 20 minutes each day, allows for a daily total of 24 minutes focused on good oral health and reading skills. And that allows parents and educators to help children address oral health and reading.

Here’s what parents can do to help foster a love of reading—and good oral hygiene:

• Boost oral care through books. As kids read and learn about the benefits of good oral hygiene, attitudes about brushing and flossing will improve. Try sharing titles like the Dr. Seuss classic “The Tooth Book,” or titles like “Make Way for Tooth Decay” and “Open Wide: Tooth School Inside.”

• Make the trip to the dentist a more positive experience with books. Titles featuring familiar characters can help relieve the anxiety often associated with visiting the dentist and get kids used to the idea of regular dental checkups.

• Find a fun short poem and teach kids to recite it in their heads as they brush. Rhyming verse can be an effective timekeeper when it comes to helping kids brush for two minutes twice a day!

“By making twice-daily brushing and daily reading parts of a child’s regular routine, we can start to instill good habits early on,” said Rob Mulligan, president and CEO of Renaissance Dental.

Learn More

You can find further facts at and For more about NEA’s Read Across America and how you can get involved, visit For more on the link between oral health and literacy, check out You can join in on the conversation at @NEAMedia and #neareads.

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Every Connection Counts to Create a World Free of MS

(NAPSI)—Creating a world free of multiple sclerosis requires a collaborative effort. That’s why starting every March, individuals and MS groups across the country unite to raise awareness and find new and better ways to help people living with MS lead their best lives.

This year, the annual awareness campaign kicks off the week of March 3-9 and will provide everyone who wants to connect to the MS Movement the opportunity to share their own image and story at

While on the site, visitors can also connect with thousands of people supporting one another and exploring the issues that shape the MS world.

MS is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that interrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and body. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

Advancing MS research is one of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s highest priorities. Right now, it is supporting some 380 research projects around the world, is fostering global collaborations, and is increasing annual investments yearly to drive solutions that will stop MS progression, restore function that’s been lost, and end MS forever.

In just two decades, MS has moved from being an untreatable disease to one where there are at least 10 treatment options for those with relapsing MS, the most common form of the disease. And there are even more new therapies speeding through the pipeline that offer hope to people with all forms of the disease.

A few examples of the Society’s holistic research approach in action include:

Stopping MS:

The global Progressive MS Alliance is focusing new resources on finding the answers that will lead to new treatments and, ultimately, end progressive MS.

Restoring Function:

Early human trials of investigative therapies and adult stem cells are under way, aimed at repairing myelin, the nerve coating that is damaged by MS.

Ending MS Forever:

Studies are uncovering lifestyle factors that people can change—such as smoking, childhood obesity, and vitamin D levels—that may reduce the risk of the next generation developing MS.

Whether you volunteer, bike, walk, advocate, educate, support—every connection is a way of moving us closer to a world without multiple sclerosis. And remember to visit to share why you connect with the MS Movement.

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Medicare Beneficiaries Can Save On Prescription Drugs

(NAPSI)—There could be good news for as many as half of the 37 million Americans enrolled in Medicare Part D prescription drug plans: You’ve been paying too much. Why is that good news? Because there is still an opportunity to find cost savings that you may have missed.

The Problem

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 42 million Americans are over 65 and most of them are at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and other conditions as they age.

Many of these older Americans are concerned about their health and their health care costs, a recent Walgreens survey found. More than a third of the Medicare Part D beneficiaries surveyed worry every day about their prescription drug costs and one in five say they’ve had to make sacrifices, such as delaying filling a prescription or skipping doses, to help manage medication costs.

Few realize that copays for Part D prescriptions can vary by pharmacy. And, some don’t know they can switch pharmacies at any time.

A Solution

The good news is that Medicare Part D beneficiaries can save hundreds of dollars a year on prescription copay costs by using a preferred network pharmacy, if there’s one in their Part D plan. For example, Walgreens, which is in the network of all national Medicare prescription drug plans and participates in the preferred networks of four of the largest national Part D sponsors, offers significant savings on prescription copays over select pharmacies for many of the plans in which it’s a preferred pharmacy.

Other Findings

• The Medicare Part D beneficiaries surveyed take an average of eight prescriptions a week.

• Most seniors are trying to lower prescription costs. Seven in 10 have switched to generic medications and 44 percent are filling more 90-day prescriptions in an effort to save.

• Only hospital/emergency room costs and caregiver/assisted living expenses are a greater concern for respondents than prescription drug costs.

Saving at the Pharmacy

There are three easy steps for Medicare Part D beneficiaries looking to save on prescription drug costs:

1. Fill your prescriptions at a preferred pharmacy like Walgreens to save on copays.

2. Ask your pharmacist if generic substitutions are available.

3. Talk to your pharmacists about 90-day fill options for maintenance medications if your plan offers lower copays.

Learn More

Talk to your pharmacist or visit

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The Heart Of The Matter

(NAPSI)—Everyone is at risk for heart disease and stroke. People of all ages, genders, races and ethnicities are affected. However, certain populations, including African Americans, are at higher risk than others.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD), including heart disease and stroke, remains the No. 1 killer of Americans. Recent studies have shown that nearly 44 percent of African-American men and 48 percent of African-American women have some form of CVD.

African Americans are also twice as likely as whites to die from preventable heart disease and stroke. Black men are at highest risk of dying early from these conditions. Why are African Americans hardest hit by CVD? Some factors that may contribute to this disparity are that African Americans have the highest rates of high blood pressure compared to other ethnicities—which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke—and high rates of overweight and obesity, elevated cholesterol levels and limited awareness of risk factors.

The good news is that you can beat these conditions. When it comes to reducing your risk for heart disease and stroke, the decisions you make every day—and can control—play a big role.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can reduce your risk and improve your heart health by following the ABCS:

1. A: Take aspirin as directed by your health care professional.

2. B: Control your blood pressure.

3. C: Manage your cholesterol.

4. S: Don’t smoke.

A: Take aspirin as directed by your health care provider.

Ask your health care professional if aspirin can reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Be sure to tell him or her if you have a family history of heart disease or stroke and mention your own medical history.

B: Control your blood pressure.

High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis.

You can check your blood pressure at home, at a pharmacy or at a doctor’s office. Making even small lifestyle changes, like reducing sodium (salt) in your diet and being physically active, can reduce high blood pressure.

C: Manage your cholesterol.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fatlike substance that your body needs, but when you have too much in your blood, it can build up on the walls of your arteries. This can lead to heart disease and stroke. Eating foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high cholesterol. Your health care team should test your cholesterol levels at least once every five years. Talk to your health care professional about this simple blood test and how to lower your bad cholesterol if it’s too high.

S: Don’t smoke.

Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. About one in five African-American adults smoke cigarettes. If you’re a smoker, quit as soon as possible. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. Talk with your health care professional about how to quit smoking. Additional free resources include 1-800-QUIT-NOW and

Remember, every step brings you closer to a healthier heart and every healthy choice makes a difference! More information on CVD and heart health is available on CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention website:

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Tips To Help You Build Healthy Habits

(NAPSI)—While more than two in three American adults are overweight or obese, there are things you can do to reduce your chances of struggling with your weight.

To start, try to consume healthier foods and beverages and get more physical activity. Doing so may lower your chances of developing diabetes, high blood pressure or other serious health problems. New health habits may also help you look better, feel more energetic and even be a role model.

The Weight-control Information Network (WIN) offers more tips to consider. According to WIN, a national information service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health:

When You’re Short on Time

• One day each week, make healthy meals that you can freeze and eat later when you don’t have time to cook.

• Fit in physical activity whenever you can. Take the stairs if there are a reasonable number to climb. Get off the train or bus a stop early, as long as it’s safe and your schedule allows.

When Money Is Tight

• Buy healthful foods in bulk, and choose frozen or canned fruits and vegetables.

• Start a walking group. Walk in places that don’t cost money, such as a school track or park.

When It’s Hard to Stay on Track

• Recruit others to be active with you. That may help you stay interested and be safe.

• Think about your most important reasons for being healthy. Do you want to be there for your family? Would you like to be able to do the things you love without feeling tired or out of breath?

Learn More

You can get more good advice from WIN’s “Changing Your Habits: Steps to Better Health” fact sheet. It reviews the stages of change people often go through on their journey to better health and offers tips for each stage. Contact WIN to get up to 10 copies for free. You can access the fact sheet at

For more information, call WIN at (877) 946-4627, visit or “like” WIN on Facebook at

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Good News For Older People

(NAPSI)—It’s a blanket statement but still true: Aging Americans can benefit from having a special blanket—one that’s lightly weighted to about three to five pounds, that is.

There are several reasons. First, older people tend to get less deep REM sleep at night. A weighted blanket can help the brain produce melatonin and serotonin, allowing the person to sleep more soundly at night and be more alert during the day.

The elderly tend to get cold easily regardless of the temperature, and featherweight blankets keep them warm because the polypellet content makes these blankets sort of a beanbag combined with a blanket.

Featherweight blankets from Mosaic Weighted Blankets provide a feeling of comfort; they mimic a hug with their steady pressure on the body. The even distribution of weight gives a pleasant feeling of being cuddled and comforted.

Learn More

Find further facts about featherweight blankets that provide comfort at, weighted blankets which assist healing at and call (512) 567-8943.

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Learn To Swim, Save Your Life

(NAPSI)—You can help to reduce the number of adult drownings in your community this summer by learning to swim and encouraging others to join you.

That’s the word from the experts at the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation. It has launched a nationwide campaign to reduce the number of adult drownings, declaring the month of April “Adult Learn-to-Swim Month.” So far the governors of Nebraska, Indiana and Washington have issued declarations in support.

Alarmingly, 37 percent of American adults cannot swim the length of a 25-yard pool, according to the Centers for Disease Control. This puts them at risk for becoming one of the 10 people who drown every day in the U.S.

“If we can convince water-shy adults to learn to swim in April, we hope to save lives when people gather at pools and beaches for summer recreation,” says Rob Butcher, executive director of U.S. Masters Swimming.

He adds that once adults learn the lifesaving skill of swimming, 1,500 programs are available nationwide to encourage adults to keep swimming and enjoy the lifetime health, fitness and social benefits of swimming.

To learn more or find an adult learn-to-swim program, go to

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