Health:

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Barry Manilow AFib Awareness Reducing Surgery Risks Psoriasis Management Medicare Advantage Plan Pain Relief Methods Opioid Painkillers Electronic Health Records

Interventional Radiology

Entertainer Lends His Voice To Raise Awareness Of Atrial Fibrillation

pic(NAPSI)--For award-winning singer, songwriter and performer Barry Manilow, it’s always obvious when a song is out of rhythm. But when his heart went out of rhythm 15 years ago, Manilow realized he still had something to learn about rhythm. Manilow is one of the more than 2.5 million Americans living with atrial fibrillation (AFib).

AFib is a serious heart disease that causes your heart to race and beat out of rhythm. While some people with AFib may not feel symptoms, others may feel palpitations, shortness of breath, weakness and anxiety. People are often not aware that AFib can have serious consequences, including permanent heart damage, heart attack, heart failure, stroke and death.

In fact, they might not truly understand AFib. Manilow admits that he had never heard of the disease before he was diagnosed. “The first time I felt AFib, I was at a point in my life when I was busy and pushing myself very hard,” he recalls. “So, when I first started feeling a strange sensation in my chest, I tried to ignore it. At first, it just felt like my heart was skipping a series of beats every so often.”

However, Manilow’s symptoms soon became more intense and prolonged, growing so disruptive over time that he couldn’t focus. “It felt like there was a fish flopping around in my chest,” he recalls. That was when Manilow decided that it was time to take action. “I went to the hospital, and I started working closely with my doctor. Learning that something was wrong with my heart definitely motivated me to take the disease seriously.”

Manilow spent the next several years in and out of the hospital, struggling to keep his heart in rhythm. He has undergone three surgical procedures and has been cardioverted several times—a procedure where the heart is shocked back into normal rhythm. The constant interruptions eventually became a major obstacle for Manilow’s lifestyle and career. He would go into AFib while on tour, during media interviews and even right before a performance.

“Once, I had to be cardioverted on the same day that I was scheduled to do a live concert on national TV for the Fourth of July!” Manilow recalls. “I was literally in the hospital just a few hours before walking on a stage to sing in front of an audience of millions. Talk about bad timing!”

Manilow partnered with Get Back in Rhythm, a national AFib education campaign, to increase awareness of the disease. His participation has been valuable not only for educating the public, but also for making himself a more informed patient.

“I honestly had no idea that AFib was so common or that so many people have it. Then, I learned that many patients don’t feel any symptoms at all,” Manilow says. “That blew me away, because when I go into AFib, there’s no way to ignore it. My symptoms are sudden and can be very frightening. They definitely impact my quality of life.”

In addition to symptoms, there are long-term health risks that accompany AFib when the disease isn’t managed appropriately.

“AFib has a lot of health risks,” Manilow says. “They can become permanent if you don’t get your heart back in rhythm.”

Among these risks, being out of rhythm can permanently change the shape of your heart and cause it to work harder and harder over time. The longer your heart’s in AFib, the more difficult it is to get it back in rhythm and the worse the disease will become.

Although Manilow’s AFib continues to be a challenge, he hopes that his participation in Get Back in Rhythm can improve awareness of the disease, and serve as an example to other patients living with AFib and their caregivers.

“I’ve never shared my experience before. After all that I’ve learned about AFib and its risks, I’m excited to be getting the word out,” says Manilow. “AFib needs more awareness. Patients need more education. No one should settle for a life out of rhythm.”

Visit www.GetBackInRhythm.com to take a survey to learn more about whether you are at risk for AFib.

Get Back in Rhythm™ is a national atrial fibrillation education campaign brought to you by Sanofi US LLC.

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Reducing Surgery Risks

pic(NAPSI)—Obesity takes the blame for many of today’s health issues, and here’s a new one: Being extremely overweight can raise the risk of complications from anesthesia, according to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), the professional organization representing more than 44,000 nurse anesthetists.

In recent decades, obesity has become much more common. Studies show that in the United States, three out of 10 adults aged 20 and older are obese, which equals more than 60 million people. Add in people who are overweight but not obese, and 65 percent of the adult population is considered to have a weight problem.

“Obese patients face many possible anesthesia challenges,” said Lisa Thiemann, CRNA, MNA, senior director of Professional Practice for the AANA. “However, I’m happy to report that due to ongoing advances in anesthesia technology, drugs, practice standards and professional education, CRNAs are well prepared to handle any complications that might arise.”

Complications most commonly associated with giving anesthesia to obese patients involve airway and respiratory management.

The anesthesia process begins with the preanesthetic assessment, where obese patients are counseled before surgery about their increased risk of complications from anesthesia. Patients are strongly encouraged to meet with their anesthesia professional prior to the day of surgery to share vital health care information that can help make the anesthesia experience as safe as possible. Of particular interest to anesthesia professionals is information in the following areas:

• Respiratory—General anesthesia places a large amount of stress on the breathing system of obese patients. Other respiratory concerns include asthma and sleep apnea.

• Cardiac—Increased incidence of heart disease is a common problem associated with obesity.

• Hypertension—Many obese patients suffer from high blood pressure.

• Coexisting disease/conditions—Obese patients may present a wide range of other health concerns such as diabetes, hypothyroid, gastroesophageal reflux disease and chronic back pain.

“CRNAs stay with their patients through the entire perianesthesia process, including inducing sleep, monitoring vital signs, adjusting anesthetic levels and waking the patient after surgery,” said Thiemann. “Obesity has become much more common and nurse anesthetists are prepared to assist these patients.”

If you ever undergo surgery, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists can help you better understand the anesthetic process. To learn more about anesthesia, visit www.aana.com or call (847) 692-7050.

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Getting Serious About Psoriasis

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(NAPSI)—Psoriasis is the most prevalent autoimmune disease in the U.S., according to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), affecting as many as 7.5 million Americans. Now, through a new campaign called “Are You Serious?,” adults living with plaque psoriasis are invited to share their story of the moment they realized it was time to actively work with a dermatologist to take control of disease symptoms.

What It Is

Plaque psoriasis is a chronic condition in which an overactive immune system causes a buildup of skin cells that appear on the body’s surface as raised red patches with silvery flakes. The effects of the disease can be devastating. A survey conducted by the NPF from 2004−2009 found that nearly 60 percent of 4,725 respondents with the condition indicated psoriasis symptoms were a large problem in their everyday lives.

The Doctor’s Advice

Dr. Stefan Weiss, a dermatologist with the Weiss Skin Institute, says, “Psoriasis is a serious autoimmune disease that appears on the skin. As a result of the physical and emotional impact of the disease, patients often feel embarrassed, which is why I recommend having honest and frank discussions with a dermatologist.” Dr. Weiss also explains, “Getting serious about psoriasis commonly begins with a particular experience that makes a patient realize it’s time to take control and manage his or her disease.”

Are You Serious About Psoriasis?

When Todd B., 48, was first diagnosed with plaque psoriasis, he never imagined the disease would impact him in so many ways. Oftentimes, he would try to hide his disease with clothing, even when it covered nearly 90 percent of his body. After a traumatic experience at the barber, however, he realized it was time to take control of his disease symptoms. He looks at that experience as his “serious about psoriasis” moment.

Todd is just one of millions who has a story to tell. He has since participated in the “Are You Serious?” educational campaign developed by Janssen Biotech, Inc. in partnership with the NPF for members of the psoriasis community to share their personal moment or experience that inspired them to work closely with their dermatologist toward managing their disease.

The campaign website, www.SeriousAboutPsoriasis.com, features a Psoriasis Storytellers Network, where motivating stories from others are showcased to offer support and build community. The website also has helpful resources and perspectives from leading dermatologists, including Dr. Weiss, about topics related to psoriasis.

Individuals who share their story on the website will receive a free kit by mail that includes a psoriasis discussion guide and journal, body lotion and an awareness bracelet.

Learn More

You can share your story and learn more at www.SeriousAboutPsoriasis.com.

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Five Tips For Making The Most Of Your Medicare Advantage Plan In 2012

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(NAPSI)—With 2012 well under way, many Medicare beneficiaries have some experience using their health care benefits and may be starting to realize what they like—and dislike—about their coverage. By keeping a few points in mind and making some adjustments in how they access care, beneficiaries could enjoy improved health and more money in their pockets in 2012.

“For the nearly 13 million beneficiaries enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, taking stock of the benefits available to them will help ensure that they’re making the most of their coverage this year,” said Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, which serves more than 9 million members through its portfolio of Medicare plans. “Many Medicare beneficiaries are pleasantly surprised when they discover all the ways their plan can help them stay healthy and improve their quality of life.”

According to Dr. Randall, the following tips can help enrollees maximize their coverage in 2012:

1. Leverage the plan’s additional benefits. Medicare Advantage plans cover all of the preventive services covered by Original Medicare, such as certain cancer screenings and an annual wellness checkup, usually at no additional out-of-pocket cost to the member. Many Medicare Advantage plans also provide additional benefits that can help beneficiaries maintain or enhance their health, such as gym memberships, disease management programs and 24/7 access to registered nurses.

2. Take advantage of cost savings on prescription drugs. Beneficiaries enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes drug coverage should check their plan details to see if they could save money on their prescriptions, such as by using mail-order pharmacy benefits, switching to generic or lower-tier drugs or taking advantage of special programs available with some plans.

3. Stay in network as much as possible. Most Medicare Advantage plans negotiate special pricing with doctors and pharmacies, which translates into lower costs for members. Beneficiaries should use in-network doctors and pharmacies to help save money.

4. Look for extra plan discounts on everyday health care items and services. Medicare Advantage enrollees can rack up valuable savings by taking advantage of discounts on things they already use, such as hearing aids.

5. Plan yearly health care expenses with the out-of-pocket maximum in mind. Unlike Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans are required to cap their members’ annual out-of-pocket expenses. In 2012, the maximum amount a Medicare Advantage enrollee can be asked to pay out of pocket for in-network medical services is $6,700. This cap on health care costs can give beneficiaries the peace of mind of knowing that expenses associated with an unexpected illness or hospitalization are limited.

By taking a proactive approach to their health care coverage, beneficiaries can lower their costs and enjoy enhanced health and well-being in 2012. For ongoing updates, tips and reminders about Medicare, beneficiaries can visit MedicareMadeClear.com, “like” Medicare Made Clear on Facebook or follow @MedicareClear on Twitter. More information is also available at www.Medicare.gov.


 

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America: A Nation In Pain

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(NAPSI)—Chances are you’re one of the 100 million Americans suffering from body pain. According to recent research, up to 90 percent of pain sufferers don’t get the relief they’re looking for with their current pain medication. So next time, rather than reaching for a pill, consider some of these misunderstood or overlooked pain remedies:

Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can be an effective way to alleviate all types of musculoskeletal and neuropathic types of pain. A primary goal of physical therapy is to help chronic pain patients become stronger.

In addition, physical therapy can teach people how to move safely and functionally in ways that they haven’t been able to in some time—helping them to avoid injury or reinjury.

Exercise: A consistent exercise routine can help control pain. That’s the word from Dave Endres, a physical therapist and co-founder of SPEAR Physical Therapy in New York City. He says exercising for just 30 minutes a day at least three or four days a week will help with chronic pain management by increasing endurance, muscle strength, joint stability and flexibility in the muscle.

Massage Therapy: Massage therapy is an effective part of pain relief and management because it can help reduce inflammation and swelling and soothe stiff, sore muscle, which ultimately relieves pain.

Stephanie Smith, Spa Director and licensed massage therapist at the Viana Hotel & Spa on Long Island, says that while physical therapy focuses on strengthening and stretching—sometimes with the use of mechanical methods, heat, and electric stimulation—massage therapy focuses on the muscles, soft tissue, and softening restricted tissue.

Topical Relief: Americans are steadily starting to adopt what the rest of the world had known about for years: topical pain relievers, such as patches and gels, which are safe, effective methods for pain management.

Two of the latest developments are the Salonpas Pain Relief Patch and the Salonpas Arthritis Pain Patch. They are the first and only FDA-approved over-the-counter pain relievers approved for sale using the FDA’s New Drug Application process. Clinically tested, they relieve mild to moderate pain for sore muscles, backache, sprains and strains, as well as joint and arthritis pain.

These Salonpas patches are manufactured using a new ultrathin comfort stretch technology, enabling them to stay in place and provide up to 12 hours of relief.

To learn more, visit the website at www.salonpas.us.

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Dealing With Opioid Painkiller Dependence

pic(NAPSI)—Although, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from prescription painkillers have reached epidemic levels in the past decade, with more than 40 people in the U.S. dying each day, you can protect the people you care about. That’s vital, considering the report also revealed that nearly 12 million Americans misuse prescription painkillers yearly.

It’s Not Just a Behavioral Problem

For one thing, you should know that the American Society of Addiction Medicine has defined addiction as a chronic brain disease—it is not simply a behavioral problem.

“Addiction to opioid painkiller medication is not a failure of personal will,” explained Mark Kraus, M.D., addiction medicine specialist and diplomat of the American Board of Addiction Medicine. “People dependent on opioid painkillers need to know there are effective medical treatment options available in the privacy of a physician’s office to help them overcome their addiction.”

Doctors Have a Solution

Opioid dependence does not discriminate and affects people of all ages and backgrounds. For many, like Lauren N., a young suburban mother, facing painkiller addiction was not what she or her family ever expected. After being prescribed opioid painkillers following surgeries and treatment for migraines, Lauren found herself unable to start the day without taking her dose of painkiller medication. Luckily, she discovered the option of being treated in a physician’s office, which meant she could privately address her addiction.

People who suffer from opioid dependence often face stigma and barriers that can make starting treatment seem like a daunting task. Many are reluctant to seek help because they think rehab facilities and methadone programs are the only options. The Drug Addiction Treatment Act is intended to help by expanding access to include treatments based in doctors’ offices. A doctor who is certified to treat opioid dependence can now prescribe medications that have been approved to help maintain patients in treatment and reduce opioid use by managing withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings.

Where to Get Help

Today, people have more options than ever, including a visit to www.TurnToHelp.com, a website that offers a simple screening tool to help individuals recognize addiction and a physician finder to help identify doctors who are specially trained in treating people with addiction to painkillers.

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Rural Hospitals Embracing Electronic Health Records

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(NAPSI)—The United States health care system is undergoing many notable changes. Among them are the incentives for hospitals to implement electronic health records (EHRs) by 2015. The purpose of this legislation is not to simply move a patient’s data from a paper chart to an electronic version, but to use these records in a “meaningful” way: to achieve significant improvements in quality, safety and care coordination.

While some hospitals are working to implement EHRs, many rural and community hospitals have lagged behind large urban and university hospitals. “Understandably, smaller facilities are concerned about the effect steep implementation costs could have on already strained budgets,” said John Glaser, Ph.D., CEO, Siemens Healthcare, Health Services Business Unit. “However, it is important for small community hospitals to understand that investing in an EHR system is not only feasible but can help control and reduce costs—two benefits that are especially valuable to providers and patient care.”

EHRs help improve efficiencies for both the provider and patient, including:

• More accurate billing and better coordination with insurance companies to reduce costs associated with rework;

• Quicker, more comprehensive access to patient information, helping ensure better care for more patients;

• The possibility to view a patient’s history and potentially eliminate duplicate tests, thereby reducing costs and increasing patient satisfaction;

• The ability to record patient notes faster with a seamless and uniform EHR throughout the hospital, eliminating the timely steps of the traditional pen-and-paper process.

Smaller facilities can now capitalize on the opportunity of EHRs through funding options and government incentives that make the transition more feasible. Millions of dollars of grant money have already been awarded by the government to support the adoption of EHRs among rural and community hospitals. Additionally, there are solutions available for these hospitals to cut costs, such as turning to medical-grade cloud computing for remote hosting. Remote hosting, for example, allows hospital servers to be maintained by a vendor, thereby reducing the need to hire and train additional IT staff.

Today, smaller facilities can overcome concerns about cost and resources to make EHRs a reality.

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What You Need To Know About A Common Health Problem

pic(NAPSI)—According to the Society of Interventional Radiology, 20 to 40 percent of women, age 35 and older, have uterine fibroids of a significant size. Learning more about these common, benign growths—and how they affect women’s health—can be a smart idea.

Q: What are uterine fibroids?

A: Uterine fibroids develop in the muscular wall of the uterus, ranging in size from a quarter of an inch to larger than a cantaloupe. Occasionally, they can cause the uterus to grow to the size of a five-month pregnancy. Uterine fibroids are the most frequent indication for hysterectomy in premenopausal women.

Q: What are the typical symptoms?

A: Most fibroids don’t cause symptoms—only 10−20 percent of women who have fibroids require treatment. Depending on size, location and number of fibroids, they may cause:

• Heavy, prolonged menstrual periods and unusual monthly bleeding, sometimes with clots (This can lead to anemia.)

• Pelvic pain and pressure

• Pain in the back and legs

• Pain during sexual intercourse

• Bladder pressure leading to a frequent urge to urinate

• Pressure on the bowel, leading to constipation and bloating

• Abnormally enlarged abdomen.

Q: How are fibroids treated.

A: Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), also known as uterine artery embolization, is performed by an interventional radiologist, a physician who is trained to perform this and other types of embolization and minimally invasive procedures. The procedure is performed while the patient is conscious—but sedated and feeling no pain. It does not require general anesthesia and usually only a hospital stay of one night. Painkilling medications and drugs that control swelling are prescribed following the procedure.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, UFE is “safe and effective.” Women can and should be confident about their decision to consider UFE as a treatment option. An ultrasound or MRI diagnostic test will help an interventional radiologist to determine if a woman is a candidate.

Interventional radiology is a recognized medical specialty by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Interventional radiologists complete preliminary training in diagnostic radiology and advanced training in vascular and interventional radiology.

Q: Where can I learn more?

A: For information on UFE or interventional radiology, visit the SIR website at www.SIRweb.org.

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