Pushed to the brink: How suicide is taking our heroes

(BPT) – The Purple Heart Foundation recognizes that suicide among U.S. veterans is taking place at an alarming rate. Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every single day, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. These twenty-two heroes fought to protect the American homeland. These twenty-two heroes volunteered for a life away from home and from their loved ones. These twenty-two heroes, who returned home, were failed by a riddled system and did not get proper treatment. Now, suicide becomes a means of dealing with or an attempt to control the pain. There is a strong and bitter stigma attached to those who have thought about it, tried it, or ultimately did commit suicide.

The Purple Heart Foundation wants to paint a broad picture for the American public about suicide and the prevention that is possible. The Purple Heart Foundation spoke with Coalition & Community Development Coordinator Allison Esber. Esber works for Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery in Canton, Ohio. She is a trained and certified expert on suicide and prevention.

Esber believes there are multiple reasons and situations leading someone to take their life. “There is not one single cause, factor, or event that will make a person feel suicidal. There are many stressors that can cause a person to feel out of control, trapped, or unable to change what is happening,” Esber says.

Of course, other factors like post traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, some prescription drugs and depression play a role in their process. “Suicide may occur when the stressors outweigh a person’s ability to cope. What a person considers a stressor varies greatly from one person to another, although some common themes are a loss or major change (i.e. relationship, death, job, move),” Esber. says

So how can you, as a member of the public, discern if someone is suicidal or not? There are visible signs displayed by individuals contemplating suicide. “There are warning signs that individuals who may be thinking about suicide that others may be able to recognize,” Esber says. “If any of these signs are recognizable, reach out for help. These include: talking, posting (on social media) about death or suicide, talks about feeling like a burden to others, feeling trapped or worthless.”

It is not just their emotional behavior that offers signs of suicide but the choices they make can be factors as well. “Individuals who may be thinking about suicide may increase use of alcohol or drugs, engage in more risky behaviors, withdrawal from friends, family, and activities,” Esber. says.

Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-TALK and the Crisis Text Line at 741741. There is a Veterans Crisis Line that is also available. They offer a suicide prevention hotline that can be reached at (800) 273-8255 and press 1. The VCL offers an online chat or the individual can send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. There are also resources available for the deaf and hard of hearing.

The Purple Heart Foundation believes educating the public and veterans about services available will help everyone better understand the issue at hand. Veterans should know they are not alone in their journey. You can show your support for these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country by making a one-time or monthly pledge to ensure veterans continue to get the support and benefits they deserve by visiting www.purpleheartfoundation.org.

Read more

New relief for knee pain may be on the horizon

(BPT) – Innovations in modern medicine have brought many artificial joints and bionic body parts to patients. However, a prosthetic replacement for the meniscus — the tissue pad located between the thigh and shin bones — has not been available. Now two clinical trials underway across the U.S. may help make the “artificial meniscus” a reality, providing a new treatment option for millions of Americans with persistent knee pain caused by injured or deteriorated meniscus.

The meniscus is highly vulnerable to tearing, both from physical activity and excess weight. Once damaged, it has a very limited ability to heal. More than 1 million partial meniscectomies to remove or repair a torn meniscus are performed in the U.S. every year — about the same as the total number of hip and knee replacement surgeries combined. However, many patients still experience persistent knee pain following meniscus surgery.

New York area volunteer firefighter Tracy Cullum was diagnosed with a meniscus tear eight years ago, when the 42-year-old mother of two was experiencing a constant ache and the inability to put any weight on her left leg. Although she underwent a partial meniscectomy to treat the tear, her knee pain became progressively worse and resulted in a constant limp.

“I went from working out seven days week to having to stop any exercise activities,” Cullum says. “And my work as a part-time volunteer firefighter was challenging, since it was difficult to move any equipment and my mobility was compromised when responding to an emergency scene.”

Cullum discovered a hospital near her home town is participating in the clinical trial of the NUsurface Meniscus Implant — the first “artificial meniscus” designed to replace the damaged one.

“There are limited options for patients who experience persistent knee pain following meniscus surgery,” says Dr. Richard Alfred, orthopedic surgeon at Capital Region Orthopaedic Associates and VENUS study investigator. “It is our hope that the NUsurface implant alleviates pain in these patients, allowing them to return to their previous levels of activity.”

Cullum received the implant in July 2016 through a small incision in her knee. She completed a six-week rehabilitation program, and she has now returned to daily leisure activities like hot yoga and her work as a volunteer firefighter.

“My range of motion is improving,” Cullum says, “and I am ecstatic to be able to resume one of my favorite activities — volunteering together with my husband and children at our local fire department.”

The NUsurface Meniscus Implant has been used in Europe since 2008 and Israel since 2011.

“It is important to note that NUsurface is an investigational device that is limited by United States law to investigational use,” Dr. Alfred says. “Responses to the NUsurface can and do vary with each patient, so those interested in the trial should discuss their individual situations with a clinical trial physician.”

To be eligible for the clinical studies, you must be between the ages of 30 and 75, have pain after medial meniscus surgery and have had meniscus surgery at least six months ago. To find a study site near you, visit www.activeimplants.com/kneepaintrial.

Read more

Expert tips to help spark a conversation about women’s health issues

(BPT) – Exercise, eating well and getting more sleep are all leading health goals for women. However, there are many health concerns that women overlook for numerous reasons. Some they feel aren’t a priority and others are simply too difficult to talk about.

One commonly overlooked example is women’s sexual health, despite the fact that it’s an area that affects many aspects of a woman’s overall well-being.

“Research suggests the benefits of sexual wellness may extend beyond the bedroom,” says Dr. Leah S. Millheiser, director of the female sexual medicine program at Stanford University. “In fact, sexual health can affect self-esteem, body image, performance at work and interaction with peers and family. This is why it is extremely important for women to talk to their partners and health care providers if they are having any sexual concerns.”

If you are experiencing any issues with sexual problems, it can feel isolating, but you’re not alone. According to research published in the journal of Obstetricians and Gynecology, nearly 40 percent of women experience sexual troubles at some point in their lives.

Furthermore, recent survey data shows that 48 percent of premenopausal women age 21-49 say their sex drive is lower now than in the past. Additionally, 93 percent of women believe that having low sexual desire can put a strain on their relationship according to a Harris Poll survey of 2,501 women conducted on behalf of the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA).

If sexual problems are persistent and cause personal distress, it may be a medical condition called female sexual dysfunction (FSD). The most common type of FSD is low desire, or hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), which may impact as many as 4 million premenopausal women in the United States.

Even though many women may have FSD, it is still underdiagnosed and undertreated, and talking about it can be difficult. To elevate the conversation and educate about FSD, ASHA has partnered with leading experts in women’s sexual health — with support from Valeant Pharmaceuticals North America LLC — to launch the Find My Spark educational program.

You can visit www.findmyspark.com to learn more about FSD, take an interactive quiz to help identify potential common sexual troubles, review tips to open up a dialogue with your healthcare provider or therapist and more.

“Taking the leap and having that conversation about your sexual troubles is often the most difficult part,” says Dr. Millheiser. “From there, you can move forward and determine a plan to improve intimacy and other potential troubles.”

Dr. Millheiser offers three smart tips for talking to your partner about sexual health concerns:

Choose the right time: Bumper-to-bumper traffic or at the diner where you may be interrupted aren’t the best places to talk FSD. You want to give both yourself and your partner enough time to hear and be heard without any distractions. So set a date and time.

Don’t rush the conversation: This isn’t a quick conversation. You’ll have a lot to say, as should your partner. Remember, the conversation might require a series of talks so both of you can communicate your thoughts clearly.

Seek outside help if necessary: You and your partner don’t have to do this alone. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about it one-on-one, therapy can help. A therapist can help create an environment where both you and your partner may feel more comfortable sharing feelings and coming up with solutions.

“Don’t suffer in silence,” Dr. Millheiser says. “Make an appointment with your healthcare provider to talk about next steps so you can create a plan to address your sexual health.”

Read more

Caring for those who care for others

(BPT) – Caregivers come in many forms — full-time, part-time, family, friends and professionals. Many people will be a caregiver at some point in their lives, and a recent report by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP showed that more than 43.5 million adults, or about 18 percent of the U.S. adult population surveyed, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 24 hours per week doing so.

Being a caregiver of any kind takes a tremendous amount of time, energy and caring. It can be extremely stressful, as so much of your energy is spent promoting the health and well-being of another. While rewarding in many ways, it can take a toll both physically, financially and emotionally.

Now imagine you’re a caregiver for someone with a progressive and fatal genetic disorder — and that someone is a child. That’s the everyday reality of people providing care for children and young adults with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a severe form of muscular dystrophy in children.

Duchenne affects mainly boys and young men, with an incidence of about one in 5,000 live male births. The disease is marked by progressive muscle weakening and wasting, leading ultimately to the inability to walk by the teen years or earlier, and severe respiratory and cardiac complications. Sadly, life expectancy is generally between the late teens and early twenties.

Those caring for boys with Duchenne — many times a parent — must address the unique challenges the disease presents, including going to a host of doctor and physical therapy appointments, making changes to the home and cars and vans to accommodate changes in mobility and using assistive technologies like wheelchairs, standers and shower equipment.

Mandy Lowe knows these challenges all too well. Eighteen years ago, her son Alex was diagnosed with Duchenne at only 2-and-a-half years old. At the time, none of her local doctors knew anything about Duchenne, and patients weren’t expected to live much beyond their teens. She suddenly had a whole new and scary world to navigate.

Then Mandy heard about Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD) — a nonprofit group whose mission is to end Duchenne — and was connected with other members of the Duchenne community who helped her learn how to manage her new role as a caregiver.

Today, Alex is 20 and doing well — even taking college classes — and Mandy volunteers with PPMD to provide caregiving advice and support for other families who have a child with Duchenne and give back to the community that has supported her.

“Duchenne is a devastating disease, and the strength that caregivers like Mandy demonstrate while dealing with the diagnosis and what follows is truly remarkable,” said Rick Munschauer, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Marathon Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company that develops treatments for rare diseases. “If you are a caregiver or know someone who is, it can be a big help to take advantage of resources available within the community and to connect with those facing a similar situation.”

The Caregiver Action Network offers these tips for family caregivers:

1. “Seek support from other caregivers. You are not alone.”

2. “Take care of your own health so you can be strong enough to take care of your loved one.”

3. “Accept offers of help and suggest specific things people can do to help you.”

4. “Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors.”

5. “Caregiving is hard work, so take respite breaks

6. “Watch out for signs of depression, and don’t delay getting professional help when you need it.”

7. “Be open to new technologies that can help you care for your loved one.”

8. “Organize medical information so it’s up to date and easy to find.”

9. “Make sure legal documents are in order.”

10. “Give yourself credit for doing the best you can in one of the toughest jobs there is.

For additional information on Duchenne, or to connect with other caregivers and families living with Duchenne, visit www.parentprojectmd.org.

Read more

3 sneaky tricks of heart disease

(BPT) – As Americans, our health is far from perfect, but over the decades, we’ve seen great improvements to medical care and lived longer lives. But new health data in a recent report might shake up our complacency: The federal government finds that life expectancy for Americans has dropped for the first time in 25 years.

Though the factors are varied and complex, it has health experts and doctors taking a hard look at the current realities, including our rising obesity rate and the fact doctors may be reaching their limit on what they can do to treat heart disease.

“The report, though troubling to any family doctor, can be used as the basis of a wake-up call to anyone to improve their health,” says Andrew Manganaro, MD, FACC, FACS, Chief Medical officer for Life Line Screening. “That is especially true for those who have been diagnosed with a risk factor for heart disease.”

Manganaro urges patients ages 55 and older to be proactive with their heart health by scheduling regular doctor visits and following their doctor’s instructions. In addition, he recommends making regular cardiovascular screenings a part of your wellness routine.

Not convinced you need a screening? These three realities of cardiovascular health might change your mind.

1. Heart disease is often silent.

Problems with the cardiovascular system can creep in gradually. Fully 80 percent — 4 out of 5 — of people who have a stroke have no symptoms beforehand. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and coronary artery disease are often silent, partly because the warning signs are not what most people expect. Symptoms are less obvious, such as a headache, shortness of breath or pain in the jaw. Even if you are already taking steps to manage your risk factors, a screening will give you and your doctor a picture of the health of your cardiovascular system.

2. Minor conditions are easy to ignore.

Even if your screening doesn’t reveal you’re at a very high risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack, don’t be complacent. Because your cardiovascular system is interconnected, plaque in one artery makes it very possible that plaque will eventually show up elsewhere. For example, a diagnosis of peripheral artery disease is a condition that is associated with leg cramping, but that’s a diagnosis that should be taken as a warning. Because these leg arteries are literally narrowing, it could mean that the arteries to the brain could also narrow, creating the ideal conditions for a stoke. Likewise, if arteries to the heart were to narrow, that could lead to heart attack or heart failure.

3. Oral health is a window to artery health.

For decades, researchers have seen a connection between oral health and heart health. Back in the 1920s for example, doctors thought they could cure heart disease by extracting teeth. While the connection is not yet fully understood, we do know oral plaque has a relationship to carotid artery plaque. Manganaro encourages patients to also see their dentist regularly and take good care of their gums and teeth.

The good news is you don’t need a prescription or take a trip to the doctor’s office to have preventive health screenings for cardiovascular disease. Life Line Screening performs affordable testing in community settings throughout the country. This testing will reveal where carotid artery plaque buildup is located and how much. This could translate into lifesaving treatment for you, or simply offer peace of mind. To find out when a screening clinic may be scheduled in your area, visit www.lifelinescreening.com/HeartCheck or call (877) 754-9631.

Read more

The benefits of probiotics for babies

(BPT) – With the increasing number of products in the marketplace containing probiotics, many new parents might be wondering if their babies could benefit from probiotics. To answer that question, it is important to understand the role of the body’s microbiota, the living organisms that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract.

Humans have trillions of bacteria — good, bad, and neutral — living in their gastrointestinal systems. Research shows that in the same way harmful bacteria in the gastrointestinal system can attack the body, good bacteria, also known as probiotics, can help support it. This relationship leads to a balanced and well-functioning gastrointestinal system.

For babies, ingesting probiotics may help support the developing digestive tract and immune system. Breastfed babies naturally get probiotics, as research has demonstrated that breastmilk contains probiotics. Mothers unable to breastfeed, or those who choose to offer formula, still have options to ensure their baby is building up adequate amounts of this good bacteria by feeding their baby an infant formula with probiotics.

Gerber(R) Good Start(R) infant formula is the only formula line with probiotics available in all milk-based powders. While there are thousands of different probiotic strains, Gerber selected probiotics based on the available research and benefit for specific infant needs.

For example, Gerber(R) Good Start(R) Gentle formula is a routine formula for healthy-term infants that uses Bifidobacterium lactis (B. lactis) because this probiotic has been shown to help support a healthy immune system and is similar to probiotics naturally found in breastmilk. Gerber(R) Good Start(R) Soothe formula is for babies experiencing colic, excessive crying and fussiness, so it features the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri (L. reuteri). Studies using this probiotic have shown that it reduces the amount of time colicky infants may cry.

Both L. reuteri and B. lactis are recognized as safe for use in infant formula by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Keep in mind, all infant formulas are carefully regulated by the FDA.

Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life offers the ideal nutrition for babies, but whatever leads parents to use infant formula, they now have an option that contains important good bacteria similar to those found in breastmilk.

Read more

5 new habits for New Year’s resolution success

(BPT) – It’s time again to make New Year’s resolutions. Whether or not you kept last year’s promise to exercise more, eat less, stop smoking or get your chronic disease under control, the new year is an opportunity to make new commitments that will stick. If you did not succeed at keeping last year’s resolutions, it’s easy for past failures to keep you from making progress. You may have failed to do better because of your lack of willpower or self-control, but there might be something deeper standing between you and your goals.

Behaviors are among the most important factors that determine whether people will live long, healthy lives. According to a recent analysis, human behavior accounts for almost 40 percent of the risk associated with preventable premature deaths in the United States. A new initiative funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) called the Science Of Behavior Change (SOBC) Program is bringing together scientists from around the country to develop methods that will reveal how and why people start and keep up healthy behaviors.

“Millions of people make resolutions every year, but very few are able to keep them. What most don’t understand is that behavior change is hard for everyone, and it’s nearly impossible if you don’t know the underlying processes that determine success,” says Donald Edmondson, PhD, MPH, director of the NIH SOBC Research Network Resource and Coordinating Center and Associate Professor of Behavioral Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. “Success is about understanding those underlying drivers of behavior change, and making them work for you.”

So, how will this help you stay on track with this year’s resolutions? Since the New Year is all about exchanging old habits for new, consider swapping some of your old habits for these new ones:


Mindfulness isn’t all yoga pants and “Ommmm.” It’s a different approach to your day to day. Practicing mindfulness allows you an opportunity to be more present in the moment and stop and think before you act. If your resolution involves getting your blood pressure under control, mindfulness could help. It can help you better assess the things that stress you out and decide how to respond (if at all) in a way that will help keep your pressure normal.

Future-oriented thinking

Would you rather have a cheeseburger or a salad for lunch today? Do you wish that you could go back in time and trade all the cheeseburgers you’ve already eaten for salads? Making unhealthy decisions today may stand in the way of good health in the future. Thinking about positive events in the future can help overcome the tendency to value smaller immediate rewards over larger future rewards. Evaluating your decisions in terms of their short- and long-term impact on health is a very powerful way to marry your actions today with your vision for your life tomorrow.


You can’t change what you don’t see! With today’s hustle and bustle, practicing self-monitoring can prevent you from going back to old unhealthy habits. Get an activity tracker to see if you really are doing the physical activity you promised yourself. If you have diabetes, check your blood sugar. When you miss your goal for a day, figure out ways to do better tomorrow. And when you achieve your goal for a day, celebrate!

Reacting to relationship stress

Sometimes challenges in our close relationships can interfere with our ability to make healthy choices. For example, after a fight with your spouse, an evening walk will bring your stress down just as well as a bottle of wine and a cigarette. You’ll thank yourself for it later!

Be aware of your stress

Face it, there’s just no way to avoid stress. And the more stressed you are, the harder it is to hold on to good habits. Do you have a hard time when you’re stressed? Or do you recover quickly and easily shake it off? Do you let things build up over time? Paying attention to your everyday stress responses and identifying triggers can help you navigate challenging situations to help stay focused on your goals.

Read more

5 facts about radiation you never knew

(BPT) – Radiation — it’s not something most people think about very often, and when they do, their thoughts usually turn to radiation’s effects as they are portrayed in the movies. These being namely that exposure to radiation will either turn them into a hideous monster or a superhero.

The truth is, however, that while radiation is great fuel for any Hollywood script, it’s more than sci-fi fodder. It’s part of your real world. And while it is not something to be feared – as it is in the movies – it is something you should be aware of. To that end, here are five things you may not know about radiation.

* You are exposed to radiation every day. One third of the U.S. population lives in a “nuclear shadow” area, meaning they live within 50 miles of a U.S. nuclear power plant. Many people are also exposed to radiation every day through their work as dental assistants, medical practitioners, radiology technicians, chiropractors, etc.

* Radiation can come from man-made, terrestrial or cosmic sources. Not all radiation comes from man-made technology. Naturally occurring radiation is present in Earth’s crust as well as in the floors and walls of our homes, schools and places of work. It is even found in the food we eat and drink, and the air we breathe. Our own bodies — muscle, bones and tissue — contain naturally occurring radioactive elements as well.

* Radiation comes in multiple forms. Non-ionizing radiation, like that found in microwaves, radio waves and visible or infrared light, is largely harmless due to its low energy levels. Ionizing radiation (found in gamma rays, X-rays and other sources) has higher energy levels and can be harmful to the body if you are exposed to large doses or for a long period of time.

* You can track radiation levels around you. Radiation is invisible, but that doesn’t mean you have to be blind to it. The Dosime device is a hybrid smart home and wearable personal dosimeter that captures real-time radiation exposure in the environment. The accompanying app provides an immediate assessment of the ionizing radiation present in the homes, buildings and spaces you live, work and play that can potentially impact your health without your knowledge. Dosime allows you to access accurate, reliable, easy-to-understand radiation information in real time to manage potential health risks and ensure peace of mind.

* You bring radiation into your home every day with things you purchase. Your cat’s litter box is a common radiation source in your home, while Brazil nuts and bananas also give off small levels of radiation. The glossy paper appearing in the magazines you read requires a radioactive finish to achieve that shine. The glaze used to decorate those antique jars could be radioactive if the uranium levels are high enough. Even your new granite countertops are a source of radiation as granite is one of the best rock sources for retaining natural radiation.

Radiation is around you every day, but that doesn’t mean you have to fear it. Remember, most radiation is naturally occurring and your exposure to it won’t turn you into a monster, even if a super power would be pretty cool. To learn more about the Dosime device and to see how it can help you monitor radiation levels around you, visit Dosime.com.

Read more

Millennials and baby boomers approach pregnancy very differently

(BPT) – The millennial mom-to-be uses an app to track her fertility and pregnancy progress, pins nursery ideas on Pinterest and researches baby gear on YouTube. She reads online advice on everything from what to eat (or not), to when to talk to a doctor about prescription prenatal vitamins and what to do with the placenta after delivering.

Never without a smartphone in hand, armed with an app for everything, always connected or “on,” millennials were born in an era of emerging technology between 1980 and 1995, and have grown up in an ever-increasing digitally enhanced environment.

But what does this over-abundance of connectivity and information mean for the digital-savvy millennial mom-to-be? For nearly 60 percent it means there is too much conflicting advice on tips for a healthy pregnancy, according to a recent poll. 500 millennials and 500 baby boomers were asked to reveal details on their approach to pregnancy in the poll by Exeltis, which produces the number one doctor recommended prescription prenatal vitamin, Vitafol. While sifting through all the information available today was overwhelming to expectant millennials, only 36.2 percent of baby boomer moms, whose pregnancies were “pre-Google” and social media, felt this way.

In addition, in our constantly connected world it’s common for people to dispense unsolicited advice to expectant moms. Twice as many millennial moms report they received advice while they were pregnant that they disregarded or didn’t agree with as compared to baby boomer moms.

That’s why it’s no surprise that with so much (often conflicting) sought-out and unsolicited information and advice, 51.8 percent of millennials said they had a hard time deciding which pregnancy advice to believe.

“We have so much more information than they did years ago,” said one millennial in the study. “I feel like millennial moms have a lot more pressure placed on them to do everything ‘right.’”

Thus, despite the advances in technology that make their pregnancies different (or perhaps, more likely, because of it), millennial moms are turning to their own mothers for advice, even more than their mothers turned to the generation before them. Millennials are using the “Grandma Filter” to essentially qualify and validate information that they are receiving from other sources.

When it comes to preparing for parenting, millennials turn to their mother/mother figure more than any other resource on a variety of topics, including emotional/family concerns, relationship advice and determining what to register for. And, millennial moms turn to their mother nearly three times more often than baby boomer moms would have regarding financial concerns in preparing for a new baby.

Still, there are some elements of pregnancy that have remained unchanged. More than half of all millennial and baby boomer mothers polled prepared for pregnancy by taking a childbirth class. More than 97 percent of millennial moms and 92 percent of boomer moms took prenatal vitamins. In addition, 80 percent of both groups recognize prescription prenatal vitamins are the right choice for any pregnant mother.

Which all indicates that regardless of when they are pregnant, moms ultimately want what is best for her baby, but deciding what that is might best be determined with a slight tweak to the adage. In fact, “Mama’s MAMA knows best.”

Read more
1 2 3 4