A life with hemophilia and a challenge to all

(BPT) – Val Bias’ entire life changed when he heard the loud noise come from the bathroom. The year was 1988, but Bias remembers the moment like it was yesterday. He ran to the bathroom and found the door blocked. He pushed and finally forced the door open. Inside he found Katie, his wife, lying on the floor. She had suffered a seizure, so Bias picked her up and took her to the hospital.

That day, Katie was diagnosed with a tumor. She was given six months to live.

As tragic as this turn of events was for the couple, it was only the beginning. When doctors rushed to remove the tumor, Katie’s immune system flattened out. That’s when they learned the tumor was only one of the medical challenges she faced. Katie also had HIV, a disease she had gotten from her husband.

A life with hemophilia

For his entire life, Bias has lived with hemophilia. At the time of his birth, every male member of his family with hemophilia had already died. He remembers being in fourth grade and finding the hemophilia section in his new text book. As he read the text, he learned that the average life expectancy for someone with hemophilia was 20 years. At age 10, Bias realized he had already lived half of his life.

More than three million Americans have a bleeding disorder, such as hemophilia, von Willebrand disease or rare factor deficiencies. These diseases prevent the blood from clotting normally, can result in extended bleeding after injury, surgery or trauma, and can be fatal if not treated effectively. Because of this, people with hemophilia depend heavily on clotting factor replacement therapy derived from either human blood or made in the lab. It was through an infusion of clotting factor concentrate derived from human plasma that Bias contracted HIV and hepatitis C.

From the late 1970s to the mid-1980s – prior to more stringent blood safety measures and more sensitive tests – HIV (and hepatitis C and hepatitis B) from infected blood donors made its way into blood products. As a result, nearly half of all people with hemophilia became infected with HIV, many developed AIDS and thousands died. An unknown number of their partners contracted HIV, as well. People like Katie.

Finding strength

When doctors discovered Katie’s tumor, they gave her six months to live. She held on another four years, passing away in April, 1992. She declined day-by-day, and when she became too weak to continue her work in advertising, her coworkers assumed she had cancer. Learning of this misconception, Katie returned to tell them the truth.

“That’s true courage,” Bias remembers. “I’d like to say I had that same courage at the time, but that wouldn’t be true. I was running a large before- and after-school program at the local YMCA and was concerned that, if I revealed my diagnosis, I might lose my job. We needed my income, so I remained silent.”

Katie however did not. She demanded Bias never blame himself for what happened to her and in her final days, she placed three expectations on him. “She said, ’Remarry, have kids and fight to live your life.’”

Bias heeded her advice. He married a wonderful woman named Robin and together they adopted a boy named Langston. And he began to fight.

Taking the Red Tie Challenge

The year Katie died, Bias attended the National Hemophilia Foundation’s (NHF) annual meeting and was elected chairman of the board. “We began a crusade to help people who developed HIV from tainted blood products,” he remembers. The work culminated in the passage of the Ricky Ray Hemophilia Relief Act of 1998. Ten years later, in 2008, Bias became NHF’s CEO.

“In recent years, under NHF’s leadership, great strides have been made in treatment, public policy and advocacy for the bleeding disorders community,” says Bias. “So to ensure that momentum continues, NHF has created the Red Tie Challenge. It’s fun—because it lets you be creative and silly—and it’s important—because, by donating to NHF or to our chapters, you become part of the fight against bleeding disorders.”

According to Bias, the red tie is the community’s symbol and the Red Tie Challenge challenges you to get creative in wearing a red tie in three, easy steps: (1) Make a donation at www.RedTieChallenge.org; (2) Get a red tie, then record and share your best red tie style with #RedTieChallenge; and (3) Challenge your friends to join you in the fight.

To learn more, visit www.RedTieChallenge.com.

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Man who has overcome kidney disease

Are you at risk for kidney disease?

(BPT) – Edward Beans could be described as a man with great purpose who makes the most out of all life has to offer. He is a husband, father, business owner and a basketball coach. And, as of five years ago, he is a dialysis patient.

Beans found out he had kidney disease while at a routine doctor visit. His primary care doctor ran a full range of blood tests, including one to measure his kidney function, or glomerular filtration rate (GFR). The results showed Bean’s kidneys were failing.

“I was fortunate my doctor checked my GFR, or else I might not have had the chance to make a healthy transition to dialysis,” Beans says. “I encourage everyone to ask to have their GFR checked as part of their yearly physical.”

Kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the U.S. More than 31 million adults have been diagnosed with the disease, which is often called a “silent killer” because it can be symptomless until immediate medical attention is needed. Once kidney disease progresses to kidney failure, dialysis or a kidney transplant is necessary for survival.

When caught early enough, the progression of kidney disease may be slowed, and in some cases, prevented altogether. A simple GFR blood test can assess if someone has or is at risk of having kidney disease.

Beans recognizes that high blood pressure and poor dietary choices contributed to his kidney disease. In fact, diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of kidney disease in the U.S. One in three people with diabetes and one in five people with high blood pressure also have kidney disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Moreover, minority populations — particularly Hispanics, African-Americans and Native Americans — are at a disproportionately higher risk of developing kidney disease. Additional risk factors include people with cardiovascular disease, obesity, high cholesterol, lupus and a family history of the disease.

Beans, like many people with kidney failure, chooses to live life to its fullest while managing the disease. He remains a committed family man, continues working as a property manager, and volunteers as a children’s basketball coach in his community — all while completing dialysis treatments three times a week.

“I’m still coaching, still running a business and still doing everything I want to do. But now I have to factor in time in a dialysis chair,” Beans says.

Beans is a good example of how it is possible to live a high quality of life after a kidney disease diagnosis. Staying employed after being diagnosed or while on dialysis has many potential benefits, including lower rates of depression, sustained income and, in many cases, more choices in medical insurance.

“If you choose to be active, you can still take care of yourself and slow it down. I choose to continue to work and coach and spend time with my family because it gives my life purpose.”

Take a one-minute quiz to find out if you may be at risk for kidney disease at DaVita.com/LearnYourRisk.

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People with kidney disease at higher risk for heart disease: Take charge and reduce risks through good nutrition and self-care

(BPT) – Heart disease is a big problem in the United States, especially for the more than 20 million Americans living with kidney disease. That’s because kidney disease causes a variety of health problems that make it harder for the heart to pump blood effectively. But if you’ve got kidney disease, take heart – there are a number of things you can do to help stave off cardiovascular disease.

“Exercise, self-care and good nutrition – including getting enough of key vitamins and avoiding certain additives – are vital to protecting the heart,” said Joy Lutz-Mizar, RD, senior director of nutrition services for Fresenius Kidney Care, a long-standing leader in caring for nearly 200,000 people with kidney disease at more than 2,200 dialysis clinics around the country. “Dietitians can be especially helpful to people living with kidney disease who want to do the right thing and need help.”

Lutz-Mizar recommends people with kidney disease do the following to help protect themselves against heart disease.

Start with good nutrition – What you consume can help keep your heart healthy.

* Eat well – To protect your heart, avoid fatty and greasy foods, especially those that come from animals. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and eggs. Try eating cold water fish such as salmon, which is high in heart-protective omega 3 fatty acids.?

* Avoid phosphate additives – Avoid foods with the letters P-H-O-S in the ingredient list.?Those letters mean the food contains phosphate additives that may contribute to clogged arteries in the heart.

* Get enough of the right vitamins – Take a daily renal multivitamin. People with kidney disease may not get enough folic acid and other B vitamins – which may help reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke – due to other diet restrictions.

* Increase vitamin D intake – Everyone needs vitamin D for a healthy heart and strong bones. People with kidney disease don’t adequately convert the inactive forms of vitamin D from milk, nutritional supplements and sun exposure to active vitamin D. So, in addition to those sources, you may need a special active form of vitamin D. Be sure your doctor checks your vitamin D levels regularly to see if you also need to take nutritional supplements of vitamin D at home.

* Ease up on fluids and salt – Kidney disease makes it difficult for you to eliminate fluids, which makes your heart work harder and causes it to enlarge and work less efficiently. So watch your fluid intake, and avoid salty foods, which make you thirsty.

* Learn more about healthy eating Fresenius Kidney Care offers tips for eating right, from suggestions for kidney-friendly staples to stock in your pantry to recipes for healthy and tasty meals.

Reduce the risk of infection – Eating well and getting plenty of rest and exercise will help you reduce the risk of infection. That’s important because infections and inflammation increase the risk of heart disease.

Manage blood pressure – Eating healthy, saying “no” to the salt shaker, and taking special medications if necessary can help you lower your blood pressure. That can slow the progression of heart disease as well as kidney disease.

Taking steps to protect yourself against heart disease is important, particularly for those living with kidney disease. Fresenius Kidney Care helps people with the physical and emotional challenges of kidney disease so they can lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, which includes providing high-quality, personalized care, resources and support.

“We help people thrive by keeping their kidneys and hearts as healthy as possible,” said Lutz-Mizar. For more tips or to learn more about kidney disease, visit www.freseniuskidneycare.com.

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So you have heart failure, now what? 7 tips for management

(BPT) – The common misconception about having heart failure is that your heart immediately stops beating. The reality is that heart failure can be a slow process that happens over time. Being diagnosed with the disease can be overwhelming, but you are not alone. At least one person is diagnosed with heart failure every minute, according to WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. While there is no cure for the millions of women living with heart failure, it can be managed with the proper knowledge, treatment and support.

“Successful treatment and management of heart failure must include interventions in the home, community and the doctor’s office. Living with this disease can be a confusing and isolating experience. That’s why we must continue to improve the treatment approach to provide women with heart failure the important tools needed to feel empowered to face the disease each day,” says Mary McGowan, CEO of WomenHeart.

Of those living with heart failure, half are women. More than 2.5 million women in the United States have heart failure, and they often face a very different burden than men. Women tend to develop heart failure at an older age, suffer from depression more frequently and experience a greater number of symptoms than men, including shortness of breath, swelling around the ankles and difficulty exercising.

If you’ve been diagnosed with heart failure, there’s hope. Here are seven tips for managing the disease:

* Find a doctor you trust. If needed, ask whether you should see a cardiologist who is specially trained to treat advanced heart failure.

* Take your medications correctly. Make sure you understand why you are taking each medication and how and when to take each one. Newly adopted guidelines have expanded the list of recommended medications, so ask your doctor if these new treatments are right for your individualized treatment plan.

* Make a daily plan for diet and exercise, and stick to it. Play an active role in your care and stay on track with your treatment plan.

* Tune in to your body. Pay close attention to changes such as new symptoms or rapid weight gain.

* Touch base with your emotions. Depression is common in women with heart failure. Don’t let your disease define you. Find the support you need to live a fulfilling and enjoyable life. WomenHeart has a support group for you, whether you prefer one-on-one, group settings or virtual options.

* Know your limits. Stay active, but don’t overdo it. You might not be able to do everything you used to do. Pace yourself and save your energy for what matters most.

* Don’t go it alone. Seek support. Be honest with your loved ones, and don’t be shy about asking for help. Educate yourself, ask questions and build a strong relationship with your doctor.

For more information on heart failure, visit www.womenheart.org.

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Make a striking focal point the foundation of your spa-like bathroom

(BPT) – American homeowners’ desire for spa-like bathrooms shows no signs of waning, says the latest Design Trends report by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). From freestanding bath tubs and floating vanities to LED lighting and soothing color schemes, some of the most-requested bathroom renovations focus on creating the atmosphere of luxury and calm found in world-class spas.

With the average mid- to upscale bathroom remodeling costing in the range of $30,000, homeowners are also looking for the most cost-effective way to create that spa-like feeling. Many are opting to build their bathroom renovations around a focal point, such as a freestanding tub or luxury shower, and round out the effect with more modest accessories and fixtures.

Choosing a focal point

Homeowners are choosing to install freestanding soaking tubs in their master bathrooms, in particular, to create an exclusive sanctuary of relaxation. In fact, in 2016 half of NKBA members were asked to install freestanding tubs in bathroom remodels, and 60 percent expect to be doing more of them in 2017.

Traditionally styled freestanding tubs were often claw-footed fixtures that meshed well with conventional design themes, but struggled to fit into the sleek, contemporary lines associated with a spa-like setting. Strikingly modern freestanding tubs offer expanded design flexibility as a focal point in today’s spa-inspired bathroom settings. Options like the American Standard Coastal-Serin Freestanding Tub in high-gloss cast acrylic enhance the deep soaking space of a luxurious tub with a clean, simple and modern profile that fits well in spa-like bathroom design.

Few bathroom fixtures speak of luxury as clearly and loudly as a showpiece bathtub. A deep, sumptuous freestanding tub not only provides a restful spot for a soothing soak after a long day, it also serves as a striking visual focal point for modern baths.

Considering Fixture Alternatives

Already have a standard alcove tub, but still want to create your spa at home? Try installing a deep soak tub drain, which has a unique overflow feature that allows 2-inch deeper water than a standard bathtub drain. This universal drain works in most standard bathtubs — and that could be yours.

Replacing a standard toilet seat with an upscale option like the DXV AT100 SpaLet Electronic Bidet Seat furthers the luxuriousness of the bathroom without the cost commitment and permanency of installing a full bidet. Its heated seat, choice of water temperature and volume for the two cleansing wands, and the oh-so-decadent warm air dryer are the ultimate self-indulgence to bring the spa right into your home.

Wood vanities and storage cabinets for bath linens continue to be popular with today’s consumers. Floating vanities and open shelving, which are gaining in use with interior designers and homeowners alike, can further the effect of an upscale spa by creating a visually clean, uncluttered effect.

Rounding out the theme

Soft, pale greens and aquas have long been associated with spa-like design, but in 2017 bathroom color choices are trending toward grays, off whites, blues and violets, according to the Design Trends report. Sedate and subtle are the hallmarks of spa color schemes, so when choosing yours keep in mind the calm effect you want to achieve. Also, remember your color scheme doesn’t have to be limited to the walls; consider incorporating your chosen colors into cabinetry, countertops and accessories.

Flexible lighting is also key for a spa-like bathroom. Remember to incorporate brighter lighting where you’ll need it most, such as around vanities, and add features like dimmers that will allow you to reduce the amount of light in the room when you want to create a relaxing atmosphere.

Finally, adding touches that appeal to all your senses, such as music, mood lighting and aromatherapy can elevate a bathroom to a spa-like environment. Whether you opt for a full surround system in your bathroom or add waterproof blue tooth speakers in the shower, it’s easy to bring music into your spa bath. Scent adds yet another layer of luxury and is easy to achieve, whether you choose a simple arrangement of essential oils and diffuser reeds or an electronic diffuser that gently mists aroma into the room.

Americans view their bathrooms as more than just a room to take care of business. Infusing your master bathroom with spa-like features can turn the room into an oasis of relaxation and luxury.

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Taking charge of your AFib: Getting the facts and knowing your options

(BPT) – Being diagnosed with a chronic medical condition can be overwhelming. Patients and their doctors face a delicate balancing act to weigh the risks of a disease against the potential side effects and inconveniences of treatment. This is certainly true for patients with atrial fibrillation, better known as AFib, who have a significantly increased risk for stroke due to a blood clot.

Experts suggest and historic data confirms that without treatment, AFib patients are five times more likely to have a stroke than people without AFib. Commonly prescribed treatments such as oral anticoagulants or “blood thinners” have been shown to reduce the risk of an AFib-related stroke, but carry a risk of bleeding. Also some blood thinners may require lifestyle changes that could impact your daily routine. So what should patients know so that, in partnership with their doctors, they can make important AFib treatment decisions?

“There is a lot of information available online and in television advertisements, and trying to understand all of your options and their risks can be overwhelming,” says Dr. Rajat Deo, MD, MTR, assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “There are forms of treatment that may not be as good a fit for you. That’s why it is important to work together with your doctor to understand your risks in the broader context of stroke prevention to determine what works best for you.”

AFib is the most common type of arrhythmia, occurring when one or both of the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) don’t beat the way they should. Approximately 2.7 million people in the United States have AFib not caused by a heart valve problem (also known as NVAF), and this number is expected to increase as our population ages. AFib-related strokes often cause long-term or permanent damage and some can be fatal. Stroke survivors may require help with daily tasks, such as eating and bathing, if they have lost the ability to move their arms or legs. Some stroke survivors also experience vision problems, memory loss or have difficulty speaking.

Physicians often prescribe oral anticoagulants to AFib patients to help interrupt the body’s process involved in forming clots in the blood, consequently reducing their risk of having a stroke. However, sometimes there are circumstances that require the anticoagulant effect to be reversed. When choosing an appropriate anticoagulant, doctors assess several factors, including blood pressure, liver function and previous stroke and bleeding history to determine the recommended treatment approach. When patients are considering different options, knowledge of the efficacy, side effects, and whether or not a reversal agent is available for their treatment option in case of an accident or rare emergency may be an important factor in helping them feel comfortable in starting treatment.

“Everyone arrives at their treatment decision in a different way,” Dr. Deo says. “It is important to be honest with your doctor when discussing lifestyle considerations and potential inconveniences to certain treatments. Balancing the risks and benefits is all about getting the facts. It is important to speak up, ask questions and feel comfortable talking to your doctor.”

Your lifestyle and preferences are essential in choosing a treatment. Having open conversations with your doctors, so you can understand your condition and they can understand your lifestyle and priorities, can be empowering.


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Trying to quit? Tips from former smokers can help you succeed

(BPT) – Since the Surgeon General released the first report on smoking in 1964, the smoking rate among adults has decreased from 42 percent to 15 percent. Though great strides have been made, more than 36 million adults in the United States continue to smoke cigarettes, claiming nearly half a million lives a year and leaving 16 million others to live with an illness or disease caused by smoking. There are now more former cigarette smokers than current smokers in the United States, and more than half of all people who have ever smoked have quit, according to the CDC.

If you’re still smoking and would like to quit, you’re not alone. Nearly seven out of 10 cigarette smokers want to quit for good. Although each person’s journey to a tobacco-free life is different, knowing what’s worked for others could help you find what works for you. Participants from CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers(TM) campaign share what worked best for them in their journeys to quitting smoking.

Choose a quit date and support team

Tiffany Roberson, 35, of Louisiana started smoking when she was just 19, despite having watched her own mother, a smoker, die of lung cancer. Over the years, Roberson tried to quit multiple times but struggled to stay quit for good. When her own daughter turned 16, she was inspired to try again. This time, a combination of tactics helped her succeed.

* A nicotine patch helped control her cravings. She chose it because it was discrete and easy to use.

* She chose a quit date. To avoid the temptation to smoke, she stayed busy on that day.

* She told her daughter and another relative she was quitting so she would be accountable for staying smoke-free. Her relatives supported her with a daily text of encouragement, noting the day of her progress—“Day 2 without smoking” and, eventually, “Day 365 without smoking.”

* During work breaks, she drank water instead of smoking.

Create accountability

Beatrice Rosa-Swerbilov, 40, from New York tried her first cigarette at just 7 years old, and became a regular smoker at age 13. Although she had tried many times before, she quit for good after her 11-year-old son wrote her a letter asking her to quit smoking. Here are her success strategies.

* Avoiding triggers—things or situations that made her crave a cigarette. For example, going out for drinks with friends was a trigger, so Rosa-Swerbilov gave up doing that for a while.

* Creating accountability for herself by telling everyone that she was quitting. Her hope was that if someone did see her smoking, they would say “Oh, I thought you quit,” thus holding her accountable for her decision to quit smoking.

Manage stress

Amanda Brenden, of Wisconsin, began smoking in fifth grade and was a daily smoker by age 13. She would duck outside during the day — even during Wisconsin winters — to smoke. By college, she was smoking a pack a day. When she got engaged and found out she was pregnant, she tried to quit, without success. The stress of being a pregnant college student drove her back to cigarettes. Her daughter was born two months premature and today still struggles with asthma. Breathing problems like asthma are common in premature babies.

* Stress was a trigger for Brenden, as it is for many smokers. In a smoking cessation class, she learned stress reduction techniques. She also relied on support from her family.

* When Brenden feels frustrated, she exercises to release her negative energy rather than reaching for a cigarette.

Substitute positive for negative

James Fulton, 40, of New York, began smoking at 14 to emulate his father, a smoker who was well-respected in their community. When decades of smoking began to affect his health, Fulton created a plan for quitting that included replacing negative behaviors with positive ones.

When he felt a craving for a cigarette, he used a nicotine patch or chewed sugar-free gum. He’s learned to rely on exercise, becoming an avid cyclist and swimmer.

Rebecca Cox-MacDonald, 57, of Texas, also found exercise to be helpful in quitting. Surrounded by a family of smokers, she started smoking as a teenager. Multiple events inspired her to try quitting a final time; her father died of a smoking-related illness, she watched the health of other relatives who smoked deteriorate, and she developed severe gum disease—a risk for smokers—that required her to get bone grafts and dental implants.

She quit and committed to a healthier lifestyle that included regular exercise like running and getting treatment for the depression that had been a major factor in keeping her smoking.

The CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers campaign brings together science-backed health information and quitting tips drawn from the real-life experiences of former smokers. For more information about how you can quit smoking, including tips from successful former smokers, visit the CDC’s Quit Guide online.

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8 simple steps to help seniors, caregivers better manage medications

(BPT) – Modern medicine can work wonders. However, in order to be effective, medicine needs to be taken safely, according to prescribing guidelines, and patients and health care providers need to be vigilant about the dangers of drug interactions. When it comes to medication use, seniors take more prescription and over-the-counter drugs than any other age group, and they are most likely to experience problems because of their medications.

The average American senior takes five or more prescription medications daily, and many of them can’t read the prescription label or understand the prescribing instructions, according to the National Council on Patient Information and Education.

“Unless they reside in a senior living community or have another form of assistance, it can be very difficult for seniors to manage their own medications,” says Kim Estes, senior vice president of clinical services for Brookdale Senior Living. “A lot of factors make medication management a challenge for seniors, including the sheer number of prescriptions many of them take in a day.”

Management challenges

While doctors prescribe medication to treat a range of chronic conditions from arthritis to diabetes and high blood pressure, seniors may find managing their medications difficult for multiple reasons:

* Many meds and many prescribers — Seniors who are on multiple medications are often prescribed to them by multiple doctors, who may or may not be aware of other medications the senior is already taking. Taking a large number of medications can increase the risk of a drug interaction that harms seniors’ health, rather than helps them.

* Adverse side effects — If a medication makes a senior feel ill, he or she may stop taking it.

* Lack of knowledge — If they don’t understand exactly what the medicine is supposed to do for them, seniors may feel they don’t need it and discontinue use.

* Physical challenges — Age-related physical challenges such as hearing or vision loss, dexterity issues or trouble swallowing can make it difficult for seniors to take their medications as prescribed.

* Cognitive challenges — Seniors with memory loss or dementia may forget to take their medications as prescribed.

* Cost — Even with Medicare and supplemental health insurance, many medications can come with a hefty price tag. Seniors may not be able to afford a medication their doctor prescribed.

Medication management made easier

“Fortunately, seniors and their caregivers can take some fairly easy steps to help them better manage their medications,” Estes says. “These steps take a little time and effort, but they can go a long way toward helping seniors use their medicines more effectively.”

* Most seniors take five or more medications a day, and those with severe health issues or who are in the hospital may take significantly more than that. Make a list of every medication you take, what it’s for, and what the pill actually looks like.

* Make a checklist of all your medications. Every time you take a prescription, note the date, time and dosage on your checklist.

* If you have trouble reading the labels on your prescriptions or can’t open the bottle, ask your pharmacist to provide your medicine in easy-to-open containers with large-print labels.

* Make a plan for getting your prescriptions. You may decide to schedule a drive to the pharmacy every month on a certain day or have someone drive you there. You may also find an online pharmacy that can deliver your prescriptions to your home.

* When you go to the doctor, take your list of prescriptions with you, especially if you’re seeing him or her for the first time. Your list will help the doctor know what medications you’re already taking.

* Work with your doctors to see if you can reduce the number of pills you take by consolidating medicines. For example, if you take a pill to reduce water retention and a medication for high blood pressure, some prescription drugs combine both types of medicine into a single pill.

* A study by the University of Arizona found that having a pharmacist on a senior’s care team helped keep seniors safer and improved their ability to take medications as prescribed. Keep all your prescriptions with one pharmacy and get to know the pharmacists who work there. Your pharmacist may be able to help you spot potential drug interactions.

* Technology can help you remember to take medications on time. Set an alarm on your cellphone or download an event reminder app on your smartphone to help you remember when it’s time to take your medicine.

“With a little planning and help, seniors and their caregivers can better manage their medications to ensure seniors get the most benefit out of their prescription treatments,” Estes says.

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Protect your heart with these easy meal add-ins

(BPT) – What’s the biggest threat to our health? It isn’t cancer or even accidents, but heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, one in four deaths in the U.S. is caused by heart disease, which includes heart attack and stroke. This statistic is scary, but the good news is, there is something powerful we can do to prevent us from becoming a victim to this disease.

Even if you are one of the 47 percent of Americans living with a major risk factor, there are preventive measures you can take for a healthier heart, says registered dietitian nutritionist, Dawn Jackson Blatner. All you have to do is embrace some simple lifestyle changes starting with your diet.

“Food is quite literally one of the best medicines out there when it comes to improving our health,” says Blatner. “Studies show us repeatedly that a balanced diet including heart-healthy unsaturated fats, along with multiple servings of fruit and vegetables can give you additional protection against heart attack and stroke.”

Here are five of Blatner’s go-to foods you can easily incorporate into your diet for a daily dose of heart-healthy compounds.

1. Fish: Salmon and other fatty fish such as sardines are chock full of omega-3 fatty acids, which lower the risk of irregular heartbeat and help decrease plaque buildup in the arteries. If fish isn’t already in your meal rotation, it’s time to start. Preparation and cooking time for fish entrees is much shorter than that of chicken, beef and pork, making it a perfect weeknight meal.

2. Greens: Leafy greens contain nitrates, healthy compounds that not only reduce the risk of heart attack, but can boost survival rates after a heart attack. Plus, spinach, kale and other dark green vegetables have carotenoids, which work to keep blood vessels healthy. So aim to have at least one cup of leafy greens each day, such as scrambled in your morning eggs, a green juice as a snack or a leafy salad with lunch or dinner.

3. Nuts: They contain protein, fiber and healthy fat, which work together to keep us feeling full and satisfied. Though high in fat, studies show people who consume nuts on a daily basis are leaner than those who don’t, and staying lean is, of course, heart-healthy. So go ahead and keep almonds, walnuts or pistachios on hand for snacking, and choose those that are minimally processed, avoiding candied or highly salted nuts.

4. Dark chocolate: Good news: Eating dark chocolate every day can reduce heart attack and stroke for high-risk patients. The magic compound here is flavonoids, which are beneficial for blood pressure and clotting while also reducing inflammation. If you’re on-board with making chocolate your after dinner indulgence, opt for brands with 60-70 percent cocoa and that don’t contain milk fat in the ingredient list.

5. Eggs: Contrary to earlier belief, eating one egg a day has no negative effect on coronary health and can actually reduce the risk of stroke by 12 percent, according to a recent review of 30 years’ worth of scientific study cited on nutraingredients.com. But all eggs are not created equal. Eggland’s Best eggs, for example, offer the benefit of 25 percent less saturated fat, five times more Vitamin D, more than twice the omega-3s and three times more Vitamin B12 than ordinary eggs. Eggland’s Best’s superior nutritional profile is due to its proprietary, all-vegetarian diet. So get cracking and experiment with recipes featuring poached, baked and even hard-boiled Eggland’s Best eggs to serve up heart-healthy meals.

Very Vegetable Frittata


4 Eggland’s Best Eggs (large)

1/3 cup Eggland’s Best Liquid Egg Whites

1 cup non-fat milk

1 tablespoon chopped chives

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup chopped mushrooms

1 cup chopped broccoli

1 cup chopped cauliflower

1 cup chopped zucchini

1 cup halved cherry or pear tomatoes

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

salt and pepper, to taste

arugula, for serving (optional)


In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk and Dijon mustard; set aside.

In a 10 to 12-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet, spray with cooking spray and heat to medium-high.

Saute onion until softened — about 2 minutes.

Add the mushroom, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini to the skillet. Saute until slightly softened — another 3 to 4 minutes.

Whisk the egg mixture again, then pour over the vegetables.

Sprinkle tomatoes and feta cheese on top.

Place a lid on the skillet, reduce heat to medium and cook until the bottom and sides of the frittata are firm — 8 to 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven broiler.

Place the skillet under the broiler and broil until the frittata is cooked through (no longer jiggly) and slightly browned on top — about 5 minutes (watch closely).

Cut into 4 wedges and serve immediately, over a handful of arugula, if desired.

— Recipe courtesy of Eggland’s Best.

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The smart advice that makes clean eating an attainable lifestyle choice

(BPT) – Healthy eating trends come and go. Sometimes the fads are extreme, over-the-top and hard to maintain, but others offer simple, attainable changes that make them well worth incorporating into your lifestyle. Clean eating, actively seeking out foods that are minimally processed with simple, natural ingredients, is a relatively recent food trend that’s well on its way to becoming a popular lifestyle choice for many people.

Over the past several years, more Americans have begun seeking out foods with simple, familiar ingredient lists. The clean eating trend incorporates some very healthful practices, such as eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean, wholesome proteins.

Although some interpret the idea of “clean eating” as eliminating entire food groups, such as dairy or anything that contains gluten, the true essence of clean eating is to eat a wide variety of nutritious, wholesome foods that are minimally processed.

If you’re thinking of incorporating clean eating into your lifestyle this year, here are some tips to get you started:

* Read labels. Foods that align with the “clean eating” trend will have fewer ingredients, and ingredients will be easily recognizable as food rather than additives or preservatives. For example, JENNIE-O(R) All Natural Turkey Sausage and JENNIE-O(R) Hot All Natural Turkey Sausage contain only turkey, salt, spices, sugar and rosemary extract. Both varieties are flavorful and satisfying with reduced sodium content and only 110 calories and 6 grams of fat per serving.

* Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. That’s where you’ll find the least processed foods, including the produce section, dairy and egg cases. You can even find minimally processed foods, such as frozen fruit and veggies, in the freezer section.

* Rely on water to quench your thirst. Plain water is the most natural, healthful beverage you can drink.

The best way to approach clean eating is to think in terms of what you will eat, rather than what you might eliminate. Choose lean protein sources like all-natural turkey, nutritious whole grains, fruits and vegetables and you’ll find eating clean can be delicious, easy and rewarding.

Start your clean eating lifestyle today by trying this breakfast recipe from Jennie-O:

Southwestern Turkey-Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 (1-pound) package JENNIE-O(R) All Natural Turkey Sausage

1 small onion, chopped

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped

1 small red bell pepper, chopped

1 small green bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced

1 teaspoon ground chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon kosher salt, if desired

6 medium eggs, if desired

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves


Heat oven to 400 F.

In large cast-iron skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook turkey sausage as specified on the package. Cook to well-done — 165 F as measured by a meat thermometer — and crumble. Add onion and sweet potato and cook five minutes. Stir in bell peppers, jalapeno, chili powder, cumin, paprika and salt, if desired. Make six wells and pour eggs into wells, if desired. Remove from heat.

Bake 20 minutes or until egg whites are set and yolk is cooked to desired degree of doneness. Sprinkle with cilantro. Makes six servings.

For more recipe inspiration, visit www.jennieo.com.

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